XL Cartel founding member and one of Florida’s most underrated talents, Big J is a great rapper with a focus on repping his personal brand and putting on for his county. We talked about his latest mixtape, his inspirations and other artists he feels deserve a spotlight.

1. The first thing I’d like to talk about is that new Bottom of the Map! project, that’s my favourite from you so far. Any details about how that tape came together?

Much appreciated & I pretty much wanted to make a tape with a concept surrounding where I’m from, how I live and my environment so “bottom of the map” being from south FL it was only right

2. I love the sound you have with Free Diesel especially on ‘RIDIN’ and ‘GWAP’, do you two have any more music together on the way?

I’m sure there will be more from us two in the future me n diesel have great chemistry

3. I also really fuck with the XL/BMB collabs that you’ve done, it would be dope to hear a full length collaboration between you and someone like Screw Mane Flame. Anything like that in the works?

Funny that you say that because yes I have that planned as a project for this year. I’ve worked with screw mane but long ago and loko los just recently but a full tape prod by BMB is for sure in the works

4. Who inspires you the most? In my eyes every Cartel member has a unique flavour but I’m interested in where you developed your rap style from?

I wouldn’t say I’m inspired by one sole person but overall musically I’ve always been inspired by a variety of people I grew up on classics so like biggie method man prodigy big L Nas those always had a nasty rugged style to em which I really relate too also one particular artist that stands out to me is SPM (South Park Mexican) one of the only rappers I grew up on to have a mixture of Hispanic culture infused with rap which really inspired me to just be me and to be proud of who you are and where u come from

5. XL Cartel are one of my favourite rap collectives right now, and I remember Herme$ told me you and him really founded the group? How did you two come to meet and start making music?

Yes, me and him are the heads of XL. I’ve known Herme$ since the 2nd grade so me and him go back years and years before this rap shit, I’d consider him family. This all started off of pure passion for the love of music and the culture itself, before we made anything or thought of any names me herm n many of our friends would get high kick it and just freestyle for hours on some rap city shit and thats all we did for a good minute just for fun nothing serious until one day I decided to start a clothing brand originally named XCEL I began making clothes and making progress in sales it was going well and at the same time hermes saved all his money and bought all the equipment he needed to start recoding because that was something he was trying to take serous as well and once we both established ourselves on our own ends we decided why not merge them into one music/clothes/culture collective group which is now XL & the rest is history

6. What’s next for the Cartel? That track you, Herme$ and G.P3$0 dropped last month was dope.

We’ll have a lot more songs/projects in the near future. Everyone’s back in the city now so we’re definitely locking in for more group work.

7. I’ve said this many times, but Florida really does have the dopest artists and producers. Can you put me on to anyone you feel is underappreciated?

Florida is definitely a land of talent maybe because of the environment idk what but I’ve met many talented people here for ect HEARTBREAK JP very slept on he’s the homie and one of my favorites @heartbreakjp someone else that’s always stood out to me is Reuben Stratum @reubenstratum another homie with a diverse style you don’t see much of you gotta check them out!

8. What producers/rappers would you most like to work with?

As of right now I just go by ear also I really like to work with producers/rappers in my area or around the county or FL in general that’ll help push each other’s work out into the FL underground scene

9. ‘The Bottom’ is by far your rawest track, I haven’t heard much like that from you before. It seems like the struggle you went through to get where you are has affected your mindset as an artist in a really positive way. What would you say is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your career as an artist?

I definitely like to tell my story because I know a lot of people can relate to the struggles and tribulations of life especially where I come from it ain’t so pretty so I try and paint a picture of my life, what I seen and felt. The most valuable lesson I learned I would say is to stay true to yourself no matter what goes on around you or whatever’s in your ear always remember to stay true to what you solely believe in and never let that go.

10. Thanks for doing this interview, and sorry it took so long. Anyone you’d like to shout out to finish off?

I wanna s/o everybody that supports or even takes the time of day to listen to what I gotta say & s/o the whole camp XL CARTEL the whole east side 95 uptown trenches we really live this $hit !

Listen to Big J on Soundcloud. Follow him on Twitter at @jayXL561.

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