J Ross Parrelli, a California native, is making a name for herself on this side of the country, winning first place in the January edition of the monthly Elegant Hoodness Musical Program, calling attention to her independent release, Lov’n Mak’n Music.
J Ross has ventured to the New York City area to stir the waters a bit in the underground scene, so a visit to Elegant Hoodness was definitely on her schedule. Judges for the evening included the legendary super producer Domingo, and as a result, a collaboration of some sorts with J Ross and Domingo is in the works. N.A.B. of course sat down with J Ross Parrelli to discuss Elegant Hoodness, Lov’n Mak’n Music and pursuing change through music.
N.A.B.: J Ross Parrelli, is that your birth name or stage name?
J Ross: It’s a mixture of both. I stay close to my roots, but some things are just acquired through the fam that gets to know your characteristics.
N.A.B.: You sing and rap like you’ve been doing it since birth. How long have you been singing and rapping? Do you prefer any one over the other?
J Ross: I been swinging from trees and singing since I was a ye’ little one. Karaoke closet junkie all through high school, but really didn’t sing openly until college, with my brother. The truth is, I have a love affair with lyricism. After singing, I was intrigued with words more then melodies. Singing is like my oxygen, my umbilical chord to my soul, my lifeline… But lyrics… Good meaningful lyrics, interesting enough to make people not only want to sing, but listen to, are the true challenge. Once I got in to slam poetry in college, I was a wordsmith junkie. Lyrics and emceeing keeps my heart beating.
N.A.B.: Your style is very different. Who are some of your inspirations?
J Ross: Growing up with Motown, the Jackson 5, Earth, Wind and Fire, Cher, The Temptations, and also jazz like Keiko Mansui, Brand New Heavies, Jeff Bradshaw… But when I heard reggae, I rediscovered my faith in music. I fell in love with Bob Marley first, Steel Pulse, Judy Mowatt… That turned me out into KRS-One and Arrested Development. I just love good music. I love soul, Fefe Dobinson, Stephen Marley, Sizzla, Sade, Talib Kweli, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald. Give me it all…
N.A.B.: What is your purpose in music? Some do it for the love, others do it for the money. What do you do it for?
J Ross: I do it for change. “Every movement spent is one in a forward movement.” I tie a lot of what I do with Soar Nation. Soar Nation links non-profit organizations with public and private businesses, so when you buy a t-shirt you love, a percentage goes to a non-profit of your choice. You buy Billibong and Pur, donates 10 gallons of clean water to people who need it most. Soar Nation and Road Trip Nation also sponsored myself and Yanski (founder of Soar) to drive cross-country, from California to NY, interviewing homeless veterans. Hip Hop in High School is a series of workshops that we teach amongst youth, specifically at-risk youth, and we are constantly doing benefit shows to raise money for youth programs. I am community bound. With a belief that one day I’ll make it to the top where money is not an issue. That’s the goal. The dream is to see change in our government, communities and global living situations through music.
N.A.B.: 2010, you brought the year in right winning first place at The Elegant Hoodness Musical Program in NY in January. How was your experience at Elegant Hoodness? Does it differ from showcases in Cali?
J Ross: In all honesty I’ve never rocked a competition in Cali. Emcee battles, definitely, but not showcases. NY has their grind, it’s a whole different grind with music. It seems like Cali, Hollywood specifically, is more the hustle of movies and acting.
Elegant Hoodness on the other hand, was a chance for me to check who’s out here on the East Coast and see what the music scene is bringing to the table. Each competition I have been to out here, like 50 Mics, Hot 97, everybody seems to carry a similar style, in terms of swag, lyrics and/or production. Elegant Hoodness actually has a meaning behind it, a community, folks that take the music and turn it into change. N.A.N and N.A.B., there is more than music, there is fam..
N.A.B.: Talk about your project “Lov’n Mak’n Music”.
J Ross: Wow, this project. This project was about six to eight months of the best and worst days of my life. A homey of mine and fellow emcee Eyezon introduced me to a producer of his over the phone and we hit it off. Sean Lane was out there in South Carolina listening to some J Ross Parrelli and thought it was a good idea to give up everything he owns and come out to Long Beach to put a project together. I felt honored and blessed since his talents… Ah damn!!! I mean, just listen to a track off the album. There is no song that sounds like another. He has such amazing production… We got to utilize my live band as well as throwing in violins, saxophones, guitars, stand up bass and trumpets. That whole live element just brings music up to another level.
The biggest inspiration was losing my dearest friend and musical alibi, Dread I (Isaac Canales) midway through the project. Dread I directed the music for the band and wrote a lot of the original J Ross Parrelli instrumentals, so that really got me on my toes, hustle face on, upper hand strong. So for me this album signifies him. I’m lov’n mak’n music!
N.A.B.: What is one thing that you would like people to remember about your music?
J Ross: My music is love, my music is real, my music is for change, it’s for humanity, it’s for my family, and for the struggle. I represent people.
N.A.B.: Any shoutouts?
J Ross: My grandma, shout out to my hot grammy, RDTC, Soar Nation, Dread I, Collective I in LBC, One Love Community in LBC, YanSki, Calafia Zulu Nation and to my people.
Visit J Ross Parelli on the web at www.msparrelli.com.
J. Ross Parrelli on Memoirs by A.D. The General (internet radio show on Street Market Radio, Mondays 6pm – 8pm):
- A.D. The General & Ms. FeFe (N.A.N. / N.A.B.)
A.D. The General is the CEO/Founder of N.A.N./N.A.B. and the
Elegant Hoodness Musical Program (eleganthoodness.ning.com).
A.D., Ms. FeFe and the rest of the NAN/NAB staff host showcases,
radio and TV programs and write for several hip-hop publications.