Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!
Marcellus Juvann is an anomaly in the music industry, a multifaceted recording artist who digs deep into his own soul to create the most raw, authentic, introspective music possible. Born in Cleveland but raised in Houston, the rising star fell in love with music at a young age, fondly remembering seeing the band and choir in church which fueled his own love for the craft.
Nicknamed Cell, Marcellus describes himself in 4 words: “an artist, a father, stubborn, and persistent.” He states, “It’s a lot, but those 4 can sum it up.”
You may have seen Marcellus on VH1’s show Signed back in 2017, but he’s come a long way since. And if you have the chance to see Marcellus perform live, you’ll understand the hype. Making music for him serves a greater purpose, proving that the underdogs have equal opportunity to make it and achieve their wildest dreams as long as they work hard and never give up.
Now, Marcellus is excited as ever to be making his major label debut with his HARDHEADED EP. The 20-minute project sees Marcellus speaking outward, throwing a signal for like-minded people who feel what he feels on a daily basis.
Flaunt caught up with Marcellus via Zoom, who was in the midst of the heat wave in Houston. Read below as we discuss his upbringing, biggest influences, his time on VH1’s Signed, potential artist names, the inspiration behind HARDHEADED, recording “RUN,” studio essentials, goals, and more!
You’re from Cleveland but raised in Houston, what was that like coming up?
I was born in Cleveland, I left in 2008 and came to Houston. It was better financial opportunities for my mom. It was cool, it was a big shock, though. Of course, the weather difference. It’s cold as hell in Cleveland, and there’s no snow in Houston at all. Well it recently snowed, but the climate was a big difference. Houston’s a bigger city. You could get from the east side to the west side of Cleveland, you can see the entire city of Cleveland in 30 minutes. But it takes you an hour to get from the north side to the south side of Houston, so that’s a big difference.
Biggest influences you were listening to?
My first favorite rapper was DMX, I grew up listening to him. Kid Cudi, because he’s from Cleveland at the time. Lil Wayne, anything that was on the radio. I didn’t start getting into underground hip-hop or real hip-hop until college, so anything on the radio or 106 & Park videos, that’s what I listened to.
When did you realize that you could do music for a living?
I thought I could do it for a living before I made a living off of it, for sure. In college when I was broke, I dropped out of college and I decided to do it full-time. I knew I wanted to do it, so I did it and now we’re here.
How was your experience on VH1’s Signed?
It was trash. Just kidding. [laughs] It was definitely a learning experience. The biggest thing I got from that, which I appreciate now to take with me, is the professionalism they had. Seeing Ross, seeing The Dream, seeing Lenny—outside of having the cameras on, when we’re in the studio and we’re working on music, this is forreal. This is life, this is a job forreal. Before then, I was making music with my homies in the studio. We’d smoke weed and drink in between, we’d kick it. It was a hangout spot for us, not really the office. But that’s how they treated it and I appreciate that, because it took my workflow to a different level after that.
Marcellus Juvann is your first and middle name, were there any contenders for others?
Hell yeah, man so many bad names. I had Cell, that’s my nickname. Just Marcellus was one of them. Cell Dope because I thought that was cool when I was 17. Lil Cell when I was 7, all these corny names. All the typical rap names. Then I said, “you know what, I’ll just use my own name.” I put Juvann because Marcellus is cool, but by itself seems like a wrestler’s name. Let me add Juvann. It still sounds like an R&B artist’s name, but to me it sounded more like a performing artist’s name than music.
HARDHEADED out now! How are you feeling?
I feel great. It took us a year and a half to put it out so I’m glad it’s out honestly. People are liking it, people are responding to it how we wanted them to. It’s a good step for the next music. I’m ready to put out more music now, but I’m definitely excited that HARDHEADED is out.
Why are you HARDHEADED?
It’s an accumulation of a bunch of things. I’m HARDHEADED because I want to do everything my way a lot of times. I have trouble taking advice. I really don’t know why I have trouble taking advice because I get good advice a lot of times, I just choose not to follow it. Maybe it’s because of pride, I like doing stuff my way. Even if I fail at it, I’m okay with that. If I take my own advice and it comes out wrong, I’m okay with failing at it because I’ll learn from that. But at least I know I did it my way at the end of the day. And if it works, then I’m a genius. [laughs]
What were you going through recording “RUN”?
It’s crazy, there’s two parts to it. The last half of the song I made 2 years before making the first half of the song. So I had that last half for 2 years straight, laying on my computer. I made the first part while making HARDHEADED the project. I went back and pieced it together. I wanted it to feel like a movie. I knew it was going to be an opening to the project, I wanted it to feel very cinematic.
Everything I do, all my projects I try to take a cinematic approach and create this soundtrack for it. If the project was a film, I try to create a soundtrack for it. I wanted it to open the book. Some of my favorite albums have a cinematic feel to it. It makes you feel like you’re watching a movie instead of listening to the song, if that makes any sense. I wanted you to visually see everything while hearing it.
How is music a coping mechanism for you?
Music saved my life multiple times. I don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t doing music. If I didn’t do music professionally, I probably would still make music. I just wouldn’t put it out.
What is it that you want fans to get from your story?
I want them to be honest with themselves, be okay with who you really are no matter what people might think of you. Even for myself, being HARDHEADED and getting it tatted on my back, I did that in the same way as the girl with the scarlett A. It’s almost like wearing your demons, wearing your insecurities and wearing your faults on you. I’ve always wanted to take that approach in life, so I’m hoping my music does the same thing and does it for other people. Makes them want to be unapologetically themselves, not really care about the outside world’s opinion on it.
3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Sage, tequila, and cartoons.
What’s your favorite cartoon?
It changes all the time. Right now, I’ve been binge watching Black Dynamite over and over again. When I was watching HARDHEADED… it honestly goes from Black Dynamite to The Boondocks, then I watch Spongebob. I’ll watch Ed, Edd, n Eddy. All the old late 90’s and early 2000’s cartoons are my favorites for sure.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’d be a stay-at-home dad or some shit. [laughs] My kid is 2 years old now.
Does he know daddy’s a rapper?
Nah, he doesn’t. He was in my video and everything. He doesn’t even care. I showed it to him when it was done. He looked at it for 10 seconds and grabbed his iPad, started watching some ABC song. He could care less. [laughs]
What’re you most excited for next?
I’m excited for new music. I’m excited for the world to open up so we can go touring soon. I’m excited to keep making music, collaborating with artists I like and look up to as well. That’s it, just growth.
Do you have any goals?
Yeah, I have a ton. I want to definitely headline my own world tour. I want to work with some of my favorite people I’ve looked up to coming in doing music: Andre 3000, Erykah Badu, Lil Wayne. If I get a Lil Wayne verse, it’s over! I want to produce an entire movie soundtrack, like how TDE did Black Panther. I’m really interested in that. I love movies. A lot of my inspiration comes from watching visual stuff. If I need inspiration, I don’t run to find a song. I ask my friends “what movies are y’all watching? What’s new?” Or “what old movies have you seen that you love? What old TV shows or cartoons?” I want to see something visual to influence me. I get my inspiration from that a lot.