RIP Legendary Tupac Producer Johnny ‘J’ Jackson

October 3rd was a sad day for fans and supporters of Tupac Shakur’s musical legacy. According to Allhiphop.com, Johnny Jackson, better known as Johnny ‘J,’ committed suicide by jumping from a tier in the LA County Jail, where he was serving time on a DWI charge.

Johnny ‘J’ was an incredible producer and perhaps the single most influential musical contributor to Pac’s catalog. After producing the smash “Knockin Boots” for Candyman back in 1990, he met 2pac and they began cutting records, leading to their first commercial release together, “Pour Out A Little Liquor,” from the Thug Life album, Thug Life Vol. 1 (1994). The next year, while Pac was in jail, Johnny released an under the radar solo LP called I Gotta Be Me, and contributed “Death Around the Corner” to the Me Against The World album.

But it’s really his work on the classic All Eyez On Me that marks his unique sound– groovy slap basses and funky guitar riffs, synthesized drums and melodic synth lines. It was a sound that very much seems to be created amidst Pac’s tireless work ethic, and you can visualize the records he produced coming together while Pac is writing his rhymes on the spot in the studio. They have a very live, organic– but synthesized– feel, and at the time that was a huge break from the production norm, which was still very much about neck snapping drums, and short sampled loops reworked into 4/4 rap beats (even Dr. Dre was still in that zone). Johnny ‘J’ was able to give Pac a much more musically dynamic sound– something more free flowing and improvisational– and it allowed for a string of undeniable hits.

A good example of Johnny’s influence can be heard in the title track, “All Eyez On Me.” Whereas The Trackmasters also flipped Linda Clifford’s “Never Gonna Stop,” for Nas’ “Street Dreams,” their rendition was a straight loop with a drum track. In Johnny’s flip, you can hear him replay the bass line underneath the loop, and his drums are tighter, more compressed, and just all around more “in the pocket.” Such subtle differences, yet Pac’s “All Eyez On Me,” till this day, is the more acclaimed track.

Johnny produced a bunch of other big records off the All Eyez On Me album, like “How Do U Want It,” and “All About U,” and after Pac died in September of ’96, he would be called on repeatedly to rework pre-existing songs for posthumous albums. He also contributed to albums from Nate Dogg (“Crazy, Dangerous”) and Bizzy Bone (“When Thugz Cry”), while continuously supplying Pac’s extended fam, The Outlawz and Big Syke, among others, with tracks.

Still, Johnny ‘J’ never managed to recapture the magic he created with Pac while working with other artists. Perhaps they just lacked the talent and abilities that were bestowed upon one of the greatest voices of our generation. And because of that, Johnny spent the years leading up to his recent death floating beneath the radar, so much so that most people (including myself) didn’t even know he was in jail.

That said, Johnny J’s musical contributions cannot be understated, unappreciated, or misrepresented. Regardless of anything, at many critical junctures in his career, Pac needed hits, and Johnny supplied them in bulk time and again. Hip-Hop owes a debt of gratitude to him.

And so here we are… the irony is kinda crazy…

Pour out a little liquor.

RIP: Johnny ‘J’ Jackson (August 28th 1969– October 3rd, 2008)

  • tensensi

    finally… a blog post that doesn’t bash pac but actually gives the man his due respect as well as one of the magical producers that worked on the legendary album “All Eyez on Me”.

  • Neven

    Maybe he had stocks we all know what the the market can do to people….

  • mr.martin

    Man this dude was so underrated. I always wondered why people didn’t seek him out more after Pac died since his style was so musically advanced, but for some reason that style of production, along with organized noize, just wasnt getting as much work . Let’s not forget his work on the Makaveli Lp which I think is his most accomplished work. I don’t know i just don’t buy the jumping off a tier suicide thing. The west coast rap sites are already saying it could be something else. anyways rest in peace to a legend.

  • niggafrommemphis

    R.I.P.may god have mercy on your soul and thanks for the classic music that will always be bumped as long as music exsists.

  • Vicious Seiger

    Sad to hear but the circumstances don’t make since. He’s in jail for DWI and he jumps off a tier in the jail. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was thrown off. Jail is a horrible place with a lot of horrible people so I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but I can’t see why he would do that. Either way I appreciate his contribution to Hip Hop and I have to admit he really never received the appreciation he deserved. RIP Johnny J, A Unsung West Coast Legend. To his family you have my sympathy.

    • DV8

      co-sign

      unless he was suffering from mental issues I dont see him doing this. I mean he was in The Faboulus Twin Towers Hotel (L.A. County Jail). I really think something else went down and this story is what they decided to tell us. Anyway R.I.P. and codolences to his wife and kids.

      P.S Its weird how he fell under the radar after Pac’s passing.

      • http://aol.com friend

        You are right there are somthing else he was killed jhonny had to much to do still dont give conndolences to his wife ask your self why she neversay anything about it but wait his family will soon come out go to my space.comwhatrealyhppend to jhonny j

  • capcobra

    r.i.p…..how long will they mourn him?

  • OG Matt Herbz

    Fool probably got pushed over the edge for still talking up 2Pac in jail. 10 years later ain’t nobody wanna hear that “If Pac were here” shit no more. A nigga just got pissed and finally shut that producin’ nigga up for good.

    R.I.P. though…lots of those tracks are the jam.

    • TGR121

      FUCK YOU OG MATT HERBZ FAKE ASS BITCH NIGGA

  • d

    RIp Johnny J the world hasnt been the same without You and Pac

  • SupremeLOGIC

    He also did Whatz ya phone #, Picture me rollin,Wonder why they call u bitch,Check out time and Thug passion. I may have missed one. And he didnt do any tracks off the 7 Day Theory,Makaveli album.. That record was mostly no name, lower tier death row producers. Look at the credits. But johnny j did alot of the bootlegs that flooded the streets after Pac died. Last thing the article shoulda mentioned: he was MEXICAN. Made our people proud. RIP

  • http://yahoomail.com blankwayz

    yeah!
    you all know anything that is
    of pac is like a life to me.
    cos pac is a highly rated legend
    thas the reason why i cant seems to
    find any meaning at all in his absense.
    thas why i love any thing thas related
    to him, like jonny and the rest of the
    outlawz.
    2pac never dies!

  • damon

    Wait a minute. You mean to tell me that a guy in his position commit suicide. because of a DUI charge. I don’t think so. personal opinion….

  • LisadaBrat

    the truth hasnt come out about Pacs passing so I dont expect the truth to come out about Johnnys passing either…we had unfinished projects in the works, the reason none of the reports out there make sense is because theyre not accurate. He wouldn’t take his own life, he had too much to live for, the only comfort I find is that J and Pac are together again making music in the skies above…One Love

  • http://yahoo blankwayz

    you all know to me 2PAC is like
    a life!
    i just can’t do without him and his music.
    i got true love for PAC.
    maybe in death we shall get to see and
    hug each other.
    AMARU never dies!

  • http://yahoo blankwayz!

    i believe 2PAC is still alive
    and no matter what some damn back stab….n’ vultures are sayin’about PAC, i still don’t give a fuckkkiiinnnggg damn doubtz abot HIS existence.
    PAC 4ever never dies!

  • He was a great producer. He definitely deserves more recognition for his work. Its sad to hear what happened. Gotta respect the family’s privacy but i hope if there was some foul play involved with his death the bastard gets caught. He had great chemistry with Pac and both were incredible musicians. Wish they were still here.

  • http://www.dynamicproducer.com dynamicwayne

    R.I.P

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    I enjoyed reading your blog! A lot of helpful comments on this website… Continue the best work. Longing for the next post!

  • LELE

    THE LAPD KILLED HIM

  • road

    rip pac rip johnny bet yall makin mad hits in the afterlife

  • http://facebook.com/djsincity djsincity

    Damn thats crazy…I dont belive that shit either. RIP 1 of the greatest and most underated musical geniuses of all time. And by the way, Johnny J worked on alot more 2Pac songs, they just werent released. RIP Johnny J 2Pac Yaki Kafafi #O4L

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  • Xango99

    Everyone who was saying Johnny J was killed or whatever don’t understand how DEVASTATING depression can be. Homey was on his 3rd DWI which is serious business in Cali. LIke you can’t drive no more. A whole gang of very talented artists have committed suicide. Depression comes with musical talent…
    It’s the dark side of all the creativity.
    On another note, it’s too bad that Johnny J was not better know as an example of African-Americans and Latinos working TOGETHER in LA and help squash some of the Gang beefs that plague the city.

    RIP Johnny J.

  • Xango99

    Another thing. Pac is without a doubt my favorite rapper ever. Only Biggie even comes close and that’s because he was a MONSTER at freestylin. But, one thing I always loved about Pac was not just his awesome raps (especially when he got political Black Radical) but also the MUSICALITY of his beats. I didn’t even know who exactly was producing them. I just knew they were the dopest beats in hip-hop. Smooth, Funky, Soulful, Grooves. Way to go Johnny J!!!
    Que viva la raza!!!