In March, MZ JEANNIE DUVAL appeared on NEW LEASE MUSIC, gracing us with her debut track P.U.S.H from the upcoming mixtape, Public Speaking …I think it’s about time we get to know the conscious emcee.
NLM: Hey how you doing? Please introduce yourself and tell us where you from.
MJD: My real name is Olivia Hamilton and Jeannie Duval is my pen name, not an alter ego or a super star personification of the real me. She IS me just when I’m writing and performing from my soul. I’m from Baton Rouge Louisiana specifically Scotlandville the neighbourhood located directly behind Southern University.
NLM: Tell us what projects you’re working on at the moment?
MJD: Whoa! LOL! I have about 3 to 4 different projects I’m working on at one time most days, with two at the forefront. My label mate Tyghe and I are preparing a song behind the Truffle Butter instrumental sort of a reply to the subliminal negativity we found in the original song that’s polluting our children right now. We are also planning an original release with another infectious beat with the subject matter pretty much being the hustler’s point of view in arguments. Bringing it into a conscious level by subliminally speaking on how the Bible says we should love each other regardless but my hustle is being fuelled by all I want to do for you. You aren’t the person that should be arguing with me. I’m extremely excited about the both of them.
NLM: At what point did you want to become a hip-hop artist?
MJD: I was 18 years old. Shout out to my mentors Warner and Chris or as they were otherwise known in frequent freestyle battles on campus FAME and Chris-Style. I was a college radio personality and FAME was my boss Chris-Style and he were room-mates and my show was called poetry in motion. Warner would see the passion I had for writing and when he read some of my poems he just said write me 16 bars because if you can do this you can rap. Chris-Style is the genius behind the beat for “Home Sweet Home” and he’s also my children’s godfather. He’s the one that stayed up till 3 in the morning or later with me making me get sharper with my delivery, giving me the foundation to be a lyricist not just a writer.
So I didn’t decide it actually God blessed me with 3 great teachers and I just became a hip hop artist but I didn’t decide to rap revolution until I met Mr. Augustine. You guys know him as Dee-1. Watching him rap upliftment and his struggle with staying righteous and being in this world made me change the cursing in my music and my name. I wanted to touch people’s spirits the way he touched mine but bring a woman’s point of view to this struggle. One day I’ll get to tell him Thanks for that.
NLM: Were you in a group before you were a solo artist? Please spill!
MJD: LOL! I tried so hard to create another TLC but they didn’t take me seriously or just didn’t have the time to get with me so I still talk to both of those women and I’m not mad at them or anything. They have amazing voices and faces to match..who knows what the future may bring. They see I wasn’t just blowing smoke now maybe that will be something we can do on the side when they’re ready.
NLM: How would describe your music? Would you compare yourself to any of your music influences of today?
MJD: It’s soul music in hip hop form, so it can be mistaken for gospel but it is honestly conscious preparation music for the war. I always tell people don’t label it gospel because I’ll lose a whole half an audience of young people if you do and those are the minds I’m after. The return of Christ is real and the war between good and evil has started already. We have to be mentally prepared to fight the enemy. I’m Jeannie baby..lol! Any native of Louisiana is a mixture of everything. The music you hear is that gumbo. It’s the Gap Band, Kool N The Gang, and Digable Planets with a little Monie Love the revolutionary spirit of Ms. Queen Latifah packaged like Jill Scott, Angie Stone, or India Arie. It speaks to the spirit so there are several soulful influences.
NLM: So What do you think of the female role in the hip-hop game today?
MJD: It has appeared to me that her role changed from standing out as a business woman or game changer to a submissive sex kitten on all ends. It gives young girls the wrong impression of themselves, life, and their worth but the beat is nice so no one pays attention that the words are being implanted into mentalities. We’re slowly becoming a product of what we’re taking in and the woman has the power to change all of that with the proper message. We were born teachers and leaders, we just need that information put out there more.
NLM: What mainstream (or even indie) artists you’re into at the moment?
MJD: I am listening heavy to my labelmate Mr. Tyghe.. find him on Soundcloud and Reverb under our label which is N.O. House Records.. I listen to a lot of T.I., Wale and Kendrick Lamar. My favourite indie artists from my city are Young Gage and Itzil Duce. Great wordsmiths and just great hearted guys overall.
NLM: If you had a choice to collaborate with just ONE mainstream artist, who would it be and why?
MJD: Erykah Badu because when I was 13 years old and did performance poetry for my first talent show that’s what the judge called me and I was so very honoured. My mom brought me to Essence Festival 3 years later to see her perform and I fell in love with her genuine spirit and how free she is when she’s on stage. She’s my inspiration so that would be a dream come true.
NLM: If you were granted three wishes, what would it be?
MJD: LOL.. only 3? My first one would be to give each person on the police force in each state psychological exams and if they refuse them fire them because they’re obviously hiding something. 2nd I would go to each juvenile detention center and jail and give them the option of having a one week pass or to be released completely after completing either a GED program where I’d have the job right there set up after the training, higher education or a trade school. Lastly I would put all the most financially successful women in one room and speak to them on their role in pulling up people in our communities. The man was made from dust but the woman from a bone so strength is there regardless we have to continue to remind each other
NLM: How can potential fans make contact with you?
MJD: I am on Instagram @livduval30 On Twitter @jeanieduval with ONE N lol and my fan page Jeannie Duval on Facebook as well as Reverbnation.com where I have been number 6 on the local charts for about 2 weeks now. I answer all messages as quickly as I can. I am in school at the moment to be a Medical Assistant and my state board is in June so it may take a minute for the reply but it’s coming I promise. I’m just a regular lady with a dream to make an imprint on the world through the music but I’m aware I can’t do this by myself. I welcome anyone who wants to be a part of this family and this movement. We’ll keep it pushing.