Jordan Caesar is no one trick pony. After putting in long hours writing, recording, and perfecting, the Chicago MC has unleashed his new album Death to Reputation.
A concept album in the same vein as Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid m.a.a.d. City, Jordan unleashes his demons and deepest thoughts with no fear. His creativity is at an all time high, as he uses different flows and progressive instrumentation with inspiration from all genres of music.
From opening track Birth, to closer Death to Reputation, you will be taken along his journey thanks to impeccable sequencing. Choice cuts Wrath of Caesar features a demonic, high BPM beat with a monstrous flow. Summer ride out music comes in the form of Ride Wit Ya, while somber storytelling is featured on Bedroom and Gray Window. You’ll know the very core of Jordan by the end, full of lessons he’s learned, friends lost and found, disappointment, some happiness & confusion.
I recently chopped it up with the budding MC about the soundtrack to Madden games, why he makes music, what set him apart from other Chicago rappers, and more. Peep below.
Hey Jordan, thanks for talking with us. How are you today?
I’m feeling better than some head on a Sunday afternoon. Better than a chick that say yes too soon. Until you have a daughter, that’s what I call Karma and you pray to God she don’t grow breast too soon.” Haha I love that song. Oh yeah but I’m feeling good.
Haha, bars on bars. Why don’t you start with your name, age, and where you are from.
Well, my name is Jordan Caesar, I’m a rapper from Chicago Illinois and I am currently 21 years old. I was born November 19th, 1996. Save the date!
I’m interested to know your first experience listening to music and hip hop.
My first experience listening to hip hop was a bad one haha. It was during the time where if you listened to hip hop it was the “black thing” and if you listened to rock music it was the “white thing”. I just never cared about any of that and I’ve always loved rock music first. I’m not into sports, but my older brother would play the Madden games and back then in the early 2000s, their soundtrack was mostly rock, punk rock, and metal. So I’d just watch him play the game and those rock songs would get stuck in my head. That’s what I had and still have an ear for. A lot of guys will tell you that they grew up on 2pac and Biggie and all those other guys from that era. Nahhh not me. I didn’t get into rap music until 2009. Even though there was a few hip hop songs that I liked before ‘09, for the most part I didn’t have a taste for it back then.
When and why did you decide to pursue a career in music?
Pain. That’s how I got started, at least. I was depressed when I wrote my first rhyme ever, and I continued to write because slowly but surely it became an outlet for me to expunge my emotions. I was able to create a world in my lyrics and exist in that world without limitations. I never “decided” to pursue a career in music. One day it was just too late. I had fell in love with it inadvertently and there was no turning back at that moment.
Chicago is getting bigger and bigger in the hip hop scene. What sets you apart from other artists?
I’d like to believe that I’m relatable. I know what it’s like to wake up and feel like a king. I know what it’s like to wake up and feel like a slave. I’ve walked the depths of hell and I’ve also had good days on earth. I take all of that and put it in my music. A lot of artists think it’s corny or lame or emasculating to talk about feelings and insecurities, but that’s what makes us real. We’re not superhero’s.
What do you think of the Chicago scene at the moment?
We are in such a good place right now. It’s more diverse than ever. There’s really something for everybody here, and I think we will continue to thrive and evolve forever.
You recently dropped Death To Reputation. How did you come up with the title, and what does it mean to you?
I first heard the sound of it. When I started to hear the sound of the album, I started to see images. Now, I know this may sound crazy, but I started to see these little visions before I knew what the title would be. I saw myself almost completely submerged in a body of water, the only skin that was not swallowed in the water was my face. Then I saw a medieval trial where someone was sentenced to death. These are just the images I started to see when as the album grew closer to completion. Suddenly, I saw myself sitting on my bed in blue lighting and then it was just that. Death To Reputation. Haha strange, right?
How did you approach the project?
At the time, everyone had an opinion on me. There were a lot of people who loved me and a lot of people who hated me. So I just approached it with the mentality of taking everything that people both love and hate about me and addressing it throughout the album. I wanted to address it as a means to kill the reputation, but I don’t think I’ll ever truly kill it. People will always have an opinion on you. You just have to decide when to take it into consideration and what to apply to your life.
How long did it take to record, mix and master?
I had my first studio session for this album in late January. So from that point to March 28th. But you of course know there’s more to it than just recording and being done. If I can get it in one take, then great. If I have to record the song 10 times over, then so be it. Either way, it’s going to fulfill the vision that I had for it.
What producers did you work with? How do you choose a beat?
Blumajicbeatco is definitely a gem. Hathor Music and Samuel Rich are also really great. There’s one producer that I worked with that’s a piece of shit as a person, and I won’t even mention his name to give him any spotlight, but he knows who he is. But anyways..I don’t have a formula for choosing beats. There isn’t anything that I look for in particular. When I know, I know. Sometimes the people around me hear it and tell me that it’s not the one or they don’t hear anything with it, but if I have a vision for it, I’ll bring it to life.
What is your songwriting process? Do you listen to a beat first and then write?
I almost always have to hear a beat first. But it’s weird. It’s like, there’s something that I hear in the beat that dictates the song. I can hear instrumentals talking to me in a way. And at that point, I follow through with feeling. I’m always jotting down bars and lines, but for an entire song, I want that beat playing.
Are you happy with the reception you’ve received for Death To Reputation?
Incredibly happy. People have really connected with this project and the fact that they can relate and enjoy the album really eases my mind. I’m my own bully and worst critic and I really, like bully myself with that type of shit. I think to myself, “what if they don’t like it” “what if they want you to rap like you did on your first project” or the biggest one “you’re not good enough”. So to know that people not only think it’s good enough but love it, it’s wonderful.
My favorite track from the project is Wrath of Caesar. It’s a fucking banger. How did that song come together?
I embraced a side of me that isn’t displayed that much. A side that’s aggressive and strange at the same time. I rap heavy. I remember writing the hook and I was just thinking of those people that just bother you for no reason. They constantly disrespect you and call you out when you mind your own business. It just came from being fed up. Don’t negotiate with these terrorists in your life. They are going to keep thinking that they can have their way with you until you boss the fuck up with no regrets.
The project reminded me of good kid maad city in the sequencing, storytelling, and diverse beats. Has anyone told you that?
Haha you know what, I have never been told that. Ever. That one is definitely new, but I love Good Kid Maad City so I appreciate that.
Who or what do you gather inspiration from?
I can draw inspiration from many different sources. Whether it’s my own experiences, conversation with someone, something I hear in the instrumental, hell I’ve even been inspired by inanimate object before haha. I don’t know, I think my brain may work differently. I don’t just see things for how they are. Now, there isn’t symbolism in everything, but for the most part I’m inspired by a lot of things.
Who do you listen to music wise?
I listen to a lot of different genres, so I’ll just bunch them all together. It’s gonna be rather scattered, so if you recognize a name, then we’re on the same wavelength haha. Avenged Sevenfold, Drake, Justin Bieber, Kendrick Lamar, Rae Sremmurd, XXXtentacion, Sum 41, Alter Bridge, BadBadNotGood, Tyler The Creator, Coldplay, Civil Twilight…fuck I can go on forever but I’ll stop there.
Who do you hope to work with soon?
To be honest, I don’t know. I can be really antisocial and just appreciate people’s art from a distance. I’m doing better with talking to more artists and networking though, so who knows. I’ve been a fan of Alex Wiley for a minute now, I think it’d be dope to work with him.
What’s next for Jordan Caesar?
I’ve got a couple of tracks I want to release before the year is out. Yeah, I definitely gotta get those out. More music to come.