Jango recenty dropped new music for the first time in quite some time with his reflective and forward-thinking EP Espresso And Shine. The 3-track project looks at Jango’s reality, experiences, and decisions he’s made during the COVID pandemic.
Originally he planned to drop an entirely different album, but after going through so many changes during the last several months, he wanted to express those thoughts and feelings early. A sound that can be described as genre-bending, Jango chose to be more droned out and monotoned for this EP compared to previous works.
This was intentional and done to express the numbness, pain, and disconnectedness he was feeling during the pandemic. Jango drew inspiration from artists like J.I.D, EarthGang, Lance Skiiiwalker, and seems to be more than an artist that simply just raps.
The names of the three tracks on this EP are “Espresso,” “Anyways,” and “Moonshine,” each holding a unique meaning for Jango. “Espresso” is a Black-excellence themed song. Jango utilizes the term espresso to represent a purely black bean. He states that people dilute Black culture and hip-hop like they dilute black espresso with creamer, sugar, etc..
Next, “Anyways” talks about Jango’s experiences trying to progress in his music career. He shares how his peers and the world are always wanting more than he can give.
“Moonshine” is about Jango’s trials and tribulations as he faces his daily demons. Utilizing the term “I can’t let you take my shine” as a double entendre. “Shine” represents his career, success, and progression but also as literal moonshine, representing his constant struggle to balance the good and bad in his life.
Exclusive Jango Interview
*This interview was edited for clarity*
We had talked before about how you were originally planning on dropping a different full-length project. What was the inspiration or push that made you transition into making Espresso And Shine?
The inspiration behind this project, and honestly every project I create, is based on what’s going on in my life and my personal experiences. Espresso And Shine wasn’t originally planned but neither was COVID. Some of the experiences I was going through during that time, including what was going on with racism/social justice, directed reflected what you are hearing in the EP. Also huge shoutout to my new in house producer Ben Suede who actually has a huge background in metal. This has allowed us to create something so unique but still very Upper Left, I’m super excited for the people to hear what we got coming.
How did the thought of “Espresso” and the way you utilize come to you?
I think I rewrote both verses for that track three times. Originally I was very on the nose, writing on the theme of Black empowerment, I didn’t even use metaphors I was very direct. At a listening party I had gotten everybody’s opinions and everybody enjoyed it. But, from a broader perspective and realizing the region I’m from it was too on the nose, too much for everybody to digest. I went back and tried to “dilute” the lyrics in the way the could be comprehendible and digestible to everybody.
I started using this term “Espresso” and it really hit home for me so I started to write more metaphorically. By the third listening party we had found the perfect balance of keeping people interested/not being too direct while still maintaining the message.
Do you think COVID gave you the chance to reflect in a way you wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise?
Definitely, pre-COVID I was so into the media so into the mindset of being influenced by the plethora or music I was listening to and everything on social media. I was more outrospective instead of introspective. COVID allowed me take a moment to separate from the media and competing allowing me to get back to my roots. I feel more myself then ever before, there’s definitely been a lot of bad with COVID but it gave me the chance to be the best that I can be.
How was working with Macntaj and hopping on that “Victim” track?
The “Victim” track was a long time in the making in a sense that we’ve made so many different tracks this one just hit perfect for the both of us. He had actually posted the beat on IG and Ryker saw it, I hit him up and the rest is history. I love working with Mac we got amazing energy and respect each others opinions. He allows me to keep sparring and sharpening my skills as a writer and artist. “Victim” was the first track we’ve actually released but we got more to come in 2021.
What was your reasoning to be more droned out and monotoned with your delivery on this EP?
This goes back to the fact I was writing my music and creating cadences based of my experiences and what I was going through then. Looking at the world, a lot of sh*t was hitting the fan at that time which made me reflect to everything that was happening before all the stuff was coming out. Stuff like the racial tension and everything going on with Trump in general. I wanted to emulate some of that detached feeling from the prideful things I’m talking about.
Should fans expect you to continue switching it up and experiment with sounds? Or do you feel you’ve landed somewhere with it that you’d like to stay?
So I’m gonna take you back a bit, I was working on the initial project with Ben Suede. With his background in metal it’s allowed us to creating something truly genre bending. We were about 60% done with the project when Ryker heard it and was blown away by it. Feeling it was too ahead of it’s time, in March we put the project on pause to work on a bridge project. Once we got well into that I looked back realizing I needed to make something that represented more how I felt and reflected the times. I wanted to keep it sweet and simple as small appetizer for what’s to come, not an exact, but it’s a more organic side of what you’ll be hearing in the future. It’s so Upper Left it’s crazy but it’s still unique to me, Ben Suede, and my camp.
How do you balance that constant struggle of good and bad in your life that is represented in “Moonshine” ?
There’s so many different ways, first I always look internal to myself. I do my affirmations every morning and remind myself of who I am, what I’m about, my Black excellence. Just remind myself of the positive to start my day right. If I feel unbalanced I have honest conversations and lean into my mentors like Chili Mac and Ryker. Lastly, I get it out in my music and translate it to everybody else. I got my filters and not every day’s perfect but thank I have my team and people around me who don’t allow me to fall back into old ways.
How good did it feel to hit the stage for the Lucky You Lounge and have UHeard Live Stream Concert Series?
Coming in it was extremely exciting especially after doing the one with Sam Lachow a few months ago. I was extremely comfortable and it was exciting to let out some energy and express my self. That’s what I want to do every day I want to perform and get that energy out.
Click here to watch the full performance from Jango.
What is in the works for you Jango? Is there anything you got coming besides the two projects we talked about earlier?
Just based on everything I been going through with COVID you can expect a lot of visual content in the near future. You’ll be seeing a lot of short films and extending into other lanes so that people can see me, Jango, in a light more than just an artist. A lot of thematic visuals from me coming soon.
Jango – Espresso And Shine
“Anyways” – Music Video
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