‘Producer/Writer/Entrepreneur’. It’s safe to say that John Mendez – known to the music community worldwide as J Money – isn’t your typical run of the mill beat maker. Hailing from San Antonio, Mendez prides himself on working for his city, and he’s doing a pretty sterling job; collaborations with a range of artists combined with his solo work and remixes have made him a go to name for vocalists globally, and there’s plenty more where that came from.
I caught up with him to talk growing up in San Antonio, working with Mick Jenkins and more.
COZYMag: You’ve had a lot going on recently – collaborations with artists like Pastor Green andMick Jenkins, your upcoming EP – but let’s start at the beginning. How did you find your way into music? Do you feel you were born to do it, or do you remember knowing when you wanted to be a musician?
J.Money: I found my way into music through hard work and dedication. I learned how to play the trumpet at a young age then ventured off into the DJ aspect making my own blends and remixes. From there I began working on mixtapes hosted by numerous established artists. The anticipation for those releases made me realize I had more potential in not only choosing the right music but making the right music. No matter what, I feel almost as if I’ve lived this life before. Seeing everything come to fruition only leads me to believe that my purpose is music. My family made music a necessity in life, and over the years I’ve envisioned everything that’s come to fruition. Music is my life.
“No matter what, I feel almost as if I’ve lived this life before. Seeing everything come to fruition only leads me to believe that my purpose is music.”
CM: Many producers and rappers take a lot of influence from the place where they grew up as a kid. Is your work inspired by growing up in San Antonio?
J$: Absolutely. That’s what I appreciate the most, people knowing that their favorite record was made in San Antonio, TX. I have lived my entire life in SA and only grow to love it more daily. Most people know us primarily for the Spurs or the Alamo and I believe it’s time to show the world we provide much more and contribute to many creative industries such as music, fashion, art, etc. I would not be where I am if it wasn’t for the ones before me in the city who made it possible to believe. From PKO to 3rd Degree, these artists influenced me to be creative and take pride in SA.
“I would not be where I am if it wasn’t for the ones before me in the city who made it possible to believe.”
CM: You are a self-proclaimed ‘networking machine’ of sorts – how important do you feel social networking is to modern music?
J$: It’s essential. Making your presence known to build rapport with potential clients is necessary. Some think of that term and feel it only pertains to the internet. But I still feel you need to be out and about networking by word of mouth as well because it’s just as efficient whether you believe or not. People in general need to feel a connection.
CM: You have an EP dropping soon which has many of us very excited – what can you let us know about the record?
J$: The record is titled “Orchestra Of Minds”. I’m thankful for everybody who has contributed. It features everybody from Cashius Green, WorldWide, Kydd Jones, LOEGZ, Pro Era & more. I even got one of my mentors to lay down some vocals, he goes by the name CHOPS. This man has produced for everybody from Kanye to Bun B, a legend indeed.
This project for me is a way to give back to my audience who I know deserves to be given more music while I’m still contributing to so many other albums, eps & other projects. No release date to be given but I promise in due time.
CM: Do you think it’s a big part of moulding a career to make sacrifices and really put the time into your craft?
Without a doubt. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t made those sacrifices. I laugh at it all the time because I reflect on how certain areas of my life felt empty because I had yet experienced certain childhood things because I was so focused on this new discovery of talent. Soon that emptiness was filled with passion and determination. My parents have instilled tremendous work ethic in me and have shown me what sacrifices result in.
“My life felt empty because I had yet experienced certain childhood things because I was so focused on this new discovery of talent. Soon that emptiness was filled with passion and determination.”
CM: After rising to a substantial level of prominence recently, Mick Jenkins has been garnering critical acclaim across his works – what was he like to work with on Canada Dry?
J$: Our interaction was limited. My good friend and mentor Jonny Shipes linked us up. For those who don’t know, Shipes is the president of Cinematic Music Group & Smokers Club, along with contributing to many other companies and endeavors.
We have known each other since 2006 when he managed an artist from my city. I got a email from him one night that said hold onto this beat because Big K.R.I.T. is working on it right now and using it for his new album. The same night I see K.R.I.T. post a pic on IG in the studio. I was like, damn. Then time went by and he mentions this new artist he is about to sign named Mick Jenkins. Next thing I know Shipes is hitting me up telling me the record is going over to Mick for his new project. I was excited equally and a bit more with Mick being it was his debut on Cinematic.
“It’s a once in a lifetime moment where you get to contribute to a project like that at a time like this in his career. A defining moment on what the world already knew, Mick is extraordinary. “
CM: Outside of music, a lot of artists can have a completely different personality. Was Mick the kind of guy to really zone in on his music, or was he the same in and out of the studio?
We never spent time in the studio, it was sent via email and completed on his own time. What I can say is that a few weeks before “The Waters” came out he had leaked the song we did, “Canada Dry”, on snapchat. The internet went crazy.
Just seeing him get hype in the crib to that record shows how passionate he is about his art. In every song you hear he is bringing a energy that is all his own.He’s more than a lyrical genius, a righteous young man on a gifted path. It uplifts you and grabs your attention instantly.
“He’s more than a lyrical genius, a righteous young man on a gifted path. “
CM: Finally – what does the future hold for you?
J$: Evolution. I’ve Got a special record with NYCk Caution that I can’t wait for the world to hear. And I’ve got an EP that I’m finishing with Dre Biggity of UTB LIFE$TYLE. A gang of records with Cashius Green & Pheo. Lookout for BMMMA coming out soon, featuring the record I did called “Juices”. Got some dope shit with my bro WorldWide, A-Train, Tommy 2 Stix, Kydd Jones, Corey Kendrix, LOEGZ, Sertified & more. Also stay tuned for my homie out of Houston by the name ofXO. A very talented r&b superstar.
Aside from the music I plan on doing more non-profit work in the community and creating opportunities for everybody in my city. It takes time and hard work for anything to grow. I wanna do my part and continue to give back to the place that gives me everything. I only wanna continue to gain more life supporters, not just fans. I want people all over the world to embrace what I create and truly appreciate it. Other than that the goal is to stay true and always put it down for my city and family.
“It takes time and hard work for anything to grow. I wanna do my part and continue to give back to the place that gives me everything.”
Follow J.Money on Twitter here (@ThrowedMind210)
Interview led by Fraser Howell (@3RDMXXN)