In Talks With J.I – “if you’re not consistent you’re easily forgotten”
8 Apr 2022
Hailing from Brooklyn in New York, 20 year old J.I is one of the most exciting talents the US has to offer right now. Having burst onto the scene at 14 years old, J.I developed a mass following from 2016’s season of The Rap Game, and has now gone on to boast a discography with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Lil Tjay, Lil Durk and A Boogie Wit da Hoodie. The American rapper, singer and songwriter is widely regarded as one of the best in his field.
His breakthrough single “Need Me” has now been streamed more than 150 million times on Spotify alone as well as being a certified platinum record – and his talent to produce records doesn’t stop there. It’s not often you get the call up to interview someone of J.I’s calibre – and I was lucky enough to have the privilege of sitting down for an in depth chat with him during his trip to London last month.
Here’s how it unfolded :
How are you?
I’m good man I’m doing good. How are you, you good?
I’m doing great thank you. How are you finding being in London?
I love it man, I love it. The culture, it’s very diverse here. I just went to a Jamaican restaurant yesterday – I was like what there’s a Jamaican restaurant here? ivermectin scabies success rate ! – it’s beautiful out here man I love it. The environment, everything.
Is it your first time here?
Yeah man. It’s my first time. I’m here for a week.
What have you been up to if you can spill a little bit of info?
I’ve been working, shooting music videos, studio time, working with artists. I’ve got a record with Tion Wayne coming, I’ve got a record with my brother Nemzzz coming, I was just with Central Cee. Big things bro.
Serious stuff… With this interview, I’m going to go through some questions I have about different phases of your life – you grew up in Brooklyn right? What was your upbringing like?
I lived with my single mother, but my dad was in my life, he played a major role in my life – both of them did. I grew up in an area called Crown Heights – Franklyn Ave. At the time it wasn’t a good area, still isn’t but you know they’ve try to gentrify everything. I’m so grateful to have grown up there as it’s made me who I am today.
And were you educated?
Yeah, very educated. I didn’t make it to college though. I went to a public school my whole life, and then into high school, and then my Southmoor year was my last year in school. That was like my 10th grade – I spent my last 2 years in high school home schooled.
Were you musical when you were in school?
Yeah bro. My Southmoor year was when I blew up, it was crazy I was like what the…..
And that was from the Rap Game when you were 14 right? How was that whole experience for you?
That was it. It was crazy because people started to know me as an artist in New York who rapped – but I wanted to be someone that people could listen to. I didn’t want people to think just “oh he can rap” I wanted people to think “oh he can make records” – and that’s what I’ve become. I’m thankful for that because I worked hard for that.
Were you always confident or did that experience build your confidence?
It built my confidence. I’ve always had confidence but it definitely built it.
So, at what age did you start recording as an artist?
At 14, but at 12 I started writing. So for two years I wasn’t recording. Every day I was recording a new song or almost every day when I started hitting the studio.
What music did you listen to growing up and have you taken influence from that?
Old school New York – 50 Cent, Big Pun, Fat Joe, Eminem. I’d say that growing up in Brooklyn has 100% influenced my sound.
From what I’ve noticed, your sound has improved so so much after the past 4-5 years. What do you think allowed you to make this continuous improvement?
Thank you. Being consistent… cause if you’re not consistent you’re easily forgotten. Out of sight out of mind. I take my craft personal, I’m always trying to be working on it – so that’s it, consistency.
How did your first record deal with Interscope come about?
It was hard because we would walk into labels and they wouldn’t care about us. It got to the point though where labels started a bidding war to sign me, because I got so hot independently and everyone felt like “they needed this kid”. I got the deal through somebody called Joey. He ended up leaving Interscope to make his own label but he’s a powerful man – I’m so thankful for him because he saw me and he saw my vision and he just wanted me to win. As soon as I stepped in, I’m like yeah this is the place to be.
At what point did you realise that your life had changed through music? Was it when you got that first record deal or was there a point where you stepped back and thought “I’ve made it”?
The record deal changed everything financially, but clout wise I was 14 when people started recognising me for photos. It was different though cause once I started making music I remember one time I shot a music video called Hood Scars with Lil Tjay, and bro – I went to this area and I had people screaming out their windows. Literally a week ago, I went to the mall – everyone following me like zombies from Call of Duty – I’m like yes this is what I worked for, I’m here now.
How did your first big features come about with Sleepy Hallow, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie and Lil Tjay?
I always had listened to Sleepy through like the hood – I knew his people and he knew my people. Lil Tjay hit me up for a feature – I felt this vibe and we got two records together.
Am I right in thinking you also had a conversation with Drake at some point?
Yeah bro. He was live playing my music. I had this DM to him saying thank you for playing and listening to my music. It was some crazy feeling cause Drake is number 1.
Not just in terms of this conversation, but are there any other artists that have significantly contributed to your success, or do you hold yourself in high regards in terms of self motivated success?
Both. But I’ve chatted up with a bunch of OG’s like Fat Joe who’s from New York. Not even just artists just people in the industry like my own manager – he’s managed Wu-Tang, he’s managed Mobb Deep he’s got next to Lady Gaga, he’s managed French Montana. For me when I first got with him I was nervous cause I was like damn how am I going to be a superstar.
How did “Need Me” come about – that drop blew up didn’t it?
I wasn’t even going to drop it you know cause I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the hook – “I know it’s been way toooo” I thought this too simple – I had to drop it because the first line was “I swear this gon’ f**k the summer up” and it was August when I dropped it! But the record ended up taking a year to blow up fully so by the time the next summer came it was readyyy.
So what’s your favourite song you’ve made would you say? You must hold that in high regard?
It’s hard bro. I got some songs I love – “Letter to You”, “Taken for Granted”, “R&B Shit”, “Hood Scars”, “Love Scars”, “Blame on me” – oh my god bro. I got so many records it’s so hard to choose.
Your discography is sick for real bro. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to talk about it but I’ve seen you in the studio with Tion Wayne?
Yeah we got a record coming. Yessir. Me and my brother Nemzzz, I just hopped on a record with him – we got a big record coming I’m proud of him.
“I’ve heard the exclusive audio for Toxic” – what was the creative process behind that?
Yeahhhh! So people call me a toxic artist all the time – so the whole song is based about toxic. Do you like the record be honest?
Yeah bro I love it. I rate anything you drop as well as a lot of American music…
Are there any other artists you really want to work with right now – or do you feel accomplished with your discography to date?
I would like to work with Drake, Future, Lil Baby and Lil Durk again bro.
You’ve been added to the Wireless Lineup for this year? Finsbury Park – are you ready?
Super ready. I love it – my last festival was in Vegas. I did Rolling Loud in California, New York and Miami. I loved New York and Miami so much – New York was crazy. I’m hopefully planning some shows in the UK soon – maybe a tour or something.
That’s quality – that would be so lit. I’ve got a few miscellaneous questions here – what is your opinion on social media?
Toxic. I don’t really like it – sadly I need it. It’s the best way to connect with people nowadays so it does have its positive aspects to it.
Do you feel connected with your American audience more than your UK audience or is there no preference?
I feel connected with everybody – I don’t even think about it like that. I have people from Africa hitting me up, China and Germany. The area that surprised me the most was Bermuda. I went number 1 in Bermuda and I was like what. It made sense though because the first time I got recognised outside of the country it was in Bermuda. The love there is real. I was 14 and it was before I blew up. Back then it was just off the TV show and I find that crazy.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Drill music. UK and New York drill. I fuck with Central Cee, I fuck with my brother Nemzzz, Tion Wayne obviously, Arrdee, Giggs. I love XXX. Rest in peace to him and Juice WRLD – when I signed to Interscope I was thinking I could get a collar with him and then he died I was like f**k.
What is your opinion on the industry as a whole?
People get lost sometimes in the glamorous stuff and the lifestyle – I just try to stay true to myself. There’s obviously positives and negatives. I stay true to my core, I remember my family is watching me and I gotta move the right way. The industry is all about relationships too – if you are a good person good things will happen?
Are your family supportive? Who’s your biggest fan?
100%. Maybe my brother I really don’t know. For example, I have a record called “Everything” and I sampled my cousins cause I love these kids so much – these are my twin cousins. I would go there to their house and play games with them all day. They sent me a video one day saying stuff like “I love you Justin” “I like your clothing” – they are just saying random things. If you ever get the chance listen to the record “Everything”.
You’re definitely a big family person then?
Yeah. It gets hard cause you get busy. black and tan english shepherd sensitivity to ivermectin You know you’re an artist. You got goals and dreams. You have to work – but at the same time you don’t see your family. There’s barely any time to see them – so it’s like I try to acknowledge them anytime I can possible you know. Even now I just made amends with my mother. I’m so happy like. Imagine beefing with your own mother – the women that gave birth to you. I love her so much – Mum if your watching this / reading this / hearing this I love you.
I appreciate you being able to come out and say that so openly bro. I rate that.
She worked hard bro. She was my first manager – nobody took her serious. If you watched the Rap Game she was there with me. People were always trying to bulls**t us and play us and God came down and said that’s over with. Not seeing family is one of the worst parts about the fame – but the good sides are connecting with the rest of the world – seeing parts of the world I’ve never got to see. Meeting new people and seeing new things – some people have never got to leave my city, I am lucky I have.
Do you get free time and if so what do you do in your free time?
I play basketball, I love bowling. I was a monster at kickball back in the day – and I rate myself at basketball too bro haha.
Future plans – talk me through them bro?
Movies. I got my own series that I’m writing at the moment that’s in the works it’s going to be crazy. I got a new project in the works as well – you heard the new single – that’s on the new project “Baby Don”. ivermectina para cachorro qual a dose
In 2-5 years done the line what do you want to have achieved?
Number 1 album cause I already have a Number 1 EP. Maybe a Diamond record? I have a platinum one so a diamond one would be lit.
That’s all the questions I have bro – you’ve answered everything great, I appreciate your time man. I tried to switch it up and ask some different style questions so thank you for answering so well.
Thank you bro I’ve had a great interview with you. You asked great questions and thank you for catering to that. You’re gonna see me again for sure… when I’m bigger.
It’s without a doubt that having already achieved so much in his career so far – J.I is destined for more greatness. What struck me the most having met him in person to discuss his career, is that he really does have this down to earth and humble nature about him – which is so refreshing to see. I look back to parts of our conversation where he says “if you’re a good person, good things will happen to you”. J.I truly is one of the nice guys in this industry – and this can only project him further in his career. For those going to Wireless this year, make sure you get down to show support for his set – and reciprocate the love he holds for his fanbase.
J.I’s latest single “Toxic” out today, which can be streamed below :