Featured Artist/Group: Wa’Jee/ Producer Profile: Issues
Wa’Jee was born in Chicago during the city’s most vicious and unforgiving times with a strong Islamic upbringing to keep him grounded. At the tender age of 6, Wa’Jee began performing at talent shows in 1995 and by 14, he was introduced to established underground global acts All Natural M.C. and Cap D. During their studio sessions, All Natural M.C. and Cap D began mentoring Wa’Jee. Under their tutelage, Wa’Jee learned how to structure songs, construct albums, and record. In his senior year of high school, Wa’Jee, along with other students from across Chicago’s public school system, was employed by Kennedy King College (KKC) Radio to operate and host a weekly radio show. Through this opportunity, Wa’Jee would meet Ahmed Turner (the younger brother of Sunni’Ali Byrd-El, formerly of SOG Entertainment). Turner introduced Wa’Jee to Byrd-El and Kenneth Johnson, who would later recruit him to their SOG Entertainment imprint.
Issues is a young, versatile producer who takes initiative in expanding his current talent by learning new instruments, mixing and recording his music from professionals, and studying production in multiple genres. Issues started his music career as an African Djembe drummer. Between 1996 and 2000, he played the drums with established local acts (i.e., Alayo and Muntu). During the summer of 2003, Issues turned all of his attention toward hip-hop following an introduction to Harvey Allbangers while competing in a producer beat battle. Allbangers mentored Issues as he collaborated with Jutu the Juggernaut, Fifth Element, Bo and Logik (established local associates of Allbangers). For continued feedback and recognition, Issues was a consistent semi-finalists or runner-up in multiple beat battles at Sam Ash Future Producers, Crocodile Lounge, Sonotheque’s “Dance to the Drummer’s DB”. In the summer of 2005, Issues met Johnson, who would later found SOG Entertainment. Later that year, Issues was also hired by the Digital Youth Networks as a student-teacher teaching adolescents to make music. Johnson immediately recruited Issues for collaborations with his company’s artists and would later sign him as his main producer.
Wa’Jee and Issues started their discography with an acclaimed project entitled Younger Frame, Older Mind. The project received praise and recognition throughout Chicago’s underground hip-hop scene. SOG Entertainment distributed 2000 hard copies and over 100 digital downloads of Younger Frame, Older Mind in five months with no substantial financial support or advertising. Within that time, Wa’Jee was in higher demand for local performances, work with outside producers, and collaborations with other artists. Following Johnson’s internet networking, Wa’Jee garnered collaboration opportunities with established local artists and outside upcoming artists and producers (i.e., Drunken Munkeee, DJ O-Zone, Ill Legit, and more). Issues also garnered more attention for his production contributions.
During and preceding the creation of Younger Frame, Older Mind, Issues expanded his knowledge as a producer, engineer, and DJ. As a producer, Issues began focusing his education on music at the University of Chicago. He is also self-taught in keys and bass. While creating Younger Frame, Older Mind, Johnson encouraged Issues to learn how to engineer from mainstream engineers, Lance Garcia (Cold City Productions) and Matt Opal (Full Motion Recording). Garcia and Opal were hired engineers for Younger Frame, Older Mind. In order to assist the promotion of Younger Frame, Older Mind, Johnson used his experience in party promotions and Issues knowledge of music to host promotional events. Issues continues to DJ across Chicago.
Download: Younger Frame, Older Mind