IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?
JOKA ZEN: I currently live in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. But I am originally from St Thomas, Jamaica
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?
JOKA ZEN: Hip-hop music
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Why do you want to record and release your own music?
JOKA ZEN: I would like to record and release my own music because I believe that there are a lot of thoughts in my mind that I would like to share with the world in the form of music. Also, it is something that I am very passionate about. I believe that when I am dead and gone that my soul will live on in my music. If I should die before my children grow up I would like to leave them with lessons from my music. I also want to provide a way for them to know who I was even if they didn’t get a chance to know who I was.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?
JOKA ZEN: My songs are about anything that is going on in my mind at the moment. They can either be from a subjective or objective point of view. I like to touch on topics like the government, education system, life on the streets, television, goal settings, self esteem building. Pretty much anything that’s on my mind at the moment. Unless I am strongly opinionated about a particular topic, I like to deliver my rhymes in a neutral way by just stating facts. I like letting the listener draw their own conclusions. However if I am strongly opinionated about something, it will be very clear in my lyrics. Ultimately I would like to think of my music as something anyone can relate to since my lyrics are all real thoughts and real emotions. I know its something people will be able to feel, like they’re living the moment of the song
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?
JOKA ZEN: My main musical influences were 2pac,The Wu-Tang clan, Eminem, NWA, too much to list in one place. There are way too many genres and different styles to choose from. I listen to anything with substance, creativity and a little effort put in regardless of genre or style
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?
JOKA ZEN: I would describe my music as a wild creative mind journey. I like to enter inside the minds of other people and try to see the world how other people see the world. I try to feel other peoples’ pain, joy, love, agony, happiness. When I feel like I have a complete understanding of what it would be like to walk into that person shoe I try to write my lyrics from that person’s point of view. I write in such a way that you may never have lived a certain life, but by vibing out to the music you would gain a greater understanding. I keep my lyrics simple and easy to understand so its easy to feel and easy to follow. I think having a solid subject matter, purpose, and direction is more important than spitting multiple syllables or rhyming so fast no one understands what you are saying. I am a firm believer in the old school way of thinking that the lyrics are just as important as the feel of the beat.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?
JOKA ZEN: I don’t care what people think about me. I don’t need permission. I don’t follow a formula. You tell me a verse needs to be 16 bars at least but I only wrote 14 bars for a verse, then guess what, make the beat 14 bars long; because I wrote what I wrote exactly how I feel it should be. I am not afraid to break the rules, to experiment, and to try new things. I don’t try to sound like anyone; I don’t try to be like anyone. I only want to be me. I want to complete my style so that it can never be compared to anyone else. I want to stand out and not fit in. I know that I have a unique voice. So when people hear me they don’t have to ask whose rapping on that song. Just by hearing my voice and delivery styles they will know that’s Joka Zen. I am not trying to follow in anyone’s footsteps. I am trying to create my own path. I want to leave my own legacy. I am not just trying to make a buck. I will do this until the day I die and never let up because this is something I love doing. It’s not a job for me. It’s like therapy or meditation. It allows me to express how I reflect on life and the events happening around the whole world and me. These stories are not all my personal stories. Some of the stories in my lyrics are from people who have sat down with me face to face and shared their hearts and soul.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Tell us about one of the hardest challenges you had to face in your music career and how did you overcome?
JOKA ZEN: Funny enough one the hardest challenges I had to face originally was breaking out of my own shell. I started jotting down rhymes in high school. But this was a time when I had little to no friends. I was extremely shy and timid. I had to push myself. I had to convince myself that I have to get out there and be a rapper. I have to go on stage and rock a crowd. Music has given me the confidence and leadership abilities that I need even in other parts of my life. Other than that sometimes finances gets in the way. A recording studio is expensive and so is buying instrumental beats off the Internet. In this game you end up having to give away a lot of your hard work for free just to get your name out there. I am just one man. I am my own manager, marketer, promoter, etc. But I believe in the law of attraction and positivity. Your day will come if you deserve it and that’s just how I see life, so I am never worried. It’s like we say in Jamaica, “Don’t worry man everything good.”
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects you are currently working on?
JOKA ZEN: I am currently working on releasing a full-length album. I would like to feature as many local artist as possible, as I believe Edmonton has an abundance of talent that goes unseen. Getting a website set up and and somehow going on tour would be nice too
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JOKA ZEN: In ten years I can see myself as having sold out concerts, having many hit singles and being a CEO of my own company looking for talented artist from the underground to sign. I can also see recording music and still producing. It’s an energy I can’t see will ever stopping
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How can your fans access your music and contact you?
JOKA ZEN: My fans can access my music through websites such as sound cloud, reverbnation, YouTube and Facebook; they can contact me through email. I am the one and only Joka Zen I have ever heard of around the world. So simply typing Joka Zen anywhere and they will find me. In the future though I would like to set up my own website where I could store, host, manage, and update all content as I please how I please
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