Local Artist Spotlight: Israel Jones

Local Artist Spotlight Israel Jones text illustration with profile photo.

In his own words; Israel Jones' music is experimental, lyrical, thought-provoking, and black.

Growing up in Waldo, he attended school in Gainesville, but primarily visited the library's Waldo Branch to browse books and movies while his sister volunteered. Once in high school, any afternoon not spent in afterschool activities or working out for football meant being dropped off by his mom to peruse the CD collection for hours, which was "a very important part of my rap process because I got my own taste of love from music through the library."

    Photo by Kinnara Bosworth

His dad also played a huge part in his journey, opening him up to the world of hip-hop by sharing quintessential rap music, which helped inspire him to want to write himself and make it his own. Jones is mostly self-taught, and would practice writing and listening to freestyles during his summers off from school. It wasn't until college that he began taking music more seriously as a passion. In writing his recent album, Blacc Boys Don't Cry, he felt as if he were writing a letter to his dad while imagining his voice in reply throughout his creative process.

Israel Jones found his story after many nights of inner reflection and writing alone; coming to grips with his mental health and with being able to share emotions, "being extremely vulnerable to let other people, specifically black men, know that is okay to feel things, it's okay to go to therapy, and it's okay to realize things about yourself that you might not like and [need to] work on yourself." When asked for a favorite song off the album, he promptly responded with the song "Quarterback." The song was born out of his struggles with imposter syndrome, and about learning to "celebrate yourself, celebrate your wins, and celebrate getting over anxiety to understand where you came from." In writing his songs, Jones considers how each will be performed and sound in front of an audience. Seeing the faces in the audience react to the mid-song flow switch is his favorite part of performing Quarterback.

Album Cover Art for Blacc Boys Don't Cry showing mirrored black hands holding each other

"I feel like we live in a time where music is like fast food; where it sounds good for a week, and then people move on. I'm very interested in making music that people can look back on for years and think, "Wow, this means something to me," because you're still getting nuggets...or you might understand what they're saying because you lived it. That's my favorite part about music. I might just like a song because it sounds good- [like with] a lot of music my dad played while I was little, I liked it because it sounded good. I liked College Dropout because it sounded good, then when I got older and understood what he was saying, understood what Nas was saying, and understood what Jay-Z was saying and now I have a different appreciation... and a different love for [their music]. If I can have my music do that for people, that's really all I want."

Israel Jones felt disconnected to local rap community growing up, but in 2022 he played 22 shows. As the rap community continues to grow in Gainesville, Israel Jones will surely be out there leading the movement and leaving us with music to contemplate for the years to come.

New EP "Bigga Purpose" by Israel Jones releases 2/21/23

Photos used with permission by the artist.

Upcoming programs for teen musicians at our Tower Road Branch:

Teen Music Maker Workshop

Teen Battle of the Bands

Check out these music recommendations from Israel Jones:

To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar

Check out To Pimp a Butterfly and other albums by Kendrick Lamar through hoopla. You'll need a library card to create a free hoopla account with an email address. 



Check out Voodoo and other albums by D'Angelo through hoopla. You'll need a library card to create a free hoopla account with an email address. 

Luv 4 Rent


Check out Luv 4 Rent and other albums by Smino through hoopla. You'll need a library card to create a free hoopla account with an email address. 

By Sofia on February 21, 2023