Born in the Phillipines, migrated to the U.S. at 3, raised in Los Angeles then transplanted to Oakland at 21...Jern Eye shares a unique perspective through his lyrics.  After forming his group Lunar Heights, he spawned a solo career that led to some impressive milestones.  In a span of close to 10 years, he's been able to tour with The Pharcyde, work with recognized artists like Guilty Simpson, Zion I, Jake One and Illmind all while adding weight to his catalog.  With a few albums under his belt, Jern shows no signs of stopping.

After listening to Jern's West coast flow, you'll see it's no mystery that the dude is no Johnny come lately with the raps.  The title of his 2006 debut album "Authentic Vintage" tells us a lot about his respect for the Golden age sound.  He grew up during the era and has the tapes to prove it.  He doesn't have em tucked away in a shoe box collecting dust in his parent's attic either.  There in the racks right next to the boombox where they should be...

(SC)  Tell us about your tape days.  Do you have any memorable moments from back then?

Well, I started collecting tapes back in the 80's. It was the only way to listen to music if your household didn't have a turntable, and CD players were still a novelty at this time so no one really used them. Back then the only radio station playing Hip Hop was KDAY. I used to take blank cassettes that I would buy from the Cuban Bodega around the block from my house, and tune in religiously to record songs off of KDAY. Shit was like our CNN. I would tune in every night after school to hear new Hip Hop, and back then radio was dope. Deejays were actually breaking new records, and corporations didn't have their hands in the cookie jar yet.


(SC)  Do you still look for tapes right now?  or is it just more of a nostalgia thing for you when going back thru your collection?

I really don't shop for cassettes consciously anymore, let alone CD's, but when I do pop into Ameoba, or Rasputin when I'm record shopping, I'll definitely check for cassettes. I still listen to tapes at home, so if I see something I know I should have I'll definitely cop. As far as nostalgia goes, cassettes are like a time machine. Better yet, their more like a year book. Listening to them definitely rekindles a lot of fond memories, like making pause tapes for that girl I was crushing on, or mobbing to Melrose on a bus carrying a backpack full of cassettes, a few markers, and a handful of double A batteries. Until this day, I don't think I ever leave home without having music on me. This much hasn't changed.

(SC)  In your music videos...I see boomboxes and a lot of references to the cassette.  How has the tape sound influenced your craft?

The cool thing about listening to cassette is it forces you to listen to a whole album without skipping tracks. There were no skip features, only rewind, and fast forward, and if you were trying to reserve your battery life you would just let the tape play through. I think artists back then knew this, and were recording albums with this in mind. This is why you get intros, interludes, and outros. Albums would flow, and have contrasting moods between the A side and B side. I really believe this element forced artists to be creative, and make good albums as opposed to just good singles. In terms of this element influencing how I make music, you could definitely hear it on the Lunar Heights album "Crescent Moon", and on my first solo album "Authentic Vintage". Also, we used to put demos together on cassette, piecing songs together as if they were real albums. I think having this mentality and approach behind our music really helped prepare us before any record deals.


(SC)  The cassette era represents the epitome of tangible music.  It has a different feel from vinyl in the way they are designed.  Small, storable, fold out inserts, typography on the tape, etc...  How do you feel about physical vs. the digital mediums these days? 

The way we consume music, food, news, information, and entertainment now versus the way we did 10 years ago is light years ahead, and light years faster, mainly because of technology and the internet. I think even comparing 10 years ago to 20, or 30 years ago, there wasn't much of a difference. I think now, since the volume in which we consume music is pumping out at a pace for the more attention deficient, the quality of artistry has been compromised. Not in every case, but I notice it more so now than ever. Instead of artists taking their time to record an album in the studio, they could just record songs into their laptops in some hotel room while on tour. Of course there isn't much to recording Hip Hop, but somewhere in the mix something is lost. The shelf life of music expires almost over night, or the next tweet, or the next blog post. The anticipation is gone, and the experience is no longer a dining pleasure, it's more like a drive through.


(SC)  In previous interviews with folks, we've talked about how albums on cassette were more likely to be classic because of the way we had to listen to them.  No skipping.  Do you think the cassette medium made us better listeners back then?

Hell yeah. Classics were made this way, and good albums were judged by it's front to back playability. If an album was good it would survive the time, and not be used to dub over by putting scotch tape over the tabs. You know what I'm talking about. If shit was wack, it served better as a blank tape.

(SC)  Let's take a time machine back to 1994.  Tell us which 5 tapes would be rotating thru the walkman.

Damn, I'm really glad you mentioned 94'. That was an incredible year in Hip Hop. So many classics. The five I had in rotation though were O.C. "Word Life", Black Moon "Enta Da Stage", Organized Konfusion "Stress: The Extinction Agenda", Artifacts "Between A Rock And A Hard Place", and A Tribe Called Quest "Midnight Marauders". In 2012 I don't think I could name 5, I could barely name two. I don't know...

Get the flash player here:

(SC)  You've got a nice catalog of music that's well received.  If you could re-release any of your joints on tape...what would they be?  Tell me a Cassingle, a Maxi-Single and an album.

I would definitely put "Authentic Vintage" on cassette. Shit just has that vibe. Even in the studio, we ran a lot of vocals through guitar pedals, and the ASR-10 just to give it that dust. If anything, that's the album in my catalog that deserves to be on cassette. Maxi-Single, probably "Get Down". I think there's like 5 or 6 different remixes to that joint, one including a  feature with The Pharcyde. That shit would make a cool maxi-single right there. Of course I'd have to throw in the "dub" version, where it's the instrumental with just the ad lib vocals... I don't why the fuck they used to do that, but I'd do it just for nostalgia.

(SC)  Any last shouts or comments?

Yes yes. I wanna thank for highlighting the art of cassette collecting, even though it's not as glamorous as vinyl, and not as impressive as having a million gigs of music in your ipod, cassettes will always be the shit, and will always be definitive of what Hip Hop is. Period. Also, I have a new album in the works entitled "Invisible Visible". Soon come. One.

Make sure you keep an ear out for what Jern has lined up. Follow him on all of these channels.

Audible Treats


  1. I loved this feature, Jern touched bases w/alot of points i could relate to, the anticipation of albums is gone, i get hyped when my fam put out projects, not so much now, cuz w/the over flood of "net" music whether it being good or bad most things die down after the 1st week (2 b honest) unlike early 90's music played till the tape many people actually listen to a full song now days? But if Jern could put out instrumentals w/the adlibs id fuck w/it definitely!!! Thats actually a great funny idea...?!?!

    1. Anonymous19.3.12

      No doubt Bang. It's got to the point where music is so accessible that the underground sorta disappeared. Or better yet, so many people have access to equipment and recording nowadays vs back in the day, you kinda had to be seasoned before you stepped in the mic booth of even thought about touching a sampler. And for the most part, you always had the elders to kinda put you on. Now all u need to do is watch a tutorial, download a few programs and you can literally become an artist over night.

  2. Justiceson26.3.12

    This is a good read. I definitely feel where he is coming from with his comments on artists making singles, as opposed to albums that can be played straight through and the "fast food" approach that's taken from the corporations and (some) artists alike. Insightful article.

    1. Peace Justice...Thanks for checking it out. I've always been a big fan of Jern's music and once kicked it with him out in the Bay area. I found that we had alot of similar music tastes. The fast food analogy is something I've always felt but never really had the words for. Seems like that kinda process is called "efficiency." Somewhere the flavor is lost tho...


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