Tony Cummings quizzed America's JUSTME, the solo rapper and member of The Scribbling Idiots crew.
One of the very best of the albums flowing from America's Christian hip-hop underground is 'One Man's Trash' by JustMe. Cross Rhythms described it as "big sounds broken into minimal beats and some punch hooks, with deft lyrical rhymes about life and musical industry experiences." JustMe was born Justin Long. He was originally based in Oceanside, California and has been writing "poetic prose" since he was 14. Speaking to Sphere ezine about his formative years he said, "I was influenced most directly and heavily by the Future Shock guys. Sojourn played a big part in me coming to the Lord. When we started making music together, he and Ajax helped teach me how to work in the studio. They taught me how to use the MPC, how to record efficiently, etc. I also learned a lot from them about how to put on a good show. Ahred was more of a spiritual influence for me. He's a real dedicated brother. I can only hope to be as good an influence on someone else."
Justin became part of a hip-hop crew Solseekers. Their 'People Watching' album was well received by the critics. While in the crew Justin was known as Sage. He explained, "The name Sage came from people saying I was wise beyond my years. The older I get the more I realise that I am anything but wise. I struggle with powers and principalities and I mess up everyday. I'd like to think that I am wise but I know that I'm an idiot."
In 2001 Sage became JustMe and the following year the rapper left California for Georgetown, Kentucky - not exactly a hotbed of the hip-hop scene. With tongue firmly in cheek he commented about the move's advantages, "I'm not constantly reminded of how wack I am! Out here I can pretend that I'm really good at this. It allows me to try new things. Work with a lot of different people or not work at all."
As well as working as a solo rapper, JustMe is one of the founding fathers of the eccentric gospel hip-hop collective, The Scribbling Idiots. He explained the crew's origins, "Scribbling Idiots was initially JustMe & CAS METAH. CAS was bringing around his friend Ruffian and I said that I considered Ruff to be an Idiot too. The CAS saw that as an open door to invite just anybody into the group. Now it's caboose, Elias, Reflex, Mattman, Mouf Warren. . . give me a break!"
JustMe went on to explain the Scribbling Idiots current activities. "We've been very busy in the studio. We just dropped a 12" single featuring Masta Ace. Theory Hazit and CAS METAH just finished recording solo records. We are also wrapping up our first group album 'The Have Nots', which will drop on Illect Recordings in September. We are doing a lot. We are really trying to make an impact on everyone we come in contact with, everyone in our sphere of influence."
For the moment though it's the 'One Man's Trash' on Illect which is grabbing the attention of the media. JustMe described the set as "a collection of my many frustrations with myself, hip-hop, work and people." He continued, "At first I had no idea where it was going but now it seems to reflect my natural propensity to focus on the negative and to do the wrong thing and then the Holy Spirit convicting me and changing my thoughts and actions."
Cross Rhythms asked the rapper to name what he thought were the best tracks on 'One Man's Trash'. He replied, "I don't know if I could say what the two "best" cuts are, but I'll tell you my favourites. 'Latenight Lullaby' has a great beat and when the track starts playing it immediately grabs my attention. I also like it because of the subject matter, it's a song about the ups and downs of being a new parent. It is also sequenced different than most other songs, there is no real hook. Well there is a hook but it is different before each verse. Ajax also directed a great video for it, which we will be releasing soon.
"My other favourite would have to be 'Someone'. It is a very personal song. The characters in the song are actually my wife and I. It was one of the first songs recorded for the record and I still like it! That's a great way to judge if a song is good or not, believe me!"The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.