I’m from the city that let five little girls get bombed. I’m obligated to push this movement. ~Jabo
In January 2014, a young Alabama State University graduate captured headlines when he saw his dreams come to life. Friends and family of Javan Ishman waited with excitement to see the international premier of “What I’m About” on BET’s 106 & Park video countdown. The debut single for aspiring rapper Javan Ishman, who performs under the moniker Jabo, was a major accomplishment for a young artist from Alabama.
Despite receiving modest attention, the track introduced Jabo to the world as a rapper determined to be heard while “reppin” his hometown of “West End,” a small community within Birmingham, Alabama. The freshman project featured performances from his musical influences Jada Kiss and Slim Thug.
A few years later, I caught up with a more experienced and mature Jabo and he gave me a one-on-one interview to talk about what he’s been up to since his song debuted on the 106 & Park countdown. The day of our interview, Jabo was celebrating his 30th birthday and out promoting his new socially-conscious cut, “Go Back.” The uptempo track is a precursor to his forthcoming album. The soul-stirring track was produced by @ZuriRunIt with videography done by @Travoski.
In this interview, the aspiring rapper opened up about his musical influences. Surprisingly he gave me a candid interview about his views on the political climate and the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency.
Cops killing kids because they racist, Willie Lynch is in effect.. show them that injustice won’t be tolerated. ~Jabo
ATB: In a 2014 interview, you mentioned that you wanted to leave your footprint in the music industry. Do you feel that you’ve done that in the last two years? Your work has been featured on popular sites like World Star, Media Take-Out, and now Swurv Radio.
Jabo: Well yes and no. I admit, I have covered a lot of ground and I have done a lot in my career. Personally, I feel that my journey is just beginning. Although people have this perception that “Jabo has already made it,” I think it’s limiting to me and my lyrical skills to think that I have no room to grow. I am grinding harder and striving for more each and every hour of the day because I know that I have a lot of talent.
ATB: I noticed that you chose college before pursuing your rap career. Out of curiosity, why didn’t you just jump directly into the industry?
Jabo: Well It wasn’t that clear and simple. My mind was set on going to college to play baseball before I started to take music serious. During my Sophomore year at Alabama State University, I kinda fell in love with my music. But being the type of dude who likes to finish what I start, I felt it was only right earn my degree.
ATB: I’m sure that had to be a difficult path, trying to be successful in both.
Jabo: It was rough. It had its ups and downs. But I was committed though to have a backup plan. As the man of my house, I had to be able to support my family until my music picked up. I am just blessed to have a God that blessed me to be able to do both.
ATB: You do a great job making sure that your music was placed in the right hands. Was this purposely done or was it out of sheer coincidence?
Jabo: Almost everything I did was learned through trial and error. When I first started out, my music was pumped by word of mouth and through street distribution. Now that everything is digital, it makes it easier for me. I have a great research team that finds blogs and magazines that are perfect fits for my brand.
ATB: What advice would you give to young artists about marketing their product?
Jabo: Artists should identify their demographics and figure out a way to reach fans. We really need to go back to building personal relationships and networks to help getting music placed as well. All and all, an artist really has to be hands on to make sure their music gets in the right hands.
ATB: I understand that you have a new album coming out, is it titled yet?
Jabo: Yes and No, I’ve been throwing around a few names for the official album, but nothing too concrete just yet. I do have a mixtape series “Its All On Me” releasing later this month, early November. My album should drop near the end of the year. I usually tell the name of my album closer to the release date.
ATB: Which track do you think fans will like the most and why?
Jabo: I think the track fans will like most from my album is a track called “Go Getter.” The track was produced by XoOnDaBeat and it’s just one of those songs that just makes you want to dance! My nephews are young and they jam to it all the time. So it’s one of those songs that the kids can dance to and the old heads can relate to. Everybody wants to be a “Go Getter”
ATB: As an entertainer, you probably have been keeping up with the political dialogue. We see that Atlanta rappers TI and Killer Mike have been very outspoken in their political views. As an fellow Atlanta artist, what are your thoughts of how the election has divided our country?
Jabo: As a young voter, I must say that this is one of the most publicized elections in my memory. Politics are always cut throat in my eyes. I’m not here to be an activist or pretend like I know the answer to the problem. In my opinion, politics, race and social class go hand and hand. Our country has always been divided not just around election time. For us to act like this line of separation just began is nonsense. No matter if the president is black, white, Mexican, Japanese, green, yellow, or blue, there will always be a divide in our country. I stand up for what’s right and I pray that the younger generation will push to ensure that the line is fair for all races.
ATB: What do you think America would look like with Trump as president?
Jabo: I don’t know and I don’t want to even imagine that. SO PEOPLE PLEASE GO VOTE!!
ATB: What’s next for Jabo? Are you going to produce artist? Tour?
Jabo: As mentioned earlier, “Its All On Me” exclusively produced by The Officialz will drop and of course my team and I are still moving around city to city spreading the word and keeping people hip to my movement. As far as me producing artist, I’m not looking to do that just yet. But if the right opportunity presents itself and the timing is right, who knows?
Right now though, I’m just focused on advancing my brand and my campaign as we move forward in the industry. I have a few endorsements on the table that I can’t speak of right now but I do have a lot of things on the table to be excited about.
ATB: How can our readers find more information about you on social media?
Jabo: I’m @JaboEnt on all social sites. livemixtapes/Jabo x itunes/Jabo x Instagram @JaboEnt x Twitter @JaboEnt x FaceBook @JaboEnt