Written by William Bryant Rozier
People ask Jamaris Earl Tubbs where he got his rap name, because it sounds made-in-a-lab perfect, like how Dr. Dre and Eminem mad science-d 50 Cent in that “In Da Club” video. A rapper out in the universe, this one from the Atlanta South, has got to be named J. Tubbs. “It’s just my name,” Tubbs laughed after he said it. As for a more personal reason, “the direction I take my music, when it comes to artistry, deejaying, or even production is that I want it to be closely connected to myself as a person,” he said. “You don’t get this whole other moniker that steps on the stage when you get J. Tubbs.”
And it’s the artist side (the stage performer, the mic in his hand) that Tubbs identifies with the most, followed by the deejay then the producer in him. As an entrepreneur, he started YM3 Music Group, a subsidiary of his management company Crush House Entertainment. “We’re the only recording label with artist management, a full recording facility at Soundbar Studios, as well as music distribution,” he said. YM3 stands for You Make Me Musick [sic]. It’s all in the name.
His dad is from the South, but his mom is all Midwest; both of those textures are strewn throughout his work. The “gritty” Midwest, “has always been the red-headed step child,” Tubbs said. The Midwest (like Eminem, J Dilla, Do or Die) is that grind, “being able to not take your foot off the gas.” From the South, it’s that soul, like Outkast and producing team Organized Noize and “just being close to who you are as a person.”
I don’t think it would be too out of the place to call Tubbs’ style conscious rap. Everybody likes to “pop bottles” and party, Tubbs said, and there’s a time for those rhymes and stories but Tubbs raps about those pertinent issues that undermine: racism, bigotry, et all. He doesn’t fit the stereotype of “everything we get pegged with that a lot of people can’t see past those lines sometimes, when it comes to us as black men or rappers in general.”
The rapper Nas is notorious for being a bad beat picker because he says he likes the challenge of creating something a dope from seemingly garbage. Tubbs got behind that. “I want to use my voice as the instrument,” he said. “Really no disrespect to them, there’s a lane for it, but a lot of rappers undermine lyricism and creativity to their verses [by using] these really outlandish beats,” to compensate for a lack of fill-in-the-blank. They like the beat, they don’t like the song, he said.
He usually starts with a verse first then builds from there. “I used to think I needed a beat [to write], but I can implement everything I need to say and switch it up as I make the production now because I make a lot of my beats.”
Tubbs started writing when he was about ten, he would reference Atlanta’s very own Goodie Mob and their 1995-released track “Cell Therapy.” His “bunch of nothing” was enough for his mom to encourage him to continue; he kept writing, kept freestyling, and eventually worked with some studio folk when he got older. When the Tubbs’ moved to Flint, Michigan, he found some more studio folks to learn from and record with. The express didn’t stop completely but it slowed considerably when he came to Fort Wayne to play basketball for Indiana Tech. When you’re a student athlete, you are that. Tubbs performed little small shows here and there, but nothing on this side of professional until after college.
After graduating, he moved back to Atlanta before settling back here and partnering with local producer Donovan “DOCO” Coley Jr. of Sauna Records, who was managing artists such as Kae-P and D-Nyce, who now goes by Nyzzy Nyce, the Fort Wayne-born rapper who worked on the 2012 music video project, “My City,” who’s now doing his thing out in Los Angeles. Kae-P and D-Nyce had a group called Flyy Guyz at the time. Tubbs has worked with Nyce. 2RQ (previously in the Ink Spot) and T Zank are some other notable Fort Wayne names for collaborations.
The national rap world doesn’t casually swing through town but Tubbs, as a promoter, was able to book rapper Mickey Factz, a big big name in the battle rap game. Factz, not with a record label, is a true independent artist and a work model for Tubbs. Factz reinforces, for Tubbs, that “if you can’t get those opportunities, we create them. Don’t wait on the door.”