Peer pressure isnt always a negative thing, just ask Flint, Michigan native Justen Flint.
From a young age, hes been in and around music learning what the
buttons do in the booth and it didnt stop there he continued to
further his knowledge on the craft that he was gonna make his own. Its
taken him throughout the country and abroad. After years of
honing his craft in various studio spots he was part of a crew in his
early years called The Coalition, which he put out an album with and
numerous production spots were heard in his hometown. He's back,
putting out such joints as "Earned Success,""See The Top," and "What Would Happen," making rounds on the airwaves in the mighty state of Michigan.Justen
is the all around package, he writes, records, produces, engineer, and
mixes his own tracks. Did I mention this dude doesn't even write his
own rhymes, its all in his head. This is the new undiscovered gem in
the mid western region.
AllHipHop.com: Where did your
name come from?
Justen Flint: Um Well, my real stage name is Jon E.
Fontaine, and Justen Flint is like an alias of that. They all stem from my
initials J.E.F., and Justen Flint came from Roscoe, Kurupts little brother,
Kurupt and his boy kept calling me Flint when I met and was kicking it with
them in New York I was out there with a photographer named Pascal, hes from
Germany, and he did the Febreeze
album cover plus handled my photo shoot. Since Im from Flint, they kept calling me that and the name
stuck. AllHipHop.com: Michigan has some pretty
dope producers. Who would you say are the dudes out there that made Flint pop?Justen Flint: We got Salaam Wreck, he DJs for D-12;
Fredwreck, hes a West Coast producer, and Salaams brother, and they are from
here. I cant forget, Syience, he did
the Hollywood joint for Beyonce and Jay- Z. Plus;
he did the new joint Angel for Ne-Yo. Thats my god brother.AllHipHop.com: You mentioned
the Febreeze album earlier, is it
true that you mixed and mastered that album?
Justen Flint: Yes. I did that all myself.
AllHipHop.com: Wow, so you
mustve saved yourself a hefty grip on recording and production costs?
Justen Flint: (Laughs) Yes, Sir. I do all the
recording, I get production, actually I get music from all over the U.S., Im
in a crew called the Industry Ready Crew; its like an underground nationwide
crew that we network with each other get tracks, music, and get stuff placed
for each other in each area, because, we dont have the budget to just get out
nationwide and travel. I get my stuff out there, and they get there stuff out
AllHipHop.com: The Internet
is a beautiful thing.
Justen Flint: Yes sir! I get music from a lot of
places but I do the all arrangements, engineering, recording, I mix and master
for other people. So, thats the job right there. Thats what I got to do, but I like the time
that I invest [in it].
AllHipHop.com: You do all the
stuff behind the boards as well as in front of the mic. Do you help mold any
artists as well?
Justen Flint: I have a couple of R&B artists
that Im working with right now, Whitney and Ayala, trying to get there
projects together. As soon as we get somebody to just believe in what were
doing and invest in us and see what were doing as real music. Well be set,
but, for now its just grind mode.
AllHipHop.com: What do you
say your sound is like?
Justen Flint: Febreeze. Its like fresh air. The
feeling is refreshing, the sound is refreshing, and its not too heavy where it
wears you down. You see a room light up when you play one of my records.
AllHipHop.com: Your songs
Play No Games and What Would Happen, were rap tracks that have an R&B
feel to them.
Justen Flint: Right. I saw the trend that the
industry was kind of going, but myself Im not gonna start singing or nothing
like that. But I saw what the radio was playing, and I wanted to do something
for the ladies. Im single with no kids; I talk to ladies and find out what
they want. Those two songs were inspired by women.
AllHipHop.com: You have other
tracks like See The Top and Earn Success, they have a real street feel to
them. I see they show off your versatility.
Justen Flint: Yeah. But at the same time I keep it
honest and as far sounding like street records there aggressive like street
records. I feel that way too, that
aggression is put into a positive mode thats why the song is you Earn
Success, and I See The Top. Its sort of like the Trojan Horse; the shape
and form outside is a street record, but on the inside you listen to the
message its real supportive and positive.
AllHipHop.com: So you
generally did all the writing, and producing on the Febreeze album?
Justen Flint: I wrote and arranged. The music I got
from other producers like Syience did See The Top, and What Happened. Those
were definitely special records for me. Cue Da Kid, from Arkansas did Earn Success. I also had a
guy named Bill from Flint
on there as well as Ill Koncepts. But I did produce I Made It.
AllHipHop.com: How was it
coming up in Flint?
I liked Flint;
actually, it might be my close relationship with God. I have a lot of faith,
and I live with a lot of faith. So, the danger aspects of Flint Ive seen it, been around it but was
never shook or nervous about it.
AllHipHop.com: How is the
local scene compared to other parts of the country?
Justen Flint: It is different, not a lot of support
here. People might buy your stuff its like the industry; you spend a lot of
money people will be on you til its gone. We dont have local radio, meaning
that the main stations dont play local music. So, we had to start an
underground outlet radio station that plays local music. Its WKUFLP, 94.3; its an FM station which
is cool, so all of Flint
can get it. Thats where local artists get any type of spins. But Im glad to
say that I did get a chance to travel around the states and see what else is
AllHipHop.com: Howd you get
Justen Flint: I played ball with Mo Cleaves [NBA
player Mateen Cleaves], and one day I had a game and my mom asked my God brother
to take me to my game. He actually had other plans; he took me to a studio, at
12 years old. He was like I got to make a stop first, he told me it wouldnt be
long he took me downstairs and he played me some music that he recorded. This
was 1992 I believe, the studio had computers and sound proof booths. I never
seen that in my life, I was like Man, I wanna learn how to run the computers!
Or, show me how to record; I dont even care about the mic. But my brothers
told me that I had to record a rap and theyll show me how to use the
equipment, so they wrote me a verse I rapped.
I eventually made it to my game at halftime; still had 25 points. I fell
in love with the studio right after that.
My dad introduced me to Bernard Terry who was an engineer and had a mega
studio and I went nuts when I saw it. On top of that, he told me that was my
uncle and from there I knew that this was I wanted to do. At 14, I was with a
label out of Detroit
called Solider Records, thats when I started producing and I was hearing my
music being played. I started going to this studio in Canton, Michigan
called Talent Live. It was a 4 million dollar facility; a man named Rick that
still works there showed me how to run a 4 million dollar facility. He taught
me all the ins and outs of production, recording, and acoustics. Comparing my
notes from my uncle Bernard and Rick, by the time I was 17, I was a senior in
high school and got involved with the foreign exchange program in Mexico City. That opened me up to seeing the world and its
bigger than Flint.
It helped me grow in my music, when I got back the school asked if I wanted to
go back to class for the rest of the year or find a place thatll have me work.
Most people took the bank, or an office I chose a professional studio called
Boomin Records. They signed off on it, and there I was a 17 year old running
the studio recording local acts, back then when local acts were getting
airplay. I was with a group called The Coalition at the time and we put out
AllHipHop.com: Whos your
Justen Flint: My favorite MC is Redman, my favorite
artist is Jay- Z. Its almost a tie between Redman and Eminem. Em took it to
that level, Redman always was and still is that dude today he does it style,
flavor, rhyme schemes, and thats what he does. I said that if I want to be the best I have to
study the best Biggie, and Jay never wrote down their lyrics. So, in 2003, I
trained myself to just vibe on the beat,
and come up and create the songs. Jay can paint charisma on anything and that
within itself is what an artist is to me. An artist can take trash and make it
desirable. Cant forget in terms of looking at my city I liked the Loxs first
album for the simple fact they repped Yonkers
heavy, most times when people say New
York they always meant the city. They were proud to
be from their small town and they let everyone know it.
MyPpace is www.myspace.com/justenflint