Format: Please give our readers, who may not know who you are, an introduction to JR Mint.
JR Mint: My name is JR Mint, I come from Toronto’s Junction area. I bring a new youthful sound that uplifts and inspires listeners. I’ve always been a trouble maker. I like gear, I like to stay fresh. My favorite color is green.
Format: You recently released a mixtape entitled Magnificent Road. What’s the story behind the name and why should people check this release out?
JR Mint: The name came from a bus stop around the corner from my studio. Every day I would take the bus past it and hear â€œNext Stop Magnificent Roadâ€. So eventually I decided to record it on my phone, that’s where I got the sound clip from, and decided to name the mixtape after it. People need to check it because itâ€™s my hottest material of 2009 that isnâ€™t going to be on my album. It has cuts and was sequenced by one of the dopest DJâ€™s in Toronto, Yo Ev. Straight fire, from start to finish.
Format: Your biography mentions a history in battle rapping. How has this part of the industry helped you get to where you are today?
JR Mint: My most memorable battle moment is definitely winning Mic 4 Your Life with Mad Linx from BET in 2007. I battled some of the best dudes in the city and went home with a giant check for a thousand dollars.
Although I donâ€™t really battle anymore I still follow it a bit and watch some of the GrindTime and KOTD battles on YouTube. I think itâ€™s important for all aspects of hip hop to get love and have its own scene thatâ€™s popping.
Format: Over the past several years, swagger-rap or hipster rap has become huge. What sets you apart from all the other artists in this space?
JR Mint: I have been rapping for longer than swag rap has been popular for so I am never pulled in any direction by whatâ€™s popular. Swag is natural, I am trying to bring you into my life and give you a vision. I think swag rap actually stems a lot from party music and feel good shit that the South made really prominent in the game. When the South is hot up north cats wanna dip into that sound and it spreads. But in the end good music is good music.
Format: With the main features on your upcoming album being from Termanology, Emilio Rojas, Deuce Wonder, and M-Phazes so far, do you worry about being put in a box as an underground artist?
JR Mint: No, not at all. I can go either way, but nothing can take away that Mint energy and vibe on a track. I have mainstream records and I have some more rapper type hip hop tracks but everything is cohesive. Itâ€™s really a perfect mix. Pro Logic laced me with a good portion of the party feel good shit and I have gems from MPhazes, J. Glaze, Tone Mason. This project is going to sit well with hip hop heads because the production is tight and all the songs are lyrical, but I have good concepts musically and visually that I think are gonna take it to a wider more global market.
Format: For an independent artist, you’ve clearly put a lot of work into your visuals. How important is image to you as an artist?
JR Mint: I think itâ€™s very important to provide a visual with your music. It’s important for artists to have an image because it keeps it interesting and fun. It gives the audience something to look at and helps connect to a wider audience that will enjoy your music. On top of that I enjoy the design aspect and business part of the game where as some artistâ€™s donâ€™t. I like to be hands on with everything.
Format: You also own and operate Belvia Studio in Toronto. How important do you feel it is for artists to diversify their hustle with music sales continuing to drop?
JR Mint: Itâ€™s not easy coming up as an independent artist and having to pay for things especially studio time. So I knew from the start that I wanted my own studio and did anything and everything I could to make it happen. I have had to work shitty jobs so I am grateful to be in the studio when I work, even if Iâ€™m recording another artist. Iâ€™m lucky enough to own the studio with â€œPro Logicâ€, one of the cityâ€™s youngest, best producer/engineerâ€™ for hip hop/r&b in the city. When it comes to shows weâ€™re heavy on the merchandise tip. I have Make It Green Tâ€™s, Mixtapes, Stickers, and more surprises to come. So holler at me if you wanna do business, Iâ€™m always open to new ways to make money!
Format: In 2009 it’s hard to talk about Toronto without mentioning Drake. What are your thoughts on his explosive rise in the industry this year?
JR Mint: Drake is real talented and definitely put Toronto on the map for good. I think everyone in the city should continue to support him. It was crazy to see him blow up so quick. I donâ€™t think anyone has really seen that before in hip hop. Iâ€™m looking forward to his album Thank Me Later and interested to hear what direction he takes it.
Format: Who else do people need to check for from Toronto and why?
JR Mint: There are so many dope artists up here. Almost too many to name, but here it goes: Deuce Wonder, Omar Linx, JD Era, Tona, Saukrates, Shaun Booth, Rayhaan, Notes to Self, Rich Kidd, P Reign, Richie Hennessey, Adam Bomb, Colin Munroe, Smash Brovas, Big Scen & D-Sisive.
These guys are all original vets and up and comers that you need to check for if you donâ€™t already know them.
Format: Anything else you’d like to mention?
JR Mint: Shout outs to McFly, Pro Logic, Deuce Wonder, Omar Linx, Bigz and everyone I work close with. Look out for my album Canadian Mint dropping this summer. 2010 is gonna be a big year, pay attention.
Check out my MySpace page at http://www.planetminty.com