Everyone is a sucker for a come up story.
You come to hear some pretty amazing stories about people and their lives. A few days ago I was honored to sit down and talk about the come up, tour life, and new music with one of my favorite producers. I present you with Ronny J, also known as “RONNYJLI$TENUP”.
Who are you?
I go by the name of Ronny J, my brand is RONNYJLI$TENUP. I’m from South Jersey, but currently reside in Miami Florida. You may know me for the production of “Threatz”, “Ultimate”, “Sick and Tired”, “SIPPINTEAINYOHOOD”, “ULT”, “Zone 3” and a lot more.
How’s tour going?
Tour has been awesome. It’s a whole different life from my everyday life before tour. It’s very fast paced, every single day a new city. Its really tiring but its just something you have to adjust to otherwise you’re not going to make it.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Well a lot of my production that people know me for is really hard hitting shit. It really comes from how I feel within, the rage on the inside of me is where the hard hitting shit comes from. It comes from a certain mood that I’m always in I guess. Also a lot of producers in the industry really inspire me like Metro Boomin, TM88, the whole 808 Mafia family, and my homie Good Work Charlie. He just signed to Kanye.
What was your childhood like?
My childhood was good in the very beginning because I had a grandpa who had money and he would provide for me and my sister all the time. Once he died, things kind of got rough. My mom and dad split up, and I just remember moving around a lot from place to place. My mom couldn’t work because she had bad back problems, so it was a real struggle. I also played sports for school which was cool but I mainly remember moving around a lot, sleeping on floors, sleeping at my grandmas house, at friends houses. Was a real struggle.
Were your parents always supporting you?
Um, yeah my mom for sure but my dad was all about me focusing on school and I just wasn’t rocking with school. I went to four different colleges because I wouldn’t be able to afford the following semester, so I would have to drop out constantly. I got tired of hopping around school so I stopped going to class and then one night I made “Threatz” in my dorm room and that’s when shit took off. But that came with the process of struggling in South Florida because I had no family there so I had to jump from couch to couch working with everyone possible in South Florida.
“Honestly I don’t like being around a lot of people when I am creating anything, whether it’s beat making or recording. I like to able to focus.”
I know you were born in Jersey, but how did you get introduced to the South Florida music scene?
Well, I was born and raised in Jersey. I left New Jersey after my senior year before college at age 17 to go to Miami. I went to a school there and I wasn’t feeling it, so I moved back to Jersey after the first semester but by then I had already gotten a taste of Miami so I really wanted to go back because thats when I started producing. That’s when I moved back and enrolled into the Art Institute of Miami. Around that time is when I met Denzel Curry through my friend Liko The Late God.
How did you get to meet the now dismantled, Raider Klan?
It was all through Denzel. One day my friend Liko told me that he’s going to take me to Denzel Curry’s house. That same exact day, Yung Simmie was shooting the video to “Florida N**** Mentality”. That was the first time I ever met Denzel, Simmie and the rest of the Raider Klan.
Did the dismantle of the Raider Klan affect your career in anyway?
That really didn’t affect my career in any way because all the stuff I was making with Denzel had nothing to do with the Raider Klan. Whatever Denzel was doing with them didn’t apply to me. As you can see he and I still succeeded from that. If anything its that people associated me with Raider Klan but I wasn’t apart of that movement so it didn’t affect me directly. I just made beats for some of them.
What would you consider to be your “big break”?
I would say Ultimate overall, but Threatz definitely had a huge impact. Like, when I meet people and they find out that I made Threatz, they are always saying “that was my shit as a freshmen”, “that was legendary shit”. For example, a few days ago I was in the studio with Vic Mensa, he found out that I made the beat and he told me, “shit that was my favorite song back in the day”. He even started rapping the words, that was crazy to me. On the other hand, Ultimate has done me very well in terms of changing my life and the amount of exposure I was getting was surreal.
At what point did you think “Ultimate” was something special?
Alright so I wanna say this first. That beat was three years old, before Denzel even rapped on it. I was 20 years old when I made it. When I first made it I knew it was something special, because when I was making the beat it was the way I was chopping up the sample, I made in such a different way. I actually put in effort in chopping up the sample and when I put drums on it, it fucking slapped. I sent it to Denzel, he did nothing with it. I sent it to other people and they did nothing with it. So, a couple years later me and Denzel are chilling listening to some Jamaican music and got some inspiration from that. We then went through some beats and I asked him if he wanted to rap on the Ultimate beat so he did. When it was done Denzel tweeted it saying if he got 500 retweets that he will drop the song. He dropped it that night and overnight it just blew up.
Didn’t Chris Brown and Carnage help popularize Ultimate?
Yeah, I remember the day Carnage tweeted that. I was having a horrible, horrible day. I was sleeping on my boys floor at the time just trying to stay in Miami. I remember my homies were going to the club that night and I told them that I can’t go to the club, I had no money and I just wasn’t happy. All of the sudden Carnage tweeted that saying “Ultimate… wow”. To be honest I had no idea who he was and when I researched him I was like wow, he’s really someone. That’s when it hit me, I realized that people really know about this. And not to mention, Diplo tweeted at Denzel about the song. He even puts it in his sets.
I know you centralize around the South Florida scene, but you worked with the Underachievers. How’d you get to meet them?
Um… I feel like i’ve been around them a few times but we never talked to each other. Out of nowhere we started to talk on twitter and one day I saw that Issa Gold was selling a Bape hoodie on twitter, I was like “lemme cop that for a beat”, he was “nah nah”. A good amount of time passed and I went to LA and I hit him up saying that we should link up. I went to his house and he actually gave me that same Bape hoodie for free and thats when I knew he was a real dude. More time passed after that and he then hit me up saying that he wanted to make a tape right now. I then sent him mad beats the next two weeks and that’s how we made the project “It Happened In Flatbush 2”. That tape was made in literally two weeks. It was done real fast.
Take me through your creation process, what’s the studio atmosphere like?
I make beats anywhere, sometimes I make them off my macbook with no speakers, like right now I have no speakers. Honestly I don’t like being around a lot of people when I am creating anything, whether it’s beat making or recording. I like to able to focus, I like to be in my world. I don’t like people talking, I don’t like a lot of input. Because I know what I want, I know exactly what I want, I’m very particular on how I do things.
What’re your plans for when xxxtentacion gets released?
Take over the world. It’s crazy how much he’s blown up while he’s been locked up. It’s funny cause he doesn’t really believe how big he is right now when I talk with him. But I don’t really speak on his situation because I truly know him and there are so many irrelevant people that’re speaking on his situation that don’t actually know him. He’s really a good kid bro and he’s very loyal, I have nothing bad to say about ‘X’. He’s like a little brother to me.
What was it like producing, mixing, and recording your own mixtape all yourself in “Thank You, Ronny J”?
It was fun, man. It was all fun for me but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to drop. I wish I would’ve had a real engineer mix my shit but I am the kind of person who doesn’t like to wait for anyone, I like to get things done when I want them done. So, that’s essentially what that project was.
Are you going to continue being a multidimensional artist with producing and recording your own stuff?
Absolutely, I wanna do something that has never been done. Like I get it there are producers that are artists too but I wanna take to a whole another extreme. Full on rockstar. I’m trying to be me, I have no idols.
What advice do you have for young aspiring rappers and producers?
I would say to be inspired, but create your own lane. So, for every producer that creates “such n’ such type beats” you’re doing it wrong, don’t waste your time. If you keep doing that, you will never become an actual legend, you will never be noticed for your own sound. Me, i’ve never been the type to recreate anything not even my own shit. So, I would say number one, stay focused, number two stay consistent, and number three create your own sound, your own lane. However still be inspired from things you like but make it your own, don’t make a replica. Oh and never give up.
What’s next for Ronny J?
What’s next for me is taking over the globe. In every way possible. I definitely have a solo project ready to drop whenever I want but I am not trying to rush it. Right now I’m just trying to drop singles and songs to build up my fanbase as an artist. On top of that, I definitely have hella projects and hella music with other people like The Underachievers, Lil Pump, Smoke Purpp, everyone from South Florida. Along with a few guys in the industry, and some South Korean and Japanese artists. Definitely expect to see me on a global scale not just South Florida. I’m way more than South Florida.