Thursday, May 9, 2013

Blood Is One Spotlight Part One: JFK AKA Ninja Face

Note to Readers: This is the first part in a focus on rapper JFK and his projects. If you are interested in more about him, Blood Is One published an article about him back in 2011 which can still be rea
JFK is a man of two, dueling identities. JFK's two rap names come from when he first started rapping. It was the late 1990s, when gangsta rap was still dominant in hip-hop. His rap style tends to be free flowing and fluid and people told him that he sounds alot like Ghostface Killah, one of the most passionate members of the legendary rap group Wu-Tang Clan. While his rap name right now may be Jeff the Filipino Kid - it was originally Jeff the Filipino Killa.

JFK picked up his own version of Ghostface's other moniker when he was hanging out with the Saturday Knights, a rap/rock group led by fellow Oldominion (an over twenty person network of Northwest area rappers) members Barfly and Macklemore, who is currently one of hip-hop's most influential acts, at the Beer Garden section of the Northwest event Bumbershoot.
An older white woman working the event leaned towards Jeff and declared, "You've got just the sweetest little Ninja Face." Jeff was stunned. The comment was obviously racist as hell but the woman said it with almost no malicious intent at all, in fact almost being nice about it. Both Barfly and Macklemore laughed about it when they heard about this incident, with Barfly saying he might as well be "Viking Sleeve" while Macklemore would have to be "Irish Leg."
"What on earth does 'Ninja Face' even mean? Ninjas usually cover their faces," JFK said of the event.
The Killa name, which JFK drops every bit as much as his "real" rap name, is actually very fitting not just stylistically in hip-hop (Wu-Tang Clan is well known for pronouncing the personality of their group by taking on the images of stylistically aggressive kung fu warriors) but especially for his own rap delivery. JFK raps really fast. On one of the singles, a horrorcore outing called "Paranoid," for his solo album, Building Wings On The Way Down, JFK dropped the verse, "Lacerations and abbrassions, would you care for a little demonstration?" within only a few beats. A verse like that is fairly simple but would be challenging for quite a few people, even in the naturally verbose and articulate world of hip-hop.
JFK said in our interview that he doesn't actually consciously rap fast. He doesn't speak particularly fast or more precise than anyone else in person. "I don't think my style is really fast, it's more just fluid."

"Fluid" is an excellent term - illustrating that, if he doesn't simply fit the physical look of a "ninja" than perhaps he lyrically delivers like one. For most of his career, he has been working in groups and the most predominant group he worked with has been Grayskul, a duo with the equally versatile rapper Onry Ozzborn - also a member of Oldominion. Grayskul's next album Zenith took its name because "Zenith," according to JFK, means the "farrest depths of space" and Grayskul's strange, dark approach could often be measured against heavy metal bands. For the first time in his career, JFK is seeking to ditch his former approach and go instead towards what he calls a more "traditional" and "soulful" realm of hip-hop with Th3rdz, a project featuring fellow Northwest rappers Candidt and Xperience.

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