Jerry Afemata aka J Boog, a singer of Samoan descent, was born in Long Beach and raised in Compton, California. Growing up in the rough streets of Compton, the strong sense of tradition and culture that J Boog absorbed from his family was instrumental in his path to stay off the streets and begin a successful music career. At the age of four, after hearing his older sister playing the piano, he developed an interest and started watching her and learning about music. Soon, J Boog was singing along to the notes & melodies he heard his sister play. A while later, she brought home a Bob Marley song book. Even at this young age, J Boog knew Bob's name and his music. Upon hearing his sister begin to play, something clicked inside J Boog. He hasn't been the same since.
These days Boog is either in a studio, on a stage or catching a flight. Radio interviews have become a daily thing and it's a little overwhelming for the young artist, though he has been smart enough to keep his humility. He has a great sense of humor and an even better sense of reality. He can be overheard saying how blessed he is on a daily basis. It's easy to see why J Boog has been winning over fans when you meet him. He has the right spirit and attitude to carry him to the next level.
Q: J Boog, thanks for taking the time to speak to dubcnn! You recently got back from a tour in Australia, how was your experience Down Under?
A: The vibe was very nice out there and they really supported. They all came out and I think the show that I remember the most was the one in Cairns, a lot of Aborigines came out and a lot of Papua New Guinea people. It was crazy. (laughs)
Q: For those who aren't quite familiar with you, I'd like to go back in time real quick. You're a man of many influences, let us know your background.
A: I grew up in Compton. I'm Samoan and for those of you who don't know what a Samoan is or where Samoa is: it's in the South Pacific, 5 hours away from Hawaii, 10 hour flight from California. I pretty much grew up real traditional with my family and that gave us a strong bond with our culture, we're very family oriented. My family was very strict on everything, making sure we did not mess up in life. (laughs) But growing up in Compton didn't really make it easy for us anyway from the start, so my parents had to do double work on us.
Q: But you ended up moving to Hawaii later on?
A: I moved to Hawaii a coupe of years actually, when we had started working on music and were recording my "Hear Me Roar" album (2007). We were just supposed to go out there to meet some people, which was Fiji and a label out there that was interested in us and wanted to check me out. But I was working at the time, I was working in a refinery, and I said "You know what? Let me give it a chance." So we went out there, met the people and they pretty much put me on the spot in front of a barbershop. It was like 8 of them surrounding me and said "Go 'head! Bust! Let us hear what you got." So I sang the song and from then on, the very next day we started working on the album and banged it out within a week and a half. Then I came back to California and went back to work. A couple of weeks later I got a call from my people out there and they were saying "Your album is blowing up!" I was just thinking I'm recording the album and going back home, like whatever. But people started to ask around "Who's this new kid?" So I went back out and pretty much left my job on the spot, moved out there and left everything behind, just to push music. It came out the blue, but I'm glad that it did, because it was the start of something magical.
Q: Would you say that all the different places that you lived (from Compton, the Bay) helped shape your musical talent to what it is now?
A: Moving around in different areas and catching different vibes from places has made me grow as an artist, such as lyrically in music. I'm glad I got the chance to move around and WashHouse has provided me with that opportunity to be traveling places and going to new scenes. But my favorite spot now is the Bay Area. We stayed in Frisco for a while before we moved up to Berkeley. We have a lot of friends that are DJs, like JahWarrior Shelter. Just a whole lot of people down here. It's cool because we can go to the clubs, and there's a lot of foreign artists that come down here weekly to the Bay. We go to the shows and see what else is out there. We always hear new stuff and pick up on that. Frisco is pretty much a hot spot for reggae, so it was a good move coming down here.
Q: Now your first album came out in 2007. How would you compare the EP that just came out & the upcoming album "Backyard Boogie" to the sound of the first album?
A: The first album was pretty much more easy-going, island/Hawaiian reggae. On the EP, we featured a lot of stuff that is sticking more to the traditional Jamaican reggae. That's kind of the direction we're taking for this next album right now.
Q: You landed a hit with "Let's Do It Again". Tell us about the making of the song, as well as the responses you've received for it.
A: It was actually a huge response when that single dropped. Before it even dropped on iTunes, when Don (Corleon) had put it out, he actually called me while I was in the studio in Frisco and said "You know the song that you did? Man everyone's loving it in Jamaica and it's blowing up! People are asking about it!" It started to go from Jamaica to the Bay Area, and I was just so happy to hear it on the radio and everyone playing it in the clubs. I was hella excited! *laughs* It's a good feeling and I'm just thankful for the support from all of the fans. We're just going to try to keep doing the same things we've been doing -- putting out good music.
Q: How did you hook up with Fiji, and how was it working with him? I read that he was your favorite artist growing up.
Yeah that's pretty much the Polynesian Michael Jackson right there. *laughs* He was actually one of the ones I saw at that time when I left my job. They were in a parking lot, and I thought I was just going to go down to meet him and that would be it. But we kind of built a relationship from then on, and he's been my mentor ever since. I'm thankful for that. He's helped me grow as an artist, and putting me up on game and lacing me up with good advice.
Q: When can we expect to hear "Backyard Boogie"?
A: Man I don't even know yet. If you wanna check it out, I can send it to you right now. (laughs)
Q: Tell me about your single "Sunshine Girl".
A: Yeah, Peetah Morgan. We did that song in New York. The beat is by Gramps Morgan. It's a cool track.
Q: Anything else you want to let everyone know?
A: If you need any information, you can go to WashHousemusic.net or jboogmusic.com and all the links will be there. We just want to say thank you again for all your love and support. Look out for the album and get the EP. Boom Bang!
Interview by Dubcnn|
(Please do not reproduce without permission)