What's up Leafers? Welcome to the latest edition of On the Rise where we interview upcoming hip hop talent. Today's guest is rapper, John Harris. John reps New York City. With several releases under his belt he has been growing in popularity with his songs; "Big" which emphasizes the idea to do everything to the fullest, "I Don't Wanna Hear It" which voiced his frustration with the context of everyday conversations between people, and "Think of Me" which expressed his deep sadness from being away from someone he really cares about. Harris is a different artist all together and has been winning the hearts of everyone who's given his music a chance. We can definitely see John performing on stages such as Coachella and Rolling Loud. The rising MC has been on our radar for a while so we had to tap in with him. Check out the interview below.
Westleaf Staff: What's up, John? Your sound is dope! When did you start making music?
John Harris: My very first music project was in 9th grade. It was terrible, I handed 10 CDs out to people in my school and found each in the garbage. But I did't let that deter me. I kept making practice projects until I released my first official mixtape on Datpiff.com "Destiny's Calling" after college in 2012. But my first official release on Apple Music and Spotify was my song "Big" in 2018 so 9th grade at Walter Panas High School started it all and I've just been climbing ever since.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! What city do you represent?
John Harris: I guess saying all cities is a cop out, so I will say my favorite city and home city....New York City!
Westleaf Staff: Shout out to NY! So how did you create your stage name?
John Harris: So my first stage name was "J Holla" but I've been wanting to change it for a while but had become synonymous with it around my area. But there were so many "J Holla"s and also I began to feel it was very rappery, like it was such a rapper name. As I developed more as an artist I began to realize I'm more than just a rapper. So it was time for a name change. I chose Jon Harris because, what better represents me than the name I've been called my entire life.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope and unique. So how did your early life shape your interest in music?
John Harris: Its funny, it all started because I didn't take a music class. My older brother was in chorus and my sister played the violin; but me, nothing. So I was in a general music class in middle school where the teacher showed the class "FL Studios", back then it was Fruity Loops. I downloaded the demo because I was fascinated with the speech plugin and one day actually started using other things and made this dinky beat. It wasn't good at all, but it was enough for me to recognize that "this is literally what the people on tv do". And thats the moment I realized that doing music was actually possible.
Westleaf Staff: Cool! So who is your biggest Musical influence?
John Harris: Biggest? Easy, Eminem. He's my favorite rapper/music artist. So much of my style comes from him like; multiple syllable rhyming, compounding metaphors, outlandish word play.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! I feel that. Those are some legends! What's been the defining moment in your music career thus far?
John Harris: So I used to be into this girl but I always had trouble talking to her, never knew what to say but the one time I was always able to have long extended conversations was when I was dropping my music; the ones before destiny's calling, the bad ones. But she would always support me and that was always a reason to keep going, to push through my own self doubt. Then one day she moved I sent her the CD but never heard from her and it was at that point I told myself, "If you're gonna do this, you have to do it for you". And that's when things became serious for me, I used to water down my lyrics to make sure I didn't offend her but after that moment I was free.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! Congrats on learning to love yourself first. So what makes you a unique artist?
John Harris: Definitely my topics. I try to avoid the main hip hop topics if I can; drugs, guns, sex, violence... It's not the life I live and I prefer not to pretend like I do. Not to say I can't or won't have fun from time to time diving in but I definitely try not to. But for my official releases, I don't; I try to stick to things everyone lives through and can connect to. I write about life, the ups and downs of love and romance, battling depression, things that may not be affecting me personally but I know someone is going through it. My music helps remind people all over the world that they aren't alone and they aren't the only ones going through whatever struggle they are going through.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! So what does art mean to you?
John Harris: Art to me is expression. It's you releasing to the world what you've observed from it and someone else connecting with that observation.
Westleaf Staff: That's deep! Where do you see your music career going over the next few years?
John Harris: Hopefully up! I just want to be able to reach as many people with my music as possible.
Westleaf Staff: I wish you much success! Before we go, describe music in three words.
John Harris: Listen. Connect. Feel.
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