If J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar shared a half rap brother, it would be JustAli. A North Carolina artist in Jacksonville is an emerging artist with a voice for the Black community. With a storytelling tongue, JustAli naturally paints life experiences in Vanceboro, NC into perfect pictures. The Carolina’s are emerging with talented artists and musicians. North Carolina knows it’s artists to fight for a spot in the Hip Hop industry. Artists like Pete Pablo, Rapsody, and J.Cole all acknowledge the shade thrown towards Carolina artists. Recently, media figure, Akademics, spoke against rising North Carolina artist Morray.
Like the vets from JustAli’s home state, the 23-year-old words flow with the beat. He illustrates stories in his music from various perspectives on his earlier project, StoryTime. The lyrical visuals are superb (lyric and explanation). You would believe the entire project was about JustAli because of how he conveyed the story. He jokes about how people assume he’s a father because of the lyrics of the song.
Understand JustAli is a capsule of Neo Hip Hop. After releasing music in 2019, Covid-19 and the Racial Injustice Movement changed the dynamic of his community. The world is conforming to virtual concerts and DJs performing on Instagram and Facebook Live. For a mainstream artist, it’s an easy transition into virtual performing. Up and coming artists are learning how to get noticed without physical access to events and industry mixers. The pandemic has brought on several changes affecting families, jobs, and determining survival. JustAli hops back in the studio and decides to give his fans an EP. The tracks reflect relevance to what is taking place in the community during this time.
“Something to Hold You Over: The Bumble Bee Effect” will debut in the first quarter of 2021. After hearing the project, you may think JustAli has an intricate recording process, but it is the opposite. He claims he can record at least six songs in one session. Typically social media exploits sessions as overcrowded and smoke filled; this is not how a studio session usually goes. JustAli’s preference is to save his money and make as much music as he can. His latest project is just in time for the New Year with groovy beats and smooth wordplay.
“I Just Wanna Groove”
His music is not only for entertainment, but it embodies what life is like in the Black culture. In the opener of the EP, “I Just Wanna Groove,” JustAli gives an acapella intro reciting, “I just wanna prove that n****s is going to groove to whatever that you’re singing as long as the beat smooth, making her head nod, making her cheeks move.” It’s a sound that you can’t ignore. In the heart of the record, JustAli, raps about the gospel, twerking, College life, and Massacres. He catches his listeners with his subtle sound and proceeds to share his message without losing their interest. While explaining why he is different from other rappers, JustAli delivers a solid impression. Next, you may question your favorite upcoming rapper.
Relationships can be as complicated as the spaghetti junction highway in Atlanta. JustAli captures the importance of paying attention to the signs presented in relationships. It’s a common conceit that women drive worst than men, and it makes sense that JustAli used this as a reference to tell this story. It is a common belief that people ignore signs and red flags. JustAli uses his unique storytelling to talk about a relationship that is heading down the wrong path in this record. Instead of using a vulgar word to describe a woman, the title uses Jawn. Jawn is an east coast term and also a noun used to describe a female. Starting with a subtle taste of spoken word as the beat rises, JustAli pushes all limits of entangling rap with melodies. If you are a fan of Wale’s song introductions, you’ll find appreciation for JustAli similar approach in Driving Jawn, as he shares a poetic message before diving into the record.
Taking it back to the relationship between man and woman, JustAli gives a Caribbean rhythm and features female vocals. Trust between a man and a woman is a beautiful thing if not abused. However, JustAli speaks about not having that trust and shares it with his partner to protect himself. Trust is a lighter sound and message on the project and falls in with sounds of percussions and will keep your hips moving.
Starting with a mid-range pitch, JustAli challenges views of society and the respect given to the Black community. Piano keys play underneath JustAli as he continues to rap rhythmically and narrates the story from others. The Black man is a threat to the success of their white counterparts. Although it doesn’t have to be this way, systematic racism and white supremacists exploit this view across the nation of American. JustAli calls out the unfair treatment towards the Black man also from their neighborhood. From being racially profiled to baby mama drama and upholding real n**** personas; The Black man has no breathing room to live their truth. Truth is the message in this record. The Black man does not receive the respect he deserves in American society and is instead neglected and locked away. JustAli is dropping factual statements about the failures in the spotlight compared to the attempts to succeed. This record is a well-deserved repeat.
“I Don’t Cry When I See Murder”
You wonder if rappers like Eminem and NAS are influencers for JustAli after listening to this track. You will not just hear a song but, instead, it’ll be a story, a prayer, and a plea for better. This song alone is capable of being performed in an arena, packing out seats. The title fits the description of what a person in the Black community feels when they experience loss. PTSD is a common mental health issue in the community. JustAli expresses the emotions and impact of having PTSD and the effects on mental health and relationships. JustAli references the death of George Floyd, which was nationally televised and shared on social media. He explains the frustration with the media’s part in the storyline and the ignorance of the truth. A witness to 2020 and all the anguish presented, JustAli put it into a nine-minute song assisted by periodic intensity.
Keep up with JustAli on all platforms and stream his latest project, “Something to Hold You Over: The Bumble Bee Effect.”