Local rapper J Mar Da Sik has a new album, tour dates lined up and big plans for the future.
J Mar lived in Spokane until he was about 13, then moved to Seattle. As a teenager he was in a rap group called Northwest Heathens with a cousin. J Mar has played keyboard and made up beats since he was young.
He went on to play basketball at Evergreen State College and a college in St. Louis. He earned a degree in marketing and spent several years living in Atlanta.
He eventually returned to this area. He decided to live in Tacoma because of friends here he met through music and basketball.
Two longtime friends, E-Real and Mark Matthews, have a label called DU4Self Records.
About three years ago they asked him to become one of their business partners. J Mar finds his education quite useful. "It helps a lot in making good decisions," he said, noting he still breaks out his college textbooks to review.
J Mar has opened for Method Man and toured with Devin the Dude and E-40. "We have been moving pretty steadily, but there is still a long way to go," he remarked.
J Mar just released his second album, "Be A G About It." He spent more than two years working on it. "It is a blessing to see it come out," he said. A few songs are getting radio airplay in Seattle and Atlanta.
Many of his lyrics are inspired by real life. Some reflect the financial situation he is in at a particular time.
"Super Dave" is about living lavish when one is doing well, while "I Need Money" is about barely scraping by.
"The album is a storybook tale," he said. "Listening to it takes you through my life. Writing songs is an outlet for me."
He has done a number of gigs in clubs around the Puget Sound recently to promote the new album. He plans to do some shows in Portland later this month and also in Oakland, where he will shoot a music video. A tour of colleges in Alabama is coming up later this year.
He realizes he has to take his show on the road to move his career to the next level.
"Tacoma is a hard place to break out of," Mathews observed. There are not many venues that will book rappers and there is minimal support from local radio. In cities like Atlanta, a local rapper may get a song played right after a tune from a major artist like Jay-Z during morning or afternoon drive time, J Mar noted.
"It makes it tough. No one has really come out of this scene since Sir Mix-A-Lot."
J Mar is also working on a jazz/hip-hop album. "I think it is a nice blend," he said of combining the two styles. For that album he will have musicians playing bass, drums and other instruments.
"I am at my best with music played on instruments," he said. "My writing and creativity come out better. It is a very promising project."
When not busy with music, J Mar enjoys spending time with his 8-year-old son. "He keeps me on my toes."
For more information visit www.du4self.com.