Already leaving a career in pro-boxing, St. Louis MC Jovan 'Jibbs' Campbell is ready to make a different kind of impact on the rap game. He is charismatic, mature and only 16!
Where does the name Jibbs come from?
My mother named me that when I was little, because I used to talk a lot. It's an old slang word for a mouth piece.
What's the story behind your album title, Jibbs, featuring Jibbs? Is that reference to a spilt personality?
Nah, I don't have a spilt personality. It's more to do with my versatility as a rapper and how I switch it up. Throughout my album none of the songs are the same, and on some songs it's like me featuring myself. To be honest, my younger sister actually came up with the concept because of the different styles I have flowing.
Wow, your family are really helping you out.
There's been an effort to point out that you do not use profanity in your records, but at 16 isn't that an obvious decision to maximise your appeal to the mainstream?
Right, yeah there has. However I don't make it a point to not curse on my records that just comes naturally. I have been doing that ever since I started writing, I don't try and block anything out for appeal. The way it comes out on the song is the way it came out from the pen.
Signed to Geffen records, home to rappers 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, Common to name a few, what was the motivation when finding a record deal?
They came with the best deal for me. I hit every record company when I was shopping my demo around and they all wanted me, but Geffen, who I performed for last, just loved it and you could tell they wanted to do something with it by the deal they came with, they let it be known that they really wanted me. Y'know, 50 Cent sold like 15 million records and that is inspiration for me, and you got Mary J Blige, Akon, the list goes on. I feel like I am on a label for legends.
How does St Louis, your home town, influence your rapping style?
Well, Nelly put it on the map. He came out sold 10 million and he made St Louis look real good, opening up a lot of doors. I probably wouldn't be here without that. St Louis is a big influence on rap as a whole right now.
Is being a role model important to you in this early stage of your musical career?
Yes. I don't want to come out this year and not be around next year. I want to last in the game and be looked up to. Be people's favourite rapper and just be able to inspire everyone. Y'know, I don't make music for one category of people; I do it for young or old. I got old ladies with my ring tone on their phones.
Really? What's old to you?
(Laughs) I'm saying, like 68! I also see people like 21 or 25 bumping my music in the States all the time.
Okay, that said your first single 'Chain Hang Low' although light-hearted fun with the nursery rhythm theme, do you not think its content could be portrayed as another materialistic fuelled rap song or was that the point?
Nah, that wasn't the point at all. It's a song I've had for a while and one that I have always believed in. It is actually a fun song. I'm from St Louis and we like our chains to hang low and everyday after school you'd hear the ice-cream van coming around the block. So I put those two ideas together, that's why I have an ice-cream truck in my video. It's something that everyone can enjoy, and I think it's something different compared to what others are coming out with.
What's your favourite track on the album and why?
'Hood' is my favourite song, because it has a message about doing things while you still have time. I need to show that I am not just a rapper that talks about chains.
Without being patronising, at this young age do you feel you have the experience to pass on important messages?
I am from the worst part of St Louis, where it's crazy and believe me you see people getting shot and a lot of things happening. So I have seen more things than some grown ups, and that's what I put in my songs. Some of my old friends are just reckless now, out of control, so it's a message for them and I know that the same things happen around the world. So while they still got time to change it, I'm going to put a message in a song to see if I can help out with that.
Who came up with the idea to sample Janet Jackson's 'Wait A While' for 'Gone Too Far' and throw a Pussycat Doll in the mix?
My older brother DJ beats and Melanie from the Pussycat Dolls provided the hook. I heard it when I walked in the studio and I was wondering who it was for, then they were like it's for you. So Beats burnt me a CD and I went in the car and wrote the whole song in 30mins. It was a phenomenon moment because the tune was so sick to me; I had to put some sick verses on there.
Many agree that hip hop is dying, what new element, if any, do you think you can bring to the revive it?
It's a different moment for hip hop right now; it's not looked at as it was. It's changed from when lets say Nas was in the game and I suspect that they didn't expect it to be like this. It's just a different time and I think that I can change the way of thinking by being who I am. I'm not trying to be someone else-
Is that why you stated in a magazine recently that 'No one wants another Jay- Z'?
Yeah, of course. No one wants another Jay or Nas, no one will want another Jibbs because they have already seen that, the people want something different. And that's exactly what I am gonna bring to them, a different flavour and not only will I bring it different, I gonna bring it different every time and keep people interested. On my album, I got the party song, the slow song, the crunk song and the message song. So I think I can change the game up by getting everyone's attention, keeping their interest on me.