Words by David C. Obenour
Previously on Div7ne Records…
Swirly around in a haze of mental stress and trauma, the personality split of “Dr Wayne” and “Black Sun Tzu” has now been fully triggered. While Ja’King the Divine had welcomed us into the world of Black Sun Tzu for his last album, we return to our hero with Parabels of the Sower as Dr Wayne wrestles for control of the narrative.
The album that results – Ja’King’s fifth – is a tight exploration of his evolving style and production as informed through the bold artists that have inspired him. The songs immerse listeners into a rich world built on rhymes and beats, samples and cinematic motifs, and things known and unknown from the ancient Egyptian state of Kemet.
Off Shelf: Catching listeners up, you described that you left your last album with the personality split between Dr Wayne and Black Sun Tzu. Dr Wayne, embodies a more logical approach while Sun Tzu embraces an emotional and somewhat villainous character. How do those dynamics set the stage for Parabels of the Sower?
Ja’King: In Parabels you’ll hear Dr Wayne tackle what he goes through with depth and a certain level of abstract and vague approach to the writing style. He’s the thinking side of the brain.
OS: You’ve previously described Dr Wayne as a smash up of Doctor Quest and Bruce Wayne, what can listeners expect from coming under his guidance?
J’K: Well, I feel like Bruce Wayne and Doctor Quest both share this strategic and stoic-like nature in their personalities. Unpredictable but calculated.
OS: What ways does the album flow differently than expected? What new sides from Dr Wayne do we learn that weren’t there for Black Sun Tzu?
J’K: I think the album’s short running time made everything feel a little more easy to listen to. There was less theatrics and world-building than I would have liked but it gives the listener more time to dissect and replay what I’m saying.
OS: The album also takes inspiration from the book of the same name. As a person, Octavia E. Butler was an immensely talented author – helping to establish new essential voices in science fiction. Beyond her writing, do you take any other inspiration from her life?
J’K: I’ve admired bold artist and people who have created art that stands out for its extreme depth and meaning because I feel as though I’m from the same ilk. Octavia Butler was a bold black woman with a message. To me she’s like a ancestor who I can represent and put on with immense pride.
OS: The story for Parabels of the Sower is a post-apocalyptic story heavily defined through climate change and social inequality – as a narrative, how did that fit into the story Dr Wayne is trying to tell?
J’K: I think you summed that one up perfectly, my man. Dr Wayne was trying to paint that exact image in his own way. He’s an existentialist at heart and pessimistic to a fault even.
OS: Where do you see that leaving us for the follow up? Will the next album continue this story or do you see your work diverging from the narrative?
J’K: I’m not sure… I do think something new is boiling in me though. I’m going through something. My writing approach and views on music and art is changing.
OS: As a fan of monthly comics and weekly wrestling shows, I was immediately drawn in by that sort of episodic storytelling. Where does it come from for you?
J’K: I think it’s listening to guys like Jay Electronica, Doom, Kool Keith, Slick Rick, you know. I’ve always had this love for those writers that took their art to another level and didn’t stay in the confines of what the masses feel like a rapper is. You have to be a well-rounded individual to take in and get everything thing those guys are doing.
OS: Do you have more archs already envisioned? Does that evolve much or do you have more of a set vision for your next few releases?
J’K: Yeah. I think right now I’m moving into making new movies or episodes, if you will. It will still be the classic approach and cinematic storytelling feel but new personas and formulas are being developed.
OS: Knowing production is always a process of dialing in on the optimal for what you had envisioned, from a recording standpoint what stands out to you from Parabels of the Sower?
J’K: I do feel like the mix on Parabels could’ve been better. I feel that is going to be what takes my music and brand to the next level. Quality is what I strive for but I’m learning as I go. My ear is maturing and hearing things I didn’t hear before. I’m paying more attention to all the details.