“Nobody listened to me when I was younger,” says Baltimore rapper Jamal W. Turner who goes by the stage name Ghost. “But everybody listened when I rapped.” Like a lot of artists, Turner feels that music is his calling. And for Turner, it’s not just a career – it’s personal. “I’ve always had this wild fantasy to become successful in life and show my Mom and Dad what I have become,” He explains.
Even his stage name is close to Turner’s heart. When he was 5 years old, his older sister who was 7 at the time, died in her sleep next to him. “I wanted to name myself after her.” He says. “I couldn’t name myself a girls name, so I looked in the dictionary for all these crazy names that had to deal with the after life.” Intent on keeping her memory alive and close Turner, “decided to keep it simple and go with Ghost.”
I KNOW YOU RECORD ALL THE TIME… WHAT MOTIVATES YOU WHEN YOU GO IN TO RECORD?
I love music. Music is the only thing that is keeping me alive. That, as well as having a future career that will put me in a position to feed and provide for the people I care for in my life. I never knew my Dad and my Mother did what she was able to do as far as raising me. So I’ve always had this wild fantasy to become successful in life and show my Mom and Dad what I have become. So as far as I’m concerned, I’m on a mission. I know what that mission is and I will let no one come in between that! Any time I enter a studio I want to make a powerful impression. I know that in order to leave that kind of impression I need to go above and beyond what a “Rapper” would usually do. I practice EVERYTHING right on down to the ad-libs. So when I come to record I have everything ready to go. Yes, a lot goes into recording, as far as motivation goes. I feel like I have a lot going against me; which drives me in every way possible. A lot of people say that I am a strong leader. All I want is for everybody in my circle to perform at the same pace as I do. And I feel like all of this stems from my love of music.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE SONG “LANDSCAPES ZERO”?
A: About a year and a half ago I was working with a guy named Ian Burke; who also goes by the name “Number 156”. It’s ironic that the first name you linked that music to was Pink Floyd because that’s exactly who he uses for his musical inspiration. But anyway he was the first person to introduce me to Experimental Music. Before that point in my life I looked down upon that kind of music. I think the reason for that would have to be in part because I didn’t understand it. You see, in Rap music we only have 3-4 minutes and a certain set of instruments to try to convey a message to the listener. I’ve come to find out that in Experimental Music this is not the case. In this Genre a person can have a 8 minute song and have it be the best song ever! Me and Ian could never really see eye to eye on how to create music and/how it should sound. But we did agree that whatever kind of music it is – it should sound good. Once we were able to understand each other on that level our creativity was through the roof! Because a rap song can be completed in such a short time, Ian would take as long as he pleased to make an Experimental track and leave it in the studio for me to get to later. So, one day I was sitting in the studio with nothing to do but I really felt like making a song. I cut on the studio computer and searched for Ian’s tracks and started freestyling to them. Once I found what I wanted to do with the tracks, all that was left was to find out where I would put my verses. I think I only put 1 verse on most of his songs because I wanted to catch the mood of the song and deliver a verse that was on an equal vibe. At the time Me and Ian must have been on the same page because every track that I presented to him just seemed to fit perfectly to his CD. Yeah, that’s how that song came about. We just bring both of our fields together and hope that it works out. We don’t care too much about a category of music that people might try to put us in. But what we do care about is making music that people can listen to and identify with. As we like to call it “Keeping our music as HUMAN as possible”. To never compromise and stay true to the music.
Listen to “Landscape Zero”
DO YOU CREATE THE BEATS YOURSELF?
No!!! I don’t have the patience to sit and make beats. I can Beat Box though. I use Industry beats for my Mixtape stuff, which is the standard for today’s music business. I often times go to a website calledSoundclick and purchase beats from there for my original stuff. Sometimes if I’m in the mood for some different kind of music I will contact Ian and ask him if he has any finished beats that he can give me. What this does is it allows me to focus 100% on my lyrics. That’s what I’m known for. I don’t want to throw any confusion into the mix. I want everybody to know that I am a Rapper. That’s all I ever wanted to be and that’s what I’m going to be the best in one day. I don’t make ANY beats. Let’s see, I’ve learned my lesson about writing my lyrics first and trying ot put them to a beat. Writing lyrics before I hear a beat seems to be the longest task that I’ve ever encountered in my life. I like to try and keep things simple so instead, I listen to a beat for 1 day and make the song the next day. But that’s what works for me. Other artist have different views on the subject.
ANY SHOWS COMING UP?
I just made a big move down to Silver Spring, MD. It wasn’t my personal choice, I just didn’t have a place to live in Baltimore. So right now I don’t have anything lined up as far as shows go. My Rap partner Young L’z ( Anthony Linnen) is still in Baltimore and we both agreed that we would try to make things work out even though we have a distance issue. As of right now Im just trying to find my way around Silver Spring and start over with my music career. I have to say that this music thing is looking real bleak because I don’t know anybody down here. But back when I was doing Open-Mic shows in Baltimore, the feeling was unbelievable! I love to perform my music in front of people. I start off every show by being extremely nervous! My nervousness usually goes away about 2 minutes into our set. It really goes on how the crowd is feeling and reacting to our music. A lot of places that we go nobody knows who we are and they really don’t want to know who we are. But we perform and they tend to love what we do. Just that alone – knowing that they didn’t want to hear us at first but now they smile when they see us. There isn’t a more rewarding feeling in the world for me. I live for music. When I die, I want to die in the studio.
Me and all my friends talk about how hard it is to be a Baltimore artist ALL the time. It just seems like we don’t fit in. No matter what people say, EVERYBODY wants to fit in. I mean, even the people who don’t fit in with the popular kids – fit in with the rest of the people who don’t fit in. NOBODY want’s to hear/support local music, especially in today’s musical climate, you can damn near forget about it. A Regular CD would go for $15, right? That same CD from a local artist would probably go for $10, if he is smart. But because people never heard of this artist, he has to now sell his CD for $7. Now let’s bring in some competition. Another artist is selling his CD for $5. The first artist has to now drop his price to under $5! Now how can the first artist pay back his promotion? It just doesn’t work out for anybody. And for a local artist Club’s are next to impossible to get into. If you can’t convince the club owner that you can put big dollars in his pocket then you won’t get a paying show PERIOD. So most of us are stuck with doing Open Mic events for a LONG time. I guess you can call it paying dues. It’s hard to be an artist in Baltimore, and I’ll end it like that.
Check out Jamal’s music: