We had the good fortune of connecting with J. Ross Parrelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi J. Ross, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I used to watch Tupac documentaries and I remember the narrator in his deep voice saying something to the degree that, there were times Pac didn’t eat. He just didn’t think about it. This is the true creator’s mind. Pac has always been a creator of space, culture, music, vibes, and politics. When the moment captures you and the only thing that matters is not matter at all. Where we truly believe that we can make anything happen, no matter what. That failing is not an option and success is not defined by how many times we fail, but how many times we achieve our purpose and goals. When you are in Flow Theory it’s just you and creativity in the moment. It’s as if the Ultimate Creator just plants the perfect thought patterns for magic to happen. This was the process behind starting my own business.
I know What I love to do and that’s music, education, youth, advocacy, equity, arts, healing, community, and love. This is what I am good at. My parents sacrificed everything to migrate North and build a way of life in my hometown so that I can do the things that I love. Appreciation and acknowledgment have always been a part of my thought process. I had opportunities to figure out what I loved to do at a young age. I am also a firm believer that the more we train for something the better we are going to be. I always found jobs that empowered my skills and passions. I’ve been a Karaoki DJ (Love singing), I’ve sold elegant art at Costco (travel the US), Backup singer for Reggae artists (International Tours), and so much more. I do what I love and I find a way to get paid to do it. That is how I found my calling to be an Artist Teacher. I now own and operate Beats Lyrics Leaders, where we teach the Art of Business, Culture, Dreams, and Entrepreneurship on the Reservations, in Juvenile Hall, and Youth Military Academy Basis. Using Hip Hop Education as our platform, and working with some of the greatest Masters in Hip Hop to this date.
My business stemmed from a passion and not allowing failure to define me. I started from a starving artist in LA to winning Emcee Battles in the Bronx and now being a partner in a full audio and video production studio, the kind I use to dream about recording in. My thought process has always been “I have to do this. This is my dream. No one is going to get to this dream but me”. I am a big visualizer, so I would envision my mission and vision statement until it became the very essence of my daily life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My passion for Hip Hop stemmed from Slam Poetry. It was my college years when I realized words spell. I mean deeper than Spelling Bees, we breathe life into our words when we manifest them into existence. Words backed by intent and feeling, manifest life. Our Long beach State Slam Poetry Team, traveled and competed on a College level we won some and lost some. Once I graduated college all my financial aid stopped, and I found myself starving on my homegirl’s couch (shout out to Dinah Diamonds). One day, I found myself in Compton and noticed an Emcee Battle poster. I realized if I could put 3 min poems together in complete silence, I can rap over a beat with rhythm. Plus, I could always sing, that was my specialty. I entered and walked out with $250 that night. That is when I knew I could do anything as long as I could breathe through my fear and embrace my confidence (which translated to practice and know my shit).
Within the next couple of months, I moved to New York to start working with some of the Refugee Camp in Jersey. This is the beginning of the year that forever changed me. I played with some of the most brilliant names in the industry from Anderson Paak to John Legend and the Marley Brothers, entered in Emcee battles from the Bronx to Queens with DJ Kay Slay and Hot 97, and eventually signed to Universal Records, where I toured as the Host for the Van’s Warped Tour.
I soon learned that the Industry was straining the passion and love I had for music and thus I changed careers. Although I am still signed to Universal, I started a non-profit, Beats Lyrics Leaders, moved back to NorCal, and proceeded to enter the world of Hip Hop Education. After touring with some of Wu-Tang, KRS-One, Marley brothers, and others going to Nigera, Russia, London, Hawaii, Oaxaca, Thailand, and soo many places, I realized that I can define my own success and that being signed to a major label doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t make us happy.
To this day I tour performing at theaters with an incredible Brass Band BTUArts. I travel the globe teaching through Beats Lyrics leaders with some amazing musical mentors. I speak at youth programs and Teaching Conferences all over the globe building on community, culture, art, and culturally responsive teaching. I work with some incredible artists at Innervoice Media Creative WonderLab. I serve on the Board of Education as a Trustee, influencing music and art programs in the schools. Everything I do revolves around my love for music.
J Ross Parrelli is what it would sound like if Joss Stone had been raised in the same duplex as Notorious B.I.G. Signed to Universal Records, J Ross Parrelli’s repertoire includes rap battles and festival stages from the Bronx to the Bay. Sultry songstress turned community cultivator, Parrelli has spoken and performed at youth leadership conferences all over the globe. Her interest in education reform led her to co-found Beats, Lyrics, Leaders through which she is developing Hip Hop based curriculum now being piloted in schools, foster youth programs, and native reservations.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Wow, this is a trick question because I could be anywhere with my best friend!!! The perfect vacation entails that I don’t have to plan anything. really it could just be laying in bed and catching up on things in between hiking, green juice, vegetarian food, and really good live music.
Our next vacations include NOLA, Daygo (Diego), LBC, Portland, Spain, Greece Hawaii, and lots of day trips to the Bay and Tahoe (since we are right in between).
Anywhere we can eat good, I want to be.
Oaxaca was our recent vacation, where my son and I jumped in bio-luminous waters, let baby sea turtles go on the white beaches, explored Montè Alban and Mitla, and swam the beaches. I like an equal level of chill and activity.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to shout out to my parents. My parentals are the shit. I am a single mom, on the tip end of my Master’s Degree, School Board Trustee, Teaching Artist in the schools, volunteer numerous hours to committees, Musician/performer, Studio owner, building a new business, and owner of a non-profit- I couldn’t do any of this without my parents by my side. My parents are co-parents to my greatest accomplishment, which is my child, whom I would also shout. My son is dope. As I work towards providing a better future and mobilize a community for him to grow up in, he patiently deals with the “hold-ons,” and “one-more minute”, my exhausted evenings, and tired patience. He is my light and purpose to be a good human in this world. He is the reason I serve. To see the relationship between Grandparents and grandchildren is everything. My son and my father are best friends and really brighten each other’s day. It is a blessing to know what love looks like, feels like, and acts like.