Jonathan Joseph leaves nothing for granted. A fiery performer, he walks off stage with nothing more to give.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to get on stage again—something could happen,” Joseph says. “I’ve lost a lot of friends at a young age, so I’m really conscious of how these moments, and this life is really precious. I want to take every opportunity to share my gift and make sure the people walk away and feel inspired.”
The Springfield-based hip hop artist is a self-proclaimed student of music. When he lists the musicians he studies the range stretches from Miles Davis to Kurt Cobain, Tupac to Bob Marley. He moved to southwest Missouri to play college basketball at Evangel after growing up in Texas. It was at Evangel, nearly eight years ago, where somebody urged him to turn his poetry into raps, it was there that he found the connections between ball and tune.
“The biggest similarity is the time you have to spend alone working on your craft,” he says. “Second is the entertainment aspect. It’s my favorite part of the game, the show of it. When I play ball I love to entertain people, that whole showtime aspect of it was always where I found they intersect most for me.”
When he first started creating music, Joseph says he would shut himself off in order to focus on delivering a certain message. Now, he says inspiration comes from awareness and openness.
“Life is full of inspiration, you just have to be aware and open to receiving whatever that is. It’s so easy to come into creating closed-minded, you can almost ruin it,” Joseph says. “I’m a driven person, stubborn too, and that can make you really closed off to your vision.”
Frequently he finishes songs immediately, soon after inspiration strikes, “so I don’t lose that feeling,” he says. “I don’t revisit songs too much.”
He learned to open up from other people, specifically, he says, visual artist Mikey Yates. “He’s so open, to people and conversations, can be inspired by anything,” Joseph says. “At the end of the day, an artist is like a funnel. We just funnel the message; spending a lot of time with him rubbed off on me.”
That, he says is the greatest thing he’s learned since he started creating music. It was also the focus of his last release, aDD (A Dream Deferred). “Having no boundaries or expectations, just opening yourself all the way up and being able to honestly express whatever you’re feeling.”
Joseph plays First Friday at Park Central Square in Springfield, Mo. June 1 at 9pm.