Jang The Goon talks why Spokane is special, gender justice + more

We sat down with Jang The Goon, formerly known as Jango, last month at Treefort Music Fest to learn more about the self proclaimed, “King of the 9.” Spokane, Washington is known for its many wineries or the world’s largest basketball tournament, Hoopfest — depending on who you ask. Now, Jang is putting Spokane on the map with his unique textured voice, lyrical flow and distinct hip hop and punk rock fusion in both his stage presence and his music. Check out the interview below to learn more about what makes Spokane special and men’s role in the fight for gender justice, according to Jang as well as upcoming music and more!

RIZE: Your family was military so you traveled and lived in several other places before settling in Spokane which you rep hard now. What do you think makes Spokane special?

Jang The Goon: I never really got to sink my feet into a place. Wherever my family was I just identified as home but I got the opportunity in Spokane to actually garner some emotional ties and build some roots. I have to hold it to my heart. So many memories, so many moments, so many life lessons were learned [in Spokane].

It’s a place where we haven’t really had the opportunity of someone really doing it. We don’t have many examples of people of color doing it, so there’s this huge opportunity. There’s a lot of support. People get behind someone who’s taking it seriously. Whereas in Seattle, you have so many people doing it so you might overlook them. 

It’s cool being in Spokane, because we’re like the cousins to the bigger markets. We’re the cousins to Seattle. We’re the cousins to Portland. We’re the cousins of Boise. 

We get the opportunity to live at a cost that allows me to be a full time artist and still compete without having to drain my budget. I can mentally pay attention to what’s going on. I can mentally focus on networking and not get distracted, not miss the little things. Because you can be really great but you missed this opportunity because you didn’t see because you’re so stressed about bills.

Photo by Luna Reyna

RIZE: You focused more on poetry before pursuing music. What drew you to writing poetry? Is the voice you write your lyrics in different than when you write poetry? 

Jang: My mother sang RnB to me when I was a child. Not just RnB but more of a slow tempo RnB. To me it comes off like spoken word, it comes off like poetry. I found a love for that and I was looking for more things in that niche. I found that in poetry. I used to go to events where they would speak and I was like, “This is amazing. I want to do that. I want to feel that way.” And the second part was I couldn’t sing so this sounds cool.

RIZE: So is the voice you write your lyrics in different than when you write poetry? 

Jang: Yeah, it is because the music that I make now is a reflection of a different piece of me. It’s heavy energy, I call it controlled chaos. With poetry, I’m a romantic. The poetry I write, I’m writing about the girl that hurt me, or I’m writing about the girl I just fell in love with but I never got to express that to her. So I’m writing out my feelings. Pouring my heart out so it’s definitely a lot softer and a lot more passionate. I used to share poetry, but now I just keep it to myself. My brand is so different.

Photo by Luna Reyna

RIZE: Last year you tweeted, “PRO – CHOICE && PRO MEN NOT TELLING WOMAN WHAT THEY CAN & CANNOT DO WITH THEIR BODIES PERIOD.” Thank you. What responsibility do you feel men have in the fight for gender justice?

Jang: [Men] structured men above women. It’s now our responsibility to give that back, to give that respect back to women and to make sure they feel equal, you know what I mean? It can’t be just [women] saying it. Men have to recognize and be like, “You know what, I’m going to put myself on the line.” We have a huge responsibility as far as making sure women are empowered.

I find it difficult that men even have the nerve to say what can and cannot happen to a [woman’s] body. 

RIZE: Now for the serious question, how is your face not melting with that mask on while you’re performing? 

Jang: [Laughs] If I’m not sweating on this stage, I didn’t do the people who booked me justice. I work hard. My cardio is crazy. I rehearse with it on. I have two regular workouts where I actually rap my lyrics and then I have two vocal workouts where I actually have the mask on. So I do it all the time. 

The cool thing was during COVID we had the masks on. That helped me really work my lungs and get me more comfortable with doing it all the time. When I first did it, in 2018 someone had booked me from the Tri Cities and I didn’t know the Tri Cities was 509. I was like, “You know, it’d be crazy if I came to his show and I had a ski mask on and a crown with nines and I said I was king of the nine.” I did it and everyone lost their fucking mind. I took a photo and I dropped it and it became the biggest photo I’ve ever released. It changed my entire brand.

Photo by Luna Reyna

RIZE: Your last release was “Merchandise” with Sam Lachow in 2021. Can you share with me a bit about an upcoming album? What were some of your inspirations when writing the tracks for the upcoming album?

Jang: I will actually be having more smaller mixtapes that will be dropping this year. I’m looking to be releasing fairly heavy in the summertime, more single releases. The reason being, I feel like I’m doing more of a rebrand, just changed the name. I want the music to complement that. I’m playing more into the mentality of dropping songs and creating a relationship with a new fan base because I’ve already created with live shows. It’s insane this last year, we were able to do so much with no releases, just performing, so my plan is to start releasing some of those songs. 

RIZE: What were some of your inspirations when writing the tracks for the upcoming album?

Jang: Absolutely, Denzel Curry. Definitely, if we’d go even further back, it’d be DMX because he was able to bridge the gap between hip hop, and using productions that complement a rock style, the way it was being composed. I think he was an early innovator that allowed artists like me to really touch that style. I’m a genre bender. I’m jumping in between hip hop and punk music and starting to really mesh that and find my nice blend. Not going so heavy to where I’m just yelling all the time, and not being so far on the rap side I’m not just preaching rapping. I’m finding a nice blend to both.

RIZE: You’ve performed in Boise before. Last year you moshed during your set. What keeps you coming back? What does Boise and Treefort do right in your opinion? 

Jang: I’m a visitor so I don’t necessarily know how it is here but people are extremely friendly. I’ve been to Portland and sometimes people are a little bit more standoffish. Boise seemed to get excited about everything, especially hip hop. They actually have a deep connection and respect for their local talent. You can see it on this festival lineup, a lot of local talent is booked. I think it’s amazing. Some festivals in the northwest actually get kick back every year because of the lack of local representation. I don’t necessarily see that at Treefort. There’s so much local talent. 

For more of Jang The Goon stream his latest single Switch!, and follow him on Instagram

Interview was edited for length and clarity.

Luna Reyna

Luna Reyna (she/ella) is the founder of RIZE Entertainment. She is deeply invested in shifting power structures and centering and amplifying the work and voices of systematically excluded within the arts. She believes that art is vital for revolutionary practice and movements and hopes that RIZE can be an instrument for amplifying art that expresses the conditions of an unjust society and facilitates healing.