Music Maker Interview: Rapper Fiend on his new moniker ‘International Jones’ and performing with a live band


Written by: Breeze Jackson

Artists born in New Orleans have a breadth of musical education that someone who isn’t from there might find hard to understand. Your earliest memories are colored by music and the characters who produce it. The discipline, hard work, and fun that is involved with its creation has seasoned all your memories. Classes start when you take your first steps and continue until someone marches down the street on your behalf. That slow cooked method has produced some of the greatest musicians that the world has ever seen.

I recently talked to one of the statesmen of hip-hop in New Orleans, the one and only International Jones (FIEND). I caught up with him on the set of a new video. He was kind enough to answer a few quick questions.

International Jones started out with Master P’s No Limit Records from there moved to New York and worked with the Rough Riders imprint that was responsible for launching the careers of DMX and Eve to name a few. After that relationship ended Jones returned home. He is now a member of the Jet Life Records imprint and when I spoke to him he seemed to be in a very productive and positive space. Fiend is now promoting his latest Mixtape “Keep Your Cool“.

Knowshi: How you doing Fiend?:

Fiend: “I wake up I’m winning Brother. I wake up I’m winning. It’s cold than a bitch out here…..I’m in the car now I can plug in the phone and turn on this heater. Let’s get it popping.”

Knowshi: Ok let’s get to it.  What’s your approach to making a song?

Fiend: It’s a thought process…it’s important to make something that just feels good to me. But most importantly, I constantly want to impress myself. I think when you are trying to impress yourself that’s when the real stuff starts to cook..ya dig?

Knowshi: What is it about a beat or production in general that catches your ear?

Fiend: It has to be something that reaches there….. ya dig….it’s hard to explain but to me it has to have a feeling to it. I love music. I like to push it. The rap tracks I’m on are the least of what I want to give to people. But we are able to put music out so fast that I’m using it as a way to keep the people cool until I can hit them with the new project.

Knowshi: Jet Life Records drops a lot of quality material do you guys find it hard to drop so much music?

Fiend: Not really, sometimes it’s hard to connect with people because of different schedules but when we get in there it runs like clockwork. You go through the tracks, find what you need and get it mixed in order to capture the idea or concept and get it done. That’s pretty much it.

Knowshi: What are some of the lessons you learned from No Limit and Ruff Riders that you pass along to new artist? Business or otherwise?

Fiend: Just stay at it….Really what I got from both P and RR was to always be at it. That work ethic of doing whatever needs to be done.  Don’t trip just get your project complete. You gotta remember people will lose interest in you quickly. The best thing you can do is lay something dope and keep it moving.

My business sense I get that from anywhere…. you got good days and bad days. My brother Mousa from Street Customs Management and also Jet Life Records CEO that boy Curren$y they are my business go to people. They are people who get what I’m trying to do…. and you know how it goes steel sharpens steel. Well in my case iron sharpens iron.

Fiend - Keep Ya Cool (2013) - Album CoverKnowshi: Let’s talk about your name do you prefer Fiend or International Jones? And what brought on the change?

International Jones (see what we did here?): Fiend will forever be my name but I want the world to know me as International Jones. Because the name Fiend has a negative connotation.. So International Jones is how I want the world to know me but I’ll always be Fiend or the Money.

Knowshi: What is the major difference in producing music for east coast cats and music for artists from the south?

International Jones: East coast cats listen to more stuff in their headphones. So the lyrics are right there they don’t care as much about bass as we do in the south. Down here we listen to music in our cars. But honestly that is the only major difference. People on TV try to divide up people from different regions but honestly most people don’t care. They just want the shit to be jamming. They don’t care about where it comes from or who made it. I got more fans in Brooklyn than the law allow.

Knowshi: That is excellent man let’s talk about Sleepy Bear Tees? How are they doing?

International Jones: It’s a blessing man it’s really booming we can’t keep them in stock. Everybody has been on it. We got a new styles coming out that we are about to offer so people won’t have to wear the same thing as everybody else.

Knowshi: What is on the horizon for Jet Life Records?

International Jones: I mean I am just playing my part man. I’m promoting, Sleepy Bear, On My Job TV,. We had the assistance of the label. We took what they did and just kept moving forward. As a matter of fact I had a sold out show in Denver March 1st Curren$y and Mousa had a show somewhere else and it was sold out too. My main thing is working on the music and not being predictable just because I’m affiliated with Jet Life. Those are my brothers and we working but it’s so much for us to do and so many artists to work with. My main thing is getting this brand to the world. You know…I’m just working man things are good. I am having fun. Either way it go we coming out on top.

Knowshi: How long did it take to complete “Keep Your Cool”?

International Jones: Probably like a week….we just went in the studio had a great vibe with Monsta Beatz and ended up putting out a project. Had to doctor a couple things on the cover but it didn’t take long. Let cats get a whiff of what they ain’t got a whiff of in a minute. On the project we got Dice from Seattle, Big Sant from Mississippi a few other cats. Me I’m just working looking for great energy and great places to be and to express myself. It doesn’t matter where as long as it’s cool

Knowshi: Tell me about the live band performances.

International Jones: It’s just dope my whole thing is you can’t run from a live band. You may try to go get a drink or something but when this band comes on you gonna say “Oh My God”,….I mean when them horns, snares, keyboards, guitarist and the bass kick in all you are gonna say to yourself is “Man My Goodness” It very important to be in sync that’s when it’s perfect and that is what I’m trying to master now. I am gonna be an artist that can do what I do with a live band. They can say I sing, I croon, and whatever else…We are gonna give them the experience of a lifetime.

Knowshi: Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about?

International Jones: Just check Itunes Datpiff and especially to keep up with your boy.

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