The music of Lowell-originating rapper J Faith draws from the sounds of veterans like Cypress Hill and primary his inspiration DMX, blended with a streamlined, modern sound that’s at once contemporary, but also cutting-edge, and with all the roughness of the underground. Justin Oliver is the man behind the project, the mind behind J Faith’s socially aware and winding rhymes, as well as its emotional highs and lows. Now it’s his turn to be asked…
5 QUESTIONS FOR JUSTIN OLIVER
1. What’s the last GREAT album you’ve recently listened to?
I want to say two only because one was more of an impulse on the passing of DMX who was the complete inspiration for me starting in music. One of my favorite albums of his was Year of the Dog… Again. It holds some of the deepest and personal songs of DMX that I relate to still to this day. As for the other album, I’m a big fan of R&B and was trying to broaden my artist list. I came across SiR’s album Chasing Summer that was released in 2019 (I’m know, I’m super late) but I really enjoyed it front to back. There are a few albums I could list that I could continue to listen to front to back, but I don’t think there’s enough space for that.
2. What band or artist would you most like to share a bill or collaborate with?
There’s a few answers for this. And I say this because there’s so many details that could go into it. All of these would go for both scenarios by the way. Although he’s retired, if I could, my first would be Joe Budden. He’s been a huge inspiration for storytelling and drawing emotion into music. Next would be J. Cole, who would lyrically along with content would be a great match and just to be able to experience and learn from him would be enough for me. And lastly would be NF. The energy he brings with his music whether on stage or in the booth I feel would be again, another great experience. I chose these three because I feel they all capture in essence how I look to create my own music.
3. What passions and hobbies do you follow outside of music?
After shooting a music video at a record store in Lowell, Vinyl Destination, and receiving free vinyls from Dave, I then started a vinyl collection of my own and try to get one at least once a month of both old school and current music I enjoy.
Drawing has been a new found passion of mine as I used to be the type of person that could only draw stick figures. Once I started getting tattoos and watching tattoo shows like Miami Ink and seeing the drawing skills they had and how tattoos should really look, I made a strong effort to learn how to draw better in detail. My main focuses now are realism and graffiti with pencil and paper but would love to expand more into painting and digital art.
4. What’s the one thing about the music scene as a whole you’d like to change?
Speaking locally, I want to see more opportunities where artists are lifting each other up. So many times an artist starts building momentum and feels they are far superior to others. It’s like there is some fear that if they educate a lesser successful artist that it somehow hurts them. If we are trying to build up the culture of hip hop, we have to be willing to educate and critique others without the “yes man” mentality.
On a much larger perspective, I feel hip hop still has such a negative stigma. Yes, you can say some areas have some questionable pockets, but don’t all genres? Award shows and recognition platforms have pretty much come to a political standpoint than one that measures off of pure talent. Social media presence seems to be the benchmark verses what the artist is actually producing. It’s crazy to think that artists like Nas with their 15+ year music career and impact he’s had on the culture as “one of the greatest of all time” has only received one Grammy. And there are many more that follow suit.
5. What has been the most defining moment of your music career thus far? (This question comes from the previous 5 Questions interview Carissa Myre)
Being able to create a multitude of networks that work hand in hand supporting each other that allow for multiple goals to be accomplished. From the launch of my Write Mind initiative to support people with Music, Mental Health, Fitness, and Financial Literacy to being a part of Minds of One Collective Genius, an amazing collective of artists and creators.
When I started Write Mind I didn’t think I would’ve been able to build a team of great people with Turntable Teachers and Blaise Training that support two of my initiatives within. I must add Bars Over Bars started by Hero the Emcee who has not only given myself, but a large number of artists opportunities to perform, especially during a pandemic.
All these opportunities have allowed me to connect with people on a deeper level that is much more important to me than just dollar signs and streams. It’s great to find people who share in your goal set and only look to push each other up each step of the way.
I think the lesson learned from all this for me, and I think can even go with how the local hip hop culture can change, is getting more and more opportunities to really sit down with people and get an understanding of who they are and see what they can contribute, regardless of skill level or age.
J Faith’s latest singles, “Stardust” (in collaboration with L.Y.F.E. & BoyMelody) and “Dad’s Flow” are now available to stream on all major platforms. Further materials and news can be found via J Faith’s Linktree site, which lists his Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages, among many other social media links.