Jeff Campbell on Who Killed Jigaboo Jones?, his one-man show on hip-hop

Jeff Campbell as Jigaboo Jones.
In Who Killed Jigaboo Jones?, Jeff Campbell dissects the current state of hip-hop through the fictional story of a fallen rapper. His "one-man mockumentary on the hip-hop industrial complex" is an exploration on the exploitation of hip-hop culture, taking aiming at the industry in a humorous, thought-provoking way.

After the show's debut on Friday, October 4, at work | space, there will be a discussion of race, hip-hop, youth and community accountability, featuring a panel of local music and education experts: Musa Bailey, Mane Rok, LadySpeech, Shareef Aleem and Ami Desai. But Campbell already got the discussion rolling when he spoke recently with Westword about the creation of Who Killed Jigaboo Jones? and the effect commodification has had on the growing hip-hop community.

See also: break ground on $2.75 million Youth Media Studio at DHA's Mariposa Phase II

Westword: How or where did the character of Jigaboo Jones come from?

Jeff Campbell: The character came about from me and my friends kind of looking at, I would say, the current state of hip-hop -- calling it what it is. (Laughs.) Top 40 music has extracted, I think, the soul of the culture and what is called hip-hop is really a shadow of the true essence of what we feel like hip-hop was versus what it has become.

To me, the character Jigaboo Jones represents the current state of hip-hop, the quote-unquote "death" of hip-hop culture. But it also has a lot to do with me and my career as an artist, so in a lot of ways, he also represents my inner-prostitute archetype.

Finally, I think Jigaboo also represents on the macro-scale, the dominant worldview of black males in America -- which is violent, misogynist, uneducated and materialistic.

As this is a one-man show, you play all of these different characters along with Jigaboo Jones. Where did those characters originate?

To some degree those characters are pieces of my own personality, as well as people I have encountered. They are characteristics and personalities that are something I am very vulnerable to, obviously, if it bothers me that much. I developed all of the characters based on archetypes -- I did research on these archetypes and also developed the characters that way. It was very easy to take a vampire and take its archetype, study that, and then know exactly what a vampire is going to say in this situation.

Is Who Killed Jigaboo Jones? just a snapshot of this character's life or an overview of his experience?

The story is set up like a VH1 Where Are They Now? type of thing. One guy, the Media Vulture, he is the journalist -- the vulture archetype is that he waits for the kill to happen and then he comes and capitalizes off the dead carcass. He doesn't kill anything himself -- he capitalizes off the story of the dead rapper.

Then there are five characters after that, that were quote-unquote "in" Jigaboo Jones's life -- they are telling their perspective of who he was as an artist and as a person. As the story goes, they reveal how they all had an angle on the guy, how they all were trying to capitalize off of him in some way. That's why I call it a "mockumentary on the hip-hop industrial complex" -- because there are corporate benefactors of the creativity from the community from which hip-hop culture finds its origin.

What sort of dialogue do you hope occurs -- or maybe has already happened -- as you put this performance together?

Well, I mean, it gets to be a dangerous place for me to be in when I have an objective or I if I put too much of my intentions or my opinions, rather, of what people should think from the work of art. They need to take it as an interpretation themselves, and the dialogue really needs to happen organically. But, speaking for myself, what I really wanted to say is that we are complicit in our own manipulation and exploitation.

We used to, at the turn of the (last century) with minstrels, we used to be handed a script from a white writer and were told to put on a black face and portray this image. Now we write that script ourselves and we put on the black face or, in other words, we portray the stereotype in hopes for the big paycheck. In hopes that this is our ticket out the ghetto. You know what I'm saying?

That's one of the many points that I am trying to bring across in this script.

Location Info


work | space

2701 Lawrence St., Denver, CO

Category: General

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