Justen Bright

Justen Bright A.K.A. JBeLoud

A coworker told me people down at Frozen Founders were into weed and they might talk to me about it. She said something about clothes, visual art, and music. After a few moments on their Facebook page, I still didn’t know much. It said there was a clothing store and a studio downtown, and appeared to be related to a hip hop group. There was an address, open hours, and a video taken inside the recording studio. I kinda figured I’d show up and ask if I could talk to someone about scheduling some interviews. 

I am literally a professional stoner, so life after my evening shift is a hazy time. I parallel parked out front sometime around eleven, hoping no one inside saw me take three tries.

I grabbed my journal and went in, to be immediately confused. At the far end of the small room was something that couldn’t decide whether it was a receptionist desk or a DJ booth, with a guy manning the music. There weren’t any racks of clothes, but in the middle of the room were a bunch of men in an animated conversation passing around a modernly anonymous cartridge.

The conversation quieted. People seemed to want to know what I was doing there. I knew one guy. He seemed to want to know what I was doing there.

I introduced myself, and said I was looking for people who wanted to talk about weed and their art.

A tall guy in a neon green hoodie said something like, “We are right here, motherfucka’!”

The group opened into a wall of movement. One of them asked me to take a seat and I overheard them talking about another performer who was on his way. “He’s about two hundred and fifty miles out,” my friend said, and then left. It looked like I was interviewing a hip hop group. A few members sat down with me but I spoke mainly with Cypress and D.C. The Savage, as others moved in and out of the place.

So who are you guys, what’s the name of your group?

Cypress: “Frozen Founders.”

Splendid. We’re one question in and I’m embarrassed.

How does cannabis play into your art?

D.C. The Savage: “We make hip hop. And cannabis is very prevalent in that process.”

Cypress: “It helps the process by a million. I make my best compositions when I’ve smoked.”

D.C. The Savage: “Personally, I like to smoke, and do real work, I’m not just a slacker. We don’t just smoke and chill out, we smoke and get shit done. At Frozen Founders it’s a productive smoke. I’m not no lazy-ass artist. I don’t believe in being no lazy pothead. That doesn’t exist in Frozen Founders.

Are you guys from around here?

Cypress: “Originally I’m from Sacramento. I moved here and got involved.”

D.C. The Savage: “I was born and raised here. I started making beats in the tenth grade, went to college, came back to take over. It’s been a long, grinding process, but we’re getting it. People think it’s easy. Now we have a solid team of artists, engineers, producers, it took years, but we’ve got it complete now, and this weekend we’ll be opening for Curren$y.”

What do you think of opening for Curren$y?

D.C. The Savage: “Curren$y is one of my biggest inspirations, having his movement. He started the weed movement, accepting it musically in the industry, he initiated that. So it’s full circle, someone from the beginning who inspired me. We’ve spent all that time growing and now we’re opening for the man who inspired us.”

Justen Bright, A.K.A. JBeLoud, performs hip hop in Anchorage. Though he had to bail the night I interviewed Frozen Founders, I was able to speak with him after the show.

How was the Curren$y concert?

Justen: “It was great, there were quite a bit of people. I mean, I expected a good amount of people but they definitely exceeded their expectations. They don’t usually sell out, like, sell out for real, but they really did that this time. The vibes were cool, no drama, they let us smoke out the venue. And Curren$y is one of my big time favorite artists, I get a lot of inspiration from his style and his chill player vibe, and that’s something I try to apply to my music as well. Plus, he’s one of the big time weed, you know, big cannabis afficionados in the hip hop world. He’s one of my favorites.”

Do you perform high?

Justen: “Of course. It’s kind of a mandatory thing. I don’t drink anymore, it used to be kind of a ritual, you take a shot or two, take the edge off. And I don’t do that anymore, but I also notice that with me smoking I can’t be like way crazy high when I’m getting ready to perform. I never have anxiety, or get nervous, the only time I am is when I’m really, really high. Most of the time all that goes away when I hit the stage anyway, but for game day I don’t smoke heavy because it helps keep the anxiety down and helps me practice better. It’s weird, it’s not like I’m smoking a bunch of sativas, that’s just part of the weed for me. It helps me to not be too high.

I definitely love when I have the opportunity to light up on stage, though. It looks cool, but it’s also my persona, that’s my rap name, JBeLoud. It’s cool when I get to do that on stage because I do that anyway, it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s what I do all the time anyway, I smoke.’”

How does your life experience affect what you write?

Justen: “Man. It has, not, like, a one hundred percent effect on everything I write, it’s not like everything I write I base out of my personal experiences, sometimes I like to write something more fun that doesn’t have to be super meaningful. But I’d say ninety percent is based on content and some kind of meaning, so I definitely try to use my experiences. As far as me being a dad, with me coming from the black market side of the game into the industry, all of that in combination with, you lose friends and family and everything like that, so it’s all sources of inspiration for music, whether you want that inspiration or not, you know what I mean?”

What sort of things do you think about in your writing now that you weren’t eight or ten years ago?

Justen: “Definitely I would say me and my son, the future. Of not just my future, being successful, but me being worried about the society that we live in. Like not just that, kind of trying to bring attention to the fact that there’s a lot less love in this world than we need. And those are things that I probably didn’t think about as much then as I do now and I try to incorporate those things more into my music than I did a few years ago. I always considered myself more of a conscious rapper, someone who is more driven toward actual content, something you listen to and leave with something, whether it’s an epiphany of something that might change your life or a spark that might change something in how you think, or that you relate to. I always liked that style, and I’m always more toned toward those specific topics now.”

What are you up to for the rest of the day?

Justen: “Well see, we never talked about this, but my son has a medical condition. He has to get his kidneys monitored, so it’s been four years of ultrasounds, blood work, getting him checked out, talking to the doctors. He’s my little Miracle Man. Other than that, just spending my day being a dad, doing some fun things with my son. He’s been getting really into playing Switch, so we’ve been doing a lot of that.

Are you gonna get high?

Justen: “I’m always smoking. I’m not gonna get crazy high and try to take care of my son, but I’ll smoke. I think there’s an image of parenting and cannabis and a lot of people think you can’t be a responsible, good parent if you get high, but that’s wrong information, and I like to be someone who shows that. Everything I’ve been going through with him, me and his mom splitting, has a lot to do with my music and where I’m not necessarily where I want to be with my music right now, but that’s because I chose to step aside from that some and take care of my son, so I chose to prioritize him. My son has everything he needs, I do everything I have to do to take care of him, and I smoke.”

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