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STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: JPIFF

Earlier this semester, James Porricelli, also known as JP or JPiff, had an opportunity to perform a hip-hop set at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, the very venue where Bruce Springsteen earned his nickname “The Boss.”

Imagine looking out across a sea of people, all anxiously awaiting the musical compositions you’ve practiced repeatedly with angst and gusto, anticipating this very moment. But instead of looking in to the eyes of eager fans, your gaze cannot help but drift to the back wall that is covered in guitars autographed by notable musicians. Standing on the stage, you can feel the history that was created by artists such as Kiss, Cheap Trick, Jon Bon Jovi and Maroon 5. While the knowledge of playing in a legendary venue may give some stage fright, you’re more amped than ever.

Many artists forget the history of the club when they step on stage, but JP is serious about his music, so for him it is not just about having fun. After performing, JP stated, “...the whole time, my mind was just running down the list of all the famous people who’ve played there.” JP hopes this performance is just one in a slew that will lead him to eventually making a living from performing music like all of his Stone Pony predecessors.

Kyle Brendle, The Stone Pony house promoter, seems to believe that JP’s determination to keep improving will help him propel forward in the music industry, as he did during the battle of the bands performance. Brendle said, “JP ruled the Pony stage with great presence, the words flowed effortlessly and naturally. Determined and focused, new school hip-hop at its best, the crowd loved him.”

JP is a sophomore music industry major. His love for music started when he played in a middle school band. JP said, “From the first day I knew I could make something happen on that electric guitar, I knew music was serious to me.” 

Music has always been an outlet that he can depend on no matter what he is going through. Once he is playing or rapping, “...the wave of music just takes over and overpowers everything else in my head,” he said.

JP decided to continue his musical career at Monmouth after touring campus and discovering the music program. In addition to being involved with the music department, JP is also a member of The Music Alliance, a student-run group that has worked as a team to promote and spread the music of various talented artists from the University. The Music Alliance has been a huge help in breaking him in to Monmouth’s music scene.

After tussling with a few different genres and inspirations, JP can be considered a flexible recording artist with skills that venture into rapping, playing guitar, and writing original acoustic pieces. However, right now, he views hip hop as the ultimate outlet in terms of creating a name for himself. He said, “I feel like I can spit flows in a way that people can connect to me and be eager to hear more, and when they dig deeper, you just keep finding more things you may have never expected.”

His first ever hip hop mix tape “Skylines,” was released earlier this semester. Inspired by summer adventures, JP came up with the mix tape title as he was flying home to Manhattan, peering out the window in to the skylines and thinking about music from a different perspective. This fresh view of hip hop helped him generate the mix tape, along with the help of various other artists like FirstClassKev, PiX, and Box (of Joe & Box).

Box, also known as Andrew Boxman, is a fellow Music Alliance member. When discussing the recording process, Box took notice of JP’s original perspective for the mix tape. Box said, “Collaborating with him is always sick. James is open to ideas and new takes on things, and it shows in his music.”

JP detailed the recording process as well, stating, “It was tough trying to cope with quantity versus quality, in terms of deciding whether or not to take more time and potentially improve the tracks, or drop it sooner and get your product out as quick as possible. At the end of the day, to me it’s all about the music, and if taking more time means creating something that’s ultimately better, then that’s what I’d rather do. If nothing else, I learned to never rush your craft, and always put the music over the hype and everything else.”

After all the hard work that went into “Skylines,” fans of JP can be satisfied knowing that it is only a sample for what is in store for the future. As JP said, “It served its purpose to let it be known that we’re in the mix and going to be doing a lot of work behind the scenes to get a real movement off the ground and running.” JP hopes this movement will allow listeners to use his music as a soundtrack to their own lives.

The Stone Pony website quotes Lee Mrowicki, the club’s veteran DJ and unofficial historian, stating, “In order to play the Pony, you have to have a certain level of talent. No matter how much talent you’ve got, you have to be recognized by an audience and have people that support you.”

We already know that JP mastered his set at the Pony, revealing his extraordinary talent, so now it is up to you to take a listen and support a fellow Monmouth musician with the hopes of one day seeing his own guitar hanging in the back of The Stone Pony as a symbol of a legendary musician, a movement starter.

JP’s mix tape “Skylines” is available for download and can be found on HotNewHipHop.com and SoundCloud.com/jpiff-1. He also has a track on the new Blue Hawk Record compilation album, which is available on iTunes.

PHOTO TAKEN by Nicole Massabrook