Although Jac Ross was an exceptional basketball player with multiple scholarship offers, he sacrificed them all to pursue his true passion for music. Even when his child was born with a paralyzed arm and his family got evicted, Ross' faith and unwavering trust were what carried him forward. Now in 2020, Ross is starting off the new decade with an exceptional debut single, "It's Ok To Be Black."
Although "It's Ok To Be Black" was originally written for his young daughter, this anthem is most definitely something everyone needs to hear. "It's Ok To Be Black" sheds a necessary light on the strong black community in a time of such hostility and ignorance. Most importantly, Ross is unapologetic as his silky smooth vocals share a message of love and pride.
On "It's Ok To Be Black," Jac Ross exclusively shared with us,
"'It's Ok To Be Black' is an open letter to my daughter. It's a celebration of perseverance and success. It's my remedy to people to be comfortable in your skin… and it's a reminder that even the strongest black Queens and Kings need a theme song against the haters."
To celebrate his thrilling debut, we recently chatted with Jac Ross about his musical upbringing, black pride, and of course, "It's Ok To Be Black."
Ones To Watch: How did you first get into music?
Jac Ross: Music has always been a part of my life. Since I was a child, I would walk around the house drumming with my mother's combs and brushes, banging against pots and pans or anything I could find. Once I got older, I began to intensely study different artists and what they stood for.
With this being your debut single, people will make their first impression of you based on this track alone. Why did you go with "It's Ok To Be Black?" to introduce yourself?
I chose "It's Ok To Be Black" as my first single because it's something that everyone needs to hear. Whether you're a person of color or not, especially today, it's important we speak about the beauty in our culture and the value of what we add to the world every day. Not only that, it's a song that uplifts and unites all people to be who you are. I'm passionate about people and telling their stories through my music. That includes saying things that make people uncomfortable, being unapologetic and shining light in spaces that need it.
What really pushed you to write "It's Ok To Be Black?"
My daughter was one of my main inspirations when I was writing this song. She has the most beautiful brown skin ever. I thought to myself, if I could leave one song to my baby, what would it be and how do I want her to feel. I tried to convey to her in this song that she is perfect in every way including her skin.
Can you describe your creative process for "It's Ok To Be Black?"
The creative process for this song was so fun! It was in the beginning of working with Rodney Jerkins and finding our groove musically. Rodney sent me his idea over a voice note and we went from there. It was a surreal experience watching a legend in music create this song with me. That process, and specifically this song, will always be special to me for so many reasons.
Whether they be negative comments about Blue Ivy, Ari Lennox, or Teyana Taylor, what do you have to say about the situation?
The identities of people of color are constantly challenged every single day. The comments made about Blue Ivy, Ari Lennox and Teyana Taylor are just few examples of the type of mental abuse that black women deal with at an unprecedented rate. To be challenged about everything from your hair to your body, the cultural appropriation of your being and an aggressive attack on your identity daily - is more than many people could ever deal with. I appreciate them all for not letting the haters get to them; it inspires me to keep going. That's why this song is so important. We have to fight for people to hear truth as loud as they hear hate.
How did you come to terms with your identity?
I was fortunate to have parents that nurtured me from an early age. Hearing reminders of how handsome I was or how smart I was helped to groom me to become a confident individual. That positive reinforcement made the opinions of others not as important to defining the person I'd become. With all that said, it's something I have to work on every day. It's also a gift I try to give freely to people who haven't always had that same love I've been blessed to receive.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the industry, who would you pick?
I love H.E.R.! She makes music that speaks to people's hearts. Her music feels good and it's uplifting and speaks truth. I'm a fan of her as a musician and how she recreates herself continues to impress me. On the rap side I'd have to say a Kendrick Lamar "It's Ok To Be Black" remix would be out of this world! But I also really love Chance The Rapper.
Who are your Ones To Watch?
The only artist I've been watching is Baby Rose. Her voice is moving and the texture of the art she creates is timeless.