Jordan Hollywood talks new album 'Only the Paranoid Survive', working with Timbaland, and the music industry [Interview]

Broward County, Florida artist Jordan Hollywood is truly a name worth knowing in the music industry. A songwriter, entrepreneur, label owner, and all-around hustler, Hollywood is a prime example of taking your career into your own hands. The multi-faceted musician started off writing songs for renowned acts like Jason Derulo, while meticulously crafting his own sound through a series of early projects. Branching off after learning everything he could from being in the studio environment, he expanded into production and sound engineering. On the business side of music, he also launched his own label The Wasted Youth with the primary goal of advocating for artists' rights. His work across the industry eventually caught the attention of legendary producer Timbaland, who co-signed him, and then collaborated with him on his recent single "The Ugly Song". Now gearing up to release his new album Only the Paranoid Survive, Hollywood caught up with EARMILK to discuss his beginnings, upcoming music, and dealing with the ups and downs of the music industry. 

Citing the rich, vibrant culture of Broward County, Florida as one of his earliest influences, the area played a large role in shaping Hollywood's unique, refreshing persona and sound. "Our culture in Broward County is kind of uncensored, and you can hear that in the music, its very truthful and honest. It makes the music funny, entertaining, and interesting". Hollywood himself was one of the first artists to rep Broward County in his music with his first full-length release Sorry for This in 2016, alongside the likes of Ace Hood, Kodak Black, and more. "When I first started taking music seriously, every rapper that I've always loved repped their hometown, but where I came from, nobody was repping it early on. Since my first project, I've always wanted to help put Broward County on the map". 

In order to become one of the area's prominent voices, however, Hollywood had to make some substantial sacrifices. Dropping out of high school to pursue music full time, the artist dove headfirst into the studio environment, soaking up as much knowledge as he could and sharpening his skillset. "When I dropped out of school, I just knew I wanted a head start on music, I was just so focused on it from the beginning". The period afterward did not come without its difficulties, however, as is the story for many artists. "For a while, I had to sleep in cars or in the studio. I was using all of my money to invest in my music, and in return I was sacrificing my comfortability. I like to say that you should find a way to feel comfortable being uncomfortable, and if you can master that then you'll appreciate what you have so much more". 

Later on, the sacrifices he made paid off for the hardworking Hollywood when he found his stride as a songwriter, crafting songs for other artists who were more established at the time. "The songwriting started happening organically, being in the studio environment often. It actually started with writing female rappers. They really knew how to hustle, while guys wanted everything for free, they were always willing to pay me to write". While it was never originally his plan to become a songwriter, his buzz grew quickly in Florida, and eventually he penned tracks for household names like Jason Derulo. "I learned a lot from being around Jason Derulo as well as others, like how to approach songwriting from a pop angle. I took the strategy of how they put together pop songs, and put it into the music that I make, whether it's trap music, hip-hop, or whatever else". 


Hollywood's own creative process contains healthy doses of experimentation, as he always tries to keep an open mind. "I spend the first 20 minutes of making a song just trying to figure out pockets that I've never used before. I go in the booth and try to play with my voice and do weird stuff that makes me feel uncomfortable to try for originality". This is evident when listening to tracks like his Timbaland-assisted banger "The Ugly Song", with its refreshing, interesting melodies and smooth flows. Showcasing his keen ear and unique vocal style, "The Ugly Song" is pure ear candy, containing winding, electrifying melodies and rhythms.


Working with a legend like Timbaland on "The Ugly Song" is "like a dream come true" for Hollywood. "He's the goat, he was always so loving and respectful with us, and treated us so well during the whole process. For someone who's a legend to be treating the younger generation like that, he deserves so much props". A re-working of Bubba Sparxxx 2001 hit "Ugly", the song pays homage to the original while bringing in an exciting dose of Hollywood's character-rich style. Accompanied by a vibrant music video directed by Austin McCracken, "The Ugly Song"'s visuals are highly entertaining and refreshingly creative. They depict a variety of off-the-wall situations that keep you anticipating whatever is coming next, including scenes with a horse and brushing his record plaques with a toothbrush. "We were just thinking of a bunch of fun scenarios we can create using a green screen. One of the ideas was getting a horse, but since it was last minute they had to send a guy in a green suit, and I had to walk him on a rope. I was weirded out by it, but they were like "just believe me", and it turned out sick". 

Following this release up with his very latest offering "PLEASURES", a single from his anticipated upcoming album Only the Paranoid Survive, Hollywood's songwriting takes on a more introspective tone as he discusses topics like family, loyalty, and work ethic. Showcasing his diversity as an artist, the sharply crafted, bittersweet melodies on "PLEASURES" are heartfelt and raw. "I don't write a lot, but I freestyle a lot. When I do write, I usually get more personal, and more thought goes into it. I wrote "PLEASURES" in about 30 minutes, and I did the whole thing in one take". The song includes a touching line about relationship with his mother, and how geographical separation prevents them from seeing each other as often anymore. "My Mom lives in Texas and I live in Florida, and we don't get to see each other as much as I'd like. After she heard "PLEASURES" she called me and was crying on the phone because she heard the line in the song". 

Coming soon, Hollywood's album Only the Paranoid Survive is a product of hard work, focus, and dedication. "I think this is a project where you can really hear the time that was put into it, there are certain songs that you hear and just think "damn this guy must've busted his ass on this record"". He is an artist who is meticulous with his process, making sure every little detail fits the bigger picture. "I spend tons of time on post-production, mixing and mastering, and even my adlibs. Everything is very strategically placed". Produced by his close collaborator SkipOnDaBeat, this album is set to help continue to tell Hollywood's story and provide a clear picture of his diverse skill-set.

Recently, Hollywood has become more transparent on his experiences within the music industry, detailing some of its highs and lows. His breadth of experience in music has allowed him to confront both the good, the bad, and the ugly in the business. "I always try to respect people I work with, so I've never taken credit for any of my accomplishments behind the scenes in the past. But sometimes it sucks hearing songs that you were a part of, and no one has any idea that you played a big role in that song". With all of the mileage he has put in as a songwriter and on the business side over the years, Hollywood notes some of the complications and difficulties that are intrinsically tied to this type of work. "You can change somebody's life, but when need them, they won't necessarily help you at all. Some won't even thank you. However, those that do treat me respectfully they become like brothers in music, like family. But besides that, this industry is very shady". 

Label-wise, Hollywood says he is lucky to have a great situation. Signed to renowned label Quality Control and also working with his own imprint The Wasted Youth, the artist maintains full autonomy over his own career, and wishes it could be like that for more musicians. "I'm blessed enough to be signed to an amazing label like Quality Control, but I think some of these other labels need to really sit down and re-think the way that they structure deals and treat their artists. These labels won't even call their artists to check in on them and make sure they're feeling okay, even though they make millions of dollars from them". Moreover, with his own imprint The Wasted Youth, he wants to help up-and-coming artists build framework so they aren't taken advantage of. "I started signing people to The Wasted Youth and I wanted to really handle the business the right way, helping to change their lives.". Recognizing a profound lack of morality in parts of the industry, he is one of a small but dedicated group actively working to make positive changes. 

Overall, Jordan Hollywood is a renaissance man in music who has built a lasting career for himself as well as others. Between production, songwriting, and managing a label, he has had an impact in many corners of the industry, expanding his skills and helping other artists with every turn. From humble beginnings in Broward County to working with the legendary Timbaland and becoming label mates with Lil Baby and Migos on Quality Control, he has had a  momentous come-up story. Despite all his success, he maintains an air of selflessness and honesty. "Lots of people are too egotistical to admit that their team is the reason they pay their bills. When it comes to my label Quality Control and the other people on my team, I like to give respect and credit where it's due. More people should do that, I think it would make the industry a better place". It is this concern for others and the betterment of the industry as a whole that really sets him apart from the crop, making him even more worthy of esteem. Learning of the character behind Hollywood's music just adds additional dimensions to his songs, further solidifying him as a voice to keep a close eye on in today's musical landscape. 

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