Jesse Boykins III has become a musical merchant throughout the world, trading his spirit through his sounds and movements for the pure energy of his fans for the last four years. The Beauty Created was the last time the Zulu Guru gave us an LP. This intergalactic soul traveler talked to us about his journey, his humble drug-dealing beginning, his vision, sensitivity and more. His writing of The Love Apparatus on the C train has taken him to this point. Check out an artist that wants to make inspirational music.
Long Time Coming… I am coming out in Spring 2014. The whole album took me four years. I started the album in 2010 Spring and I started the documentary in the Spring of 2011.
What’s Inside … I have always felt self-driven. Being in the music and art industry, you have to believe in yourself and your vision. I always have my own ideas, and I am always trying to grow.
Exploration … I’m a visionary. I am an explorer. I like to be uncomfortable, and I like having to adapt to different situations. I am constantly trying to challenge myself.
A True Man’s Sensitivity … I’m sensitive! I think that the meaning of sensitive has been distorted by society. Being sensitive is just being aware. I think it has shifted in our culture. Being sensitive is a great thing. If I can feel something before it actually happens, it helps you deal with certain situations. It helps you challenge yourself to resolve an issue without having to resort to just wanting to fight. It makes you think. Anything that is a career choice, I ask myself how something makes me feel, and I acknowledge that. I’ll say to myself, 'next time I’ll add this or do that'.
Man Being Man … Society forces a lot of men to ignore the sensitivity they possess. They hide and mask their feelings. They mimic the personification of drug dealers and pimps. They try to play games and act like someone that they are not … that’s not being a real man. It takes so much to be a real man. There is so much lacking in masculinity today.
Growing & Development … There were a series of things that happened to me personally that helped me become a better person. My move to N.Y.C. was such an important part of my growth. Hearing new things and having different conversations with people from places like Sweden and Istanbul. Studying under Bilal and being exposed to Buddhism. Also, when I started to traveling and performing I had to start paying attention because I might be in a place where I do not speak the language. I have to pay attention or I would get lost. I have to listen and learn.
The World vs. The States … People throughout the world are used to taking risk in their everyday lives. They are used to things being different. Different is accepted. I kept pushing the boundary with my music. You can call it Alternative, Pop, Dance or Soul. In Europe, when someone is growing up, they have the opportunity to see the rest of Europe. They can see Europe by just packing a backpack and buying a train ticket. In the States, you can travel to different states, but you still go to the same McDonalds and speak the same language. I will say that it is starting to change here. But regardless, it has always been me to push the boundaries and evolve.
Places I Love … Johannesburg, South Africa has to be on the top of the list for their culture and music. It was amazing to see so many young individuals that were just not academically educated but equally educated in culture.
I was at the radio station, and they were doing a competition to give away Drake tickets and the question was, “Tell us what year apartheid ended.” That’s a history question. They were more about educating their youth there.
Negro Tripping … When people keep saying you're that ni**a, eventually you are going to think you’re that ni**a.
Sold Out … Anytime someone is doing something great they try to buy it. They try to buy it or manipulate it, but you can’t manipulate something that is real and authentic. That’s why music became about fantasy and not real life. They could manipulate fantasy but not the truth.
Bruno Mars & His Supreme Team … Bruno Mars is super creative in his own right. He also has the right business people around him.
Preach … A lot of artists are intelligent but too scared to preach what they believe, they rather take a check. When you get to the point when you have $30 million in the bank … is that enough? When is it enough? How do you lose site of where you came from? If I’m super successful, I never want to lose site of who helped me get to that point. I don’t want to forget living on people’s couches and selling drugs like I did.
There was a time when people recognized me as an artist, I didn’t have money… I can’t forget that struggle. I write songs that influences lives. I’m way more about integrity than appeal. I’m not just about trends.
Adorn … Miguel is a trendsetter. He’s not writing the songs Trey Songz sings. He talks about his experiences. Imagine Trey Songz singing “Adorn.”
Emotion On Stage … I was watching the Grammy’s performance with Kendrick Lamar. I liked it because it had emotion. You could clearly tell that they had rehearsed. The other artists seemed like they barely rehearsed. They had no emotion. You have to think about the songs and how it is communicated visually. Who would have thought that he would wear all white with paint shooting at him with Imagine Dragon? You have to take it there! In the 1970s, you had to put on a show. They had outfits made … they put in the effort!
Mentorship … I had to figure all these things out myself. When you have to do it on your own, you have to try harder. Kendrick Lamar could call Dr. Dre and Frank Ocean could call James Fauntleroy.
I’m listening to … West Africa music, Emily King, Same Sex Twins, Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, world music, South African music and Gregorian chant. I listen to all types of music.
Rap Alias … Enlightenment.
Favorite Hip Hop Album … “Late Registration”
Pure Love … Hard work.
Broken-heart type of Love … Ego getting in the way.
Musical Love Child … Lead singer from Little Dragon, Yukimi.
Guilty Pleasure … Movie hopping.
Musical Influences … My friends like Jeremy Most, guitarist and bass player. I’m influenced by styles of music like Salsa, Merengue and Bachata. In elementary school, I was influenced by the sounds of Stevie and Marvin Gaye. Before that it was reggae and jazz. When I went to college, I started to listen to Coldplay and RadioHead. When I had the opportunity to travel the world it was Dub, Jungle and Deep House. When I went to D.C., I listen to House. Where ever I can get it!
“Schwaza Life”… It evolved into the acknowledgement of life and making sure we appreciate what’s going on. It’s being true to you and being yourself.