Jay Levison is one of the leaders of the next wave of hip hop production, and in a short period of time has the body of work to back that claim. He first caught our ear with the exceptional Tha Shoulder series with Left Lane Didon, utilizing breezy melodies and unique drums to create a one-a-kind listening experience. Other full projects include The Glass House from Chris Skillz, The Holy Mountain from Stack Skrilla. He has also infiltrated the Psych Ward camp, teaming up with Pro Zay for Fishweight as well as the brand new single Time for Chris Crzna featuring DapZini. Jay has great taste in collaborators, between that and his growing sound it’s safe to say he’s gearing up for a big run.
RD: Your introduction to many of us beat heads was the work on Saturday Night Lights for Mach and Fahim. Expound on how that came to fruition, and the feeling of sending music to one of the finest emcees on the planet.
JL: I had just started sending Fahim packs like October 2017, and outta that first one he picked the Flowers N Graveyards beat, so from there im kinda sending packs like one or two a month. Lowkey sent the pack with the FOH beat like two days before the first SNL dropped, and I didn’t know it was coming out like that I kinda woke up to it and heard the track and did a little tiger woods fist bump type shit. It’s amazing though man, I’m lucky and grateful to get to work with Fahim and Mach.
RD: Left Lane Didon and yourself have dropped 6 volumes of Tha Shoulder series. What is it about your two styles that made the chemistry form?
JL: I feel like myself and Left’s ears are kinda in a similar place for The Shoulder series. I got all these like 80s sounding beats that I’m just making for fun, but he really gave me a platform to put them out and have the shit hit right.
RD: Can you walk us through your beat making process? What comes first, and what comes last as far as construction?
JL: When my money’s right I’m buying records and just listening to shit, but I’ll use You Tube too to find samples. It really depends, like as far as first and last, there isn’t always a set way.
RD: If you add any one piece of gear to your setup, price be damned, what would it be?
JL: Probably some type of MPC, or a version of Ableton that I don’t gotta authorize to open every time.
RD: Do you do your own post-production?
JL: When it comes to stuff I’ve worked on with other people I like to let them go about adding interludes or skits and that type of shit.
RD: Stack Skrilla is another frequent collaborator. Do you feel like apart of the Dump Gawd crew? You have produced quite a few tracks for them.
JL: No doubt, those are my brothers for real, low key crazy how much support they’ve showed me. Not just on some send the pack type shit, it’s some shit that’s like all love.
RD: Your latest body of work is Fishweight with Pro Zay. He is making a name for himself in a short time, what can you say about the creation of that project?
JL: Zay was up in New York at the end of April, and we had linked last time he was out here in November when Frozen and I put on this show with Psych Ward, Immobiliare, Mavi, Murky, Hesh, and No-Fvce. Bro needed a couch for a night so he crashed at my place. We were just kickin it, smokin heavy, Zay had me play him some beats and we just kinda busted that shit out.
RD: What’s the ceiling for JLVSN? How far would you like to take this?
JL: I mean ideally just continue to get better with it, there are certain goals beat tape ideas or people I’d like to work with. The main thing is just like development. I hope a ceiling would be something where I feel like I’m where I need to be with this music shit, although I don’t necessarily know what that looks like.
RD: Ultimate goal as an artist?
JL: Man I guess like sometimes I’m thinking on why I make shit, and then I’m thinking of whatever that feeling certain shit gives you—if i can make some shit that makes me feel how that shit does, thats really what I’m going for.
RD: Plans for the rest for 2019?
JL: Off rip, Stack and I have a project coming, I got a tape with the Ward coming soon, and I got a tape with Jay Nice coming this summer. There are people out here sitting on some beats from me, so if it drops we’ll see but I don’t wanna speak on it too soon.
RD: If you could get any 5 vocal talents on a production album, who are you rolling with?
JL: Shit, everyone already mentioned, but also Murky, Redman, Earl, AZ, and (liv).e
Follow Jay on Twitter @_jlvsn and IG jaylevison
Cop Tha Shoulder series here https://phonicart.bandcamp.com