James Weldon | photo by Deej Spicer | courtesy of the artist

It’s always great to discover good music from local artists. You get to see a seed of talent grow and watch how the artists evolve with their music, seeing how long their progression takes, and seeing how they turn out throughout the four seasons.

Philadelphia’s P.UR.E., Presence Unifies Rap Everywhere, has always been a hip hop artist/producer with raw talent, but after the release of his 4th project Silence Is The Enemy it seems that P.U.R.E. has evolved into James Weldon, a more confident MC who possesses the ability to be open and pour more emotion on his lyrics making the connection between the listener and his music stronger.

I recently was able to sit down with local MC and discuss the evolution of his music, his recent EP Silence Is The Enemy, and his upcoming jam session / open mic The Juice Jam, which happens tonight.

The Key: The last time I wrote about you, you were a rapper named P.U.R.E. who was tired of being slept on. Two years later P.U.R.E., Presence Unifies Rap Everywhere, evolved into James Weldon, a hip hop artist who performed at last years A3C & recently dropped a dope EP called Silence Is The Enemy. Why did you feel the need for a change in your career, and describe the evolution of P.U.R.E. to James Weldon?

James Weldon: I wanted to be more personable. I wanted to really be able to explain who I was, not just as an artist but as a individual. I wanted my music to reach not just other artist or people who love hip hop, but just the normal person who has a 9-5 or who’s going through different things. I wanted to be able to reach more people because I knew that I had that ability being James Weldon rather than being a persona that I felt was needed in the industry. That just came from experience and seeing how everything was going. Years of being P.U.R.E. wasn’t as fruitful as it needed to be because I wasn’t necessarily being myself. It was me trying to keep up with everything that was going on with everybody else, trying to fit in, and finding your own puzzle piece instead of just creating your own puzzle.

TK: The one thing about Silence Is The Enemy is that you can feel the emotions the lyrics better than you can from your past projects like Proceed, Summer 23 and Black Heart Season. What made James Weldon more personal and open in his music than P.U.R.E.?

JW: I think I hold the same presence in my music, but the content that I speak about as James Weldon is me. It’s not the rapper side, it’s just me period, you know what I’m saying? There’s no difference between James Grimes, James Weldon, and P.U.R.E. anymore. It’s just James Weldon, that’s just what it is, that’s just who I am. I think when I was P.U.R.E. it was really just about pushing the culture and putting this pressure on myself to be this superstar, and now I just want to put out the best music possible because it may not be here tomorrow, anything can happen.

I just want to make sure that I’m putting out the best music that I can because I have a different motivation now with my daughter and different things that I have going on. My music is way more relatable  because in previous projects I would either go off of other people’s experiences and do my own interpretation of it, but with Silence Is The Enemy and even with some of the songs that were on the previous project Black Heart Season I chose my life. I chose shit that I’ve been through and stuff that I dealt with and made it into music. And that’s why I think the sound is so different, the emotion behind it is different because I have 100% experienced it.

James Weldon | photo by Deej Spicer | courtesy of the artist

James Weldon | photo by Deej Spicer | courtesy of the artist

TK: That’s real, how has the feedback from “Silence Is The Enemy” differ from your past projects?

JW: The love has been great. It’s been getting a lot plays and a lot of good feedback. I think the difference between my previous projects is that there are so many more tools that are at our disposal now. It’s funny two days from today it will be my five-year anniversary of my first project Proceed. The stuff I was doing in 2012 is way different than the stuff I’m doing in 2017. Being able to reach people through different platforms is beautiful. Different artists have come and hit me up, just giving me words of encouragement, even my day to day interactions when I go out is different as far as when I go to different events it’s more of a notoriety and people respecting the craft because I feel like it’s more personable.

TK: On “Sacrifice,” one of my favorite songs off Silence Is The Enemy it seems rapper Thelonius’s line “I no longer rap at all for the strength of my hobby / My daughter needs what she needs and it’s always falling on mommy” and your line “Every time I want to give up I look in my daughter’s eyes / That’s enough to keep going knowing it’s do or die,” it seems that you both are ready to sacrifice everything for your daughters. How has fatherhood effected your approach on making music?

JW: Fatherhood made me slow down and really look at everything that I had going on. It just let me know that I needed to now pick up my pace and realize I’m not just making music for myself anymore. I’m making music for a legacy. It will always be for the culture but it’s different now that I have something to represent. When my daughter is older and she listens to my music I want her to be proud and know that I stuck to my guns and did my thing, I wasn’t weak.

What does James Weldon have in store for the future?

JW: [laughs] Plenty of music. I gotta couple shows coming up. We have The Juice open mic/jam session this month on February 24th at Dahlak on 4708 Baltimore Ave at 10pm featuring R&B singer C.Jae and hip hop artist The Bul Bey. We’ll have more concerts in the spring through Artistry Collective. Me and my partner Dre are putting a lot of things in motion. It’s just about bringing back the culture the right way & creating our own mark. You may get another project in the summer, I’m shooting for it, but you’ll definitely get a lot of new music.

Below you can check out James Weldon’s new EP, Silence Is The Enemy, and get more information on The Juice here .