Posted by: Necci – Jul 31, 2012
I recently got a chance to meet up with local emcee Jo Casino to talk about the future, ups and downs of hip hop, and what’s next for him. From what I gathered Jo is very smart, sophisticated, and comedic for such a busy emcee. I was hoping to come to a house like the one is his video for “Weed and Andre,” but where we were really wasn’t that type of environment. Jo Casino, like most local emcees, has a job and is a normal RVA resident, just like you. The one thing that stood out to me about him was the fact that he was so down to earth and has a great outlook on the future of his music and persona. Here’s what he had to say:
How do you feel about the RVA scene today?
I feel as though there’s not enough of a budget for mainstream artists to come to this city. We have to get behind the music and make it consistent. It's like the artists come here just hit select places, like William And Mary, U of R, and bigger venues, because a lot of promoters don’t put out the budget for promotion and push in the city. You can’t worry about putting Richmond on the map if you aren’t leaving Richmond and bringing your buzz back to the city. The more you do outside of the city, the more people will pay attention to the city because you are from there.
Describe who is in your "entourage.”
Well, we really don’t have a name, but my team consists of No Name No Brain; Cons, who is our Producer and Engineer; Terrorist Gang, which is a young crew out of high school; my team BearBoyz; and Cons’s group Mix Breed. We’ve been working together for almost a year and a half, and we all lived, at the time, close to each other. Through working together we just created a bond. When I first started to do music I had to go to Hampton to record a lot of my music, which was a pain due to the amount of money spent and timing of the turnaround on tracks I recorded. It’s a big chain, and we all work hard at our craft. If you take certain mainstream cliques for example, all of them can have different sounds musically, but you will always see collaboration or even someone pop up in a video from time to time. This is how we are.
What are some downfalls that you see happening with Hip Hop?
There are three: money, drugs, and women. The money causes you to do a lot of outlandish things because you have so much of it. Drugs, because doing too much of it can cause you to alter the state of your craft. Women, because they can suck up your money or just plain break your heart. For example look at Kanye West with 808s and Heartbreak. It’s only so much you can deal with in this industry. Everybody wants to be a star until they experience what they go through. I would’ve hated to have been Chris Brown during the Rihanna situation [RVA Magazine does not endorse sympathizing with Chris Brown. -ed.]. That brings me to tell everyone to get a P.R. (Public Relations) Consultant. This is one key thing to have in the industry, because when a situation happens you don’t want to be the one the public has to confront. It’s like having a lawyer.
If you had to describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Well, I would say a diamond, because they last forever, but I would be lying, so I would say a bear. The bear is one of the most powerful animals in the forest. I saw too many “wolf” this and “dog” that, so I decided to go another route. We used to call ourselves wolves due to the mischief that we caused in the late hours in my neighborhood growing up, but I saw that those symbols were being overused so I came up with Bear Boyz. A bear would kill a dog or wolf instantly. Yeah, I think that describes me best.
What’s next for Jo Casino?
We are looking to market and tour many venues in Georgia and Florida promoting my team, Bear Boyz. I will have an album dropping next month entitled Spacebound. We will also be starting our online merchandise store, which will start off selling Bear Boyz shirts, pens, pins, and lighters. Then I have a project coming out with my producer Cons called D.I.E (Death Is Everything). I’m very excited about this project due to it being like a mini-story. Overall we have a lot of work coming up and I will keep doing shows throughout the month.
Overall my interview with Jo was quite an experience. One thing that stood out to me that he talked about was getting in the James River for the first time recently. He explained how, even though it looked dangerous, if he had never got in, he would have never known how it was. Life is about taking chances, and the chances Jo takes are taking him far. Be on the lookout for Jo Casino.
By Roger Tyler