(AllHipHop Breeding Ground)
Pairing his standout vocals with equally powerful lyrics and laying them down over energetic, up-tempo beats, this international recording artist holds nothing back when it comes to the studio.
Describing himself as “a brother from a third world country who moved to the projects,” 2K Ponce Juno is merely trying to find a way for himself and everybody around him. He explains, “I figured if I could succeed, then everyone around me will succeed.”
2k Ponce Juno was introduced to music at the young age of 13. He became intrigued to understand the story behind an artist, their name, the lyrics of a song, and the message the song was delivering. 2k Ponce Juno knew he was destined to be in the music industry when he found out his father played 11 instruments.
Releasing his smash single “Go Pretty Girl” last year, 2K Ponce Juno returns with the ultimate remix (collaboration with Beenie Man and Double K).
AllHipHop: How was it growing up in Staten Island?
2K Ponce Juno: I was born in Antigua and moved to Staten Island. I grew up in Park Hill Projects, the same place where Wu-Tang is from. Growing up in the hood made me very humble. I saw police everywhere, people always dying, friends getting locked up, friends getting shot, family members in jail, there was always something going on in the projects.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences coming up?
2K Ponce Juno: Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, a little bit of Master P, and Beenie Man were all influences in my life. I’m West Indian so when I was young, their music was around for me. Those artists created a new era of music in my opinion and people that helped pave the way for artists like myself.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
2K Ponce Juno: In 2011, I threw a little party for myself and played one of my tracks. It was an old track, something I did in the house. My homeboy bought a system and we recorded some music over some beats. I played two of my tracks but no one ever knew the song. It was my party so people were asking me “who’s song is this? That’s hard.” I’m telling them and everybody said “yo man, you should do music.” So, I pursued that. Me and my buddy went to a club and I performed one of my songs, the crowd was very responsive. I thought to myself, oh you know what, maybe I could make some money with this thing. I decided to take it seriously and found a good management team and it has been all uphill since then.
AllHipHop: What does Jamaica mean to you?
2K Ponce Juno: Oh man, even though the people down there are really oppressed by a lot of things the government does, but because I’m not from there, when I go to Jamaica I feel free. It’s open: the breeze, the people, the food, the music, the environment, the atmosphere. It reminds me of my country, it’s the same thing if you ask me. I feel more at home when I go to Jamaica.
AllHipHop: What was the inspiration behind your name?
2K Ponce Juno: I was out in Cleveland, Ohio in a thunderstorm. My homeboy used to play on the Cleveland Browns football team and I went there to watch a game. When I was leaving back home, there was a blizzard and my car got stuck on the road. This guy came, helped me out, and took me to his garage. I slept on his couch and in the morning, he started to fix my car. I had an old Camry and the engine block needed to be fixed. It costed $1700 and some change and I told myself from now on, I need to make sure I have at least $2K in my pocket.
The 2k Ponce Juno part is funny. My friends in the neighborhood used to call me “Pimp” years ago. That was the little street name they gave me, my name was “Pimp Juice”. It came from a song that Nelly did back in the 2000’s. I never really liked the name so I asked them to shorten it and called me PJ. One morning I woke up while I was doing music and Ponce Juno came to my head.
I called my manager and said: “no more PJ, it’s Ponce Juno now.” 2K came a week later when I thought about this situation I had. I was looking up Ponce on the internet and there were a bunch of them, and I thought to myself, how am I going to separate myself from everybody else? I remembered the story about my car and then decided to put 2K in front of Ponce Juno. I researched it some more, and found that Ponce actually means pimp in French. It’s crazy how it all came together but it is unique and different and something I like.
AllHipHop: Bring us back to when you made the original “Go Pretty Girl.”
2K Ponce Juno: I had a whole bunch of rap tracks and a whole bunch of R&B tracks, but I didn’t have a track that represents who I am being a West Indian. I’m was doing more hip-hop stuff and my engineer says “I want you to hear this beat my producer did.” It was a reggae beat, he said “you don’t have any reggae in your playlist for your music.” I said “you know what, I don’t.” I heard the beat, “yeah I’ll try something.”
I needed a song that represented me being West Indian because I didn’t have one. It came from out the blue, I actually freestyled that song. I freestyled the hook, I freestyled my first verse because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I decided to put the beat on and I’ll let the lyrics come to me. It turned out that the first take was my take, so my verse you hear was a freestyle I cleaned it up a little bit. I freestyled about 90% of it. The energy for “Go Pretty Girl” was 100% pure, it was the beat and me saying what was on my mind.
AllHipHop: How’d the remix come about with Beenie Man and Double K?
2K Ponce Juno: I was in Home Depot trying to buy a water heater and this Jamaican brother helped me out. I asked “how much is this one at the top?” He says “that’s the most expensive one in here.” I said “this the most expensive one so it’s probably the best one, let me get that one.” As he’s putting it down, he’s asking me “what do you do for a living?” I said “I do music.” He asked me where I’m from, I told him. He said “I have family, my cousin, and she does a lot of stuff with artists from Jamaica, maybe you guys can do something?” I said “Get her on the phone and I’ll talk with her right now.”
He called his cousin Sophie, she is the one who connects everyone in Jamaica. There’d be no Beenie Man or Double K if it wasn’t for Sophie. Sophie’s a truck driver and we started to talk about my music. I told her that I wanted artists to be on my song and I had this “Go Pretty Girl” song, but needed a remix version. She said “who do you have in mind, I know a lot of people in Jamaica?” She starts running off the list: Vybz Kartel, Spice etc., I said “you can get all these people?” She said “yeah I can make a phone call.” Out of all those artists, there’s only one artist who always talks about women. That’s Beenie Man, how can I not ask for him?
She said “okay I’ll get back to you,” and she took my phone number. A week later, I was on a 3-way call with this guy who’s Beenie’s right-hand man. I found out Beenie Man doesn’t have a phone because he doesn’t believe in phones. It took me 2 weeks to even talk to Beenie Man. We sent them a song, he heard it and instantly said “I like this, I’m going to get on the track.” Double K was in the studio, another artist in Jamaica who’s coming out through Beenie Man, and when she heard the song, she liked it. I said “you wanna get on it, I don’t care.” It’s music. I know I want Beenie Man but if you get on it too, that’s a bonus. How horrible can you really be? [laughs] I looked at it like that. It was a blessing, it was awesome.
AllHipHop: How was shooting the video?
2K Ponce Juno: From the time I spoke to them to when I shot the video and finished the project, it’s was a 5-month process. I went to Jamaica twice in between then. I never met Beenie Man before, so I took a flight down to Jamaica to go pay my respects since he is one of my favorite artists. I flew to Jamaica for a week, I hung out with them for 2 days, got a whole bunch of pictures, and came back home. It was a good thing.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from the video?
2K Ponce Juno: It looks exotic, it makes you want to keep watching it. It is the best video I have ever done. The way we had the models, the way the scenery was, the place I chose to do the video, it was all worth it!
AllHipHop: Talk about your belief in women rights.
2K Ponce Juno: I was raised with 4 sisters and a mom. I only had an older brother but he went to the military at 18 and never really came back, so I was raised with my sisters. I’m so happy that these days women have a much greater voice, they’re respected a little bit more. They are now CEO’s and Vice Presidents of companies. I always thought my sisters and my mom were awesome, so to have more women even half of that is a good thing. Women have different perspectives and must be respected. Women bring a lot to the table and help balance out conversations amongst other males and females. Women have a different type of swagger, a different type of idea, a different way to move.
I’ve been around men and sometimes their pride and ego can get in the way. I noticed in business, women aren’t really like that and they want to get things done; they’re so professional. Maybe it’s the energy in the universe, but 95% of the things I do in my life — all the way down to paying my light bill, there’s a woman involved. It’s cool. Me being surrounded by women on my team, my staff, I know we’re going to be alright.
AllHipHop: How do you feel about domestic violence?
2K Ponce Juno: If my dad or my mom knew If I ever hit a woman right now, they’ll probably kill me. It should never happen in my opinion. Hold on though, it’s the other way around too. Some women get very disgruntled. Nobody should be putting their hands on another person to get their point or feelings across, or to explain how they want to do things. You don’t have to hit someone, nor mentally or verbally abuse someone. Domestic violence as a whole isn’t necessary. People need to grow up and have a conversation with each other, you can clear a lot of issues easier this way.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
2K Ponce Juno: Patience, a good engineer, and a good support team. I know you need patience because you have to go over your stuff and rewrite it to make it sound good. A quality engineer is important because they will teach you things you don’t know like formulating the lyrics to the beat. A good support team is important because as an artist, you’re your own guy. A truthful support team is important, not people who’ll just say “that’s good, that’s good.” You people on your team to tell you the truth even if the song does not sound right.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from your next single, “This Life”?
2K Ponce Juno: “This Life” is awesome. It’s an easy song, I freestyled it. It talks about my life, currently right now. I look and smell like money, my team looks like money, my clothes look like money, my car looks like money, my house looks like money. Everything looks like money, this life is all I know. It’s real simple, it’s a party song. It’s a track to listen to and feel good about yourself; get up every day and work. This life is all I know, wake up in the morning get dope. Everybody that wakes up and gets money can relate. If you’re a bum, you can relate on your level. If it’s getting a dollar here, 50 cents here, that money does something for you. It gets you a bagel, it gets you a juice. I made that song for that reason, it’s for people to feel good about themselves. If you’re a not money chaser or a life-chaser, if you don’t feel good about yourself, then I’m sorry this song is not for you.
AllHipHop: Goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
2K Ponce Juno: I want to be on TV. I don’t mean on a music video, but TV. I’ve always felt my personality and who I am around people, places I go; I belong on TV! In my mind, that’s the ultimate because I’m already a celebrity in my circle. My nieces, my nephews, my mom, my sisters, my friends, my coworkers, I’m already famous in my circle. For me, it’s doing more and taking my career to another level.
I already own a business, have money, I’ve already travelled and have done a whole bunch. To me, those are not goals, or part of my bucket list, this is just life. My goal is to be on TV and help as many people as I can. People are going to see me and understand where I’m coming from, know what to expect from me and what I stand for. When I get there, I bet it’s going to be a lot easier for me to help people. Right now, I really can’t do what I want to do, but with more money and publicity, I will be able to do a lot! There are so many people that need help and I can help a little bit. I am not trying to help a nation, but a couple hundred people would be alright. I can’t do it without money, especially in America, you can’t really do much without fame. I already have everything I need: nice cars, a whole family, so everything I am building is for everybody else to be honest.
AllHipHop: Talk about your love for kids.
2K Ponce Juno: I have daughters, have nieces, I have nephews, I’m their favorite uncle. Every time I get around a baby, even if it’s the first time I see them, they always smile and try to grab me to pick them up. I love the kids.
AllHipHop: What else you’d like to let us know?
2K Ponce Juno: Stay tuned for all the artists I’m going to sign in the future. I’m looking for the next Justin Bieber, the next Janet Jackson. Ellipse Group Records Global is about to be the next big record label in New York!
AllHipHop: Any shoutouts?
2K Ponce Juno: I want to thank Plugstar for plugging me into opportunities. Also, a big shout out to all my fans I couldn’t do it without you guys. A big shout out to my whole team, I really have the best staff in showbiz. Also, a big shot out to my family, my friends, and everyone that helped me to get where I am right now. I’m truly thankful for your support.