JEL LEARNED ABOUT PRODUCTION AND THE MUSIC BIZ BY GETTING HIS HANDS DIRTY.
High school reunions need folks like Jeffery James Logan. Without Logan and his ilk, the Where Are They Now? segments would drag on interminably, bouncing ever so predictably between pregnant/knocked-up/saddled with three kids to corporate lawyer/investment banker/doctor. Logan, better know to underground hip-hop heads as Jel--beat-maker extraordinaire and linchpin of the Anticon crew--is living the dream without having to worry about Pla B or an end to his music career. Armed with this trusty E-mu SP-1200, a handful of thrift-store cast-offs and a gang of MCs, vocalists and bedroom producer pals, Jel has crafted a dark, foreboding hip-hop landscape, rife with tension, passion and moments of unexpected beauty.
As a high-schooler in Chicago's north suburbs, music served as Jel's main distraction from his studies. Jel formed a rap group, threw a few talent shows (a short-lived endeavor that ended in the middle of its second show due to an administration unhappy with the invited talent), and pumped gas for two years to raise enough money to purchase his own drum machine.
He acquired the SP-1200 in 1993, learned some tricks from his pal, Kevin Beachum (the then well-known WNUR DJ, now of the Rhymesayers crew), and the work came rolling in. "I was in High School, taking my mom's car down to the South Side of Chicago, doing beats for dudes who just wanted to rap and make songs we could play on the radio," Jel recalls. "It was pretty exciting back then. That was before I knew the [music] industry was an evil, evil industry...Thinking back, it was such a good time."
Despite a stint in art school studying sound engineering, Jel dismisses his training as a largely useless undertaking. "I kind of figured I could figure that shit out on my own and not worry about trying to get some kind of shitty engineering job at some studio where I'm going to be recording local rock bands and shit," he shrugs.