#10 on the 2016 L.A. Rap Power Rankings – L.A. Weekly
“Airplay from Power 106 helped buoy RJ into a rare modern L.A. phenomenon: a ’hood-certified star whose initial support came from the people, not blog worship or major-label marketing.” – L.A. Weekly
“RJ has built a huge regional following in the West Coast, perfecting his hard uncompromising Cali street sound on this year’s OMMIO 3.“ – HotNewHipHop
“RJ looks like the next one up in the wild, wild West. Pay attention.” – XXL
RJ used to use writing raps as an escape. Growing up in Los Angeles’ South Central region, the DJ Mustard and YG-signed rapper found himself becoming a product of his environment, getting kicked out of schools and selling drugs for his father to help his family pay the bills. After being forced to leave school his senior year and seeing one of his close friends graduate, he took inspiration from watching him succeed and went back to school, only to soon learn that his friend had been shot to death. Without any place to put his emotions or vent, he did the only thing he could think to do: start writing.
“I just didn’t know what to say at first but I just started writing and started taking it more serious,” says RJ, whose real name is Rodney J. Brown Jr. “I had nobody who’s more of a bigger influential figure in my life. Now, I have to look up to artists. I look up to Jay Z and people like that because they’re achieving success in the world. These are now my father figures or big brothers. That’s what kept me going.”Read more
Now, rapping is his lifeblood. After facing potential conflict from dealing drugs, RJ headed down to Georgia for three years to get his life in order. It was there that he planted the seeds of what would soon become his burgeoning rap career, building a recording studio and setting to work on tracks. When he inevitably returned to Los Angeles, he made the connection of a lifetime via a friend with DJ Mustard, who had helped define the new west coast sound through working with artists like YG, Ty Dolla $ign and Kid Ink. That led to Mustard passing off RJ’s icy track “Bitchez” to YG, who included it on his 2013 mixtape Just Re’d Up 2.
That inspired RJ to start recording his first mixtape O.M.M.I.O. (On My Mama I’m On) in 2013, mostly produced by Mustard and featuring the smash “Ride Wit Me” that spawned a music video with 3.8 million hits on YouTube and 4.7 million listens on Spotify. A string of critically heralded mixtapes followed, including Takin Niggas Beats, two more installments of O.M.M.I.O. and a sequel to TNB that released in Oct. 2016. “My music is always different, the sound that I have that people are copying, I been through it,” he says. “The way I see life is different, the way I see fashion is different. Even my hairstyle is different. It’s just me, RJ. You know, one of them people who can’t really explain how different he is, you just know when you see it. You just gotta be around to witness how different I am than other rappers. I don’t even try to be different. I just wake up and try to be the best I could be.”
In the years that he’s released mixtapes and guested on albums including Mustard’s 10 Summers and YG’s My Krazy Life, he’s amassed a sizeable following outside of the west coast and scored a litany of hits including “I Got” (5.1 million YouTube hits) and “Get Rich” featuring IAMSU! and Choice (7.9 million). Most recently, he helped reunite a feuding Mustard and YG as the first signee to a joint venture between their 10 Summers and 4Hunnid labels, respectively.
Following his new single “30 in the Middle” in April 2017, RJ released his project Mr. L.A. this year, followed by the pursuit of various ambitions spanning from writing cartoons to sitcoms. But through it all, he only hopes that he remains true to himself. “I don’t wanna be nobody else,” he says. “It’s kind of crazy because people try to be great and this person they have in their head or whatever. I just think I’m born for this. People trying to be so great that I’m trying to be regular again. It’s in me. I can’t really tell you what makes me different. I’m just me. When I die, I want to be remembered as the most genuine person. That’s it. I am who I am.”
RJMrLA Mobs in the Club with Rae Sremmurd in the “Hard Way” Video, Premiered by The FADER
RJMrLA and DJ Mustard Recruit Ty Dolla $ign for the Suggestive “Is It Mine” Video, Premiered by Highsnobiety
RJMrLA and DJ Mustard Announce The Ghetto, With Appearances From YG, Rae Sremmurd, Ty Dolla $ign and More
L.A. Street Hero RJ Balls Out with Celebrities, Reflects on His Tour in the Cameo-Heavy “Want Me Broke” Video
South Central’s Hometown Hero RJ and Blac Youngsta Bring Out the Block to “Thank God”
South Central’s RJ, Signed to YG and DJ Mustard, Drops His First Studio Album Mr. LA
YG/DJ Mustard-Cosigned Rapper RJ Bracks Skulls in the Club in His Latest Video, Premiered by The FADER
Co-Signed by YG and DJ Mustard, RJ Announces Upcoming Project Mr. LA, Drops Lead Single “Brackin”