Emerging Los Angeles-based artist KingJet is not afraid of being himself — a true, versatile producer and performer. He zigzags effortlessly between spitting bars and crooning over upbeat pop production with each release, and that’s exactly what fans can expect from his upcoming EP Jet Tape.
On his latest offering, “Tan Lines” which will be on the forthcoming project, his sound is closer to the pop side of things. The song is a silky, yet cheery jam that sounds like a summery night on the beach.
“The inspiration for ‘Tan Lines’ came while I was on a writing trip in Sydney, Australia with the homies,” KingJet explained of the song’s origin. “I started with the chords from a session earlier in the day, and that night I started writing the first verse. It was just hard to not be on some ‘I’m gonna fall in love on the beach type shi*t.’”
KingJet’s impressive genre-bending abilities were certainly reason enough for his more hard-hitting songs like “My Everyday” and “Kawa Kawa” to be featured on Issa Rae’s HBO series Insecure and for New York hip-hop duo The Underachievers to implement his singing on “Seven Letters.” He’s also accumulated writing and production credit for the late Mac Miller, Vic Mensa, Towkio, and Duckwrth.
We’re debuting “Tan Lines,” after speaking with Jet about the making of the song, how his music caught the ear of Insecure‘s music supervisor — not just once, but twice — his fondest memory of Mac Miller, and his impending project Jet Tape — which he says may or may not change to another title. Read our conversation below.
Tell me a little bit about who KingJet is.
I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. Moved out here to LA about four or five years ago. I started my project about a year ago, and I’m a producer as well.
Well, I guess it just comes from my musical background. Of course, I listen to rap, but I also listen to indie rock and random jazz and all that stuff. Being a producer, I’ve made so much different music. At that time, I was in that beat and just kinda went with it. But I still try and keep my foot in what some people have known KingJet as [and] keep that flavor.
Is that sound gonna be a new era for you?
Yeah, so my project that’s coming up, it’s kind of a mixture of both. There’s flavors of “Kawa Kawa” in there and of course “Tan Lines” is on it. I sing a bunch, I rap a little bit, so I wanted my first project to showcase it all out of the gate, so it’s not a curve ball when you hear some guitars and then some random ass beat.
Would you say it’s kind of like an attempt to not be boxed in?
Pretty much, yeah.
How would you describe the sound of “Tan Lines” because it’s not quite rap and it’s not quite R&B? What is it?
My sound is just me being real. I might be on some rap sh*t one day and the next day writing a song to only guitar chords. I’m intentionally trying to blur the lines of a genre for myself but still let my audience literally hear my voice and my message.
As far as your musical background, what instruments do you play?
I played guitar for a while. I can kinda play the keys a little bit but guitar is my number one. And then of course just producing, which I’ve been doing for over ten years.
I saw that you worked with Mac Miller. His benefit concert was a couple of days ago, and everybody’s talking about these great moments that they’ve had with Mac. What’s yours?
The most memorable moment was the first time I got to go to his house out in LA It was wild, it was a late night but it was just him in the studio. He works. It was amazing because he was playing everything. It was almost like being a one-man show.
What’s your relationship with The Underachievers?
Randomly I met them. Me and my brother were touring as a DJ act, and I met them in New Orleans at the first Beaucoup Fest. We just all stayed in touch. We went to New York and we produced a song for one of their tapes. We became good friends, and when I started working on the KingJet stuff, I would always send Issa Gold and AK my music. It’s crazy because I never pushed to be on songs or anything like that. It’s better to just let it naturally happen. The “Seven Letters” song was just… Issa sent me the song and it didn’t have a hook yet. I just randomly sat down on the couch and did a voice memo of a hook and sent it to him. He was like, ‘Yo, this is fire. We should put it in.’ A week after, we kinda had it done.
So, I know you’ve had a couple of songs featured on Insecure. Was “My Everyday” the first one?
Yeah, that was the first one.
How did you find out it was going to be on the show?
I just got on SoundCloud one day and checked my messages and it was either a music supervisor or somebody that was working on the show. They hit me up and wanted [“My Everyday”] for the show. I ended up just sending them a bunch of music. Then randomly, like I guess a year after they did “My Everyday,” they hit me up because I had the song “Kawa Kawa” done around then and I just sent them an outline of it. They were like, ‘Yo, we kind of want to put this one in there as well,’ so it was pretty random.
I’ve always wondered how they choose artists to feature because they’re really good at picking music to include.
Yeah, with that show, the music supervisor has definitely got good taste. Like every song on there is pretty tight.
Speaking of “Kawa Kawa” it‘s only a minute and a half. There’s this thing I’ve noticed this trend with newer artists utilizing short form, they have these short songs. It’s nice, like that quick little hit you need. What’s the appeal of making a short song to you?
The funny thing with “Kawa Kawa” is I had that song, it was me and my brother and my producer Arnold, and we laid that song one day. We did the hook, first verse, and the hook and it’s like alright, whatever. We dipped from the studio, and for the longest time, it was just that and space for a second verse. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of demo-itis, but it’s just when you listen to song after song after song so many times and it feels weird when you try and go back to it to work on it. In the end, I was just like, you know what, fu*k this I’m not gonna do a second verse, and just put it out like that.
It came out good.