Rapper-turned-acoustic troubadour Lorenzo Chrerubini (best known as Jovanotti) might be a giant star who fills stadiums back in his native Italy, but here in the U.S. he is following an indie musicians’ trail. For the entire month of July, he played a string of regular acoustic-based shows at venues like Nublu, Joe’s Pub and at Williamsburg’s Zebulon, and will close that residence with a final gig at Santos Party House on Wednesday.
“That idea came after the last gig we did here earlier this year,” says Jovanotti. “We did a concert at the Highline Ballroom that was sold out, and the day after that there was the thought of coming here again to do another concert at a bigger place, but I really wanted to do something different.”
Jovanotti regularly visits the U.S. during the summer just to relax and enjoy the beach, but this time around he also decided to do some performances. “I come with my family for three months every year, and I felt like doing something really underground in small clubs,” he tells me. “I didn’t care how many people would come to see us or which kind of place we played, I was just interested in doing music in a relaxed atmosphere like a laboratory to establish relationships with some American musicians and to have fun, at the same exploring another phase of music for me.
“I was blessed for a long period of time when I played really big venues for huge audiences, but there is another pleasure in our job, which is to play in a small club, with little technical devices, just this raw energy, and that is what I wanted to do.”
The singer-songwriter started out over two decades ago as a rapper, but he always kept an open mind about his musical influences. Over the years, he began veering into a more melodic direction, and that led to collaborations with the likes of Brazil’s Daniela Mercury, Sergio Mendes, Bono, Ben Harper and Michael Franti (of Spearhead).
“I’m getting old,” he says with a laugh. “From my point of view, everything is much more natural. It’s like when you live with a person for many years, there is an evolution. As far as my music goes, the energy for me is always the same.
“I like hip-hop because it is the music that got me started out in the ’80s. And then I moved from hip-hop to every style that I like. I started as a DJ, and my mind has always worked like the mind of a DJ. I’m not interested in choreography or anything like that, but in a coherent kind of sound. I like to represent the moment in which I am at a given moment, I guess.”