22 Jun Hip hop weekly: King JBoi’s “Suburban Music” Serves Great Sentimental Value
King JBoi rosed to fame in 2012 with his debut project titled “Thirsty.” As he continued to make a name for himself, the Memphis native used his personal experiences to influence his passion for the art of rap and hip-hop music. Before his music career, JBoi founded L.i.E., meaning Loyalty is Everything. In 2010, he rebranded the organization by renaming it L.i.E. Entertainment.
“I’ve been to a lot of places, but I haven’t come across cities like Memphis. I know people have an image of what the city is like in their minds from stories, TV shows, or just word of mouth—and most of it is true—but it’s a lot that’s untold. Memphis has a culture you don’t find in other places. For instance, we don’t pretend, fake, bite tongues, or tolerate disrespect. I know everybody says that about where they are from, but I don’t mean that lightly. The grit is in the culture of the whole city, not just in the hood. Even working a job, we stand on these principles and values—White, Black, Hispanic, doesn’t matter. But that’s also what makes the hood so dangerous because it’s in your face—on-sight. When I see you, it’s that, right there. That’s all we know. And when you add that aggression with the poverty in the city—what you get is what you see on TV. The city is dominated by poor education, warehouses, traps, and shipping hubs—no real opportunity, and most of it doesn’t seem worth it unless you are chasing a real bag. It’s eaten or be eaten, and I did what I had to do, made a name for myself in my street organization, and built my wave even through the hate and the doubt. I made my decision to have more by any means necessary, so I did it all from running the streets, playing collegiate basketball, to locking into my music career and building my brand (L.i.E. Entertainment & King JBoi INC). And I built it all on the same Memphis principles.”
In 2006, JBoi created L.i.E. (Loyalty is Everything), formally gang bangers, and eventually built a crew within the gang that they knew they could trust. “Most hear about gangs from a movie perspective and have no idea what it’s like inside, especially for somebody like me, who climbed the ranks to the top on a national level. You see things you wouldn’t quite understand, and as kids, we could see the games being played. I was always vocal and fearless, so I spoke up and built my team within, and as I was giving my speech to my guys, I ended with “remember, loyalty is everything,” and everybody’s face lit up. Most of my homies were actually from LMG (the neighborhood G Train ran), so we used the same hand gesture, and the rest was history. In later years, we started going by our mob title, which I still talk about in my music to this day, and I turned Loyalty is Everything into my entertainment company. It originally was the name I went by to throw parties so that we weren’t scaring off people with our mob name. I eventually convinced people to start making music with me, and L.i.E Ent. became our record label. In some ways, this history is what inspired me to create my 501c3 Nonprofit, Team JBoi (Team JBoi Athletics), to reach disadvantaged youth before they have to learn the way we had to learn.”
He describes his music as a reflection of his life experiences. “If you listen through the archive, you can hear what I’m going through during those times—the good and the bad. I don’t go into the studio mimicking other artists or the wave at that time. Honestly, I don’t listen to much music outside of my own unless I’m in the clubs. I look at my music as an opportunity to write the script for the people who need that word of encouragement or to relate in some way, so I talk about the pain I endured and overcame—I even drop jewels of how I made it to where I am at that point in my life. Sometimes it may sound more aggressive than other times but, if you listen, it’s pretty much all the same in terms of I’m just speaking my mind at the time. Artistically, I get better every time I walk into the studio with delivery, wordplay, understanding how to organize different types of songs logistically, and even connect with different engineers to produce the sound I’m looking for on different tracks. I’m a true student of the art and a true fan of Rap Music. And I’ve heard all types of comparisons from Future, Kevin Gates, Nipsey, MoneyBagg Yo, and more—but I believe that’s because I produce a sound that hasn’t been discovered before. Who I sound like is “JBoi,” and pretty soon, that’ll be the phrase. “You sound like JBoi!”
JBoi’s fans can expect the best version of himself from his new project Suburban Music. “In 2020, I was working on, at that time, my biggest project (Young Kovu) to date weeks before the pandemic. We were actually in the middle of filming all of our big videos and had to reschedule because of the restrictions. A few months later, we began to reboot, and my mom began to show symptoms of an unidentified illness; shortly after Father’s Day, we discovered she had stage four cancer. I completely stopped making music, went home, and she eventually passed about 4-5 weeks afterward. That changed me in a way I can’t explain, and when I regained my mind, I eventually just pushed the project out with no press, marketing, or anything because I didn’t want to carry it over into the new year. Young Kovu reminded me too much of the pain I felt during that time. So, Suburban Music, which was originally supposed to have been “Times Like This,” is the first piece of music I’ve recorded since she passed other than the song “Mama’s Babyboy.” There’s a lot of pain, celebration, and raw truth in Suburban Music. It’s a reflection of how much I’ve changed, not just throughout that situation but also through the years. The title “Suburban Music” itself is a play on words representing the message in the album. The project is me in my raw form and, in many ways, is a new version of me to the world. I am talking about how I no longer run the streets, make the most money I’ve ever made in my life, and plan to continue to elevate. The intro track, “Back Again,” captures the essence of the project, and “My Heart In It” shows the passion behind it all. “Crossed Over” is the intended single for the project, and it explains the meaning behind the project. “Suburban Music” is a personal favorite for me and has great sentimental value.”