Jojo Pellegrino, born and raised in Staten Island, New York. “I fell back not off. I’m back. I don’t give a fuck what anybody thinks or says and I’m coming for my spot and my millions. Those millions could be crisp beautiful bills or blood-stained bills. That’s not up to me.” (Jjp)
Story behind your name?
Pellegrino is my family name. My grandmother lived in a home close to the West Brighton projects. She was a Pellegrino. She called me Jojo. It was down the block from her house in the hood where I first started. It all came together like that. I chose JOJO PELLEGRINO because all these rappers were praising Italians, mimicking their style and at the same time stealing their names. All I wanted to do was rap and all the rappers wanted to do was be like the Italian guys from my neighborhood….at least that’s what they were trying to mimic. I was always a vicious and well-respected lyricist, but I was not moving ahead as I was watching all my legendary friends record classic albums. It was time for me to break away and represent my neighborhood and my people…talk about the things we do. The main key in Hip Hop is to be yourself. I guess I was right. The Sopranos, Italian culture and gangsta way of life style was so hot it only took me one Italian conceptual record (fogedaboudid) to get a million-dollar major label recording contract with Sony.
Who is on your team?
I always work with a lot of different people but the guys that are really on my team are people I could never mention or show. I get a lot of support from wonderful people who want to see me win like my friends Surraya & Tee (Easy Tee) who put together this interview. My producer and dear friend J Glaze is the other half of Jjp! I have a podcast that will be launching in about 5 1/2 weeks and my partner/cohosts name is Mary. She’s beautiful intelligent and wonderful somebody on my team. Most of the time I’m on some one-man army shit. It’s very difficult building the right team after working with the likes of the late great Chris Lighty and his Violator management company. I guess you could say I was spoiled. I’m used to hard work turning into immediate results. I’m thankful for all the wonderful people who believe in me, but believing is not enough. It takes relationships, it takes capital and it takes favors.
What is your fondest memory growing up?
My mother singing to me since I was a baby all through my childhood and putting things like homework in the form of rap lyrics and popular songs she would change the words around to keep me interested in things like school as well as instill valuable life lessons and morals. She’s the reason I even do this. My soul and ability all come from and continuously nurtured up until this very day from her. My parents are my universe. I have the greatest father in the world who I enjoyed many things with as a child like camping for one. My dad was the first person to throw a “log on this fire” when I told him all I wanted to do was be an artist as a child. It was my father’s close friend at work who became my mentor because my father put us together. He was managing Shyheim the rugged child at the time, so I came up with the best. I learned everything I needed to know during that stage of my life. To my brother Shyheim… please hold your head up…we miss you greatly and can’t wait for your return. Son was cut from the same cloth as a Tupac. A true super star. My parents have always been my greatest support system and biggest fans. My mother introduced me to a woman she worked with and that ultimately led to my million-dollar recording contract so if you’re going to ask me who my team is let me revisit that question and answer by saying my mother and my father.
Biggest lesson in life thus far?
Never worry the worries. Everything that happens to you in your life in some shape form or fashion is just a reaction to something you did. I believe everything that happens to us personally is our fault. If I walk out of the house in an airplane hits me I should’ve been looking up.
Who are your artistic influences?
At this point of my life looking back I can honestly say I was never influenced. Sure, I was a fan of many legends, but they inspired me not influenced me. I never wanted to be like or sound like anybody else. I just studied the greats, observed, mastered my craft at a young age, came up with my own style and flow, used my identity which still to this day nothing has even come close to being similar to.
How would you define yourself in 3 words and why?
Kind inspirational and intense. I was raised in a loving family who have taken care of many so “kind” this is something I learned at an early age and nothing feels better and is more rewarding for the soul than being kind especially to those who don’t deserve it. Inspirational because I love to make people smile, laugh, think, cry, create and it a lot of cases change their ways whether it be their thought patterns or behavior. There is no energy I can’t grab in a headlock and take control of. Lastly, I say intense because I am an extremist. You want a hug? I’ll squeeze you tightly until you feel great. You, you want to problem? I’ll squeeze you tightly until you feel nothing. Everything I do is with passion. When I’m upset there’s a lot of passion, when I’m happy there’s a lot of passion, when I’m creating or performing my music there’s a lot of passion, when I love it is to the extreme. I don’t bite my tongue, I love everybody “until further notice” like a snake I once befriended always said and I’m afraid of nobody except for myself.
Are there any kats on your wish list to work with?
I always wanted to do records with Em (Eminem), Jay (Jay-Z), Nas and a few others in Hip Hop. Most of the artists I want to collaborate with have absolutely nothing to do with this genre and those artists I just mentioned, I just want to do them collaborations for competitive reasons not to sell records although that’s an obvious plus.
Driving around who will be found on your playlist?
When I drive? As far as hip-hop I listen to JJP. I love listening to my music just as much as I love creating, recording and performing it. Because I’m the best. Other than that, when I’m driving I listen to jazz. I’m listening to Sade, sound tribe sector nine, St. Germain 480 east (which is a Toronto based jazz band my friend Steve books). Sure, I listen to hip-hop and know everything that’s going on but on a regular day as I’m moving around I refuse to flood my mind with the negative pointless poison infested tasteless classless messages involved in any type of hip-hop these days.
Any future projects?
I have a podcast launching in less than six weeks, a complete album which we are now at the point where we are setting up the marketing plan before release and I have a mixtape I plan on releasing as well. Besides that, I’ve been working on finally pursuing acting which is something I’ve always wanted to do and seem to be naturally good at.
There is a great deal of talk around the ever-changing sound of Hip Hop and the industry itself – what is your take on it?
Things change. Not just in hip-hop. Everything on this planet is constantly changing. I don’t think about it. I’m too busy adapting, constantly adjusting & mastering it all every step of the way.
What advice would you give an artist right now?
Best advice I have for any artist right now is to be themselves. Talk about the things that really go on in their mind when they are making music. Be unique. Stand out. Be a leader not a follower.
What can 1World do to help you succeed?
Well, that’s an easy one in my book. Continued Support of my music as well as others like myself who continue to bring great music to the masses but are unable to be heard due to the industry politics with the radio stations, spins so on and so forth. Hopefully 1 World Magazine can do that. Like I said stay tuned cause JJP will not be going anywhere anytime soon.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I may have missed?
Yes. They say Hip-Hop is a young man’s game. I noticed we were all saying that when Hip-Hop was a young man. Things have changed. A voice is a voice… impact is impact. I noticed the only artist who still win in their 30s and 40s or artists who had something to say and have fans who stuck by their side and love them for who they are not how hard their record was at the time. No substance? No longevity. No message? No true impact. Everybody spends money on radio campaigns and has a little temporary impact but when you reach people’s hearts…. that’s when you become immortal.