New Jersey rapper/singer/songwriter Topaz Jones flips relationship drama into a funky new jam called “Motion Sickness,” premiering exclusively on Billboard (Aug. 4).
With a father who was a funk musician and a grandmother who formed a Motown group with her siblings, Jones’ influences were rooted in old-school soul. “Every young experience I had was always soundtracked by either Marvin Gaye or Jimi Hendrix or Parliament-Funkadelic or Earth, Wind & Fire,” he recalls, noting how Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1975 track “That’s The Way of The World” impacted his future goals. “That song itself is such an intense breakdown of the meaning of life and I was probably only 3 or 4 [when I heard it] but I had a very existential moment. From then on, I wanted to be a part of creating that magic.”
After penning over his dad’s demos as a member of a boy band in elementary school (“NSYNC was poppin’, Backstreet Boys was poppin’ and I was like, alright, I wanna be poppin,'” laughs Jones) and selling his own mixtapes at Thanksgiving dinners under a rap moniker he’s too embarrassed to reveal, the OutKast Stan — he first connected to rap via the Atlanta duo’s 2000 LP Stankonia — has been using the DIY method for his own hustle.
Following the 2014 release of his free debut album, The Honeymoon Suite, a 15-track offering inspired by the thrills and cheap motels of Las Vegas, Jones found a new motivation for his upcoming sophomore effort Arcade — an amalgamation of groovy, ’80s retro beats and tales of love and life lessons learned.
“In the beginning, I was so focused on trying to get people to see I’m this really good rapper,” he said. “My main goal has always been to be more of a singular voice and to find a unique way of saying things that don’t remind you of other people.” He also took some time off to reconnect with his earlier influences. “I really just set out on a path to find what my voice is and stop delaying in figuring out who I am and just jump full-on into self-discovery mood.”
For his new delivery, “Motion Sickness,” Jones teamed with Episode, the executive producer of Honeymoon Suite and his childhood pal, producer Thelonius Martin. “The song itself is about the push and pull of relationships and co-dependency, a lot of the things I was just starting to deal with at that time [I made the song],” he explains. “I have some refreshing honesty in my music.”
Before Arcade arrives later this year, bump Jones’ “Motion Sickness” below.