The Azalea City’s army of hip-hop artists is one of the richest aspects of the local music scene. Mobile is populated with numerous up-and-coming emcees and producers with an abundance of passion for their music. For local artist Charod Jones, hip-hop has become a way of life.
Over the years, hip-hop artists such as Outkast and 2Pac kindled within Jones a passion to explore the music world. The would-be rapper began to hone his skills while establishing a personal ideology that pushed him forward. Jones began to see hip-hop as a form of personal expression, allowing him to transport his listeners into his reality. This ideology brought the realization that hip-hop was more than just a simple musical genre.
“It’s the freedom of expression,” Jones said. “I think hip-hop is dope because you can paint whatever picture that you want to paint. The canvas is free, and it’s a broad brush that you can paint with. You can convey your message in a lot of artistic and different ways.”
Recently Jones completed his debut album “Destiny,” a collection of invigorating, homegrown rhythms and rhymes setting new standards for the Mobile hip-hop scene. However, the most impressive aspect of “Destiny” may be its production value. Jones credits a local producer known only as Rosco (Hippo Meat Productions) for making the portrait more vivid.
“I believe in not putting anything or people in a box,” Jones said. “I’m an Aquarius, so I tell people that trying to put me in a box is like pouring water in a file cabinet. It will come out in some sort of way.”
Most hip-hop artists choose to bed lyrics upon electronically generated tracks, a method used by a majority of local artists of the genre. Instead, Jones and Rosco opted to use live instrumentation to accent Jones’ poetry. Rosco himself was responsible for performing all instrumental tracks on “Destiny.”
Jones describes his time in the studio with Rosco as more of a journey than a process. Even though he admits the two did not always agree, Jones says he gave Rosco full creative license in creating the instrumental accompaniment. As the two went through sessions that sometimes lasted more than 12 hours, Jones says the duo developed a bond. The power of Jones’ words inspired Rosco’s arrangements. Eventually, Rosco also began to relate to the tracks on “Destiny” on a more personal level, which fulfilled Jones’ goal of connecting with his listeners.
“The beautiful thing about it, and [Rosco will] tell you, he believes that he’s living my album right now,” Jones said. “Some of the things that I talk about, he’s experiencing it right now. I think that helped play a part in him trying to perfect the sound, because he has such a connection with what I was saying that he wanted to make it his own. I think he did a good job of that. It was a good marriage between my lyrics and his artistry.”
In addition to Rosco, Jones also brought a cavalcade of special guests from the local scene. Fellow artist/longtime friend Elijah McCreary laid down a track and assisted with the album’s production. The inclusion of Courtney Mason, Tony P., Lady Lyrick, Cherrell, Jamie Mitchell, Daniel Davis, Squaretite and Chyna B. Jones in what Jones describes as an “all-star cast” was not without purpose. As he promotes his own music, he hopes the artists featured on “Destiny” will also draw new listeners.
“I told them that I was going to be the DJ Khaled of Mobile,” Jones said. “I wanted to use this album as a platform for everybody to get their shine on. I think we did a good job. We put the work in.”
Jones has produced an album that combines lyrical prowess with Dirty South attitude. Jones says “Toy Box,” with its smooth jazz grooves, is the album’s most popular song to date. This metaphorical track draws from Jones’ personal experience and that of others (both male and female) to create a conversation on the nature of relationships. Sometimes people play with toys, and other times they are the toys. Jones says it depends on which side of the toy box the person stands.
“You may have an admirer that you take for granted, male or female,” explained Jones. “In the end, you may not give them the attention that they want, because you may not feel the same way that they do.”
“Turned Tables” maintains a deep bounce interrupted by rhythmic and lyrical breaks as Jones lays out a testimony ripe with philosophy. The track takes on the air of a sermon as Jones preaches the ways of karma. He says life can deliver situations and personal interactions, both positive and negative. His advice for dealing with both is to maintain a consistency in reaction. Jones says taking this attitude has allowed him to grow personally and artistically.
“The blessing is not to act the same as people who had you down and tried to destroy you,” Jones said. “You make that table turn and keep it in your favor. The way you do that is by not trying to get revenge or be spiteful. You keep it moving. I’ll never go to a different level, if I’m still trying to turn the tables and focused on getting you back. If I feel like I’ve been wronged, then that’s not where my opportunity comes from.”
With “Destiny” at hand for this local up-and-comer, Jones has been busy promoting the album both online and in the clubs. Locals got a big taste of this album at a recent release party at Levelz Bar & Lounge.
Jones compared the release of “Destiny” to giving someone a Christmas present. He cannot wait to see people’s reaction to his first effort. So far, he has been more than happy with the response he’s gotten from.
“We were satisfied with the work that we put in. It was multiple nights of falling asleep in the studio and working so hard to perfect the sound. We walked away from it knowing that we gave our all to it. We were excited, and we’re still excited. The response has been absolutely incredible, and I’m thankful for it.”