L. Jordan and DJ Prime team up, reestablish a groove on ‘Game 6’

The DJ and rapper recently joined for a new album, which Jordan described as a needed first step in overcoming the grief brought on by the death of his mother.
DJ Prime (left) and L. Jordan
DJ Prime (left) and L. JordanCourtesy the artists

When L. Jordan’s mother died in August 2021, the rapper struggled to find the words for one of the first times in his life. Long a lover of language, Jordan said he couldn’t collect his thoughts when it came time to deliver the eulogy at her funeral, writing in a recent Facebook post that he “rambled some … words but nothing near the level I thought I was capable of for the person who should’ve got my best.”

This feeling of disconnect lingered for more than a year after the funeral, a time in which Jordan, overcome with grief, gave little consideration to again taking up music.

“A couple of months after my first project dropped, my uncle passed and then my grandpa and then my mom,” Jordan said. “And after that I checked out, and I was going through some things mentally, emotionally, trying to get back into it.”

A turning point arrived when Jordan connected with longtime Columbus producer DJ Prime, who described himself as an admirer of Jordan’s more conversational flow. The two struck up a bond, with Prime sending Jordan a series of 1990s-evoking beats, which helped the rapper begin to reconnect with the sounds that helped him fall in love with the form as a younger man. 

The two first collaborated on the silky “U Know (The Most Interesting Man),” on which Jordan announces his return, rapping, “Fresh off my hiatus, I’m back in effect.”

But while the moment suggests a breezy confidence, the rapper said he was initially uncertain of his vocal take, and it took him a while to begin to feel as though he might be able to again establish his footing. “It was the first time in more than a year I had recorded, and I still wasn’t sure,” said Jordan, who joined DJ Prime for a recent interview, the two discussing their new album, Game 6, released in mid-August. “So, when I first listened back to it, I was like, naw, I can do better. But [Prime] loved it. My brother loved it. Everybody loved it.”

Rather than delving into his lingering struggles with grief and depression, Jordan embraced the music he recorded alongside Prime as an escape, leaning into general shit-talking, boasting of his ample skill set and making pronouncements of his overdue return. “It’s been long enough!” he spits on “The Shoot Around,” which introduces the album’s sports-driven theme, Prime comparing the collaboration to watching a pair of greats leading their team to game six victory in a close encounter of the athletic kind. “Every song, it’s like you’re getting courtside seats,” Prime said, and laughed.

“I wasn’t as comfortable, yet, rapping about some of those heavier topics and exposing those vulnerabilities. But I knew I could rap words, so it was like, let me start there,” Jordan said. “It was a way for me to regain that confidence, and it was a reminder to me I can rap. And those beats got me back to the essence of what I fell in love with, and why I wanted to rap, and the dreams I had of doing this.”

Both Prime and Jordan attributed current pursuits in part to their upbringings. Jordan’s father was a preacher, and both of his parents were gifted orators with strong command of language and a natural sense of showmanship – traits he displayed once he picked up the mic to begin rapping. Prime, in turn, started DJing at age 11, later crafting his first beats on a drum machine early in high school.

“Then I learned how to record on reel-to-reel tape, and I had a four-track, and me and my group would record in my [college] dorm room, and we opened up for X-Clan,” said Prime, who settled in Columbus in the early ’90s, immersing himself in the evolving local rap scene. “And there, I found out about the Groove Shack and the Hip-Hop Expo, and then Blueprint and J. Rawls. And I’m meeting everybody, like, aw, man, it’s alive and thriving here. Copywrite and Camu came to my house and recorded on four-track. Then I met Rashad. I’ve been doing it a long time and I love it.”

This sense of history reverberates throughout Game 6, present both in Prime’s throwback beats – check the DJ's vintage record-scratching on “S.C.O.T.T.” – and in Jordan’s playful, reclaiming-his-groove delivery.

“You know what they say about shooters, where they just have to shoot their way out of their slump. I had to write myself out of my slump,” Jordan said. “So, this was step one. And I still don’t know what step two will be. But it will come to me, whatever it is.”

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