The Mind State of J. Ivy
Interview by Jessica LaShawn
Side Note: Mr. Ivy is now married and can be found on myspace at the following address: http://www.myspace.com/jivyspace
His wifes myspace is: http://www.myspace.com/tarreytorae
Could it be that the state of the world has changed for the better? In a society
where totting guns and sagging your pants brought fame and glory, an educated and
determined poet from Chicago opens the flood gates to rekindle a poetic revolution.
The man with a lyrical mission has become famous and adored by many. His passion is
undeniable while his symbolism engulfs your soul. Such poems as “Jamaica”, “Moon
Cry”, and “I Need to Write” have ensured this poets name to be etched in the stone of
Before I received a call from Mr. J. Ivy, I listened to Kanye West’s song “Never Let
Me Down” from his debut platinum album “The College Drop Out.” J. Ivy’s verse poured
like holy rain as his similes and metaphors teased my brain. I was amazed and simply
transfixed by this divine poet’s gift. I’d heard so much about him and felt that he
deserves as much exposure as possible. Mr. Ivy is a fellow Chicagoan from the south
side. His transition from the hood to the suburbs and then from high school to college mirrors a common struggle known to most of society. He isn’t claiming to be a thug nor is he flashy and unapproachable. This man is simply just a man with a mission. I am proud to introduce to some and review for others the Mind State of J. Ivy the Poet!
January 11th, 2005
Jessica: How were you exposed to poetry/spoken word?
Ivy: I was actually exposed to the stage first by my English teacher in high school. She had people read their prose pieces from her class and she really took to my style and delivery. She pulled me to the side and told me that I had a nice speaking voice and she wanted to enter me in some shows. At first I faked her out but she had another show coming up and she made me do the second show. My first time on stage I actually got a standing ovation. By my senior year I was doing Kwanzaa, Black History Months shows, and I just got hooked to the stage. But when I went to college was when I started writing poetry. I actually wrote a poem for this girl I was digging for Sweeties Day. That was the first poem I ever wrote. I was real cool with my English professor in college and I showed her the poem and got a lot of positive feedback and as a result she put me in a show. That is when I started doing poetry shows in college and by my second semester everyone was calling me the poet.
Jessica: What college did you go to?
Illinois State. I was there for a year and a half and flunked out. I went back home
and I realized I was only 19.I refused to be a failure so I tried to do anything. I hit up any club even though they were tripping on my lack of id. I just told them that I only wanted to do some poetry and I’ll leave. I didn’t even drink. The first show I did I met Malik Yusef (featured poet on Carl Thomas song “Trouble Wont Last”). I also got hooked up with WGCI ( a popular Chicago radio station).I did the African American art calendar yearly with 11 other Chicago black artist to collaborate with poets to write a poem for paintings. That was pretty much my start in a nutshell.
Jessica: What type of neighborhood did you grow up in?
Ivy: I had a culture shock growing up. I went from living on the south side to the south suburbs. I can’t say I was sheltered but my mom made sure I stayed on my block. I could go to the park and play ball because they always shoot up there. I couldn't’t get Jordan’s because people always got robbed for them and their starter coats. In the middle of my eighth grade year my brother went to Linblom and got beat up at the forest preserve and ended up at the hospital. Our crib was robbed and that was it for my mom. She decided that it was time for us to move to the suburbs. There were black folks out there but it was predominantly white at the time. It was a totally different atmosphere. There were a lot of black families moving out to the suburbs. It was a big difference from living in the city…just the up keep of the place was different. They called me the urban suburban.
Jessica: Can you describe what your relationship is like with your family?
Ivy: We all have a good relationship. I’m real close with my mom, that’s my dog. She makes sure that everyone knows what’s going on by keeping everybody posted. My two brothers and I are cool. All my cousins are cool. My pops passed away but we still have a good relationship now. Outside of my immediate family we aren’t real close nit but we are all cool though although, we don’t talk or see each other all of the time.
Jessica: Are you married or have any kids?
Ivy: Yes but no kids.
Jessica: Who is your favorite poet or spoken word artist?
Jessica: Is there a difference between poetry and spoken word?
Ivy: Poetry is more so the written form and spoken word is the stage performance.
You just take the written form and combine it with a performance. It adds more to
Poetry. But if someone were to ask me what do you do I would say poetry. I only say
spoken word when I am trying to get someone to understand what I’m talking about. But
I always consider myself a poet.
Jessica: What actually inspired you to peruse your dreams as an artist?
Ivy: I guess since I was a kid there was always something in me that wanted to be on stage and receiving attention. When I watched movies I would study the actions of the actors. I would critique and I didn’t even know what the word meant or what I was doing but I would figure out how I would’ve acted out a scene. It was always something in me but it wasn’t until my English teacher got me on stage and brought it out. I knew when I fell in love with the stage I couldn't’t stop. One thing always led to another and I couldn't’ t stop. There is always a little fuel in the tank and I’d say okay I just gotta keep going. Plus I always had dreams to do big things. I just never saw room for limitation. Even though other people saw them… I know I didn’t and I wont.
Jessica: That is a good way to be.
Ivy: Yeah. Dream big!
Jessica: So what actually makes your style of poetry so unique? What makes you stand
out from the other artists?
Ivy: I really don’t know! I really don’t. I just feel that God chose me to do what I do.He decided that I’d be the one to do certain things. I guess I’m supposed to be the pioneer of different things. I have definitely been around poets that are more talented than me but I just thank God for my blessings. I really don’t know what makes me stand out. I’ve been given opportunities to do things that other people haven’t’. I did the Orange Bowl’s introduction and that was 31.2 Million viewers. I did a two-minute introduction on camera for that event. You could see me, hear me, and watch me do my thing. It was awesome. Things like that haven’t really been done before. I don’t think it has ever been done before. I was chosen to do it. I’m blessed to be apart of the history of poetry. Poetry has been around since the beginning of time but the Orange Bowl was like the super bowl for college. It was a ground-breaking event. For me to be the one to do I thank God! I don’t know why I was chosen and I don’t question it too much. I just do it. My path has been chosen. Everybody has his or her path.
Jessica: If you could offer advice for other artist what would it be?
Ivy: Never Stop. Set your goals and never stop. Always listen to your heart and your
first mind they usually know best. Never second-guess. When I moved to New York it
was a spur of the moment thing. I was just in NY visiting and an apartment became
available… I wasn’t even looking for an apartment but it was spontaneous. I was asked
if I want the crib and I just say yes without thinking. After I moved in I started to wonder what did I do… but so much happened to and for me after I moved to New York that I questioned what if I had second guessed or didn’t follow my gut instinct. I would have missed out on so many things if I didn’t jump at the opportunities in front of me. I wasn’t even in New York 4 weeks and I ended up recording with the RZA. Three months later I got the chance to go to L.A. and recorded “Never Let Me Down “ with Kanye. I got to meet people and gain support so if people heard of an opportunity they’d always say well how about getting J. Ivy for this or that. It was such a blessing. I just say dream real big because nothing is impossible.
Jessica: Is dream big your motto?
Ivy: Dream Big? That is one of them! I have a few. Dreams don’t come true they are true.
Mr. Ivy continued on with his love for poetry and how life has been real good for him. He expressed his concern for the youth and his desire to encourage them. Mr. Ivy
appears to be a survivor. He is a prime example of how one life can be chosen to touch other lives. It is important to know what talents and gifts you have in order to manifest your own destiny. There is no leadership in emulating but when you accept and understand your self, you begin to comprehend your purpose. Mr. Ivy makes sure that he surrounds his self with positive individuals with enough passion and drive to spawn a new universe. His lovely lady the very beautiful and talented Chicagoan, Tarrey Torae can be found on her website www.TarreyTorae. Her music is inspiring and her presence is that of an elegant queen reciting her devotion through enlightening melodies. Ivy is also featured on John “the” Legend’s song So High off of his Soul Sessions I cd. John is also a revolutionist to the music industry. His work can be found at www.JohnLegend.com. Mr. Ivy is destined for greatness! If you would like to find out more about this phenomenal poet, motivational speaker, artist, and revolutionist visit his web site at http://www.izntitivyous.com
www.sphinxmg.com is where you can get information on booking Mr. Ivy for an
event. He is an up and coming sensation. He loves his job but he loves motivating
others to strengthen their talents. Mr. Ivy is a wonderful speaker with a good Christian heart. If your college or organization is made up of the future leaders of tomorrow allow Mr. Ivy to sow a seed of encouragement in them today! I highly recommend him because this man has changed my life for the better.
Photos courtesy of www.Disilgold.com and www.See.umd.edu