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Nixon's son balances rap, politics

Monday, September 29, 2008 | 9:00 p.m. CDT; updated 11:22 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 29, 2008
Jeremiah "Jer" Nixon has been helping out with his father's gubernatorial campaign. The MU sophomore is also a parody rapper and has an impressive athletic shoe collection. His dad, Jay Nixon, is the Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Missouri.

"It's ya boy, Young J to the Nix."

It's not the latest tagline for Attorney General Jay Nixon's campaign for governor. "Young J," as he dubs himself in a track recorded a few years ago, is Nixon's eldest son, Jeremiah, the rapper.

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Out on the campaign trail, Jer — a nickname he's gone by since elementary school — sports what he describes as a "pretty fresh suit," as he talks to supporters about education and his dad's platform.

In his second semester at MU, Jer says he chooses to keep his music politics-free, instead focusing on the stereotypes associated with rap music. The music Jer writes and records with friends uses profanity, references violence and refers to women as "hos." The cover for the album "Turn and Cough," released in 2007, depicts several members holding rifles or handguns.

However, Jer, 19, said he doesn't think his lyrics are offensive. "If it is offensive, it's because people are easily offended."

The music is "definitely for fun ... 98 percent parody," he said, noting that there are times when they "straight up" make fun of the rap genre. "We throw out some of that generic stuff and, because it's coming from us, it's sarcastic. None of our music should be taken seriously."

Jer says his father has heard his music and is "cool" with his musical expression. Recording in the household "was never a private thing," he said.

His mom, Georganne, helped make it possible when she brought an Apple computer equipped with the program Garage Band that Jer used to create his beats.

But Oren Shur, spokesman for the Nixon campaign, had this to say in a statement e-mailed to the Missourian: "Jay loves his son, but certainly some of the lyrics in these rap songs show some poor judgment. There's really nothing cool about it. But it's important to Jay and Georganne that Jer have a normal college experience and not be dragged into this political campaign."

After the Missourian fact-checked this story, Jer asked to add this statement: "Some of the lyrics were in poor taste and showed poor judgment on my part. I now see how they could have been offensive to some, and I apologize for that."

Until recently, Jer's career consisted of the album he recorded and sold with a group of friends (they called themselves B.A.L.L.S.) in high school, as well as making his music available on MySpace and a video on YouTube.

On Friday, however, two of his MySpace pages were deleted, and his video became private on YouTube, accessible only by invitation. Going by the name Afflowence, which he uses only when he records alone, he recently posted a new track called "AC on Blast" on the Afflowence MySpace page. But that account was also deleted.

"I talked to some people and decided it didn't look good," Jer said of the music video on YouTube. He promised that the group would be back on YouTube with new stuff at a "later date."

"JC Hustlaz," "I Got an AK" and "Poser G's" are a few of the titles on the CD "Turn and Cough," recorded by Jer and his friends during their senior year in high school.

"We were all about pleasing the masses and keeping it light-hearted," said group member Duncan Kincheloe, who also goes to MU.

Jer estimates that he wrote about 50 percent of the tracks on the album. They take what Jer calls the "generic" aspects of rap music, and anchor them to ideas the group found funny. For example, there is an entire track dedicated to Go Gurt — a yogurt product sold in a tube.

"Jer is an absolute genius with computers, and music is his one true love," said Taylor Webb, a student at Westminster College who has been close to Jer since high school. "Jer can rap for days if you would let him."

In the first verse of "JC Hustlaz," Jer tells the story of a day off school in Jefferson City, where the rest of the group meets at a local pool hall. They ride in Bentleys. They order beers. They wear "ice." They "hustle."

"Woke up on a Friday when we had no school/ I think I gotta hustle, gotta hustle me some pool/Will I go Spectators? Mike's Corner Pocket?/Gotta grab my gun, but first I'll cock it"

In the same song, he raps:

"I'm dancin' on the table like a ballerina/Can't stop me now, I'm to the macerena/Look around choosin' fools I want to bash/Everybody in Jeff City is white trash"

Eventually, the group had enough tracks to make an album. Then they burned so many discs that Jer's CD burner broke. They sold the album at school for $5 each.

"If they had heard it before they probably wouldn't have bought it," said Jer, who estimates the group made around $500 from sales. "We hyped it big."

B.A.L.L.S. also made some of their music available through their MySpace page, which was open for public viewing until Monday when it too was deleted. As of Monday morning, their song "I Got That Bump" had 3,306 plays on the site. The track was a favorite of listeners, and even got air time on a radio station in St. Louis, Jer says.

"The music they recorded in high school was pure comedy," said Caroline Ward, a University of Missouri — Kansas City student who went to high school with Jer. "Something you could put in your CD player and it would instantly raise your spirits because of all its spontaneity."

After "Turn and Cough," the group disbanded, heading off to different colleges.

Despite his dad being in the political spotlight, Jer says his life has been pretty much the same – other than phone calls from friends after the campaign commercial he appears in shows up on TV.

Now living at MU as a pledge in the Beta Theta Pi house, Jer is taking 14 hours as a political science major — a natural choice for someone whose earliest memories are of campaigning.

"It's been going on my whole life," Jer said. "The first thing I remember is putting in yard signs with (my dad) in Jefferson County. He was elected state senator for down there. At the time, I was 2."

The memories are vague, and Jer is pretty sure he only remembers because he's heard the story from family so many times.

Jer plans to continue campaigning for his father whenever possible, but it is clear that he is more comfortable in sneakers than dress shoes.

His affection for sneakers has resulted in a collection of around 30 pairs and inspired the song "So Superficial," which he recorded with friends at MU back in April.

"So analyze this sh** in ya English class/What grade for these kicks? Well, I think they'll pass/What? In fact, they get an ‘A'/Air Jordan Retro 8's with the base color gray"

Jer throws out enough shoe references in the first verse to prove he knows his sneakers. The song even had its own video, filmed in Maryland Avenue Parking Garage, featuring Jer rapping as he skateboards in front of a glowing Jesse Hall backdrop.

For now, Jer plans to continue to record when he can, although there isn't much space in the fraternity house. He keeps track of song ideas in his iPhone and will let almost anybody get involved in the process.

"It's not an exclusive thing to be on," Jer says of his recordings. "If you're in the right place at the right time, you're in it."

There is one person, however, who listeners probably won't be hearing making a guest appearance.

"If (my dad) jumped on a track ... I don't think it'd get positive response," Jer said. "I'd probably cut his verse out. I don't know if his verses would have the lyrical magnificence that is required."


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Comments

Makaela Morden September 30, 2008 | 8:56 a.m.

Hey, I think we just found the next Vanilla Ice!

Seriously, the elder Nixon has been an elected official for 20 years. Why is he letting his son record "music" (?) with offensive, sexist lyrics?

Little J needs to stick to panty raids and hazing and leave the rapping to those who have some life experiences to rap about. The whole genre of rap is supposed to be a modern-day version of the oral tradition, giving voice to those who have been traditionally oppressed.

It's hard to imagine the hardships Little J would have to share. Let's see, maybe spilling beer on upholstery of his car? Or maybe getting mud in the cleats of his golf shoes?

Give me a break.

(Report Comment)
Mr. CynicAl September 30, 2008 | 9:35 a.m.

First of all-

Makaela - you need to realize that hip hop and rap are divergent genres. Do some research.

Where did you learn that about hip hop anyway? Sounds like your lingo came from a book. "Modern-day version of the oral tradition?" Who are you to say what music is "supposed to be?"

And what do you mean by "oppressed" people? Do you mean black?

Are hardships a necessity to create music? Or just some types of music? Is it possible to have a little fun with music?

It's not serious, M. Relax.

With that said, this dude is real corny.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 30, 2008 | 1:20 p.m.

Weird J Nixonovitch?

(Report Comment)
Terri Elliott October 12, 2008 | 11:10 p.m.

My youngest son was on one of the tracks as Cassius Clay. I was so proud of them for doing something creative with their free time. And yes my son is now attending college for his sophmore year, and on the deans list.
Even though some of the lyrics were questionable you have to admit that it was a positive enterprise for these young men to associate themselves with.
BTW Bring back CHO, that kid really rocked!

(Report Comment)
Ana Lindeberg October 13, 2008 | 9:08 p.m.

My boyfriend was roommate's with Jer at his first semester in college at madison and I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times. Jer made a huge impact on everyone around him and was a crowd favorite. He never failed to work hard and step up as any true Nixon would do. Jer and my boyfriend would rap together all the time, in fact, I still listen to his raps to this day (Air Jordans and Shady Tactics, just to name a few...). Of course there's going to be profanity and sexuality splashed here and there in his raps, he's a college student! What do you expect? Rapping is something that he's just naturally gifted with, so what's wrong with playing that up? I hope he continues rapping and I look forward to his next album.

(Report Comment)

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