Chicago emcee Jordan Caesar dropped one of my favorite projects of this year in “Death To Reputation”. Never sticking to one lane or sound, Caesar put his entire life out there for the public to hear. Between energetic bangers to heart-wrenching honesty, Jordan Caesar has set the table for his career and what’s to come. I had a chance to catch up with the artist to talk about his latest record, Chicago hip-hop and what’s to come.
Dead End Hip Hop: For those who don’t know, who is Jordan Caesar?
Jordan Caesar: Jordan Caesar is the artist I’ve always wanted to exist, but never came. I think the best part about me being unafraid to musically show my scars and bleed in public is it shows people that they aren’t alone. I don’t have it all together, I’m far from perfect, and I’m just showing everyone that along the way. It’s nice when people hear my music and can say that they feel the same as me. Sometimes I feel alone too until someone tells me that they could connect with my music. That’s what’s most important. Connecting with people. If people believe they can connect with Jordan Caesar, then I’m happy.
DEHH: Growing up in Chicago, how did you get into hip-hop, who did you listen to growing up and what inspired you to start tackling the mic on your own?
JC: You know what’s crazy? I didn’t really like hip-hop at first. I used to hate it, actually. Like, my first love in music was rock, punk rock, and metal. Bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park, Sum 41 really hot ms through a lot. It had such an attitude, such an edge to it that always felt relatable. The only rappers I liked initially was Eminem and Ludacris because they both had that same attitude that reminded me of rock music. Now mind you, I was always good at writing. I’d write short stories and poetry very often. I just never rapped before. It wasn’t until I got to seventh grade and I met a classmate who could rap that I tried it for myself. I’d never met anyone who could actually rap, I just always thought it was something adults did. But anyways, he was really good at it and him and I became really close. I was depressed and angry at both myself and the world, and this girl in my class pissed me off haha. So I went home that night and just naturally wrote a diss to her. The first rap I ever wrote was a diss and it felt really good to vent that. Before I knew it, I was filling up notebooks with not just disses to others, but with stories about my life and how I see the world around me and it turned into a love for hip-hop.
DEHH: Let’s jump into why we’re here, “Death To Reputation” that is a loaded title, tell me about it
JC: The title, “Death To Reputation” If you ask ten different people what they think of me, you’ll likely get ten different answers. Some people only know the “Wrath of Caesar” side and not the “Heard About Me”. Which is fine. I’m perfectly fine with everyone having a different opinion on me. Death To Reputation simply acknowledges all of those things and attempts to kill it, until I realized at about track 11 that it really wouldn’t matter. People are going to feel what they feel regardless. Your reputation and their opinion of you will never die.
DEHH: The album’s content is just as loaded as the title, the LP is kind of becoming a lost art it seems among independent artists entering the game. Why the full length with this one?
JC: My first project was a 30 minute EP, “If This Is How We End Things” and I just knew that after that project, I wanted to do something more. Now, I didn’t want to force anything. I was perfectly fine with Death To Reputation being 30 minutes, hell, even 20 minutes if that’s all I had to say. But I just kept going until I felt it was complete. Until it was perfect.
DEHH: Usually when I hear a record from an up and coming artist, it usually sticks to one lane, one type of sound, but if you take say “Wrath of Caesar” & pit it up against “Fall Down” they’re distinctly different sounds. How did you balance all these sounds while making sure your personality was infused in this?
JC: I think that’s what people can relate to the most. I’m not one dimensional. Every song doesn’t have as much bloodlust as “Wrath of Caesar” and every song isn’t as heavy as Fall Down and every song isn’t as intimate as Bedroom. There are some days I want to be around people, other days I just want to be left alone. There are some days where I can smile and feel really good and other days where I just can’t. I think people can connect with that and it’s portrayed in my music. It’s not all smiles and positivity over here. There’s going to be cloudy days. It’s all apart of my personality.
DEHH: I have to ask about “Fall Down”, it’s my favorite track on the album, I think black men everywhere can relate in some form to this joint. Can you speak on it a bit?
JC: Fall Down was actually the first song I wrote out of the twelve that made it on the LP. When I wrote it, I had no intentions of putting it on an LP or anything, I kinda just vented what felt right. I wrote it about two weeks after a really bad breakup, inspiring lyrics like, “you can never know love if you never know the meaning of sacrifice, your happiness comes at the expense of mine”.
But I knew it wasn’t a breakup song. I knew it wasn’t a relationship song. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had daddy issues or not. In some way, a person in your life has built you up to a height that surpasses skyscrapers, and hurt you by letting you fall down from that height. Whether it was a friend, loved one, or a role model, someone has let you down. Someone has disappointed you, and sometimes we never recover. We never trust again or love again or result to self-destructive behavior in order to cope with the pain.
DEHH: Tell me about hip-hop culture in Chicago and what you bring to it?
JC: I love it. I absolutely love it. And it’s wild to me that I’m apart of it. I never thought about it like being “apart” of it, but here I am. I just want to be the rapper that I always wanted to exist, you know? I want people to listen to my music and think “Finally, someone said exactly how I feel. Someone finally gets it” Every artist is different. There are some people who will connect with other artists better than they can with me, and I’m perfectly fine by that. But the ones who connect with me know exactly what I bring to hip hop and they value and it and know that it’s Chicago.
DEHH: I can’t believe we’re halfway through 2018, will we see you on tour? What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?
JC: Haha I hope so. I’ve got more food music coming out this year, so definitely stay tuned for that. But other than that, I go where God wants me to go.