What's up Leafers? Welcome to the latest edition of On the Rise where we interview upcoming hip hop talent. Today's guest is artist, J. Irja. J is a traveling gypsy now residing in Dallas. J's performance and music are both captivating, but perhaps the most intriguing thing about J. Irja is her music is all inspired by her real life. In her own words “EVERYTHING I rap is real, I’ve either been through it or seen it. I don't do fake, I don’t do ‘Wishlist Rapping’”. The Dallas based rapper has been on our radar for a while so we had to tap in with her! Check out the interview below.
Westleaf Staff: What's up, J? Thanks for sitting down with us. When did you start making music?
J. Irja: My first memory is me on stage with a microphone when I was three years old. I played the flute and wrote classical music all through elementary and high school winning multiple awards, and even was published for poetry. Ever since I can remember, I wrote songs as a way of channeling my emotions and working through all the tough times. Music was always my outlet & my escape.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! What city do you represent?
J. Irja: I am a Gypsy so I travel. My blood heritage is Finnish & I was born in Canada. I now live in Dallas. I am truly a rolling stone that landed in DFW.
Westleaf Staff: Shout out to DFW and your travels! So how did you create your stage name?
J. Irja: J. Irja is my real name J is short for Jessika & Irja is my middle name, named after my grandmother it means ‘earth worker’
Sexy Psycho: Sexy means ‘attractive’ or ‘appealing’ & Psycho means ‘strange or different than society’s standards’ in other words being yourself & unique is actually what’s attractive
Westleaf Staff: That's a dope name. Super creative! I love that it came naturally. So how did your early life shape your interest in music?
J. Irja: I grew up very poor and moved around a lot, so I didn’t get to make many long-term friends. When I moved to America, I was the oddball and the outcast. I always felt very alone, and Music gave me a way to feel like there was some way to communicate, even though no one responded.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! That's super inspiring. So who is your biggest Musical influence?
J. Irja: Eminem was my biggest influence growing up. The crazy thoughts I had I felt like no one else could understand, until I really started listening to his music. As I grew up, I still listened to him, but I also gravitated strongly towards Twista, Tech N9ne, E-40, and dabbled in. listening to all types of music.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! Those are some legends! I feel that. What's been the defining moment in your music career thus far?
J. Irja: There has been so many amazing moments in my music career. One notable memory that stands out is when I linked up with Tech N9ne in Dallas for the fifth time, and he looked at me and said “you are everywhere, I was just on the East Coast, and someone opened a magazine for me to sign and your promo sticker was in there” that’s when I knew my music was really circulating.
Another major moment was when I got on stage at the Kansas City festival, and the crowd screamed so loud that the stage started shaking . Shortly after that, I was contacted by the newspaper there for an interview. That was so cool.
Recently, it was amazing when I did my song drowning with Royce da 5’9”, and after our video shoot, he turned Toward me before he walked out the door, and said “I fuck with you, you’re going to make it. I’m serious you’re gonna make it.”
Just being in the presence of artists and legends, like that is amazing to me… I came from nothing & every step I take in this journey is humbling to me.
Westleaf Staff: That's dope! Congrats on your accomplishments. So what makes you a unique artist?
J. Irja: I am unapologetically me. I suffer from PTSD, brain damage, ADHD, and went through so much loss in my life. I am not doing music to become rich. I’m doing music to make a difference. Every lyric I write means something, it’s inspired by my true life. I don’t just say I’ve done it, I actually have.
Westleaf Staff: Dope! So what does art mean to you?
J. Irja : Art is the expression of a feeling or experience that is conveyed from the artist to the receiver. It is the only universal language that no matter what culture you come from, true art will translate to all.
Westleaf Staff: That's deep! Where do you see your music career going over the next few years?
J. Irja: I see bigger stages and much more press coverage in the future. My brand and purpose is spreading, and my message will reach so many people that will benefit from hearing it. The best is definitely yet to come.
Westleaf Staff: I wish you much success! Before we go, describe music in three words.
J. Irja: Emotions in motion.
Follow J. Irja:
More from J. Irja: