Jaq Havoq proves his lyricism and ear for melody with debut album + we interview the Vancouver rapper..
Vancouver rapper Jaq Havoq introduced his witty rhymes and melodic hip-hop earlier this year with his tracks "Predator" and "Ryda" giving Vancouver even more local hip-hop to absorb. Since then he's worked on his brand and strived to show that Vancouver definitely has a rap scene that is bound to pop off much like Toronto's once did. Though his first couple releases ("Ryda" and "Predator") are tracks solely for the hip-hop heads and may not be the most digestible for the mainstream ear, he introduces the second side to his music; with a melodic approach blending R&B hooks with pensive verses. Though his versatility widens his audience, coming up in a time that lyricism isn't as respected as it was in the past, he has an uphill battle that he's more than prepared to face with the release of his debut album, Time Well Spent.
Jaq Havoq's debut album consists of 10-tracks that blend sounds from all genres giving us the underground lyricism that hip-hop heads can all appreciate to laid-back bars with melodies that we once heard on the late Mac Miller's K.I.D.S. album. Jaq Havoq includes three features on his debut, starting with Atlanta singer Constantine who arguably has the best chorus on the project on "Every Night," Breana Marin and lastly Noman.
The album opens with the lyrically aggressive and Meek Mill-type intro track, "About Me;" which the Vancouver rapper shares is his favourite track off the album as it truly displays his lyrical finesse. Including the intro track "About Me," the album arguably kicks off with the two best tracks immediately giving you a clear picture of the two sides to Jaq Havoq with "Every Night" showing us his melodic and R&B influences. His ear for melody came from the early influence Kid Cudi's Man on The Moon had on him when he was younger in turn allowing him to experiment with a much more laid-back approach to hip-hop (some may call them good smoking jams), which is heard again on the following tracks, "Neverland" and "Role One." Again you hear the influence Mac Miller had on the Vancouver rapper with Jaq's "I Wana Feel" and "On The Way" conveying the same blend of R&B and jazzy production Mac Miller's The Divine Feminine delivered. To close his debut album, Jaq brings it back to the days of young love on the reminiscent "6th Street" while what sounds like the second part of his intro track, "Life I Chose" brings it all together almost as if he's finishing his thought from "About Me."
Time Well Spent gives us a balanced debut album that distributes both sides of Jaq Havoq evenly giving bangers to the hip-hop heads while slowing it down for the ladies and/or smokers. Like his name may suggest, Jaq Havoq is a blend of many sounds, which we uncovered after interviewing the Vancouver rapper in the eve of the release of his highly anticipated debut album. Check out our interview below and support Vancouver's local hip-hop.
An Interview with Jaq Havoq
By Miguel B.
First things first. How did the name Jaq Havoq come about? Is it an ode to Mobb Deep’s Havoc or a tribute to some other artist in the industry or simply something you made up? Tell us the story behind it and why you chose not to use your own name although a lot of rappers are starting to.
I just made it up honestly. I knew about Havoc from Mobb Deep, but I wouldn’t say it was a tribute at all. I wanted to have a name that was unique. My focus was finding a name where nothing else would come up if you searched it, which is not easy nowadays. I wanted to incorporate a Q and J somehow to represent my real name Quinn Jones. After brainstorming potential names, I eventually settled on Jaq Havoq. I just liked the ring to it and the fact it didn’t have a “lil” in front of it.
What made you choose to go down the lyricist path as a rapper, especially during these times that lyricism isn’t as respected as it used to be by the youth; in turn making it harder to blow up?
I grew up listening to artists like Eminem, Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, and Lupe Fiasco. These guys showed me that hip hop was a way telling stories in intricate and clever ways, just as much as it is about making is sound appealing to the listener. To this day, my favourite feeling is listening to a song I’ve heard 50+ times and catching a metaphor or reference that I didn’t understand until right then. For example, I subtly constructed the second verse of Neverland as a tribute to Eminem. Most people will never hear that, but I hope for those that do, it will bring them a similar feeling!
In addition to your purely hip-hop tracks like “About Me,” “Ryda,” and “Predator,” you tend to blend a lot of melody and R&B into your sound. What artists inspire you and your sound to blend those two worlds together?
I caught the original “vibe” so to speak when I first heard Man On the Moon by Kid Cudi in high school. I consider this one of the greatest albums of all time and always will. My more recent influences come from artist like Post Malone, Anderson. Paak, and the late Mac Miller. RIP. The way they have/had their own unique way of blending difference genres and styles to create a new vibe is something I have always admired.
My favourite track off your debut album is “Every Night.” The contrast and relationship between the R&B/pop chorus and pensive verses on “Every Night” reminds me of an Eminem type release like “Beautiful Pain” off ‘MMLP2.’ How did the collaboration with Constantine come together?
That’s one of my favourites as well! I was searching for producers to collaborate with on the album and eventually came across Legion Beats. I was immediately impressed with their production and when I reached out learned they were a team of producers who have worked with artists like Chris Brown, Kendrick Lamar, and TI to name a few. They regularly worked with Constantine and had a track he had recorded a hook for, but it needed verses to complete it. When I heard it, I immediately fell in love and knew I could bring it all together! The rest was history.
You tend to veer towards either recording a song where you purely rap like on “About Me” or tend to take a more relaxed and vibed-out approach on like “Neverland.” Which version of Jaq Havoq do you relate with the most or enjoy the most?
I would say that songs like “Neverland” relate more to my everyday personality. I’m naturally a very laid back and chill person. That being said, when I get in front of a mic it’s a different story. When it comes to my confidence and stage presence as Jaq Havoq, I would say “About Me” is a better representation of that side. I enjoy both though!
Your debut album is out. What is next for Jaq Havoq.. any shows coming up?
Always grinding! I’m extremely proud of this project, but the work is only getting started and I know there’s a lot to be done!
Looking to line up a few shows in Vancouver, the Okanagan, and Seattle this January and February, so look out for those. I’m also putting out a clothing line in the new year, which I’m looking forward to!
If you were to meet someone who didn’t know who Jaq Havoq was, what would be your go-to track you’d play them first?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I would probably show them “About Me” assuming they’re more of a hiphophead. If they are more into the slower R&B style, I would show them either “Every Night” or “On The Way”
Future collaboration goals. Tell me your top 3.
Dam, only three? I mean it depends on the kind of track I’m putting together. If I had to pick three I would probably say Chance, Post, and Eminem if he’s still writing. Chance would bring the fun energy, Post would bring the vibes, and Eminem would bring the bars! All the things I love!