Hip hop is a culture and should always be handled as such. Just ask moguls like Diddy, Jay-Z, 50 Cent—all rappers first, but once settled comfortably in the industry—developed brands, clothing lines and complete entitiesw to make sure that hip hop didn’t only dwell in dope lyrics and hot beats, but also in the clothes we wear. The success that Sean John, Rocawear and G-Unit received was only motivation for J McFly—artist, producer, designer and entrepreneur. J McFly has always been what his name suggests—fly and that’s how he got his start in fashion. Designing his own fresh gear, heads turned and J caught the attention of Dipset member, Juelz Santana. Now, with 10 years of doing his own T-shirt line—The J McFly Collection, J decided it was time to hone his other talent—music. The twist? J McFly is incorporating his buzzworthy T-shirt collection with his first album—Ready For Takeoff and his mixtape The Last Fly Mixtape. J McFly wants to bring back the kind of music that makes you want to bop. With influences across the board from the late, great Michael Jackson to John Legend to Jay-Z, we can expect originality—the exact same quality you can expect from J’s clothing line. We’ve embraced uber-talented emcees several times over; so are you ready to embrace another?
Tell me a little about what it is that you do and how you got started?
I’ve been managing and co-producing for a lot of artists—local cats. I used to do custom pieces for a few artists, like Juelz Santana—just a few people, but I’ve always been into designing. I designed my own clothes. Most of the things I wear, I do. I also used to work at a boutique called Probus NYC. I’ve also been doing music—MC’ing and coproducing.
That’s what’s up! How long have you been doing fashion?
Fashion—I’ve got maybe a good ten years. You know, getting down into the grind of it. I work with Johnny Walker. I did 12,000 T-shirts for them. I also have a T-shirt collection—The Hip Hop Paparazzi collection called the J McFly collection. I’m incorporating that for a mixtape I have coming out called The Last Fly Mixtape.
J McFly, the clothing line. What is that about? Where did that come from?
I used to do a lot of clothing when I was younger, for myself. People used to ask me, “Yo, where you get that? You’re always looking fresh.” I always like being different. I like looking fresh, but also being different. For me, different was something I could do for myself. People always told me to do custom pieces for them and [I would with] trial and error. I was doing a lot. I got to the point that I was like, you know what? Let me just put something out for the public to get and enjoy it. That’s why I did the Paparazzi collection. It’s real catchy and hasn’t been done before. That’s what I gave them—the Paparazzi collection—I let them feel like they’re famous also. They wear a shirt that says, “I can make you famous.” Another shirt that says, “Next question” or “Me, live at the red carpet” or “Wow, star right here.” I gave them the fame right on the streets. Live and direct.
Where could people get your clothes?
It’s in a boutique called Probus NYC on 181st between Broadway and Ft. Wash. Look it up online—it’s called http://www.ProbusNYC.com. Look for the name brand J McFly and the pieces are on display for them to see.
Where do you see yourself in the next year or so?
I see J McFly in a lot more boutiques; hopefully Bloomingdales and stores like that. [Also] billboards, magazines, videos—but I’m not about branding. I want the clothes to speak for themselves. I’m not the type of dude that would put J McFly in huge bubble letters on the shirt. When you look for the size, that’s when you see the name. A year from now, I definitely want it to be more reachable for the people.
How long have you been doing music?
I’ve been doing it 10-12 years, but recording, like I am now on a day-to-day basis, maybe a year. I’ve got 10 years in and out of studios, finding myself, getting myself together and preparing myself to be who I am now.
What’s going on with your music?
The music is bringing fun. Honestly, I can’t live without music or clothing. That’s two things that I love. I’ve managed artists, co-produced, I’ve been around. I was also in the “Dipset Anthem (Gangster Music)” video. You can check me in that video. I had a few people supporting me. Earlier this year, I just started putting myself out there, performing and working on the album. I feel like this year, I was finally ready. I went through a lot of obstacles. People can see the full me—the good, the bad, the ugly—all of it. That’s what I’m doing now. I’ve got the album. It’s called Ready For Takeoff and I also have the mixtape coming out right before it, called The Last Fly Mixtape.
Are you comparable to anyone in the game?
Some people say I sound like LL, Mase—I get a little bit of Kanye. They say I have that Puff swagger. I got this big gumbo. That’s me—McFly. That’s who I am—ladies man, smooth cat, down-to-earth. What I speak about is who I am. If you hear something that you wouldn’t hear on a daily basis—it’s me. I don’t say things that I’m not. You can have a lot of fun being you and that’s what I’ve been having—fun.
What type of material are you going to be displaying?
Party. It’s that vibe. That doesn’t mean I’m going to be poppin’ bottles and grinding on girls, but it’s that feeling. It’s a good feeling. One song called “Keep On Moving,” another called “No Pressure—“ definitely some feel good music.
Who are your influences in the game?
I look up to—oh man—at the moment, Kanye, 50—he’s definitely making the big bucks, Jay-Z, definitely respect Diddy—he’s been in the game for years and is a legend. Music-wise, as a fan, I definitely like Biggie, Nas, Tupac and definitely a fan of Kanye. He does things differently and I respect that.
What can the city, the hood, the blocks expect from J McFly the artist and the designer?
They’re definitely going to see the real in me. They’re going to see something they haven’t seen in a long time—people having fun. Originality. It’s not just going to be something I’m not. I’m not giving people that. If I do a club song, it’s because I really feel like I’m clubbing. That’s what I want people to hear. If I have a sad song about problems, that’s because that was what I was going through. People are going to absorb that, they’re going to feel you. I’m going to hit everybody with magic and they’re going to feel it.
For the up and coming entrepreneurs, designers and artists that are trying to get out there, what words of advice do you have for them?
Well, you know there’s a lot of youth out there that are bright and very talented. One plus one is two. Hard work plus hard work is going to be success. You get what you put in. There’s power changing hands—we’ve got a new President and Jay-Z, Puffy and dudes like that aren’t getting any younger. So, I think—depending on how bad you want it—you’re going to get it, so there’s definitely a lot of doors opening for the youth.