2017 Belongs To Ajani Jones – Get To Know Chicago’s Breakthrough MC

Hey Ajani, how are things going today? 

Rick and Morty is back every week so I’m actually decent. Shouts to all the pickles and if you get that you’re gang (laughs)

Give us a brief intro of yourself. 

Well I’m from the south side of Chicago born and raised. I’ve lived every where on the south side from englewood to riverdale. I went to the University of Iowa for three years on full scholarship and left to pursue music in the city.

2017 has been a HUGE year for you. What is it like to be signed to Columbia’s Hip Hop label AEMMP?

Signing with AEMMP was really dope because it kinda came out of no where.

How did it happen? 

So AEMMP is a student run label with Alex Fruchter being the teacher and overseer of the operation. At the beginning of the year they select an artist to run with and I was recommended by my co-manager Alexy, who was in the class. I played them Futureland off of Eternal Bliss and they vibed with that enough to pick me so it’s a blessing.

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I STILL haven’t caught one of your shows, but I hear they are insane. How do you approach performing? Do you enjoy it? 

Performing to me is about emitting energy and connecting with people. When I perform I sing every word with conviction and I make sure that people can vibe with me. I also give out fruit snacks at my shows. Not for any other reason than, FRUIT SNACKS are the shit.

You’ve gotten more and more coverage as the months have gone by. What do you attribute this to?

I attribute this to networking and making better music. I think my friends have engulfed themselves into the scene well enough to meet others and spread the word. Alexy, Dan, and Banks have really plugged me with their friends also. I’m a little anti social sometimes so my team helps out with coverage when I’m on my woe is me shit (laughs.)

What has been your biggest accomplishment this year? 

My biggest accomplishment has been performing for closed sessions monthly event. I respect them as a label in Chicago and having them reach out was a goal of mine since I started. I hope we can work together again.

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Were you trying to break into the Chicago scene before signing to the label?

I was trying to break into the scene but I was going about it all wrong and that experience showed me that (laughs.) I was also Anak1n before AEMMP and it was perfect timing for a change.

Was rapping always the plan for you? 

Honestly rapping was always a huge hobby and love of mine but I had hoop dreams the cliche rapper bullshit ya know. I wasn’t good enough but I’ll bust most of y’all rap niggas at this (laughs). I also wanted to be a psychologist at one point which was my major in school.

Your introductory single was The Fall with femdot. It was a hell of a way to start things off. Did you have that in the vault for awhile? How did you two link up? 

That song was in the vault for a while actually. Fem is a busy man these days and rightfully so, so with that Banks had already linked us on a song months prior called twelve:fifteen and we bodied that shit. Banks deserves all the credit actually. He’s a blessing to me and my music. But after that I hit femdot’s  line and sent him the song and he liked it so he came in and we got the song done pretty fast. My team felt like it was the perfect song to drop first.

Last year you put out a strong EP in astrals. How do you feel about that project? 

Astrals was important to me because it was my first attempt at really sitting down in a professional studio with my brother Banksthegenius and create organically. I was also rushed into getting it done because originally Eternal Bliss was gonna drop first but the label asked me to finish this first. We ended up linking with Jugrnaut and it was a pivotal moment because I  remember going to Chance’s listening party a few years back.

Your most ambitious and celebrated piece yet was your recently released album Eternal Bliss. I LOVE this LP. First, what is the title all about? 

The title is a symbol of finding happiness in being you. Everybody is so angry about stuff all the time but I really believe that we could be happy forever if we loved more.

How did you choose which songs to put on there? 

So blookah, a really dope producer in Iowa and I became friends years ago through my close friend Shao Doja. He sent me some beats and I loved them but at the time I couldn’t really make the really make records with them because I was doing boom bap beats. Eventually I came back to them and the sound soulless unlike most stuff I had heard. It had a house element to it and I grew up on house music so the fact that he was able to create a different sound with such a vibrant feel basically steered the choice of songs and sonics.

Do you have a favorite? 

My favorite is Jani’s Dream, I wrote this song the day after one of my little homies was killed in a car accident on the day of my birthday. Isaiah Montes is his name and he was an activist and went to UIC and he had a very bright future. So the song started with “I had a dream that all my people made it.” From there it develops toward a woman I fell in love with that was holding me back from my potential. Pretty sad song but it meant a lot to me.

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What was the premiere party like? 

The premiere party was done on Columbia’s campus and I had friends and family come through and I gave them fruit snacks and lemonade (laughs.) So you can tell I had a blast.

What can we expect for the rest of 2017? 

For the rest of 2017 I plan to release some cool collaborations with other Chicago artists and producers, one of them being Noah Sims my brother. I’ve made some friends and it’s noting better than doing music with good people. Expect a splash in 2018!