Name: J Pilot
From: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Tracks you’ve heard: Rick Ross F/ Ty Dolla $ign “I Think She Like Me“/ Rah Digga, “Angela Davis”
Albums: “Keep It Gangsta”
Quotable: “You have to understand music, tones and what commercially appeals to the masses and you have to put them all together.”
Rick Ross’ latest album “Rather You Than Me” continues his long tradition of finding soulful canvases on which to paint his verbal flights of fancy. For the very first single “I Think She Likes Me” featuring Ty Dolla $ign he floats over a sample of the Stylistic’s classic, “People Make The World Go ‘Round.” The track from their eponymous 1971 debut has been inspiring hip-hop producers for decades, being sampled in EPMD’s “It Wasn’t Me It Was The Fame” and West Side Connection’s “Gangsta’s Make The World Go Round” for example. But when Fayettville’s J Pilot got hold of the dreamy orchestration he put his own unique spin on it, attracting the ears of Ricky Rozay and scoring his first official placement with his partner Lil C.
It’s been a long time coming and a reward for patience. Pilot explains in a Youtube video that the beat was made back 2008 and that his sound and technique has evolved by leaps and bounds since.
“It’s deeper than music,” he tells Nodfactor.com in a phone interview. “I understand vibrations and math consciousness. You have to understand music, tones and what commercially appeals to the masses and you have to put them all together. My creative process went from a kid on Fruity Loops to playing multiple instruments, and now I have a string quartet, a five-piece horn section and a choir that’s down by law. I’ve learned to manipulate the magic of music and how to capture the sound so it’s way deeper [now].
So we took some time to get into his history including that parallel path he’s taken walked with his fellow Carolinian J. Cole.
NODFACTOR: When did you first start making beats?
J. Pilot: My dad was a 22-year military man and he’d be gone for like 9 out of the 12 months of the year. So he left me a piano, a drum set, wooden swords and books. My dad and grandfather are from Chicago and are big Jazz guys [into] Duke Ellington and Wes Montgomery. My uncles were more soulful, listening to Curtis Mayfield, Willie Hutch and Barry White and that’s more of the music I fell in love with as a kid.
I vibrated to the piano but I didn’t start making beats until I was 12. When I was around 10 my boy came through and put Fruity Loops on my computer and I had my neighborhood on lock. I’m from Fayetteville and J Cole has come by the crib, we have a little history. But since I made my first joint I knew that I had it.
Do you remember that first beat?
Yup, I sampled an old Beethoven joint. I had a computer and Windows Media Playlist had Beethoven’s Symphony #9 built in so I just took that and chopped it up. I performed it at my school and rocked the whole entire school with it at a talent show. That was my first claim to fame. I went to Westover High School and Middle School and then I went to this other school called 71st.
When did you get your first actual placement?
My first joint was with Rah Digga, “Angela Davis.” It was playing on XM Radio and every interview she did she shouted me out. When I was living in Atlanta this cat I knew brought me to the studio and I was playing my shit and people kept coming in and asking who it was. One dude said he was tight with Digga and he plugged me in with her. When I spoke to her she was like “You played this?” People thought it was a sample. My goal is to be the cat twenty years down the line that young n*ggas is sampling. I come from a long musical family. My uncle plays upright bass for the Boston Pops. My aunt is in the NAACP big book of influential black women. I went to Full Sail in Orlando and we all met up down there and I’d train with them and study. They’re like my OGs so before my Grandfather died I made an oath to carry on my family’s musical legacy. That’s why the name of my label is “Pilot Legacy.”
So this new one with Rick Ross is your first credited and paid joint. Walk me through how that came about.
I was in Chicago doing some shows and stuff, Taste of Chicago. I got tight with Lil C in Atlanta and he called me and said “We got one.” He had the plug and I made the beat. They were really open on our sound and he knows that Rick Ross style beats are what I do. So bro hit me and it happened to be the single. We did the producer declarations and splits and kept it moving. You know how the business is. You just play your position. I respect that man for doing what he did. When I went to Full Sail I learned that is part of the production process. I made the beat but C helped me to produce the RECORD. I sent him the masters and he got it nice and crispy, cleaned it up and got it placed. That’s an executive move. That’s where the collaboration came in.
You mentioned earlier knowing J. Cole…
Yeah he knows me. I was in Atlanta running with Lil C when we got the call that J. Cole did a Green Lantern freestyle. [But] Cole’s attitude is ain’t nobody helped me get it so you gotta get out there and get it on your own. There’s footage of me and Cole sitting in the whip after the “Whodat” video shoot. Now that I’ve got this placement I’m sure there will be a different level of respect. I’m not worried about it.
Cool. What do you have coming up that you can speak to?
Word through the grapevine we have some stuff on “Self Made 4.” C just got the sample joint placed but now they’re hearing some of my live stuff that sounds really close to it. It’s not a 100% green light yet but I’m submitting my records and just praying. If your frequencies resonate that high the work will come to you. I sing a little bit, too. I’m getting ready to drop my joint, “Keep It Gangsta.” It’s real soulful. The growth I’ve seen from 5 years ago to now, this is too insane to quit on. I’m blessed.