Emcee and producer Jai Nitai (pronounced Thai Nee-tie) Lotus describes his style of music as experimental hip-hop. On his debut solo LP, Something You Feel, due out November 6, Jai draws on samples, dark synthesized pieces, and off-kilter drums with meaningful lyrics to create new, soulful soundscapes that are distinctly his own. The LP features guests such as Georgia Anne Muldrow, Declaime (Dudley Perkins), The Narcicyst (Freeway, Shadia Mansour, Omar Offendum), and Sarah Linhares (Om’Mas Keith from Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Moonstarr, RBMA). Jai held down the role of emcee, recording engineer and producer on Something You Feel, except for one track produced by Simahlak (The Lonely Island, DJ A-Trak, 4th Pyramid).
Something You Feel is a musical journey of truth, inner dualities about love, music, loss and gain. On “Hard Times and Bless” Jai, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudly Perkins acknowledge that even though we’re faced with so many struggles, we have a lot to be grateful for—music being at the core. The track “Mingus Clap” is a nod to the late, great Charles Mingus. The prominent vocal chant is reminiscent of spiritual Jazz, over an infectious, hypnotic clap groove. Jai Nitai Lotus’ last line sums up the tune with “Musically a master piece, feeling like I mastered peace, Peace!”
“I tried to create this record without fear [of being accepted],” explains Jai. “It’s very raw and honest.”
Born and raised in the French-speaking city of Montreal, Jai was surrounded by musical and cultural diversity as a child. He was raised by a father who played saxophone and flute in a 70’s rock/fusion band. Later, his dad learned harmonium and mridunga (Eastern drum). “Due to my father’s religious beliefs,” explains Jai, “he gave up band life and all “materialistic” music and would only play music that was devotional, in praise of God.”
As a teen, he felt insecure and uncomfortable about his spiritual background which caused him to rebel in high school. “I hung around some tough crowds.” Jai admits, but says he got focused when he discovered hip-hop albums such as Nas’ Illmatic, and and later the Blackstar album and Slum Village’s Fantastic Vol. 2, all of which played an integral role in his direction as an artist.
Jai Nitai Lotus is also a natural performer and has shared the stage with Little Brother, Moka Only, and Planet Asia. He has performed at events such as Toronto’s Breaks, Beats and Culture (Harbourfront), North by Northeast (NXNE), Montreal’s Under Pressure Graffiti Festival, and Les Nuits de Montreal (Montreal Jazz Festival). Jai’s musical catalogue includes collaborative efforts such as The Anti Cupid EP starring Troy Dunnit as the anti cupid (2009); Nu High (2007), with producer Sikh Knowledge; The Notice EP with Karma Atchykah (2006). Nu High was on heavy rotation on BBC Asian Network. The Anti Cupid EP received international blog buzz (2dopeboyz, Hiphopdx, Djatrak, Onsmash), and had two videos on rotation on Canadian television (MuchMusic and MuchVibe).
It’s rare today to come across an introspective artist who balances the roles of emcee and producer so well. Jai’s debut is not limited to words and descriptions—simply put, it is Something You Feel.