Choo Jackson Explains What It’s Like Being Mac Miller’s Protégé
When Florida native Choo Jackson relocated to Pittsburgh, he had no idea his raps would get the attention of the city’s hip-hop frontrunner, Mac Miller. When the two joined forces, Choo was recruited to Mac’s label REMember Music, entering a league of emerging talent like Njomza and The Come Up Boys.
The REMember circle has been good to Choo, assisting on his latest project Anime, wherein diversity is the name of the game. Over nine tracks, he takes us through what’s meant to be an episode of his life as an anime show, packed with high-energy surges and introspective emotional moments. These juxtapositions outshine his past work, and are likely due (in part) to the surrounding squad members pushing him to up his game.
But being surrounded by a mini community of visionary creatives is more complex than it seems; Jackson is simultaneously padded by a support system and under constant watch. Everyone wants their say to elevate his art to its highest potential, but when does assistance turn into an invasion of his personal creative space?
We caught up with Choo Jackson to unpack this sticky dynamic, talk about the concept behind Anime, and hear all the perks of being Mac Miller’s protégé.
Pittsburgh is a huge part of your career. What’s the biggest difference is between those artists who can’t break out of the confines of their city vs. the ones who make it big?
I don’t think there’s a huge difference. I think a lot of people from Pittsburgh are comfortable with being local. Other people, like me, came there trying to let the city know that I appreciate the city and showing that to as many people as possible. I think it’s a comfort thing.
Now that you’re in REMember Music, is there ever a fear that you’ll be judged or that you’re making yourself vulnerable when you’re making music around your friends, especially on more introspective projects?
Sometimes I feel like I’m too vulnerable. Everybody knows me inside out, but it’s not that I shy away from that or that I’m afraid of it. It keeps me honest.
Are there ever disagreements?
There are a lot of disagreements, like with me and [my manager] Q, making sure whatever we’re doing is the right thing for me, we’re putting out the right song, things like that. They’re always pushing me to write better. I think that’s been the most helpful thing. The spirit to want to make the best music possible is there.
What have Q, Mac, or any of your label mates taught you about navigating the industry?
I think it’s more so been learn-as-you-go. Mac tells me things to be careful of, but I’d rather figure it out on my own. I don’t want shortcuts.
Where did the concept for Anime come from?
I was brought into it from a young age, but during Broken Hearts Make Money, I was watching anime all the time. That’s when I developed the concept. I just wanted to make wild music like an anime show, with me as the character. This is how my anime show would be.
How are the sounds on this tape representative of your progression?
I’m older and wiser, as far as knowing what to talk about in songs. And I’ve become carefree. Every artist nowadays makes this type of music or that type of music, but there are like, five different types of music that I make. I think Anime was a part of that progression.
How was making this different than the processes behind your past work?
It was all freestyle. I don’t write. I think I’ve written one song, ever. Anime was completely freestyle. I wanted it to be raw.
Image: Mason Mushinski