Son of Missouri gubernatorial candidate Nixon writes, performs rap

Thursday, October 2, 2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- "It's ya boy, Young J to the Nix."

That's not the latest tagline for Attorney General Jay Nixon's campaign for governor.

"Young J," as he dubs himself in a track recorded a few years ago, is Nixon's eldest son, Jeremiah, the rapper.

Out on the campaign trail, Jer -- a nickname he's gone by since elementary school -- sports what he describes as a "pretty fresh suit," as he talks to supporters about education and his dad's platform.

In his second semester at MU, Jer says he chooses to keep his music politics-free, instead focusing on the stereotypes associated with rap music. The music Jer writes and records with friends uses profanity, references violence and refers to women as "hos." The cover for the album "Turn and Cough," released in 2007, depicts several members holding rifles or handguns.

However, Jer, 19, said he doesn't think his lyrics are offensive. "If it is offensive, it's because people are easily offended."

The music is "definitely for fun ... 98 percent parody," he said, noting that there are times when they "straight up" make fun of the rap genre. "We throw out some of that generic stuff and, because it's coming from us, it's sarcastic. None of our music should be taken seriously."

Jer says his father has heard his music and is "cool" with his musical expression. Recording in the household "was never a private thing," he said.

"JC Hustlaz," "I Got an AK" and "Poser G's" are a few of the titles on the CD "Turn and Cough," recorded by Jer and his friends during their senior year in high school.

His mom, Georganne, helped make it possible when she brought an Apple computer equipped with the program Garage Band that Jer used to create his beats.

But Oren Shur, spokesman for the Nixon campaign, had this to say in a statement e-mailed to the Missourian: "Jay loves his son, but certainly some of the lyrics in these rap songs show some poor judgment. There's really nothing cool about it. But it's important to Jay and Georganne that Jer have a normal college experience and not be dragged into this political campaign."

After the Missourian fact-checked this story, Jer asked to add this statement: "Some of the lyrics were in poor taste and showed poor judgment on my part. I now see how they could have been offensive to some, and I apologize for that."

Until recently, Jer's career consisted of the album he recorded and sold with a group of friends (they called themselves B.A.L.L.S.) in high school, as well as making his music available on MySpace and a video on YouTube.

On Friday, however, two of his MySpace pages were deleted, and his video became private on YouTube, accessible only by invitation. Going by the name Afflowence, which he uses only when he records alone, he recently posted a new track called "AC on Blast" on the Afflowence MySpace page. But that account was also deleted.

"I talked to some people and decided it didn't look good," Jer said of the music video on YouTube. He promised that the group would be back on YouTube with new stuff at a "later date."

"JC Hustlaz," "I Got an AK" and "Poser G's" are a few of the titles on the CD "Turn and Cough," recorded by Jer and his friends during their senior year in high school.

"We were all about pleasing the masses and keeping it light-hearted," said group member Duncan Kincheloe, who also goes to MU.

Jer estimates that he wrote about 50 percent of the tracks on the album. They take what Jer calls the "generic" aspects of rap music, and anchor them to ideas the group found funny. For example, there is an entire track dedicated to Go Gurt -- a yogurt product sold in a tube.

"Jer is an absolute genius with computers, and music is his one true love," said Taylor Webb, a student at Westminster College who has been close to Jer since high school. "Jer can rap for days if you would let him."

In the first verse of "JC Hustlaz," Jer tells the story of a day off school in Jefferson City, where the rest of the group meets at a local pool hall. They ride in Bentleys. They order beers. They wear "ice." They "hustle."

"Woke up on a Friday when we had no school/ I think I gotta hustle, gotta hustle me some pool/Will I go Spectators? Mike's Corner Pocket?/Gotta grab my gun, but first I'll cock it"

In the same song, he raps:

"I'm dancin' on the table like a ballerina/Can't stop me now, I'm to the macerena/Look around choosin' fools I want to bash/Everybody in Jeff City is white trash"

Eventually, the group had enough tracks to make an album. Then they burned so many discs that Jer's CD burner broke. They sold the album at school for $5 each.

"If they had heard it before they probably wouldn't have bought it," said Jer, who estimates the group made around $500 from sales. "We hyped it big."

B.A.L.L.S. also made some of their music available through their MySpace page, which was open for public viewing until Monday when it too was deleted. As of Monday morning, their song "I Got That Bump" had 3,306 plays on the site. The track was a favorite of listeners, and even got air time on a radio station in St. Louis, Jer says.

"The music they recorded in high school was pure comedy," said Caroline Ward, a University of Missouri-Kansas City student who went to high school with Jer. "Something you could put in your CD player and it would instantly raise your spirits because of all its spontaneity."

After "Turn and Cough," the group disbanded, heading off to different colleges.

Despite his dad being in the political spotlight, Jer says his life has been pretty much the same -- other than phone calls from friends after the campaign commercial he appears in shows up on TV.

Now living at MU as a pledge in the Beta Theta Pi house, Jer is taking 14 hours as a political science major -- a natural choice for someone whose earliest memories are of campaigning.

"It's been going on my whole life," Jer said. "The first thing I remember is putting in yard signs with (my dad) in Jefferson County. He was elected state senator for down there. At the time, I was 2."

The memories are vague, and Jer is pretty sure he only remembers because he's heard the story from family so many times.

For now, Jer plans to continue to record when he can, although there isn't much space in the fraternity house. He keeps track of song ideas in his iPhone and will let almost anybody get involved in the process.

There is one person, however, who listeners probably won't be hearing making a guest appearance.

"If (my dad) jumped on a track ... I don't think it'd get positive response," Jer said. "I'd probably cut his verse out. I don't know if his verses would have the lyrical magnificence that is required."

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