Underground emcee Ornette Glenn (Self Jupiter) came to the attention of WBM through the debut release of The Kleenrz, a project the west coast rapper undertook with master producer Kenny Segal. From the caverns of his crafty bass resonates a kind of magnetic quality, seizing you into his gloriously dark narratives. It is through his identity as Self Jupiter (“the name speaks for itself”, he adds) that Ornette Glenn embodies the character of “The Cleaner” — someone you’d find snidely sweeping through humanity’s deepest nights. Yet, despite offering gruesome reflections of untold realities, his lyrics are self-aware, spiritually conscious, and motivated by personal progress.
The Kleenrz may be the most recent album release for the Los Angeles native, but his inspiration doesn’t stop there. As part of the Freestyle Fellowship and performing under the alternative moniker of Burgundy Fats, Ornette Glenn has been active both independently and through a number of labels. To reach wider audiences and get his lyrics heard, he has sprawled his multiple personas across an impossible number of social media accounts, “just tentacles of the social media platform”, as he calls them.
Ornette Glenn recently started his own production project, Voila Entertainment, where “not all magic is seen”. Bluntly he claims that his magic lies in his wit and sarcasm. “Lots of new horror and romanticism soon,” he says, referring to the pending release of The Legend of 1900 (Burgundy Fats) and the Spring 2014 release of The Kleenrz LP. “A few Burgundy Fats shows around late October,” he explains, “Also a European tour with my Bay Area homies from Solidarity Records, Equipto, and White Mic from Bored Stiff, LRoneous, Agent, and of course The Kleenrz.”
Image courtesy of selfjupiter.com.
You’re from Los Angeles and are ingrained in the city’s hip hop culture. In your eyes, how has it changed over the years from when you first started performing to the point you’re at now?
It’s in a different time: we were opening a vacuum in which we could fit ourselves in. Knowing the things we knew about hip hop and expanding on various templates of concepts, and expanding on them, and exploring the creative wilderness, so to speak. Personally now, like always, I delve into the idea of free association and social commentary as stable ground; also to unearth an awareness that’s always present in my range of story telling as I see fit. It’s a comfort of mine.
Regarding the name, “The Kleenrz”, there’s a bit of narrative tossed around in the album, especially on the track “A Big Mess”, told through the perspective of a crime scene cleaner. What’s the significance of this imagery and why did it form the backbone for this project?
Ever since I seen that movie La Femma Nikita, I always wanted to be that guy that comes and cleans the scene up when things got messy… put a little order in the situation. A person you could count on — get you out of a particular stronghold, especially when you have no one else to call. I’m the one you would call. And of course I’m prepared. Been actually waiting for the phone to ring. I mean, we all need a person like that, someone that protects and serves your enemies (laughs). Am I going a little overboard? Okay, ya’ll get the gist…
The Kleenrz album expresses harsh realities with great honesty. How did you hope the album would relay certain messages or give hope?
By using narration as a backdrop. Usually you don’t plan on anything…I mean when you write a script, it usually takes on a life of its on and you shift with the dialogue accordingly in hopes of being amusing. Don’t always work out like that, but how many books you’ve read that were just not that good? You still read it right? There’s always nuggets of knowledge in every paragraph, as well as imagery. Now that’s priceless.
Back in 2010, you talked a bit about your experiences in South Central L.A., debt and then going to jail. Are there ways that these experiences still affect or influence you?
If anything it affects me in a positive. Music is my gift. Takes a lot of soul searching to realize what you are not good at and what you excel in… Obviously I wasn’t a good criminal! (laughs)
What do you struggle with, in terms of any aspect of hip hop production? How do you respond to these struggles?
Hip hop was a baby when we were doing our thing rappin’, selling tapes out of our backpack… Now, hip hop is a grown ass man, doing what it wants. We can’t control it like we could’ve when it was young. So I wanna come new and reinvent.
Let’s talk about the aesthetics of The Kleenrz for a minute. It’s this really memorable, kind of surreal cartoon look for you and Kenny, and also just the music videos in general, and it sort of echoes back to that virtual world of The Gorillaz. What’s behind The Kleenrz look?
We drew inspiration from a lot of things. Obviously there could be parallels made to the Gorrillaz and Gnarls Barkley, but we were also inspired by everything from Adventure Time to classic cartoons like Scooby-Doo. And of course don’t forget movies like La Femme Nikkita, Point of No Return, and Pulp Fiction, where the idea of “The Cleaner” character originates from. We actually spent quite a bit of time working with the animator James Reitano just on the character design phase, trying to get everything just right before we even began the animation process.
In label descriptions and generally as a point of reference, The Kleenrz’ sound has been coined under “art rap noire”. How do you feel about this description?
I think this is a pretty accurate label. While the Kleenrz is definitely a rap record, it plays with the genre by taking the story-line and characters, and elevating them to center stage. Jupiter’s rapping has often had a film noire quality to it, and Kenny’s background in film-composing definitely influenced the sound of the production as well.
Who are some individuals — not necessarily musicians or artists — who you respect the most?
My mom, for having the most strength. God for being the most high! Any musician, artist who’d ever eat, drink, sleep then dream this crazy life of ours. What you put in it is what you get out it. We’re all connected, collectively, spiritually, and creatively. Love keeps me in the moment, enriches us all.
FOR MORE ON ORNETTE GLENN / SELF JUPITER / JUPRACOBRAH / BURGUNDY FATS:
THE KLEENRZ: www.thekleenrz.com