A recording artist since 2001, Jon Watts’ six years of experimentation with self-produced live-instrument hip hop has paid off. From the first twanging jawharp tones on the title track to the raw, polyrhythmic Moroccan drumming on the hidden track, Jon’s expertise at layering instruments, rhythms and poetic meanings provide the listener with a dense and flowing journey to travel and unravel with glee on this self-taught, self-produced, self-recorded, self-written, self-pressed and self-promoted project.
As a rapper, Jon’s travel and deep self-reflection are of as much value as his word-play-fullness. His poly-rhythms and multiple internal rhyme structures are the result of not only an intensive study of his hip hop elders Atmosphere, Sage Francis, Aesop Rock, etcetera etcetera but the sincerity and inspiration to take their work further.
“I could give names/ and I could name dates/ and I could focus on the means to end all the debates/ but this is music/ its illusive/ I’ve produced it exclusively/ and it leads to loose conclusions/ which destroy illusions usefully.”
-From “We are Lovers of Our Lost Earth”
The Art of Fully Being was recorded at the Pendle Hill spiritual retreat center outside of Philadelphia. Jon took six months of meditation and reflection to worshipfully complete his process of intertwined writing, recording and producing.
Q: A Quaker Rapper?
(While not a marketing gimmick, it seems as though the question should be addressed.)
A: Jon Watts is an openly devoted member of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers. While they share similar testimonies (beliefs) as the Amish and Mennonites (peace, simplicity, equality, integrity) the Quakers have chosen not to separate themselves from modern society, so the Quakers walk amongst us.
…and so do Jon’s songs. The only references on the album that may not feel immediately familiar to non-Quakers are in “Friend Speaks My Mind”, a quirky examination of Quaker culture and “There’s a Spirit in Iraq”, an emotional re-telling of Jon’s relationship with Tom Fox, a Quaker who was taken hostage and killed in Bagdhad in early 2006 while working for the Christian Peacemaker Teams there.
Jon Watts’ music is not intended to convert you (or convince, as Quakers might say). As He has experienced a calling to make authentic music and this is the medium.
Jon is a native of Richmond, VA, spent his school days in Greensboro, NC and has more recently settled in the Chapel Hill area.