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HeatCasters Exclusive Interview w/ JusThoughtZ: Through His Lens
James Sims IV aka JusThoughtZ is a remarkable young man. Get to know him, his life and his heart in this incredible HeatCasters exclusive interview as one of my favorite emcees sits down with your girl Imade. I know this will bless you. Enjoy.
JusThoughtZ: Through His Lens
Co-written by Imade & JusThoughtZ
JusThoughtZ lives where generations intersect. The twenty-two year old has a strong musical heritage embodied in his name, James Sims IV. JusThoughtZ is the son of a Hip Hop aficionado and the grandson of a 2,000 plus record owner of early R&B. JusThoughtZ was on his way to a typical military childhood until his father passed away a week before his eighth birthday. He saw the health of his father deteriorate as new life unfolded. His father transformed from a hardened five percenter to a compassionate lover of God. The faith that JusThoughtZ witnessed eventually became the faith he held.
“A few months before my father passed away, he burst through my door and grabbed me with tears in his eyes screaming ‘Get to know God!’. It was a shock to me because my father was a paraplegic and hadn’t walked in almost 6 months.” JusThoughtZ was left with both a challenge and a responsibility. This emotional weight became the source of tension but also sparked his love for writing. “My mother and I used to argue a lot during my teenage years. She encouraged me to write letters to tell her how I really felt. It was a good medium for me to use because it gave me the time to explain things without being rushed [and] without getting them misconstrued.”
Writing became his mouthpiece, but JusThoughtZ was still left with questions. He gave his heart to Jesus at a time when most children are told to clean their room, but JusThoughtZ had a loftier request. “I come from a large family of many different religious affiliations. When my father passed away my family started to paint me in my father’s image; always telling me I had to walk in his shoes and carry on tradition.” Though his family expected a maturity he didn’t have, JusThoughtZ was being groomed for greatness. “My father was one of the only fathers I knew to have married his children’s mother and continually live with them. It was truly till death that he parted. That began a new legacy for my family.”
JusThoughtZ’ spiritual maturation completes his father’s wish while his music continues his father’s passion. “My father was a HUGE hip hop head. Most artists talk about how their parents played Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield etc., but mine came in the form of Lords of the Underground, Wu Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Moon, Smif –N-Wessun, and so on. These artists bring me back to good times when life was much simpler; back when things made sense, back before my father got sick.” JusThoughtZ inherited a duffle bag full of mixtapes that served as a time machine for the soul, but eclectic projects in Jots, A Memorable Experience, and 4th Quarter reveal an emcee inspired by more than Hip Hop. “Since I was young, my grandmother and I played this music game where she would give me a quarter if she couldn’t guess the name of any given artist on the radio and what their first song was. She doesn’t lose. Her doing that influenced me to really do my research on musicians from her era and how mine is so enriched because of them.”
In many ways, JusThoughtZ is a journeyman who has found his musical home. After living in New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina, JusThoughtZ settled in Atlanta. Little did he know, a huge influence lived right around the corner in Hip Hop artist Redd Lettaz. “We built a relationship after he asked me to shoot photos for his ‘Boom Pop’ video. This is where I met Danny Skrpcha and we just hit it off from there.” Redd Lettaz became not only a friend, but a Neo Psalmz labelmate, and a host for a college student in need. JusThoughtZ was living with a fellow emcee and also his biggest fan. “Joyia Kelly [Redd Lettaz wife] is definitely one of the greatest women I have ever met. It was initially her idea to let me board with her and Redd my sophomore year in college. No matter what condition she was in [before passing away] she always gave God praise and NEVER complained about her condition. She once said I was her favorite rapper, on a day where I was silently contemplating never releasing music ever again. Her encouragement helped to remind me that my music isn’t just about my life, but hope for those who [are] in my shoes.”
Under the Kelly’s care, JusThoughtZ blossomed into a transparent emcee. With only one listen, it’s apparent that JusThoughtZ shows the struggles most people mask. But pain doesn’t contradict his relationship with God, it reveals it. “I’m not all too concerned with keeping up an image, there’s no reason for me to hide the work that the Lord has done, is doing, and will do through me.” Songs reflecting Joyia’s impact (“Eternal Splendor”), his father’s passing (“Ninety Six”) and his turbulent teenage years (“Home”) all capture this sentiment. JusThoughtZ’ upcoming release in Break The Day promises the same trademark rawness.
The detailed precision of the cover art, which shows JusThoughtZ staring intently as darkness and light collides across his face, reflects his skills as a freelance photographer. But when asked about Break The Day, the details remain shrouded in mystery. “My album will be out, in STORES. But it’s not an album.” JusThoughtZ remains tight lipped about this year’s release, but he’s not that way with his music. The leading single, “Wherever You Are”, continues his soul searching thoughts set to a jazz-like arrangement of classic Hip Hop.
As an emcee, poet, and photographer, JusThoughtZ gazes at humanity but ultimately looks to God. “I want to be like Jesus, and be completely human, while fully acknowledging God’s presence within and without.”