I Am Hip-Hop magazine’s editor Rishma Dhaliwal had a catch up with Brooklyn rapper CJ Fly the co-founder of the hip-hop collective Pro Era along with Joey Bada$$, Capital STEEZ, and DJ Power Pleasant.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, he has been featured on many projects and at the end of the year he released his critically acclaimed mixtape Thee Way Eye See It.
Q. Tell us a bit about CJ Fly and how you came together with the Pro Era crew?
I think I’m a universal artist who expresses himself best as he can. I think the music says a lot about who I am and my story. I met the other founding fathers of Pro Era in high school thru rapping together and after realizing we had a lot in common we started the crew together in 2011.
Q. The commercial Hip Hop we hear today has gone far from the roots of the culture. There is something about your sound that holds the golden era vibe. Is this something that you are trying to revive through your music?
I was born then so I think that has a lot to do with it. I just express myself as best as possible on what beats that I like. I’m not trying to revive anything, I just love to create. I always keep the culture in mind while creating so it’s an organic thing rather than forcing a revival.
Q. You were recently a part of the first annual Steez Day (in remembrance of Capital Steez), a great way to keep the memory of him alive. How has his passing impacted Pro Era? What was the overall vibe of the event?
Yeah that was dope. He was a big part of Pro Era from being a leader to a huge inspiration. He made us step our bars up and tap into the potential we didn’t think we had. And the festival, was an amazing turn out and I’m glad it went well. Sold out Central Park with the rest of the Beast Coast family and then be able to give the proceeds to his family is a beautiful thing.
Q. Earlier this month you released a track titled ‘Verboten’ to celebrate your 22ndBirthday. Tell us a bit about this track?
I felt like putting out something short and sweet for the fans. They’ve been patient while I prep my next effort so I had to give em a gift.
Q. What are your thoughts on the many deaths of young black males at the hands of the police in USA? What can we do as a community to take a stand on this?
It’s been going on for years and needs to come to an end. I have never seen police save anyone in my 22 years of life. We as a community could sustain harmony without being policed. They shouldn’t be able to do what they want and get away with it. I think they’re unnecessary and they do more harm then help. We could come to an agreement as a community to preserve peace.
Q. Many criticise the current direction of Hip Hop and what we hear in the mainstream side of it, How important is it for to celebrate the 5th element of Knowledge in your music?
I just express myself I don’t really focus on tryna be a conscious emcee. The knowledge is something that’s always gonna be in it, gotta have a deeper message. I learn new things everyday and it ends up in what I write . What’s in occurrence in the community has a huge affect on what I say in my music so I just try to keep it real to help people progress not digress to failure.
Q. What would CJ Fly be doing if he wasn’t a rapper?
I’ve always wanted to be a musician so I don’t know. A singer or a chef.
Q. Your last mixtape was titled ‘thee way we see it’, when can we expect a new one and has your sound evolved?
Yeah that was actually my first mixtape too. I’m aiming for Fall, my sound has really evolved and matured. I think a lot of people around the world are going to appreciate it.
Q. Your coming to headline this weekend in London, what are your thoughts on the UK Hip Hop scene?
Yeah I’m excited, I think the UK hip hop scene is bubbling right now and there’s a lot of dope artist.
Q. What are you currently working on and whats in store for the near future?
I’m wrapping up my next project then maybe I’ll put out an EP before the debut album. Some dope videos and films. Hoping for an amazing tour and experiences worldwide. Just want the music to spread like wildfire. History in the making.
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