Interview: J.R. Speaks On Humble Beginnings, Success of ‘Best Friend’ With Trey Songz, & What’s Coming In 2016

I had the pleasure to speak with St. Louis emcee J.R. who gave us a very honest look into the dues he’s paid in his life, the people who’ve helped him adjust to the notoriously shark like music industry & his upcoming project “Gang Season”

Q:Take us through a small career arch of your life, what got you into music, what was your first show, first big break, etc.
J.R. : Y’all will find out more details, but when I was younger I had it a little rough coming up. I caught a blessing from god and got adopted. And throughout all of that my main outlet was music; it was music and sports. Those were the two things I did that kinda kept me grounded within a large amount of change that was going on in my life. Music kept me together so when I grew up I always had the passion for it, I’d say it was a hobby up until around middle school when I used to try to sing. But I wasn’t the best singer so I quit you know what I mean, because i’m too competitive for that shit. But I started rapping with my homeboys, made a little group like everybody else, then after a little while I figured out I worked better by myself and the craft grew from there; it went from a passion to almost like an obsession and now it’s materialized. My big break was when I had gotten out of jail and someone from my team was like lets take a trip to NY I think I got a meeting for you at a label. Mind you i’m not supposed to leave the state or anything like that. But lets go see what this is about, if it could change my life it could change my life. So we get up there, we get to NY, and nobodies answering the phone, they called the office and the dude we were supposed to meet was out of the city! He was in Miami chilling apparently. So i’m HOT, i’m mad as fuck, thinking about quitting music, then next thing you know a mutual friend between me and AG was in New York at the same time, he knew me but I didn’t know him at the time so he hit me up and was like “yo I got someone from Def Jam over here at the studio” so maybe I should come over there and talk to him. So I say ok lets see if I can set this shit off and see what it’s about. We walk all the way across New York City and I met this man AG and ever since I met AG we’ve been in touch you know, through him I got my a lot of my relationships, through him I got my relationship with Trey (Songz) and he’s just very influential part of my career and I appreciate him for that.

Q: Who do you look up to currently? Who influences your music now?
J.R. : Nelly, because of where i’m from St Louis, he definitely influenced my career, made me feel it was more possible for me to make something of my career with what he did for the city. Outside of that I don’t really look up to too many people, like I said i’m real competitive and the music that we got can hang with anybody else’s music. Besides that it’s just gonna be the people that I kick it with, Trey Songz, Dave, Mike Angel, the people who I be around are the people who I am influenced by. The people who I sit around and make music with, thats who influences me, I keep it internal.

Q: So I heard ‘Gang Season’ is slated to drop in January, what can we expect off of that?
J.R. : Ima show them more of my diversity, I want people to understand its more than best friend, It’s a great record and it’s doing great but I just want to be able to show the world that I got way more too. I go all over, I do R&B, as you may know I have a record out with a group from Cali called FHB called ‘Beyonce’ it’s going crazy out there, that one’s more Pop-R&B, more of that era, I just want people to understand the artistry is that we take pride in being able to do whatever, any style.

Q: We’ve got a new year coming up, what do you have on the horizon? any specific goals you want to achieve?
J.R. : Cutting a bunch of checks, mainly just letting the world know what we on, make sure the world recognize what we’re doing.

Q: What was it like working with Trey Songz on ‘Best Friend’?
A: He’s Meticulous, that’s where I get a lot of influence from him as far as business & recording & work ethic, the man works like crazy, he does whatever he needs to do to provide. That’s why i’m fortunate to be around a person like that, like Nelly you know what i’m saying, people like that who heavily influence me & give me their guidance with the music and the business end, as far as all that stuffs concerned.

Q:Tell me what your song ‘M.I.A.’ is about.
J.R. : [Laughs] Tellin’ N****s keep it together, cause at the end of the day everybody a man, we’re all men, & you know, we all resolve our problems and handle them differently and with certain people you can just play with them and certain people you can’t do that with. Separating men from the boys.

Q: What’s a dream collab that you have? producer or artist.

J.R. : Producer I wanna get something with Pharrell, that’s forsure I wanna do something with Pharell, with artists i’d wanna do something with Erykah Badu or a Lauryn Hill. One of the Two.
Q: You like female emcees?
J.R. : Yeah, Yeah you know what i’m saying we would make it work, the record would be crazy that’s what i’m saying, y’all gotta hear more of whats to come in the future. There’s a lot that the squad is capable of.

Q: Shout out someone who you know is out here hustling and putting on.
J.R. : S/O to the whole damn gang, all my 227 N*****s, they out here getting this money, these N*****s out here trying to progress in life, some of my N*****s getting home from the joint, we out here breathing and we gone keep on winning.