State to State
JON L.S. "I'm not intentionally trying to sound like anyone," confesses rapper Jon L.S, "I'm just trying to create something exciting, to march to the beat of a different drum." For Jon, the smooth-tongued hip-hop poet also known as Smoove the Reformed Geek, this statement is wholly expressed in his solo-debut, State to State. As a youth, Jon was originally influenced by the likes of LL Cool J and Sup the Chemist, both in style and substance, using his natural rhyming ability in attempts to impress women. But it's his background in prose, not hip-hop, that is the artist's biggest asset. "I would write poetry that flowed so well that eventually people started to suggest that I combine it with hip-hop," explains Smoove. The rest, as they say, is history. A member of the Columbus, Ohio based crew the NappyCombreakers, Jon has collaborated and performed with the group for several years, concentrating on community events, and actively aiming to improve the quality of life of the local neighborhood. Focusing on performances for, and to aid, groups like the Columbus Urban League and the Ohio prison system, Jon carries this strong sense of community and loyalty forward with this latest endeavor. "It's important to me to keep strong community ties," he explains, "to try to unite people that will cause a positive reaction." For Jon, that positive message stems from his faith "It's just natural for me to be that way. I mean, if you're a gangster, that's how your music will be. If you're, a pimp that's how your music will be. So if you're a Christian, then that's also how your music will be." Written over the course of roughly six months, and recorded between Jon's home studio and other Columbus studios, State to State serves to reintroduce the people of Columbus with Jon and what he is about, while simultaneously allowing him the opportunity to move that introduction far beyond the Midwest. Featuring collaborations from producer DJ Lo-Zone, producer FC (Fourth Command), Theory Hazit, and locals, onelife, Trek, and Expreshun, State to State further exemplifies the sense of community and family that Jon heralds. "The idea," explains Jon, "is to unite people and spread the message of hope and life from borough to borough, city to city, and state to state." State to State might have a large task ahead of it in living up to it's moniker, but Jon is not deterred. "I feel like I still have a lot to prove to people before I can expect a label or anyone else to buy into things," he explains. And while that task might seem looming, both the man and the album are prepared for the task. The beat of a different drummer to which Jon attempts to march works both metaphorically and literally, as State to State is neither a typical hip-hop album in terms of either method or merit. Similarly Jon is not the typical hip-hop artist for the same reasons. It's these facts that combine to create the different beat by which he tries, and succeeds, to march by, and which, ultimately, combines to create one of the more interesting and exciting new characters in current hip-hop.