An artist’s first album is often seen as his or her first-born child. It’s the project that had been manifesting in their mind and soul ever since they discovered that special God-given gift, and now that it has been transformed into a full tangible piece of work, the connection to it is usually profound for both the creator and the listener. Singer/songwriter/producer B. Judah is now experiencing that feeling with the release of his debut EP Dream Within A Dream.
Born in Brooklyn, raised for a time in Jamaica, and partially bred in Michigan, B. Judah incorporates parts of all three locales into his music. By combining Jamaican reggae with Detroit Soul and New York Hip Hop, the head of Popular Republic presents an artistry that is truly representative of his life. Judah’s Dream Within A Dream is a compelling voyage through the multi-instrumentalist’s thoughts and memories about the idea of love and the ladies that served as his muses.
In an interview with DZI: The Voice, B. Judah talks about his new EP and a lot more.
Yohance Kyles: When did you discover your voice as an artist?
B. Judah: I was always aware that I had a talent for singing and music in general as early as 6 years old. I just really fell in love with music. But it wasn’t until about a year ago that I really started taking the artist thing seriously. Prior to that I was content with just being a dope producer/songwriter/working in the background kind of guy. But everything happens for a reason.
YK: You spent part of your early life in Jamaica. How did living there influence you musically?
BJ: I’d have to say that Jamaica has played an integral role in my music and my ability to understand rhythm. That feeling is in all of our genes naturally. The culture and that soul is a part of us. I’m so grateful that I was introduced to great musicians like Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Jimmy Cliff, Gregory Isaac etc…. at such a young and impressionable age. Shout out my mama and my godfather for that.
YK: What inspired you to start Popular Republic?
BJ: Honestly being young and naive of the harsh and brutal realities of starting and running your own company especially in the music business [laughs]. But all jokes aside, the flip side of that is I wanted to build my own legacy, by my own rules, with my real friends that I actually grew up with. We were always popular, intelligent and fashionable kids so I guess it only made sense you know? It had to evolve into something.
YK: You’re also a producer. Who are some artists that you’ve worked with?
BJ: Yeah, I started out as a producer actually. I also play five instruments and can read and write music fluently. But to answer your question, I’ve produced for Joel Ortiz (of SlaughterHouse,) Fabolous, VH1 Soul, reggae artists Sizzla and Movado, a phenomenal new artist by the name of Lydia Caesar, and Maino to name a few.
YK: How did you learn your production skills?
BJ: Well prior to me becoming a producer, I already knew how to play several instruments including the piano, drums, harmonica, guitar and bass. The two latter of which I taught myself. So the music was always in me. I just had to find a way to direct and focus it. I also used to DJ . As a result of growing up in Brooklyn, I find inspiration in every and anything around me. It’s kind of a beautiful thing in a way.
YK: How does it feel releasing your first EP?
BJ: I’m excited and anxious all at the same time I guess. I spent so much time focusing on creating records for everyone else but myself. I was kind of running away from being an artist but I’m happy I’m here now.
My goal was always to make something that could be the background music for a memory or the soundtrack of an emotion. Like a narrator but it’s music instead. In the case of my EP, it’s the soundtrack of a relationship from start to finish. With all its ups and downs. I thought about it as a dream sequence. So I hope people dig it.
YK: You don’t have many features on the album. Why did you make that decision?
BJ: To be honest it’s because this is my debut EP. I wanted everyone to hear my voice and my perspective on things. I didn’t want to convolute it by having too many cooks in the kitchen. Which is also why I played every instrument, produced all the songs except two, and wrote it all by myself. However, I’ve been working on a lot of features lately. And Popular Republic will be putting out a lot of new music very soon.
YK: What would you say was the ratio of how many of the stories on A Dream Within A Dream were based on real moments from your life as compared to observations/imagery?
BJ: You know as I said earlier, I’m inspired by everything around me. As far as my EP, every song came from my life. It’s all from a lot of experience in the lady department [laughs]. In my songs “Stay” and “Rear View Mirror” I was dead trying to get my girl back. Facts.
YK: You have a song called “First Love”. How old were you when you experienced the first time falling love?
BJ: Well I was a fresh little boy that was into doing grown stuff, so I had to be at least five or something [laughs]… you know puppy love. What can I say man I love women. But the actual song is about elementary/ junior high school love. You know when it was still kind of pure and innocent.
YK: Going off your single “Love Drug”, rank the following items in order of most desirable for you to have on a daily basis: companionship, sex, weed, music & favorite food.
BJ: Music, weed, sex, favorite food – cause I’d probably be hungry from the prior two things [laughs]- companionship last, because I’m focused on work right now so just pass da roll up!… However I am a Gemini and I thrive on being social and having relationships. Also, companionship is always future inspiration. So I do value them all.
YK: Which songs do you enjoy performing live the most? Why?
BJ: “First Love” because no matter how many people I’m performing this song for, it’s always very intimate. Somehow it shrinks the room, but I guess it’s because everyone can relate to being in love for the first time. That was me whistling on the record too. “So Crazy” because I like the energy. And “U Alone” because reggae is my roots, it’s a dope feel good love song, and it’s just a lot of fun to rock out.
YK: If you could only listen to 5 R&B/Soul albums for the rest of your life which ones would you pick?
BJ: Wow that’s a really hard question. I love so many of them. But if I had to choose I’d say: 1. Michael Jackson’s History because I’m a humongous fan and it covers most of his career (kind of a cheat), 2. Curtis Mayfield’s Live!, 3. Donny Hathaway’s Greatest Hits, 4. Maze’s Greatest Hits featuring Frankie Beverly, 5. Prince’s Purple Rain – in my opinion one of the greatest albums ever created.
YK: What’s next for B. Judah?
BJ: Honestly I don’t know. The only certain thing is a lot more work. More shows/tours, more new music/content, continuing to build my brand as an artist/producer/songwriter, more memories, more stories, and more money. Taking care of my family and making my grandmother proud is of the utmost importance. The sky ain’t even the limit. I just hope that we can all go on this ride together.
To connect with Judah follow him on Twitter @
Stream B Judah’s A Dream Within A Dream: