Jiggy Drama: Talk Nerdy
11/12/11 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview by Dante
Colombian rapper Jiggy
Drama is easily the breakout star of Urban Latin music in
2011, but he's hardly a newbie to the game. He earned
his stripes pushing mixtapes and demos in the late 90's before
making Colombian radio in 2000. But it wasn't until the
release of his hit song "La Fuga" that he gained widespread
appeal throughout the Hispanic world.
Jiggy took time out between
shows to speak with LatinRapper about his new album "Nerdside"
and making upbeat music in this exclusive interview.
LatinRapper.com: You're in New York right now, are you on
I actually came here for a promotional tour. Tomorrow we
have a performance with MTV. That's the only show that
we're going to do. For interviews and to let people know
what Jiggy's about.... My English is not that good
That actually brings me
to my next question. You have tracks on Nerside that are
in good English, did you learn it in Colombia?
I never took English
courses or classes. I learned English listening to Hip
Hop music and watching movies. I never took an English
class in my life.
If someone didn't know
better, they'd think you were from New York.
(laughs) Nah, I just try to
do my best. I'm a Latin rapper, most of my music is in
How would you define
your style of music?
I call it Alternative Urban
music. It's not too underground to be Hip Hop, it's not
too commercial to be Reggaeton. It's a mix of both.
It also includes a lot of typical Colombian instruments.
That flavor, the Cumbia flavor. It also has the Reggae
flavor from my island, because I'm from San Andres Island.
It's a little Caribbean Island. We speak Creole, we
listen to a lot of Reggae music, and Soca and Dancehall music.
So you can call it Caribbean Hip Hop music.
You have one track on
Nerdside that's flat out old-school Reggae.
I'm Not a Perfect Man.
Did you sing the hook on
Nah. The hook on that
is Jacky Styles, he's an artist from my island. The
whole song is in Creole. Creole is like the Caribbean
English that we speak on my island. It's similar to the
Your father's last name
doesn't seem like a traditional Spanish one. Do you have
family from elsewhere?
My dad's name is the same
name that I have, we're both named Heartan Lever. This
island was discovered by the English people. Most of the
names on the island are Gordon, Archibald, Lever. All
these English names, and we have English customs. But
actually we belong to Colombia.
Colombian. You have a lot of Cumbia flavor on Nerdside, plus
sexual innuendo in your songs. Have you noticed that
you're often compared to Residente of Calle 13?
The comparison with Calle
13, I got that before I did the Cumbia songs. I've been
doing my music way back from '96, '97. When I first
started to get on the radio on my island was in 2000, 2001,
before Atrevete with Calle 13 hit the radio. When Calle
13 came out, everybody on my island was like, "you sound
familiar, you both sound similar."
Nah. We are
lyricists, we're not like rappers. We get more focused
on the lyrics of the songs. We go straight to the point.
Maybe I think that's why I get a lot of comparisons with Calle
13. But it sounds different, they sound more political,
I sound more fresh, more partying. He actually went more
to the political view, I think that's the difference.
Your songs are all
varied. But when I look at the Youtube video for La Fuga,
I notice people mentioning Calle 13.
People who never listened
to my music before, they be like "We heard Calle 13 before we
heard you, so you copied from Calle 13." Most of the
people don't know that I've been doing music way back before
Calle 13 hit the streets with Atrevete.
I didn't hit the radio way
back in the day, just two years ago. But on my island,
people used to listen to my music since 2000. So when
people on my island hear people saying "he copied from Calle
13", they get upset, they get pissed off. They're like,
we've been listening to his music way back before Calle 13.
It's cool, I respect Calle 13 a lot. I think Residente
is the best lyricist we have in Latin Hip Hop right now. But
Calle 13 is Calle 13, Jiggy Drama is Jiggy Drama.
Not counting all of your
other videos on Youtube, but La Fuga alone has over 15 million
views. Did you expect it to blow up that fast?
Actually nah. When I
do music, I do it just for fun. I want people to have
fun with it, to put a smile on their face. To put humor
and comedy into my music. I think it's cool that
everybody was listening to the music. Some people get
the wrong idea of the song. They were like, "This is too
heavy, we can't play this on the radio. You can't listen to
this" It called attention, you know. "I want to
know what everyone's talking about La Fuga, what's wrong with
the song." So maybe that's why I get a lot of hits on
It's a little sexually
It's wordplay. You
can listen to the song and be cool. Technically the song
doesn't say any bad words. I just play with the words
and have fun with it.
One thing that stands
out about Jiggy Drama's image is the Nerdside thing, the
sweater vests. What influenced that style?
This started way back in
high school. I used to wear my glasses. Not
because I was a nerd, but because I was blind (laughs).
Everyone was making fun of me, I was the only one in class
wearing glasses. Everyone was like, "The nerd, the nerd,
the nerd." Everybody was making fun of me.
Most of the rappers in
Colombia with the bling-bling and the hoodies. They was
like, yo, if you're making urban music, you can't dress like a
nerd with big glasses. You gotta come with the bling
bling and all that. I'm like, nah. I'll prove to
yall that it doesn't matter how you dress, it matters how you
spread the message with your music.
Okay, I'm gonna get more
nerdy with the clothes, the shirt, the pants. I'm
exaggerated, now everybody's like, that's why Jiggy's
different. I look at a lot of artists like Pharrel,
Common, Kanye. They don't dress all that with the bling
bling. I get most of my influence with artists like
Now that Nerdside is on
iTunes, are you getting booked for shows more outside of
We're already performing in
Paraguay and Ecuador. We get a lot of people emailing us
from Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina. They be like, your
music is awesome, you should come here and do a show.
But we want to get ahead in the U.S.. Try to get some...
How can I say it... I don't way to say fame, because I don't
like that word.
You want to build more
I want to get recognized
here, so people over here in the U.S. can get down with my
I know that DJ Sheky was
involved with the album, did he produce all of the beats?
Not all the album. DJ
Sheky produced most of the tracks. We have Joshua P,
he's the director of my whole band, a lot of musicians that
play with me. With Culpable, we worked with a Puerto
Rico producer Daddy Fernandez. That's the only producers
on my album.
You have an interesting
mix of beats. Dancehall, Cumbia, Hip Hop, R&B for the
ladies. You've even got an old school Wu-Tang sample.
Wu-Tang? On Nerdside?
It's an interpolation of
a Wu-Tang beat.
On what joint?
Ah. Actually we
didn't take it from the Wu-Tang sample. We took it from
the original Soul song.
I thought it was a nod
I'm a big Wu-Tang fan.
I'm really into old school. But Soul music, I like to
bring it back to the new style. The music that I listen
to on my iPod, I listen to a lot of Otis Redding, James Brown.
I wanna mix all of that Soul into what's happening now with
Latin Music. A lot of people maybe don't know about
these Soul samples that rappers and beatmakers use in their
You've even got a song
with an old school Boogie Woogie beat to it with the piano,
you even do scat singing.
That was a huge
surprise, I don't think I've ever heard a rapper do scat
sounds with his voice.
(laughs) I was trying to
do... (laughs) I was just having fun with it. I don't
have this voice, I need to get my T-Pain on with auto-tune.
I'm not a singer. I just try to do my best and have fun
in the recording studio. We were working on that song,
we flipped this old 50's old school jazz style song. I
was like, okay, I'm gonna scat on it a little bit. The
people in the studio was like, your auto-tune's on, you sound
These beats have old
school vibes, South American influences. Was that your
idea as far as the production?
Yeah. If you listen
to my first album back in 2005, I tried to put all the music
that I listen to, I try to put it on my album. I don't
want to be the kind of rapper that does all this commercial
hits. I want to put into a CD all the influence I get,
all my background.
The last song on the album
is Los Anos Maravillosos. It's pretty old school.
I wanted to tell people where I come from, what I started to
listen to at the beginning of my career. I was in the
studio with Sheky and said yo, we should take this sample, yo
we should do like this. It was the perfect connection
with Sheky. I think we did a great job. I think
The album pushes the
creative envelope, has great production, and it's not a
mainstream album where half of the singles were made for
radio. It seems like most of your songs, you didn't care
That was the idea. I
couldn't do an album only for radio singles. I just want
to have fun with it. People can sit back, and just relax and
have fun with it. Not every day is Friday. You
have the party song on Friday, then the laid back song on
Sunday. That's what I'm trying to do with my album.
Is there anything else
you want to mention about the album?
Nerdside is something
fresh, something different in Latin Hip Hop. Log on to
JiggyDrama.com and learn more about me, listen to my music and
get to know me better.
Any last words for your
Thanks, and keep on
supporting me. Feel good no matter what everybody says,
and be you.
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