The music video for rapper J Staxx’s “My Hoverboard” has spread around campus faster than news of free breakfast in the Bowl could. While it has been met with ample criticism, there’s more to this self-balancing scooter lover than students might realize.
Seated in a busy coffee shop on a sunny afternoon, I was needlessly worried that I’d miss J Staxx if he entered while I wasn’t scanning the door. Right on time, however, a figure glided into view: tattooed, sleeveless despite the freezing temperatures outside and riding his hoverboard so naturally it was as if he was born with it attached to his feet.
J Staxx, while a fourth-year commerce major in Edwards School of Business, is first and foremost a rapper. He immediately expressed a desire to work on music full time after graduating.
Completing his degree holds special significance though, marking a turning point in the artist’s life. J Staxx began his university career at California State University, closer to where he was
born and raised in Riverside, Calif. Quitting after two years of classes, he struggled with a drug addiction before deciding the solution was to move to Saskatoon.
“I had a near death experience and I realized I had to get out of there. I booked a one-way ticket out here, where I have family and I got off heroin cold turkey and ended up getting back into university,” J Staxx said.
“My Hoverboard” came about after J Staxx observed the personal transportation devices becoming a growing trend in hip-hop, but the video might not be entirely indicative of his true talent. He mentions that the entire song took about 15 minutes to write on the spot while recording and that the repetitive lyrics were to clearly get the point across.
“Before I even recorded the song, I already had the video shoot lined up because I knew this was going to be something that could be very big. I wanted to get everything together as quick as possible before something could happen or someone else could make something along the same idea,” he said.
J Staxx is optimistic about the future of his work moving forward, remarking that “My Hoverboard” is to be his fresh start. He has been rapping since his California days, but doesn’t have much of that work available to check out now, save for a collaboration with American rapper Lil Wyte in 2013.
“I want people to be able to see me from now and see how I build on this,” J Staxx said.
“My Hoverboard” is no doubt outrageous, but also somewhat brilliant. The song is comparable to the shock value of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” music video, released in 2013, which gained great popularity by being, well, kind of hard to watch. For “My Hoverboard,” J Staxx simply took advantage of something certainly relevant in today’s popular culture — hoverboards — and presented them in an attention-grabbing way.
The video has reached nearly 500,000 views on YouTube and J Staxx has been featured in the Vice Media music blog Noisey. He’s also received positive feedback from the likes of Kenny Hotz — co-creator of the Canadian television favourite Kenny vs. Spenny — and We the Best Music Group, the record label founded by none other than the snapchat wisdom-giver DJ Khaled.
The video has even snagged J Staxx a hoverboard endorsement deal.
“I’m actually endorsed by the company. You can go on their website, trekboard.com. At checkout, put in the discount code JSTAXX and you get a discount, plus you get a free carrying bag,” J Staxx said. “For each hoverboard sold under that too I get a royalty, so I’m definitely not fishing money out of cereal bowls or borrowing hoverboards.”
Despite online criticism for the video, J Staxx comments that even negative responses can help boost his work’s popularity.
“Almost any publicity is good publicity. I mean you can get publicity for being a murderer and that’s not a good thing, but if you can do something that doesn’t cause harm to people and you’re not hurting anything or doing anything illegal and you can get a reaction and you can get people talking, that’s good,” he said.
So, love it or hate it, the video is getting exactly the response it was intended to — people are certainly talking.