The feeling you get when you realize you have fallen in love with
something you cannot separate yourself from, no matter what your friends or
family tell you, you know how you feel.
That's called a jones.
That jones could kill you, or it could mold you into one of the most-sought-after
hip-hop/rap producers in West Palm Beach.
For Andrew Penn, 25, better-known as Muzik Jones Drew, the jones drove him to play drums for True Tabernacle of Jesus from the age of 8 until he was 15. Penn doesn't remember or understand the reason for the abrupt change of no longer attending the church, but he remembers the drums being replaced by another tool.
"Next thing you know, my brother hands me a beat program," said Penn. "I loaded that thing up on the computer, and all of a sudden, I'm teaching myself to make beats."
Penn worked with the program Reason 2.0 given to him by his older brother and played with it for hours each day, crafting his skills, even if it annoyed his family.
"There would be nights I'm like up till 3, 4 in the morning with headphones on, because after 12, I'm getting yelled at," said Penn. "Everyone is telling me to turn the music down and stuff like that. I'm just in my dad's office producing till I'm tired."
His beats would eventually be used by his younger brother, Dexter, an aspiring rapper.
"My first beat I made probably would've never got used," said Penn. "I would've still been some dude in his parent's office just pumping out tracks for nothing."
But in 2007, Dexter was sentenced to six years in prison for kidnapping. The arrest would become the reason for making the transition of music being a hobby into a future livelihood.
While trying to manage a full-time job as an audiovisual technician, Penn was able to drop his first mixtape, Ghetto Harmoniz'n, in January 2010, followed by Kloud Life, a joint mixtape with fellow West Palm Beach rapper 1Hot.
The two had known each other since 2005, but under different circumstances.
"Crazy thing about that is that Dexter, who rapped, and Hot had their own two cliques that used to beef with each other," said Penn.
Penn says 1Hot approached him about working together after recognizing the quality of music he and his brother were creating and has since recorded 1Hot's last ten mixtapes, including his most recent, Road 2 Fame: The Rodney Nino Brown Story.
In late 2010, Penn created Muzik Jones Management Group, a step that followed becoming 1Hot's manager after being asked to by those at Jedstarz Productions and Kloud Clothing.
But the decision to take on the role would mean setting aside future plans and taking a chance at being responsible for an up-and-comer.
"I had to think about it because I'm a pretty busy dude," said Penn. "So I'm just like, 'Dang, I can do it. He's actually got it. He's already got a little following and whatnot. Screw it. I'll put the production aside and take on that.'"
Penn says he's learning on the job by filtering unnecessary challenges and taking on important tasks. But no experience is more memorable than a poorly planned seven-day trip to Los Angeles during the NBA All-Star week during February of last year to promote 1Hot and Kloud Clothing.
Those planning to make the trip needed to wait for upcoming paychecks to pay for their tickets. 1Hot, being one of those going, nearly missed the opportunity but was able to make it on a separate flight the same day.
With one obstacle out of the way, the bigger problem presented itself once arriving in L.A.
"We get to the airport at like 3 a.m. Eastern, and we don't even know what to do next," said Penn. "We don't even get a hotel room yet. We don't even have a rental to drive around in. It just blew up into a big argument. We were stranded in L.A. only for a good ten hours maybe."
The next day, the group walked in search of a car rental company. What they found was a 15-passenger van. They stuffed the back with Kloud Clothing and CDs. They also stuffed their luggage in the compact hotel rooms they dug up.
Though Penn doesn't remember the name of the hotel, he remembers the necessity for making such a trip.
"It was just something we had to do," said Penn. "We had to do something nobody else from where we were from was doing. We wanted to look like somebody. We wanted to be like somebody. We wanted to be better than all the stereotypes about our county."
The consistency of quality material and grind over the past few years has undoubtedly made him a staple and a go-to figure in the West Palm Beach music scene, working with local artists such as D Smoove, up-and-comer Will Brennan, and West Palm Beach veteran Erick Biddines.
While putting together a cypher with Jedstarz, Penn was made aware of newcomer Rook during the Palm Beach Hip-Hop Awards polling after Rooks' numbers skyrocketed out of nowhere. Still not complete, Penn enlisted fellow newcomer Makiin. He attended school with her brother.
Along with J-20, 1Hot, and Paper Chasing Committee member Van Dam, the Jedstarz Cypher Pt. 2 has received more than 13,000 YouTube views.
Now concentrating on himself, Penn says his untitled second solo mixtape should be released by early summer.
And whether his current path leads him to continue as a manager, performer, beatmaker, or audiovisual technician, he knows music will play the biggest part in his life.
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"It's all about the passion and love we got for it," said Penn. "It's like when you love somebody so much, you got the jones."
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter at @LeeMCastro