Date: 08/15/2011 Print This Post



Prior to Joining Forces in 2006,
Savage (Vocalist/Composer/Producer/Guitar/Keyboards/Drums)
And JayQuan (Rapper/Composer/Turntables) Had A
Shared Genre Pedigree: Both Worked At
Different Times With Melle Mel
Of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5

Everyone who has heard or seen the video for F.U.N.,” the infectious and provocative debut single by CSJQ, has a unique way of describing the vibe created by the Virginia-based indie rap/R&B/rock duo of Clayton Savage and JayQuan (

Some compare their beats to those of Kanye or Drake. Others focus on some of the heavy metal rock guitar licks. There’s also a certain energy that reminisces the days of OutKast.

And because they’re a little older, wiser and more resume-rich than 20 something chart toppers like Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and T-Pain, CSJQ also incorporate the influences of legendary pop/R&B/Rock artists like Prince, TheEagles, Boston, and Rick James.

As the duo prepares for a uniquely staggered rollout of three 4-track EPs—beginning with the August release of The Life–Savage sums up their appeal in a few simple words: “Grown People’s Hip Hop.” He adds: “Musically, we’re like a mix between Linkin Park and Outkast, with the secret weapon being JayQuan’s incredible dexterity as a rapper.”

They’ve already been generating a strong buzz via their website and radio interviews overseas in the Netherlands, Iceland,  Australia and the UK and are eager to spread the word and the groove to an adult segment of the U.S. hip-hop audience that they feel the pop charts have neglected for too long.

Savage, CSJQ’s songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, guitar, drums), says, “When you say hip-hop in the U.S., immediately people think of younger kids being the only audience. But in Europe, we’ve found that folks appreciate the artistic qualities of it, so we know that it’s only a myth that you have to be young to succeed in the genre. We have many peers our age who feel the same and want to hear adult artists sing and rap about adult concerns. We’re not preachy–in fact we’re pretty rebellious. So much of urban music is a throwback to the earlier hip-hop world we came of age in, and we feel there’s this open lane for us.”

JayQuan, who raps, writes, arranges and mans the turntables, notes that CSJQ has a dynamic stage show that’s as much rock concert as rap show. “We both remember a time before hip-hop existed, so our influences come from that world but extend back to classic rock and R&B. So instead of rapping about selling drugs, drinking and how much money we have, we talk about more emotional things like the issues in adult relationships, the painful dilemma of leaving our girlfriends or spouses. We feel that we sound the way adults making hip-hop should sound. We can’t do silly hooks like we did when we were kids coming up. I’ve got two kids of my own!”

Both members of CSJQ feel that the four tracks on The Life EP combine to create the perfect introduction to the diverse sounds they create. “F.U.N.” is a bass-driven funk/R&B throwback track that conveys their attitude that they’re here to stay, not going to take any S*** and have zero tolerance for so-called friends that talk behind their backs. They declare their boundless ambition to live “The Life” backed by a seductive, laid back groove, then delve into edgy rock territory to chronicle the deep “Physical Pain” of a break up. The final track is a sexy ode to “Beautiful Girls,” backed by a club/trance beat.

Savage says, “We like what we like, and these are the kinds of songs we would want to listen to on the radio. This is the kind of thing that’s missing right now. So we’re filling our own palettes with what we’re hungry for and hope that everyone out there will connect with what we’re doing. It’s just in our nature as songwriters who grew up in the time we did.”

Despite bringing to CSJQ very different (though similarly rich and diverse) musical resumes, Savage and JayQuan boast a unique shared pedigree in the hip-hop genre. Both vibed at different times with Melle Mel, one of the pioneers of old school hip-hop as lead rapper and main songwriter for the seminal group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Savage made his national debut in the mid-‘80s as one of the members of Melle Mel’s new Furious 5, one of the groups that splintered off from Grandmaster Flash’s original group. Savage’s highlights with that ensemble include drum programming on “The New Adventures of the Grandmaster,” singing the hook and drum programming on “Step Off,” vocals on “World War III” and writing, singing, producing and playing all of the instruments on “We Don’t Work For Free.”

As a house musician for Sugarhill Records, Savage also produced Sequence, The West Street Mob, Kool Moe Dee , Bunny Sigler, Lisa Danielle and Shonte. After his stint with that label, he signed with EMI/Manhattan and released a self titled album which included the hits “Virgin Lover,” “Palm of Her Hand” and “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” “Virgin Lover” gave Savage the distinction of being one of the first artists to earn an “Explicit Content” sticker on an LP cover. “Palm of Her Hand” became the theme music for BET’s “Video Lp” show.

JayQuan’s history includes recording with Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers, well known for the song JayQuan was part of, “Five Mics.” He also scored numerous regional and national hit rap singles throughout the ‘80s as front man of Too Def Crew and the First Sons. Chuck D from Public Enemy was a big fan of Too Def Crew’s “Slow and Mellow” and helped the track get airplay across the country.

JayQuan is also the creator and webmaster of The Foundation (, which Rodney C of the Funky 4 calls “the Bible” regarding information on early hip-hop culture. The rapper has been webmaster of the popular page since the mid-‘90s; its content is geared around history and happenings from 1979 through 1983, the infancy of rap and hip-hop, before the breakthrough of Run-DMC and before MTV and the media gave hip-hop music mainstream recognition.

JayQuan was doing a phone interview with Savage—whose history JayQuan was very familiar with–for the site when the two began talking off the record about their individual careers and what they wanted to do with their music. Savage said he needed a fresh voice to do rhymes and rap on his songs, and suggested they collaborate. They began an email songwriting collaboration that flourished over time and became the foundation for their partnership as CSJQ.

“The music industry is often a difficult business for artists who decide to forge a professional relationship only, so it’s a blessing that JayQuan and I get along so well as friends,” says Savage. “How many people team up to write and record and do great work, but can’t deal with being together in the studio or onstage? Fortunately, we have a synchronized view on most everything and each of our skill sets compliment the other’s strengths and weaknesses perfectly. We recognize we’re doing something slightly different in the hip-hop world and that we face an uphill battle for acceptance. But we also know we’re making quality music in an age when people are hungry for something fresh, exciting and real—that’s where CSJQ can fill the void!”