King J is Serving up Unapologetic Authenticity With His Debut EP
If Atlanta hasn’t already been crowned the goldmine of fresh new hip hop, consider King J’s rise the city’s official christening: with a debut EP focusing on “everyday shit” (thought it’s anything but ordinary), titled My Favorite Things, and a degree in the works from NYC‘s own Columbia University, this rapper is putting his stake in the ground as yet another lyrical genius in the making. And as for that debut EP, he credits many, many folks with its creation; friends, family, and experiences (both personal and universal) played a role in its emergence.
King J may have relocated to NYC, but his roots remain the city he—and so many others—call home. And no matter where you find him, one thing’s certain: he’ll always be 100 percent unapologetically himself. No complaints here.
I want to talk about My Favorite Things. You said it’s your take on everyday shit, but do you feel like the tracks are all connected through more than that, or are they stand-alone singles?
They’re not stand-alone singles, it’s definitely a cohesive tape. I can pinpoint every song with a different moment in my life. I made the first song, “Natural”, in my second semester of my senior year of college. That was when me and my girlfriend were off and on, we had broken up, and it was kind of like me saying, “I can move on to somebody else.” Some of the lyrics reveal little things like “there’s others I could be choosing,” little lines like that that show what I’m going through. We got back together and the next song is about interracial dating. Everything on the album is walking you through this past year. My favorite song on the tape is “WTFYH”, or “Why the Fuck You Hatin”. It’s almost a gospel song. I loved it because I got to express my lyricism as a rapper and also showcases my singing abilities that I got through years and years of singing in the church choir in Georgia. It’s just all about showcasing who I am. It’s not about robbing, or violence, or anything like that—it’s completely myself. People get reminded to be themselves when they listen to my music. It’s unapologetically me. I’m not saying [derogatory] words but I’m still going hard. I’m putting little glimmers of who I am in each song. It’s just everyday life, and people vibe with it.
How’d you get your start?
I was with a friend of mine, Imani—we go back to middle school, both in this program called the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program. What that program does is pair African American and Latino young musicians with symphony orchestra musicians and we get free private classical music lessons until we graduate to high school. Their motto is changing the face of American orchestra, so I don’t know where I’d be without that program. That’s how I got into Boston University for professional performance, I was deep into the band shit. I was first chair at All State, playing, and now that I started rapping a year and some change ago, I reconnected with this friend and she said she wanted to get away from the classical trumpet stuff she was doing and collab with me. That’s why I’m so excited about the album—it’s about so many people in my life.
How’d you come up with the concept for My Favorite Things?
I originally wanted to put out a mixtape of me rapping over songs that are already done freestyle. It would be My Favorite Things because it’s my favorite songs that I’m freestyling over. And then I started meeting a couple different people who are my managers now—Chelsea and Justin. They were telling me “Jordan, you can push yourself a little further”—come up with your own songs and your own story instead of putting your words over someone else’s beats. That’s how the title became My Favorite Things, and I always loved the actual song “My Favorite Things” from the musical The Sound of Music. It all seemed to click really, really well. Everything that I was doing and everything that I had going on over the summer when I was working on this project came together.
My favorite song off the album is “Interracial Dating”. I’ve definitely listened to it the most.
That’s definitely one of my favorites—probably my second favorite. The people that are on that song—I work at a camp, I’m really big into youth development. As soon as I got up to New York, I got a work study job to work at an elementary school in Harlem as an America Reads tutor.
Yeah, supporting them with reading help. I worked at this camp, Camp Best Friends, and my coworker is the girl that’s on the song, she was like, “ay I rap”, so I was like, alright, cool. So, one day after work, we went home and made the song. The dude on the song heard my part about representing for Africans, and he might be from Nigeria. He was like, I gotta get in on this. It’s truly a cultural experience with everything I’m making. There’s so much stuff that’s deeper than rap. I try not to waste a line and make sure every single one is made up of some substance that makes you think about something. There’s so many more crucial things that’s bigger than just rapping. I want to express that through rap—as well as what I do outside of the studio with my community.
What’s in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
I’m going to Columbia to get my Arts Administration degree. I want to open a youth arts center, come back home to Atlanta and open it there. That’s my big dream. I couldn’t be satisfied by just rapping. Some people can be happy just being rich and famous. That wouldn’t fulfill me because there’s so much more I have to offer this world. Rappers is just a speck in the scheme of what we can be as human beings. That goes for writers, that goes for plumbers, delivery boy—anybody. There’s so many ways we can expand ourselves. That’s what I want to encourage other rappers to do. I want to make the most out of every line I got over these beats.
That’s awesome. I’m excited for it to come out and see people’s reactions and see how they receive it.
Me too, a lot of people are really excited for this. I am as well and I’m really happy about how it came out.
Featured image courtesy of King J
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