By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
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By Kelsey McClure
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By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Jibbs, arguably the biggest rap star to come out of St. Louis since J-Kwon, believes that his fans like him for him, and not just for the jingle-jangly hook on his hit single, "Chain Hang Low."
"I think they like me as an artist too," says the fifteen-year-old, whose given name is Jovan Campbell, after signing autographs at Wydown Middle School in mid-October. He's sitting in his green room a.k.a. the performing arts classroom in between performances for the junior high faithful, a few feet away from a table of Mr. Pibb, Vitamin Water and BBQ chips.
At the first show, the kids stood the whole time and screamed at the top of their lungs. (Though their enthusiasm dampened every time he performed a song that wasn't "Chain Hang Low.") And why not? It's not every day that a guy you've seen on MTV2 and in Rolling Stone shows up at your school. (Just kidding about that last one no one under the age of 50 reads Rolling Stone.)
Clad in black boots, a San Antonio Spurs cap and his now-famous "Jibbs" pendant (which is 32 inches and weighs a couple pounds we checked), he sang his new song, "King Kong," and even hopped offstage into the crowd. Although that move didn't quite generate the electricity of a Nirvana mosh pit circa 1992, it's clear that Jibbs has charisma. "You, right there. Let's go," he said, plucking a pale, blushing, babe-in-training out of the crowd to serenade with a ballad. He even let her wear his chain, though she had to give it back afterwards.
"Chain Hang Low" was the predictable closer, though it wasn't quite the same without his younger brother and sister singing the chorus, as they do on his recently released album, Jibbs feat. Jibbs. After that, he fielded questions from the crowd. "Do you have a girlfriend?" No. "Can I have your hat?" He'll think about it. "What are you being for Halloween?" Lil Jon.
Having already performed at Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory High School that morning, Jibbs was in the midst of a multi-city sweep that also took him to Dallas, Detroit and Chicago in recent weeks. So, after encouraging the crowd to buy his ringtone and to "refuse Cs" (as in, the grade), he was off, bound for another school near you.