This week we interview Chicago Media Personality JNiice. He is of Jamaican decent and wears the Jamaican colors proudly. He sat down with us to discuss his new projects, his radio & TV shows and his love for adventure.
Q: How are you connected to Jamaica Do you visit often?
Dad is from somewhere near Constant Spring. Mom went to Camperdown and dad went to All Saints. My parents raised us in Far Rockaway, Queens NY. Like most Jamaican parents in the states do, my parents instilled a very strong sense of cultural identity in us. Being around Dad taught me about all the Rocksteady and Reggae greats including Toots and the Maytals, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley. My mom sang us so many of the Jamaican folk songs. Tales of lizard catching, mango picking, duppy stories and Jonkanoo festivals occupied my imagination as a child. Limacol on the forehead when we were sick, hardo bread and eggs for breakfast, sorrel and curry goat dinners, Easter bun and cheese, Auntie’s black cake, Sunday morning culture chunes, the EXTRA special Ackee and Salt Fish breakfasts with Mom’s fried famous dumplings, and our yearly trips “back home” are just some of the things that played a big part in shaping my perspective of who I am in this world.
Growing up I’d heard so many Jamaican versions of American tunes that by the time I’d heard the original American versions when I was older, I was surprised they were actually American songs! (Biggup Kashief Lindo…your version is still di’ best). Once I reached high school the number of stamps in my passport had far out numbered the amount of US states I’d visited. Going to Jamaica was a vivid part of my youth that I’ll remember forever. My most recent visit was to Port Royal to host an event for the Cooyah clothing company. Sadly I’ve visited much less recently because of school and work obligations.
Q: How long have you lived in Chicago?
I’ve been in Chicago for 2 years
Q: Tell us about your Radio and Video and Broadcast show? You have done quite a few celebrity interviews. Who was your best?
I started my radio career as a part time air talent in Washington D.C. at HOT 99.5. I’ve been on the air at 96.5 Kiss FM in Cleveland, Y100 in Miami and X107.1 in Grand Cayman. Currently, I am the “J” of the J and Julian morning show on CBS Broadcasting’s B96 (WBBM) FM in Chicago. Our show content is based on relationship topics and pop culture. We use our own personal stories to relate to our listeners and hopefully create a personal bond. I am also a producer and host for Chrewd/Mid C Media productions. We are a multimedia-marketing firm that creates content including music videos, commercials and interviews. Our work is seen on MTV2, network television and virally on the Internet.
It’s hard to say who my best interview is yet. I can tell you that the worst was Timbaland. He fell asleep live on the radio. I don’t hold it against him. It was actually very funny. I’m sure he was extremely tired, or the interview was extremely boring. Either way, it’s in the past, no hard feelings Timbo.
Q: Was there a celebrity that left you in awe that you barely do the interview?
Meeting and interviewing Sean Paul was mind blowing to me. I followed him from the baldhead “Stage One” days. Getting a chance to interview Sean Paul whom I’ve followed from the time I was not even in the music industry showed me that I had taken a very special path in life. One of my favourite artists was coming to MY show to have me help promote HIS album. That’s still unbelievable to me. The instant acceptance and respect he showed me when he realized he was dealing with a Yardie was priceless. There’s a different sense of camaraderie when I meet Jamaican artists than when I meet American artists.
I was shocked at how open and conversational Canadian rapper Drake was with me. He was literally an open book and made me feel like I was talking to a friend. He was one of the most pleasant celebs I’ve ever encountered.
Big Boi of the Hip-Hop group Outkast amazed me when he was able to tell a detailed story about the making of each of his songs. The excitement he displayed as he relived the moments that hit songs like “I like the Way You Move” and “Bombs Over Baghdad” were created really showed me his passion for music. Experiencing those moments with him, even if it were a story being retold to me, was very special.
Q: Being a Chicago resident have you lined up the President Obama interview just yet?
I haven’t lined up an interview with our President yet. I need to make it happen soon because my mother seems to think he’s her other son! On her recent visit to Chicago she made me take her to the Obama’s home. The armed guards on the premises didn’t deter her from trying to get a closer look at the Obama residence. My fear of being arrested or even shot cut that visit short.
Q: You have done sky diving, skiing and underwater diving. This is the sign of an adventurer. What is the next thing you are planning to do?
Each year I try to do a few dives in the Caribbean during the summer and snowboard either out west or the east coast during the winter. Most of my Scuba diving has been done in Grand Cayman where I have made a lot of close friends subsequent to my work on the radio there. Here’s a list of my next adventures.
- Scuba dive off the coast of Belize. I’ve got to get near a whale shark. If you never seen one of these before, go on YouTube NOW and search “Whale Shark”. They’re the largest fish to ever live and totally harmless.
- Travel somewhere in Africa. I’m so sorry I missed an opportunity for the World Cup in South Africa. I’d like to do a safari, a rainforest hike (before they’re completely destroyed), a camel ride through the desert or maybe just play some football with some youths at a school! Call me crazy, but shark diving in the Indian Ocean (in a cage of course) would be a dream come true! Africa is such a dynamic place with so much to experience. It’s so rich in resources, history and culture. A chance to reconnect with the place where my ancestors originate as well as have the adventure of a lifetime would be a dream come true for me.
- Snowboarding in the Alps. My cousin in England has gone and tells me it’s amazing. Everything from the snow conditions to the scenery is a snowboarder’s dream.
- Work with the youth of Jamaica. If I had the opportunity I’d love to serve as a role model/mentor to youth to let them know that I am living proof that wishes + opportunity = dreams come true. I’d love to help them dream and find opportunities.
- Marriage and fatherhood…I heard its crazy! I HAVE to try it.
Q: What media project are you working on right now?
Aside from our radio show I am also a freelance voice-over talent. I’ve been voicing commercials for radio and TV.
Q: You used to do music is there a chance you will get back to that?
At an early age my mom let me study piano, guitar and saxophone. Once I got to college I started producing Hip Hop beats and Reggae riddims. Much of that stopped when I started my radio career. At this point of my life I’ve realized that you achieve the best results when you put your ALL into a task. Consistency is the key to success. If I do go back to making music I’d love to be doing it full time so I don’t do it halfway. I get frustrated when I take on a project and I don’t reach my potential or see it through to the end. There is a chance I’d go back to making music, but it would have to be on a full time basis.
Q: Apart from jumping out of planes, riding down slopes and other thrilling adrenaline acts what do you do for fun ?
I am a football (soccer) FANATIC! I think it truly is “The Beautiful Game”. I’m currently playing with one of the oldest ball clubs in Chicago, The West Indies Jets. My life revolves around the 3 S’s; Scuba, Snowboarding and Soccer.
Q: What is playing on your IPod right now?
Getting the most spins on my iPod right now are (in no particular order) Beres Hammond, Gyptian, Jah Cure, John Mayer, Taurus Riley, Kanye West, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jay Sean, Erykah Badu, Sean Paul, The Roots and various lovers rock/culture/one drop mixes.
Q: Did you see any movies this summer What was the best move you saw this summer?
This summer I’ve saw Twilight New Moon, the documentary Disney’s Oceans, and Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio. Inception was amazing. I was impressed not only by the visual effects but by the fact that someone had the imagination to think of such a concept…a dream WITHIN a DREAM! Maaaaaad ting dat!
Q: Thanks for the interview. Do you have any closing thoughts?
It is an extreme honour to be featured in this interview. I’ve always done my best to make my mother and my people proud of me. I wear the green, black, and gold proudly because of the strength, pride, dignity and innovation of our people that’s been instilled in me. Our culture is rich, our spirit is strong and our people are beautiful. Times are rough, people are suffering, but I know that Jamaica has and continues to produce individuals who are beacons of progress, greatness and success. From the sciences, to sport, from entertainment to engineering, Jamaicans arrive at the top of the list in every area! The people of our beautiful island in the sun are the best of the best! I strive to become one of those individuals and hope to somehow pass on the tradition.
To lean more about JNiice check out his website @ www.jniice.com