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Meet Jeph.Ilosopher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeph.Ilosopher.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I grew up in Northeast Baltimore City, the youngest of 4 to a White American mother and a Sierra Leonean father.

My journey with the musical arts started in my diary, I wrote poetry and changed the lyrics of my favorite songs for catharsis or just for fun. Around this time I became enamored with the 4 elements of hip-hop (DJing, breakdancing, graffiti and rap) and practiced all of them. I realized I had a talent for it when creating beats and raps flowed naturally. I found a great solace in my art because it helped me articulate and express myself in an exciting and liberating way, contrasted by my default awkward and introverted personality. Originally, I only created rap songs for myself, but was set on becoming a hip-hop producer and focusing on beats.

I worked with some amazing local rappers in Baltimore, but ultimately realized no one can express my reality better than me. I’m a Baha’i, and I believe in the oneness of God, religion and humanity. At the same time, I am highly influenced by my environment, and being a millennial, that environment also includes the internet. I experience the world differently as a visually impaired person with Retinitis Pigmentosa. These are just a few of the things that have shaped my identity and why I could never rely on another artist to speak for me. No one should.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
In the early years with my music, I struggled with what my sense of purpose. As an artist, you really put yourself out there and make yourself vulnerable. At the same time, artists are usually sensitive because we process abstract emotions and experiences. There were plenty of messages around me that told me to focus on monetizing my music to make a living off of it. I admire and respect those that do, but for me, diving into the business aspect of music is creatively draining and a gamble.

In 2013, I quit my job to focus on community building in Baltimore City, focusing on empowering middle school kids to develop their power of expression and use it to be of service to their neighborhoods. It was through this 2.5 year period that I realized the purpose of my music is to inspire and uplift. It kind of took the identity crisis aspect out of it when I realized it’s not all about me anymore. I have a separate career for my livelihood and I still have plenty of time for music. I’m in a very content place now.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I create inspiring, thought-provoking and fun music that aims to be universal. I specialize in hip-hop inspired by jazz, electronic and rock. I play piano, guitar, drums, rap, sing and compose. I’ve always wrote, produced, recorded, mixed and published my own work, and have also created most of my album covers.

I’ve also done international projects, such as 10 original songs teaching English for Chinese students that has been used in the Mainland in summer camps.

My music has been broadcasted over radio in Iran, and I’ve collaborated with artists from all over the world, including Toronto, Iran, Mexico, Kenya, UK, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Italy Chile, and all over the US.

My music productions are also used as theme songs for the Interfaith-Ish podcast.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Breakdancing, video games, cracking jokes with friends, but otherwise, I just loved being at home with my sister and brothers. I’m grateful to have had an overall very peaceful childhood.

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