Def Jam’s Bernard Jabs Talks ‘Coldhearted’ EP and Balancing High School With His Music Career


Only one artist has three options on Undisputed, the brand new compilation of rising expertise from Def Jam, and he occurs to be in highschool.

Bernard Jabs, of Tifton, GA, is 17 years previous however he's already cracked the 100,00zero streaming mark a number of occasions on SoundCloud. He opened for Pusha T on The Daytona Tour Part 2. He's residing the dream he's had since he was a toddler.

“I knew all this was going to occur, as a result of I deliberate all of it out,” he tells Billboard. “Since I used to be 5, I’ve at all times wished to be a rapper. So I labored on my craft consistently. I knew I needed to make one thing out of this and there’s nonetheless extra to do.”

For Coldhearted -- his debut solo EP, which launched on Friday (March 15) -- Jabs drops bars about belief points and self-confidence, however nonetheless makes time for the occasional flex. Drawing on a rocky previous relationship, Coldhearted is a welcoming introduction to one in every of Def Jam's latest and brightest MCs.

Billboard spoke with Bernard Jabs about his debut EP, signing with Def Jam, balancing his senior yr of highschool with the music trade and touring with Pusha T. Check out the dialog beneath.

On the opener for Coldhearted, “Stupid,” you evaluate your self to Eazy E in 1986 and Jim Jones in 2006. What’s your favourite period of hip-hop?

Probably the ‘Stay Fly” period. Wayne was on his Dipset shit and the mixtapes had been loopy. Everyone had their very own type and was simply going silly. That actually molded me -- that period actually made me need to rap. There wasn't a rapper in that point that wasn't cool. If you had successful or music that was simply bumping, you had been good in my eyes.

How do you are feeling about this present period?

I find it irresistible. This is my second-favorite period as a result of I'm in it, what I'm saying? I can't be bitter about it. I hearken to all these new guys. I'm a child, nonetheless in highschool, so I can’t keep away from it. While I'm fascinated with my very own music, I'm listening to every thing else, too. If I don't like one thing, I'm going to say I don't prefer it. But every thing is an inspiration on the finish of the day.

How are you balancing your final yr of highschool with the music trade?

I'm a senior and solely taking two lessons at my highschool proper now, [two] 45-minute blocks. I get to highschool at like eight:00 AM and I depart by like 9:30 AM, so it’s actually not an issue for me. My lecturers are fairly cool, so if I've to make a journey I can simply miss college. I doubled up final yr as a result of I knew this might occur. I didn't need to should atone for my lecturers.

Did you ever really feel like dropping out to deal with the music?

Hell no. My momma wasn't having that. She was not having that shit in any respect. I needed to work on my music all all through highschool. There was no manner round it. It was both work on my music in highschool or work on it in school.

What went by your thoughts if you signed with Def Jam? What do you suppose the label was lacking that you would convey?

I used to be actually simply saying how cool it was to have the ability to do this. I wasn't actually fascinated with it too massive like, 'oh my God! It's Def Jam!' I knew this might fall into place. As far as what I'm bringing, it’s one thing new as a result of Def Jam already has a Justin Bieber, a Rihanna, G.O.O.D. Music, Kanye West. But no one is actually breaking. There's no younger youngsters or younger cat, what I imply?

There's no one bringing that new power over there at Def Jam and I really feel like if anyone ought to do this, or have the flexibility to try this, it's me. They have the connects and a superb basis. There are legends over there.

Seems like they’re cashing in on you since you've three completely different placements on Undisputed.

You dig? Uh huh, yessir!

How does it really feel to have essentially the most options on Undisputed?

It was actually simply work to me. On the following venture, I'm making an attempt to have extra as a result of that's how I'm going and get it. I actually love making music with anyone. Everybody that was in there I used to be able to work with. If I didn't get on a music with everyone in there I rattling positive requested to be. [Laughs.] I wasn't enjoying.

How did the recording course of for Coldhearted evaluate to Undisputed?

It's just about the identical factor. Every time I'm within the studio, I'm impressed. If I'm within the automobile on the best way to the studio and nothing occurs that day, however I'm within the studio, I'm going to give you one thing. Just the power and the vibes within the studio at all times has me tuned into the songs that I'm going to make.

[But] after I was engaged on Undisputed, I needed to give you one thing fast as a result of the opposite artists had been arising with stuff fast and I couldn't seem like I used to be slowing down. It was type of a contest. But after I document on my own, I'm in my very own zone.

How necessary is it to attach together with your followers, like if you shared snippets from Coldhearted?

I understand how to work the web. The web is just not a tough factor to get. This reception that I'm getting on the web is what I must be getting if I'm doing my job proper. If you don't join together with your followers, how would your music get out? You have the SoundCloud web page, posting shit on there, hoping you get 100 or extra performs? No, you must discuss to individuals, and I believe that's how one can inform if someone is impressed or not. You should be constructed for social media, too. Anybody can name my shit trash; you simply should eat that.

You obtained a optimistic reception after your opening set for Pusha T at Terminal 5 and possibly made some new followers. What was it like getting that reception? What gems did you are taking away from Push?

Yeah, man, I used to be residing in it. In a scenario like that, you actually have to supply. If you don’t produce, the gang gained’t fuck with you. But it did imply rather a lot to me to see them react to me the best way they did. Pusha is aware of find out how to rap, and I understand how to rap. If the gang didn't just like the music, I knew they'd respect me off the pure artwork of rapping I used to be displaying. I knew in the event that they didn't like one factor they'll like the opposite.

One gem I took away from Pusha was understanding you don't have to leap round within the crowd to get individuals's consideration. I fuck together with his stage design and lighting, shit like that. I really feel like he executes every thing effectively. Pusha is a legend, man. That was an expertise.

With such a fiery begin to your profession, what's going by your thoughts proper now?

That I nonetheless should go to highschool right now and the entire week after. But what's going by my thoughts is doing what I've to do at college, to return dwelling and maintain making music. I'm going to advertise the tape as I ought to on-line and get these streams up. I obtained to construct the staff and take over Georgia earlier than I graduate. I'm again to the drafting board and placing a timeline on all this as a result of it has to occur this yr. I do know it can occur this yr.