Next in our Artist Series for SEV Fest is JUSTUS Raps, a 21-year-old rapper from Long Island, with talent that beats your underground fave by a long shot. He carries strong vibes of togetherness and positivity and has done so since the inception of his music career. “In 2009, my brother got me into writing and producing music. He brought me to go get a keyboard to start producing and then eventually write lyrics. I always liked music and rap, but I never thought I would make music until 2009 when my brother started helping me out.”
Asking him about his musical background from that time, he said he just fell into the rhythm. “As soon as I started, I just started. I didn’t think about it, I just started making music all the time, posting myself onYouTube. Some people from high school would remind me that I used to share my music and put it on my iPod to show it to people, I just liked it.”
His passion has mostly been focused on music, but also bleeds into other parts of his life. “If I’m passionate, I will go all out for it. Music is the thing I put the most time, effort and energy into, sometimes without thinking. I used to sell candy in high school and it was a whole operation. I would have people work for me, I had a money book to keep track and everything… We would make like $100 in a day. With music I’m passionate, but I guess with the candy… I always liked business too.” Jus currently attends a SUNY, majoring in business and minoring in music.
Speaking to Jus, I got a strong sense of dedication to not only the craft but the general art form as well, citing many influences from J Cole, Drake, Kanye West, and Jay-Z. “I’ve always listened to rap, ever since I was young. The first album I ever had was The Black Album by Jay-Z, but the first album I ever bought was The Hunger for More: Part 2 by Lloyd Banks. I got the clean version because I wanted my mom to go buy it (laughs).” The rising star also can be found listening to other genres in his spare time, such as Acousticmusic, Smooth Rock, and the ever-popular EDM. With those influences and tastes in mind, you can tell he has something to say and aims to make whatever it is a good time for the listener to partake in.
Asked about his music style, the best word to use would be “dynamic.”From song to song, the style can change a lot. It’s not one style, it’s a lot of vibes that come together from song to song, but still has a message and a meaning through lyrics, which are big for me. I think it’s different, because I don’t curse in any of my music.. I don’t curse when I talk to people, so its never been in my music, that’s different from a lot rap artists.” (Cue collective ‘aw.’) Not to alter his street cred, but I find that charming because he remends me of an artist you and your mom could probably get around to bumping together once in awhile.
If he were to narrow down his style, Jus said “it definitely has soul, hustle, good times and influences mixed in from this new era of music. A myriad of people, particularly artists like Rae Sremmurd and Chance the Rapper. I’m really just trying to spread positivity, what I like to call: gr8 – great lives, great music, great vibes.”
Listening to his new mixtape, Any Given Sunday, I get a lot of Drake and J Cole from his music (who are coincidentally some of the most popular artists today). The production is well done and ear-catching, and the lyrics are fly. Cool is too tame. It really makes me want to listen to it in the car with all the windows rolled down, sunglasses on, hair flying; and the best part of it is, it doesn’t matter who’s with you, because it’s something every person can enjoy. “[Any Given Sunday] is still in line with the activity and message I’m trying to bring to all of my music – all positive, pushing people to go out and do what they want to do, to not waste time, ‘do what makes you happy’. There are other songs about my life and stuff like that on the mixtape as well. The title is kinda saying that any given Sunday, any given day, we’re working on that message and bringing it to whoever needs it. And it’s also symbolic of the fact we can drop another project like this, maybe this coming Sunday or next year, because we’re always working.”
Asking about his stage name, JUSTUS, he definitely communicates a theme of support. “I started as just J-U-S but JUSTUS is the new name I have. It’s me pursuing this music and trying to make it happen, and making it happen, I feel like people don’t support you unless you’re already rich, already successful, so when I say just us – it refers to me and all the people who are watching me right now on the come-up. It’s just us making this happen, nobody else is watching and supporting right now. This is my connection with people. It’s not just me in a song, it’s all the people helping to support make my dreams a reality.”
A connection he was pursuing and a connection he has made. Since starting in 2009 he’s performed many college shows, himself being a college student, and even opened up for Childish Gambino and Diplo atSUNY Stonybrook’s Brookfest in 2014.
For the future, Jus aims to go on tour and increase his visibility, maybe then coming out with an album as well. He, like any artist, wants to bring music to as many people as possible and just by talking to him and hearing his music, I can surely tell that he’ll be one of the artists to watch coming very soon (MTV, I’m looking at you). I also asked him to spit some bars for me with the beats he and his producer were mixing in the background, and boy, I wish I got to record it because it was great. No need for a Hot 97 interview, because this kid can seriously freestyle.