You may not yet have heard of him but hip-hop artist June has been makinâ€™ moves for some time now. This South Bronx based sensation has been spittinâ€™ rhymes since he was a wee thing (think kindergarten wunderkind on the mic) and has stuck with this passion ever since. A sought-after songwriter, as a teenager he ghostwrote lyrics for bigger names in the game, then transitioned into singer extraordinaire, vocal expression never far from his heart. When he met music producers the Soundmen, Juneâ€™s sound really took off and itâ€™s been hits and no misses ever since. Juneâ€™s latest single with Remo the Hitmaker, the catchy, Auto-Tune heavy “Watch My Moves” recently leaked to local radio stations in New York and soon found its way onto the Internet; look for it on iTunes soon. With his giant smile, infectious laugh and winning attitude, itâ€™s difficult not to fall for this complete package comprising personality, talent and drive. Beyond his solo success, June has collaborated with several well-knownâ€™s, among them multi-platinum producer Ron Browz and platinum DJ Webstar. Read on to learn more about this educated, opinionated and entertaining up-and-comer.
“The background I come from showed me history. I went through hip-hop different from the average dude my age. I know my history, as opposed to just doing rap…”
Format: Howâ€™d you get started in music?
June: I come from a music background. My parents owned a nightclub when I was young, like 6 years old. When I first got turned onto music I was about 7 years old. My brother was about 11 or 12 at the time. My brother [used to sneak] out to the DJ booth [and] DJ. My brother snatched me up, â€˜yo, get on the mic while I DJ!â€™ The club was jam-packed. So, I go up and start rappinâ€™. Everybodyâ€™s lookinâ€™ up, like, â€˜who the hell is that?!â€™ We rockinâ€™ the crowd. My mom recognize[d] my voice and she whooped my ass. It was well worth being able to hone the crowd. Thatâ€™s when I realized that was somethinâ€™ I wanted to do.
Format: What happened next?
June: From that point on, I worked on my craft as much as possible, started recordinâ€™. Thatâ€™s when I started doinâ€™ the writinâ€™ thing, up until I was about 18 or 19. I started writing R&B. I didnâ€™t know better at the time; I was unaware of royalties. I was blind, very naÃ¯ve. I figured [to get paid] $500 to do somethinâ€™ I love has gotta be the life. Eventually I started doing it the right way.
Format: With whom have you worked?
June: Ron Browz, DJ Webstar, Pesh. . .
Format: You and Pesh have got something in the works right now, correct?
June: We have the “Bubble Pop” single. We havinâ€™ a big party in one of the biggest strip clubs in the Bronx. Itâ€™s cominâ€™ up April 29th. [Pesh] has a record that weâ€™re gonna skyrocket.
Format: What else do you have going on presently?
June: My single that Iâ€™m workinâ€™ on right now [featuring] Remo the Hit Maker. He produced [my track] “Watch My Moves”. We co-wrote the chorus together, but heâ€™s singing [it]. I got two verses.
Format: And you are also working on an EP, right? Can you tell me a little more about that?
June: The EP Iâ€™m gonna put out will be a street EP. Itâ€™s gonna cater more to the hip-hop crowd. A lot of my [tracks] are a little trendier sounding. This oneâ€™s gonna be a little tougher, a little darker. Itâ€™s still gonna have the pizzazz of June. Itâ€™s not gonna take away from my authenticity.
Format: Who might guest perform on this EP?
June: The only features that might be on there will be my immediate, â€˜day oneâ€™ people, like Pesh, Remo [and] Kool. Soundmen did 95% of the production; shout-out to Scott Durday and Justin Jamison. When you hear the shit we put together, itâ€™s crazy. The EP will have probably 15-20 tracks.
Format: Usually an EP is considered short.
June: Weâ€™re breakinâ€™ the mold, man. At the rate weâ€™re goinâ€™, every day we got another hit record. We work all day.
Format: So when is this due to drop?
June: Monday April 26th 2009 is the official Internet release date, but it broke on Hot 97 last week.
Format: Congratulations! So, bound up with the music stuff, are you doing what a lot of artists are doing and branching out into other realms, branding and making it 360Âº?
June: Definitely. We gonna be sellinâ€™ Bubble Pop boy-shorts. Theyâ€™re Victoriaâ€™s Secret boy-shorts [featuring] the Bubble Pop emblem. Thereâ€™s a t-shirt and boy-shorts. Itâ€™s a set.
Format: Back to your EP, do you have anyone in particular doing your cover art?
June: Actually, Iâ€™m lookinâ€™ for an artist right now. We are picking and choosing among different artists. If you know anyoneâ€¦
Format: What about Justin Jamison?
June: Justin is a genius, man. Let me tell you somethinâ€™ real quick. I donâ€™t wanna get too sidetracked, but Justin drew up an animation of me in 48 hours. He drew a complete animation of me for a [track] we have called “Pop the Glock.”
Format: I love that song! Is that the one with the French chick? Is it gonna be on the EP?
Format: Amazing. Iâ€™d love to see the animation. So, would you mind sharing a verse from “Bubble Pop?”
June: The hook goes, [singing]: Take a stick of gum and get your chewinâ€™ on and shake your hips left to right and get your movinâ€™ on, and tell your DJ bring it back â€™cause thatâ€™s your favorite song, and tell the DJ bring it back â€™cause thatâ€™s your favorite song, and make your bubble go pop, make your bubble go pop!
Format: Thatâ€™s hilarious.
June: Pesh wrote the hook. Itâ€™s got a mean bounce. You hear the beat? He kept it real simple. For Pesh, thatâ€™s extremely simple. Heâ€™s one of the lyricists I admire.
Format: How long have you known these guys?
June: Remo and I ended up sharing the same management [Samuel Music Group]. As soon as I met him it was like the little brother I never wanted. [Laughs] I love him to death. We been workinâ€™ on joints. We got about five [songs] done the first week [we got] together in the studio. And I knew Pesh probably a decade and a half. We been workinâ€™ on music, me, him, Ron Browz, T-Rex, Murder Mook, Paper Over [Pussy]. That was the foundation, the initial Money Ave. We started like that. I actually only had production from my brother and Browz until my brother passed away in â€™07.
Format: This is the brother who was spinning when you were a kid?
June: Yeah. The universe is weird like that; I lost my brother but I gained two brothers, Scott and Jamison. And they happen to be producers as well.
Format: How did you initially meet the Soundmen?
June: Through a mutual artist. They did a record for an artist and the beat was just crazy. I was like, â€˜I gotta meet these motherfuckers!â€™ The first beat I ever got from the Soundmen was “Cakey”, it was the biggest [song] so far. We got a lot of big [tracks]. I canâ€™t wait. Iâ€™m excited. Shout-out to Soundmen once again.
Format: So, do you usually operate collectively? Do they put together a beat and you rap over it or do you go to them with the lyrics already?
June: It works both ways. I can have an epiphany at, like, 4am; I just leave it on Scottâ€™s or Jamisonâ€™s voicemail. Or weâ€™ll just be sittinâ€™ at the crib, just fuckinâ€™ around and ideas just pop. Scott loves to be like, â€˜you gotta rap to this!â€™ With J itâ€™s more of a collective thing. Scott likes to challenge me. J will challenge me once in a blueâ€¦
Format: What do you see happening in the next six months to a year?
June: Realistically, either Iâ€™ll have a pub deal or weâ€™ll have an imprint at a label. We make beautiful music and the world needs to hear that right now. It needs a change. Not to take away from anybody thatâ€™s in the game, but thereâ€™s no fresh faces, especially in New York. We need a fresh face. Besides Maino â€“ shout-out to Maino â€“ there really is no new face right now reppinâ€™ New York.
Format: Any imprint, any label in particular?
June: I just want to be where we can stay as contained as we are. I donâ€™t want to go anywhere thatâ€™s going to stagnate that. Iâ€™m [not] going to be biased to anyoneâ€™s opinions or directions, Iâ€™m [just] not gonna let them take away from who I am.
Format: Who are some of your musical influences?
June: Iâ€™m inspired by several musicians; I like Tito Puente [Jr.], Doug E. Fresh. I like a lot of old school artists. The background I come from showed me history. I went through hip-hop different from the average dude my age. I know my history, as opposed to just doing rap. And thatâ€™s what sucks, especially with technology; all the fans of music just record music. I come from an era where we respect Heavy D, we respect Rakim, all the dudes that rocked for free, [or] damn near, so that they could open the door for hip-hop to be makinâ€™ money. And a lot of young cats really donâ€™t respect that anymore.
Format: Speaking of technology, whatâ€™s your take on the vocoder?
June: I got vocoder on this single, for, like, four bars and then, at the fourth bar, I say â€˜Stop it!â€™ and it cuts the vocoder off. The line goes [singing]: Yeah we gettinâ€™ drunk, ainâ€™t gotta buy the bar, and you ainâ€™t gotta Twitter to know where we are. Then I say â€˜Stop it! You ainâ€™t nothinâ€™ like this. I persuade dyke chicks that they like â€“ yikes!â€™ “Watch My Moves”. Thatâ€™s the single.
Format: Right on. So, is the EP gonna be eclectic? There gonna be any slow jams?
June: Itâ€™s gonna be a mixture of different sounds. Iâ€™m not gonna have ballads, of course. I might have somethinâ€™ real close to a ballad; I got another joint on there me and Remo did. Itâ€™s called “Dontcha”; itâ€™s more of an R&B kinda pop track. I got mad joints. I got some stuff I been workinâ€™ on with Kool and Pesh thatâ€™s gonna be a little more tough. Itâ€™s gonna be crazy.
Format: Any other guest artists featured that listeners can look forward to?
June: Itâ€™s pretty much home base, like I said, my day one dudes. Itâ€™s gonna be primarily me [and] Pesh. I have one [number] where I do an all-star with all the underground dudes; Oun-P, Murder Mook. Iâ€™m actually trying to get legendary Doug E. Freshâ€™s sons. Theyâ€™re called Square Off. Shout-out to Trips and Slim; they crazy witâ€™ it. Iâ€™m talkinâ€™ to Cory Gunz, lookinâ€™ to get him on it. Thatâ€™s gonna be the only track [with] multiple features. This [release] is really to showcase my talent. And if I showcase my talent, I gotta showcase who I am. Pesh and Kool are people Iâ€™m witâ€™ on the day-to-day. The [songs] reflect that. It wouldnâ€™t be like, â€˜oh, he just threw his boys on there â€™cause they his boys.â€™ My motherfuckers is hot! When you hear it, youâ€™re not gonna think I put them on there â€™cause they my boys; you gonna know I put them on there â€™cause they hot! Bubble Pop. Donâ€™t forget.