By JR Valrey, the Minister of Information
Morgan J is a gifted vocalist from Stockton, that I met at Pillow Session, a performance production that is put on weekly at D’Wayne Wiggins from Tony Toni Tone’s compound, in Deep East Oakland. Morgan J’s seductive, airy, singing voice reminds me of Amel Larrieux from Groove Theory, while her rhymes have a Cardi B attitude, with the conviction of Lauryn Hill. In the era of Megan the Stallion, Morgan J is not on the small side, she is taller than your average female musician, and well built with a Black Hippy flair. More importantly, her music is for people that like to think about the lyrics they’re listening to. Her music is hypnotic, but it’s not just for head-bobbing. For national women’s month, I am very excited to bring new, talented, female artists from northern Cali to the Black New World’s readership. Check out the fly and talented Morgan J, in her own words.
JR Valrey: Who were some of the top musicians that influenced your sound? Who inspired your look? And please describe how.
Morgan J: The people that inspired my sound are Smino, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, H.E.R., Kendrick Lamar. They have each had a different effect on me over time. I like Jill Scott and the way she engages with the audience (she is an artist not just a performer). She is a phenomenal writer of course, seeing that her dad was a member of the Dead Poets Society. I love how she accidentally started singing, during an open mic session. She reminds me that writing is an outlet. Then there’s Erykah Badu who said “keep in mind that i’m an artist and i’m sensitive about my shit.” I esteem the confidence and vulnerability she exudes; her “IDGAF” attitude. I also love her style, the bohemian look. I like Kedrick Lamar and his visionary skills, his music and all that it stands for. How brave he is to be who he is, as well as speak volumes for so many others. Smino has a way with his cadences that I’ve never heard, and H.E.R. is simply refreshing; the way she controls her voice is impeccable.
JR Valrey: I have never heard a neo-soul/female gangsta rapper from the Bay Area until I heard you, how did that mixture in your style come about?
Morgan J: Singing came easy, as well as writing poetry, but rapping seemed so abstract, especially after being taught music in school, and being raised in the church. I was drawn toward the rebellion in the words, the aggravation in the pitch, the freedom in the story, and the emotions you feel when you hear a good rap song. I never thought I would incorporate rap into my music like I have, but sometimes those cadences come quicker than the singing. Lauryn Hill does it, Beyonce, Jill Scott, even Erykah, but like they say, “Rap is poetry to music”.
JR Valrey: Did you grow up in Stockton? How did Stockton California influence your style?
Morgan J: I did grow up in Stockton, they call it “Mudville” and not much grows in the mud, which is all the more reason to be influenced. I do what I do, to be as influential in my city, as possible. I see so much talent from young to old, with little to no opportunities. Music has been our people’s (Black people) outlet forever, and that outlet has been taken out of schools and after school activities. I have been wanting this for my city, since I was a teenager.
JR Valrey: I follow you on social media, and you’re on the work-out tip, can you tell us about your fitness journey? How did it start? Why is it important?
Morgan J: I’ve been athletic, since I was a child; from gymnastics, to track, to basketball, but much like others I fell off after high school. It wasn’t until I heard about distant friends dying from health issues, and others struggling with their health, is when I realized I didn’t have 70 years promised. We think we have time. We act entitled to good health as we get older, and we simply aren’t. I’ve been in the hospital for multiple reasons with the expectation that my body is just going to kick back into gear, until it doesn’t want to one day. I’m just doing all I can to avoid that one day. You only get one body in your lifetime, treat it well.
JR Valrey: As a creative person, has the pandemic period been good for you or not?
Morgan J: Well first thanking god for my completely good health and the complete good health of my family, I can say the pandemic has been good. I am truly humbled and filled with gratitude for the simple things in life, and try my hardest to ride the waves that are thrown at us. So with that being said, the pandemic has been good to me and mine. I have had the opportunity to create multiple businesses and maintain (which is the hardest part).
JR Valrey: Are you working on a project right now? When are you expecting to release it?
Morgan J: I’m not working on a project, as much as I am working on the marketing strategies behind the previous project I released. People underestimate how much work it takes to push a project, once it’s out without a real marketing team, and being an independent artist.
JR Valrey: How has having a studio in your house affected your creativity?
Morgan J: I recommend it for every person, who says they are an artist. It doesn’t just have to be a studio, just learn to record yourself and play with your voice. That’s why I think it’s most effective. You get to know your voice in a different way, with no one else around, and with no one else’s opinion. Producers might have a certain way they want you to sound, and it’s great to be able to give them the voice that they want, or you are able to advocate for yourself, because you know what you can do. Also you save so much money doing the majority of your leg work from home, opposed to wasting money at the studio, still trying to figure it out. There is never a moment I’m in the studio wondering what I’m going to do next, because I already did my homework at home.
JR Valrey: Are you ready for things to open back up? Will you be performing?
Morgan J: Of course!!! In 2019 I did over 20 shows. The next show is April 10th at Port City Bar and Grill in Stockton, ca
JR Valrey: Where can people find you online?
Morgan J: Instagram: @iammorganj