If you're looking for local talent to add to your playlist, Just Jimi should be at the top of your list. Hailing from Minneapolis, the 27-year-old rapper has spent countless hours mastering his craft, set on perfecting every syllable of his fast-growing discography.
Meticulous as they come, Jimi hesitates to casually release music, as his sky-high expectations demand the utmost attention to detail.
His early work mostly consists of rap and R&B, but he most recently drew inspiration from Machine Gun Kelley's most recent album, 'Tickets To My Downfall' executively produced by the legendary drummer Travis Barker from Blink 182.
As one of his dream collaborators, Jimi admires Barker's one-of-a-kind status as a modern rock icon. The 27-year-old also holds MGK on a pedestal, citing his respect for Kelly's rejuvenation efforts into the punk-pop scene that dominated the early 2000's.
Thirsty for the chance to collaborate with a rock band, Jimi linked with fellow up-and-comers "The Missing Letters" a rock band in the Twin Cities. Shortly after meeting, the unlikely pair immediately got in the lab and started churning out classics.
Together Jimi and The Missing Letters pumped out punk rock tracks at a rate like never before. With their collab making the cut on Jimi's upcoming album "Sign Me Up", I was fortunate enough to hit the studio with Jimi, where I scored a sneak peek at the talented native's newest project...
Needless to say, I was blown away. With crisp beats and high-level engineering, the sound selection is immaculate. In terms of content, his vulnerability is unmatched, as I was consistently floored by the raw emotion he funnels into such a well-crafted sound.
As the pop-rock resurgence gains steam, this release couldn't have come at a better time...
With standouts like "Mindfield", I was transported back to my junior high days, when pop-punk was the go-to cure for a bad day of middle school.
After giving it a listen, treat yourself to a WaterWaveTV exclusive interview with the pop-rock poet himself...
(Just Jimi & The Missing Letters)
What were some songs from your early childhood that you could recall having an influence on the music you make today?
The majority is anything made by the Jackson 5 or Boyz II Men, Who's Lovin' You, and 4 Seasons of Loneliness primarily. I was an emotional wreck as a kid and that shit still ain't changed much. My mom had left me a Walkman as a kid before she got locked up and these were the tapes she gave me. I played them bitches out for sure. I grew up sliding around the house with a broom and a sock on my hand thinking I was Lil MJ.
When did you write your first song?
The first song I wrote was a remix to a Wiz Khalifa song called "This Plane". I wasn't too worried about my voice or none of that when I first started out. It was more so just about having an outlet and I've stayed doing it that way. Of course, I've learned my voice more and what works for me and what doesn't work for my voice. The push was just wanting a release. I was that kid that could mesh in almost whatever circle you put me in but inside my head was just fucked up. So music helped me sort all of that out.
When did you really start taking music seriously?
I started taking music seriously the first time I uploaded my album BlkHeart, once I made the transition from SoundCloud to Spotify. I was committed to it. That was 2017. And from there I just dropped singles. I also dropped an EP titled 'BlkHeart II' which was just loose vibes that didn't make the original album. I wanted to drop BlkHeart III but I wasn't in a heartbreak space, so I kept those songs on a hard drive.
How would you describe your creative process?
You know it's really as simple as me loading up a beat these days and just talking to the music. I used to write but then it got to the point of me feeling like it was more of a task than a passion of mine and I just wasn’t feeling that relationship I had with music. “Cold Heart” was the first time I fully just went unwritten with a song. I came up with the hook on the way to a session with Jordan Anthony. And did the rest when I got there, and now I’ve just been feeling that process a lot more. Like my emotions know what I want to say before my brain does. So my process is just going with how I’m feeling at the moment.
What's the best piece of advice a musician gave to you?
Lil Wayne, when he said Go in the studio with CLIPS. It made me realize just figure it out when you are in the moment of it, you know like stop chasing the perfection in creating something. Let it exist being the raw you. Also, my big bro Dusa saw something in me early on and just stayed on me you know? He’s made so many transitions from streets to music, to businesses, and being a family man, I’m always reaching out to him just to see how to navigate all this stuff. It's tough to pinpoint any one piece of advice he’s given me because he's always dropping gems on me.
How do you feel about where Minnesota is at in the music industry in comparison to some other cities?
I feel as if we're behind from an industry standpoint, we don't have the resources or infrastructures as some of these other major cities. When people set up and do promo runs in LA or NY they stop at this radio station, another radio station, this magazine shoot, this interview, etc.
But as far as creativity I think Minnesota is the best. When you go to Atlanta and listen to Young Thug and Lil Baby, then listen to some artists a tier down from them, they all sound like Lil Baby or Young Thug. Then in Minnesota, I'll listen to artists and I won't even be able to tell who inspired them, because you sound like yourself, you sound uniquely you.
What kind of emotions do you think bring out your best music when you're in the studio?
Chaotic.. when I'm down I think that brings out my best music. My life is in a good spot right now, I'm not stressing over much. Sometimes I gotta look back and that can be a debilitating thing for an artist but I'll go back and force myself to feel those feelings I had in the past just to make good music, so it can be troubling sometimes for sure.
How do you think this new project compares to your older releases?
Aw man this stuff blows that out of the water, my first release in 2017 "Black Heart" I had just gotten out of a five-year relationship so I had a ton of material to write about, but I feel as if you genuinely had to know me as a person to really get the project, and that sometimes can be a bad thing because I felt as if that project could get lost in the shuffle. My new album "Sign me up " isn't gonna get lost in the shuffle, it's really gonna stand out compared to my other music. There are a few tracks of there I really feel like I shine bright, I just really can't wait for the world to hear it.
When we were chatting I told you I really enjoyed the track "Cold Heart" which is your most-streamed track to date with over 75,000 streams on Spotify; you told me you almost tossed that one out: What made you change your mind about releasing that?
Jordan Anthony who I recorded Cold Heart with is who initially made me change my mind about the song. He was vibing with it but honestly, as an artist you're in the driver's seat, it's just a different connection with the music. I'm also definitely my biggest critic, but after it's done and I get to ride home with it, for the most part, I enjoy my music. Another thing was 'Cold Heart' was also my first attempt at true vulnerability for me you know, and not just in the words but also with the way I delivered the song, I felt bare. That's what was bothering me at first and making me hesitant in the beginning, but this was definitely something I learned from.
Just Jimi's music is available on all streaming platforms, while his popping visuals can be seen on his Youtube, as well as his fast-growing Instagram: @jimixxvi
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