by David Diehl // Photography by Dennis Leupold and Steven Gomillion
Producing Grammy-nominated hits for Ne-Yo, Far*East Movement and Justin Bieber is old hat for trio The Stereotypes. But along with rapper Three, the collective, consisting of Jonathan “Jon Street” Yip, Ray “RayRo” Romulus and Jeremy “Jerm Beats” Reeves, is set to embark on its most challenging venture yet.
As Jon Mcxro (pronounced like tennis star John McEnroe), the foursome tests their spotlight skills with their debut album, The Fifth of Never, impacting in the latter part of this year. While Jerm Beats sticks solely to beatsmith duties on the LP, the rest of the group brings hip-hop edge to block-rocking beats.
“When we worked in production, people would always ask us when we were going to work on our own project,” explains Jerm. “And we’d always joke around and say we were going to do it on the fifth of never. Well, it’s now the fifth of never, ‘cause we have our album.”
“I think we’re all bringing a lot of great stuff to this record. We’re from the East, West and South. We’re bringing hip-hop,” adds Jon. “Nostalgic hip-hop. Some fresh party music. I think you can expect a little bit of everything. To us, it’s hip-hop the way we think it should be sounding right now. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
Truly a diverse crew, each member of Jon Mcxro boasts a different pedigree. Jon and Jerm hail from Sacramento, CA, where they met at a Guitar Center. Three moved from Houston, TX to sign with the NorCal duo, while RayRo served as an A&R at Def Jam after working for Diddy and Jermaine Dupri. For a quartet familiar with and having deep ties to the business side of the music industry, Jon Mcxro isn’t afraid of losing their integrity by switching sides.
“As long as we don’t approach music as if we have to do a particular style and no one puts us in a box, then our music will remain genuine,” says Jon. “I think whatever we’re working on, whether it be for one of our artists or for us, it’s going to be fresh, authentic and new. We’re working with Far*East Movement, one of our artists, and we know we’re going to do some dance, up-tempo, fun stuff. When people put up walls or expectations, that’s when we get slowed down or stifled. Songs on our album don’t sound anything like the pop hits we’ve had success with on the production side. You may hear some pop elements, but we’re definitely not chasing radio.”
Speaking on the recording process, Ray explains, “I’m a percussionist. Jeremy plays literally everything. Jon plays the keys. There’s no standard process on how we create our tracks. It’s always different and always ends up…incredible.”
Instrumentally, regionally and ethnically, each member of Jon Mcxro brings something different to the revved up anthems. In the same vein as N.E.R.D and Gorillaz, the group just wants to keep you moving while imparting a message.
“Being from different regions of the United States adds a mixture of what we came from and what we grew up on. I think it adds a lot of diversity,” says Three. “We all have our own styles that everyone can find something to relate to.”