GOD BLESS THE CHILD: A CONVERSATION WITH JERMISIDE & L-MARR THE STAR
Discussing the new EP with the two buckeye MCs
“The times are fertile for positive change from people who love others and want to make the world better. The only way we can do that is together.” — L-Marr The Star
Released in December 2016, the EP is an incredibly strong project comprised of only six tracks. With varied subject matter spanning from love, loss, fatherhood and the state of Ohio itself, God Bless the Child is a perfect way to end — and begin — the year. With dense beats and positive content, God Bless the Child stands out in part due to it’s extremely confident and inspirational delivery. Projects like God Bless the Child revive the spirit of soulful hip-hop capable of delivering an educational approach while still sounding fresh.
Ahead of the God Bless the Child release, Jermiside and L-Marr The Star took the time to speak about the project, their homestate of Ohio and the current landscape of unity across humanity.
ON GOD BLESS THE CHILD
Jermiside: The cover is actually a picture of my son at a #BlackLivesMatter rally after the police-shooting of Nicholas Thomas in Cobb County, Georgia. I wanted to keep everything next generation-centered and it was easy because that’s basically all my life revolved around at the time — being a Dad and (worshipping) God. So then, you have the religious imagery in the background because that’s like the foundation of everything.
L-Marr: I felt like, as I mature in life… the lyrics of the original song ring true: “God Bless the Child who has his own…” We have our own families, our own children, our own lives we are responsible for. It is important for us to have our own and do what we can for our own.
As men of different spiritual traditions, only God could bring this project together and have it reach anyone who is on the path for greatness.
Jermiside: I was happy to work with L-Marr, because I felt like he brought a more diverse sound to the table than what people typically know me for. The funny part: this is probably more representative of my style than the majority of the music I’ve put out over the years.
To me, it feels like more of a return than a risk.
L-Marr: Much like Jerm, this is mostly a return back to what I was most known for before I moved to Atlanta. When I moved there, I began to write songs for other artists, became more comfortable singing (though I’ve been singing my whole life) and understanding melody. This gave me a more diverse skill set to work from than in times past.
I’ve always respected Jerm as an MC and producer, so I was excited when he reached out to finish the project. I don’t think people respected me as a lyricist so much as a songwriter, so I took this project as an opportunity to show that I’m a versatile artist but I’m an MC first.
1. WE ARE
- Produced By: Jermiside
Jermiside: In my mind, producing is more of a free-form expression where I can explore different sounds and paint different backdrops and environments where vocals can take residency, live and ultimately tell a story for the listener. My writing is typically more narrow — as in, I have certain things I want to say and I stay in my lane.
L-Marr: Probably my favorite track (on the EP). I can’t say strongest because I feel like all of the records are strong in their own way. 2Pac’s “I Get Around” is the first song I memorized as a kid. His character in Juice changed my life. I feel like he was evolving into a change agent and leader — he just lacked discernment about who he hung around. His genius motivates me to keep striving — his failures are cautionary tales to be careful.
I chose Pac because he had a very practical view of God and religion that I think is relevant to what’s going on today.
2. INVISIBLE JEWELS
- Produced By: Corey Cache
“My main concern is how to reach the youth / not what to do tonight”
Jermiside: The way I see it, we have to build upon what our predecessors provided for us, especially in the form of character and also in terms of hard work. We started behind and we have a lot of catching up to do in order to be successful in this new world. You can eat, drink and be merry but we also need to grind hard and stay focused, healthy and positive.
The success of the next generation depends on the examples we set today.
L-Marr: It is our duty. Someone was a role model for me — it’s only right that I be that for someone else. I’ve spent most of my adult life and professional career working with youth in various capacities. I get great enjoyment in being a positive role model for them and seeing the impact I have on their life.
I want to consistently counter the narrative that the youth are lost because no one cares about them.
- Produced By: Ronvé
Jermiside: Ohio is like the slept-on giant when it comes to music. Rock ‘n’ roll has origins there; all the Funk that was later popularized by the West Coast also comes from Southwestern Ohio — Dayton and Cincinnati in particular. It’s unfortunate people tend to skip over that fact and even more unfortunate that the people of Ohio have largely forgotten it.
A person from Detroit would never let you forget the Motown Sound, someone from Memphis would not let you forget the hand they played in the Blues — but when it comes to the Electro Funk of the late 70’s/early 80’s, Ohio is all but forgotten.
L-Marr: Ohio has shaped who I am creatively. Ohio is a hotbed for untapped talent if the industry would just take notice. It definitely birthed an indie hustle that many artists have used to be successful. It is just unfortunate that we don’t get our just due for how we influenced the music industry.
- Produced By: Andre Manual
Jermiside: Relationship dynamics have always kind of piqued my interest musically. Probably because I spent so much time avoiding them!
L-Marr: I basically look at it as a muse. I have made my best art when I was going through something with a woman. It definitely has an impact on me and anyone who believes in love.
5. WITHOUT YOU f/ CARLITTA DURAND
Jermiside: I want to say I reached out to Carlitta Durand via Twitter. I had always been a fan of her work with The Foreign Exchange. Very beautiful voice and I’m grateful to have her on here. Seemed like the perfect fit.
“Without a doubt / my seed is something I can’t be without”
Jermiside: Fatherhood is really the basis for the whole project.
That’s where both of our minds (L-Marr and I) were at the time that we started this EP. I had just had a son a couple years prior and L-Marr was expecting a baby, as well. For me, the song was really special because I was spending a significant amount of time with my son (and still do) and at that point in time it was essentially just me and him.
So the bond was extra tight.
Parenthood in general makes you put your purpose on this planet into perspective.
“My work ethic is a reflection of all the lectures”
L-Marr: I didn’t grow up with my biological father, so my grandfather stepped in and filled the gap. I can remember several times he would “lecture” me about various topics that I look back on now and appreciate. He is a preacher and an academic, so you can assume how these lectures went! One of his big things was to make sure I knew the importance of hard work, and he would wake me and my brother up early on Saturdays to work around the house. So he instilled that in me.
- Produced By: Jermiside
“Don’t forget the world is still ours / on my way to be king”
L-Marr: The chorus came to me after hearing the beat on Jerm’s SoundCloud. At the time, with everything that had been going on, I just felt like we collectively needed a reminder that the world is ours, not those who seek to exploit us. That there is power in solidarity, and to continue to fight on the side of good. Sometimes, life can make you forget that you’re royalty.
The path to success is a difficult one, but we will keep pushing towards it.
We have to remain positive, now more than ever. Cornel West has a great quote that I live by: “Things are relatively hopeless, but I still have hope…”
The times are fertile for positive change from people who love others and want to make the world better. The only way we can do that is together.
L-Marr: I want to give thanks to Jerm for pushing me back into making music when I gave up hope. Eric at groovelocity for his hard work and support. Kevin Nottingham at HiPNOTT for taking a chance on the project. And shoutout Ill Poetic for linking me and Jerm up! Peace and Power to all who strive. Remember the World is OURS. Check out the “Ours” and “God Bless Dilla” videos and support the God Bless the Child EP!
Written By: Matteo Urella / December 2016