Baltimore artist Blaqstarr says his latest album, “Trinity Vol 1.5,” is the culmination of everything he has done so far, from his beginnings as a DJ-turned Baltimore club producer to his latest evolution which includes musical instruments such as the guitar, drums and keyboard.
For portions of his new album, the artist reworked old music that fans may not have heard before but that inspired him, and remixed it to make it feel modern and new.
“It gives the past, present, future,” he said. “Not just my sound, but Baltimore sound.”
Blaqstarr, also known as Charles Village resident Jamal Loving, has earned a huge following all over the globe, and has worked with singer M.I.A. and popular producer Diplo.
“I started DJ-ing at 14, before that I was singing on the phone to girls,” he said. From there he went from working house parties, to small lounges, to big clubs and now performing internationally.
His first big break came when he made CDs of his mixes and began selling them. Listeners called local radio stations and requested them, but he said radio DJ’s had no idea who he was.
“I was a mystery for a good three years,” he said.
Soon, popular 92Q DJ K-Swift got a chance to listen and learn about his music, and began playing it on the air.
“She told me, ‘anything you make give it to me, I love it,’” he said.
Blaqstarr said his current music reflects the fact that he’s entering a new phase of his career. He is currently releasing music without a record label, a move he said gives him the freedom to think outside the box. Another new development in his life is his eight-month-old daughter.
“I understand myself a lot more,” he said, adding that his music is always in his head and his daughter likes to dance and sing, proving that it lives inside her, too.
He also says he has learned to let go of expectations.
“Before when I first started going to the studio, I’d be like, ‘let’s go in the studio and make a song about love, or let’s make a song about partying,’” Blaqstarr said. “Those were the most difficult. I had an expectation, almost like a limit in a way.”
The artist said it’s still not clear how his new freedom will affect his creative process.
“I really don’t know but I know it will be great,” he said. “I can go in the session and make three songs that way. My music will be great and continue to be greater and I’m going to continue to stay open.”
Of all the places he has traveled to perform, he said Copenhagen, Denmark is one of his favorites. He was well-received by crowds at his shows, and a DJ he met who had moved there from Baltimore painted an idyllic picture of the Danish city as a place with free healthcare and a low crime rate.
Locally, Blaqqstar said he can perform anywhere in town as long as the crowd is open and receptive. Specifically, he loves Paradox—he got his start there and likes to stop in every once in a while.
“I just recently DJ’d there about two or three weeks ago. It brought back so many memories,” he said. “I get real emotional every time I go to Paradox. One half of me is in the zone, one half feels like when you visit your high school.”
Blaqstarr’s new album is available on iTunes for $4.95