Some people experience life challenges that changes their lives forever. It is often an experience that causes one to look further into their aspirations and inspire others. Jesse Jenkins is a living testimony of being a source of inspiration. Jesse, 20, is a YouTube personality, with two exclusive channels specializing on life goals, music and wisdom. He is also a featured member on the popular fan online community dedicated to music legend Prince, Prince.org. He considers himself to be a hardcore Michael Jackson fan and Prince follower. During this interview, he touches on his overall aspirations as a YouTube personality, being a loyal music fanatic, and his life challenges.
*This is an edited transcript of the interview*
Q: OK. Jesse, I understand that you are a YouTube personality that currently has two channels which pertain to your ideas on philosophy, music, and wisdom. Can you give some background behind those channels, what they mean to you, and others?
A: I started YouTube back in 2009. My first channel is called “DemonstrativeRanD,” and it started to mean “demonstrating random desires.” It since evolved from then when I started to make Michael Jackson videos, exploring what happened June 25, 2009 as it pertained to Michael’s death. And then, it yielded a lot of other inspirations that I started to talk about — things that inspired me. I consider myself more of a writer. I like to say that I dissect the anatomy of stuff, meaning that I like to take out the guts of things and present them in a scale to make us think. I’m all about respect and love, and that’s what I try to do with my videos. “JesteRants” was created to just rant about some things politically with music. That channel, “JesteRants,” is dedicated to Prince as well, because Michael Jackson and Prince are two of my biggest inspirations, who I think have done so much for modern music.
Q: Pertaining to Michael Jackson and Prince, what do you think about their attributes? Can you give us some of your inspirations, as it pertains to Michael Jackson and Prince?
A: What I love about Michael Jackson and Prince is the fact they stayed true to their message. Michael Jackson, of course, I believe is more of a universal artist than Prince, but that does not diminish Prince’s artistic virtues at all, by no means. I love the fact that Michael was about the love and he released stuff for that. He was the voice of the unjust [and] those who were treated bad. He made songs that dealt with the state of the world as well, like “Earth Song” and “They Don’t Really Care About Us,” and what we could do to just come together and love and that’s what I respect about Michael. With Prince, I think Prince overshadows Michael when it comes to his lyricism. What I love about Prince is the fact that he uses God as his message. Michael used God as well, but what I respect a lot about Prince is that he used God and sex as those two things because those are the two most commercial things that I think a lot people can discuss and he addressed it in such a massive way. I love the fact that he looks at a lot of his lyricism to be spiritual and that’s one thing that I get a lot from Prince. It’s very spiritual and it’s very physical as well. You can relate to many of his lyrics. But then sometimes, you can’t relate to a lot of it because it’s complex and you have to grow into that understanding of things. I just think that both of them have created such a diverse catalog of music that dealt with subjects that we all go through and it makes them stand out above the rest. I mean, they are both very wise and very intelligent, as it pertains to the functionality of our universe and that is what I love about their artistry. Just the wisdom and the love, and the dedicated medium to those qualities of life—wisdom and love.
Q: OK, you said that you enjoy writing. Am I right?
A: (Laughs) Yeah, correct. I love writing.
Q: I was wondering what is your writing based on and are you were planning on publishing any of your writings any time soon?
A: (Laughs) Well, that’s actually a good question. Recently, I recorded a lot of cassette tapes. I started doing that when I came from Hurricane … well I come from New Orleans and when Hurricane Katrina came, I needed a medium to escape the hysteria and I started to record tapes. I recently got back to that and I have a lot of tapes on my wall with different messages that I wrote. I do plan on releasing these tapes sporadically throughout the year, like sending them out to different addresses. I do plan on publishing some of my writing as well. I haven’t really thought about it in detail, but I have a lot of stuff that I want to get out. I do plan on letting it out. I just don’t know what kind of medium I should go to first, since I love videos and I love audio. I wouldn’t mind publishing it though because I [want to] get more into it. I just like the structure of things. I love the anatomy of things, how things are built upon one thing after the other. I like the seed and the principle of being a breeder. I like to look at words and I usually come up with my messages from words that come together. Like recently, we finished something called “reconciled volumes,” and that was just due to something personal that happened. But, it usually comes through a word that I can connect that seems to have no meaning to the next. I try to carry a meaning to that.
Q: With your YouTube shows, you always bring some sort of philosophical meaning to everything that you say. Do you really look at life in a certain way? Do you ever look at life in a certain entity that you would like to really let people see or hear? What is the common goal behind your philosophical base?
A: My common goal is to get people to not be programmed by certain realities around us. In this generation, we are so easily drawn and inspired by a lot of artists or political figures, and I guess my goal is to try to bring a sense of thought, so that we don’t become a victim of the media. I kind of look at the media as a “cartoon fantasy land,” and I think sometimes we become too inspired by that. So when I make my videos, I try to get people think twice and develop a sense of structure, so that we all come together and not judging each other by any denomination of our personality. And that’s just something that particularly grows every day, but my goal is really so that people can enjoy what I say and bring it alive in their lives. I’m glad that I’ve inspired somebody out there because I never thought that I was going to have any viewers say anything and it’s good to know a lot people have caught on and like what I do. I’m all about love and all my deep beliefs, and natural truths. I love discussion. I love argument, not to belittle anyone. I love to hear why people believe the way they do and that’s kind of what I like to do with my videos. I like to bring questions, just to see the landscape of different minds that exist around the world.
Q: And it is a blessing for people like you, to have an audience, in which you can express your feelings on the world, religion, and all the things that affect humanity, and bring it out to a larger audience, so they are able to change their lives in a sense. That’s amazing in itself.
A: Man, thank you!
Q: (Laughs) No problem. To take away the whole serious side of things, who are some of your music influences and what do you love to listen to? I know that it’s Michael Jackson and Prince, but what are some other musical inspirations that you have obtained throughout your life?
A: Well, before I listened to anybody, I was born in the church. So, I love gospel music. I love Fred Hammond or Donald Lawrence. A lot of other gospel artists. I also love The Ink Spots. I love classical old music, from the 40s, 30s, and 50s. I love Edith Piaf, she’s a French singer. She’s the one that got me into French and learning French. I love Billie Holiday, of course, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Sarah Vaughn. I also like people like David Bowie and a lot of funk people as well. My music taste is very diverse. I’m not going to say I like everything from country music. I mean country music is not something I really dig, but I can take on some occasions Dolly Parton or whatever. I really love rock music as well. I love Nirvana. I love grunge; just music with feeling and soul. One of the reasons why I appreciate people like Chuck Berry and Little Richard as well is because it started out as something with soul and blues, and from that came everything. So, I love music with a lot of soul, guitars, drums, and people who really pour out their artistic principles. I mean, it’s just amazing to know that there’s so much music and we will never really listen to everything that’s been here, but just the taste of it can change a life. I’ve been changed by people doing what they do, and it’s been a blessing to me to go through that. I appreciate you for introducing me to so many other artists that I never really knew existed. Every day, I’m learning about new artists and different types of artists that really changes people. I love a lot of hip-hop, from Nas to Mos Def. I love music that really has a message behind it. I like to listen to lyricism in my music. I love beats and I love melody, but one of the reasons I love music so much is because it may have the capacity to change lives and when you think about it, we learned our alphabets through song. Our structure of conversation is built around music, so it’s always good to have a song with a message around it.
Q: How do you look at [Hurricane Katrina] and the aftermath of it seven years later?
A: Well, I think it’s been a rollercoaster. I love New Orleans, that’s my home and, quite honestly, I think one day I’ll go back there, just for a while. I always go there for a while and I go back here. I mean it’s been a blessing to come to Texas. Educational-wise, I’ve really strengthened my abilities here. I don’t know where I would be in New Orleans. New Orleans wasn’t a horrible place, but it wasn’t a place that I think I could’ve matured there because I’ve seen people doing the same things and they don’t have a heightened world perspective. Outside of that, the hurricane really brought a lot of things in my life. If it wasn’t for the hurricane, I don’t think I would be the same person I am. … I think a lot of people in New Orleans have a lot to think about, as it pertains to living there. Hurricane Isaac just came and I wouldn’t want to live there just because of the fact that you’ll never know when a hurricane is going to come and you never know when you’ll have to evacuate. You have to act fast and evacuate. Of course, people lost everything again. It’s really a sad situation there. I love New Orleans, though. I don’t like Texas. I’m currently in Texas, but I’m about to move from here very soon, because I don’t really like the country down here. I love New Orleans because of its city life and freedom atmosphere. It’s so free … it’s just a free-hearted place, a beautiful place; full of history, full of music, full of inspiration. So, it’s always a treat going there because you never know what you’re going to get yourself into. 2005 was a rough year, but I’m kind of thankful for it because, if it wasn’t for that, I would not be where I am today. So, I thank God that I survived and I’m able to think about it. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years already, but I guess that’s just how the world works.
Q: Do you have any new YouTube videos or new projects that you’re working on that are coming out?
A: Well, some things I am working on. I’m going to start on recording videos this weekend again. I have been working, so I haven’t had the time. But, I am definitely looking forward to it. I call my YouTube process, “Parallelizing the Absence of Expression,” which simply means I want to parallelize me not doing something by actually doing something. I’m definitely going to “parallelize the absence of expression” very soon, I have a lot of words coming up. I’m going to continue with my different playlists, playlists that I dedicate to express my current themes. I want to get back on “JesteRants” and talk about a lot of the political mess that is going on. I definitely have a lot of stuff coming up. I can’t wait to get into it!