Category Underground News

Exclusive Interview: CMJ Real and Raw

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CMJ (Christopher Michael Jensen) is a Minneapolis based hip hop artist. He goes by the initials of his given name. That is unique to hip hop and is something he decide to do early on his career. This speaks to the type of artist and person he is. He does not have any gimmick or persona just the real and raw CMJ.

In his music you will find him touching on topics such as common struggles, relationships, politics, and personal battles. His music ranges from confrontational to soul searching that really hit home.

CMJ is an artist with a pure love for the hip hop culture. He considers himself a student of the culture. He works a regular 9-5 as he continues to build his hip hop career in the indie hip hop mecca Minnesota.

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You will find CMJ laying down tracks, performing at shows, attending other hip hop shows and even putting in long days in the cities promoting his upcoming shows and projects.

P.O.S. and CMJ Concert

P.O.S. and CMJ Concert

CMJ has been rapping and building his career since 2000 and it shows. He has shared the stage with some hip hop legends such as Slick Rick and some MN hip hop legends such as DJ Abilities, Lizzo, Dem Atlas, Toki Wright, Kill The Vultures and more.

We caught up with CMJ to talk about what he has been up to along with his future endeavors including an upcoming show with P.O.S.

Check out the interview:

HHC: How did you get started in Hip Hop?

CMJ: The earliest memories of hip hop that I can remember were when I was a really little kid, hearing MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice on the radio, and my brother’s Kris Kross cassette tape. I didn’t really get into hip hop, though, until I was 13-years-old. When I got home one day from school, I went down into the basement and my older brother was playing a rap song on the family computer, and he started putting all these MP3’s and full albums on the computer that he was getting from his friends and started buying CD’s. This was when Napster first came out, too, so the ability to download anything we wanted was pretty crazy. I just started listening to all of these different artists when I would be on the computer for hours and hours and kept getting exposed to all of this stuff and getting really into it. This was the year 2000, too, so it was also the same year that Minnesota got the B96 station on the radio which was awesome for a kid who was just getting really into the music. My brother started rapping with his friends as kind of a jokey thing, and so I did, too. We performed together at one of his high school talent shows together. We used to make beats on the computer with this loop program that was fairly new at the time called ACID and I would record with the computer mic and make homemade albums and burn CD’s for people. Within a few years, I started writing more serious lyrics and songs and just stuck with it the whole time, performing at school events and talent shows myself. It’s been 16 years now since I first started writing raps and I’m still making hip hop music.

HHC: Who are your biggest influences?

CMJ: I’m a fan of so much music and art in general and get inspired creatively by a lot of things. I have always been exposed to hip hop across a pretty large spectrum, from mainstream to underground and from really current stuff to really old school stuff dating back to the 80’s. I have always tried to consume as much as I can and study it and take it in. One of my favorite emcees of all time is Eminem who was one of the first rappers early on that I discovered multi-syllable rhyme cadences in his writing when I was reading the lyrics to one of his songs online one day, and then I just started seeing and listening to the rhyme patterns in all of the songs I would listen to. You know, people that are really technical rhyme technicians have always been artists that have influenced me, like Kool G Rap, Big Pun, Big L, Pharoahe Monch…the list goes on. Some of my favorite acts are also Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan, OutKast, Kanye, Biggie, Black Thought, as well as underground legends like the Demigodz, Non Phixion, Cage, MF Doom, Phonte, of course a group like Atmosphere who has been hugely influential on me, you know, just too many people to mention them all in this interview. I could geek out about dozens and dozens of emcees all day that I have studied and listened to and tell you how they have affected me and my music.

HHC: So tell us the back story of how you came up with your name?

CMJ: I think when I was 15 I just decided to use my full, birth-given name as an artist. No confusion as to who it is, no moniker or persona or alias, you know what I mean? Just me, Christopher Michael Jensen. A lot of people just shorten that and call me C.M.J.

HHC: You have some very creative music videos. Tell us about the process behind getting the ideas for them and making them?

CMJ: Thank you! I am usually open to ideas. I’ve been really lucky to meet people in the local scene who are very talented videographers and directors and editors and who are constantly growing and getting better and better at what they do. I will usually have a general idea for a song’s video that I will take to whoever I decide to do the particular video with, but usually that’s just like a jumping off point and the final direction of the video gets taken way beyond that and turns into something I couldn’t even imagine. Sometimes the video idea will be really connected to the content of the song so there’s at least somewhat of a blueprint that inspires where we go with it, and other times it’s just some crazy stuff that we come up with while shooting and in post production.

HHC: What is it like to share the stage with legends like  Slick Rick and Joell Ortiz?

CMJ: Very surreal. You know, any time you get to rock a show with someone who you have been listening to and looked up to for years and who is a legend and such a huge part of hip hop as a whole, that is just the biggest honor and means so much to me to get to be on the same bill as them. It’s really, really humbling and I am just so grateful whenever that happens.

HHC: You have done some collab’s with some local heavy hitters like DJ Abilities, Lizzo, Dem Atlas, Toki Wright, and  Carnage The Executioner. What is it like working with them?

CMJ: The only one I’ve actually collaborated with on a song is Dem Atlas, who I’ve been friends with since 2011 when I met him and he was first coming up locally. Carnage and I have known each other for a while and he has given me major props as an emcee which is a great honor because of how long he has been doing this for and how crazy dope he is as an emcee and the trails he helped blaze in the local Twin Cities scene to help make it what it is today. We’ve freestyled together a lot and have talked about making something together, so I hope that that happens soon. All of those people you mentioned I have been lucky to play shows with, though, and they are all seasoned artists as far as what they do and all of them kill it, so that’s really inspiring. I look at all of their success and I aspire to attain where they have gotten to, you know, and make the same impact they have.

HHC: The MN hip hop scene has been on fire for a long time. In the past it seemed to be very click-ish. Do you see more and more artists working to up the scene as a whole?

CMJ: I definitely look at the local scene as a great community. Honestly, when I started becoming close with a lot of the people I met in the scene a handful of years ago it changed my life 180 degrees, and I mean that truthfully. To get to be in this scene which has become such a mecca for indie hip hop – and now even making waves in the mainstream – is in and of itself such a great gift. That of course has fostered hundreds and hundreds of artists with skills and ambition to make it. Being around people who all have similar goals and dreams and getting to be so immersed in hip hop day in and day out is hard to describe to people who aren’t a part of the local scene and community and the culture that has been developed here. Even though I’m still fairly unknown in the grand scheme of things, I am living my dream, in a way, every day because of hip hop and because of what the local scene has allowed me. I know that some people locally have maybe not had the same experiences or felt the same way, but I really feel like you get what you put into it. If you work really hard, continuously network and try to build something, and also treat people well and try to avoid drama, for the most part you’re going to get a lot out of it. A healthy competitive nature and pushing each other to get better is great; I am thrilled whenever I see people thriving in the scene, and a lot of people have been immensely supportive of me and my career. The drama and the backstabbing bullshit drama and pettiness should all die, as far as I am concerned. I do see a lot of that, too, unfortunately, but overall there are way more positives to this scene and what is going on than negative shit, and I hope that that gets better and better.

HHC: Have you seen the hip hop documentary “Adult Rappers” – (Fandependentfilms.com/films/101/adult-rappers)? Is the rappers grind really the way it was portrayed in that film?

CMJ: Yes, I have seen that documentary and I love it; I’ve recommended it to a bunch of people. I would say that everything talked about in that film is ultra real and the thoughts and emotions and self-doubt and frustrations and awkward conversations with people who don’t understand what you do and all that are all things that independent rappers who are getting older and trying to navigate in a notoriously hard industry have to deal with.

HHC: You have a show coming up with P.O.S. Tell the fans why they should come out?

CMJ: This show is gonna be one of the biggest I’ve ever gotten to be a part of. P.O.S. is a local legend, obviously, and one of the most successful hip hop artists in Minnesota history. I’ve been listening to him since I was like 18 and again, it’s surreal and a great honor for me to be playing on this show with someone like that. I am gonna definitely put everything I have into my set that night. This one is for sure not to be missed, I promise!

HHC: You recently tweeted that you spent over seven overs moving around the Twin Cities promoting your upcoming show. How many days like that do you typically spend promoting shows?

CMJ: I don’t have a street team, you know, so if you’re doing physical promo, especially for a big show, a lot of times you have to do it yourself. I have somewhat of a promo route that I usually like to hang posters, so if you try to knock it out in one day, sometimes it takes that long to drive around the cities and walk multiple blocks to get up everything. On a weekly basis, there’s usually at least one show I might be at, if not multiple ones, so you know I generally have flyers in my backpack, too, in case I need to give people some. Thankfully the Internet and social media has made promoting shows a lot easier than it used to be, and in some ways can be even more effective, so I post a lot online and keep people up to speed with events coming up that way quite a bit throughout the weeks.

HHC: Tell the readers about your style and what they can expect from your music?

CMJ: I talk a lot about emotional issues in my music, speak on depression, I delve into the state of hip hop a bunch, I talk about politics quite a bit, and I also have a lot of just braggadocious, shit-talking tracks, too, and some upbeat party-type of tracks, you know? I just try to bring everything that I love about hip hop into my music and be well-rounded with lots of things because that’s the kind of artist I am and definitely want to do more than one thing. I try to push myself lyrically as much as I can and experiment with different kinds of cadences and rhyme schemes and flows. I also sing a lot in my songs, as well, so I try to be multi-faceted. I plan on exploring more where I can go with all of this.

HHC: What does CM Cool J do when not rapping?

CMJ: I work a day job to try to keep my finances straight since making money off of music can be very tricky and since I am fairly broke. I watch a lot of comedies and follow politics which I am passionate about. I like to spend a lot of times with my friends, too, most of whom I know through music. I spend a lot of time in the music scene regardless, so even when I am not rapping, I’m around art and music and rapping most of the time.

HHC: We typically ask every artist this question. What advice can you give anyone getting into hip hop?

CMJ: Spend a lot of time honing your skills and know why you’re doing this. Also, it’s really important to have a long-term plan and you really have to stick with doing this without stopping. Momentum over time is kind of the key to making any waves and having success, and building off one thing to the next and just keep going with it and seeing how even the small things can be capitalized off of. You have to do all of this for years. Over time, if you’re serious enough about this and have a real passion, you will be able to do great things. If you have an emotional investment in hip hop, you won’t want to stop. Another thing I would definitely say you should do, is learn as much as you can about hip hop music and culture: read as much as you can, get as many of the classic albums that you can and study them and take them in, watch as many interviews and documentaries, go to shows…I mean, really just know the history and how things have shaped over time and fully embrace this. You’ll have a much better foundation then. And, in my personal opinion, if you really love something, you should wanna know as much about it as you can.

HHC: What can we expect from CM Cool J this year?

CMJ: I am currently working on new music. Not sure when it will all come out yet, but I will at least be debuting a lot of it live soon. I’ve also got a lot of cool shows in the works for later this year, as well. Hopefully some more surprises, too. I’m excited!

HHC: Name 5 MN hip hop artists the readers should keep an eye on this year?

CMJ: There’s a lot I could mention, but North Star Wisdom, SOFTPORECORN, Lizea Harper, Catalyst, and EJ are five that immediately come to mind. They are all amazingly talented artists who are gonna start making a lot more noise soon.

HHC: Anything else you want the readers to know?

CMJ: Check out my website – http://www.christophermichaeljensen.com – and stay up to date with everything I got going on and coming up. You can also hear music, see videos, get merch, and all of that on there. To anybody who has supported me over the years, I love you and I thank you. I can’t wait for what lies ahead. Much love.

Learn more about CMJ at these spots:

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4th Annual Twin Cities Urban Music Awards 2016 Recap

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Twin Cities URBAN Music Awards 2016 was a success! It was a fun night as many Twin Cities based artists came out to celebrate and many won awards. The event had red carpet interviews by DJ Mr Peter Parker of Go 95.3 along with performances by many of the winning artists. HipHopClub.biz was proud to sponsor this event. Events like these are important to a hip hop scene as it brings the players in that community together to be recognized for their hard work over the previous year.

Here is an exclusive recap video and photos from the event:

CLICK ON IMAGE FOR BEST PHOTO VIEWING EXPIERENCE.


(Shout out to our newest HHC members Tasha and Kara for the video and photos!)

Congratulations to all of the artists that won best for this year in their respective category. Here is the list of the category winners for 2015:
  • Best Graphic Artist Of The Year
    Vizion Studios
  • Promoter Of The Year
    Mz QueenT of Next To Blow Radio
  • Photographer Of The Year
    13twentythree Photography
  • Rookie Of The Year
    Ace Da Animal
  • TC’s Next To Blow
    Genesis
  • TC’s Most Slept On
    T.E.C.
  • Lyricist Of The Year
    Spankie “Ace G” Thomas
  • Best Group Of The Year
    Frostbyte
  • Music Video/Videographer Of The Year
    Funky Flo – K Allen Dir. Sam Armstrong
  • Song Of The Year
    T.E.C.- My Time
  • Record Label Of The Year
    21st Street Ent
  • Mixtape Of The Year
    Moneysota Vol. 8 Mr. Peter Parker x DJ D-Mil (hosted by Waka Flocka)
  • Album Of The Year
    Juice G – Do I Have Yo ATTENCHUN?!
  • Male R&B Artist Of The Year
    Suga Shane
  • Female R&B Artist Of The Year
    TIE Between Ashley Dubose & Shaiana Ginae
  • Producer Of The Year
    Abe Lincoln
  • Best Radio Show Of The Year
    Next To Blow Radio
  • STP MVP Of The Year
    TIE between Loudpacc 2c’s & 2Tone
  • MPLS MVP Of The Year
    TIE between Rello Whud-up Jackson & MrNewz
  • Male Rap Artist Of The Year
    Dima Kash
  • Female Rap Artist Of The Year
    Sweetz P.
  • Grinder Of The Year
    DJ Laylow
  • DJ Of The Year
    DJ D.Mil
  • Host Of The Year
    Recess Kidd Redd Tadow
  • Battle Rapper Of The Year
    Angelo Vescio aka The Vesh

Be sure to check out these artists over 2016. Shout out to the organizers of the event NMU, all the artists that participated, and all the fans! The Minnesota hip hop movement gets better year after year. Looking forward to TCUMA 2017!

www.thetwincitiesurbanmusicawards.com

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Exclusive Interview: Breath of fresh air with St Paul Slim

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3 things can describe St. Paul Slim seasoned, versatile, and a breath of fresh air. He is a hip hop artist from Minnesota that has been doing big things for many years. Slim was Born in Chicago and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has dropped 5 albums dating all the way back to 2002.

Slim is the co-founder of MN hip hop super group Guardians of Balance (G.O.B). He is a past winner of a Twin Cities URBAN Music Award, has had his music featured on TV shows, has been featured on 10+ successful hip hop projects. Slims resume goes deep!

Slim covers a wide spectrum of topics in his music. This gives him appeal to all social demographics in hip hop. Slim can rock shows from the roughest hoods to suburban areas. To Slim’s diverse hip hop fans he is considered the peoples champ emcee.

Slim delivers legendary stage performances no matter where he is performing. He has rocked clubs all the way to massive festivals such as SoundSet, SXSW, and Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Slim has even performed at a past HHC show at the University of Minnesota back in 2005.

Slim2 Guardians of Balance (Slim on left) backstage at the U OF M HHC show in 2005.

Some hip hop stars Slim has shared the stage with consist of MC LYTE, SLICK RICK, KRS-1, CLIPSE, CEE LO, SLUM VILLAGE, WIZ KHALIFA, TWISTA, NAUGHTY BY NATURE, Ryhmesayers artists, Prof and more….

Slim shares a label roster with another rising Minnesota Hip Hop star. He is a label mate with Prof on Stophouse Music Group. Slim returned to the Stophouse Music Group label in 2015 and plans to release a new project in 2016. Slim will be releasing multiple singles 2016 so be on the lookout.

A lessor known side of Slim is that he also is a renowned painter. Talk about an artist being versatile. He has some serious hip hop art. Here are some shots of some of his paintings:

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HHC was excited to connect with Slim to hit up an interview. We talked about music, art and the future. Check out the interview with Slim:

Let’s jump into your music and your career.

HHC: When did you actually start to get serious with being an emcee?

SLIM: After I came home from the Marines and discovered that the scene I left, years prior was starting to take Rap serious.

HHC: You have been in the Minnesota hip hop scene for a while now. How have you seen it change over the years?

SLIM: The quality of product that people are putting out now verses the late 90s early 2000s.

HHC: You have covered a range of topics in your music over the years, what are some of the topics we can expect you to cover in the future?

SLIM: Babies having babies, relationship issues, politics issues, self-improvement. And of course the party.

HHC: Describe what someone can expect at one of your shows to the readers?

SLIM: High Energy, high Quality, never a dull moment. I like to engage my audience alot.

HHC: What is the most memorable show or project you have worked on in your career?

SLIM: My most memorable show didn’t happen until last year. Soundset 2015 where I hosted, that was the most memorable. Projects at this level are not always that memorable it’s hard dealing with peoples schedules egos etc.

HHC: Have you gone on tour with Rhymesayers or Doomtree before, if so what was the experience like?

SLIM: I did Summerfest with Rhymesayers. It was a good experience it was fun to work with professionals. When you work with people that know exactly how things are supposed to run then it’s always fun. No tour with Doomtree. The only person who has been gracious enough to take me on tour is Prof. I did a tour with Kanser back in 2005. I did a tour down to South by Southwest back in 2011 but I was headlining. It was cool but the people I did the tour with we are no longer cool like that so that probably won’t happen again. Unless I do it myself.

HHC: Now that you are back with Stophouse what can we expect from you in the near future?

SLIM: You can expect more music. More merch. Hopefully a tour. But definitely more organization and what Slim is doing.

HHC: For the readers break down the concept behind your first single ‘Riot’ from your upcoming project?

SLIM: The concept for Riot is tonight B control by mainstream society, media, or ideas. Be in control yourself. After you get that self control, when people try to put you in a box or treat you a certain way make noise don’t let nobody f*** you over.

HHC: When will we see a new project from Guardians of Balance?

SLIM: Very soon. We are getting things mixed and master as we speak.

HHC: Being that you are originally from Chicago what are your thoughts on the Drill music coming out of there and the scene in general?

SLIM: Chicago’s always going to have a Dope hip hop scene. People don’t act like haters in Chicago like they do up here with that Minnesota nice s***. I’m not really up on drill, hip hop is hip hop to me. As long as it’s done in good taste and expands the culture I’m with it.

HHC: Any future collab’s in the works with Chicago artists?

SLIM: Most definitely, keep in mind there’s a lot of people in Minnesota doing music that are from Chicago. And also I got family in Chicago doing music. And Psalm One is my homie, shout out to her.

HHC: Minnesota has recently seen the launch of 3 new hip hop radio stations with one of them (GO 95.3) playing local hip hop. What are your thoughts on this recent flood of new stations in MN?

SLIM: The more the merrier. As long as one of them play me, we all good.

HHC: What advice would you give someone that is trying to break into hip hop?

SLIM: The advice that I have for somebody coming into this game is this : be original, be bumpin, be talking about something relevant, have a team, be organized, and be consistent.

Let’s talk about your art.

HHC: Dope artwork. How long have you been painting?

SLIM: Thanks a billion. I’ve been painting since high school, I just kept it under wraps.

HHC: Describe your process when you do a new piece?

SLIM: My process when I do a new piece is to first get inspired. After I find some type of inspiration I paint an abstract piece which means I just grabbed a bunch of paint and then just put it anywhere on the canvas to create a background. Then, after that I bomb it, meaning, I tag it up with something inspirational like a saying of some sort. After that I sit with it for a little while maybe put some more sayings on it, really give the piece some blessings. You know? Then usually by that time I know exactly what I want to put over that. And then I put an actual what I call abstract piece on top of that. Some type of character some type of thing. That’s my process.

HHC: Who is your favorite painter?

SLIM: I don’t have a favorite I enjoy a lot of people’s different art but I can’t say that one person’s art is my favorite over another person’s it’s all relevant in my mind. I would hate to only limit myself to having 1 favorite or a few favorites. There so many dope artists that do so much Dope s*** in the world it’s impossible for me to have a favorite.

HHC: Are you a fan of Justin Bua’s work?

SLIM: Hell yeah! He’s an inspiration and an aspiration. His work is Dope.

HHC: Where can people come see and buy your artwork?

SLIM: I have work in the Mall Of America right now. Till probably the end of March. Then I plan on doing an art show at Fifth Element in a few other galleries around town. I always post my work on Facebook @StPaulSlim. People can purchase prints on Stpaulslim.com the name of my company is: ‘The W8 On Empty Space’ and if you google that my stuff will pop up.

HHC: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Anything else you want to say?

SLIM: Peace and love to the fans. Keep supporting greatness.

J Dilla by Slim

J Dilla by Slim

You can learn more about Slim on any of the following links:

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Exclusive Interview: To the front with Just Wulf

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Just Wulf is an independent artist in the thriving Minnesota hip hop scene. Just Wulf consists of emcee Justin Wulf along with his producer Prime.Cut. He is a part of the Hecatomb collective. Hecatomb consists of some other familiar names in the scene such as Carnage, Desdamona, Capaciti, Knonam, Katana Da Don and more.

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Justin has been putting work in the Twin Cities music scene for over a decade dropping albums, doing shows and more.

Just Wulf has dropped two albums with the latest album being “Where Wulf?!”. Just Wulf has been a guest on the following radio shows Radio K, Unpopular Media, and CaddySwag Radio and has performed with some of Minnesota’s major artists in the scene. Check out one of his music videos “Don’t Look Down” here:

HipHopClub recently had the chance to talk to Justin about what he has been up to and what Just Wulf has coming up next. Check out the interview below.

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HHC: How did you get started as an emcee?

Just Wulf: I’ll answer this question with a verse I just wrote last month:

“The first rap I ever wrote was in the 7th grade / Had to write a paper on the plays Shakespeare had made / My teacher taught us the freedom in a poetic license / Handed back my paper with remarks on my creative writing.

My confidence solidified from the positive comments / Took it to heart and entered my school’s talent contest / Taught myself how to beat-box, recorded on cassette / Rehearsed my delivery, syncopation and dialect.

That night, changed the rest of my life / Palms sweaty, feelin’ nervous about droppin’ the mic / When they called my name, that’s when it all felt right / I got on stage with my rhymes and began to recite.

The fire started to burn inside of my vocal chords / Something I never expected, or even felt before / That day, lyricism became my true passion / I wanted to master this art form, so I took action!”

HHC: What have you been up to since dropping your sophomore album, “Where Wulf?!”?

Just Wulf: Man, I’ve been up to a lot! Releasing a new body of work into the world that you’ve incrementally made progress on over the years has its benefits in the end. In addition to people getting to hear your music, it creates a natural buzz that others are interested in and want to experience. Since the release of “WhereWulf?!” in late 2015, I’ve done interviews on CaddySwag Radio, Unpopular Media, WE NEXT Radio (WEQY 104.7FM) and others. I also really appreciate Radio K (KUOM 770AM) for keeping my new record in constant rotation. I have just been doing shows around the Twin Cities, but late February, I had the opportunity to travel to Kansas City, Missouri to do a special performance. I was asked by Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy of Technology to be a guest speaker for their K-8 students about being a person of color balancing a music career and being an IT professional. I rocked a few songs in-between sharing my experiences and providing some inspirational words of encouragement. I motivated them to continue their journey in getting a STEM education while not giving up what they’re passionately on-fire about. It basically equated to me saying that nothing’s wrong with having a professional career that pays the bills and a vocational career that fills your spirit because it’s REALLY difficult to find one career that will satisfy both of your needs.

HHC: What can fans expect from one of your albums?

Just Wulf: My intent is for listeners to expect honest lyricism over bangin’ beats. Hip-hop music is the avenue of creativity that I chose to express myself and share my stories with others. I whole-heartedly believe that honest music is much more than what you play in the background. It has purpose, it is intentional, and it is used to connect people together to remind us that we all have personal struggles, we all want to be desired, and want to have fun. Listeners will expect a mixture of everything when it comes to my music. Topics from having a bi-racial identity to punchline raps to inspiring optimism. I put my life in these lines.

HHC: We know Prime.Cut is your main producer. What other producers if any have you worked with?

Just Wulf: I’ve worked with a wide range of local producers over the years. To name a few, I’ve made songs with Big Jess, Cory Grindberg, Julian Fairbanks, Andre Mariette, Dro, BuzzBoy, and Deca One.

HHC: Who are your biggest influences in hip hop?

Just Wulf: Before I started rapping, I listened to a lot of GRITS, Ludacris, and MF Doom. Each of them taught me something very different about hip hop. The two emcees in GRITS (Bonafide and Coffee) taught me how powerful it is to write songs that inspire people to overcome their personal struggle and doubts. They helped me through some of the roughest times in my childhood as I dealt with depression and questioning my existence. I learned from Ludacris that witty punchlines, lyrical cadence, and overall confidence on the mic gave you a voice that can’t be ignored. MF Doom taught me that you can be weird, introspective, and conscious all at the same time without compromising who you truly are. If you expected me to list Jay-Z, Nas, Tupac, Biggie or KRS-One, I’m not sorry. Growing up, they were simply not MY influences in hip hop. I had to keep it one-hunna’.

HHC: Who are your biggest influences in the MN hip hop scene?

Just Wulf: Medium Zach and Brandon Allday from Big Quarters were HUGE influences on my career. I was a part of their summer Songwriting & Music Production workshops back in the day at Hope Community Center in Minneapolis. I learned the fundamentals of audio engineering, mixing, mastering, song structure, stage presence and more. Their class is what influenced me to take my music to the next level by utilizing local resources and marketing myself as an artist. Other than Brandon and Zach’s influence, I have learned a lot from just attending other local artists’ shows and having conversations with them. I’m inspired by Carnage the Executioner, MaLLy, Felix, Guante, Mike Dreams, Big Jess, Mac Spillz, Glo, and many others who have impacted me with their music and knowledge.

HHC: The MN hip hop scene is one of the most thriving scenes in the world. What do you think drives this?

Just Wulf: I don’t think anyone from Minnesota can deny that RhymeSayers Entertainment plays a huge role in driving the scene. Especially with their annual SoundSet Festival, people from all over the world hear about it and look to Minnesota as a hot spot for hip hop. However, if it wasn’t for all of the dedicated artists and musicians who are active and keep Minnesota’s music scene alive and thriving, we wouldn’t have that kind of pull in general. Not much more I can think of to add here.

HHC: Describe what a fan can expect at one of your shows?

Just Wulf: Crowd participation. I don’t know when I started doing this, but before every show, I ask people to move up to the front of the stage before I start my set. A lot of performing artists forget to pop that awkward bubble in front where no one steps forward for whatever reason. I want you to get out of your comfort zone and fully experience what I have to share. That way, I can also feed off of your energy and bring a better show. I’ll ask you to shout lines from choruses back to me and put your hands up every once in a while, of course.

HHC: We know you have done shows with other MN hip hop heavy hitters such as Eyedea & Abilities, Carnage the Executioner, Guante, Big Quarters, Unknown Prophets, what is it like to do shows with some of these artists?

Just Wulf: It’s a whole lotta fun! That’s really it. I enjoy sharing stages with other artists that have inspired me. It gives me a moment to shine in front of their fan base so that they can catch a glimpse of what they have passed down to me and hopefully they cop a CD if they liked what they heard.

HHC: Are you signed to or officially affiliated with Carnage and Hecatomb if so how did that come about?

Just Wulf: I am now affiliated and one of the newest members of Hecatomb. To give a quick explanation for those who don’t know, Hecatomb is a hip hop super group comprised of talented rappers and producers both locally in Minnesota and even worldwide. The criteria is that you have to be a good person, be exceptionally skilled in your art form, and be so hungry that you always want to achieve new levels with your craft. Carnage wanted to holler at me for a minute, but when he put me on the bill for his “Save The Show! 2” at the Bedlam Lowertown in late November 2015, I’m pretty sure he was convinced he wanted me in Hecatomb after my performance. We met up at the Dark Horse a couple months later and had a conversation about my music career aspirations and expectations of what being in Hecatomb could offer me. Next thing I knew, we shook hands and I was in!

HHC: Tell us about any upcoming projects you have in the works?

Just Wulf: Right now, I’m working on some new joints with producers Jordan Alamat and WEB Beats. Nothing planned yet in terms of projects. Just in the studio making some mo’ bangers.

HHC: What advice can you give other up and coming emcees?

Just Wulf: First and foremost, stay true to yourself. The hip-hop scene, both locally and nationally, is over saturated with rappers who mimic one another and aren’t genuine. If you make quality music that is expressive of your journey or who you are as a human being, that’s what matters most. Don’t crave for society’s approval. Some people will be drawn to the “trendy” sounding artists for the moment, but trends change and people become uninterested. If you are honest in your music and put in the work, people will notice and you will have a more sustainable fan base of people that will support you in the long-run.

HHC: There has been a trend in hip hop recently with more and more artists deciding to stay independent, what do you think about this path vs trying to land a major deal?

Just Wulf: I think artists are realizing the amount of manipulation that goes on behind the scenes with major record labels. Most of the time, staying independent means you won’t have as many people telling you what you should be doing with your art and your image. I mean, you will always have people who will tell you those things, but they don’t have the authority to control you. If you were offered to sign a major record deal, you better read through those documents carefully. If they are suggesting you compromise your art for what they envision you to become, you gotta be ready to accept that or walk away. Unless, of course, money is your motivation factor and you’re only trying to get signed so you can make money, which could wager how you feel about labels. I feel like I’m ranting, it’s probably because I feel like I should give an adequate response to this question. Either way, you have the ability to do everything that a majorly signed artist will have the opportunity to do if you stay independent and put in the work.

HHC: Where can the readers catch one of your next shows?

Just Wulf: My next show is Wednesday, March 9th at Amsterdam Bar & Hall in Downtown St. Paul for this month’s WE NEXT Showcase hosted by DJ Huh! What?. Here’s the link to RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1645500815706186/

HHC: Anything else you would like to say?

Just Wulf: Fam, if you got this far in reading my interview, I truly appreciate you for taking the time to learn more about me and how my brain formulates opinionated sentences. You’ve earned my respect. Also, thanks Wizdom & The Hip Hop Club for the interview opportunity! Peace & Love.

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