DETROIT —“Reporting Live” features 15 original songs from the Detroit emcee, featuring guest appearances from national artists Freeway, Saigon and Eternia, plus production from Monkodelic, Oddisee, Black Bethoven and more. Babygrande Records is handling international distribution, a company with a 10-year history of delivering independent albums from artists like Brand Nubian, Wu-Tang Clan and more.
The album is a follow up to the critically acclaimed album “Gas Mask” from the group The Left, released in 2010 through Mello Music Group. The Left featured Journalist 103, Apollo Brown and DJ Soko, and the concept of the album’s title was to warn audiences that hip hop music is being used against the people like poison. Positive, thought-provoking music can act as a “gas mask” to help filter out the nonsense.
Journalist 103 says he senses the urgency in bringing hip hop back to its roots of creative expression as a way to help society. Listening to popular hip hop and R&B music on the radio today tends to promote negative behaviors, he says.
“You’re talking about an art that’s barely 30 years old,” says Journalist 103, “but coming up in the ‘90s, there was a clear distinction: this is a hip hop record, this is an R&B record. Now they’re almost identical. Everything is oversexed, everything is all about money, everything is all about superficial things. Nothing feeds the soul, there’s no nourishment in the music. It doesn’t stimulate the brain.”
“Reporting Live” builds on the statement that “Gas Mask” made about hip hop as a culture being neglected by the corporations who control distribution and promotion of the music. When popular rap artists appeal only to materialism, misogyny and criminal behavior, the art becomes separated from the hearts of the people.
“The music corporations, they manufacture music,” says Journalist 103. “It’s not meant to be manufactured; it’s a creative process, you have to create it. It has to come from the heart. When writing something, I never come in with trying to follow gimmicks, or just be insincere. I want the audience to feel where I come from, I want them to feel like they can relate.”
Journalist 103 has been a productive member of Detroit’s hip hop scene for over 15 years, first as a member of the group Mountain Climbaz, then as an artist affiliated with Iron Fist Records, the local label run by the late Proof of D12. His music has always been praised for high quality, but opportunities to reach a wide audience were elusive.
“For years and years, (we were) trying to get into the industry,” says Journalist 103. “It seems like every summer we would get close and the door would slam in our face(s). I could not understand it for the life of me. I said, ‘The music is dope, there’s radio singles,’ and I couldn’t understand it.”
But Journalist says when he started to do things his own way, things started to open up for him.
“I started going in the direction that I needed to go,” he said.