You couldn’t turn on the radio during the summer of 2019 without hearing rapper J.I.’s breakout single, “Need Me.” The song begins, “I swear this gon f**k the summer up” — and it did. The single racked up millions of streams, and in August of that same year, J.I. signed a deal with Interscope Records in partnership with G.Starr Entertainment.
However, this wasn’t the first time the public became familiar with the young star. Two years prior, the world watched the rapper as a 15-year-old contestant on season two of The Rap Game — a reality television series led by Jermaine Dupri that gave six competitors a shot at a recording contract with the music producer’s label, So So Def Recordings. Although J.I. did not win the series, he undoubtedly won fans over with his “lyrical sharpness” and “impressive freestyles.”
Today, at the age of 21, J.I. is a platinum-selling artist with multiple EPs and a catalog that has racked up over 1.1 billion streams. However, despite his burgeoning success, the Brooklyn native maintains his humility and continues to pay homage to his predecessors as he paves his unique path forward.
The rapper sat down exclusively with The Shade Room’s Senior Editor, Jadriena Solomon, and shared his take on his unprecedented rise to stardom, his fearlessness when sampling classic records, and how he maintains his unique sound amid growing music trends. J.I. also shared why it’s important for him to pay homage to his Puerto Rican roots, as well as what longevity looks like to him.