Behind the Booth: 5 Questions with the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
New York, NY -- Earlier this week, we went Behind the Booth with Cory Mo, a Houston beatsmith who's been bringing his Southern sound to hip-hop hits for over a decade. For the eighth entry in our ongoing series, we've asked Erik “Rook” Ortiz, Kevin “Colione” Crowe, and Kenny “Barto” Bartolomei of renowned production trio J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League for their insights into the game.
Since their formation in '04 and the Warner Chapell Music deal that followed shortly after, the three have proven themselves as "Just Undeniably Some of The Illest Composers Ever," crafting hits for many of the industry's biggest names and even winning a Grammy for their work on 06's R&B Album of the Year, Mary J. Blige's The Breakthrough. Recently seen on Rick Ross' "Maybach Music 2" (as well as three other Deeper Than Rap tracks), the League hark back to their proudest achievements and drop a few details on their most exciting current projects in this exclusive, five-question interview.
What is the proudest achievement of your career(s)?
Colione: Winning a Grammy for "No One Will Do," on Mary J. Blige's historic album The Breakthrough. We also were blessed to work with Mary J. Blige not to long ago in New York. Mary is a living R&B legend and the experience was incredible. We created a couple of classics for her next album. Not many producers get a chance to work with Mary; I can't lie, we were all a bit star struck initially.
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League is responsible for four records on Rick Ross' brand new album, including "Maybach Music 2." How did you go about crafting records for this album?
Rook: We knew the album was titled "Deeper than Rap," so we went in with the mind set of a cinematic composer. We had to create music bigger than just [individual] beats. Like with "Maybach Music 2," it took us a week to compose. There's live horns, strings, and complex patterns throughout the song. With "Magnificent," we basically were inspired by the late Biggie Smalls. Asking ourselves "What would B.I.G. rap to if he were alive today?" All four of our records are feel-good records.
In addition to your work on Deeper Than Rap, what projects are you currently working on?
Barto: We've been working with Lil Wayne on his rock album, which has been fun because [for him] we're trying something different by experimenting different styles of rock from different periods. [We] can't give away too much, but we've come up with some pretty fly stuff. Jay-Z is definitely high on the priority list, as we are trying to get on his next album. We have three different artists signed to our label, and we have been finishing up there projects as well.
How can the music industry prosper long term?
Rook: The music industry has been around for a very long time. So as long as we keep up with the latest social trends and find new ways to get paid, the music industry will be fine!
What is your ultimate goal for 2009?
Barto: We would like to see every project we work on turn out a success... and a million dollar check would be nice too!