Even if you haven’t heard of local hip-hop artist OJ Trop, there’s a good chance you’ve seen him on the evening news.
In an interview, Jimenez said he first started rapping in his junior year of high school while growing up outside of Atlanta. He recorded his first song over The Lonely Island and T-Pain’s classic rap parody, “I’m on a Boat,” using some low-grade recording equipment, and was pleasantly surprised with the result, he said.
Now a full-time reporter, Jimenez has to find time outside of work to hone his craft and record. He started working on this project last fall after his producer Daiz, a former boss from his time as an intern at NBC News, sent him about 10 beats. They pared it down to four and got to work.
The result is an aggressive-sounding, cleanly produced four-song debut with strong echoes of Childish Gambino (a.k.a. comedian and writer Donald Glover), one of his top inspirations.
Jimenez said he became a big Gambino fan in high school. The artist’s persona was remarkably different than those of other hometown rap legends like Ludacris and T.I., he noted.
“Musically, I locked onto him very early. He’s been a huge influence on everything I’ve done,” Jimenez said.
“Reporting Live” includes breaking news-style interludes on three of its four songs, clear nods to the reporter’s day job. The third track, “Ready for It,” shows off a bit of Jimenez’s flow and features an appearance from local singer and Park School alum Drew Tildon. Here’s the official music video:
The original idea for the project included no newsy tie-ins, Jimenez said. The first song he and Daiz made, “No No,” stands alone without an anchor-like voice panning to OJ Trop in the field, so to speak.
“It wasn’t until I wrote the ‘Breaking News’ track that I was like, ‘Oh, we should make this kind of a like a news thing and showcase that this is my moonlighting side,” he said.
Jimenez graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and joined Channel 11 as a general assignment reporter in 2015. He was nominated for his first Emmy award last month.
Click below to his 17-minute EP.
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