James Otis Terry Jr. ’96 says his parents taught him he didn’t need to swear to make his point. So, when he began to write music in 1995, Terry took that message to heart.
Terry, who is known as J.O.T. to his fans, has been pursuing his passion for music while also championing family values since graduating from NC State. Terry, a native of Winston-Salem, N.C., incorporates clean lyrics into his music that promote the acceptance of others’ individuality.
As a rap artist, Terry provides a clean alternative “to offer another opinion” on the widespread use of vulgarity in rap music.
Terry’s musical exploration started when he worked as a disc jockey in high school and at NC State. Terry says he has always felt need to disassemble stereotypes.
“I DJ’ed parties for fraternities and sororities” Terry says. “When I DJ’ed for the black fraternities, I played rap, but when I DJ’ed at the white fraternities, I played rock. People were surprised I would do both.”
After retiring the turntables, Terry began a new venture — music production. He started his own record label, J.O.T. Records, to release his music.
“I wanted that creative freedom to put out music the way I wanted and how I wanted it to sound,” Terry says. This choice also allowed him the freedom to incorporate Spanish lyrics into his music as well. By creating a bilingual album, he hoped to bring the Spanish community into his fan base and pay tribute to his Spanish-speaking peers.
Full control brought full responsibility, though. “I had to wear multiple hats — I had to be a pro at everything — promotions, street team, recorder, producer and musician,” he says.
Eight albums and four CD singles later, Terry has mastered the art.
Terry says his background at NC State influenced his work — he describes the university as “the backbone of North Carolina” — and noted that he continues to get support from his alma mater when his music airs on NC State’s student-run radio station, WKNC.
— Jeannene Lang