“I just want this so bad,” says Peter Jackson. It’s almost 4 a.m. in Whistler, British Columbia as he sits on the hotel balcony, trying to wind down. It’s been a turbulent tour for the young rapper. Riding on the tour bus with Slaughterhouse and Pharoahe Monch means he’s been isolated from the rest of the crew. He found out mid-way through the tour that one of his close friends was arrested for a violent crime. And earlier that night he was shaken by a heated argument with Concrete Guerilla Clothing owner Duxx. His will has definitely been tested. And interestingly enough, that is exactly what he prides himself on.
“I might not be the best lyricist, but I swear I want it more than anyone doing it,” he says with vulnerable passion in his voice. He looks out towards the mountains and then down at the floor, deep in thought with his hands on his head. He’s struggling to make sense of things. And with so much going on – an album on the way, several videos in production, a distribution deal with Fontana, a new boutique label (Richmond Street Records) and his first tour since a near fatal car crash ended his time on with Tech N9ne in March – who can blame him for showing his emotions.
Peter Jackson started his run back in Durham, Ontario years ago. I met him during my days at Crack House Radio when he’d drop in to promote his latest show at The Big Sexy in Oshawa. Joe Budden, Wu Tang, KRS One and the list goes on – Peter Jackson is the face of hip hop events east of Toronto. He’d often purchase the Durham date of any given tour, sell tickets and make himself and his crew 90Nickel the opening acts. With so much invested into each show, it was a risky method of getting attention, but it worked. Since then, he’s toured the country five times with Naughty By Nature, Tech N9ne, D12, Busta Rhymes and Akon. It’s been in large part due to his growing relationship with booking agent Chris McKee, who met Jackson after he won a contest that promised a contract with the McKee Agency.
“I get a phone call from this artist in Oshawa saying ‘Ya I won this contest. When are we going on tour?” says Mckee. “I just liked how they were hungry. I was like ‘well I’m not going to put you on tour, but send me your music and lets keep in contact and I’ll see where we can do some stuff together.”
Jackson started buying the aforementioned shows on McKee Agency tours. By November 2008, Mckee placed Jackson on the Never Say Never Tour with Royce Da 5’9, Joe Budden, D12 & Classified.
“I got nothing but good reviews from club owners that they were good people, the [club owners] loved the show, they didn’t give them a hard time,” says Mckee.As the relationship grew, Jackson would later invite McKee to be his manager as well.
Fast forward to 2010, a make or break year for Jackson. His debut album “In My Life” is slated for summer and his new single “Ma Ma” featuring Die Mannequin is weeks away from release at the time of tour.
“This is such a personal song and I’m so happy it can be my first single,” says Jackson back at his Durham studio prior to tour. Referring to Die Mannequin lead singer Care Failure, Jackson jokes “This girl is like Cher with death written across her forehead.”
On tour, the single is consistently the most potent part of his set. Along with DJ Dames Nellas, Jackson invites the crowds to put their lighters in the air before the intense, soulful hook blares “My mama told me when I was young…Just take your time child, life has just begun.”
And just as the intensity builds, the crowd can finally reach out and touch the Peter Jackson he seems more ready to show them. The lyrics bear family references and somber, reflective tones which often energize the crowd to share in the lighter-illuminated atmosphere. And forging this connection with his audience is key for an artists banking on his intense tour grind to fuel interest in his debut album. Because while his hustle is becoming notorious, the connection between him and his fans is still building. And ultimately, Peter Jackson admits this is one of the most important songs he’s ever written.
And with a radio run in the preliminary stages and a gripping new video now released online, its crunch time for Peter Jackson.
“Tour Life” will be posted every Tuesday till the end of the series.
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