One of the most famous Miami Bass artists perhaps you've never heard of is D.J. Jealous J. Having been in the Miami area not just during the height of Electro Funk, or the birth of Miami Bass, but also the subsequent evolution of the sound into its "Intelligent" counterpart, "Techno Bass" music, Jealous J. became a pivotal force producing many classic albums like "Back On Earth" on Dynamix II Records; helping to pave the way for a new generation of bass music that still to this day reflects much of this influence. Influential Bass producer Claudio Barella of Debonaire Records, says of Jealous J. that he: "was as passionate about Miami Bass as i was. We briefly worked together on the same label. Outstanding with turntables & music production. Ambition through the roof!".
Jealous J., or James Scheffer aka "Jim Jonsin" as many in the commercial music industry know him, is really quite an interesting figure. While in many ways a frontman of the Bass music industry, the truth is that he is a bit more like the wizard behind the veil, always busy at work concocting the next mischievous formula of sonic attacks, gaining him a reputation as a solid "go-to" recording engineer not just in the underground, but also the commercial music industry where his work can be found behind some of the most notable releases of recent years by artists like Jamie Foxx, Eminem, Usher, and Beyonce.
His early life as a young D.J. playing at Roller Skating rinks in South Florida would eventually lead him to playing at bigger dance clubs locally, ultimately paving the way towards music production. As long time friend D.J. Jock D. recalls: "Jimbo and I were DJ rivals who became friends. We learned how to produce music together hands-on in studios, and on 808 and SP1200 drum machines. We would often pass tracks back and forth to each other while producing". In 1989, Jealous J. would sign to “Mas-Jam Productions”; parent company to the newly founded imprints “Jam On It”, and most importantly perhaps: “Cut it Up Def Records"; where Jonsin would begin what became an illustrious career that has led him to huge success in the underground music scene.
After releasing on the first self-entitled single on Cut It Up Def in 1989, Jonsin returned later that year featured on Aaron G’s “Get Busy”, as well as his collaboration with Jock D. called “DJ Wars/Party Time”; a classic 12" displaying exactly the kind of energy and passion towards party music that the region has so famously become known for over the years. Unfortunately, this would be the last record on the label for Jonsin, who in 1990 found himself catching the attention of newly founded L.A. based "Heatwave Records", which made its own debut with Jonsin's ""Work That Body" 12", and comprised much of its subsequent catalog on Jealous J. records, as well as that of artists like MC Luscious, Danny D., and DJ Wiz.
The real turning point in Jonsin's career in the underground however, would come in 1994 during the height of old school Techno Bass music, which in the Miami area, was more focused on Car Audio systems and the culture that grew around that for many years in the region. Signing to iconic Dynamix II Records, Jonsin would kick things off with the "Back On Earth" album, followed by the 12" E.P. "Taste The Funk", also appearing on the "Dynamix II Electro Bass compilation Vol. 1" compilation with "We Will Rock You", shortly after assisting with much of the composition and production on the "Merry Bass Christmas" compilation on Dyamix II Records. Jonsin also produced the original version of Get Some Crew's "Get Buck Ass Wild" on this year, released on Hip Rock Records; iconic imprint of Afro-Rican aka Derrick Rahming during the '90s.
For the rest of the '90s, Jonsin's work as Jealous J. continued to appear on countless compilations throughout the country, however his career would take a surprising turn as he would leave an illustrious underground career behind to pursue the commercial music industry...something that has proven to be a worthwhile venture for him, as he has recorded with, and co-produced for some fairly well known names such as Lil' Wayne, Nelly, Beyonce, and many more. While fans of his music in the underground deplore his move as a disappointment, with even his own long-time partner Jock D. mentioning that: "even in the beginning, it was clear he [Jonsin] was looking for more mainstream radio friendly success, while my tastes were more underground", the truth is he has never looked back, and only continues to grow as a well-respected engineer in the music industry.
Over the span of the 2000's, Jonsin also founded the group "Rebel Rock Entertainment", which subsequently launched "Rebel Made" productions (a publishing company), as well as a racing team called Rebel Rock Racing; made up of Jonsin, Bucky Lasek (Pro Skateboarder, X Games Gold Medalist), and Marius Avemarg (Pro German driver). Jonsin was also chosen in 2011 as one of the mentors for the 10th season of American Idol.
While it may be somewhat disappointing that someone of such underground caliber would leave to produce commercial music, the truth is that in his early stages, Jealous J. was without question a formidable force on the decks, and behind the console. His works with Dynamix II Records alone laid the foundation for much of what our music is today, and it is something that cannot be discredited.
Even still, one has to also admire the ambition of someone who has been able to climb the ropes of such a "Cut Throat" industry in ways most of us never could. And while it is true many of us would never choose this path, if it could be done the right way, and with vision in order to actually influence the commercial industry to adapt the ethos of the underground like it once did, perhaps that wouldn't be so bad. It seems to be more about ethics in the end regardless, than just simply the idea that Pop music has to be bad. Earlier times showed us it could be different, and perhaps ultimately this is something at least some may be destined for like Jonsin, hopefully bringing about real change to what has become such a soul-less marketing scheme, influencing the masses in a way that has not proven to be positive in any way, shape or form.
Written by: Santino Fernandez