People love the flash, the jewelry, the spotlight, the Beyonces, and the “bling” -- but have you ever wondered who points the spotlight? Who holds it steady? Who changes the bulb that keeps Beyonce glowing?
Jaz Williams is one of those guys. Not so much a stage hand that keeps the spotlight bright -- but definitely a behind-the-scenes guy who gets his props in the liner notes. He's a studio owner and engineer with a penchant for vocal arrangements and a knack for sticky hooks.
Dubbed "the Hook Master,” Jaz grew up in San Diego, taking band classes at Crawford high from fall until spring and then he'd head east, spending his summers soaking up the culture and energy of Harlem. On annual trips to New York to visit his father, he'd pick up bits and pieces from the Big Apple (hair styles, music, clothes, etc) and bring them back out west.
It was the ‘90s, the peak of the New Jack Swing era, R&B ruled and Teddy Riley was king. With his gift for vocal arrangements and Riley as an early influence, Jaz started singing in R&B groups. While he admits he was "okay" as a singer, it was his ability to arrange and come up with harmonies that began to shine through. After a few years of taking music classes at City College, a last attempt at an R&B group, and the realization that his community college courses weren't enough, Jaz headed to Los Angeles and enrolled in recording school to become an engineer.
After graduation, Williams headed to New York, got to work, and started an internship at Chung King studios. Two years later, in 2002, he was back in San Diego with a wealth of knowledge and a rolodex full of music industry contacts. Slowly he started to make a name for himself arranging vocals and writing hooks -- real out-of-the-spotlight and away-from-the-flash stuff. Since then, he's worked with Keith Murray, Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, Ginuwine, Max B and a list of names that goes on and on and on.
He says he makes rap "at its core," and works on R&B "at the highest level." He's spent time in other cities, and recorded in New York -- but says San Diego is where he'd like to make his contributions at the moment; preferring to work with local artists who have been, "left for dead", he says. A few months ago, Jaz solidified his San Diego roots and bought Batkave studios. He has since renamed it in honor of his special set of skills and now Hookmaster Studios is where he currently spends the majority of his time. Working behind the scenes arranging vocals, crafting hooks, and making sure that the artists he works with are ready for center stage, flash bulbs and the glow of the spotlight.