By: Ally Brewster
Throughout this pandemic, the artist Jesse Forte, known as Jforte, has continued to do what he has done his whole career since he began making music in 2013: push the boundaries of his music and what he can do as an artist. Jforte is constantly creating and expanding as he has out a new song every week over the course of the pandemic (55+ weeks). Throughout his career he has also founded his business “Young Revolutionary Minds,” hosts the YRM podcast, wrote three books, launching products, and training to become an astronaut, all while giving back to and empowering his community. His song “Make It Happen” is culmination of his drive, story he wants to put out into the world to inspire others. We had the opportunity to ask Jforte about his career and what’s next for the artist:
You stated that making music consistently throughout the pandemic was a goal of yours, and you’ve clearly done that with one song produced each week for 55+ weeks. Where did the idea of weekly songs come from and why was it so important to be weekly?
After writing my third book, “Make It Happen” and listening to “It’s All In Your Head” 200 times, I realized I needed to be consistent and treat my gift like a job. Once I heard Russ express it the way he did, it made sense to me and I tried it out. So far, it’s been going well and getting better! Being able to put out a song weekly keeps me energized to create. I know that people may not listen right then and there, but the music will be there forever and it’s better to start now than later.
What is the production process like when you are making a new song every week? Is it any different than the production of other work you have made?
At first, I had music I wrote to beats that were famous. Then, I shopped around for beats that made sense for the music I was putting out. I would purchase the beats and write music to them. Once I got the hang of it, I started buying more beats, listening, and then sitting down. [I would use] pen and paper [to] writ[e] down my feelings, thoughts, ideas, concepts and purpose. The more I write, the better I get.
Once I get the lyrics down, I start to rehearse them, call up an engineer, and prep for the studio. I generally have at least 5 songs ready to go, just because I like to truly take advantage of the opportunity of using the booth–time is money. Most of my sessions last between 3- 5 hours.
When I write books, I try to write 2-3 pages a day. When I wrote “Fail Forward Through Success,” I would write in Cartel coffee in Tempe every day, and I wouldn’t leave until I pushed out 3 pages. Same thing with “Redemption,” and “Make It Happen” was special because I wrote it during the pandemic.
Being someone as busy as you are, burnout seems inevitable. Have there been weeks where it felt impossible to make a song? Where do you look for inspiration in times where motivation may be lacking?
Whenever my mind becomes too loud, I get rest, meditate, take a break and when I feel better, I take a step forward with whatever the goal is. I’m cool with resting, but I’ll never lay down or give up on what I have intended to accomplish. Sometimes it doesn’t happen instantly, but patience and persistence have been the best lessons and gifts I possess. I have an engine that is going to go, whether I am motivated or would rather rest. That was instilled back at Parkview.
Was music always something you wanted to do, or was it more like a passion that snuck up on you? Who were your biggest inspirations when getting into the music industry?
I was talking to Bow Wow a couple weeks ago on IG live and told him I performed “Basketball” for the talent show. We bumped Pac in the car when I was 3 and I could hear Rakim through the womb when I was being created. That’s just confirmation that I am supposed to be right where I am and that these conversations are blessings from the universe saying “we got you” and to keep going!
I’ve always wanted to be a rapper. My second-grade teacher told me, “No.” Subconsciously, I listened to her for 20 years. Then, this inner me said to fuck her opinion and be happy. I knew I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t pursuing what was in me. That why it’s important to be around people that lift you up and let you dream!
My influences are Jforte and Yé– fun fact: I performed Roses at America’s Got Talent. They liked it but I didn’t make it past the 1st round. [Also,] Drake, Immortal Technique, Uncle Snoop, Meek Mill, Drake, Logic, Doja Cat, Cardi B, Jack Harlow, Bow Wow, Gucci, Rakim, Jay-Z, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliott, Big Pun, 50 cent, Red Man, Method Man, HER, Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, Pharrell, Michale Jackson, Prince, Queen, Tribe Called Quest, Dr. Dre and so, so many more. I just love good music!
It’s apparent that “Make It Happen” is an important, encouraging phrase for you as it is both a song title as well as the title of your third book; where did that phrase come from and what does it mean to you personally?
“Make It Happen” became even more powerful for me once I started to realize that people enjoyed the song and it pumped them up! “Making It Happen” means that regardless of circumstance, we rise to the occasion. That means meeting a deadline, being there for your loved one or just staying committed to the vision you see within yourself.
My goal is to share my truth in a majority of my music. If you listen to what I say in “Make It Happen,” it’s everything I’ve specifically been through. By the way, I write 100% of my lyrics–no ghost writers or floating pens. I thought I should mention that because I take pride in making the music you hear from me.
You’ve pursued many different avenues throughout your life, from music, writing, and hosting podcasts to getting a technical degree in software engineering, college football, becoming an astronaut and even making a biodegradable toothbrush and charcoal toothpaste. What motivates you to explore so many different paths, many of which people choose as a career rather than trying to do it all at once?
I was a D student in elementary school. I bloomed in middle school and started getting A’s and B’s. Then high school hit, and I was a jock. Then college hit, and I did pretty well. I’ve had a chip on my shoulder most of my life, I think it comes from being an underdog, my upbringing, and just realizing I want the best for myself and the people that enter my life. I definitely haven’t taken an easy road, but I know that I rather take a road less travelled and lead the way than to do what’s easy and regret the journey I could have had.
On your podcast “Young Revolutionary Minds” you share and support people’s journeys in reaching their goals. What led you to decide to share these people’s stories as the topic of your podcast?
One of my favorite podcasters, and the reason why I started that, was because of Lewis Howes. He is a big inspiration to me and I love listening to his podcast, you should check it out! Listening to his [podcast], made me realize I have met amazing people around the world and I’d love to share what they are working on! On top of this, I wanted to build relationships with new people, learn from some of the new leaders of the world, and have something to do while I was figuring out who I was.
You’ve been through lots of highs and lows throughout your life. What advice would you give people, whether it be making it in the music industry, or just achieving their personal goals? What have you learned that you’d like to share with people?
Love yourself. Trust that you are someone to adore, and know that your dreams will manifest when you do the work. Secondly, make sure to fight for what you want. When I say fight, I mean relentlessly go after what you desire. If you don’t know, ask questions, preferably from people who have been there or know how to get there. When it comes to music, don’t be afraid to explore different genres. Put your music out, stop waiting for the perfect time. Right now is perfect and will improve! Lastly, create a vision board and look at it every day. Read it out loud, then do something each day that gets you closer. And dream big!
Being in the public eye you make impressions on people and inspire others. You seem to try to always give back to communities and try to have positive energy that you’re putting out into the world. What message or feeling are you trying to put out to the world? Why is it so important for you to have that positive energy you’re exuding?
Being an artist is a privilege and my vision is to inspire 7 billion people around the world through my voice, ways of life and community. I make a lot of music– some deep, some chill, others scary, and some gangster–but the message I’m putting out is, be you. Cuz I’m me, and I do it better than anyone in the world. 😉 Being me, of course.
In 2020 you came up with the ambition goal to release a new song every week, and you have not stopped. How long do you plan to continue that? What’s next for you in 2021?
I’m going to keep putting music out and when I need a break, I’ll rest. I make music because it’s my passion. In 2021, I’m manifesting opportunities to create music with the people I listen to like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Bow Wow, Drake Meek Mill and Russ. I plan on finding ways for more people to listen to my music and to be inspired.