Meet Kydd Jones, Austin-/Atlanta-based artist, who is performing at the Art of Rap Festival tour stop in Atlanta for the Swisher Artist Project. Jones will be opening up the show, held at Aaron’s Amphitheater, July 31, for such hip-hop legends as Mobb Deep, Ice-T, Kurtis Blow and more. And today he dropped his new single “M.I.A,” produced by Y2, just in time for his big performance. To be among the first to listen to this joint (before thousands do when he is on stage at Art of Rap), check out his SoundCloud.

When did you first start making music?

When I was 9 or 10, I started freestyling with my older brother. And then we drafted our first songs. We started a group “Southern Boys,” then joined another group and signed to a local label, which led to our first record deal with Sony Red at 14 years old.

Who or What is your Since Day One of your music career?

My “Day One” is  my mom and my older brother. My brother and I basically sparred with each other until our swords were as sharp as can be. Smack DVDs and DJ Clue mixtapes, basically the whole nine. It was training camp. He and I crafted everything that is manifesting right now and my mom never said no. She just supported us and our ideas.

What was the moment that your career as an artist started coming together?

I feel like I’m still becoming an artist everyday. But my career in artistry most likely came when I fell in love with music by watching local producers make beats from scratch on MPCs and Tritons. When making music, you feel connected with your community and the people around you. I was like “this is a true art.” It’s powerful.

You have a new album dropping with songs that feature Tory Lanez and Kirko Bangz. Share with us how those collaborations happened!

Well long story short, my guy, who helped me out at the time, hooked up the Tory record for me. I wanted to work with him, so it was cool when he reached out and made it happen. We never really got in the studio together. He emailed over the hook and it was a wrap. It was all business. Shoutout to Lanez and his whole team. Kirko is the homie. Shoutout to the whole LMG camp! Kirko, Scott Pace and I cut around 11 songs (all bangers) in 4 or 5 days while working on Progression 5 — all produced and written within that time. Nine of the joints we did made it on his project. The one on my new mixtape is the one I sent him early on and it has been in the vault since.

What is your advice to an artist just starting out in music?

Learn the music business.

You are performing at the upcoming Art of Rap Festival by Ice-T with some of hip-hop’s old-school greats. Who off that list did you grow up listening to? 

Public Enemy, of course. Chuck D has been my mentor and good friend for some years. I’m really blessed to have him in my corner to support me. Ice-T always made me wanna rap and act and be successful doing it, so salute to him! EMPD and Mobb Deep. Ohhh God!!! Legends! I just remember watching them on BET in the basement with Big Tigger thinking I that wanted to spit in the booth one day. That was a dream for a lot of kids. They need to bring Rap City Basement back (amen from the Swisher team), we got too much reality TV nowadays.

What songs are you going to perform on stage?

I’m going to perform tracks from my project “The Sounds In My Head 2” titled “Where Is The Love” along with “Russian Roulette ft. GLC & Tank” and “Texas Heat” from “The Righteous LP.” I’m also performing new songs from my new mixtape like “Honda Everywhere, ” “Alpha Jones” (an unreleased track named after my grandmother) and an untitled track that I always close with.

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t making music I would be playing basketball or coaching. Definitely doing something positive for the community.

The Swisher Artist Project has been working with the Art of Rap Festival by Ice-T to present emerging artists in select tour cities on the tour stage. These artists perform along with such hip-hop greats as Naughty By Nature, Mobb Deep, Kurtis Blow and  more. In addition, Swisher Sweets is providing chances to win tickets in each festival city. To learn more, visit to sign up for a city near you until Aug. 3.