B1GJuice talks big on the Black Lives Matter movement and the social impact of his music.
What does it take to become influential in the work that you do? What does being a genuine influencer actually mean? If you’re an artist or creative, does that automatically give you influence?
Becoming an artist or creative entrepreneur can often mean taking on a platform of visibility and a voice that has the power to make intentional ripples. Seriously Influential is a series that will reveal how artists and creatives across Canada are making an impact in their community using their platform as a stage to address social issues that our community faces everyday.
— Allisa Lim, Writer
The year 2020 brought us many unforgettable events, and for more than half the globe, July 2020 was a time of action to stand up against police brutality. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, people risked their health and safety to support a movement that created a stamp in history. Citizens from hundreds of cities flooded the streets with chants, posters, memorials, art, and music to stand together with Black lives.I remember quarantining at home and scrolling through countless posts, stories, and news articles on the events that were happening in Toronto and beyond. I was moved when I encountered people bravely sharing their lived experiences, like Brampton-based rapper and artist B1GJuice, who used his social capital and talent as an advocate for change and a beacon of strength during a very trying time.
If you haven’t bumped a B1GJuice track yet, you’re missing out. With rhythms that make you nod obsessively and bars that make you go “damn,” B1GJuice is one hell of a prolific rapper. Repping the far west side of the GTA — Brampton, Ontario — Juice can hit any beat that is thrown at him. He flexes his creative muscles through raw, motivational and unapologetic stories about the struggles of the Black community and mental health.
I chatted with B1GJuice about the steps he’s taken to use his music to support and influence his community.
Allisa: Do you consider yourself an influencer? If so, how do you remain genuine in your influence?
B1GJuice: I just try to be me; through everything, no matter what. I’ve never been attracted to fads or the “popular” shit. The mandems and I have always created our own path. When it came to my music, I never wanted to lose that authenticity. I hope to motivate folks to be their genuine self and not what society thinks they should be. It can be difficult at times because the way I feel and act can contradict what is expected of me as a Black male musician. But, there is a purpose to them. I continue to remind myself that when the reaction isn’t what I expect; I just have to keep pushing.
A: ‘Black Lives Matter’ has become somewhat of a catch-all slogan for standing up against police brutality and racial injustice against Black folks. What does ‘Black Lives Matter’ mean to you?
B: I’m not sure. I’ve done a ton of research over the past couple months and have come to the realization: that there are two separate ‘Black Lives Matter’ entities. You have the Black Lives Matter organization and the Black Lives Matter movement; I support both to a degree.
The term Black Lives Matter means exactly what it says: we matter, not just some of us, but all of us.
Yes, some may know this already, but we still live in a world where the colour of someone’s skin can determine their value to society. That hurts, and I think BLM should be emphasized in the face of those that disagree with it. The goal is for [these people] to truly understand what Black people are standing up for. But overall, Black Lives Matter, to me, represents the struggle that, not just Black people, but all minorities have endured to be seen as equals.
A: Why have you used your platform to bring awareness to certain social issues?
B: I have done a lot of introspective work this past year. Through my journey, I realized my lack of purpose or efforts towards social issues that affect me and my community. Since then, I have decided to use my platform towards fighting different social issues. Specifically social issues that are plaguing the Black community such as toxic masculinity and mental health. At the core, I am true to my artistry and I enjoy it. In turn, you will always witness my efforts to push positivity and enjoyment in whatever I do.
This past year, I have started initiatives as well as released music [around] socialist issues. To start off, I released a single “Run”. Alongside “Run” I released “Windows” and “Breakout” to touch on mental equanimity and the importance of being at peace with oneself.
Next, “Coop145” is an organization where i create several workshop series. It is dedicated to helping marginalized individuals enter the digital creative arts industry, one of the series is called the “Day One” Workshop series. On the come up, I have two more projects touching on shadow work and another on mental health.
A: What are some ways other artists can use their own platforms to support the BLM movement?
B: To start, If you are a Black artist, [then it’s by] telling Black stories. I personally think you have some sort of obligation to use your platform to support any movement against systemic racism and oppression. Whether that be through the BLM movement or any other movement. You can do this through your content — simply be aware of the message your music is communicating.
Secondly, you can volunteer your time passing down the knowledge and resources that you have fostered. There is no point in building something for yourself and have your community not be able to enjoy it.[And lastly], I am a strong believer in paying it forward when you can. There are a number of things you can do [like] starting a fundraiser or Crowdfunding event, [doing a] performance that contributes to change, or selling merchandise and donating the proceeds.
These are just a few ideas you can do. There is so much that an artist can do if they take time to find their purpose. A good note to remember, [though] is try not to do everything at once, this is a marathon not a sprint.
A: Your song “Run” was released at the height of the BLM movement during summer 2020. What’s the meaning you’re trying to portray in the lyrics?
B: I wrote “Run” in like 2014/15 after the Michael Brown killing. A year ago, I had just come back from playing ball in the States. I was at school in South Carolina where I experienced racism, directly and indirectly, daily. When I was writing my songs, my emotions were high. I tried to portray the everyday struggle of a Black man that is common in my environment and society. Many times, we are constantly villainized that sometimes it feels like all you can do is run from the pressures.
The hook says “Run, when you hear them sirens coming”, because at the end of the day you can turn from a villain to a victim just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I love it when Juice noted that this is a marathon, not a sprint, when it comes to paying it forward. Throughout our Seriously Influential series, you will find many resources, ideas, and the encouragement from creatives across Canada to contribute to your community. Juice really shows us the power of discovering your purpose as an artist and how much potential impact you can do for the social issue that relates to you the most.
As a Person of Colour, I aim to continue to amplify the voices of Black people, both those who courageously share their lived experiences and those who choose not to. I also give my gratitude and thanks to the Black community who bring a vibrant culture to the creative scene here in Toronto and around the globe.
And as we celebrate Black History Month, February is a reminder that highlighting the Black community and their rich history shouldn’t be sanctioned to one month of the year. Black History Month is a reminder that every day, month, and year we are standing as allies and doing our part, to solidify the change ignited in July 2020. It is artists like B1GJuice that amplifies this reminder. B1GJuice is a role model for other Black men, and a beacon of strength for everyone fighting for racial equality.
Written by Allisa Lim
Follow Allisa @allisa.lim
Allisa Lim is a multi-faceted individual who isn’t afraid to push her limits. She loves to dive into new hobbies the second they tickle her interest. An event coordinator by day, Production Director of Fashion Forward, Coffee Enthusiast for Its A Coffee Club and now Writer for Serious Betty, she’s ready to unravel the true talent behind Canada’s growing creative scene.