J.I. AKA ‘The Prince Of NY’ Talks “Excuse My Pain”, Forthcoming Project, UK Collabs & More!
4 Dec 2020
At just 19 years old, J.I. aka, J.I. The Prince Of NY has garnered global attention with his refined, slick and melodic style of Rap. Rising to prominence after his appearance on ‘The Rap Game’, it’s been nothing but an up-hill climb for the rising star since. Although he’s not been in the scene for a long time, you may recognize him from his break-out and viral hit titled, “Need Me” that dropped last Autumn. In putting his own spin on the melodic style of Rap we have all grown to love, J.I. has since collaborated with US heavyweights NAV and Lil Durk, alongside dropping a slew of impressive projects.
Today, the New York heavy-weight has dropped his brand new single “Excuse My Pain”, so we caught up with J.I. to talk all things music, his forthcoming project and more! (Photo credit: Louis Browne)
First of all, how are you doing?!
I’m good! How are you doing?
Yeah, I’m good thankyou! How have you found this whole pandemic?
To be honest, I don’t know! It’s cool because there are other ways artists are finding to impact the industry and their fan base. For example, more people are dropping music now. I don’t think the pandemic affected the music industry with music being dropped and the streams but as far as performing that’s pretty much the only thing, getting in front of the fans, getting to interact and giving them a show – that’s probably the only thing! I have been seeing artists in the south of Atlanta; the southern states, I think they’re performing now!
I know, I keep seeing mad videos on Twitter and thinking, are these people in the same pandemic or?! *laughs*
*laughs* I mean, as far as the venues; it’s the bigger venues, they could do it lowkey and sell out a club if it’s open or you could do an outside audience and make it a little event. But a 15-20,000 capacity venue with all the fans packed together – yeah, I don’t know!
I have been watching so much Netflix through lockdown! Have you?
Yeah! I haven’t really been watching TV but the last couple of weeks I have been watching a LOT of shows!
What have you been watching? Give us some recommendations!
Ermm! There is a show called ‘Ratched’, it’s with the girl from American Horror Story?!
Oh yeah! I keep seeing that flying around!
Yeah! Watch the first episode and from there you can decide if you want to continue with it or not! In the first episode it kinda gets straight to the plot and conflict and everything is thrown at you all at once, I think after the first episode you’ll keep watching the show! But other than that, I watched the Michael Jordan documentary, I think it dropped a couple months ago but it’s really interesting and I liked watching it – that’s pretty much it!
It was recently your birthday, right?! What did you do to celebrate?!
I dropped the video for ‘20K’ and then dropped the single I think 2 weeks later!
Did you not celebrate?! Did you have a quiet one?
I’m gonna be honest with you, I didn’t enjoy my birthday this year!
I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t really do anything! I mean, I was with family but – you know!
Nah, it’s not the same this year is it!
Nah, it’s not!
A lot of have people have said that you are a lot wiser for your age because you’ve only just turned 19, which being in this industry is a good thing because a lot of people come into it so naive! What helps you stay focused and driven amidst the temptations that you now face with your position in the game?You have the girls, the money and the jewellery etc!
To be honest, with me, I am still learning a lot about myself. Like you said, I’m 19, I’m still young and I am definitely far from perfect! But, as far as me being mature, when you are in my situation there are a lot of things that you have to do differently. The way I move is different now, you just said being around girls, it’s gotten to the point where I don’t like being in a large crowd of people – I’m really a loner now! I have been a loner but it’s to the point where you will go through certain things and you get a bad taste in your mouth and you realise that this isn’t for me! I don’t like doing that and I don’t want to be around this crowd, there is too much drama and conflict and sometimes I forget who I am – I am down to earth and very humble at times to the point where I’ll be walking around like a regular person, I forget that I’m this person. I am signed to this label, have this amount of fans so I try to stay humble at all times and focus on the main goal of being successful in the music industry as far as the lane I am in, you know?
Would you say that you are an introvert?
I think I’m more introverted but with a little bit of extrovert, I’m not really loud around people! I mean I can get loud, but I like observing more, I’m quiet, if I say something then I say something but I’m usually listening to what everybody else is saying.
So, you were on a TV show before, The Rap Game, like I said you are wise for your age in regard to what you do business wise. Did you read-up or know much about the industry prior to going on that or was it something you tackled as you were going?
It’s crazy because at that age, I thought I knew enough about the industry, I knew the fundamentals of not signing a messed up contract, read it before you sign it. I knew the industry has good and bad people but maybe in the last year and a half I have seen so much first hand, witnessed so much and learnt so much that I now view everything differently. I can definitely say that I didn’t really know shit back then! *laughs* I thought I did! I was very naïve to an extent but the last year and a half, just being in the industry, from going to different places and meeting different people – I feel like I have learnt more now.
You’ve mentioned previously that you came from a background of poverty, now that you have gotten where you are, with the things you have in regard to materialistic things etc. How has your idea of success changed? And what is your idea of success now?
Success can be on different levels! With me, when I view success, I view it highly, but it can be succeeding little things but for me it has it’s pro’s and cons. I became successful within a year and I don’t really count this time last year because I was still coming up but I started blowing up a year ago from where I was, within one year I have witnessed so much like I said previously. From me knowing certain people and them moving differently to seeing the way people act when they are around me or even the way they act when I’m not around – it can get personal sometimes! This life makes me question “Damn, do I want to be as successful as I want to be?” because I’m already at a level where I feel it! The bigger I get the worse it’s going to get, the bigger you are the higher the expectations! Besides the personal life, you have a whole audience of people watching you, watching what you do and watching what you go through.
Social media is harsh, I try not to broadcast too much of my personal life and sometimes I can catch myself messing up and I do that – I post too much about what I go through sometimes and people can be very harsh with the way you feel. Where I’m at right now, I am very happy but success where I’m from is very rare, especially growing up in a neighborhood where you are all doing the same thing. Everybody is trying to find a way to come up and make it out but when you pray for it every day and it comes it’s different and it can be overwhelming at times!
You just said that the bigger you get it can get overwhelming and scary in that you can’t do what you want to do and even though you are big, it can get a lot smaller. Do you ever think you will ever feel fulfilled? Do you feel fulfilled now?
I remember this point last year *laughs*, even before last year, when I dropped 2 or 3 singles before my biggest single ‘Need Me’, I was very inpatient! Even if it was just me getting a little bit bigger, I would love it but I am never satisfied and I don’t feel fulfilled. I was talking to my manager and my friends about this the other day, I got 1 million followers and that’s something that I would be hype about but I don’t feel fulfilled, I need 2 million now! The first million is always the easiest and it’s harder making the second million in my opinion. I got my first million just in general from me making money, the way I carried myself and having ‘Need Me’, a platinum record, then a double platinum record and having 100 million views – it’s things like that! It can be a pro and a con because when it comes to me pushing myself, I push myself to levels where I am evolving quick because I critique myself harshly. With my producers and engineers, if you were to ask them “How does he view his music?”, I think almost every song I make is trash, it’s good and bad because you think negatively of yourself but at the same time you are pushing yourself to go harder every day! It can be very annoying at times because I feel so much pressure from doing that! A lot of the greats do that, when I was watching the Michael Jordan documentary, it broke down so many key points in terms of how he felt and how he was focussed on basketball 24/7 – that’s how I feel when it comes to music!
That just comes with being a creative though right? You are your own critique and product, so you will slam yourself down. Like you said, you think some of your songs are trash, but they aren’t!
You said when you were younger that you used to rap battle people in your school and with your locals! Who would you want to rap battle with now?
Oh, now?! Wow! *laughs* I really don’t know! It’s very different now, I don’t feel like a lot of artists rap battle or freestyle now but I really don’t know! You know what’s funny? I hated rap battling!
Yeah! I used to hate it because I started doing it in middle school, high school and I did it on television and at one of my shows – I hated doing it every time I did it but I would win! So, it was really weird! *laughs* If I was to do it now, I would probably do it against a rap battler, I would go on that type of platform just to show love to that side of Rap because that’s a whole different lane as far as music and they have their own world! I’m very in tune of it and I’m a fan of it, I like that culture!
We can’t not talk about ‘Excuse My Pain’ which you’re dropping soon, it’s very deep! Tell me a bit more behind the meaning of this track and the thought process behind it?
With this record, I wanted to delve into the mental process of just who I am! This record is just me talking, going back and forth with the listener about who I am, it’s starts off with “I’m evil, I deserve to die in pain”, I wanted to speak harshly about myself, not bash myself but show the fans how I think. In the record, I’m not really the victim because I admit to my harsh ways, I did this and I did that but I also flip it and talk from the girls side – I wanted to get in depth with my emotions and the way I think.
That’s what I want to do with this whole project, throughout my projects I want to show me evolving, I don’t want to show the same thing! With the last project, I showed different things, but with this project ‘Hood Life Krisis Vol.3’, the first two volumes really set the bar for me, the third one is a trilogy to close it off – so I gotta do this right! *laughs* I’m excited because I feel like I am doing it right and with ‘Excuse My Pain‘ it’s another dope record to release for the fans and the video is dope! So yeah, I’m excited!
I know you previously said that you don’t tend to write down your songs anymore and instead tend to freestyle the majority of them – Is ‘Excuse My Pain’ one of these freestyles or?
I really don’t like going to the studio to freestyle, I have to have some kind of momentum already! If I went a week or two without freestyle, or recording in general, it’s going to be hard – well, not hard but I just doubt m self! I would rather go there with at least something written down so I can just take off from there but ‘Excuse My Pain’ was freestyled yes!
Talking about l ‘Hood Life Krisis Vol.3’ – we are all waiting for this! We are eager for it to drop! Youi just said how it’s going to differ, and I know you’ve previously said that you wanted to tap into the old school vibe with you in regard to pain, and that’s evident with ‘Excuse My Pain’ – Are we dropping it soon?!
Yeah! Around December I believe is when we are supposed to be releasing it! But I will probably drop a single or two from the project before, I want to say that there is at least 8-9 records on it! The fans destroyed me last time! *laughs* I gave them 6 records and they were killing me! I want to give them 10 but Ima give them 8 or 9 or probably come with a deluxe or something!
Why do you feel like now is the right time to drop it?
I dropped the last one around the same time last year!
Yeah, I was going to say because you’ve dropped them all in quite a short space of time! People usually spread them out, but you’ve been firing them out!
Yeah! I wanted to release it a little earlier, but I didn’t want to rush anything!
What are you listening to right now?
I have been listening to a lot of different artists! Do you know who SAINt JHN is?
Yeah! He’s fire, I fuck with him! I like him, I also like the obvious ones like Lil Baby, DaBaby and Roddy Ricch! I like NBA YoungBoy a lot! The way he’s doing it is different, his music is commercial but in it’s own way, he doesn’t need radio play he has a huge fan base which is crazy!
Are you an album guy or are you the type of person to pick songs from an album?
I do like albums, but I was way more into them back then before I started rapping! All the Drake albums, I don’t think I ever disliked a Drake album! I really liked Kendrick’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ and J Cole’s ‘Forest Hills Drive’ – that was a classic to! That was before I started making my own music, now I’m too focused on my own stuff!
Is there any room for UK link ups?!
Yeah yeah! I got a record already that I have coming out soon! You guys have a whole bunch of different types of artists, with the melodic and Drill! I really want to get out there and work with different people, I know my fan base out there is crazy!!
For real! Everyone knows you here!
I’m excited for you to come to London and do a show!
I’m so happy! I can’t wait! I want to come over and connect with people, do you know Driz? (Deno)
I have a record with him! Headie One is dope! Dutchavelli, he’s super hard! I’m a big Skepta fan!
What else can we expect to see from you this coming year?
More visuals, more music! I might try to work on a series, I have as series in mind that I would like to put to life, who knows?! Try and put it on Netflix or some shit!
That’s so exciting!
Yeah! I am going to try and do something different this year because this is my last teenage year, so I have to go out with a bang when I turn 20! *laughs* I definitely want to expand, it’s bigger than just the music!
Listen to Excuse My Pain below. Keep up to date with J.I. via his Instagram here.