JFK aka Ninjaface
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JFK aka Ninjaface

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE

Seattle, Washington, United States | INDIE
Band Hip Hop Spoken Word

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Ninjaface,Count Magnus,Oldominion OG,half of Grayskul,artist on Rhymesayers Ent,however you want to become familiar with JFK you should definitely do it listening to his new LP Building Wings on the Way Down. On this deeply personal, self-revealing, open hearted opus JFK gives us something a little old but at the same time new. While we've caught glimpses of the numerous sides of the gifted emcee, never before have we got the whole picture. On his solo debut though, JFK lets us view his entire self portrait. From growing up in trouble bouncing around from state to state due to issues with the law, drug and alcohol abuse, love and family problems, the listener gets it all.

Starting things off, JFK gives a peep into what the album will be about on the BWWD Intro. Produced by Smoke, Ninjaface builds the momentum for BWWD with lines like, "he found a home on the streets...", "he found a passion for drugs..." just to give a little insight into his upbringing. "One of These Kids", which is produced by fellow Northwestern native Jake One, lets us hear about JFK's intro and development into the the hip hop world. Jake Uno, who hasn't disappointed since his own White Van Music gives us a pretty laid back track driven by a synthy keyboard sample with drums that in Jake's own tweeting terms "SLAP!"

Besides Jake's standouts, the rest of the production is handled mostly by 3 producers. Bean One, Mr. Hill, and Wormwood Blazes worked on 3 to 4 cuts a piece while DJ Rhettmatic and Marvin of Blast Off productions did one track respectively. One of my personal faves being song number five, "Still Running". Produced by Mr. Hill, the beat is low key but moving. With a catchy string sample and simple drums the music catches you with little details. The chorus, which is catchy but intelligent (not something you hear too often) is sung by Xperience, who with his raspy, soulful, but streetwise vocals adds the perfect touch to the song. And "Let Em Know" produced by DJ Rhettmatic will do exactly that. A song bumping with heavy bass and handclaps riding a piano sample will help you catch JFK's frustration with the state of hip hop and the media. Spitting lines like, "Oversaturated, they made it the same/" and "Taken place from Lil' Wayne and Big Daddy Kane imitations" you hear what many want to say but Jeff has the balls to let 'em know (pun intended). All in all the production gets the job done. Is it the dopest, flashiest production ever? No. But the music matches the emcee, very skilled and executed with extreme precision.

Speaking of this precision, we all know JFK can spit. It's like he stores lines in his mental-dojo and words just kung-fu kick their way out onto the beat. As mentioned earlier JFK gets pretty personal on this album, and most of the content is intimate and exposes insecurities, and regrets. "I've seen a lot of things a lot of stress that drama brings/a life of alcohol abuse a few of these klonopins (I don't know if that's correct spelling, haha)" are just a small sample of the subjects his lyrics touch upon. Now while the words do sometimes expose JFK's feelings, he still keeps it raw as ever. This emcee hasn't resided in castle Grayskul or the Owl City of Oldominion for so long because of his softer side. On tracks like "On the Regular" and "Ignore the Hype", JFK gives us his uncut hip hop side like only he can. On the latter JFK brings heat like, "Woke up in the morning about a quarter to ten/I felt inspired to acquire me a pad and a pen/So now I'm up and outta bed instead of rubbin' one out/I jotted down 1,000 reasons I should step out the house/". And on the former, "The show's over/Jeffrey the lone soldier/venomous mic holder/gettin' 'em hype, no one's/flowin' this nice/". No, they really aren't.

Jeff doesn't get lazy throughout the whole cd which is impressive in it's own right. An album of 17 tracks would probably discourage any emcee. But this achievement could also be taken in a negative light, yes the length of the album is strong but the content seems to lose it's power after so many cuts. Not a huge fault but the album could benefit from some trimming. But for a stand alone LP, JFK did his thing and did it his way. Introspective, intense, unique, and pure. Building Wings on the Way Down gives us JFK at his best, even when he's describing his worst. And if this is Jeff on his way to the bottom, I can only wonder what awaits us when he reaches the top. - Underneath The Desert


Word is still out on how dope JFK’s album release party was last night at Nectar Lounge, but it was probably one to remember. You might know JFK as one of the two emcees from the Oldominion collective, Grayskul. But you might also know him as Ninjaface, Recluse or Count Magnus. His shape-shifting personas mirror his rhymes, which range from the rainy Seattle macabre on Grayskul’s Bloody Radio to the sinister rhymes and stylistically breezy flow of Graymaker.

Building Wings on the Way Down is JFK’s first solo effort, a dark autobiography about his life of crime as a teenager on the streets and his subsequent rise with the Oldominion crew. The songs are haunting and acidic, written with an eerie atmosphere that sticks with you long after the first listen. The album dropped June 1st on local Taxidermy Records and features Oldominion cohorts XP and Candidt on two tracks each, as well as Seattle’s Canary Sing. Production credits include Jake One, Bean One, WormWood Blazes, and Oldominion’s Mr. Hill and Smoke.

Seattle legend Bean One (Dyme Def, The Roots, Jurassic 5) drops a banging stutter of a beat on “On The Regular,” where JFK gives a shout-out to his ladies in bikinis at Green Lake, spits about being belligerent on Capitol Hill, curly fries from Jack in the Box, Biggie Smalls, and fellow 2-0-6 emcee, Sonny Bonoho. The track is a frenzied and playful celebration of the artist’s everyday Seattle grind.

Download some fast-spitting street charisma below, and keep your eyes open for Grayskul’s Zenith, which is slated for release on Rhymesayers before the end of the year. - Seattle Show Gal


JFK doesn’t make music because he wants to. He makes it because he has to. Building Wings on the Way Down, JFK’s (one half of Rhymesayers’, Grayskul) solo debut is an abrasive ode to his descent into darkness, crime and self-immolation on the streets of Virginia Beach, and a celebration of his rebirth as a member of the Oldominion crew, his re-emergence as an adult and proud father.

The man known as JFK, Ninjaface, Recluse, Count Magnus, Little Bobby and Jay is Jeffrey Leoncio Bautista, best know as one-half of Oldominion originals, Grayskul. If you can define someone by the company they keep, then it should be noted that JFK has recorded with names like Aesop Rock, Slug of Atmosphere, Canibus, Cannibal Ox, POS, and Typical Cats. His debut album, Building Wings on the Way Down, lives up to his legacy.

From the onset, Building Wings… (released by Taxidermy Records on June 1st) kidnaps the listener on a ride through a doomsday fairytale only real life stories could deliver. “12 Years,” is a hauntingly honest homage to JFK’s troubled past painted over head-thumping horns. He recounts, “On march 30th of ’96 Detective Howard finally found him, flew out and made that arrest/ He copped a plea and pleaded guilty to the robbery charge. They gave him ten years probation, man no-longer at large/ He change his ways and made a way without a single violation, plenty patience and a stack of rhymes, spitting combinations/” Like a lyrical body-snatcher, JFK slips the listener into his shoes, where they’ll walk long, dark miles with him toward a distant light.

The album’s first single, “High-School Sweet Heart” produced by Jake-One is a bass-heavy nod to teenage relationships and growth. True to his extraordinary story-telling ability, and down-to-earth raspy flow, JFK laments on the hook, “She loves me, loves me not, yo/ She loves me, loves me… (not)/ She loves me, loves me… (not)/ She loves me, loves me… (not)/ She loves me!/ She loves you not/ She loves you not/ That High-School sweetheart that never was mine”.

“American Me featuring DJ Rise,” picks up the solemn pace with a light-hearted beat for “the b-boys” that rattles the trunks like an old Run DMC joint. JFK’s quick-flip sarcastic delivery is reminiscent of Pharoahe Monch on “The Next Shit,” an emcee later admired in the homage, “Let ‘Em Know featuring DJ Rhettmatic,” alongside founding fathers Eric B and Rakim, and Black Moon.

Masterfully crafted and intricate, Building Wings on the Way Down, further demonstrates JFK’s versatility with “On the Regular”, a day-in-the-life perspective on the everyday grind of a musician. No-longer reveling in his past debauchery, JFK proclaims, “It’s a good day in Seattle, I’m a head-out to Green Lake, where ladies in bikinis love to show off their lean shape,” pinpointing a new pinnacle in his life where his wings are starting to take shape.

“Paranoid featuring Candidt,” is an ominous West Coast anthem produced by Wormwood Blazes, complete with resounding bells and crunchy guitars. JFK eerily flows, “I’m sick, so sick having issues, Boy, cause I’m paranoid!/ I feel they fuckin with me, Boy, cause I’m paranoid/ Loke, I can hear the Portland bang, oh, Boy, paranoid/ I feel they fuckin’ with me, Boy, cause I’m paranoid,” high-lighting the mounting pressure he encounters on his ride toward musical acclaim.

With a line-up of acclaimed underground producers including Smoke, Bean One, Jake One, Wormwood Blazes, and Mr. Hill, the only set-back on Building Wings on the Way Down might be its lack of “main-stream” sound so commonly heard on today’s radio. However, for the avid hip-hop listener JFK’s debut delivers a warning-shot toward soft Rap around the world, reclaiming a lyrical Hip-Hop dominion rarely seen these days. With poignant and disturbing memories echoed throughout, Building Wings on the Way Down is the first attempt at life’s recapitulation from an emcee who undoubtedly has much to say in the future. - Oregon Music News


Discography

Solo Material:

"Building Wings on the Way Down" LP
June 2010, Taxidermy Records

With Grayskul:

"Graymaker" LP
Taxidermy Records, 2009

"Bloody Radio" LP
Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2007

"Deadlivers" LP
Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2005

"Creature"
Self Released, 2004

Photos

Bio

Ninjaface doesn’t make music because he wants to, he makes it because he has to. The desperate intensity of his delivery reflects his irresistible need to create – to extract lessons embedded like thorns in his soul. Like a lyrical body-snatcher, Ninjaface slips listeners into his shoes, where they’ll walk long, dark miles with him toward the light.

Jeff the Filipino Kid, born in San Fernando, Philippines, spent his early childhood in San Diego, Ca. and did most of his growing up in Virginia Beach, Va. His early high school career faded as he spent more and more time on the streets, smoking and drinking. Sinking into an increasingly dim future, he dropped out of high school at the age of 16. By the mid 90s, JFK had a criminal record. As the arc of his descent sharpened, he found himself shackled by 10 years of probation and the threat of seven years lock-up for stepping the least bit out of line. Running from the law, JFK moved to Seattle, WA in 1996. It was there he began rapping with a crew of local emcees collectively known as Oldominion. JFK kept focused in the music, which kept him out of prison.

As one half of the seminal underground rap group Grayskul, JFK was signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment and has released 4 critically acclaimed albums to a growing, dedicated fanbase. As a solo artist he has taken the name Ninjaface, and in June 2010 Taxidermy Records released his debut album, "Building Wings on the Way Down", a testament to his life struggle and the beauty that has followed it.