BY BRIAN KRONOWITZ
Andrew Laury Penn III, better known by his stage name as Muzik Jones Drew, is trying to pursue a career as a solo artist. The 26-year-old has a soulful sound with a feel-good vibe and is compared big time artists such as Pharell, whom he idolizes. With a major album on the horizon Penn’s career looks promising.
His path to a music career began in in Delray Beach, where he spent most of his youth in the church playing drums and singing in the choir. In 2004, Penn attended Full Sail University in Winter Park, where he earned an associate of science degree in recording arts.
After that, he became an engineer and producer for his brother Dexter and hip hop group 1Hot. Now Penn could become the next big R&B sensation on his own. He spoke about his career goals and influences in an interview.
Q: Which artist had the biggest influence on your musical taste? Did growing up in South Florida have any influence on your music career at all?
A: Oh, wow! I’ve always been the type to listen to just about any and everything, any genre. There are quite a few artists I’ve been affected or influenced by someway. I’d say the ones who stand out most, nationally, are Nate Dogg and Earth, Wind & Fire. Locally, I’d say Eric Biddines. I may be more of a fan of his than I am a fellow artist.
Q: Growing up, you played drums and sang for your local choir. What initially pushed you towards the behind-the-scenes type of work?
A: I guess growing up quiet and shy led to me easing my way behind the scenes. It’s easy to blend quietly in the choir. Ha! I never really knew at first how to express myself vocally, so I did it through instruments and writing. I can say having to perform in front of many people all the time helped fix that.
Q: You spent an extensive amount of time being an engineer, manager, writing, and producing for your brother and other local artists. You even called yourself the “Nate Dogg” of Palm BeachCounty. What eventually pushed you toward pursuing a career as a solo artist? Do you prefer the working with 1Hot as a group of sorts? Or do you prefer working on your own?
A: As much as I enjoy working with other artists and being behind the scenes, the thing I’ve denied most is how much I deserve to take a shot at being on the big screen. It took a lot of hearing it from family and friends before finally soaking it up. Up until that point, working with others such as 1Hot has only allowed me to mold myself before I felt I was able to take on the challenges of a full-time artist. I’ve offered my talents to others so much tough it has become a habit more than a deed. I didn’t know how to say “no” and I used to get frustrated when projects and other business didn’t work out how I knew it could. Whenever something failed, I’d curse and tell myself, “That would’ve been done the right way if I had done it myself!” So I began to take matters in my own hands and all of a sudden more things happened just the way I planned it and I got the reward of calling it my own work.
Q: Many fans discovered your music from listening to X102.3. Which social media outlets do you find are best for gaining attention and fans?
A: Facebook is still king. Twitter is second, but there’s nothing like word of mouth. Truthfully, I wasn’t big on sharing my music online until a few years ago. I was afraid of being publicly dissed. My best outlet was always from showing off my work while working in studios.
Q: Your music has a feel-good vibe. You combine singing and rapping to create this style that you call “Funk Rap.” What message are you trying to send? What would you like people to gain?
A: I just want to help people feel good about expressing themselves. No matter how upsetting a situation may sound in my lyrics, I just want people to know I can take the good from it and sing about it. If I can unveil the pros of appreciating the rain, then I’ve done my job.
Q: You have written, produced, and sung on many tracks. You have also worked with indie powerhouse producers Statik Selektah and Termanology. Although your career is just taking off, which experience is most memorable?
A: A business trip to Cali with 1Hot and Kloud: [my] first time ever on a plane, first time on the Pacific Coast and first time hearing someone outside of Florida saying they’d heard of us! Getaways like that are good ways of reminding you how much greater things can get.
Q: If you could work with any artist in the world, dead or alive, who would you work with and why?
Q: You have been working on your current album “Believers” for a good time now. You told X102.3 that this album is very meaningful to you and has a lot of emotion. When do you envision the album finally dropping? What impact do you believe the album will have on your future in music?
A: Linking up with the Van Buren Court has helped me work on my music in a more professional manner. It’s frustrating because I want the world to hear everything I’ve been working on like, right now! Taking this route does force you to be a little more patient, though. The proper marketing and moves must be put in place and even when that happens, the rest is all about the proper timing so I won’t put any premature dates out there. The music is gonna speak for itself, but I think the hard work and risks taken everyday will created a big enough disturbance. There are so many artists here taking more drastic efforts than ever before, and I think that’s all we ever needed, really.
Q: Have you been approached by a record company? What is your opinion on staying independent or eventually signing with a record company?
A: I’ve never been approached by any major labels. You need to be pretty well established before they even take you seriously, and I don’t think I’ve even sold 1,000 songs on iTunes yet. Anyone looking to be signed should simply continue building their following and if you’ve already done that why not start your own label? You’d be making 100 percent of everything! It almost makes no sense anymore to hand over a huge percentage of everything you built yourself to somebody you never see who has little intention of exposing you to the rest of the world.
Q: What are your ultimate goals in music? What would you like to accomplish by the time it’s all said and done?
A: I want longevity. Like how Timbaland is still relevant, I want that. I want a song to love as long as the national anthem and to be able to say I made an important contribution to a universal language. That’s my goal. I’m working on it.
Muzik Jones Drew can be followed on these social media websites: