Flashback to '96: The radio waves are enriched with the post Golden Era of hip hop. The internet hasn't yet decimated album sales, and the public is still camping outside local record stores for the latest 2Pac album. But the music industry was on the verge of a drastic change. Enter young Justin Joseph Monastero whose days were filled with truant officers, relentless underage drinking and excessive promiscuous activity. You could find him wylin' out in his old maroon Omni Horizon. He was trying to spin records, which eventually led him to the microphone. J.J. took to rhyming instantly and even though his lyrical skills hadn't matured yet, he knew he had found his future.
He began designing his rap persona like a head chef would create his trademark dish. Often imagining himself as a distant Sicilian cousin of Raekwon, Nas or Jay-Z, the next two years were dedicated to writing, studio sessions and live urban training on the street corners of South Philly. He developed the ability to melt anyone in the cypher but hadn't yet learned the artistry of song writing, the one factor that stood in his way from performing live on stage.
Knowing inside he was destined for stardom, he shook off the doubters and recorded his first full-length album with songs about thick chicks, custom boots and fly foreign suits His potential was recognized by an international act and Justin Joseph was signed to a label deal. Feeling as if his loafers were laced with platinum linguini, J completed Martini Dreams in no time. He was ripping international stages wearing aardvark hoodies, tanned octopus leathers and catfish cut boots in no time. Yugoslavians are cheering him on through their sweaty extra medium undershirts.
But the daily challenges facing his rap career began to take their toll on him. He was drinking more profusely and developing a drugography that rivals any of Mötley Crüe's original members. Justin was either on someone's couch or out in the streets bumming cash, prescriptions or rides to pick them up. Drama followed drama until he finally bottomed out. He thought about his opportunities and vowed to fulfill his multi-continental potential. He cut off all his drug connections and focused mainly on his rhymes. A period of self examination followed where he then transformed into the stone cold Italian playboy that you all smell today... J.J. Sinatra, the original Vinny Velvet.
How do you describe your music to people, J.J.?
Something totally different. It's a lil' bit of everything all rolled in one but with my life story as the background. You'd have to hear it to believe it.
Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
I wanted to be a DJ when I was 15 but I sucked at it so I started rappin' after I figured out I could put words together. I was about 16 when I started rhyming. By the time I was 18 I was pretty damn good!!!
What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
Besides relax with my daughter, I'd have to say perform on stage and party afterwards.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
Right now everything is a challenge since I'm not officially famous yet. I'm on my way though and I'm ready for whatever.
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
A Celebrity. I didn't know how but I could always invision myself on TV.
In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I come from a ruff town (Norristown/Pottstown, PA.),with no work and even less opportunities so my skin's extra thick due to the environment I grew up in. Whatever you got you hadda work real hard for and hold onto it.
What other artists out there do you love?
GhostFace Killah, Jay-Z, Jada Kiss, Nas and Tribe Called Quest. I also dig alot of ol' school jazz and 70's funk.
What does your future hold?
FAME and FORTUNE!!!!!!
I'm actually workin' on a pilot for my own reality show right now that's almost finished. It's gonna be called "Martini Dreams" just like the album. And I just had a major meeting with Universal Records recently. The producers who are working on my TV show are some of the same kats that worked on Viva La Bam, so things are lookin' pretty good right now.