COMPTON -- His name is Jason Martin. But most people know him by his stage persona, "Problem." Initially, it was just a cool rap name. Today, at 35, he's lives by his motto: Do what's right. Problem is hoping to help create the right solutions in his home town of Compton.
"We do a lot of focusing on what's wrong in the city and I just want to stop that," said Problem. "I want to just start giving the community hope. And I see so much room for growth."
His main focus: the arts.
"I feel like once we bring arts to the city, we can just inspire a whole new type of person from Compton, like adding music programs and actual arts and crafts programs and then actually adding business programs," said Problem.
That's his goal. And he's reached many over the past 15 years. Before he started performing his own songs, Problem worked with Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, Childish Gambino, and the late Nipsey Hussle. Problem's new "Janet Freestyle" remix is dedicated to Nipsey.
'I just saw that he was about to ascend to where we all knew he would be, you know what I'm saying? He was always the smartest. He always had his own way of doing things," said Problem. "And I hate that it had to end the way it did for him to be highlighted."
That song is on Problem's new album, out May 29th. The lead single already has more than a million streams on Spotify. It's featured in Problem's short film, "A Compton Story," about a day in the life of a black man in L.A., which is currently on the Tidal streaming platform. He's also been working on a TV show. And if that happens, he says, Compton will be involved. He'd also like to see a Compton version of a Hollywood landmark.
"I've been walking to the mayor about doing a Compton Walk of Fame!" said Problem. "I think just being able to take the kids to see that. I'm like, 'Well look, that's Kendrick Lamar. Look at Marcellus Wylie. Look at Dr. Dre.' Like you just see what the city has birthed. I think it'd be beautiful."