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J The S - Musical Ink
Tattoos are a mainstay accessory in today's stereotypical rapper image, with inked skin becoming just as common as flashy jewelry, expensive clothes, and luxurious cars. But, for Boston, Massachusetts, emcee J The S, tattooing was a part of his life before picking up the microphone, and will be a part of his life long after he puts it down.
"I got my first tattoo when I was 17. The first one I got is this rattlesnake on my shoulder," he said. "I got the actual image from this Native American medicine book. Every animal or insect in that book describes somebody's personality. Mine from that book happened to be a rattlesnake."

While tattoos are today's fashionable way to enhance a rapper's street image, J The S suggests otherwise in his own right, stating on his 2012 single, "Sweet Sinning," that he was "covered in tats before the trendy fashion statement."

"The thing is with trends, they always die out," said the emcee, who is affectionately called Snza by longtime fans. "It's not like a snapback hat or v-neck t-shirts, which are cool now, but these kids might not wear in a year. For the cats that just get ink because they're rapping, that's on them; they just got to know that this is forever; this is not some cool piece of fashion."

Tattoos and music are equal artistic outlets for his personal expression, and much of what you'll hear listening to J The S through your speakers is also inked on his body. From his love for his family to socially conscious messages, personal battles with the pressures of success and more, if you hear him say it, chances are it's tattooed on his arms, chest, or back.

Although J The S is a veteran soloist, with a resume that includes three albums and a number of EPs and mixtapes, the Beantown lyricist has temporarily put his solo career on hold to pursue a new musical endeavor with Blue Gold, a band with a sound that cannot be defined by one musical genre.

Blending Hip-Hop, R&B, classic rock, and more, the emcee now shares the stage with vocalist Joy Luv, singer/producer Franco Anthony, and guitarist Mike Baron. The group dropped their first release in August 2013, Candy Mouth EP, to much critical acclaim. Candy Mouth EP is just one of two projects Blue Gold is set to drop this year.

"We were in places artistically where we were kind of bored and uninspired and frustrated with the climate of our respective musical realms or genres," the rapper said of the group's formation. "I knew I wanted to do something a little different where I could tap into other genres that I've been influenced by through my life."

Now, as a member of Blue Gold, the emcee's future as a one-man show is unclear.
"I'm not going to rule it out, I can't say no, but that's not driving me right now," he said. "This is my new endeavor, I'm putting all my energy into this."

His musical direction and styles may change and evolve, but one artistic passion of J The S remains constanthis love for tattoos.

"Well, before I started rapping or even trying to have a career out of rap, I was getting tattoos, and I'll probably be getting tattoos when I'm not rapping for a career," he proclaimed. "I'm proud of everything I've got."

Photography and article Peter Verry

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