The Break Presents: CJ
It seems like if you're a fan of hip-hop, it's only a matter of time before you try rapping, making beats or DJaying at some point or another. That's exactly what Staten Island, N.Y. rapper CJ did.
Inspired by 50 Cent and other hip-hop artists he loved growing up, CJ was rapping for fun by the age of 16. Once he was 19, he started to take rap seriously, recording and uploading his music to YouTube and SoundCloud. In his own words, he wasn't consistent enough, dropping music and then taking long leaves of absence.
Seven years after he began rhyming, his move toward rap recognition happened. One day this past July, the rising rapper decided to deliver his lyrics on a Brooklyn drill beat for the first time, taking a sharp turn from the more melodic rap he was making before. That decision turned out to be a great one since that song, titled "Whoopty," has been streamed more than 47 million times on Spotify and its four-month-old video has over 26 million YouTube views.
Earlier this month, the track, which features a sample of Indian singer Arijit Singh's "Sanam Re" at the beginning, entered the Billboard Hot 100 and now sits at No. 81. "Whoopty, bitch, I'm outside, it's a movie (Whoopty)/(Huh) Blue cheese, I swear I'm addicted to blue cheese/I gotta stick to this paper like loose leaf," he raps. "Whoopty" as a song is fun and has the feel of the earlier days of BK drill, when acts like Fivio Foreign and Pop Smoke just wanted to enjoy themselves.
In an era where a hit song can propel you to stardom, CJ is in the midst of a serious come up. Now it's time to talk about how he got here. Phoning in to XXL, CJ speaks about some of his inspirations and his goals for the future. Get to know him in the latest edition of The Break.
Hometown: Staten Island, N.Y.
I grew up listening to: "A lot of 50 Cent, that's the era I grew up in. Early 2000s. Lil Wayne, Nelly, Jay-Z, Nas that kind of era right there. I was a huge fan of 50. The whole energy, the whole style, that New York vibe. The videos used to come on, and I used to imitate  in the mirror and recite all his lyrics."
My style’s been compared to: "Due to it being a drill song, [I get] a lot of comparisons to, may he rest in peace, Pop Smoke. That's really all I heard, not too many other artists. It's that whole drill sound."
I’m going to blow up because: "I try to keep it short and simple. And pretty much just, I wanna make catchy music. [Have] people that's gonna sing along. I don't wanna be too complicated and be too serious in my songs. I want kids to recite my lyrics, older folks, too. Just kinda like a worldwide thing."
My standout records to date have been: "I feel like the energy of the record and the energy of the ['Whoopty'] video [is making it popular]. What I was saying in the record, it was super catchy. Definitely had something to do with the beat. It was cool, just everything, all in one."
My standout moments to date have been: "I wanna be honest with you, it's something different and something new every day. A goal that I always wanted to reach, every day it's something different. So, I can't say one of the biggest, because I'm not sure."
I’m going to be the next: "G.O.A.T."
"Pop" featuring 6ix9ine
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