Rapper/producer Jonwayne prefers his artists enigmatic. “It's like people feel the need to know the emcee as a person in order to get into the music, on some soap opera shit. Not saying it's good or bad, but it's almost as if having a baby would boost your sales more than improving your craft,” the frequent Low End Theory artist says.

The La Habra 21-year-old toys with that notion on his latest, just-released rap mixtape, the very good I Don't Care, but only to a point: He might be opening the door, but admission's free. The mixtape's intensely personal lyrics seem to be more of an artistic exercise than a get-to-know-me mixer for Jonwayne, and he named it I Don't Care because that's his answer to the question, “Why give it out for free?”

Not a bad question–the material, which spans from '09 to a few months ago, features beats by Flying Lotus, Samiyam, and Dibiase. Most of the verses (“Outsider's Asylum” is the lone exception) were recorded in a single take. He also just dropped a free download last month (Thanks, Bro).

But selling this mixtape might be akin to selling his soul. Over a Flying Lotus beat that softly warbles and clicks like dusty boots taking ten paces, he raps, “They call me 'fat boy face, fat boy face'/They try to diss me 'cause I'm going by a cowboy name.” That's light fare. The album ducks much deeper into the shadowy recesses of Jonwayne's mind, turning memories over to examine their dark underbellies.

Reminiscent of another of L.A.'s mad beat scientists, Exile, Jonwayne contradicts starry-eyed samples that sound churned out of a phonograph with achingly painful lyrics in “Story One” and “Story Two,” both of which he produced. “I couldn't name this mixtape anything else but I Don't Care. The lyrics have a lot to do with personal matters dealing with mental instability and emotional struggles. I can't be thinking about those things and tell myself I care. I'd go nuts. I just gotta record it, shake it off, and move on,” he says.

But all work and no play makes Jon a dull boy. Using household items as drums, he and Zeroh recorded an instrumental in his parents' kitchen. The name of the resulting song? “Paprika.”

Download “I Don't Care” here.

LA Weekly