The former Rap Game contestant talks his new single “Letter 2 U”, his Puerto Rican roots and staying disciplined.
Back with a new melodic heartfelt single is rising Brooklyn-hailed artist J.I . With R&B-influenced melodies and oscillating trap-tinged bass lines, “Letter 2 U” takes us through the mistakes made during modern-day relationships with emotional lyricism and mesmorising bars. Accompanied by a video directed by Kid Art, the visual takes us through his neighbourhood of Crown Heights, blended with metaphoric clips and artistic references.
Speaking on the single, the singer said, “The record was inspired by many things.” He explains, “ I had heard Doc (my producer) playing this crazy melody of some girl singing, and I was like “Nahhh, you wilding what we doing with this?” I wanted to really talk on the track in a different type of way. I like this record because I approached it differently. The way I structured it was different from the way I usually record. I was inspired by personal events, but in general, I just wanted to make a good and fun record.
Having dropped his EP “Welcome to G*Starr Vol.1” earlier this year, the singer has been effortlessly blending R&B melodies with Spanish influences gaining support from the likes of Lil Durk and Nav. Riding the wave of emerging New York rappers, we caught up with J.I. talking his change of name, the new single and his Puerto Rican roots.
Check out the interview below…
How has this uncertain time been for you? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
It’s been a time of reflecting, staying focused, and removing all of the negativity in my life. The pandemic has impacted touring and the fan interaction whether on stage or off. Right now, I am so focused and have been working on music back-to-back. Since the lockdown, I have continued to just create music and write, and it’s all I have been doing. I have been in the studio just in a zone and more determined. With my team, we released my EP, Welcome To GStarr Vol.1,’ music videos and other singles. And, now I have released my new single “Letter 2 U.” We working!
How did growing up in Brooklyn influence you? Who did you listen to growing up?
Brooklyn is a melting pot with aggressiveness and determination. You just have to put in the work to make things happen, and that’s the energy I received growing up in Brooklyn. Oh man, I loved and still love Biggie, Tupac and, of course, Big Pun. But, I was also listening to reggaeton and being influenced by Daddy Yankee and Tego.
Why did you choose the name Prince of New York?
J.I is a combination of my real name and middle name, but “Prince of New York” was given to me by Jermaine Dupri when I was on the Rap Game, and my fans ran with it. But, now I really want to focused on going as J.I.
How would you describe your genre?
It’s definitely a blend of Hip-hop, rap and harmony. My genre is also very open to other types of global genres. I am a big fan of my Latin culture and have been exploring blending my sound with reggaeton. My single “Spanglish” is one blend we just released with Myke Towers.
You started in the music game at such a young age, appearing as a contestant on The Rap Game at just 14 – what was the biggest positive and biggest challenge?
For me, the biggest challenge and take away was discipline, and how you always have to work on perfecting your craft. Since the show, I have learned you need a good team to know the business, and how this is a blend of creativity and straight up business.
Congratulations on “Letter 2 U” – what was it inspired by?
The record was inspired by many things to be honest. I had heard Doc (my producer) playing this crazy melody of some girl singing, and I was like “Nahhh, you wilding what are we doing with this?” I wanted to really talk on the track in a different type of way. I like this record because I approached it differently. The way I structured it was different from the way I usually record. I was inspired by personal events, but in general, I just wanted to make a good and fun record.
You’ve paid homage to your Puerto Rican roots in your tracks before – why is this so important to you?
It’s important to me because this is my roots and my family’s values. I love being Latin and I am proud of it, and adding the flag into my videos or the sound into my songs gives my fans a piece of me.
Your debut EP “Welcome to G*Starr, Vol.1” was so well received – did you expect this?
Honestly, I just work hard and really try to evolve with every project or single that I release. I work hard to give my fans the best of me and my ongoing growth as a person or and artist.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
I want my fans or people listening to my music to feel that they can relate to the storyline, feeling and vibe.
You’ve worked with some incredible artists, who is your dream collaboration?
Right now, I want to work with a legend like Daddy Yankee or some global artists that are coming up like me.