Game 7, in the proverbial sense, is a mindset you’re either born with or adopt out of necessity. It’s the acknowledging of the margin of error shrinking almost to nonexistence. It’s understanding that you can’t just insert 2 more quarters and play this game again if you lose. It’s approaching said game with the attitude that losing isn’t a viable option. Would it be ideal too, figuratively speaking, sweep? Sure. Prepare with a purpose and play to win EVERY game. But in life, losses are inevitable. They’re almost necessary to a certain extent because it separates those fueled by losing from those broken by it. The mere thought that a loss could occur elevates your play to a level otherwise left untapped without the pressure.
Fresh off the momentum of “K-Walk“, an anthem penned to celebrate NBA star and long time friend Kemba Walker, Jus Smith’s “Game 7” project looks to keep the wave going. I have gifted an advanced copy of the tape and with so many moments catching my attention, one, in particular, stood out right away.
Mariano: “Ant Mason Margiela” is probably your most vulnerable moment recorded thus far. Talk about what helped you find comfort in sharing those stories.
Jus: It’s definitely the most vulnerable moment I’ve ever recorded. Outside of my family members, probably about two people knew what I was going through. Ironically, all the events that I spoke of in both verses were all happening back to back like a domino effect. I was able to find comfort within myself and even comfort within music creating the song because at that point when it rained it poured and I didn’t know of any other way to find comfort or cope with the things occurring. It played a huge part in my growth as an artist because it took me to a step I didn’t know I really had and I was also in a space where I wasn’t creating music so this opened up the gates mentally that I needed open badly.
Completely understandable, and it all goes back to pressure and losses being catalysts for revealing new layers of strength. Slightly switching gears, let’s talk about more life.
Mariano: How has fatherhood changed your mindset in general and especially as it pertains to the music?
Jus: Oh fatherhood has changed my mindset tremendously. I never was a selfish person, but it made me realize it’s not about me anymore even when it is about me. With all of my decisions, the first thing I do is think of Rayne and how it can better everything for her future. The way I carry myself is a big thing too. Especially with potentially being in the public eye, I have to not only represent myself but her and that’s huge for me.
As far as musically it just truly made me go harder. I know that’s a clichè answer but for me personally, it truly did. Again I went thru a lot while making this project but through it all, I became a father which trumped everything. I scrapped a lot of songs I was creating off this project because they were kinda depressing, to be honest. Rayne made me realize through it all I had a lot to be happy for and in turn it made me loosen up and create some beautiful music. Overall whenever I’m working on verses I just picture her in my head and I go my hardest when attacking a beat.
Me being a father as well I can say this was perfectly worded. It’s a new level of thinking and a new sense of urgency in a good way. Let’s get to some hometown glory.
Mariano: Harlem, NY is a legendary place for multiple reasons, what does calling it “home” mean to you?
Jus: Basically for what you just said, it’s a legendary place man. I want to be part of that legacy with the Cam’Rons, Big L, and other greats. I was born and raised in Harlem, never lived anywhere else so its all I know. It inspired my music and I take great pride in being from Harlem, I embody it all the way through. Harlem has given me the experiences and continues to give me these experiences that make me who I am as a man and an artist.
Harlem has this aura about it that makes people who’ve never been there feel connected like a native. To touch on the joint I mentioned to kick off the piece….
Mariano: Take us back to the moment when you found out the Charlotte Hornets liked “K-Walk” and picked it up for arena play. Do you remember your mindset before and immediately after that moment?
Jus: Oh man, I just remember when I and G Colds came up with the idea to do the song for K-Walk. G was like ‘man this shit gon pop’ I was like ‘I hope so man. The day we released it, it’s like everything just happened so fast and it took on a life its own. My phone just started jumping. It went from my followers going crazy with it to two writers from ESPN tweeting it. Then it was like ok this is kinda crazy. Next, an RT brings to my attention and it’s Michael Jordan’s daughter, so now I’m like ok something is happening. Then their VP of marketing next. I look up, the Charlotte Hornets are tweeting it out and I’m like this is crazy now. Long story short, Kemba’s brother hit me up like the Hornets want the record. He gave them my info and the rest was history. All of this made me realize the power of people. I didn’t send K-Walk to any blogs yet it landed in the Hornets arena. That’s some powerful shit. So it just made me appreciate the people more than I already did. Also, I realized when ppl really get behind you and believe in your talent, you’re unstoppable.
That’s amazing! Goes to show that talent will always prevail and art is still appreciated without having to be compromised. I feel like I already know the answer to this last one haha, but for the people out there….
Mariano: If Jus Smith wasn’t making music he would be ___________ and why.
Jus: Come on man, you don’t call me young Hubie Brown for nothing! I’d definitely be a sports analyst, journalist, or even a coach. Everyone knows my passion for sports especially basketball. It’s what I studied when I was in school and it was my first love before music. So in some capacity, I’ll definitely be an integral piece to the sport of basketball on all levels from amateur to Pro.
The silver lining in taking a loss is the lesson you learn from it. Fear that you’ll come up short in the biggest moment pushes you to excel. Think Jordan being down 1 point to the Cavs in ’89, series tied at 2-2. The quintessential win or go home moment that gave us “The Shot”.
“Game 7” produced entirely by the extraordinary @Drethaoneda is out now on all platforms