Monday, November 1, 2010

Scribbling Idiot JustMe Pushes the Envelope with "Tragedy & Dope"


Veteran Christian hip hop rapper JustMe gets gritty on his latest project. I recently connected with him for this quick Q&A.

Sketch: You named your new album Tragedy & Dope and in your lyrics you say that God made both. To clarify, are you using the word “dope” to mean drugs or “dope” as slang for something positive? Is it like Run-DMC’s “not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good” line from the song “Peter Piper”?

JustMe: Absolutely! "Dope" as in hip hop slang for good.

Sketch: You’re a part of the Scribbling Idiots collective of mid-west MCs. How would you describe the hip hop scene where you’re at in Lexington, Kentucky and what’s the value for you as a solo artist linking up with a team like SI?

JustMe: There's actually a pretty good scene here in Lexington. Lextown is small, so the scene is small, but it is full of talent. We have shows nearly every week.

The Album is the name of a local hip-hop shop that supports the local scene and the college radio really supports.

As far as SI, it is a huge blessing to be part of such a talented crew. Those guys really push me to be sharp and creative and we really celebrate each other’s achievements.

Sketch: When we spoke recently, you told me you felt like this album was going to push the envelope as far as faith-based rap releases go. Listening to it, I definitely hear some words (either said or implied) and content matter that I believe would definitely keep it from being sold in Christian bookstores. Why did you feel the need to express yourself this way on this project?

JustMe: I have always tried to be really honest in my music. I've been repping Christ in hip-hop for 15 years and I don't feel like I've ever been accepted in that scene, so why censor myself now? I use some strong language on the album, but there is strong language used in the Bible. It’s all real and honest.

Sketch: The song “Sexual Confessional” seems to describe both your frustrations and fantasies about intimate physical intimacy with your wife – a topic rarely discussed in Christian music of any genre. Why do you think that is?

JustMe: I don't know. I touched on this a little on my last album too, on a song called "Third Round KO," and when the worship director heard it, she asked me to perform it at church. I did and everyone felt it.

It’s out there. Men and women are different. We have a hard time communicating sometimes and I think that it should reflect in the arts.

Sketch: Tragedy & Dope was entirely produced by Deacon The Villain of the underground hip hop group CunninLynguists and, to me, has a real, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues feel on the hooks. Tell me about how and why you connected with Deacon for the album and is that you singing the choruses?

JustMe: Nah, that's Deacon singing most of the hooks. I do sing on "Sexual Confessional" though.

Deacon and I have been friends since I moved to Kentucky eight years ago. We've worked together several times, but this was different.

Deacon reached out to me about a year ago and said that he wanted to produce my next record. I was overjoyed! He's an extremely talented human being.

Deacon is a Christian. His dad is pastor of a very large church here in Lexington. I think that through this record, he was able to communicate some things that he hasn't so much on CL records.

His involvement helps me to reach a new audience as well. I think it’s been great for both of us.

Sketch: The “Serenity Prayer” seems to be a recurring theme on Tragedy and Dope. Have you found that prayer becoming a regular part of your dialogue with God lately? If so, why?

JustMe: That prayer (spoken and applied) has been a recurring part of my relationship with God for years. If I couldn't let go and lay my baggage at His feet, I would literally go crazy.

Likewise, I want to be a man of action whenever I can make a change for the better. There is a difference between contentment and complacency. I want to be content in every situation, but I don't EVER want to be complacent.

Tragedy & Dope is available now for just $5 via JustMe’s Bandcamp site (where you can also sample each track) and will be offered via other traditional digital outlets on Tuesday, November 2.

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