Jango
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Jango

Seattle, WA | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Seattle, WA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Solo Hip Hop R&B

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"Spokane rapper Jango is keeping the city with him on his way to the top"

Walking west on Sprague Avenue toward Washington Street, you can’t miss it.

On a billboard, in giant red letters, is the name Jango. Below that, in black, the billboard reads “Live at the Bartlett/July 22nd/Jangolives.com.”

Next to the text is a picture of the man himself, 21-year-old Spokane rapper Jango (neé Elijah Kilborn).

When he shared a picture of himself and his manager standing under the billboard on social media, Jango captioned the photo “This is what running the city looks like.”

The billboard, and the Saturday show at the Bartlett, is just one step in Jango’s plan to show Spokane who he is, a plan to rise while bringing the city with him.

A military brat, Jango settled in Spokane after stops in Connecticut, Georgia, South Kuwait and Bremerton.

Growing up, Jango listened to artists that blended elements of R&B and rap, like the Roots and the Fugees. Jay-Z and Beyoncé were also in heavy rotation, as was jazz and a little country.

Though he was surrounded by music, Jango focused his artistic energy on poetry. It wasn’t until he graduated from Central Valley High School that he began to seriously consider working on his own music.

“Graduation, that was my first step, I believe, to becoming a man and making my own decisions,” he said.

Jango chose his stage name to represent his pride for his black culture, as well as to represent “the Lost Tribe,” what Jango calls his fans.

“ ‘Jango’ to me represented this leader for the people. For not just my culture but all cultures …,” he said. “It could be looked at as a leader because a leader could be any color, it could be any person, it could be anything.”

After releasing a compilation of tracks last year, Jango made his official debut with a mixtape called “Alone By Choice,” which he released in March.

This project came after several months of grief due to the suicide of one of Jango’s close friends.

“When he died, there was no inspiration,” he said. “He died back in September and this project came out in March so for a long time, it was just complete pain.”

To work through that pain, at the suggestion of his manager, Jango began writing music as a way to say goodbye to his friend.

Once the ball got rolling, Jango took it upon himself to use the mixtape as a way to help more than just himself.

“It’s not only my goodbye, it’s my way of helping my people in this region who I know have that seasonal depression and depression in themselves,” he said. “Letting them know ‘I know your darkest days are when you’re alone, but you need to find happiness in those struggles and in your own problems’ because that’s what I’ve been able to do with this music. I’m completely happy now.”

Jango wasn’t concerned that the heavy nature of the mixtape would turn off listeners, as he knew that reaching even just one person with his message – it’s OK to be alone – would be worth it.

“If you think about it in the way of my friend dying didn’t just impact me, it impacted thousands of people,” he said. “If I save one person, I’m saving thousands, and that alone to me is enough.”

With positive feedback rolling in, Jango, who recently became local clothing brand the Great PNW’s first sponsored artist, is looking for ways to spread that message even further.

Future plans include performances at Spokane’s Tinnabulation Music Festival in September and Moscow’s Modest Music Fest in October.

He’s also planning on having another big local show before the end of the year and has a few out-of-town shows in the works.

These events will expand his profile, sure, but Jango knows they will also go a long way for the Spokane hip-hop scene.

“Essentially what’s being created is a lane and as we do more things, that lane’s going to be open to people here in Spokane, the hip-hop community, to recognize it, be a part of it and join it,” he said. “The hip-hop scene today is more alive than, I believe, it’s ever been … If we can embody this area and show the great parts of it and be the great parts of it, this scene will flourish more than ever.” - Azaria Podplesky


"Rap Artist on Mental Health"

Jango is a rapper/singer from the pacific northwest who has a message about the importance of empowering yourself. The rap artist is a proud advocate of mental health who finds solace in the struggle of the game. Inspired after his friend Cam who committed suicide, “Alone By Choice” is more than an expressive movement, it is a dedication to those suffering from depression.

“So many people find depression and helplessness in being alone when in fact they should be able to find some happiness by appreciating and loving themselves”—Jango
Jango is on a mission. His goal is to raise awareness surrounding interdependency with a focus on empowerment and mental health. No one can love you better then yourself, says Jango, and nobody should ever be able to tear you down. “It's your life, it's your choices, and ultimately your happiness."

College News: Jango, what can you tell me about yourself and what can you tell me about your music?
Jango: The idea for my project stemmed off my friend, god bless his soul, who chose suicide last year in October. In my opinion, the reason why he did it was because he was alone. So, this project was a way to talk to him on a personal level and say goodbye, but also connect to those people who felt alone and let them know its okay to be alone. That is how I came to “Alone By Choice.”

CN: What have you learned on your journey when writing this?
J: When I was writing this, it opened a new perspective. It made me think of how people could do something like this. It’s crazy! I knew the kid for so long! It was wild for me to think that I never even knew that he was going through it. That is a common thing that a lot of people say. So, for me, I made this choice to take my career seriously and go on this path. I realized that there can be depression and inner loneliness and at the same time there was happiness in the struggle.

There was happiness in fighting hard and making sure I established myself as far as my career, my name and my project. I want to make sure I put a footprint in the area in the pacific northwest. So I found this happiness in being alone. In those depressing times, you’ve got to realize that as a person that these times are only going to make you better. Now that you have experienced it, you know what that feels like. It is a great and powerful thing to know what those emotions feel like so you can overcome them and be ready for life.

CN: Why do you feel like it is so important for your audience to understand that message?
J: Because I feel like a lot more people feel like this than they would admit. Especially this day and age with the socials and everything, a lot more people are so stuck on their phones, that when you break them down they are shallow people. It is to the point to where the suicidal rate is becoming a serious thing. So, it’s a serious topic that people just don’t want to talk about. My music is drawn from my personal experiences and vibe or feeling. There are a lot of emotions that go into my music!

CN: Is there anything that you want your fans to know about you and your music before I let you go?
J: I have some festivals coming up here along the pacific north west. I want my fans to know that you can keep up to date with me on my website at https://www.jangolives.com/ and as far as shows and future events, all that is updated on my website.

If, like Jango’s friend, you, or anyone you know is suffering from poor mental health, you can gethelp:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
SAMHSA: 1-877-726-4727 - David Morales


"ALONE, BUT NOT LONELY"

Few 21-year-olds are as enterprising as Elijah Kilborn.

The Spokane rapper, better known by his stage name Jango, is sitting in a booth at Chicken-N-More on a sleepy Friday afternoon. He's wearing a baseball cap and T-shirt emblazoned with the logo of regional apparel company the Great PNW, which sponsors him as an artist. He talks often about his team of producers and publicists working to get his name out. Immediately after our interview, he hops onto Snapchat to record a message to his fan base, which he refers to as the Tribe.

And just outside the restaurant, Jango's face is plastered on a billboard that looms over Washington Street, advertising his upcoming performance at the Bartlett.

Not many local artists have their own billboard, but Jango's trying to stay humble about it.

"I'm not easily impressed," he says. "I've seen it, it's great, but someone's done it before. Not to knock down anything I've done, but I'm always thinking about the next step. That's great, but what's next?"

A self-described "military brat," Jango is originally from Connecticut, though he's lived in Spokane since he was in sixth grade and considers this his hometown. As a kid, he remembers always having to share a bedroom with his younger brother, who wanted to be a rapper, and they'd freestyle together for fun. He cites genre-bending artists like the Fugees, the Roots and J. Cole as influences.

Jango says he started taking hip-hop seriously just a few years ago, and now he's working full-time as an independent musician. He's already got a certain amount of promotional firepower behind him, but branding isn't the most important thing: His goal, he says, is to radiate positivity, and to communicate thoughtful messages to his young fans, particularly in regards to mental health advocacy.

"We're pushing messages to the youth, we're pushing messages to our city, our region, and that's what my goals are," he says. "Everything I do, I always look at it as being not just for me."

Jango's most recent record, a seven-track mixtape called Alone by Choice, was engineered at local studio Amplified Wax and released in March. It's obviously a deeply personal record for Jango; even its title has a surprising amount of significance.

"We're in a social world now, and people get caught up in wanting to be that person that everyone's looking at. ... In being alone, you can find happiness," Jango says. "I want people to see me and realize that yeah, I can be happy alone. I can do this on my own. I don't need other people to support my emotions."

The songs on Alone by Choice were inspired by a friend's suicide last year, which Jango says hit him particularly hard because he'd never had anyone close to him die. On the album's inner sleeve, he addresses his late friend Cam: "I promise to live my life and accomplish my goals not just for me, but for you."

"His choice of suicide came from the fact that he felt alone," Jango says. "He couldn't handle that, he couldn't talk about it. He wasn't able to communicate his feelings, but I also realize that he kept reaching out. I believe in him watching over me and seeing what I'm doing, so Alone by Choice was directed at him, and to all my fans, to let them know that you can be alone and make these decisions."

Despite the tragic circumstances that led to the album, it's an energetic sprint of an EP; even its darkest tracks are shot through with the exuberance of a young artist finding his confidence behind the mic.

"Thank God I'm alive," Jango raps on Alone by Choice's opening track, "So alone / I survive." He later observes on "Choices" that "everybody gotta die" but "not too many live." And on the closing track "Words (Outro)," he shouts out to his inspiration for the record: "Just know your memories are safe with me."

Jango says he already has another mixtape in the works, and it'll likely be more upbeat and sample-driven than its predecessor. And he's going to continue playing regionally — he performed at the Tinnabulation Music Festival last weekend, and he's got a Sept. 30 gig booked in Seattle — with a focus on performing alongside other Pacific Northwest rappers as a means of pushing Spokane's still-developing hip-hop scene toward something special.

"Now that I've introduced myself, with this next project I'm going to be showing people the music I like, my style, putting all my history and everything into it," Jango says. "I feel all the weights being lifted off my shoulders." ♦ - Nathan Weinbender


"JANGO GETS CREATIVE WITH NEW VISUAL: ‘FORBIDDEN’ (CHAPTER 3)"

Jango and his team are on a little tear out of Spokane right now. Hitting stages, releasing content, and only following big league moves. Jango is releasing a visual to every record on his album Alone By Choice and Forbidden is the third release.

The young emcee was one of the only local hip-hop artists to grace the stage at Spokane’s first major music festival, Tinnabulation. Check out the latest in his Alone By Choice series. - Mitch Pfeifer


"Best Hip-Hop Artist: Jango"

In a way, there are two Elijah Kilborns — the magnanimous 23-year-old who loves spending free time with his family, and the hip-hop rhyme slayer who dominates local stages as Jango. The Spokane-based hip-hop artist recently turned 23, but he says he threw himself so completely into his music that he didn't really revel in the typical benefits of having reached the legal drinking age.

While sipping a beer at the bar in Central Food, he says he's starting to enjoy that newfound freedom a little bit more, but he's still hard at work on new music. Singles will likely be dropping throughout 2019, and there's also a longer project in the works. Because he's something of a perfectionist, he doesn't just want to throw stuff up on SoundCloud hours after recording it. Whatever's next has got to be just right.

Kilborn has a team of producers and publicists, as well as some regional brand sponsors, behind him, and he says he's starting to see other Spokane artists taking their work more seriously.

"They're actually taking a moment to educate themselves on the industry. They're taking a moment to improve their lyrical ability, to improve their stage presence," he says. "Not every artist is going to do it perfectly, but I've definitely seen a rise in artists attempting to play in this game."

Since releasing his 2017 album Alone by Choice, Jango has kept himself busy. He was amongst a handful of Spokane artists on the lineup of last summer's Upstream Music Festival in Seattle, an industry-focused event founded by the late Paul Allen. He also released a music video for his single "Legacy," which featured Seattle duo Kung Foo Grip and an honest-to-God DeLorean.

He says now that he has more of a platform, he wants to promote the versatility of hip-hop to audiences that might not be as clued-in to the genre, and he says that the scene would grow "exponentially faster" if artists continue to support one another. That involves bridging the gap between Spokane's hip-hop scene and those in Central and Western Washington — the "Upper Left U.S.A.," as he and his team have branded it.

And now that Jango has taken first place in the Inlander Best Of's first-ever hip-hop category, he's hoping to be a messenger for those ideas.

"I feel like it's bigger than me," Kilborn says. "It shows me that people are listening, and the public perception is changing. People are more open to hip-hop. The fact that we even have a nomination for hip-hop is a blessing. Spokane cares about what we're doing."

2nd PLACE: Brotha Nature; 3rd PLACE: Kung Fu Vinyl - Nathan Weinbender


"SEATTLE AND SPOKANE CONNECT 'LEGACY' JANGO FT. KUNG FOO GRIP"

New UpperLeft music! Jango releases a new single ‘Legacy’ featuring Kung Foo Grip. Spokane and Seattle connect, bridging east and west PNW hip-hop together.

‘Legacy’ finds Jango at his best. His presence and confidence is at an all time high. The production on this record is dope, very rare to see local acts put this much sonic effort into a single release. The KFG boys bring stupid swag on the second verse. Whatever Greg and Ef have been drinking, I want. This is what Seattle and Spokane together is supposed to sound like. - Mitch Pfeifer


"JANGO AND KUNG FOO GRIP BRING THE HEAT ON THE NEW VIDEO FOR “LEGACY”"

Spokane-based rapper Jango has dropped a new video for his song “Legacy”, featuring Kung Foo Grip. While it’s no hidden secret that the Pacific Northwest is loaded full of talent, Jango and Kung Foo Grip are quickly rising to the top of the PNW rap game.

“Legacy” is bound to be a hit simply due to the lyrical and rhythmic excellence displayed on the track. While it’s an accomplishment in itself to spit a large amount of bars like Jango does for his verses, the most interesting aspect of his work is his rhythmical complexity. For his verses at the beginning of the track, Jango opts to have a triplet-based flow that syncs perfectly with the higher end of the instrumental. This rhythmic excellence ties the flow of the rap perfectly to the flow of the track, resulting in a beautifully cohesive experience.

Kung Foo Grip’s feature on “Legacy” is a perfect match for Jango’s quick rhythmic tendencies, as they bring abrasive and hard-hitting lines to the track that complement Jango’s style. After Kung Foo Grip’s feature, the rappers move away from the triplet-based flow Jango used in the beginning of the track. Instead, the artists finish the track using two-beat rhythms mixed with strong and confident punchlines. Kung Foo Grip’s aggressive delivery works just as well with the instrumental, as it creates a large lower end with a light synth heard up above.

Throughout the song, all artists address the aspect of maintaining a legacy while building their careers. The video uses several DeLoreans (the time-traveling car from the classic film Back To The Future) as a subtle visual tool to represent the concept of the future. This visual cue points to the underlying theme of leaving a legacy, and how Jango and the artists of Kung Foo Grip will be seen in the context of future generations. The lighting and color effects used in the filming of the video evoke a uniquely retro feel, with heavy use of 80s-type neon pinks and purples for many of the scenes.

“Legacy” shines in both the context of the lyrical message and delivery, blending the best of two incredibly talented PNW artists into one work of art. The visuals round out the messaging in a memorable way, solidifying “Legacy” as a high-energy hit. Check out the video below! - Cole Holland


"“KING OF THE 9” IS JANGO’S HIP-HOP WAR CRY"

Jango is feeling dangerous in his new track “King Of The 9,” making his claim as the best doing it in the Spokane, Washington hip-hop scene. He comes in hot with lethal lyrics like, “I just kill em all / Hitler with a plot / Genocide thoughts / I get dark / Like Lucius.” Jango has been making steady moves for the past year now, having won Best Local Release and Best Local Hip-Hop Artist at last years Bartlett Awards as well as tapping Seattle favorites Kung Foo Grip for his hit song “Legacy.” Jango has proven he can keep up with the big boys and “King Of The 9” is his message to watch out because what’s starting in Spokane will soon be nationwide.

“King Of The 9” features Jango’s darker side with those lyrics expressing a craving for violence, or at the least dominance. Throughout the duration of the video you see Jango strapped to a wheelchair, seeming to be forced to through some sort of hypnotic, digital torture. The track reminds me a lot of something you might hear out of Tech N9nes label, Strange Music. With it’s twisted vocals, fast pace and Gothic-bass bumping beat, this is one song that is sure to get you feeling like no one can, or would want to, mess with you. - Isaiah Lilley


Discography

The Pursuit - 2016
Alone By Choice - 2017

Legacy (Singe) - 2018

King of the 9 (Single/Video Only) - 2019

Photos

Bio

Jango is a Pacific Northwest emerging Hip-Hop artist born in Connecticut and raised through life experiences. Following his first mixtape "The Pursuit", he went on a series of promo tours with artists such as Eazy E3, Hatch, Astray, and Crooked I, gaining an active and diverse following in the region. Jango's next compilation 'Alone By Choice' is an in depth message driven project that's releasing late March 2017. The inspiration for the project came from Jango's personal experiences and recent events that followed after the death of one his close friends. When asked, Jango stated "My hope for the project is to push the message that there is happiness in being alone. I hope the music is used in a way to comfort those who've found depression and isolation in today’s society, and teach them its ok to love themselves." Jango knows the feeling of being detached all too well. At a young age he was forced to watch his mother and father split up, and found himself moving in with his military based grandparents. Never getting a chance to settle in, Jango was relocating every other year, state to state, until finally settling in Washington. Having been raised with a more global mindset, his influences range from artist such as The Fugees, Nas, and Ne-Yo, as well as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Musiq Soulchild. Jango's sound is a distinct blend of cleverly arranged bars, and smooth sung hooks. He has an old school influence that he utilizes with a modern original style to produce a well-balanced sound. Jango Co-Produced Alone By Choice and worked beside Multi-Platinum producer Jimmy Hill, to collectively bring a project that is equally commercial and artistic. As Jango continues to shape his signature sound, him and his team are working hard to establish a brand that will become globally recognized. Being an Independent artist in a region that's not well known for Hip Hop, Jango brings innovative concepts and a unique social approach that transcends the typical artist.

Band Members