Published on July 18th, 2022 | by MuzikScribe0
J.U.I.C.E: Bar’d Up
Reflecting, tell me your whole inception into music — When did you become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Terry Parker?
Wow! There is so much in that question. Well I started performing when I was about 6. My mother was an actor, and would put me on stage to do impressions. The people stood up, and I was addicted. I started winning talent shows, which later turned into winning rap battles. I put out my first vinyl single around the time I battled Eminem. I have been in it tough ever since.
Now you’re a native of Chicago, Illinois, correct? So growing up in ‘The Windy City,’ who all did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
I am a native of Chicago, but my mom moved me to L.A. when I was 4 to pursue her acting career. Because of this, I feel I was a bit disconnected from all the great talent that was brewing in the Chi, until I came back to live there during college. I was influenced by a radio station mostly; KDAY played everything from Eazy-E and Big Daddy Kane to 2 Live Crew and Rakim. I can say I would have my biggest influence in East Coast Hip Hop, specifically LL Cool J, who resonates with me as the greatest of all time. I can also say Babyface influenced me a great deal, and made want to take a shot at writing R&B songs.
In having said that, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?
Well, my sound has evolved from rapid-fire lyricism focusing on all syllables rhyming (i.e. on – to – vic – tory; con – tra – dic – tory), to more life-based, introspective, catchy lyrics with super big hooks. It’s like an amalgamation of all my influences each time I write something now.
Where does your moniker J.U.I.C.E originally derive from?
There were these two kids from N.Y. – Marcus & Reggie – who were about 8 years old, and they heard me rapping when I was about 12 years old. They were way more hip and street smart than me – it was as if they had lived Hip Hop culture for a whole lifetime somehow. My name was Fresh T at the time, but they told me I should change my name to Juice because in New York Juice means respect. They said the way I rapped, people would have to give me respect. It made sense to me, so I changed my name to JUICE. The periods in my name came once I realized how common the word “juice” is. It was a way for people to find my music easier, and separate me from more common spellings of the word. I came up with – Just Unique Innovative Creative and Exceptional – as a moniker later, but it was not the original reason the dots were added to my name.
As a songwriter, when you sit down to pen your lyrics where do you draw your inspiration from?
That’s a great question! So I’m known as this freestyle rapper, right? This means I always have random thoughts swirling in my head, so there is never anything like writer’s block. But I will not continue with the song if I am not inspired or if it does not come easy. In other words, I never force it. Each song is like a movie to me, and the words are like brushstrokes. So now what I tend to do is try to write three minute movies. I stay conscious of other songs I have written to make sure that even if the subjects are similar, the content or words within the songs do not overlap. But I can’t be giving away secrets here, so let’s go on to the next question.
Now everyone is either familiar with you already or will become familiar from your storied rap battles, defeating top tier lyricists such as Rhymefest, Dose One and Eminem, to name a few, before finally losing to Supernatural — What are some of your fondest / most treasured memories from this particular time in both your life and career?
The battle circuit was innocent. We had no idea we were making history or would be a part of it, so there was never any pressure. What I loved most about it was being able to travel all over the country battling, and I relished being an unknown emcee. Obviously this will never be the case again, but it sure was fun to stand in cyphers and listen to my competition before I battled them, silent as can be; without anybody knowing who I was or was about to be. That part was beautiful.
You’re currently signed to Golden State Entertainment — What particular string of events actually led to this inking?
So I knew the founder / Chief Business Officer of GSE, Mr. David Kelly, from way back in Chicago on the Hip Hop scene. Him and his DJ, Tone B. Nimble, would perform as ‘All Natural,’ and I would frequently play out with them. We did a song called ‘Ill Advised’ that became a cult classic in Chicago; and I guess you could say it demonstrated some kinda chemistry with me and Dave. Fast forward to now, David basically told me we were going to do multiple albums on the label (GSE). Now he is a very credible man, but what he was saying was a bit unbelievable until I saw the actual Golden State Entertainment press release myself.
What all exactly can be expected from this newly formed union?
With me knowing the inner workings of the creative part of this thing, I feel like we might end up pioneering a complete new genre…something like mainstream soul. This would be music inspired by what our moms and dads listened to, but with the mainstream edge that appeals to the new listener. Specifically my goal is writing the kind of songs people want to listen to multiple times, as this is pretty much the only way we get paid now as artists. Without people being able to show their support by buying actual records, the only way to hook them is to make them want to rewind…over and over again.
Something that’s always struck me as being quite odd is that known freestyle artists historically have had difficulty crafting successful commercial records — What seems to be the disconnect?
I think it is often hard for freestyle artists to harness that raw live energy into a song with rules, like 16 bar verses or 8 bar hooks. This can be constricting when you come from the world where there are no rules, so it may be very difficult to adapt. I started out as a writer with my first raps being written around 10 years old. At the time, I had no idea what freestyle was. I developed that skill way later. So for me, it was never difficult to vacillate between the two, it just felt like I had a type of talent very, very few people have ever had. And the responses I get when I rhyme continue to reinforce this construct. Finally, growing up in L.A. gave me a big advantage as a writer because ALL they play is hits – no matter what genre – ALL you hear is hits out here. And if you listen close, all the hits are structured the same way.
Switching gears here…
To date, what has been your greatest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?
I moved back to California for good in 2016 with the goal of penning songs for other artists. This is not to be confused with ghostwriting, where there is no credit, no publishing, and you have to keep what you do a secret. Not me. I came out here to prove to myself that I was more than just a freestyle artist. So I would say, my biggest accomplishments were securing three placements on Kash Doll’s debut album – including her single ‘Ready Set’ with Big Sean, writing for Kanye, and working with and developing Saweetie. This let me know I had broken the barrier and dispelled the whispers about freestyle rappers not being able to write songs. I feel like everyone will be at me for my words, melodies and hooks very soon.
What’s an average day like for you?
I’m normally up around 8am, sometimes earlier. I know New York and Chicago have been up for hours already, so I try to make myself super accessible for any opportunities that may come my way. I’ll usually watch the news and catch up on current events as they are a big part of what I do musically. Then I might freestyle for 10-20 minutes in preparation to write, to open my mind a bit, before I dig into the cue of songs I have to write for people. If there’s sports on like basketball or boxing, I’ll probably watch it, especially if its live. Then nobody can spoil the ending like Game of Thrones. That’s pretty much an average day for me.
Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…
I come from the independent world, or what some might call the underground. The venues are small, the fans are real, and those fans help make the action. I have a pretty good sense of people, so I’m fairly cordial with most fans. If I sense any ill-intention or a lack of being genuine, things can go a whole different way. I do know that as new music starts to drop, the venues will get larger and the fans will get further away. But my goal is to keep the same raw interaction with my fans as I did when I was coming up. I still want to wow them and leave them puzzled by something I just said. As long as I do that, I know I will keep gaining new fans.
What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?
For me, I get a rush every time I finish a new song – no matter who it’s for. Sometimes songs are challenging and there often may be rewrites or revisions, but once the song is done I’m happy as if it was on the radio. My least favorite part of the industry is dealing with people who are not real. If you don’t learn how to hold back what you really think sometimes or how to interact with people who have been totally fake to you, you will never get anywhere in this business. So as much as I pride myself in never selling my soul or compromising my music, in a way I still ended up playing the game.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Honestly, I would say stay away from the battle rap scene. Now if your goal is to dominate that scene, then by all means have at it. But if you have big goals and huge dreams, follow those…all the way to the top! Even if a battle rapper writes a great song, people will always listen with different ears. You may write a song just as good as a song submitted by Ryan Leslie, but if you are known as a battle rapper you will not get the nod in most cases. So I would say expand your writing skills and actually release your music. It will serve as a barometer for if people think you are as dope as you think you are.
Lastly, what’s next for you, J.U.I.C.E?
I think the first step will be showing the world the diverse and unique array of talent I have. Then I feel like I will be working with both top tier artists in the industry, and developing and discovering the newest and the next. I also think I’ll be writing a movie or two and possibly a memoir. It’s going to be one crazy ride and I’m just blessed the universe has put me in a position to finally show everybody who Terry Parker really is.
Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?
Be on the look out for the new single “Paper Thick” featuring Del, Casual and E-40…and don’t be surprised if you end up hearing a bomb collab with Eminem in the very near future. He’s a good friend of mine, and we would be honored to have him on the project…so stay tuned!
Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
I hope this interview helps shed a little light as to who I am and what my goals are. But more importantly, it is my sincere wish that these answers inspire someone to elevate higher than what people tell them their own potential is, and live all their dreams in this lifetime.
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