The Kalamazoo rap duo VNNY & JAZZ PRINCE, comprised of Vince Cortellessa and Jordon Buell, released their second full-length project “Up Long Enough” on all streaming platforms June 10th, approximately a year after their debut album “Never Mind, Forget It”. The duo traces their roots back to elementary school where they first met in the 3rd grade. Eventually, they fell out of contact because they ended up attending different middle schools but rekindled their friendship in high school. Around their sophomore year in college at WMU, Vince saw that Jazz and his friend Joey, who produces music under the name Breezy, were making music together. Vince saw potential in the two young artists and knew he had something to bring to the table. They all have their various talents but all agree that music is what gets them up and out of bed each morning. They have been working together for 2 years now. Each have aspirations to make solo music someday but affirm that VNNY and Jazz Prince will always be a group.
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk about all the time and effort that has gotten them to their second full-length project in two years as well as a deeper look into the inner workings of the project itself, Up Long Enough. Below is a transcript of our discussion.
How would you describe your sound or style? Where does that come from, or in other words who or what inspires you to create?
JAZZ: I like to be forward thinking when at all possible that way we are able to cross genres and be as original as possible. I think what inspires me, personally, to create is the people I interact with in my daily life. I want to impress people and show them what I am capable of -- what we are capable of.
VNNY: I grew up listening to basically every genre, I use a ton of that as my inspiration. Even now I try to listen to as much as possible and pull sounds from anyone that I think I could expand on, that’s the best part about making music for me is that every day there’s something new.
To get more in depth, what inspired this album? What are some of the motifs, themes and overarching emotions associated with it?
VNNY & JAZZ PRINCE: For us, there really wasn’t anything TOO specific that inspired the album. We try not to pull too much from our personal lives to use in our music, however sometimes we do, but we love coming up with stories and lyrics that paint a picture for whoever is listening, Jordon (Jazz Prince) and I are very different in what we like and what our ears hear, but that’s why we are so close and why we make music that people can relate to. Being best friends helps the creative process because we’re always willing to hear each other out, but for the most part we basically just looked at each other and say-- “let’s make an album that people want to listen to and keep on repeat.”
How would you describe your collaboration, creating, and writing process?
VNNY & JAZZ PRINCE: We spend a lot of time and a lot of long nights just writing, brainstorming, hours upon hours of making sure the song is going to come out the way we want it to. Sometimes it happens in a night, sometimes it takes months, a lot of the songs on this project have been finished for almost a year, so it’s cool to see them finally out. We both really have to be in the same mindset to make some of our deeper songs you’ll hear like “Fine Wine” but at the same time, we made our song “Taxi” in 2 hours.
Is there any significance or story behind the title “Up Long Enough”?
VNNY: I came to Jazz with the idea and we both loved it. I’ve been through so much in the last year or so, and for me, it was basically just “I’m over all of this. I’m going through so much and to be honest I’m just done with everything. I’ve been awake for too long and just want to sleep for a year.” It’s pretty dark, but it fits and it works for what the album is about.
There are some key collaborations on this album, who did you collaborate with? How did you foster and build those relationships?
JAZZ: We collabed with our main producer Breezy. We also worked with Tate Kobang and also worked with PapChanel. Both were just as simple as reaching out via the internet and making it happen.
VNNY: For the features, all it really took was for those artists to give us a chance. They heard something in our music that they loved and they took the leap with us, and it turned out great. We have some other big features in the works at the moment and we’re excited to announce them soon.
Who’s somebody you hope to collaborate in the future with?
JAZZ: Gosh. I think the most personal collabs for me in the future would be like Jack Harlow, Bryson Tiller, Tyga, Tory Lanez, Ski Mask the Slump God, Dababy, Tee Grizzley. Those are the current ones for me. I have a lot of artists I would love to work with.
VNNY: For me, from a music standpoint I really want to work with Jack Harlow who is one of my favorite artists at the moment, DaBaby, Halsey, Schoolboy Q, really anything to grow on what we’re currently doing, but those would be my main goals.
What are your long term musical aspirations or goals?
Our goal is to make it in music and make a name for ourselves as VNNY & Jazz Prince, but also expand into different ventures, grow our merch line, grow our relationships in the industry, and ultimately make a career out of making music. If you would’ve asked us if we’d be where we are right now 2 years ago, I would’ve told you that you were insane, but we put the work in and we prove ourselves with every song we put out that we keep getting better and better, and the album is a good culmination of that.
What is Weird is Normal?
Weird is Normal is our collective of artists and producers that basically have the work ethic, and drive to continue to make great music and grow as artists and people, right now we’re set to our core few with Myself, Jazz, Breezy, and Saint Boyd who is a newer artist we’re working with that embodies everything we look for in making music and as an artist.