So JU$TIN, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from?
What’s good!? I from the Bronx in New York City originally, but I’ve been living in LA for a minute now. I joined the Navy like 6 months before 9/11 happened to get out the hood and see the world, and ended up doing 6 yrs of military service during the Afghan/Iraq War. After I got out the Navy, I moved from San Diego to Los Angeles, and began investing in studio equipment for myself to record on, and I also returned back to school to finish getting my college degree.
When did you first become interested in music? When did you start rapping? What prompted you to make a career out of rap?
Once my Mom bought me my first rap tape as a shorty, I was turned out. I was a big Rap City, Video Music Box, MTV head back in the day. I got a cool introduction to HipHop culture as a kid, because I was growing up in the birthplace of it. I started rapping at 12-13 years old as 1/3 of a rap group that me and my friends formed in Junior High School. In the BX, you either know how to play sports, hustle, or rap, and if you’re lucky maybe all 3. Me and my boys recorded a demo that was being shopped around, but we were young at the time and ended up breaking up over some petty shit before anything really happened. It was a cool experience, tho, because I learned a lot from the short time we were in the studio about how to construct a song. I started getting popular from battling a lot when I went to the H.S. of Art & Design, but unfortunately I dropped out early. I never stopped making music, tho, I would pay for studio time at 16-17 just to record, but after my Mom had a medical emergency happen to her, she lost her job and helping her with the bills became my main priority, so rapping became secondary for a minute. I decided to pursue music professionally again after I got out the Navy, I got a laptop, some speakers, a good mic, and a copy of Pro Tools and taught myself how to engineer along the way. Getting my degree in Graphic Design helped me by allowing me to design my own artwork, logos, and website. Honestly, I came up with my business plan while fighting a court case from L.A. County Jail back in 2014. I had to sit down for a month and a half, and while I was locked up I just used the idle time to come up with my 5-year business plan. Once I was released I was still able to graduate with honors from Santa Monica College and I released my first EP “JU$T HU$TLE BxTxH: 3883076” while I was going back and forth to court and attending Otis College of Art & Design in 2015. I’ve just been releasing music online consistently since then.
When it comes to your lyrics, what inspires you?
I let the production dictate where I’m gonna go lyrically. Right now it’s more about the flow and cadence of a song first, then lyrics second, so I just try to develop a flow to whatever beat I’m listening to and then pretty much fill in the blanks when it comes to what I want to say. I definitely come from that Nas, Jay Z, Biggie, Big Pun school of rapping, so I try to say stuff that’ll get a reaction from a person and make them want to repeat the rhyme I said again. Since I rap under my real name I’m inspired by the real life situations that I’ve been through, and I try to create music that people can relate to on a personal level, as well as enjoy and dance to.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
Besides getting myself out the hood before I could become another statistic, making it back to the states from doing two deployments with all my fingers and toes still intact, and graduating with honors from college after being released from jail, I’d have to say I’m proud of the success I’ve been having with this music thing the most, because I’m an independent artist pretty much doing everything on my own without the help of a label or rich sponsor, and I’ve been able to expand my brand by creating dope music consistently and focusing on satisfying my fans not my haters.
What do you look for in beats you’re selecting?
When I listen to a beat, it has to give me some sort of feeling for me to be inspired by it. It could be a good or bad feeling, but I just have to feel something, you know!? I stopped writing raps down on paper or in my phone back in 2012, because I would have a hard time finishing songs, or would lose interest and forget about it. I’ll be in my home studio listening to a beat literally over a 100 times mumbling words to myself now before I record, so the production has to be able to keep my attention. I mess with all types of production, it doesn’t matter if it’s east coast, west coast, mid-west, or southern. I been dipping & dabbing into production myself too, I released 2 songs that I produced this past summer, “Working”, and “ANTIsocialite”. Any producers interested in working with me can submit production to email@example.com. Shout out to RJ3re who produced my single “Boo$t My Ego”, and my brother from another Beats By AUSK who produced my song “Next Summer”, they’re both 2 super talented up and coming producers to be on the lookout for.
What’s one artist you would want to work with and why?
Bob Marley, because he was always cool, calm, and collective, plus he liked to smoke a lot of weed like me. Our studio session would be super lit! Blunts and joints everywhere filled with nothing but the finest of cannabis. My Mom’s side of the family is from the island of St. Martin, so I’m half West-Indian, and they’re all big Bob Marley fans, so I know they’d be happy. Rest in peace Robert Nester Marley!!!
Where exactly do you see yourself in 5 years down the road?
5 years from now I want my website justindesignedthat.com to grow and evolve into a real indie record label for myself and others as well as a multimedia firm that can be a haven for other creative types like me and help assist people with their design needs. I want to be in that Top 5 Best MC’s conversation, so I’m gonna keep making great music and work on my craft as much as possible. I’ve been doing well lately selling my music online via Apple and Spotify, so I’m hoping my sales go all the way up in the next 5 years. I wanna be the New York version of Master P and Birdman for the digital era, because they both were able to sell a lot of records independently during the CD era, and get paid a lot of money.
What are your thoughts on how things are going in the music industry right now?
Even though I make music, I don’t consider myself a part of the music industry. I’m cool with being on the outside looking in when it comes to that stuff. I’m more interested in the music business aspect of the game not the characters that make up the music industry. I read up a lot on music business contracts, entertainment law, publishing rights, and shit like that, ya know!? I try and stay up on what’s going on with music streaming and the amount of money that can be made from that. I’m a different kinda artist, because I also operate like an independent label whose main priority is JU$TIN. I don’t get into the industry beefs or gossip, I’m just here to work and leave a dope ass legacy behind when I’m done. I think with music right now, you get what you put in with it, so if you’re grinding hard consistently then people will notice, but if you’re just playing with it, don’t expect people to really take you serious, ya feel me!?
Any new projects coming out soon? & what can we expect from these projects?
Definitely, I’m planning on rereleaseing a mixed & mastered version of my first EP “JU$T HU$TLE BxTxH: 3883076” with two new bonus songs on my soundcloud, bandcamp, as well as Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, etc. in a few days. When I released it the first time, I recorded and mixed it in the crib then put it out online without bothering to get it mastered. I just want my fans to get the best quality music from me, plus it’s a special project to me since it’s based on a true story and the songs on there are hard as hell. I’m also getting ready to drop “JUSTIN Designed THAT Too” my first full-length street album and sequel to my EP “JUSTIN Designed THAT” that I released last year around this time. “Gucci BRRR Man” is the latest single from that project that I just dropped online to give fans a sample of what I’m cooking up. I plan on dropping “JUSTIN Designed THAT Too” in conjunction with the official launch of my website, justindesignedthat.com, where fans can get the latest news, music, and merch from me. I feel like “JUSTIN Designed THAT Too” is some of my best work to date and a great way to end the year. Since I’m a graphic designer too, expect some dope merch items on my site for yall to cop. I want to be an innovative artist who impacts the culture, and since the web is where everyone’s at I want my website and online presence to stand out from the rest. Fans can stream or purchase my latest singles on Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play Music, and pretty much every online digital music retailer you can think of. In 2017, I’m just gonna keep putting on for the BX in a major way while smoking on this Cali kush. Expect more new music, eps, mixtapes, albums, shows and visuals from me next year. You can follow me on Twitter and IG at @JUSTHUSTLE_Bx. Thanx for the interview, I definitely appreciate the opportunity to be heard and the support!!