Mars Jackson

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Pittsburgh, Pa

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Arrogance is a standard thing in hip-hop, but it’s very rare for it to be endearing. Mars Jackson pulls this off, but beyond the music it’s evident he’s a humble dude. “My family is from NYC but my nana was born in Pittsburgh, which we relocated to when I was 4 years old,” he tells us. “Pittsburgh has a decent culture of hip-hop music with hood legends like Mel Man, and you’ve also got Wiz and Mac who put on for our city.” He doesn’t exactly come from a place foreign to hip-hop, but his influences reside outside his scene.

He says that his influences range from Kanye and Daft Punk, and all the way to Jimmy Eat World. It’s unorthodox, but he isn’t just repeating what his influences have already done. His sound is inspired by the past as much as it is the present, and with Unemployed Faith it really shows. The nostalgia is present, but it’s not the main attraction — there’s no dependence on older sounds, but they’re present to provide a sense of comfort amongst the cocksure swagger.

Learning the violin and singing in church choirs played an important role in his appreciation of different musical styles growing up, and by the time he reached Slippery Rock University, he began thinking of music as a career.

After a difficult 2015 in which he faced family problems and a frustrating stretch of joblessness, Jackson began work on Unemployed Faith. It’s a chronicle of a rough patch — personal, local and relatable. It’s also the logical next step to follow his early singles while bringing his fans something new and unexpected.