RapperJ.I., 19, released his latest EP Hood Life Crisis Vol 3 just in time for the holidays on Dec. 18 — and he’s already promising more music to follow in 2021. The New York bred Latin singer even put out his first all Spanish single for the fans who are singing his praises. But they aren’t the only ones taking notice: J.I’s idol Drake, 34, has become a huge fan of the up and coming musician! The Toronto native blasted J.I.’s tune “Used To” in one of his Instagram Lives last spring, which was the ultimate compliment!
HollywoodLife went live on Instagram for a fun Q&A with J.I. on Jan. 8 where he opened up EXCLUSIVELY about the details behind their conversation while teasing that a collaboration is on hold for the time being.
HOLLYWOODLIFE: I want to talk to you about Drake because you guys did meet, you did have a conversation, so what was that like and is there any chance you guys had a little talk about collaborating?
J.I.: Not yet. He showed me a lot of love. When the time is right. I don’t like to rush — I don’t like to rush collabs. I tell them when the timing is right, we collab. I’d rather get my name up so that when we do collab, it’s like, ‘Oh shit.’ But he showed me real love. I appreciate the love.’
HL: Did he give you any advice into the music or the industry at all?
J.I.: The conversation was short. He gave me a lot of props. He gave me a lot of props for sure. He ain’t really say much but he should me a lot of love. He showed me a lot of love. I’m a big Drake fan. It’s always dope when someone on his level pays attention and they’re in tune and he singing on my lyrics shows like, ‘Oh shit, I sing your lyrics.’ It’s like a basketball player. You make it to the league. LeBron DMs you, “Go keep doing your thing. I saw you dunk it last night. That’s kind of what it felt like. It felt like, ‘He’s watching me and I work really hard.’ It felt really dope. This is somebody on top right now and this is really dope. I try to stay level headed.
HL: Are we working on new music right now?
J.I.: I mean, yeah. I’m always working on some new music. That’s the plan. The first part of volume 3 is out. We dropped it the 18th of December. Going great. I’m working on the second half. I promised the second half.
HL: 2021 — That will be the year of a new album for you? I think that’s the first thing fans want to know.
J.I.: It’s definitely going to be the year of the brand new album. The fans are definitely ready for that .I apologize because they’ve been asking from the gate. I feel like right now, I’m head cracking on the people with EPs. I feel like EPs are working really good but I feel like they’re ready for an album. I feel like when I take the time to work on an album, I’m going to get into a whole different zone with the music, so it don’t really matter.
HL: “Hood Life Crisis #3” came out last month just in time for the holidays so talk to me about that and what inspired you and how it felt to get it out there.
J.I.: It was a big anticipation. I feel like the fans really wanted it too, but, I don’t know. When I take time to do these projects, I take my time to involve the core sound because I feel like my people really — When they listen to J.I, they have a specific thing that they look for in my music so I try to deliver it every time. For example, I’m a fan too. When I listen to other artists, I kind of expect certain things from these artists when I prep for these artists or I prep for a single, so it’s kind of disappointing when your favorite artists don’t deliver, you know? So I try to deliver every time. I’m excited for the new music. I feel like the fans are going crazy. We have this remix too that we’re trying to release and get it pushed because the radio picked it up and the response from the fans has been ridiculous, so I’m just, I’m waiting to see what we do with that, too.
HL: Why do you think you were selected for the Bad Bunny Remix?
J.I.: I don’t know. I tried to do what I could do with it, you know? Just as far as my side and the English, New York and Little Wade we’ve got going on. I’m just a big fan of the record. I’m a big fan of Bad Bunny, Jhay Cortez so I just feel like it worked out either way.
HL: Why Hood Life?
J.I.: I don’t know. It’s who I am. Even with the project you hear reggae tone on it and I feel like there’s something playing for that too. I just feel like for the fans, I ‘ve got another Spanish record coming soon and I feel it’s in my culture, in my heritage, and I feel like I’ve got to embrace it, too. That’s my people. I feel like there’s something going out of my whole lane as far as what I’m doing and what I’ve got going on and it’s only fair that I tap in and I do it the right way.
HL: You said that the fans look at you for something specific, but what is that something specific that you have to deliver?
J.I.: I don’t really know. Just putting out music that they can relate to. I put out a lot of music that they can relate to when I put out my music, regardless of what the topic is. It could be love, it could be pain, it could be a struggling topic. Overall, whatever I put out, I want you to relate to it. I don’t want to put out something and feel like, ‘Damn. Nobody relates to this.’
HL: You’re one of the first big Latino rappers to come after Fat Joe and Big Pun, so what does that mean to you?
J.I.: I look to Big Pun like crazy because he’s somebody that I feel like had a torch and they way he impacted the game while he was around was crazy. The whole terror squad movement I feel like was legendary and I feel like I wanted to be a part of that growing up and I feel like for me coming out it’s dope right now. I’m like a pioneer with what I’ve got going on right now there’s a lot Bolinquas coming out. There’s a lot of Spanish artists coming out. We’ve got to pay attention. We’ve got shit to say. I’ve got shit to say like these people have got something to say. We’ve all got something to say. I’m happy because this whole movement going on, no trap.
HL: You’re very young but you’re very, very wise. When you got your first pay check you went to your accountant instead of buying a house or a car, something that people normally do, where did you get that wisdom from? Who’s credited for it and have you purchased anything by now?
J.I.: I feel like I had to manage my money. I had a lot of money coming in. I felt like I had to do something and I didn’t rush because i had to play taxes and I feel like taxes, I knew what was about to happen and I was nervous. Meeting with the accountant was a big step and it was necessary but I’m not going to lie, I only met with him like twice and I’ve been moving around but I look bad right now on my behalf, I’ve got to be honest. You’ve got to make the right moves. I’m only 19. I don’t know if this move is going to be here forever. I don’t know if it takes me being here forever. I could be here forever, but God may have a different plan for me, so I’ve got to situate myself the right way and I’m going to be honest, I’ve still got stuff left that I haven’t done yet, you know? Just to situate myself for the future, what can you do? That was a big move.
HL: Have you finally bought yourself something, though? A little splurge gift?
J.I.: I’ve got jewelry. I get clothes. I’ve spent money on dumb shit, don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent my money on dumb — Ugh, I don’t even what to speak about it. But now, I’m like, ‘Let’s get some common sense. Let’s get some common sense, J.I, let’s backtrack. Let’s see where this money’s going because I’m about to get out.
HL: You’re from New York so do you have a favorite Bodega shop to get chopped cheese?
J.I.: It’s funny because you can’t just get a chopped cheese from anybody. You can’t just go to anybody and get one. I remember one time I took a risk. I was in Manhattan and starving. I went to Manhattan to get this chopped cheese and that shit tasted so good. I go to this spot near my hood called Big Heads on Franklin Ave. You live in my neighborhood you go to Big Head, that’s his name.
HL: 2021 or even 2022 — Who would you love to work with that you haven’t yet and why?
J.I.: Different artists. Anybody. You’d be surprised who’s tuned in. I’ve chopped it up with everybody, so I would love to work with anybody. Robbie Rich is dope. Little Oozy is dope. Young Thug is dope. I love what they’re doing. Little Baby is crazy. Great for me. Future. I love Future. Future’s going cray. Whenever the time is right. When we get something, we get something in.
HL: What was it like working with A. Boogie?
J.I.: He’s cool people for sure. You don’t come across a lot of genuine people in this industry, I can say that, because people have different energies, but I can say he’s a genuine person for sure. He was dope.