A college dropout: Reaching the top from just a little problem kid

An Arizona State University drop-out, 21-year-old Jordan Reid is barely starting to make it into the music scene. With a couple of close friends that make up the group they call “Prime Society,” Reid raps, composes and produces his own music. With dreams of being successful in the hip-hop/rap community, he doesn’t have a long way to go before he makes it big.

I met Reid by happy coincidence — we picked the same English class, with the same professor, at the same time slot during our freshman year at Arizona State University. Sitting inside the language and literature building at ASU’s Tempe campus where he was a music major, Reid and I would endure the long hour and 15-minute lectures of English professor, Susan Flores. My friendship with Reid was the only good thing that resulted from the graded essays that reeked of cheap cigarettes and lectures that turned into rants by Flores.

Reid lived on the floor right above mine in Best C Hall in the Arcadia housing community in Herberger, The School for the Arts and Design. His dorm room during the 2014 fall semester doesn’t look much different than his master bedroom in the townhome he lives in now, apart from a bigger bed and no roommates.

It’s Friday afternoon and when I walk into Reid’s two-story townhome, he’s playing Grand Theft Auto V with his niece, Ashlynn. He had gone to work at 5 a.m., answering phone calls as a State Farm customer service representative and came home to babysit until his brother, Miles, came home.

Inside the master bedroom, he has two microphones, one with a pop filter which he explains are to smooth harsh “p’s” and “b’s” when he raps; three different sized amp speakers; two piano keyboards – one is on the floor, the other leaned againJordanReidst the wall sideways; a DJ remixing board; a red electric guitar that stands hung up on the wall like a prized possession; and dirty socks. Multiple pairs of dirty socks.

He takes a seat at his desk facing his computer screen with his back to me, and as I find a seat in the corner of the room, he quickly stands up with two empty beer bottles and disposes of them in his restroom. He finds his way back to his desk and starts to plug in one of the microphones. He takes it into his walk-in closet and tells me to sit down by his computer and hit the R on the keyboard whenever I was ready. He walks into the closet and closes the door.

I can hear Ashlynn’s playful footsteps directly on the floor above me, and so can he. He walks out of the closet, opens the bedroom door and yells, “Hey, give me a minute.” Miles responds, “I got you.” The footsteps stop.

Reid says, “I’m a professional.” He’s only half kidding. He walks back into the closet and I hit the R on the keyboard.

A smooth beat starts playing and inside the closet, Reid starts rapping.

“I’m just trying to right my wrongs, I’m just trying to write these songs…”

When I first brought up the idea to write a profile about him, Reid responded, “Why me? I’m not interesting. I just work and make music.”

During the summer of 2016, Reid had grabbed his red Fender guitar – the same one that’s on the wall – and sang his version of Limousine by Wax to me after I asked him what he was studying.

“Merge left and get the fuck up off the road man, me and my girl Melina are in our own plane, look directly up and see us at the window saying, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, we came from the top all the way to the bottom,” Reid sang confidently. “ASU was throwing scholarship money at me after I started playing the guitar.”

He attended ASU with hopes of learning something other than the nine years of music school had already taught him. He didn’t, and he didn’t go back after his second semester.

Reid learned how to play the piano by the age of three and practiced three times a week from the ages five to 14 at Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children in Phoenix. He owned his own drum set by the age of 10 and bought his very first guitar by the age of 13.

Since that first Lyon guitar that he bought from eBay, Reid’s collection of musical instruments has grown. He now owns more than five electric guitars, multiple piano keyboards, the same drum set and he still remembers his dislike for music school.

“I hated music school so much,” Reid says, remembering how he would have to wake up early every Saturday and miss the morning cartoons. “I look back at it now and it actually helped me but back then, no one wants to be a six-year-old that has to come from playing baseball with your friend to practice piano.”

But that practice paid off. By the age of 15, Reid produced his first song. Despite his childhood dreams of being an astronaut, he quickly realized his passion for music and he began to write and produce his own songs.

“Who am I to believe your lies? I knew you were creepin’, creepin’, creeping out of my life,” a smooth female voice recites Reid’s lyrics from one of the amp speakers. He doesn’t like it.

“It’s lyrically immature and it could be a lot better,” Reid explains. “I would love to make music like this but I’m so far ahead of this and at a certain level with my music.”

The three-minute song is in a c-chord throughout, has 120 beats per minute and basic lyrics. The lack of piano and bass prove how far he’s come from his 15-year-old self.

Reid now has a finer taste in music. Taking after his favorite song, Hey Jude by The Beatles, he hopes to create something that is timeless, or as he puts it, “[have] lyrics that mean something…feel the emotion like Paul [McCartney] put in the song.”

He feels like he did.

Released in November 2016, his first single on iTunes and Spotify, Buick, reflects the emotion he wants his music to portray.

“The problem is no longer walking ‘round with empty pockets, we got our city talking that they jobs and while they clocking in about Prime and how we reached the top from just some little problem kids,” Reid raps.

He’s been performing this personal favorite since he began doing shows in 2014 and 2015. Opening with Buick during his 20-minute sets, he feels like he created a connection with all the songs he would perform. But being an independent artist isn’t easy. Dedicated to this art, with the word Prime tattooed on his bottom lip, Reid explains that this process is a lot harder than people think.

“Being new to the music scene and young, you get taken advantage of and it’s a hassle,” Reid says. “When I was doing 19 to 20 shows a year, I would lose money, which was fine, but I’d rather get back to making music.”

And so he did.

“Yeah, yeah, uuuuuuh,” Reid says into the $70 microphone. “That was a rapper noise, you wouldn’t know anything about that one.”

With a nose stud and a signature headband to hold back his tiny curls, Reid, better known as J. Reid – or DJ Asthmatic to his 2,865 Twitter followers—released a new single in March called All Mine.

“Hit that swisher till you higher than a missile, I’ll be rolling with you on your hip like a pistol,” Reid sings, making you think that the hip-hop chivalry is dead.

Along with new music, Prime Society has an online store where you can buy their merchandise. The latest from Reid? A sock inhaler white tee.

“I get treated like a sock so much, I decided to put it on a shirt,” Reid jokingly says. While he raps about beautiful women, making it out of his parent’s basement and slowly making it to the top, you will never hear Reid rap about the party scene.

If you go deep into his SoundCloud, you will find collaborations with every member of Prime Society and other individual artists. His cover art reflects the mood of the singles he releases with his personal life attached to them. He samples a beat he made for Miles.

Known as Infin8, Miles walks into the room, stands a foot taller than Reid and listens to the beat that “hypnotizes” him to want to metaphorically jump on it and start rapping.

Miles, just like Reid, grew up going to music school every Saturday morning with music running their lives as the children of a pastor. Their involvement in the church and the choir turned them to pursue something much bigger, with a passion that’s much greater.

“That’s what really matters, it’s what you say,” Reid says.

“All the days we face I be struggling and hustling to find a better way out, the rumbling and hustling, school’s getting played out, I’m sinking in the deep end, I’m staying in on weekends, making all these dollars so my family still eating, I’ve been working since dawn, I’ve been writing these songs and it won’t be long ‘till I’m pouring in the pay cut, so tell me what’s wrong, all your currency is gone cause you wanna hit the bong, sad song, find your way up,” Reid raps in Bestfriends? the fifth track off of
Internet Stuff, his first solo-artist album on SoundCloud released a year ago.

When I ask him about Prime Society, he compares the group to the Beastie Boys and Odd Future. They’re not one artist, but all individuals. Composed of 11 individuals, Jordan names each one and their special talents. From other artists to people who manage his merchandise and a couple who skateboard, when I ask if there are any open positions to be a part of Prime Society, Reid smiles and instantly says, “we’re not accepting applications.”

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