junclassic, who got rid of capital letters the same way he got rid of industry roadblocks, is dropping his ninth album on Tuesday, January 28th. This time he reenlists the help of Mr. Troy, the talented producer behind jun’s Figures. This time, they’re back with a new sound that shows their diverse range of skills on both the lyrical and production tip.
In an exclusive interview, jun discusses his new album, Thinking Out Loud, as well as his creative process, the persistence he’s had to have in the game, and much more.
You and Mr. Troy came together for a new album Thinking Out Loud. How did this come together?
Well, me and Mr. Troy did an album called Figures that we released on September 11, 2012. We wanted to follow that up because we really pushed the boundaries of conceptual music with that. On this, we wanted to do something more close to home in terms of emotion and storytelling and coming from the heart. And Mr. Troy is a workaholic, man. He’s always making beats and making music. He just reached out and we started a year ago and compiled a bunch of dope music and through the grace of God, we were able to connect with a good music label out of France, Black Milk Music, and they took an interest in what we were doing and decided to support the project and put their money where their mouth was. They’re printing vinyl, posters CDs, and pushing it to the masses. That’s how everything came together.
How did the creative process change between this album and Figures?
On this one, I really wanted to show people that we could make a definitive mark on hip-hop. There’s songs on Figures that have never been done, like “Choose,” which has two endings based on the Choose Your Own Adventure books in the ‘70s and ‘80s. There’s a song called “Choose” encouraging the youth to pursue music instead of the negativity that a lot of the youth like to pursue. We have a lot of songs that we want to get out to the masses and show that we’re different. With Thinking Out Loud, I kind of took it back to telling my own life story and speaking on struggles and things going on in my life, some street interactions to just trying to bring in a dialogue about talking about family members about health issues. I talk about an issue me and my father had.
A lot of it is me expressing my inner thoughts over Mr. Troy’s futuristic boom-bap. I think it came together really well. It’s not me trying to be metaphorically dope. That’s on there, and that’s one of my strong suits, but I really wanted to talk about my struggles and the resilience that it takes to keep going when things are difficult, and Mr. Troy provided a great backdrop for that. On “Wants and Needs,” I’m talking about things that we desire and things that we want to have. It’s very motivational for people who are going through things.
How important was it to your and Mr. Troy to showcase everything you were capable of on this record?
It’s very important. It’s something that I really think is neglected in hip-hop, the ability to showcase versatility. You don’t want every song to sound like the same song to the point where people don’t even know what type of song they’re listening to. I have love songs on here and that’s something that a lot of people go through, but for some reason a lot of people in the underground don’t talk about it. And being a mature male, I figured it was something I should bring to the forefront, like how if I don’t have the money, my girl will pay for the meal. That’s a wonderful thing and why not put that in the rap form? I have a song called “S.I.” with Billy Woods and K-Sise. Billy Woods says “S.I.” stands for “Street Intellectual” about people who know how to handle themselves on the street but also know how to conduct themselves in a professional environment, which is important for survival. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were street intellectuals.
I’m just showcasing different styles. I have songs about finding the joy through the tough times. Sometimes people get doubtful as to their pursuits and their chasing of a goal that they want to attain in life and sometimes you don’t make it. I wanted to speak to that. On “Glorious,” I’m talking about how “we’re warriors, trying to let the people know what my story is.” That song is getting a lot of love and it’s about being a fighter and doing what you need to do to live. Showcasing versatility is very important to me. It always has been. I pride myself on being able to make different records, not just the fly or ladies’ man record. Sometimes you have to make a record about how you’re not that fly today or how yesterday was wack. I want people to be able to listen to my music regardless of the mood they’re in. I think my music should be able to accompany all those moods, and I’m trying to make that.
How did the cover come about?
Shout out to Raul Paoli. He’s a French artist who did our cover art with the Kreig the Brain wrapping into a microphone and the bigger body is holding a microphone and I’m coming in on a spaceship, kid of serenading the city with the music.
Over the years, you’ve consistently put out projects and I know at times you weren’t getting the reception you wanted. How did you stay focused and stay doing what you do, because now you have a real organic following and a lot of supporters?
Just through faith, man, and loving this game, and feeling almost a need to do it and a need to keep going. If Tity Boi had never kept going and decided to change his name, we would have never heard of 2 Chainz. If Young Buck had decided to give it up when he was inside, we wouldn’t hear this plethora of music that we’re hearing now. If T.I. had given up in 2007 when they caught him with all those guns, we wouldn’t be seeing his family on TV now. I always believed that I had a talent and I always heard from people close to me that I had something to contribute and that’s what kept me going, man. I wasn’t doing this for anybody but myself and through the grace of God, I’m having people hit me up and tell me they like my music. I had a kid from France tell me I was the best since 2Pac!
It’s stuff like that that puts the battery in my back. I think when you put your heart into something, people can tell and people can feel it. I’m thankful that I do have the organic following that I do have and the supporters that I do have. And shout out to Black Milk Music for believing in me. I’m just going off sheer willpower on this. I had a fan hit up that he was blasting “Bust Ya Melon” in the middle of Brazil. It’s things like that that keep pushing me.
How does a junclassic song come together?
It’s starting to change now because in the past, I would say really from 2009 to this last summer, I was just forcing that pen to move. I was pushing and pushing. I was constantly writing. And my equipment just filed this summer, man. It kind of shorted out. I was forced to take a break for the first time in four years and it really made me reevaluate what I’m doing the music for. Now I wait for the inspiration to hit me as opposed to me kind of forcing the pen to move like I used to do. I’m just channeling my experiences. I want to make music that makes a statement and has a purpose and an ability to move people. My creative process comes from inspiration and that inspiration usually comes from events that happened in my life or that happened to people close to me that inspire me and make me want to create music. That whole process is what fuels my creativity.
You’ve done a variety of projects at this point. Do you enjoy one-producer albums more than getting a collection of beats?
That’s kind of been my forte. This is my ninth album. It’s getting so high I can’t even name the number anymore, but all of them have been with one producer, except my third album, which was with two producers. I have a mixtape Mornings was Hash Browns, but that was a variety of old music. I’ve never really done a collage of producers but I’m looking into that. But I typically like the one-producer sound. I like the continuity. I like the producer showcasing their versatility and me showcasing my versatility. I come from that era where music was usually done by one producer, like Wu-Tang and Black Moon and Premier. I’m just a fan of that one sound and just seeing where the producer can take their one sound. That’s typically my element right there. But I may get into some different things down the line.
What’s next on the agenda for jun?
(laughs) I don’t even really want to jump the gun and say, so to speak. I kind of want to keep the people guessing. But I got some things bubbling and I think the people will be excited when they do hear about it. But right now it’s all about Thinking Out Loud. Mr. Troy is incredible. He’s got a strong following and he’s real dope from the boom-bap to the jazz influence in his music. His beat are so organic that they kind of change and develop as the song goes. He’s incredible. I’m thankful that we were able to link up for this and we’ve gotten great reviews on this so far. I’m really excited about this album. I definitely got some stuff coming. You just gotta be patient with me and let me know if you want more. I got a lot more in store. I just need to get the response from the people and let me know they’re enjoying it.