I remember saying to myself, “you can’t kill me/I was born dead” and morbidly laughing. I came out my mother’s womb stillborn, but the doctors were able to bring me back. Looking back now, seems like a perfect metaphor for my whole life.
I can’t lie: my parents had money. But just because you grow up with money, doesn’t mean life was all shopping malls, Tiffany and Co China sets. Your parents can have millions in the bank, but that doesn’t mean nothing if all you get for Christmas is ornament thrown at you and a Grinch for a father.
My mother and siblings knew what was going on, but as long as the credit card worked, they didn’t wanna stop the Celebration.
Growing up, I tried to forget about all this stuff, but it kept coming up. I lashed out a lot as ateenager – messed around with drugs, bounced in and out of juvenile homes, was homeless here and there. Hell, I even did a year and a half in jail. But hell, what was I to do when I’ve been sexually molested by nanny, handcuffed to a fence and beaten with a rock, over and over while my mother just watched. That’s when the music really took over my life and I realized that that was my therapy. See, music’s in my blood.
My dad co-founded Kool and the Gang and my mom sang back-up in the band. But, while fans across the world enjoyed the sounds of the drum kicks and snares underneath his guitar licks, back at home I enjoyed the licks from his guitar strings. And the kicks lack the drum and the snares became hallow.
On my album, The Boy Named Nothing, I try to bring together pop, hip-hop and rock because I love them all equally. I like to call it Melodic Rock! But you can call it…good music!
When I was in jail, other inmates would tell me, “You shouldn’t be here. You actually have a gift.” So much so, the warden would have me battle all the other rappers in the unit just to keep me out of trouble. I beat ‘em all, of course. I wrote all the time in jail and when I was released - “BAMMM” 20 tracks recorded like it was nothing! I wasn’t thinking of getting a deal or anything like that. I just realized that music was the vehicle for me to work out all these issues bubbling inside my head.
I learned how to handle my anger problems, but I still had identity issues to deal with. You don’t see too many black skateboarders from the suburbs, y’know? But I was always rapping and singing and got my first major label deal in 2004. That’s a whole ‘nother story but suffice to say, some people at the label didn’t think a suburban rapper could handle the rock, and the deal was killed…after that I got my masters back.
But that’s in the past now. I met Dave Navarro and we hit it off immediately. Me, Dave and DJ Skribble have done countless shows together and got along very well. Dave also co produced two tracks on my album “Torture” and “One More Try,” along with my partner Keith “Lil Wonda” Duplessis who produced a majority of the album. Collaborators on the album include grammy award winning producers Jerry “Wonda” Duplesis, Wyclef Jean, BumbleFoot of “Gunz N Roses,” and Latin Grammy award winning producer duo MilknSizz.
But just as important, though, I hope to break the silence of those that have had similarexperiences and Iet my album be an outlet for those who went through what I went through!
Justin “J Mello” Smith