Ebro talked to J.I. about life as a rapper, surviving the streets, and more. They discussed the Brooklyn native’s new album, Young & Restless Vol. 1 Baby Don. The talented musician said his record label treats the album as if it is his first project, although technically, it is his 5th.
Ebro said J.I. the Prince of N.Y; mom used to intern for Hot 97 back in the day. The rapper said that his mom was trying to help him get into the rap game, so she got a job at the station to help him get connected. He said his mother has been supportive of his career since the beginning. However, she is no longer his manager.
Ebro said it’s hard to compare J.I.’s rap style to other rappers that were out back in the day because the way he flows is modern, and rappers weren’t laying versus that way back in the 90s.
It is challenging growing up as a kid in Brooklyn, but he does not play the tough guy role. He said those people are dead or in prison or hiding out somewhere.
“I joined the gang. A hood gang. Not a good idea. I don’t recommend that to nobody because it’s stupid. You’re not gonna get nowhere,” said J.I.
J.I. said his time in a gang was before his rap career began. His former gang members are his “brothers,” and they have branched off and done other things with their life.
The way he creates music has changed. In the beginning, J.I. had to pay for studio time, so it was best for him to write his songs down first. Now he goes into the studio, freestyle off the top of his head, and creates whatever comes to mind.
The young rapper said his dream collaboration is with singer and rapper Drake. He said he had been compared to the megastar who has supported him.
“He was online singing… like two or three of my songs word for word,” said J.I.
It is hard to be an artist, said J.I. Simple daily activities such as going to the grocery store or making a phone call to his mother are under surveillance. Rosenberg asked if it was difficult for the artist to disconnect fully from his friends. J.I. said it is best to let people cut themselves off.