It was w/ a heavy heart last night that I found out my friend J1 had passed. “Too soon,” “out of nowhere” & all of the other cliches you hear when something as unfortunate as this happens – apply all too real in this case.
J1 was a dedicated, self-taught musician & self-made man in the truest sense, constantly pushing himself & those around him fwd for years now, & steadily getting more & more recognition for it. It is no hyperbole to say that he was at his absolute height & creative peak when he passed away. He had just wrapped up playing an extensive tour w/ his group Master Blazter to rave reviews & stunned audiences everywhere. The band had played here in Portland this past September & ABSOLUTELY MURDERED IT – it was easily one of the best & most purest, raw performances I have ever seen by a single band. & having just released his first solo retail release, The Yellow EP, as well as the second in his Starship 27 compilation series earlier in the year – 2011 was a monumental step for the drummer/producer. With already so much accomplished, Jovan “J1 tHE DEER” Coleman was still only getting started, & was just 32 years old when he passed away after a fatal car accident in Sweden yesterday.
The first time I heard of J1 was on C.R.A.C. Knuckles‘ “Buy Me Lunch” record. I remember thinking how unique the sound of the drums were – so lively & punchy, but yet quick & precise at the same time. When I first heard the song I scratched my head like “how the fuck did TaRaach did his get drums to sound like that?!?,” & then when I later got my copy of the album – seeing it was actually a live drummer (credited as J*One) both made perfect sense, & impressed me even more at the same time. J also played on the “CRACHAUSE” interlude on that same album – which was a completely different drum sound altogether, but yet still hardhitting as ever, & one that I still really haven’t heard anything else like since.
After that, I’d keep seeing the name J-1 around from time to time. I remember his name being listed on the side of the old Black N Bling site – w/ a mention of him being a member of the Animal Kingdom & always wondering what that meant (I’d later learn that he had gone around & given all of his closest friends & associates their own corresponding animal name in the crew, w/ he himself of course being “tHE DEER”). Then in early 2009, I was asked to come on board at HVW8 for the record label they had just started. They had two supergroups on their roster – the Hawthorne Headhunters (w/ Black Spade, I CED, Proh Mic & sometimes Coultrain), and (((MASTER BLAZTER))) w/ DaM-FunK, Computer Jay and of course, J-1 on the drums. Both groups had been formed out of live jam sessions held at the HVW8 Gallery off of Melrose in LA for their podcast series. Master Blazter’s was held on December 21st, 2008 & was released on HVW8.com on Christmas Day that same week.
This was still months before DaM-FunK would go on to release his gamechanging solo debut, Toeachhizown, on Stones Throw – but the anticipation & feeling of something new & important happening (“hype” is not the word) was still very much real, not just in L.A. but worldwide. Needless to say – it was an exciting time. & J1 was right there for all of that – forever holding down the backbeat & still keeping things moving fwd at all times.
Early on in my work w/ HVW8, J1 personally reached out to me, sending an e-mail saying he was excited that I was on the team, & really just taking a minute to introduce himself. This would later go on to be a recurring theme in all my interactions w/ Jovan – he was ALWAYS cool, personable, humble and just an all-around good dude, through & through. Always a man first, and a business associate second.
In April of 2009, I partnered up w/ HVW8 to co-release J1′s debut beat CD – the rightfully titled, Attack Of The Deer. It was the 4th in the site’s WKND BEATS series which was still very new at the time, but still quickly received a lot of love. Reading back the comments on that post now, years later, its easy to tell that everyone else saw the same potential in him. I remember one of the first cats to reach out & tell me & J that they were really digging the project was devonwho – who would, soon after, go on to work very closely w/ J1, collaborating on tracks, playing shows together, etc.
Later on, in the summer of ’09 – I’d finally get to meet J in person, @ the now infamous Funkmosphere party in Culver City (one of many nights that J1 would always support in the L.A. scene). Not at all surprisingly – J was cool as fuck, right off the bat. He would show me around, introduce me to everyone, & just generally look out for me however he could during my stay out in L.A. that summer. It was an instant kinship, but ask anyone else who knew him & I’m sure they’d tell you something similar from their own experience – he just rolled like that, openly hospitable to any & every one that he was cool w/.
I was staying out in L.A. for 5 weeks that summer, & I don’t think I even ever got J1′s phone number, but somehow just naturally ended up hanging out w/ him more than almost anyone else – cuz that dude was just everywhere! Funkmosphere, The Do-Over, Boombox… wherever. He was just a fixture in the scene & the culture at that time. If I saw J1 there, I already knew I had made the right choice of where to be for the night.
During that same trip out there, me and J both ended up being invited to Abraham Beltran’s Soundwaves Radio show on KPFK at the same time. I couldn’t have lucked out & been asked to come on the show w/ a better line-up. J was promoting his first Starship 27 compilation and its release party & in-store at the time – so it was him, DaM-FunK, House Shoes, and DJ Inka One of Boombox, all on-air, plus the homies Groweyez and Jordan Rockswell aka Snowman Jack were both hanging out as well. It was such a fun vibe of great music peers in the studio that day (Abraham latter dubbed it the “Room Full Of Geniuses” episode)… & then there was little ole me. I was quite clearly outclassed by my company, but that feeling didn’t last long as everyone made me feel right at home & just like one of the crew – J especially. & I’ll never forget… during his quick DJ set on the show, J1 dropped a record by the enigmatic jazz great, Moondog, & shouted me out before he played it – noting a Twitter conversation we had about the record & a story about my father’s run-in’s w/ Moondog nearly a year previous to that. I remember being blown away that he even remembered that short conversation, let alone that he was thoughtful enough to bring the record, play it on-air & shout me out for it too. A small gesture to some, I guess – but to me that said so much about this man’s character, & how truly personable he was. Thankfully, that episode is still archived w/ photos & available for download here. Eternal thanks to Abraham, once again, for allowing me to be a part of that great moment.
Although regretfully, my other run-in’s w/ Jay after that summer were mostly brief and far between – including the SXSW Music Festival in 2010 and the aforementioned Portland show just a few months ago – but each time, they were all nothing but positive. J was always in high hopes w/ kind, encouraging words – always letting me know he had been keeping up w/ the site & just bigging me up more than he ever needed to. His timing was always impeccable too – during some of the slower moments in my “career,” w/o me even having to say anything, he’d always come w/ something reassuring like “you’re doing the right thing” or “you’re killing it, you just gotta keep on doing it,” while still always being super humble and thankful about all the great successes he was achieving at the same time.
The last time I saw J I told him how much I loved Blazt Off – the promotional Master Blazter mix that Kutmah had put together, combining the solo productions of the group’s three members, & how I wanted to either re-release the project w/ the seperated, full tracks or just do a Volume 2. J seemed into the idea & said we should rap about it when he got off tour, but unfortunately we never got a chance to.
So included below is a free download of the original version of that mix (w/ tracklisting after the jump) for anyone who missed it when it came out last year, as well a download of the previously mentioned first Master Blazter session for the HVW8 podcast, & the link to the Attack Of The Deer beat CD.
I’ve also included a few quotes from J’s friends & peers in reaction to his passing on Twitter last night, just to show how truly loved & appreciated he was while he was still here, & will forever be – and to archive this time & this outpouring some place a little bit more permanent.
Along w/ being a uniquely forceful drummer and an ever-burgeoning producer, tHE DEER was also a selflessly supportive motivator & organizer who played an irreplaceable role in making this current music scene of ours what is today. His shining example of good character & his contributions to the music will most definitely not be forgotten.
“My brother @THEDEER is gone. He was a warrior. A one of one. I cant believe this. I love you J.
…I fucking love you bro. Cant believe I wont see you again. The most ride or die motherfucker i have ever known in my life.You were the TRUTH” – @HouseShoes
“Well… we partied, drank, gave $, gave away wax, took video, signed pics & honored our brother & friend @THEDEER bka J-1 at @Funkmosphere.
We (along w/ @HouseShoes ‘all wax’ set) honored him in this way ’cause we (#MasterBlazter) know it’s the way he would’ve wanted it 2nite.
Come morning, I’ll personally be taking every red cent made from Funkmosphere’s bar + $ humbly donated straight 2 Fed-Ex & send 2 his fam.” – @DaMFunK
“Feel like I lost a big brother. Always was there for guidance and support from the early days. RIP @THEDEER aka J1.” – @devonwho
“I guess there was nothing left 4 U 2 conquer down here..SPIRIT LIVES. #deer” – TaRaach @RaachBox
“This Digital Universe can’t express the Respect, Love, and Gratitude I have for Jovan Coleman.” – @ComputerJay
“RIP J-1. He didnt know me. I didnt know him. shit it was my first time on this side of the STATE & he helped me out in a sqeeze like family.” – @quellechris
“deeply, deeply, saddened by the loss of @thedeer. thankful that i got a chance to be apart of his beautiful creations. may they live on…” – @RagenFykes
“Another terrible loss. Celebrate your friends and loved ones now. #ripj1″ – Waajeed @Jeedo47
“#THEDEER His Mama wants 2 thank every1 for there supportplease send photos/videos/songs to billyb@mugpush we’re givin his folks everything” – @MUGPUSH
DONATE/MORE INFO: www.MUGPUSH.com
BONUS DOWNLOAD: J1 – Attack Of The Deer
SUPPORT: J1 aka THE DEER – The Yellow EP OUT NOW
SUPPORT: J1 presents Starship 27 Vol. 2 OUT NOW
1. J1 – Water
2. Computer Jay – Funktronic
3. J1 – Feel in The Blank
4. DaM-FunK – Just Wanna Ride
5. J1 – Rescue (w/ devonwho)
6. DaM-FunK – Show Me The Way
7. DaM-FunK – She Lights Me Up
8. J1 – Slang Talk
9. J1 – 44th Chamber
10. DaM-FunK – I Dont Just Do Beats..I Do Music
11. Computer Jay – Thunder Horns
12. Computer Jay – I Was Wrong..I Take It Back
13. Computer Jay – Maintain
14. Computer Jay – Visa Stamp
15. Computer Jay – Whip
16. J1 – Sunny
17. Computer Jay – Bearclaw
18. Computer Jay – Phantom