Of the Justus League
By Staff Writer Carmeli Hocson
Nov. 30, 2006
When did music become a significant part of your life?
I come from a musical family and so music was always a part of life. My father and mother and oldest brother were in bands. I remember my older sister Missie playing music for me all the time as a child. She would play Earth, Wind and Fire, Prince, Meli-Mel, Roxanne Shante, Nucleous and anything else that was being played between ‘78 and ‘87 would be pumped in my head. In a way music was how we bonded.
How did you start your career?
I never really expected myself to be doing music as a career. I used to write R&B songs for fun but I never thought that being an emcee would be my occupation. One big reason that I never thought music [would be a] career was because it didn’t happen around me. My parents were in a band but it wasn’t their career. I only saw it on television but my perception of what I see on the television was never a reality. I didn’t decide to write raps till ‘94 but I was just writing for myself, I didn’t have a thought to make a career out of anything until ‘96 after my freshman year in college. I saw people rapping over their own beats and that is when I met 9 th Wonder.
How did you first meet 9th Wonder?
I remember 9th walking into a common friend’s dorm room and telling us to check CNN because some revolution was going down in some part of the world and people were wildin’ out.
How did the Justus League start?
The creation of the Justus league was an accident Around ’98, 9th and Yorel started making beats and we would start making little songs, no one cared to listen to them. We wanted to know what their reaction and thoughts to our music. The only people that came by and showed any interest are the cats that are in the League right now.
Since we all didn’t have anything better to do 9th and I decided to make a crew called it the Justice League. Then Big Dho suggested that we spell it differently since you never know what will happen to the name and we might encounter some copyright infringement with DC comics. Then, I first used the Justus League name in public at a little showcase Edgar Allen Floe, Median, Phonte and myself did at NC State.
You have toured a lot, what was one of your favorite shows that you have done?
Paris, France [was] one of my favorites because the people were so pumped up for the show [and] the energy level was ridiculous. I’ve seen high energy levels but this crowd was phenomenal the place was already packed an hour and some change before the show started. People were also lined up down the street earlier in the day during sound-check.
I read an article that you were a guest speaker for a community center what do you try to communicate to the youth?
Yes, I try to go around to schools or community centers and talk to youth about my experience in life and music. There are younger cats out there that are growing up in the same similar situation. There are kids who can’t identify with the world because they don’t live in a big city that is on a map. It was hard [to see] myself doing great things with my life (music, entertainment, other dreams) because I didn’t see it around my environment. I talk to kids to give them someone they can identity with.
I know you have probably given them some advice for being in this music business. How would you come out with a message to let them know what’s up with the industry right know?
I try to explain to kids that nine times out of 10, the images you see in the media don’t depict reality. Kids think that people in the music industry are living this glamorous life, when in reality nine times out of 10 what you see takes decades or years to get to that point in your career. The media doesn’t stress the sweat, blood and tears in this entertainment business, this isn’t an instant gratification. The music business takes a whole lot of work and you need to surround yourself with people that can help you become a better person. I try to tell kids to stay away from these crazy things that could destroy your career and goals. You have your whole life ahead of you, don’t mess it up, life is already hard so don’t make your life any harder.
What are your other goals that you’re still trying to accomplish?
My goal as an artist is to touch somehow every possible person that would be a fan of my music. I want to be in that point of my career where I have touched people with my music in a positive way. I want to make it to where I can build up a secure future for myself and my other business ventures. One of the projects I’m working on is the True School Corporation, 9 th Wonder, some other gentlemen and myself started it. True School is a preservation of a generation, through the celebration of Music, Culture and Film,” between the years of ’80-‘95. So stay on the lookout for our events.
When you’re writing things how do you go about getting away form a block or what motivates you when do you write, where do you write? Where do you get your motivation from?
The beat tells me what to write about. I listen to the instrumental and it tells me what the mood of the song will be like. If the beat is dark then I write about something deep or depending on the time structure or where the pockets are on the beat which tells me how I would say the words. I complement what the beat does.
What is your philosophy in the music you’re trying to get out to the public?
I just make music, I write about everyday life or songs that anybody can relate to. I’m not on some other planet, trying to bring these fancy landscapes to life. My words are about regular life experience. My music reflects the hip-hop attitude of the late ‘70s and ‘80s as well as the early 90’s but it’s still modern and up to date. The subject matter is about reality. The most important thing is to make songs that you actually like, don’t make songs ‘cause you feel you have to.