Over the past few years we’ve seen the rise of the Metro Boomin’s, Pierre Bourne’s, and Murda Beatz’s of the world. But there’s one producer who’s been putting out hits that hasn’t been receiving quite as much attention as his producing counterparts. Hailing from Houston’s Acre Homes, 26 year old June James has had two of his records hit the charts with YFN Lucci’s “Key To The Streets” and “Everyday We Lit.” With the latter of the two singles currently on the Billboard Hot 100 for 18 weeks, peaking at number 33, you would think the talented producer would be receiving much more attention but that isn’t the case. Music On The Dot’s @MetroNotBoomin recently caught up with June to talk about his two hits, being overlooked, and signing with T.I.G.
Talk about how your love for music began.
My love for music started in middle school. My mom made me get in the band and I didn’t want to. So after joining the band I learned music theory, arranging and composition. It correlated over and I started doing bigger things producing for rap acts. I started in the band 11 or 12 but really didn’t get into producing until 16 or 17.
So how did you first get your start in producing?
The first software I got was Fruity Loops 5. He used to tell me about it in school. So one day I was like “man give me that program.” So I took it home and it was a demo version. The first beat I made on it was Laffy Taffy by D4L, I thought I was doing something with it. The whole crunk movement had an influence on it, the trap movement, Pharrell and Kanye, that whole 2000s era had an influence. That’s when producers started getting recognized and putting personality behind their beats.
A lot of producers I’ve talked with started with Fruity Loops. Is that the easiest program to learn?
I mean there’s Fruity Loops, there’s Logic, etc. It depends on what works for you.
What was the moment that made you feel like you could make this a career?
I had a song during the Dallas bookie music. It’s called “Work My Legs” by a local artist named Young Dre. It was the first song I ever got in the club. I wasn’t allowed to get in the club cause I was only 17. So once that happened I fell in love. It was a life changing experience.
That’s had to be crazy.
Yea it was.
What was it like growing up in Houston?
It’s no city like Houston. It’s a melting pot. We have a real strong independent presence. Back in the day you had artists selling a million out their trunk locally. That made me just want to work 10 times harder. Michael Watts who is a good friend of mine, gave me a bunch of advice. That was an influential point of my life cause I was listening to music not as just a worker, but a fan as well.
With you being from Houston how did you first connect with YFN Lucci?
I first met Lucci about two or three years ago. I was doing these industry nights in Houston called Takeover Tuesdays for Rap-A-Lot. When I came to Atlanta with my cousin Stephen Jackson, I was kicking it with him and someone played Lucci’s Wish Me Well. I heard “I Wonder Why”, “Made For It”, and all of these songs and I was like who is this dude I want to work with him. My manager was really good friends with him. So he got us connected and I was the first person to bring Lucci to Houston. We started emailing back and forth and we pretty much built a relationship and went from there.
You have two big records that you’ve produced, but you don’t seem to get the attention that other producers have been getting. Does this affect you or does it just motivate you to work harder?
Man it makes me work ten times harder that I’m slept on. I appreciate that because a lot of people get a lot of attention and praise and it makes them complacent. It’s a blessing to be in that position, but I do feel slept on.
One thing I’ve noticed about “Everyday We Lit” and “Key To The Streets” is the similarities between the beats. Is that a style that you prefer, or is it just something you’ve found to work?
Well I was in the band and my main instrument was the trombone. I was into chords. So the band and my musical up bringing has a huge influence on my beats.
What was your reaction when “Key To The Streets” first started to pop and eventually hit the radio?
Man the thing about it was I didn’t know the song was so crazy. I was on house arrest at the time. So I didn’t know anything about the record except for looking on Instagram and having people tell me, man you got a hit. But once I started getting in the car more and got my house and everything together I started hearing it more. Then when it went number one I was like man we really got a hit. To be honest the stuff still hasn’t hit me, even with “Everyday We Lit.” The impact of these records just motivates me to produce the next one.
Now you’re a part of the Think It’s A Game family. How did that come about?
Around the time “Key To The Streets” I had a lot of offers. I had offers from Warner Bros, Atlantic, and Lucci wanted to sign me to YFN. As the song kept getting bigger Warner Bros and Atlantic started offering more and more money. Once T.I.G. got a hold of “Everyday We Lit” and heard that it was the same dude that did “Key To The Streets” they was like man we have to sign you. They told me I would be the first producer signed to T.I.G. and that it would be an exclusive deal but I can work with other artists. They also told me that they would match Warner Bros deal and said they wouldn’t put me on the shelf. It took 8 months to configure that deal, but the thing I like about T.I.G is that they’re independent. They also have a good track record. I never wanted to sign to a conglomerate. I wanted to sign to the underdog and make something out of nothing. Not to say it’s nothing going on over there. But I wanted to be a part of something great and make history. Then it’s black owned too so that also helped me out.
Do you have any plans for the future, or are you just going with the flow?
I’m working on trying to get on a few project. I just did a joint with 2 Chainz called “Smartphones” that’s doing pretty good. I do a lot of local stuff and I’m successful locally, but I’m the new kid on the block in Atlanta. So I’m just trying to set my feet and be that dude. I know it’s only a matter of time. But I have projects with one of my artists named Magic. I got another artist out of Houston named Leray. Those are the two things I’m looking forward to along with Lucci’s album. I’m also lokking forward to opening up a business school in Houston, that’s what I want to do. I want to open up some studios in Houston, Atlanta, and LA. I’m also going to open a franchise Whataburger next year. I’m just trying to brand myself and separate myself from the pack. I also have a good production team under my named “The Hit Cartel” I’m trying to put them out there too.
What are some things you learned so far that you didn’t know coming into the business?
My manager gave me advice on how to handle people, talk to people, how to handle business properly. Paul Wall taught me a lot about how to balance family and music. When I got out a jail he picked me up and he gave me a lot of game and told me to stay out of trouble.
Have you found it hard to balance family and music?
I just recently moved to Atlanta. It’s kind of been tough on me, my son, and my girl. My son has to see me back and forth between Houston and Atlanta. But I’m well aware of it and he is too. It’s just another obstacle we have to get through.