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Standout Track: No. 3, “Supa Star,” which borrows the vintage DJ Premier–produced beat from the 1995 song of the same name by New York duo Group Home. With cool confidence and DMV twang, June G. raps no-nonsense couplets about his hip-hop aspirations (“XXL magazine open on page 3/Lookin’ at these niggas I know that I wanna be”).
Musical Motivation: “Usually when people get on old-school beats, they get on the most relevant or the most popular…I tried to go with a different look—the more underground side,” says the Silver Spring rapper/producer, who was a pre-schooler when the original Group Home track was released. All of the grooves on Back 2 Da Hip-hop—including classics from Lord Finesse, A-Plus, and others—are unaltered from their original sounds. “For the feel I wanted to get, I don’t feel like I could reproduce these beats and have the same exact vibe from the ’90s,” he says.
Star of His Own Show: So far, June has made his name as a producer, selling tracks to up-and-coming artists. The goal of Back 2 Da Hip-Hop, his debut mixtape, was to create something on his own terms. But he says it also fits into his overall career plan of finding mainstream success without catering specifically to anyone’s tastes: “If you like it, you like it, and if you don’t, you don’t. It’s cool with me….I’m just trying to grow.” And he has no delusions about what mainstream success might mean. “Everyone is not your friend. This is a business…people are going to be using you. Coming for your name, stuff like that,” he says. “So you really have to watch people.”