By Rich Bockmann
The theme of “Romeo and Juliet” is a universal one, retold countless times before Shakespeare wrote it in the 16th century and in the hundreds of years since.
“A lot of my writings and performances reflect these universal themes,” said artist Jean Lodescar, who goes by the nom de plume J. Scar because his work leaves an indelible impression on ï»¿people for life. “People can relate to what’s going on.”
The 27-year-old Bayside resident recently posted his first YouTube video for his song “UnderPaid,” and in five days it has attracted more than 2,000 views.
“It’s basically about being overworked and underpaid. People go to work. A lot of people complain they need more money. Their bosses don’t appreciate them and people are afraid to speak up,” he explained. “The lyrics could be about anybody, whether you work on Wall Street, in fast food, in retail.”
The lyrics read: “I’m overworked and underpaid,/I got this under-skilled supervisor making me a slave,/won’t recognize what I do day to day,/tryna keep me at the same pay.”
Lodescar said he is surrounded by a lot of media, and that it was easy for him to call on his friends to help produce a professional-looking video, even though the realm of hip-hop videos is relatively new to him. Born in Brooklyn to Haitian parents, he moved to Bayside when he was 14 and attended Cardozo High School and then Queensborough Community College, where he found his passion for artistic expression.
While taking a poetry class, his friend suggested he audition for the play “A Hatful of Rain.”
“I got the acting bug,” Lodescar said, and soon he was reading and performing plays by Shakespeare, Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson, whom he cites as his biggest influence. He even began to pen his own works.
“Basically, most of the music I’ve done is off of poetry and stories I’ve written,” he said.
Last July, he performed in his original play at the Langston Hughes Cultural Center, at 100-01 Northern Blvd. in Corona. Entitled “Toussaint L’Ouverture,” it is about the leader of the Haitian Revolution.
“This guy is the guy who helped Haiti become the first black republic,” he said. “He defeated Napoleon in Haiti. If it weren’t for him, who knows.”
It was around this time Lodescar ruptured his kneecap ï»¿and his wife suggested he take the downtime to put his poetry to music.
“I was laying down the whole time. I had no choice,” he joked.
He said in that time he put about 30 or 40 poems to music he composed, and he now has the music labels Atlantic Records and BMI interested in him.
“Deep down, I’m trying to let people know that there’s a lot of us out there who feel the same way,” he said, adding that if he ever were to make it big, he would like to give back to the community that meant so much to him. “Bayside has been really good to me. My sisters were valedictorians at their schools. My son is growing up here.”
“It’s not like [Baysiders] are not well off, but some people still might need help,” he said. “I’d like to come back and do something to help.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.