Jason Curtis, formerly Jay Curtis of Tulsa Hiphop group TwoThree, is gearing up to release his debut mixtape as a solo artist, Voice of the Voiceless. We sat down with the Tulsa emcee to discuss music, family and the future.
So its been more than a year since TwoThree’s debut album dropped and then it seemed we didnt hear from you guys. What have you been up to?
Well…it was a mixture of things. The major reason was the fact that I had to take care of home. I talk about it on the track “Good News.” Near the end of 2010 to the middle of 2011 was the roughest season of my life. 8 total months of unemployment, so it was either keep doing music, or take care of family during this season. I chose the latter. I’ll never forget what Tony Mason told me: “If you take care of home first, God will take care of the rest.”
So tell me about Voice of the Voiceless. It seems like a deep concept, do you want to elaborate on it?
I’ve always been the type of person who saw the potential in people over the issues they may have, but being unemployed completely shifted my perspective. I was humbled. Being a college grad, standing in the food stamp line, I was like “I don’t belong here.” Then, I looked around and thought to myself, “…they don’t belong here either.” I started to notice more of the overlooked, undervalued people who would slave faithfully but not be rewarded. I also noticed a sub-genre of voiceless people. I orginally thought that voiceless people were scared to speak up, but after being in many situations myself, I noticed the political games that are played at the church, workplace and in society. We voice our opinions, only to be shot down or belittled. So, after seeing all of this and going through it personally, I felt it was time to make my voice heard, hence the concept.
You say you felt your voice wasnt heard, did you feel you couldnt say what you wanted as a member of Twothree?
Well, being in a group, there’s no individual agenda. We both had to come into unity and be under the same vision. We wanted to reach a certain crowd, so we had to be careful with our approach. Truthfully, the vision of Twothree and the current vision isn’t that much different. The only thing that may have changed is the lack of smooth edges on my message and approach, sort of like Peter vs Paul approach. I may not be invited into Elementary schools or certain churches like TwoThree, and I’m ok with that.
Well, one day, I was tired of thinking and overthinking and just out of the blue, tweeted my homie Laurent and was like…hey, we should just start something. Over the weeks, things started to form and we started to develop a plan. The original plan was just for us two to come together and knock out a joint mixtape, but then we both noticed how we started working on separate mixtapes around the same time. At first, I was concerned because I thought that our joint mixtape wasn’t gonna happen, but then I saw how the Avengers came together after they did their respective solo movies. So the plan shifted. Then, in the midst of the shift, we decided to add two more people to the team, in which you will find out who they are on May 6th. It’s amazing how one tweet has manifested into this, and the things that we have planned is gonna be amazing. Stay tuned.
So you’ve been doing this now for a minute. What would you say is the difference between yourself as an artist now and then?
I’m more direct now. I have adjusted my compassion towards people as a whole. I use to be a peacemaker, so my compassion for people was the same all across the board. But now, I have more compassion for the voiceless, and less compassion for the people who abuse people. I call it tough love. Also, I’m becoming more accustomed to my style. Being in a rap group is great, but there are compromises you have to make in order to make it work, therefore as an individual artist, it’s difficult to find your niche. We both had to make compromises in order to make it work, and I would say we did well. Now, for the first time ever, I’m making music solo, so even I am literally hearing the voice of the voiceless right now.
What can people expect from you going forward?
Me being more outspoken. I’ve been silent too long. One of the biggest misconceptions about me is that I’m shy and an introvert. I’m far from shy. I just bit my tongue alot and practiced on listening and observing more. But now, I feel the responsibility to speak out. To think as I do, instead of overthinking and procrastinate. Right now, I feel like I’m at that stage where God told Moses that he was gonna speak, and Moses finally submitted after giving him all the excuses. I’ve noticed the more bold and direct I’ve become, the more doors I’ve seen open up. And all of this will be poured out into my music. I plan on doing alot of music this year. I plan on shifting as an artist too. I use to be known for being crunk and animated on stage. My quiet frustrations about that was that I spent so much time on my message, that when I would perform, it was barely resonate. So, expected less dumbing down, and more lyricism as well.