Curly J is the self-proclaimed “King of Melodies,” per his Instagram bio.
A fresh face out of Long Island, New York, the rising star is here to take over the music industry with his undeniable talent and unforgettable lyricism, straddling the genres of rap and R&B while making it into his own.
In describing himself, Curly states he’s “a melodic rapper that utilizes a lot of melodies, but mixes in a lot of bars as well that you’d typically hear. I want to go for J Cole type bars but in a more fun, melodic way.”
Exploding onto the scene with his smash hit “Bag Different,” which organically went viral on SoundCloud summer of 2019, Curly J has since taken matters into his own hands, doing whatever it takes to perfect his craft and turn his dreams into a reality.
After dropping out of school and promising his mom that he’d be on his way to superstardom, Curly let his actions speak for themselves… inking a major label deal with Warner Records.
Fast forward to December, 2021, Curly J reveals his two-song On The Moon bundle: “Who Ride” and “Moonlight” with new videos for each. A sonic evolution in the rapid rising trajectory of New York’s emerging star.
AllHipHop: When did you discover this melodic sound of yours?
Curly J: Sheesh. To be honest, I think I was in fourth grade. This is when Justin Bieber popped off with the song “Baby.” I remember I’d be singing and humming it, some girls overheard me in class and said “Whoa, you can sing.” From then on, I always loved melodies. I listened to a bunch of stuff, from hip-hop all the way to Justin Bieber, Replay, a lot of different stuff. I always took a liking to melodies. Drake’s my favorite artist, he does it really well.
AllHipHop: What’s your favorite Drake song?
Curly J: That’s tough. It changes depending on time and whatnot, but as of right now my favorite Drake song is “Can’t Have Everything.” It’s the album that has his father on the cover (More Life). It’s underrated too because it wasn’t one of the main focus songs of the project, but that song’s hard. “Can’t Have Everything” is hard.
AllHipHop: Being from Long Island, what was a young Curly J like growing up?
Curly J: Man, I was playing a lot of basketball. Running around the hood, going to the park all the time shooting hoops. Getting into a bunch of s### I shouldn’t have been getting into with people I was running around with. It was good times, luckily I was safe. I didn’t personally have too many crazy encounters. I know a lot of people that did, but being into basketball and music helped keep me grounded and not get into too much trouble. I only had one incident with the cops once, but I was young so nothing was on my record. I was playing a lot of basketball. At first I wanted to go to the NBA, that didn’t work out. But music was another passion of mine and that did.
AllHipHop: What was the turning point in your music career?
Curly J: When I was 14 or 15, I said “you know what, I’ma really start trying to make songs.” I remember I watched a Speaker Knockerz music video, it looked like he was having so much fun. I said “I can do this, this looks fun as hell.” So I started working, my songs were ass at first. I just put them on SoundCloud, they were garbage. I was so consistent with it though, I was putting out 3 songs a day on SoundCloud. I was going crazy. When it really got serious, I was in college. I only spent one year in college. The last couple months of college, I said, “You know what, I don’t really want to do anything that college has to offer. It’s not for me. I’ma use these last few months of having my dorm,” because they don’t kick you out unless you start failing classes. That’s not until the semester is over.
I said “f### going to class. I’m not going to any classes, I’m going to stay in my dorm and work on music for the rest of the time I have.” And it worked. I just locked in, was recording anywhere from 6 to 18 hours a day. Going crazy and really working on my craft. It worked. Once I put out songs after all that time of putting in work, they started going crazy. Millions of plays on SoundCloud, a bunch of fans started coming in from all platforms. I stayed consistent with it at that point because now I had a little bit of money coming in from there. I said “Okay, I know if I could start generating something and keep at it, it’ll multiply.” And that’s exactly what happened. I started getting label attention. Freshman year of college is when I took it really serious, and it was a wrap.
AllHipHop: When did “Bag Different” go viral?
Curly J: That was literally two weeks after I dropped out of college. That’s the song that I spent two months working on. Because everyone said, “I want to make a hit record,” but I needed to make my version of a hit record. It doesn’t have to be like anyone else’s, it needs to be my version. So I did a bunch of research, I looked at hit songs from different time periods. I’m really methodical. It was 2019 so I was looking at hit songs for that year. I was looking at s### from 2012, 2005, old school. I was looking at what they all had in common. I said, “Okay, how can I make my version of that?” What came out was “Bag Different” and it went crazy.
AllHipHop: How did you get your name?
Curly J: I was just Josh with the curly hair. My name’s Josh so girls would say “Josh with the curly hair.” I said Curly J, it was simple.
AllHipHop: Why did you decide to put “Who Ride” and “Moonlight” together and drop them as a bundle?
Curly J: I’m wrapping up 2021 with the release of “On The Moon”, giving the fans an effortless vibe-setting melody with “Moonlight” and an addicting rap song with “Who Ride.” These 2 songs help continue to showcase my stubborn effort to become as well-rounded as any rapper doing it.
AllHipHop: Why are you “One of The Best”?
Curly J: Out of all of the up and coming artists right now, I think I’m one of the best. Definitely really underrated because my ability to sing and rap… I’m not sitting here comparing myself to Lil Baby and Drake just yet. But in terms of the up and coming guys, I can sing with all of them and I can rap with all of them. That’s why I see myself as one of the best, and I know that the rest of the world will see it too.
AllHipHop: What is the reality of the grind?
Curly J: It’s perseverance really. In the song, I have a part where I say, “Please, do not dap me like one of your people.” Then I said “Remember they treated me like I was see through.” When you first start on certain goals or on certain things, people don’t give you the time of day. It’s really typical for people to not really believe, especially if it sounds far-fetched. But once results start coming in and they see a little limelight or a little something, oh s###! Now they want to hang out with you. Now they want to f### with you. Now all of a sudden they believe. It’s how it goes, you gotta believe in yourself before anyone else does. I’m talking about that in a cool way.
AllHipHop: Where was the video shot?
Curly J: In LA. I was on a trip out there, met with the label and had a listening session. Listening to records, recorded. I was recording like crazy. I was doing 12-hour sessions in the studio every day when I was out there, it was dope. I practically finished a whole project when I was out there for that week, pretty dope.
AllHipHop: What were the vibes in LA compared to where you usually record at?
Curly J: The vibes were dope. I’m not gonna lie though, I don’t f### with the hills. Every time I opened the car door, that s### was scratching on the street. Hell nah! Besides that, the vibes were dope for sure. Creatively, making music, it was really, really dope.
AllHipHop: What is it that you want fans to get from your story?
Curly J: I want them to understand that it’s possible for anyone to do it really. As a kid, you see certain celebrities or entertainers, you’d look up to these people like damn. Especially when you don’t really come from much, you think it’s not a possibility for you. It’s like those people were born into that, you can’t replicate it. With hard work, I know from experience now, because at first it’s tough. You’ll be working your ass off and you don’t know if anything will ever happen from it.
Now I was able to experience it and make something happen, okay I know for sure it’s possible. Anyone can do it with the work of putting that time in. Those two months I stopped going to class was a big sacrifice. That was me betting on myself. I wasn’t even going to the cafeteria to eat anymore, I was literally eating out of the vending machine for two months. I didn’t even I didn’t even want to leave my dorm’s building. It was there, and I’m right back to working on the music. That’s what I want people to understand. Now, I understand the difference between someone who wants something and someone who really wants something.
AllHipHop: You mentioned labels calling earlier. How did you land at Warner Records?
Curly J: At first, you know you want to pop off immediately. With “Bag Different” then I dropped the record “Kappa” after that, and that went crazy as well — I thought “oh, the labels should be running in any minute.” And it didn’t quite happen like that. It took a little while, about a year after “Bag Different” dropped. I stayed consistent though. I dropped almost a record every month, they were all performing great.
It wasn’t until about 8 months after “Bag Different” when labels started to trickle in. It started off slow but then once I did more, it went crazy. I was meeting with everybody. I took a bunch of meetings. After talking with Warner then I’m also with Blueprint, I really liked what they’re about. It was a good fit for the vision that I see for my career and the vision they had as well. It was the right spot for me.
AllHipHop: How did it feel to be part of the Madden game?
Curly J: That was really really dope. I’ve been playing Madden since Madden 07. I was asking for Madden every year for Christmas, that was a part of my life. It’s not even like “Oh cool, a game I don’t play.” Nah, I f### with Madden. I play that game that I’m on. [laughs] It’s really dope. Even if I wasn’t on it, I would’ve been playing it this year anyway so it’s dope. Hopefully 2K coming next.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Curly J: Water, warm cookies, and good beats. That’s it.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your fashion sense?
Curly J: I like to match with my shoes. My shoes are always going to match with the fit. If I have a crazy graphic T-shirt, then I keep the pants pretty simplistic, then the shoes matching with it. Or if I have some crazy pants and the shirt’s simplistic, just basic, nice color scheme.
AllHipHop: You’re only 21, what do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?
Curly J: Besides video games I f### with streamers. I don’t really stream, but I’m friends with a lot of streamers and YouTubers. I like to travel. I f### with amusement parks. I like Six Flags. I know a lot of people are scared of big ass rides, but that s### is fun as hell. I love amusement parks. I love traveling, beaches, going out. Going out to get a drink, you know city life. I’m a city boy at heart.
AllHipHop: Who are your top artists in rotation now? Anyone you want to work with?
Curly J: I don’t listen to a lot of different artists if I’m being honest with you. I f### with pretty much all genres but going out of my way to go pull up specific artists, there’s really not that many. Drake, Lil Baby… I don’t know, it’s heavy on that right now. Some Future, that’s it. A little while back it was a bigger rotation, but right now rotation is pretty tight. I definitely shrink it when I’m in project mode, I don’t listen to as much. My routine really is a lot of Drake. Before studio sessions, I listen to a bunch of Drake, all his albums. From the very beginning all the way to present, just a lot.
It’s not even about the hit records, a lot of the sleepers on the projects. It doesn’t matter if it’s not the hit record, he put that type of game plan around that song anyway. There’s so much to learn from his records. Not even “oh I want to sound like him, but “oh, he formatted the hook here. He did this here. He put this ad-lib in the back right here like this.” It’s really really dope. Besides Drake of course, that’s everyone’s dream, guys like Lil Tjay. I’d love to work with Lil Tjay out of New York. Kid Laroi is someone I definitely want to work with. Polo G, J.I. too. Some dudes that aren’t quite as big as them, YXNG K.A out a PA is going crazy. Stunna Gambino is dope. I’m in talks with Lil Baby’s team a little bit. Lil Baby would be dope, Rylo Rodriguez over there with 4PF too.
AllHipHop: What’re you most excited for next?
Curly J: The EP I’m coming out with around late October, I can’t wait for people to hear that. It’s so good. It’s so so good. My last EP did really good with my fans, but this next one is head and shoulders above the last one. That’s really what it’s all about: growth. The fans will definitely appreciate that. The people who follow you from the whole story, they’ll say “Damn, he’s grown so much.” I’m going to make a lot of new fans off of this so for them, that’s where the journey will start with me. But for the people that have been there, they’ll be very impressed and surprised at what they hear.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?
Curly J: I’ma have music dropping year round. I’ma have hit records that people will be bumping anyways, so you might as well tune in now.