"I was out in Denver, and I told the budtender at the dispensary I wanted the strongest shit they had. So she gave me that Deathstar. I'll never forget it she said, 'This is going to put your dick in the dirt,' so with a description like that I had to try it. I got a pre-roll and maybe made it about halfway through it and I thought, damn, I could put this out. I’m not going to, but I could. That’s how strong that shit was, it had me on my ass." - J.R.
In a candid sit down with MERRY JANE J.R., talks music, marijuana, and making moves as a young rapper on the rise.
Last summer, J.R was dubbed one of the hottest up-and-coming rappers out of the mid-west.
Fast forward a year and his smash hit "Best Friend" with Trey Songz now has more than 6 million views on YouTube, he's been co-signed by local legend Nelly, and now he's on the road hitting stages across the U.S. including a performance earlier this year at SXSW.
J.R. stopped by MERRY JANE to smoke one with the team and share his latest project "Gang Season", an off-putting name for some, "...but don't judge a book by its cover," the 25-year-old insists.
(Terrell Young/ MERRY JANE)
The high-energy, fast-moving EP has a head bumping cadence mixed against pulsating trance-like melodies. An anomaly of sorts, kind of like J.R. himself.
"I can have tattoos, smoke weed everyday and still conduct myself like a professional," contradicting the stereotype of a stoner or a rapper for that matter, J.R. keeps them guessing, things aren't always as they seem.
Born into the St. Louis foster system to a teenage mom, at age six J.R. was adopted by his biological mother's foster parents. He recalls the curious stares he received from classmates.
"So here I am this mixed kid from the westside with this suburban older white couple for parents. Everywhere you go it's like, 'Why is that your mama? Why is that your daddy?'" But he didn’t let it get to him.
Even at a young age, J.R. was appreciative of his circumstances.
“As a kid, I was very realistic. I didn't care too much about what other people said, I was just happy to do cool shit,” he recalled.
“It was dope how [my parents] came around and were just placed in my life. It just shows you, there is always a plan.”
While J.R’s father enrolled him in sports, his mother allowed him to freely explore his musical aspirations.
“She went out and rented me a violin, I played the trumpet in the band.”
It was around that time 11-year-old J.R. began recording music in a makeshift studio he constructed with a friend.
"Our mothers didn't know we were trying to build a music studio," he laughed detailing the hours spent taping paper plates to the wall to insulate the sound.
"We used one of those computer mic's with the long neck. It sounded like complete bullshit."
But just that taste of creating stayed with J.R., motivating him to keep at it.
Another milestone at that age, his first time smoking weed.
For J.R. the relationship between marijuana and music is spiritual.
Over the past two years his star has been on the rise. The remix of “I’m Just Sayin” featuring Nelly and Tiffany Fox helped propel his ascent.
His current project “Gang Season” available on iTunes and SoundCloud has more to do with relationships and life than violence.
“You hear ‘gang’, and you think some violent shit, but it’s about twisting the stereotype,” J.R. said during his sit down with MERRY JANE.
“Look at me, see what I'm doing? It doesn't have to add up, so don't judge a book by its cover. We can be tatted up all we want to, we can smoke weed all day and we can still handle all the business."
Following in the footsteps of Nelly, J.R. hopes his projects will cement St. Louis as a formidable player in the entertainment industry.
“I’m here to bring the light back to the midwest,” he said.
Smoke SESH with J.R.
MERRY JANE: Describe your standard smoke sesh.
J.R.: My first sesh of the day, I grab my Backwoods, I grab my bud, I find a movie and I just chill in the living room by my motherfucking self. I smoke all day but in the morning or at night, don’t interrupt, that’s my time.
MJ: What are you smoking on these days?
J.R.: My go-to strains are Sour Diesel and Girl Scout Cookies, but when I was out in Denver I told the budtender at the dispensary I wanted the strongest shit they had. So she gave me that Deathstar OG. She told me, “This is going to put your dick in the dirt,” so with a description like that I had to try it. I got a pre-roll and maybe made it about halfway through it and I thought, damn, I could put this out. I’m not going to, but I could. That’s how strong that shit was, it had me on my ass.
MJ: Do you vape?
J.R.: Someone sent me one recently and I tried it out but I think I’m too heavy of a smoker to really enjoy it right. Plus there’s just a whole culture to the process of rolling up.
MJ: What’s next for you?
J.R.: I’m working on a mix tape and just continuing to grind and get work done. For me it’s all work, until I can sit back and say my kids college is paid for or my kids don’t have to want for anything, until then it’s just all part of the plan and doing the work.
"Pass The Aux" is a bi-monthly MERRY JANE original feature where we'll spotlight artists who embrace cannabis culture.
Who should we pass the aux to next? Comment below with your picks.