I want my album to make people feel, I want to touch my listeners emotionally,Â” Jared Evan states flatly. Â“I want to leave a musical impact; I want to alter the state of music. I want to offer something thatÂ’s never beenÂ—internally diverse but still with one single musical identity. I want rock heads and hip-hop heads and mainstream listeners to enjoy it all at the same time. I think with the mÃ©lange of sounds on it, it will be a classic album.Â”
Immodest goals. But this is no pre-rehearsed pep talk. JaredÂ’s eyes smolder when he talks about his creative process, and also peopleÂ’s habit of trying to categorize just what to expect on Fourth Chapter, his forthcoming debut on Interscope Records. Â“When someone asks me what kind of music I make, I tell them all different kinds. The melodies that come out of me have been within me my whole life. The track Â–the changes, the chords, the energyÂ– will make me feel a certain way and tell me what to talk about. IÂ’ll hear a voice on it, whether itÂ’s rapping or singing. I donÂ’t call myself a rapper. IÂ’m drumming, playing percussion vocally and rhythmically. And what I talk about is just what I see out in the world that anybody can identify with. My music is a reflection of all my influences, and I have a lot of them. If itÂ’s quality, it doesnÂ’t matter what you call it.Â”
Call it mesmerizing. Jared Evan sings and raps with equal aplomb. But on this day, his voice carries a different tenor: awe. Â“I just got of the studio with Dr. Dre,Â” the jetlagged Jared stammers. Â“It was crazy. He really loved what we did. But just being able to work with him was so valuable.Â” Indeed, the pace has quickened for this versatile 21-year-old. Merely two years ago, Jared was nonchalantly phoning in the winning verse to the Brooklyn Hip-Hop FestivalÂ’s Spit 16 competition held by the Source Magazine. Today, heÂ’s making music alongside the gameÂ’s most iconic figures such as Dr. Dre and Polow da Don. From the outside, the rise seems meteoric. But to Jared Evan, everything is going according to plan.
Â“This is something I always expected to do,Â” Jared insists. Â“ThereÂ’s never been a time when I didnÂ’t want to make music. When I was five years old, I started to bang on my parentsÂ’ furniture with Nok-Hockey sticks. Eventually they decided to buy me a drum set and save what was left of the furniture.Â” So Jared spared the chair legs and focused his energy on mimicking his fatherÂ’s idols John Bonham and Keith MoonÂ—inherited as his own idols. Destructive about-faced to productive.
But all was not well. As it turned out, JaredÂ’s penchant for percussion betrayed other forces at work. Â“From the beginning of my life, I had behavioral issues,Â” Jared reveals. Â“It turned out to be ADHD. I got suspended all the time, starting in preschool. After 6th grade, the public school system had enough and mandated I attend a therapeutic boarding school, a facility for troubled kids. I saw a lot there IÂ’d never seen. It took me out of the box I had always lived in and dropped me into the real world. It made me tougher, and it made me understand and read people better.Â”
And in reading Jared, one can only commend his turning a dark period into a bright spot. The school not only offered stability, but a galvanizing watershed moment: exposure to hip-hop, namely the raw funk of Wu-TangÂ’s Â“M.E.T.H.O.D. Man.Â” JaredÂ’s appetite was insatiable. He began supplementing his meaty rock background with this newfound delicacy. He concocted an intoxicating rock/rap/pop blend, which he translated into his Radio in My Head mixtape. Jared and his manager Matt Graham put the tape, a fecund artistic canvas smacking of RadioheadÂ’s scope and breadth, in the hands of their friend and famed hip-hop video director Rik Cordero. Rik and Jared conjured a series of immersive videos to support the tape. Label offers flooded in, and Jared chose the vaunted Interscope camp as his new musical home. The stage was set for Fourth Chapter.
Fourth Chapter is an amazingly organic mixture of styles, genres, tempos, and vibes. Nothing feels forced or out of place, each song a fitting piece to a larger whole. Part of that coherence stems from the production. While most albums today are an ill-fitting mishmash of myriad producers, Fourth Chapter is not. The bulk of the beats comes from Grammy-nominated boardsmith Ill Factor and also EvanÂ’s supreme ally, Polow Da Don, who hosted Radio in My Head and who contributed scorching first single Â“In Love With You,Â” available for download on iTunes. Â“This reminds me of Â‘Whole Lotta LoveÂ’ by Led Zeppelin,Â” harkens Jared, who sings/shrieks his way through the albumÂ’s opening salvo. Â“To me it carries an angry tone, like Â‘IÂ’m mad at you right now, but I still love you.Â’Â” The emotive song is brought to life in a video by Bernard Gourley.
Â“Better NowÂ” displays the artistÂ’s ample creative range. A surging, rollicking drumbeat and synth soundscape underpin JaredÂ’s evocative singing. Â“The beat just made me feel vulnerable,Â” he notes. Â“The song refers to a relationship that was getting old and stale and strained. There was a lot of pain involved. It was something that I needed to let go of for both of our sakes.Â” That accessibility also courses through Â“Say Goodbye,Â” a melancholy ballad full of vivid cityscapes and pithy turns of phrase like Â“Sitting still is making me exhausted.
Elsewhere, Â“Fourth ChapterÂ” is JaredÂ’s proudest moment. It is an aural and visual tour de force, a visceral slap upside the head to a listener tiring of todayÂ’s repetitive fare. Â“I just saw a camera in my head,Â” Jared shares. Â“The camera was panning on all my different musical influences. So without thinking about it, I broke the verses up into eras and genres and identified them by chapter. The first verse is chapter one, and itÂ’s all about classic rock; in addition to Zep and the Who you hear about the Beatles, Queen, Eric Clapton, the Police, so on. Then comes more modern rock like Sublime and Radiohead. Then I run through rap influences like Mos Def, The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, the Wu-Tang Clan, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. It continues up to the point IÂ’m at now musically. The song is totally spontaneous; it didnÂ’t exist in my head before the very moment I created it. Now itÂ’s the name of my album. Conceptually itÂ’s everything that I am.Â”
Jareds manager Matt Graham says this about his long time friend and client: "Jareds music represents Americana, at a time where music is heavily influenced by euro beats and programmed synths, he is fusing classic rock sounds with hip hop sensibilities to create something fresh while also eliciting a sense of nostalgia." That kind of appeal, wrapped up in a unique sonic package, is the heart of Jared Evan. He conveys truth and insight in a remarkably entertaining way. A listen to Fourth Chapter doesnÂ’t prompt confusion