Tired of the same old brand of hip hop that you hear on your local campus? Hip hop has been long overdue for Innovators like rapper/producer/engineer Ronny Shaw (Pacman), rapper Ali Howard (Ché) and producer/videographer/manager Christian Jones of Howard University. The three sophomores have come together to make what the group has christened “innovative conscious” music.
The history of the Innovators begins at Lovett High School in Atlanta, Georgia where Ché and Pacman met. Being two of the few black students at the school, Ché and Pacman formed a bond through hip hop that led them to decide that they would attend the same university. It was at Howard University that they formed like Voltron, but all three are from Georgia—Christian Jones is from Decatur, Ché is from Atlanta, and Pacman is from Lithonia. Christian came into the fold when Ché posted a status on Facebook searching for a videographer.
“At Howard, everyone you meet here has a talent. You just have to talk to them,” said Jones.
The Innovators have made their own lane in the rap game, and their friendship and love for hip hop is genuine. The unity and creativity of the Innovators is evident in the group’s track, “Love. China. Japan. Dreams.” Pacman says about the track: “Ché’s lyrics go a certain way, and if you look at my words, I basically rhymed his verse backwards.” Pacman and Ché use their different interpretations of love to create this unique song structure that shows their dedication to their craft. “If you listen to my “Love. China. Japan. Dreams. verse, it’s talking about nature as a part of love”, says Ché.
“We wanted to get back to the art of hip hop,” says Pacman, who credits J Dilla and Myka 9 as big influences on him. “If you listen to what’s considered hip hop, it’s really just new age rap music that people mistake for hip hop. People who are doing hip hop love their craft, and they take pride in being students of the craft. Studying rhyme schemes, understanding the art of rhyming, actually taking time to focus and take time on it.”
“We create a lot of our songs in context,” says Ché. “We’re not just going to have this song that’s just focused on talking about chicks right now. You’re going to have to think if you want to get it, otherwise you just have good listening music.”
Che continued with the deeper meaning behind their music. “After listening to this, the listener’s subconscious is going to be loaded. If they keep listening to us, it might slowly change the way they think.”
When asked about the current state of hip hop, the Innovators explained that people are forgetting about the culture, and opting to just be rappers. “As much as it is an art, it’s a culture,” says Jones. “I feel like [hip hop] is in a good place because so many aspects of the culture are being represented. In terms of the art form, people are kind of forgetting about it.”
Check out “Love. China. Japan. Dreams.” and stay tuned for more from the Innovators. Follow them on Twitter: Pacman (@PacManAdv), Ché (@TheReal_Che) and Christian Jones (NoLansLand)