“Tijon…Tijon…Tijon..” clamors the crowd to start as they grow restless for the artist to start his set. His singers begin to chant incantations to simmer the crowd as Tijon enters the stage. His first words over the fierce guitars strings to open the project are “Pop the top on the four door of the Maserati as the master of misogyny enters the lobby/ surrounded by mahogany hotties/ hoggin the spotlight, that never bothered me/ they see what I embody peep the philosophy /I’m the resin on the sole on the shell-toes/ the fuzz on the Kangols..” Tijon has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand as guitarist Chris D’Elleto guides the fans into his next song. Despite being so young in his career, the emcee shows the poise of a grizzled vet.
After opening for VICE signee and former Young G interviewee Deniro Farrar, the New Jersey native sat down with Mechanical Dummy to discuss designing for Dipset at an early age, opening for Meek Mill and MGK, his placement on the Hot 97 mixtape and more. – Christian Mordi
Mechanical Dummy: Who is Tijon?
Tijon: I am an artist out of New Jersey. I came out from under a rock on the otherside of New York.
How did New Jersey mold you into the artist you are today?
Tijon: I think when you come from New Jersey you automatically have a chip on your shoulder. Many pencil New Jersey artists in an say they won’t go too far. There is plenty of talent that has come from within the state the Garden State.
Tell us some of your influences in regards to New Jersey artists in the past.
Tijon: The Fugees were a huge influence. Lauryn Hill was huge. I remember my older sister got “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Frank Sinatra is a Jersey guy, as is Joe Buddens.
Tell us a little about your upbringing? How did where you are from effect your sound and content?
Tijon: I grew in a middle class area in New Jersey. I had family in Queens and went back and forth from there a lot. I don’t come from money, so I saw the reality of what life can be. I think that reflects in the writing sometimes.
Tell us a little bit about your in-house producer Chris Deletto?
Tijon: Chris was someone I went to school with, even though we didn’t become cool until after high school. After school some of our mutual friends linked us up. We both sucked in the beginning, but we stuck with it and got better. (laughs)
You can here a super cinematic sound in the music. Chris is great at adding great texture to the music without it seeming forced.
2013 was a great year for you, tell us about some of your accomplishments within that year.
Tijon: Recently we did the Hot 97’s “Who’s Next” show with Ty Dolla $ign. Karlie Hustle gave us a chance and we pushed it hard. I recently just got back from SXSW and did four shows. A lot of doors have opened up and cool things are falling into place.
Tell us about your most recent song with Hot 97’s own DJ Juanyto?
Tijon: I met Juanyto at the Who’s Next concert. He was really impressed with my set and he told me about his project and he wanted to send me a beat. He sent me Biggies “The What.” We flipped it some and ran with it.
You have performed with some big artists. Tell us some guys you have linked with and any words of advice you have recieved from them, or anything you have learned via observation.
Tijon: I have opened for Chiddy Bang, MGK, Meek Mill, Kevin Gates, Camron and more. Camron was a cool experience because he’s someone I knew for a long time.
How did you link with Dipset?
Tijon: When I was 16 I started customizing sneakers. Duke Da God used to call me and put in the orders for the crew. He was an A&R and used to always give me advice. I was always interested in rap and he knew it. Him and 40cal were always cool to me.
I have been to a couple of your shows, and I often here you refer to the term “Rats” at your concerts. Where did that come from and what does it mean?
Tijon: That comes from the Booga Basement in NJ. Lil Wonder and I were in there working for like 8 hours one day. I found it funny cause a lot of these big dudes own their own studio, like kings with a castle, but they keep the sewers close to the gutter. Anytime a young cat shows some talent or potential they just marginalize you or throw you out. What people don’t understand though is that the only ones that can breakthrough the next level through the underground is the rats.
How did you push the envelope in when creating “rats” EP?
Tijon: This was the first time I ever produced on my work. I co-produced a lot of it. It was a lot for me to take that plunge. I think when you are involved with the shaping of the sound as well as handling the lyrics it gives it a different texture.
We can hear alternative rock influence in your music. Tell us some people in that genre who inspire you?
Tijon: I listen to some rock music even though its heavily rap I listen to. I like Nirvana, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
What’s coming next?
Tijon: We have an EP on the way which I am pretty excited about. We are going to show them what Jersey is all about.