The Come Up: CJ Fly

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On growing up in Brooklyn:

CJ Fly: Being from Brooklyn, you can’t avoid the music that’s around you. Outside, hip-hop will be playing on the radio; you want to be a part of something so deep in your culture. Being the Brooklyn kid that I am, I had to tap into it.

[I listened to] A Tribe Called Quest, and on a more American level, my parents listened to Michael [Jackson] and R. Kelly. I started looking at more rappers from there. I remember all the ’90s stuff like Missy Elliot. I remember Missy videos being on TV, Busta Rhymes. ATCQ would always say Linden Blvd in their songs because I think that’s where they grew up in Queens. When I was younger I always thought they were from my neighborhood in Flatbush and that I would one day see them. [Laughs]

[Brooklyn] definitely helped bring definition into the music and the view of what life was. It definitely had a big influence on that. Aside from Brooklyn, look at Bedstuy, for example—Jay-Z and Biggie. There’s a lot to top. Not in the whole Brooklyn, but just from my neighborhood alone. At the top, it’s Jay and Biggie.

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On how he started rapping:

It just came naturally. I don’t think about it too much but I’ve always listen to music as a kid and I didn’t want to do anything else. I’ve always loved poetry, too. I definitely tried to fuse it. You can hear it even when I don’t try. You can hear an accent when I speak sometimes. I try to make my music American and sometimes in our raps, people say they can hear reggae in my voice. I wasn’t trying to, though; it was more natural. All the stuff I was listening to as a child comes out in my music.

I just think about life and it gives me experiences to talk about. I feel like I’ll have an issue if there’s nothing going on. If I stayed in a room for a whole week then I would have nothing to talk about. I like to go out and experience things; I like to keep everything true.

I kept dreaming that I would be flying in my dreams. It definitely fit me perfectly. At school, I was called “Fly” because I had always dressed well. Before then, I had CJ Fresh or some weird shit. That changed the next day. It went from “Fresh” and upgraded to “Fly.” We don’t use that shit no more.

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On the Under The Influence Tour:

My overall experience would be that I learned a lot and I was high as fuck. I definitely took in a lot, from weed puffs to the experience.

It wasn’t bad. I like to experience things. Before I would go on a tour, I wouldn’t really be as excited until I went through the actual experience. Now that I actually experienced it, it definitely interested me in a whole. It’s great to leave home and get respect from a lot of people who don’t even know you.

I learned to be on point and to make sure you give a great show. Their shows were coordinated perfectly. They had the different segments so they were dope shows.

I have to say the Under The Influence Tour with Joey Bada$$ is my best experience yet. The large venues and mass amount of fans were definitely a highlight. Being on tour was a highlight and a major blessing. The Australian trip was crazy. [Laughs]

I can’t get over this wolf. I was in the back of a pick-up truck with a wolf. It was good. The wolf’s name is Katanna and she was mad cool. I was told that a wolf is not as ferocious as they make it seem but I’m sure a hungry wolf would eat my ass.