JC is a gem in the music industry. The singer, songwriter, rapper, and producer has managed to work with all the greats from Diddy to Future to T.I., even sharing the stage with the likes of Chris Brown, Migos, Usher, and Lil Wayne. Real name Justin Crowder prides himself in making music that people will remember and relate to, invoking unforgettable feelings and creating long-lasting memories.
It was the release of his debut album, All of Me, that became an instant success globally. Soon after, he would move from Nashville to Atlanta to take his music career to the next level. JC’s story is crazy, having to endure 5 different vocal surgeries — even being told by the doctors that he may never seen again. Thankfully, God had bigger plans.
Now, he returns with a banger titled “Skyscrapin,” tapping Chicago’s own Calboy. THe record originated in his living room, before getting linking with Calboy’s team via the internet. The synergy between both artists yields an incredible collaboration, as both their voices gracefully ride the beat.
AllHipHop caught up with JC via FaceTime, who was located in Las Vegas at the time. Read below as we discuss his vocal surgeries, why he does clean music, linking with Calboy, goals, and more!
AllHipHop: You had to have vocal surgery 5 times, how did you push through that?
JC: It’s called polyps where it’s a knot on your vocal cord. You hear singers sometimes having to cancel their tour, or they’ll have to cancel a couple of dates. It’s normally nodules, but the nodules can go away. The polyps are permanent, so you have to have surgery to remove them.
AllHipHop: That’s crazy because you’re a singer.
JC: It was horrible. I actually had complications with the anesthesia, it caused me to start having seizures. I ended up having to have 5 surgeries. The fact that I’m still trucking, it all happened for a reason. Definitely makes me appreciate things a lot more.
AllHipHop: Being from Nashville, Tennessee, what was the household like growing up?
JC: Strict. My dad’s a minister and a principal. My mom was a guidance counselor, she’s a sweetheart. All my family moved into education. My dad was my pastor and my principal in middle school, it was crazy. That’s how I got on the whole clean music vibe, because I used to have to write clean music. I didn’t want my parents to hear something they didn’t approve of, but it became a niche. I’m grown now, I can do whatever I want to. But it’s my thing, I try to find a clean way to push a concept.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences growing up?
JC: Babyface is definitely one of my biggest influences. I like how he was in a group, had a solo career but had more notoriety for what he did work behind-the-scenes. He scored movies, wrote for everybody, produced records. People forget about LaFace, that was his and L.A. Reid’s label. Look at the artists: Outkast, TLC, Pink. These are megastars that were birthed out of that umbrella. If I could end somewhere in that lane, I’d be happy. [laughs]
AllHipHop: When did music become real for you?
JC: My freshman year of college at Tennessee State University, I sang in a talent show called the Freshman Talent Show. It was real popular on campus, first time performing as a solo artist. The reaction, I got a standing ovation. I ended up winning. I’ve always been shy, so I like being in groups because I could sing in the back. I’m like “hold on, maybe I have something going on. Let me see what I can do.” Seeing that reaction was the realest point, because it was a raw reaction. They didn’t know me. I went on to do a string of talent shows.
AllHipHop: “Skyscrapin” is a banger, bring us back to when you made that.
JC: I’m a writer first so I wrote the song in the crib, cut it on my laptop. I thought it was dope when I did it. What I do is I archive these songs and wait for certain opportunities to present themselves so I can put it out and not do a bunch of stuff in vain. When I was approached to work with Calboy, I honestly wasn’t familiar with Calboy.
AllHipHop: I love Calboy, he’s so fire.
JC: I know. I went and checked out his music, I’m like “hold on, what the heck?” They’re like “yeah, he lives in Atlanta.” You know how you binge watch TV? I immediately listened to all his material, he’s dope. I rock with him. I sent him 3, he got 2 of the records. I like the fact that he really listened to what I said, what I was talking about. A lot of artists will do a verse, they get high and do whatever, but he really tried to stay within the confines of what the song was about. I told him “keep the music clean.” That conversation is always kind of awkward, but they always respect it because they still like the music. He’s like, “aw yeah, that’s wassup. That’s dope. You want to be more marketable, cool with me.”
AllHipHop: Why do you like clean music?
JC: It’s a niche, I can’t really explain it. When you put different content in the song, the audience is not as broad. So I’m thinking 10 years ahead. If I want to be Pharrell and I want to score a Nickelodeon movie, I want my image to not be that far removed from where I am now. It’s a challenge. If you got kids… I have a daughter. Certain music I wouldn’t be able to listen to with her in the car, so I make it to where it’s universal.
AllHipHop: Best memory from the video shoot?
JC: The helipad. We got up on the helipad, wow we’re really on top of a building. All the way on top of a building. You could see the whole city of Atlanta, and Atlanta’s huge. That’s the most fun part of the entire video, it was just us 2. Nobody else was up there. They have a limit to how many people can go up there anyway, so our crew’s on the railing. We’re up there talking about music, “Oh, how’d you get started?” We really got a chance to connect for the first time since we weren’t in the studio together when we did the song.
AllHipHop: Talk about releasing “Suicide” for #BlackLivesMatter.
JC: I actually wrote “Suicide” for another artist. He contacted me like “I need a big hook for a female artist, I got this track that’s more Top 40.” See, I write everything. I write country, I’m from Nashville. I like all genres of music, I really do. Because people say that because they think it’s the right thing to say, but nah I’ll flip you out. If you get in the car with me, I might be listening to some old 80’s rock. I really like all that.
I did the hook, sent it back to him. He never did anything with it because he couldn’t figure the rest of the song out. With the times, everything that unfortunately occurred, man I wanted to make this song my own. I added 3 verses. I didn’t even have any intentions of doing anything but let that be my form of expression of what’s going on. No different than if someone went on IG and posted “Black Lives Matter,” that’s my expression for that moment. It was cool that people took to it the way they did, because I didn’t have a push behind it. I just put it out.
AllHipHop: You’ve worked with everyone from Diddy, Future, T.I., Rick Ross, Wyclef, etc.
JC: I’ve been around for a while. This is different for me, because I’ve always released music independently. The newer wave with the music I’m releasing, I actually have a budget. I know don’t just go sign a deal. Some of the things that’ve been presented to me over the last years, I would’ve been signed. If this was 10 years ago, man. To say “oh, I’m with this label,” you feel like it’s a stamp of approval that makes you official. It really doesn’t. Labels got hundreds of artists that people haven’t even heard of. Yup, we’re rocking it independent. That’s why I’m out here now, for a meeting. We’re putting the finances together so I can really push the work to a broader audience. That’s my whole goal right now, to get my stuff heard even more.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
JC: That’s a good question. It’s going to sound arrogant, but me, myself, and I. I really like recording at home. I need a mic, my laptop, and some fire beats. That’s literally it. The whole studio vibe is more of a party, but I like cutting at the crib. I know if the song comes out dope, it’s a good song. I didn’t try to do a dope song because it’s 5 girls on the couch. I didn’t try to impress this guy, or overthink all of my lyrics because this A&R from this big-time label is sitting in the room. I like being at the crib, I can be loose with it and do my own thing. I sit on the little piano bench. [laughs] It works.
AllHipHop: What goals do you have for yourself?
JC: My most immediate goal is taking this current single and my follow-up single to the next level. I want this to be the 2 biggest releases that I’ve ever done as far as numbers and traction. Even this is a start. I’ll do interviews here and there but not with AllHipHop, especially as an R&B artist. The record is hip-hop, the new wave. I want a broader audience. That’s my goal.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
JC: The follow-up record is called “No Filter,” it’s with Jacquees. It’s dope, video’s done. It’s talking about a girl saying “I like you without a filter,” you don’t need makeup on. That’s cool too, but I like both sides of you that way. We’re launching a full campaign, where we want to highlight women that have vitiligo, skin disorders or diseases, even skin cancer. One of the first people we use is my cousin, she’s going through it with cancer. It’s dope to take the song from initially me just talking to a girl, to something bigger than what the song’s about. That’s something I’m always trying to do with my records.