Jaze: A Hip-Hop Pioneer’s Journey from Kritical Kontact to Shaping Duluth’s Hip-Hop Legacy


Jesse Unger, better known as Jaze has been delivering thought-provoking hip-hop to audiences for years. Often teaming up with DJ Derek Delgado, this dynamic duo has been setting stages ablaze for nearly two decades. Their journey began as part of the iconic group Kritical Kontact, which emerged onto the scene in 2003.

As Jaze’s artistry has matured, so has his music. He’s transcended the fleeting trends of the music industry, now delving deep into the exploration of emotions and moods. His latest work is a reflection of his life experiences, touching on profound subjects like battling depression, overcoming addiction, and unapologetically addressing the real issues.

During his 2023 Duluth Homegrown Music Festival set, Jaze unveiled tracks from his upcoming EP, “Perfect Story Purgatory,” which promises to be a captivating journey released in three distinct “chapters.” Jaze isn’t just a performer; he’s a pillar of the Duluth hip-hop community. His contributions include organizing shows, supporting local venues, and providing exposure to a plethora of artists through his events.

With a discography readily available for streaming, including “STFUNLISTEN Vol​.​1,” “Jaze Features Vol. 2.,” “Rarities and Oldies,” and “Forever 27 Club,” Jaze’s musical legacy is accessible to all. He’s built connections and worked with some of the industry’s biggest names, such as Slug from Atmosphere, Mac Lethal, and the late Eyedea of “Eyedea & Abilities”.

Since his debut in 2003, Jaze has been involved in over 200 shows, establishing himself as a true pioneer in the Duluth music scene. He’s not only graced the stage but has also been instrumental in supporting local artists, venues, and organizing shows that showcase emerging talents. Most recently his influence even reached the mainstream, earning him a shout-out from Minnesota artist Baby Shel during a Kevin Gates concert at the Amsoil Arena, a well-deserved recognition of his talent.

Recently, he collaborated with Slug from Atmosphere on the album “Born Deaf” by David Kittelson, aka beyondbliss. Jaze’s collaborations extend far and wide, especially within the Duluth area, with “Jaze Features Vol. 2” showcasing his versatility alongside artists like Strictly Hammers, J4tay, Ant Jonez, The Lost Soul, Boonhamin, beyondbliss, Big Jess, CHILWIL, Katana Da Don, Kruz, Nonfiction, MC1980, WillieDiction, Busstop, EddieDition, and Legitimit.

Outside of heating up the mic with lyrics he tends to enjoy igniting the crowd with a newer venture. He’s now part of SoundCheck Pro, where he DJs alongside his longtime friend, the beloved Andrew Watson “DJ Adub” (aka adubsgotbeats). A huge highlight in Jaze’s DJ Career was spinning the set for legendary hiphop group Nappy Roots at Bayfront Festival Park in front of thousands of people. Jaze also hosts a radio show “Worldwide Thursday Night Throwdown” that dives into the depths of hiphop music.

As a testament to his enduring impact, “Evolution of Revolution” by Kritical Kontact, where Jaze is an original member, remains a timeless gem. Released in 2008, this album generated immense buzz in the city, featuring hits like “Alright” with Christine Hoberg, produced by WMS and co-produced by GO GO Gadget. It encapsulates the essence of Duluth’s hip-hop culture.

For a glimpse into the cultural richness of Duluth, Minnesota’s hip-hop scene and to experience the timeless magic of Jaze’s contributions to the world of music feel free to follow the links below.

Jaze On Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/artist/5MPvf5tR7djDYfTzyVygbG?si=lPU3hDhwQZqhdWRNVq5iFA

Jaze On Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/jazehiphop

Kritical Kontact On Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/artist/3mOcm2n8RddJeTT02Jy68M

Purchase a Hard Copy Jewel Case CD Of Kritical Kontact’s Evolution Of Revolution – https://www.discogs.com/release/4548382-Kritical-Kontact-Evolution-Of-Revolution

For Jesse Jaze DJ Services https://soundcheck.pro

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