Platinum-selling recording artist and rising star J.I. returns with his newest single and music video “Thinking Hurts” via G*Starr Ent. In his usual fashion, J.I delivers smooth melodic verses with a plethora of punchy one liners and quirky alliteration. He keeps true to his ideals regarding love and relationship portraying himself as a modern day Casanova. The visual highlights J.I’s great taste in fashion, aesthetic and of course women.
After kicking off 2023 with the release of his EP, One Way Or Another and his tour with A Boogie wit da Hoodie, J.I’s journey has been in full throttle straight towards success. This summer J.I took time to perfect his craft, going to the studio with Hip Hop legends such as 50 Cent and linking up with other budding artists such as DD Osama.
J.I. was born Justin Irvin Rivera in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to a family of hip-hop lovers. Early on, his parents introduced him to the sounds of DMX, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, and Big Pun. J.I. naturally gravitated to the dexterous flows and tight rhyme schemes of Pun, in part because he was Puerto Rican too. “He broke barriers and he died too soon. So now I’m here. I’m his reincarnation,” J.I. says. “I love what he did for our people.”
J.I.’s earliest forays into hip-hop were spurred by an instinct to tell his own story. “I had nothing to express myself with,” he remembers, contrasting himself with kids who found passion in sports or the classroom. “I had to find that something.” Inspired by his idols, he soon found his way to hip-hop. By age 12, he began a daily ritual of writing rhymes after school. “If you saw me talking to myself, it was just ’cause I was rapping,” he recalls. Soon, he was recording his first songs onto his iPhone. These early efforts firmed up his technical skills and demonstrated the wide-eyed, self-assured determination that has powered his work ever since.
After gaining attention from a series of freestyles he posted onto his Instagram account, J.I. was invited to compete on Jermaine Dupri’s Lifetime rap competition series, The Rap Game, at the age of 15. Although, he didn’t win, people took notice of his sharp battling abilities, and he only continued building his buzz with a deft Shade 45 freestyle and his 2017 debut EP, Barely Famous. Though he came up trying to rap like his musical heroes, J.I. (then going by J.I. The Prince of New York) showcased a more melodic sound on that three-song set, a fitting canvas for his more inward-looking bars. By the fall of 2019, he consummated his rise with the release of Hood Life Krisis, Vol. 1, a sparkling, soul-baring mixtape that saw him swerve between the worlds of R&B, hip-hop, and reggaeton for a sound that was all his own.
That project produced “Need Me,” a nostalgic tune that sampled Mýa’s esteemed 2000 collaboration with Jay-Z, “Best of Me, Part 2.” Soon, the single racked hundreds of millions of streams, cementing J.I.’s place as a rising star. Building on that momentum, he unloaded projects like Hood Life Krisis, Vol. 2 (2019), Welcome to GStarr Vol. 1 (2020), Hood Life Krisis, Vol. 3 (2020), and singles like “Hood Scars” and the A Boogie wit da Hoodie-assisted “R&B Shit”—securing him more critical attention than ever. “It was a dream come true,” J.I. says of this earlier phase of his career. Now, he’s off to pursue new dreams, and it starts with the Young & Restless EP, where he sings more passionately while writing more openly and feeling more deeply than ever before. “Fans are gonna enjoy it,” J.I. shares, proudly.
Looking ahead, he wants to dive into acting and fashion while fortifying the team that’s helped enable his success. More importantly, he wants to continue leveling up while reaching more fans than ever, especially his fellow Latinos. “I just wanna stick around—people die every day,” he says. With his music, he hopes he can build stability and longevity, while still being able to push his sound forward. “So many artists come and go,” J.I. says. “I want to be here forever.”