The Come Up: CJ Fly
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.
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.
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.