When it comes to making music, Jay Pluss likes to keep a tight circle of folks he’s comfortable with. In that sense, it’s a good thing he grew up with some of the most talented people in Charlotte’s rap scene.
Jay Pluss, whose real name is Joshua Hosch, attended J.M. Alexander Middle School from 2005 to 2008. It was there that he met Jah-Monte Ogbon, known by most as simply Jah-Monte, the renowned rapper formerly known as King Callis. Pluss also had a classmate in Ismael Abdallah, who would go on to become Charlotte rapper/producer Brio, and his friend Darien would grow up to be local video director Dark Master.
Though he would grow apart from them during his time in high school as he began to take rapping more seriously, all three would eventually become collaborators with him a decade after middle school.
Brio got a front seat to the evolution of Jay Pluss, as the two went from J.M. Alexander to Mallard Creek High School together.
“We grew to be fond of music, fashion and our eyes for things unique and different within our peers,” Brio says. “So when it was the right time to finally link and create music in the future it clicked so well because of our respective perspectives and insights.”
The two would later record “On One,” which dropped late last year. The track features Brio’s signature slow, bass-heavy sound behind two verses of Jay Pluss at his most hyper, flipping between fast and slow styles as he rides the beat melodically.
“He always has a real dope way of creating these stories within his own experiences and being into a form that’s very physical to the listener, something I admire a lot,” Brio says. “The track we made was a beautiful manifestation of that essence; one that came natural and explained exactly where we were. I’m looking forward to making more magic like that.”
There’s plenty more magic coming from Jay Pluss on More of Everything, a new mixtape that he dropped today and you can listen to below.
Though Pluss has dropped plenty of singles, or “loosies” as he calls them, and even a separate project that he recently took down because it was comprised of verses over stolen beats, More of Everything is for all intents and purposes his debut — the first project that’s fully his.
It’s meant as a placeholder, a sampling of seven tracks he’s recorded over the past year to serve as an appetizer for the folks who are impatient to hear his latest recordings.
“It was more of a response to people asking me, ‘Yo, when are you going to put some more stuff out? I don’t see you out here working,’” he says. “So it was literally a response. Every song that came out of that was me saying, ‘Here’s more content for y’all.’ So that’s the end goal, but that’s not the end of it, because I got so much more work behind it. It was just to prepare people like, ‘Yo, I’m still here.’”
When I meet him at Be Social, the new creative incubator behind Social Status in Plaza Midwood, on a recent afternoon, he’s already there chatting with some folks from his circle: Dark Master and local arts advocate Mariah Scott. As we chat, Charlotte soul singer Autumn Rainwater shows up after a shift at the nearby Buffalo Exchange.
For Pluss, the opening of Be Social in February was a sign of the growth in Charlotte’s creative community, especially among black creatives and in the local hip-hop scene, which has long been shut out of many of Charlotte’s most popular venues.
“Be Social is here; I think that’s a really big step because before we were just having conversations about, ‘Man, we need a venue,’ or, ‘There’s no way we can get in these venues to do what we wanna do,’” Pluss says. “There are way more artists out here now because people see that people are connecting to these artists so they want to express themselves too, which is a beautiful thing.”
Pluss has been growing right along with the scene, building his circle by connecting with artists in Virginia, Washington D.C. and New York City. This newfound love for networking outside of his city came from Jah-Monte, he says, who is now his roommate.
Pluss says he’s watched as Jah-Monte has kept his local circle tight while expanding beyond the city limits through social media.
“Jah-Monte was like the first person to break through the social media thing out of the state, then people started to notice me and it just revolved,” Pluss says. “He’s a big inspiration. So I’ve been watching him and how he moves and it’s more about connecting with people out of the state, so when we do go out of state we have those connections and we can perform and make connections elsewhere.”
Though they lost touch after middle school, when Pluss and Jah-Monte reconnected in 2013, things clicked pretty quickly. Their first day hanging out, they recorded eight songs together that they never released. I tell him Charlotte needs to hear those files, but he doesn’t know where they are. He’s more interested in getting back in the studio to record new music with Jah-Monte, who featured Jay Pluss on his newest project, God Body & Soul, earlier this year.
The two have similar styles that mesh perfectly, attacking each beat with ferocious energy and lyrics that ride a line between conscious rap and realism.
The Pluss in Jay Pluss’s name comes from his tendency to keep things positive, which is ironic considering he first took up writing raps because he was in trouble so often in middle school that he could rarely go outside or watch TV.
“I always spoke a lot of positive things in my rhymes,” he says. “There was a time when I wasn’t even cussing in my rhymes, I had no curse words at all. Jah-Monte pointed that out and after that I started to think about it, I just wanted to be more realistic. I still wanted to keep it on the positive tip, but be more real about it. So if I’m cussing, it just is what it is, but at the end of the day, most of these songs will have a positive message to it.”
The first part of his name comes from his biggest inspiration, the late producer J Dilla, whose style motivated Pluss.
“When I found out about J Dilla, that’s when my whole style of writing changed. I wasn’t rapping on the same beats or anything, it was all boom bap and soul music from there,” he says. “He’s got a big part to do with my name, too. I didn’t want to be cliché and call myself Jay Pluss — everybody had the Jay on their name — but Jay actually came from J Dilla.”
Though Pluss does not produce songs, he likes to be in the studio with whichever producer he’s working with so he can make sure he feels the beat and knows where it’s going.
He says he’s stopped collaborating over computers ever since buying a beat from an out-of-state producer that was nothing like what he asked for.
“I don’t do much sending it through email anymore, because it just takes away from the feeling,” he says. “So anyone from [local producer] FLLS to Brio, we are in the studio cooking it up. Like, he might bring [a beat] in from yesterday that he made and then finish it in there, but for the most part, I’m in the studio with him, I’ve got to feel it.”
In fact, Jay Pluss has been already been in the studio with FLLS working on his next project, a collaborative EP featuring exclusively FLLS production.
He says moving forward he’d like to do more collaborative projects with just one producer, so as to build a certain vibe rather than the smattering of songs featured on More of Everything.
“It’s like FLLS know me,” Pluss says. “He been watching me and he knows what I’m supposed to sound like. So everything is just perfect on this one, I feel like.”
As with More of Everything, his in-the-works project will feature a bunch of shortened songs, sometimes only featuring one verse with nothing else, so as to serve as just a sampling of the skills he’s been slowly building on since middle school.
“I want to knock out a bunch of small joints before I move into giving people full-length songs and choruses, bridges and all this other stuff. I want people to tap in first,” he says. “And I want them to be like, ‘I gotta hear that again, run that back.’ That’s the reaction I want.”
You’ve got to leave them wanting more — more of everything.