How did you get the name Black Jewelz?
My real name is Julius, people always called me Jewels for short, and as a teen I’d dress in all black from head-to-toe every day. As stated in my rap “Dedication To E”, “Black Jewelz…black pants, black socks, black shirt and black shoes, black hoodie, black bandana & black ski mask…” Also, as a result of listening to a lot of 2Pac, I used to walk around school talking about “Black Power.” So one day a friend of mine, who was a class clown kind of character, said to me, “Yo Jewelz, you know what your rap name should be?…Black Jewelz…” We both laughed it off but in the back of my mind I thought it had a ring to it so I stuck with it & it stuck to me. The meaning changed though, to have two main meanings. Black jewelry is a very rare and uncommon thing to see or even discover, so Black Jewelz is a unique & extraordinary thing to find. The plural word “jewelz” of the singular object/individual just adds to the paradoxical uniqueness of it. The primary meaning is this: when a diamond is discovered in its true raw form it is covered in coal, so it’s a sort of “Black Jewelz”. So Black Jewelz is a metaphor for a “diamond in the rough”.
You started writing around the age of 11-12 years old but didn’t take it seriously until about 18 why so long and what has changed from when you started to you taking it seriously?
Well, I always took writing seriously, because I loved it so much; but I was misdirected in those years so my writings reflected that. I constantly felt hopeless, angry and empty, I had no purpose to my writing then, everything was just self-centered. Started writing with a purpose around 18 because I discovered that I had a purpose, I found hope. I became a dedicated Christian. Now what I write reflects the hope I’ve found, the hope that lives in me, and the purpose. That’s why I’m not afraid to challenge any rapper because I now know why I’m here. I know that I’m not just writing just to write or to seek fame. People can’t help but see that I have purpose when I rap; that’s not an opinion of mine. This is what I’ve been told continuously by countless people. I want to be a visual, living example for the youth, especially those who were like me. Those who are lost, angry, hopeless, on the streets. I want them all to see that there is hope. They do have a purpose.
What made you get into writing anyway?
I was amazed by rappers I saw and heard as a kid. The way they could put words together that not only rhymed but made sense, all done to a rhythm. 2Pac, Jay-Z, Nas, DMX… all impressed me. When Puff Daddy & Mase were popular, I was fascinated by their videos and performances…it all captivated me as a kid. I remember listening to “Is This the End?” by Puffy & Twista over and over to memorize and recite all the lines because I thought it was so cool. Reciting raps, especially difficult raps, by other rappers made me feel like I could rap. So I just started writing raps, and never stopped.
What can you say your lane is in Hip Hop?
This probably sounds like a cliché but I try to make my own lane. Which I would say is some kind of cross between lyricist, conscious rapper, battle rapper and story teller. I try to keep a commercial appeal in the midst of all that, at the same time. When I write I put a lot of effort into what I end up with. I literally try to make sure I don’t waste a single line. I’m very intentional about the rhyme scheme and structure, the overall progression of the particular rap I’m writing, etc. Hence, the lyricist lane; which is primary, because it always guides the overall structure and verse delivery
Conscious: because I try to incorporate pertinent ideas or issues and bring them to the listener’s attention.
Battle rapper: because I won’t hesitate to call out emcees and battle them. A good number of my raps are a challenge to other rappers; especially those I consider fake rappers, or “fake emcees.”
Storyteller: because I always love to tell stories. It constantly comes to mind when I prepare to write; sometimes so much that I have to intentionally avoid storytelling because I don’t want that to be my only style.
What do you want people to get from your rhymes after listing to your music?
I want people to feel inspired and empowered. I want them to feel the power that is in me, and, as a result that they too have or can have power. And I want to get the respect that I deserve as a rapper, an emcee, an artisan of this craft. Any employee deserves acknowledgement and credit for the level of work he does, basically give honor where it’s due. I put a lot into my music and I want people to see and appreciate that, and not hesitate to tell their people, “Yo, this dude Black Jewelz…he’s something serious…” or whatever. I don’t want to be disregarded just because I’m not signed yet or “big”, or because I don’t brag about money and cars. If rappers can rap about drug-dealing, murder, dissing the crap out of women… and get paid for it, I should be able to rap about things I rap about and get the respect I deserve as an artist, as an emcee.
Your from NY but reside in Carolina let us know in your eyes what makes the hip hop scene different and how do you fit in to getting exposed to both sides?
Well actually I’m from CT, right above NY. It’s interesting because “Southern Rap” has flooded the game so much that dudes from up north are trying to adapt the generally southern style. So the hip hop scene is actually not very different. Even in NY; I did a show there a while back, featuring Freeway, and you saw like 89% Southern style. Even Freeway came with a new trap-style song. I always try to be original, and authentic; I think people can see this wherever I go. People generally appreciate and notice originality, because it stands out. So I just try to stay true to self and stand out by maintaining my own style.
Your mixtape Destiny Callz, what made you come up with the title and after listing to it what can a listener say about what they heard?
The title came from my own experience, because for a short while I stepped back from rap to really consider if that’s what I’m meant to do. It became clear to me that it is my destiny; and destiny calls. It’s not merely just something I do, or simply want to do, it’s something I must do. Destiny is calling. It is calling all of us, even when I was lost and growing ruthless, drowning in the street life, destiny was calling me. After listening to the mixtape a listener can say that they heard something different, dope and something that made them think, probably about things they hadn’t thought about before.
What’s your fav song on the mixtape?
Worst Nightmare. I love that song because it features my brother Novakane and I just pretty much having fun with lyricism and the art of rap. It’s a track where we get to show our skill, and confidence. We show why we can say we’re a rapper’s worst nightmare. Like, we dare someone to try to beat or challenge that track. It’s one of those raps that would be difficult for a listener to learn, and it’d probably make them feel like a rapper if they could recite it.
We heard the joint you did for BET Hot 16, how did you feel about the bars you put out their, do you feel it was your best and or now after everything is over with it do you feel you could have did better?
I feel it was the best for the timeframe I did it in. I heard about it shortly before the deadline, wrote it in a short amount of time then recorded it the next day. I looked at the two finalists’ entries and I was surprised about the choices, because they weren’t impressive to me. I don’t mean that in a cocky or demeaning way at all, many others told me the same. I still think what I did for that contest was the best that I needed to put out, because in all honesty, I haven’t heard another one that surpasses it. I’d say the same even if it weren’t me on the track.
Why can Black Jewelz say he has next?
Because he deserves it. I have things to say that haven’t been said, and I say it in a way that hasn’t been heard. I’ve worked for this for years, and literally sacrificed more than anyone I know personally. I see rappers who are basically clowns getting in the game and they don’t even respect the art and heart of this. I’m not just another guy trying to rap; if people listen to me they know that I need to be heard. I can’t even tell you how many times people have heard me or watched my videos and said, ”the world needs to hear you.” I’m not even trying to sound cocky, I’m just being truthful. I got next because I deserve it.
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