In an era of music where formulas and cookie cutter songs are the norm, it is refreshing to see an up and coming artist bringing something new to the scene, enters JC of The Finest.
Justin Collins started out in the hip-hop and R&B group, The Finest. JC learned the ropes of the hip-hop scene, offering verses, and singing on the hooks with national artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Johnny Juliano, Max B, and Wes Fif.
JC is now running Top Floor Studios. He used to go to ID Labs Studios with E-Dan, who is the person he came up under. E-Dan mixed and mastered all of The Finest’s material in the beginning. As time went on, JC became more hands on with the production, mixing and mastering. He was gradually breaking away from E-Dan to do his thing.
“The Finest came about while we were in college. It consisted of eight people in the beginning that loved to make music,” JC said. “It went from eight people, to four, down to two people. It happened that way because people began to fall by the wayside as things became more serious.
“I was the one with the recording equipment, but all of us were rappers. Eventually I started experimenting with singing, while Frank Torbert aka F-Baby did most of the rapping. We both went to Clarion University out of Philadelphia. I always knew I wanted to be an artist ever since I was a child. Unfortunately, the music I was listening to at the time was gangsta music, but I am not a gangsta. The music that we were comfortable with making was commercial hip-hop music.”
Over time, JC became more comfortable with his singing, songwriting, and production, and switched lanes into the R&B field. After a whirlwind week, in which JC met and spoke with Jay-Z, Ryan Leslie, and Travis McCoy from the Gym Class Heroes, the drive and hunger to succeed was engaged, and high expectations and goals were set.
“Now that I am a solo artist and the owner of Top Floor Studios, I realize that things are going in the right direction,” JC said. “The cost of being in a recording studio was too much and I knew that I could do this on my own, save money and cut cost. I feel more comfortable doing this alone because I know that any record that gets released is all on me. I want to be able to give back to other artists what was so freely given to me through my talents.
“There are 34 artists that record in my studio to date. It’s been a gradual process in the last year and half. The company that I worked for did a lot of downsizing and I lost my job. After that, I made a choice that I would never work for anyone else ever again. By the time my unemployment ran out, I wanted to be at a point in my life where I was self-sufficient. I want to generate the entire brand of JC the Finest to the masses. I’ve been in contact with a few model agencies in Pittsburgh to get a generalization of how it works.”
When he officially started Top Floor studios, he was singing hooks and it went from a few hooks to a lot of hooks every week. Everything is on the internet at JCTheFinest.com. He would go on the internet and do a lot of grind work and find different producers from all over the country and store his hooks on the site. He would inform others of how they could contact him via his website and everything just blew up from there. His connections with major record labels came from other people via the internet.
Right now he is working with Sledren from Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang crew who is affiliated with Atlantic Records. They would send him the beats and he would develop them and send them back. If they like it, he gets paid and if they don’t, he redoes it until it’s right.
“Right now I am branding myself and everything that is associated with JC the Finest. I am working with E-Dan of ID Labs and Sledren of Taylor Gang among other producers. Even though I’ve branched away from E-Dan and ID Labs, he still gives me tips on what to do. F-Baby is always going to be my dog until the day I die. He respects the direction that I’m going in and he knew that from the door. I would love to be a writer and an artist somewhat like what Ne-Yo is doing now. In order to be a great songwriter, you have to be creative and know what you are writing. If you’re singing pop songs and you have a voice for rock music, then you should stick to the rock music,” he said.
After cosigning from some of the biggest names in music, JC set out to create his website (www.jcofthefinest.com) to showcase his talents as an emerging force in the music industry.
With quips like that, 2011 looks to be a huge year for the R&B crooner out of the Steel City. Already in talks with major song writing teams, labels, and producers, JC of The Finest is a name that you are going to hear a ton from in the future. Whether it is penning the lyrics of a hit song, hearing his voice as your favorite new artists, or paired with your current favorite, JC is set to achieve his mark as one of the best.