Here's the story of a North Carolina born emcee who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Justin Johnson aka 'J.A.E.' spent his teen years freestyling competitively during high school, but today he's busy working on new material. J.A.E. was discovered by 'Studdah' DeVore, a long time Public Enemy producer and an A&R at Chuck D's Slam Jamz Records. Most recently, this young artist was featured on the label's 'The Deficit' compilation. There, he worked closely with DeVore, who describes the emcee's sound as a 'cross between Jay Z and Kayne.'
When he's not in the studio, he's honing in on his lyrical dexterity on and off stage- even sharing his storytelling based lyrics with his audiences on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites.
Insomniac Magazine shines the spotlight on this up and coming talent. Here, he talks a bit about his career and his thoughts on Hip Hop.
Tell us a little bit about what makes you unique in the Hip Hop space?
J.A.E.: I'd like to think of myself as the Golden Child of Hip Hop, the chosen one, something special for the game. I plan on being here a long time. I consider myself the new school talent, that's it. The uniqueness comes from what I represent in the game, two sides just like my sign- Gemini: the South and North. I figure when you put those two together in one artist, how can you lose?
Speak about the subject matter of your music?
J.A.E.: The music that I make is just an expression of how I feel at the time. My main goal when I make a song is to give a voice to the people of my generation. When it comes to what we like, how we feel about certain subjects, what we do in the club, or what we think about. It's all subject from the people. I just consider myself the voice.
Can you describe your show? Where have your performed lately?
J.A.E.: Performing is something I'm still just starting out with. I've done a couple shows throughout the Carolinas, small venues that held about a couple hundred people. Just something to get my feet wet with. I heard the beginning of your career is the hardest when it comes to performing in the clubs or halls, 'cause it's like half of the crowd might not know who you are yet. It's your duty to catch their attention.
Who inspired you to get into the Hip Hop game?
J.A.E.: I was inspired by people that I like to call the greats: Notorious B.I.G., Slick Rick, Jay-Z, Nas, and Big L. It still excites me till this day the way they could paint a picture with words. One of my favorite songs of all time is by Biggie entitled 'Niggas Bleed' off of the 'Life After Death' LP. If you listen to that song and close your eyes you can vision a scene as if you were watching a movie. It's inspiring to me the way he did that without losing your attention. Hearing that song makes me want to run to the studio every time, just to see if I can make it happen as good or better.
Can you describe your production? Who made the music and what type of gear was used?
J.A.E.: On the production side I always look for something that's ear catching as soon as it comes on. If not, then it has to have a good feel throughout. Anyone that's ever worked with me before can tell you I'm quickest to deny a track. That's why I like to keep a close team around me, people that I've known for some time now. It's not that hard to work with producers that know your music from day one. Shout out to Fabe, Banks, and The Geek Squad. I call those three my clutch team cause they always come through when it's crunch time. I'm not to familiar with all the gear being used, but I definitely know about the Yamaha Motif and the Korg Legacy being used with Logic Pro & Fruity Loops.
What's your definition of Hip Hop?
J.A.E.: Hip-Hop, it's the way my alarm on my phone rings to wake me up. The way I get dressed in the morning. The car I hop in, and the way I drive. The food I eat. The way I keep my cash to pay for it. It's everything I know, and everything I've ever known since I was a kid. That's how powerful the culture is. Everyone takes a piece of it whether they know it or not. Without the culture, we wouldn't have the music. Thank You Hip Hop.