Surprise! I had a conversation with Hillsboro, Ohio’s J.R. Koda, up and coming rapper from the Ohio Valley. He’s preparing a new mixtape that might impress and inspire all who listen.
iBlogshuffle: First off, How are you doing today?
J.R. Koda: I’m doing pretty good. I just woke up not too long ago and have been listening to music, ready to start the day off.
iB: Sounds like a good day then. So, before we get into it, where did the name J.R. Koda come from?
J.R. Koda: I’ve always liked the name Koda and wanted to use it somehow and saw that it meant “friend” in a Native American language when I looked it up in the dictionary. I was like, “That works because I’m cool with everyone.” Then, I got J.R. from my first and middle name, Joseph Robert. The name just flowed together, so I changed my rap name from Joe Kidd to J.R. Koda in 2009.
iB: I understand that a lot of friends are involved in your live performance. Would you say that they play a part in your writing process as well?
J.R. Koda: Yes, my friends are a big part of what happens in my music. I have a group of people that I hang out with and that I talk about in my songs a lot. There are a couple of people that I let listen to my music before anyone else to know what they think. I like to talk about life in my music and sometimes I use my friends’ input when writing those songs.
iB: What about life inspires you the most?
J.R. Koda: The struggle inspires me the most. Coming from nothing and doing all you can to make the best of it and keep pushing to make it better. Looking at my family and friends is what inspires me the most. I don’t do this for me; I do it for everyone that I’m surrounded by.
iB: How has coming from a smaller city made an impact on your music? Do you feel like it’s a weakness or an advantage?
J.R. Koda: I think it’s kind of a weakness and an advantage at the same time. It’s a weakness in the fact that not a lot of people know about me and it’s hard to network or work with other people around when there aren’t so many. It’s an advantage because I’m not influenced by too many outside things. When I have a giant following and people notice me while I’m still holding down my little hometown, then that means I worked harder than someone from a big city with a lot more outlets and chances.
iB: Are there any artists that influence/inspire you?
J.R. Koda: Yeah, most people would say Jay-Z, Nas and the typicals. Those ones inspired me to start, but a lot of new artists are out and I relate to them more because they are around my age. The ones that influence me the most are XV, Wale, J.Cole, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean and Currensy
iB: If you had to use 3 words to describe your music, what would they be?
J.R. Koda: Inspirational, Conceptual, Ohio
iB: Your most recent release is “What Do I Know.” [Featured Above] Could you talk a little about the song?
J.R. Koda: I was listening to the beat and the line “but really what do I know a small city in Ohio.” Then I just built off that and I thought it would be cool to start it off each verse, but talk about something different. The first verse is about how a lot of the blacks in my town want to blame things on the white people, when everyone is going through the same problems. I just wanted them to know they can make it, they just have to put the work in and let nothing hold them back. The 2nd verse was just how most of my friends don’t have fathers and a lot of people can relate to that. The focus of the 3rd verse was to not let your dream die and keep dreaming and pushing for it. The hook is all about self doubt, like the back and forth talk. The whole song is really about self doubt
iB: Are you currently working on any projects? I read that we might see a mixtape sometime soon.
J.R. Koda: Yes, and I’m super excited! The mixtape will be called “Return From Nowhere” because I haven’t put out a project in forever, but I didn’t really go anywhere. I’m making the best music I can at the moment and I’m pushing my song writing with the concepts of the songs and the overall make-up of the tape.
iB: It sounds like it’ll be something to look out for! Finally, after someone listens to one of your songs, what do you most hope that they get from it?
J.R. Koda: I hope it’s relatable to their life but most of all I hope they come away with a little sense of who I am.