CJ Fly
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CJ Fly

Brooklyn, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Brooklyn, NY | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Hip Hop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




"The “flyest” in the ERA…. Yes, we’re talking about the future Hall Of Famer MC outta Brooklyn -CJ Fly. HF® sat down with the talented lyricist at NYC’s famous Junior’s Restaurant to catch a late lunch and politic. We brushed over several topics, however, the ones that were most relevant were featured in this exclusive video interview. No spoilers here… Be apart of the conversation – check out the interview for yourself." - Hypefresh Magazine



From the '90s scratch-and-scribble bombast of Statik Selektah's "Day ZzZ's" production to the '70s gangster flick-sound of the Backpack-helmed "Left Get," Thee Way Eye See It is arranged like a movie montage, minus the camera. Rapper CJ Fly, of Brooklyn collective Pro Era (also home to Joey Bada$$), likes to filter Golden Age hip-hop through his 20-year-old lens, to achieve something he simply calls "truth."

"I don't really like to over-exaggerate," Fly says. "Everything in my life that I rap about is realistic, so there's really no need." Having opened for A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa on tour, alongside Bada$$ this past summer, his "truth" is about to become widely known—especially if his stellar mixtape debut and upcoming Pro Era collaborative project (set for this Valentine's Day) have anything to say about it.

Interview is pleased to exclusively premiere CJ's "Q&A" video and chat with the rising emcee about comparisons, careers, and crazy experiences on the road, below.

MARCUS HOLMLUND: People know you as your rap moniker, CJ Fly; what's your real name?

CJ FLY: My real name's Chaine Downer, Jr. Like "Downy," but with an "er." And my first name is pronounced "Shane."

HOLMLUND: Where'd you grow up?

FLY: Brooklyn. Been here all my life.

HOLMLUND: You're young and you just crept up on us...

FLY: [laughs] Yeah, I'm 20. Will be 21 in July.

HOLMLUND: How were you discovered so young?

FLY: Honestly, I still feel "undiscovered." Actually, not so long ago in high school, my boy, Joey [Bada$$], got discovered... No one really came and found CJ Fly, if you know what I mean.

HOLMLUND: What really put you on the radar, I think, was touring this past summer alongside A$AP [Rocky] and Wiz [Khalifa] on the "Under The Influence" tour. How was that?

FLY: It was an amazing experience; and it's weird, because nobody ever really asks about that, and it was so big for us. It opened our eyes to what real shows be like. When we [Pro Era] started out, we'd play concerts for like 200, 300 to a thousand people, and then with the "Under The Influence" tour, we'd play to hundreds of thousands of people. It was insane.

HOLMLUND: Any crazy experiences on the road?

FLY: Yeah, definitely. There was a rainstorm in Detroit when we were there, and there was a mudslide at the top of the stadium, so many crazy things...

HOLMLUND: Wow. What else?

FLY: We [Pro Era] are still independent, so we drove our own sprinter van, we didn't have a tour bus or anything like that. The van we drove ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. We had to climb down this hill that the highway was on just to walk to different gas stations to find some diesel. We finally ended up getting help from an old native with a pick-up truck that had an actual pet wolf in the back.

HOLMLUND: Totally crazy.

FLY: It was.

HOLMLUND: For Thee Way Eye See It mixtape, do you reference aesthetically anything you listened to growing up in Brooklyn?

FLY: I wouldn't compare my sound on the mixtape to anything, but my influences are like—the minimal amount of hip-hop that I actually do know—because I didn't grow up listening to hip-hop like that. No one really put me on to hip-hop like that... My dad's from Jamaica and my mom is from Barbados, so that's really the stuff I grew up listening to. You know, stuff from their heritage. I'd say my sound's really rooted in that, infused with just me growing up in Brooklyn, really, and being an American kid. Everything on the project speaks to a different part of my life.

HOLMLUND: For "Q&A," what's that point?

FLY: Honestly, it was just things that touched my soul when I heard the beat that my Cali producer, ESTA of Soulection, did at that moment.

HOLMLUND: About the beat... how do you respond to people comparing its similarities to Audio-Push's "Shine" by Hit-Boy?

FLY: While on the "Under The Influence" tour, we crossed paths with Hit-Boy and Audio-Push, who were on the Lil' Wayne tour at the time. They brought their bus to the venue we were at and invited us aboard to preview their project, so they could present the idea for Joey to lay his verse on "'Tis The Season." I had my song "Q&A" for about seven months or so by then, but it wasn't mixed, so I couldn't play it for people other than my crewmembers until we had the final product. While they were playing their project to us, we all stumbled upon the "Shine" record. When it started playing, my heart instantly dropped, and I looked at my crew in shock because they had used the same Janet Jackson sample I wanted to use for the single from my project ["Q&A"]. My crew looked back at me smirking because we all knew I had sampled the exact same Janet Jackson song already. We continued to listen and made no comment about the version I had, just commending them for their take on it. At first, I felt discouraged to even use the song at all, but everyone reassured me that my shit was crack. I didn't bother worrying about the comparisons because I knew it would be viewed as Thee Way Eye See It—which, of course, is the title of the project itself.

HOLMLUND: Do you have a favorite track on the mixtape?

FLY: "Thee Heiiist" is one of my favorites.

HOLMLUND: Why is that?

FLY: I think I got possessed by some rap gods on that track, honestly. [laughs]

HOLMLUND: What gets you in the zone to record your material?

FLY: I don't know, I used to like smoking before I recorded, but, now it's just kind of like thinking about executing it... I just want it to be the best and all that. That's what really gets me in the zone nowadays. I want to put my best foot forward and make a statement.

HOLMLUND: How do you usually write?

FLY: Sometimes I write it down, sometimes I freestyle. I get lines coming to me randomly throughout the day and I'll jot it down and build on that. If I get a line that's about love, it starts up a whole love verse... And if a beat speaks to me, it's like I already know what to write.

HOLMLUND: You took a turn as art director for the mixtape's cover. Tell me about that.

FLY: Yeah, I came up with the cover concept about a month before the project dropped. I just decided to go into a [movie] theater and visually create what the project was like to me. The mixtape's like a movie you can visualize while you're listening to it, so, I wanted the actual visual to be cinematic.

HOLMLUND: Anyone's career you idolize in the game that you'd like your own path to follow?

FLY: There are three people's careers I'd like to meld together into my own... Jay Z's for his business mindset, Macklemore's hustle as an independent artist, and Bob Marley's impact on the world and how refined and genuine his music is to this day.



Italian fathers can be a real pain in the ass.

Don't get me wrong, I love my dad. I'm proud to be Italian. All I eat is Italian food and my boyfriend is from Chicago so when I make a mortadella sandwich, it's like I'm giving him a gift from God. But Italian fathers can honestly be terrifying, especially to their daughter's dude. For example, my dad once fired warning shots at the sky above a group of boys I was talking to on the block. That's a true story, but it was with a shitty bb gun.

With all of that said, we're excited to premiere the latest visuals from CJ Fly—the Brooklyn native and OG of Pro Era—called "Eyetalian Frenchip." It's not just a music video, it's a movie, and is off of his solo mixtape TheeWayeEyeSeeIt. CJ is caught in a love triangle in the Kris Merc and Ahmed Klink-directed visuals, and there's an Italian father involved so you know there's going to be some drama. It's a pretty stunning short film and a perfect introduction to those unfamiliar with CJ Fly's work. Stream it above and check out the poster for the film below: - Noisey Music By VICE


If you’re a Jay Z fan you’ve more than likely heard him repping his new slogan #NewRules with veracity. Ironic as it is that one of the most commercially successful hip hop artists in the game is pushing this anti-industry motto. However, there’s no denying that indie rap is the new wave. With today’s technology, having major label backing is no longer a necessity to make it in the game. With social media and global marketing available at your fingertips it’s possible to stay self-sufficient in this new age of hip hop. So, we’re bringing you a new artist or group every week that really creates their own rules, and asking them how you too can make your own lane.

For this installment we’re featuring CJ Fly of Pro Era.

Mass Appeal: How did you meet up with Pro Era?

CJ Fly: Pro Era started around 2010, it was me, Joey Badass, Capital Steez and Powers Pleasant in the beginning.

MA: Before you started Pro Era, were you doing anything music wise?

CJF: Yeah, I’ve been rapping for a while, since I was a kid.

MA: How did you come up with your name?

CJF: CJ is short for Chiane Jr. and the Fly came from me always dressing up for school. My friends would always call me fresh and fly. I like dressing up.

MA: How did you start off rapping?

CJF: I loved poetry as a kid so it just made sense. I grew up on reggae and to me rap and reggae are similar. Reggae is just rapping over a reggae beat, once I realized that I started getting more into hip hop.

MA: Are you of Caribbean descent?

CJF: Yeah, my dad’s from Jamaica and my mom’s from Barbados.

MA: So, in the beginning when you were starting out, how were you able to get studio time? I know you have a music video out, what’s the process of being able to do that without a major record label backing you?

CJF: LRG, sponsored my latest video. Studio time, I’ve been lucky to have friends who have mics. Before I used to pay $15 an hour to record at this neighborhood spot but now we all have our own equipment.

MA: How did you do your very first music video?

CJF: My very first music video was sponsored by LRG as well, I’ve done videos with just Pro Era though. In our collective we have everything you need, everyone has multiple roles.

MA: Do you want to be signed to a record label or do you like being independent?

CJF: I don’t want to have to answer to anybody. I don’t like rules. I think eventually it might happen but on my own terms.

MA: When you were starting off by yourself what kinds of steps did you have to take to get where you are now?

CJF: I just set my goals and try to meet them. Before I even put a project fully together, I set goals that I want to meet for 2013, 2014. I try to aim for things that I think I can meet and make sure it happens. I think about what I want and I manifest it.

MA: What advice would you give others who are trying to come up?

CJF: Set goals and meet them. That’s the main thing I’ve learned. If you put it out there it will manifest, you just have to keep cultivating it. - Mass Appeal

"The Come Up: CJ Fly"

On growing up in Brooklyn:

CJ Fly: Being from Brooklyn, you can’t avoid the music that’s around you. Outside, hip-hop will be playing on the radio; you want to be a part of something so deep in your culture. Being the Brooklyn kid that I am, I had to tap into it.

[I listened to] A Tribe Called Quest, and on a more American level, my parents listened to Michael [Jackson] and R. Kelly. I started looking at more rappers from there. I remember all the ’90s stuff like Missy Elliot. I remember Missy videos being on TV, Busta Rhymes. ATCQ would always say Linden Blvd in their songs because I think that’s where they grew up in Queens. When I was younger I always thought they were from my neighborhood in Flatbush and that I would one day see them. [Laughs]

[Brooklyn] definitely helped bring definition into the music and the view of what life was. It definitely had a big influence on that. Aside from Brooklyn, look at Bedstuy, for example—Jay-Z and Biggie. There’s a lot to top. Not in the whole Brooklyn, but just from my neighborhood alone. At the top, it’s Jay and Biggie.

On how he started rapping:

It just came naturally. I don’t think about it too much but I’ve always listen to music as a kid and I didn’t want to do anything else. I’ve always loved poetry, too. I definitely tried to fuse it. You can hear it even when I don’t try. You can hear an accent when I speak sometimes. I try to make my music American and sometimes in our raps, people say they can hear reggae in my voice. I wasn’t trying to, though; it was more natural. All the stuff I was listening to as a child comes out in my music.

I just think about life and it gives me experiences to talk about. I feel like I’ll have an issue if there’s nothing going on. If I stayed in a room for a whole week then I would have nothing to talk about. I like to go out and experience things; I like to keep everything true.

I kept dreaming that I would be flying in my dreams. It definitely fit me perfectly. At school, I was called “Fly” because I had always dressed well. Before then, I had CJ Fresh or some weird shit. That changed the next day. It went from “Fresh” and upgraded to “Fly.” We don’t use that shit no more.

On the Under The Influence Tour:

My overall experience would be that I learned a lot and I was high as fuck. I definitely took in a lot, from weed puffs to the experience.

It wasn’t bad. I like to experience things. Before I would go on a tour, I wouldn’t really be as excited until I went through the actual experience. Now that I actually experienced it, it definitely interested me in a whole. It’s great to leave home and get respect from a lot of people who don’t even know you.

I learned to be on point and to make sure you give a great show. Their shows were coordinated perfectly. They had the different segments so they were dope shows.

I have to say the Under The Influence Tour with Joey Bada$$ is my best experience yet. The large venues and mass amount of fans were definitely a highlight. Being on tour was a highlight and a major blessing. The Australian trip was crazy. [Laughs]

I can’t get over this wolf. I was in the back of a pick-up truck with a wolf. It was good. The wolf’s name is Katanna and she was mad cool. I was told that a wolf is not as ferocious as they make it seem but I’m sure a hungry wolf would eat my ass.
On his sound and being indie:

I don’t try to sound like any other artist. Even when we were making Joey’s 1999, we didn’t really pinpoint the hip-hop and be like, “Let’s do this to sound differently.” But that’s what came up—that’s what we projected once we started rapping. We definitely try to manifest everything we’ve planned. But a lot of things were blessings and a lot just came.

I mean, the whole mainstream topic is different. As far as it goes, it’s whatever you end up being. Some are platformed for the radio. I would talk about our interests and beliefs, rather than the mainstream topics, which is a lot of materialistic ideas.

On Secc$ Tap.e Vol.2 And B4.Da.$$:

I can’t even tell you. [Laughs] It’s going to be dope. I’m just recording now and planning to drop unreleased music from the lost tapes. [Laughs.] I’ve been rapping, rapping, rapping, rapping.

With B4.Da.$$ It’s gonna be really dope, I think we gotta give people that same refreshing feeling 1999 gave them when they first heard it.

On what’s next:

End of the year, I’d like to get awards and accolades. The visuals are definitely coming out. If it can get acknowledged by major markets, that’d be amazing. I just take note of everything that I like a lot. Visually, I liked everything [Quentin Tarantino] did. I watch the camera movements, scene transitions—just everything. I get more ideas from watching movies.

I want Pro.Era to be as big as big as every rap crew in history. I want to be the greatest to do it in the history of legendary rap groups. We have a bunch of spitters with each one of them being able to rap. It separates us from a lot of groups. We can all genuinely rap. - XXL Magazine


Pro Era’s CJ Fly makes his official solo debut with Thee Way Eye See It, an impressive 18-track tape sponsored by the good folks at LRG.

The budding Brooklyn emcee splashed onto the scene with his guest verse on comrade Joey Bada$$’s “Hardknock” in early 2012, and has since hovered patiently in the 18-year-old’s shadow while the Era as a whole has continued its ascent with each passing day.

Thee Way Eye See It marks a new beginning for CJ, the young talent who has grown immensely over the course of the past year and a half. Through Pro Era’s success, which has included multiple national and world tours and a seemingly never-ending stream of quality content, CJ has been there all the way, developing and honing his craft, prepping his entrance as the collective’s next in line – a tall task that he’s managing to live up to quite well.

The project exhibits CJ’s prowess as not just a slick-tongued lyricist, but as a storyteller who possesses the ability to convey life in rhymes in a unique, entertaining manner. He sticks to the Pro Era staple – boom-bap beats and largely ’90s-inspired raps – but does so in a way that is solely his own at the same time, adding his personal flair through his quiet confidence and raw, sincere delivery.

While the tape is lengthy, CJ keeps things interesting the whole way through with well-chosen features and outstanding production from Statik Selektah, Brandun Deshay, Erick Arc Elliot, Carnage and more. Standout tracks for me include the bravado-powered “Crew’s Cunt Troll,” the Ab-Soul-assisted “Sadderdaze” and “Ernee,” perhaps the best introductory track for a first time listener.

Overall, Thee Way Eye See It is a solid offering from an artist clearly more concerned with longevity than any type of short-lived, gimmick-aided fame. It’s a smooth listen from top to bottom and has a very laid back, natural mood perfect for the fall season. Additional features include A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg, Buckshot, Pro Era mates Joey, Dessy Hinds, Dirty Sanchez and more. - The Stashed

"CJ Fly Breaks Down 'Thee Way Eye See It' Mixtape"


"CJ Fly Discusses Pro Era, ‘Thee Way Eye See It’, And Touring"

When 1999 dropped, the world was introduced to a group of high school aged emcees who possessed the spirit of an age of hip-hop that they were barely old enough to witness. Led by Joey Bada$$, Pro Era were a breath of fresh air to some, exemplary creative beings to others, and the rebirth of deadly Brooklyn emcees. Carrying an arsenal of punch lines and smooth lyrical content that forced their peers to step their game up, the crew was coming for theirs.

Two years has passed since that time, they have dropped a number of projects that reaffirm their promising talents and showcase their actual staying power. Various members have dropped solo mixtapes, each making a name for themselves; proving that they are more than a one man show.

Most recently, CJ Fly released his Thee Way Eye See It, a jazzy excursion into his ever expanding mind. It is filled with introspection, conspiracy theories, and biting social critique. Although he isn’t even twenty one yet, he displays a wisdom that is beyond his age.

We had the chance to sit down with the young emcee and prick his mind a little bit. He shared some his philosophy on life and background with us, revealing some of who the man behind the moniker actually is. It was an enjoyable and eye opening conversation and you will learn a lot from his words. Just let it happen naturally. - The Source Magazine

"ARTIST OF THE DAY CJ Fly Raps to His Own Beat"

HOMETOWN: Brooklyn
HOMEBASE: Brooklyn
FASHION TIP: Don’t copy other people.
FAVORITE RAPPERS: Jay Z, Big L, Nas… that’s about it for now.
BIGGEST DREAM: Right now, I'm trying to win a Grammy.
IF I COULD LIVE INSIDE ANY MUSIC VIDEO: Busta Rhymes – “Gimme Some More”
SONG THAT DEFINES ME: Biggie Smalls – “Sky’s the Limit”
411: A member of the Pro.Era collective with the likes of Joey Bada$$, Kirk Knight, A La $ole and more, CJ’s single “Tug-At-War” was released earlier in the summer, while touring and prepping his debut solo project, Thee Way Eye See It. - MySpace

"The Break Presents: CJ FLY"

Link - XXL Magazine

"Pro Era's CJ Fly Isn't Interested in a Gun-less Bruce Willis"

CJ Fly is an integral part of the Brooklyn-based Pro Era rap movement. Following in the footsteps of Joey Bada$$ and the sadly departed Capital STEEZ, the self-proclaimed Flyest in the Era has released his own solo project, Thee Way Eye See It. While you cop that, here's CJ explaining his Twitter timeline references to Bruce Willis movies, getting hit with parking tickets, and revealing exactly how he persuaded Phife to step back into the booth and guest on the song "Seek Well."

See also: Q&A: Joey Bada$$ On Singing Biggie At Two, Tumblr Stalkers, And Finishing High School

How has the reaction to the mixtape been?
I've been getting nothing but positive feedback on it. I haven't had one bit of negative feedback yet, honestly! People have been praising it and speaking positively about it.

How did you get Phife on a song?
Ha, when I was in California shooting the "Tug-At-War" video I was hanging out with a good friend of mine who works with Q-Tip. I ended up talking to Tip's manager and mentioned I was making this project and that it would be great to have him on it. Phife followed up on his word and we connected.

Were you surprised that Phife agreed to get on the song?
Not surprised 'cause I believe in manifesting anything you want to do. There's no limit stopping you. It was just like an example of showing me how that can come true.

So I'm guessing you're a big fan of A Tribe Called Quest?
Of course, man. I used to think they lived on my block back in the day! I used to be on Linden Boulevard so I was like, "Oh, that's just right down the street!"

When did you first hear Tribe?
Back in junior high school. I didn't grow up on hip-hop--I grew up on reggae--so I only started exploring Tribe in like seventh grade. I remember seeing their videos as a kid even though I never really understood who they were. That one video where they're standing on top of the cleaners?

"Check The Rhime"?
Yeah, I remember seeing that as a kid and thinking these guys were ill! I'm a big fan of the white album [The Love Movement].

Are there likely to be any more collaborations between you and Phife?
Oh yeah, he hit me the other day and told me he was sending me another joint he wants to do together. That's all I'm going to say for now...
Where did you get the parking ticket?
Ah, man, yeah, I was actually at Joey Bada$$'s house when I got the ticket--isn't that messed up? I don't get tickets often but I used to get them all the time in college. This was just one night we were hanging out and it went on too long.

Do you have any tips to get out of paying parking tickets?
Yeah, like I said in the song "Day zZz's," I talk about an officer messing up the ticket so I don't have to pay that shit! Usually what happens is the officer messes up either the car details or the license plate and they can get dismissed easily like that. But this time they got everything right so they screwed me over.

Who's the dog you post pictures of?
That's my first child! His name is Gino.

What's Gino's personality like?
He's only a year so he's still shaping his personality but he's very intelligent. I had a dog trainer come over the other day and he impressed her. She said she'd never seen a dog untie himself from the leashes and walk away. He's a very conscious dog. I feel like he feeds off my energy a lot. He does a lot of stuff that surprises me at times like this is really my child!

Does Gino ever react when you play music around him?
Actually, just two days ago I seen him started barking when I was playing something. He's growing up, he's developing his taste. I was playing some new T'nah Apex--she's got some new stuff coming--and I was playing it on my phone and he started going crazy. He must be a big fan!

Does anyone else in Pro Era have a dog?
Nah, no one right now. Well, Nyck [Caution] has a little pussy dog...

You're a Bruce Willis fan, right?
Yeah, I love Bruce Willis movies. The other day I was talking to someone and they told me about Moonrise Kingdom and said he did well in that without having any guns, but I don't know. I'll have to watch that shit for myself.

If there was a Pro Era movie, who would you want to play you?
Myself! I mean, it would have to be someone who knows me. I don't think there are any actors who look like me so it might be awkward. - Village Voice

"CJ Fly Talks Comparisons To Joey Bada$$"

Hip hop crews often have to battle a general public stigma that most members are nothing more than fortunate hypemen of one superstar's entourage. Pro Era's CJ Fly squashed that notion real quick with the release of his latest mixtape, Thee Way Eye See It.

Like friend and fellow Pro Era rhymer Joey Bada$$, CJ is bringing back that classic Brooklyn sound, which utilizes a dark, almost jazzy instrumentation that gives the listener an audibly graphic experience, and as the first two up in their collective, CJ and Joey exude the type of chemistry that can only be compared to groups like Wu-Tang.

As an individual in a genre that has become more about lifestyle than lyrics, CJ remains focused on one thing — making music.

"I don't pay attention to [comparisons to Joey] or any of that stuff. I just love making music," CJ told BET.com. "If you let the pressure of things like that get to you, it'll consume you."

CJ shot to the top of hip hop consciousness with the release of Thee Way Eye See It in September and, though there's never a shortage of haters when it comes to hip hop, "The fans love it," he exclaimed. "I haven't seen any negative comments; it's been just like, 'Yo, great body of work. You outdid yourself.'"

Both CJ and Joey have received massive amounts of praise from hip hop purists for resurrecting vintage New York — think the production stylings of LPs like Jay Z's Reasonable Doubt and Nas' Illmatic. It's a move that just came naturally, CJ said.

"It wasn't really planned. We just heard the beats and were like, 'Yo, that one is fire, let's rock with that.' We didn't say, 'Let's go for this type of sound,' we just wrote on it and that's what came out."

The 20-year-old even got to work with one of the cultivators of their sound, A Tribe Called Quest lyricist Phife Dawg. It was an experience that he called a milestone moment.

"It was amazing. I'm very thankful that we got to do that," CJ said. "I always felt a connection to his music when we used to listen to it in junior high and now we working with him. It's a very very proud moment."

And while he remains humble, he always knew that he was destined to be an MC. "I never planned for anything else in my life." CJ said. "I always stay optimistic, it's all manifestation."

CJ is currently on the road for a nationwide jaunt with Pro Era and Ab-Soul, The Smokers Tour, which hits Cleveland next (Oct. 22) and wraps up in Philadelphia Nov. 30. - BET

"The First Time: Remembering Kanye West’s ‘The College Dropout’"

CJ Fly
Rapper & Pro Era Member

"I first heard 'The College Dropout' in Flatbush [Brooklyn] at my aunt's house. I listened to it on bootleg with my two cousins through the Playstation 2. Since it was playing through the TV, we had to turn it down kind of low so my aunt wouldn't hear the profanity on all those amazing songs and skits.
"I loved that album when I first heard it. I wanted to be as poetic and fresh as 'Ye after listening to it. It definitely motivated people that they could still make it, if school didn't work. It means a lot to me now because I didn't finish college and I still feel like there's hope to be successful in life."

Read More: Remembering Kanye West's 'The College Dropout' | http://theboombox.com/the-first-time-kanye-west-the-college-dropout/?trackback=twitter_top&trackback=tsmclip - The Boombox

"Q&A: CJ Fly Talks 'The Secc$ Tap.e 2' And Being Pro Era's 'Overseer'"

NY hip-hop is anything but dead. In October, Brooklyn native CJ Fly dropped his latest mixtape, Thee Way Eye See It, featuring the love rap “Q&A.” Along with fellow upstart Joey Bada$$, CJ is preparing to release a new Pro Era mixtape called The Secc$ Tap.e 2 on Valentine’s Day. The 20-year-old spoke to VIBE about keeping it real with the ladies, his role as Pro Era’s resident O.G. and how he found himself in the back of a pickup truck with a wolf. —Sowmya Krishnamurthy

VIBE: You just dropped a video for “Q&A.” What special lady is that love song dedicated to?
CJ Fly: [Laughs]. Ahhhhh. That’s a good question. Some ladies. An ode to the ladies.

Not naming any names? That’s a safe thing to do.
Nah. I’m chillin.

So you’re not one of those rappers who records phone conversations and voicemails and puts them on his album?
Never that. I’ll probably try to have sex in the studio and put that on my album.

You’re working on the Pro Era mixtape that’s dropping, incidentally, on Valentine’s Day. How’s that coming along?
It’s gonna be dope. Really dope. It’s part two of the first tape. We’re just trying to get it popping for the top of the year. Perfect time for the ladies, you know?

Totally. Girls love Pro Era.
I hope so.

Pro Era has several members. What role do you specifically play in the group?
Everybody has their own sound and music style. I just be myself. I’m the grandpa. I’m like the oldest. I’m like the gatekeeper.

At 20, you’re the wise O.G.?
It’s so annoying, you know? I want to just have fun and not give a fuck about anything else [Laughs]. It’s a lot of us. Gotta make sure everyone is good. I'm Fly the “Overseer.”

How did you meet Joey Bada$$?
I've known him since he was like a freshman [in high school]. Him, [Capital] STEEZ and I used to rap in cyphers at school. The group formed a little time after we saw the chemistry we had together. Edward R. Murrow High School. Beastie Boys went there. Basquiat went there.

I heard you had a weird concert experience in New Mexico that ended with you hitchhiking with a wolf. What happened?
So, we were leaving Albuquerque. We were going somewhere in the South, I don't even remember where. For about 5-10 miles, there were no gas stations with diesel in sight. As we’re going, we realized we were on “E” and were like, “OK. It’s only two miles from here. We’re gonna make it.” Then, the van breaks down and we had to climb down the hill into a deserted town—it’s New Mexico for god’s sake. Technically, we’re the only Black people walking around. It was kind of scary. I watched a lot of Breaking Bad before this trip so I felt like I knew the place. We ended up walking to the wrong gas station and had to walk to another, and on the way there, a guy in a pickup truck with a wolf in the back was like, “Hey, I know you guys aren’t from here. You need help?” It was very sketchy because it seemed like he did this often.

This sounds like the start to a bad Law & Order: SVU episode.
He offered to definitely take us back to his ranch. It was scary.

You got in his car?
So, pickup truck. It was our tour manager, our cameraman and me. Our tour manager was not trying to get back with the wolf. So I get in the back. The wolf was chilling. I have a pit bull and the contrast is horrible, but in my mind, a pit bull is way more vicious. He was like, “Don’t worry. She’s nice. Her name is Katana.”

Like the character from Mortal Kombat?
That’s what I was saying! I was waiting for her in the back to do karate moves. - VIBE

"On The Come Up: CJ Fly"

It's Wednesday, so we're back with a new episode of On The Come Up, this time featuring Pro Era's own CJ Fly.

We're making our way through the Pro Era members for our On The Come Up video series, catching each rapper as they are on their way up. After enlisting Kirk Knight, next up we have CJ Fly.

The New York native takes us through his childhood, which found him relocating from Flatbush to BedStuy, as well as the influences his parents' nationalities had on him. He reveals he's actually more of reggae connoisseur then he is hip-hop.

He also brings us back to his mixtape Thee Way Eye I See It, which dropped in 2013, before promising new shit is on the way. He goes on to share some of the collaborations he has in store, including several Toronto names and a few overseas, and possibly, a joint with Raury.

Finally, we close the video with a discussion of CJ Fly's new project, FlyTrap, which went from an EP to an LP just because of the sheer quality. - HotNewHipHop

"Check Out 007-Worthy Freestyle Verses Inspired by the New Bond Film 'Spectre'"

Bond is back and better than ever! He always looks fly, from the wing-tips to the cuff links. He’s always got a whip that’s not even on the market yet. He is always surrounded by the baddest girls imaginable. Yes, James Bond is the O.G. of O.G.’s, a pioneer of the game. Here we salute this veteran player with “The Spectre Cypher”—three fresh freestyle verses from three rising stars in NYC’s underground scene. The tuxedo-clad rappers are Stro, CJ Fly, and SkyZoo. DJ Envy drops the beat that’s remixed to music from the original motion picture soundtrack. Bond may prefer his martinis shaken, not stirred, but you won’t find any shook ones here. Check out the video above, and then go see Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre, hitting theaters November 6. - Complex

"Pro Era’s CJ Fly’s New Mixtape Will Be His First Film [EXCLUSIVE]"

The waiting room of Platinum Sound Recording Studios on 320 W 46th St in the heart of midtown Manhattan almost made me forgot I was there to listen to a hip hop album from one of the most lyrically gifted MC’s of the last few years. Scented candles, low lights and Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” almost massaged my mind into a nap, before I was awoken by the buzz of a Twitter direct message:

“I’m downstairs. My phone’s dying.”

Minutes later, decked in an all Black Pro Era T-Shirt, black sweats, a pair of Nike’s and the relaxed smile that perfectly matches his sly lyrics, Pro Era’s CJ Fly walked into the studio eager to share the labor of his two years of work. CJ’s last release, Thee Way Eye See It, came out October 5th, 2013 and since then he has witnessed his groupmate Joey Bada$$ go from Hot 97’s “minor league” to a Top 5 Billboard charting artist for his debut album B4.DA.$$. CJ is ready to continue the momentum with his new project.

The verbose lyricist who “isn’t a pacifist, but if you ask for it then I may pass a fist” says his debut project Thee Way Eye See It was you sitting in the theater. Now the new project is “one of the movies” when describing the difference between his upcoming project and his 2013 mixtape. He watches movies and breaks down “how they shoot it, the cameras they’re using, the different elements they use in the film.” According to CJ, fans can expect this cinematic aspirations to manifest in the upcoming music videos and promises “the concept of the music tripled, or quadrupled” once you watch the visuals.

Relly Rel and CJ’s Pro Era groupmate Kirk Knight contribute production on the new project, which currently has none of his Pro Era crew featured, but he admits that can change.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with WatchLoud, CJ Fly previewed his upcoming project, accepts Dizzy Wright’s $500K rap battle challenge, explains what lyrics of his have gone over people’s heads and much more.

WatchLOUD: It’s been two years since you released The Way Eye See It. What have you been doing in that time?

CJ Fly: Just figuring it out. I’m 22 now. So, life changed a whole lot in two years. Especially with the Pro Era camp. Shit got crazy for us.

What changed over those last two years?

Me growing up is going to affect me as an artist. I’m such an honest artist, everything that’s going on in my life is spoken on in my music. I think over the years, everything that’s been occurring in my life, I’ve been documenting through music. Share it with people and share the experience. I haven’t dropped anything in the past two years but even the songs I have you can hear it in them. You heard “Scratch Off” [From Statik Selektah’s Lucky 7 album]. Still dropping my life gems on it.

You released “Run 2” in April around the time of the Freddie Gray death. In the song your rapped, “Always on point so I won’t be a target/Cause cops killings Black kids and then they just walking.” How do you walk in these streets knowing that? How much of this sort of social commentary will be in the upcoming project?

I think everything is socially conscious, but it’s not pertaining to exactly what’s going on on the news. The news going to tell you what they want to tell you. They going to tell you what you need to know in their case. You know what I’m saying? I’m talking about everything in a broad way. Not JUST what’s being seen on the news. Shit that’s not even being spoken about right now. Conversations that are not even being had. My mindset when I’m on the streets is…I was in Canada for a whole month recently and I only heard police sirens or ambulances twice out of the whole month. You feel me? When I’m in New York and I hear it, I just feel so drained. Anytime I see police, I don’t feel safe. Police are supposed to be protecting us, I don’t ever feel safe around police. I never seen police save anybody. Have you? NEVER IN MY LIFE. Only firemen probably do some shit. Never seen a cop do that shit. Not saying they don’t. I just never seen it. They’re here for other reasons than we think they’re here for. We call them Policy Enforcers.

This is the internet age and fans wants something new every week. How have you been able to sit back and not put out music while your fans have been clamoring for new music?

I feel like I got to take time with it and really sit back and watch what’s going on in music right now. I’m not going to say there’s a lot of wack shit. But, there’s some shit I wouldnt let slide, musically. It’s going on and people are loving it. Some of the biggest songs of our generation right now and it makes me wonder what’s going on with society. Music is music. People should be able to express themselves in any way. I just feel like what I’m about to present is totally missing from music right now and I think it’s needed.

Well, let’s get into the project. What’s the details behind it? Is there a title? Release date?

Uhhhhh. I’m not ready to announce the title yet. I want to do a whole little plan for that. But you already know. I told you [off the record]. We just going to call it “FT” for now. The project is amazing. I really like it. I had a lot of fun creating it. I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I should be able to have fun with my music and still do what I do. It’s not like I did some whole other shit that nobody’s going to like. It’s music I dont think people are going to expect from me, but will still be good shit.

If there’s one thing about you that is apparent from all your songs is that you are very concentrated on lyricism. What are some lyrics from the new project that even impressed you?

That’s a good question. [Laughs] Umm..on this one song I say “Backwoods got me turning a new leaf, this shit is life changing/The flow is cold, stay on my toes, sharp like I’m ice skating.” [Laughs] I think that bar was like whoa. That’s one.

So, you went to Canada to work on the project?

I didn’t go to Canada to work on the project. Some life shit happened. My grandfather passed. I didn’t really go public about it either. Just kept it real quiet. I didn’t really want everybody to be sympathetic and shit. I just dealt with it on my own. It was my grandfather and grandmother living together. I didn’t want to leave my grandmother after the funeral so soon. So I stayed for the whole month. I ended up wanting to stay there for a week or two and just finish the project. But it ended up being a month. Luckily I did stay there because a week after the funeral she was in the hospital for like high blood sugar and shit. Luckily I was there. Everything’s good. I had to help her change her diet. Sparkling waters, no more soda. Fruits. All that good shit. I was doing that half of the day. Half of the day we’d go in the streets and I’d run with her. Then the other half I’d go to the studio all night, come back late in the morning and check on her and shit.

How did that affect the music?

You’re going to hear it. I feel like everytime something happens in life, it inspires really deep music. It sucks that it has to be that way. But it’s like, it comes out and it translates through the music and other people can feel what you’re feeling and there’s nothing wrong with that. People are scared to be vulnerable. People are scared to really express themselves fully. I got into a lot of details of what’s going on and what’s transpiring in my life. What’s holding me back and what’s helping me.

You spoke about your grandmother before on Statik Selektah’s “Scratch Off”.

Funny thing is, that one was about my mom’s mom. Not the one in Canada. It’s funny, because another song I started working on is about some Off-Track Betting shit. She’s addicted to horse races. So, the other one is addicted to lotto and one is addicted to horse racing.

I lost my aunt about three years ago and she used to always send me to the stores to get her scratch offs. What do you think fuels such an addiction?

When they get to that point in their life where they’re not taking the risks we’re taking to do something amazing, the lotto is that one piece of excitement. Your excitement can rise in your seat. We do all this other shit to raise our excitement. We don’t get off by scratching off a Scratch Off or getting a lotto number on TV. Or seeing the numbers pop up on the TV. It’s a rush for them. If my grandmother misses the lotto at 7:30 she’s pissed.

You mentioned to me before the interview that you’re doing something special with your lyrics. Do you wish to speak on that?

I’m working on a special feature on my site so people can really get into details of my lyrics. I’m not going to say what, yet. But I’ll have a special feature for the fans to really get into the lyrics and get what I’m saying. That’s the plan. Site’s going to be launched soon. I’m going to have exclusive merch on there. Pay attention.

Why do you think your lyrics go over people’s heads sometimes?

Sometimes this shit be an accident. A lot of the stuff I recorded in Canada was mostly freestyle. I don’t try certain stuff. It’s in me already. I know there’s a bar on “Crew’s Cunt Troll” that I said that when I thought about it afterwards I was like ‘oh shit.’ I was telling The Underachievers this in Australia last year. I was like ‘yo, bro, it’s so hard for me to keep it simple. I don’t know how to keep it simple. This is just me. You see how you guys can just say something? I can’t say something. I can say something with something and something. I can’t help it.

Are there any lyrics from your old projects you’ll be explaining a bit more that you felt went over people’s heads?

From The Way Eye See It? Hmmm. On “Day zZz’s” I said:

“The irony of ironing, I’m sure there wasn’t any crease/

In the streets the crime increase/

In the coast where they’re all beast/

Rotten apple NYC/

Knew I was my father’s seed/

Didn’t fall too far from tree/

I planned (plant) to grow so I would put water on me before I leave(leaf).”

Nobody caught that. If n*ggas caught that I’d be in the rap Hall of Fame right now. [Laughs] Nobody caught that. There’s that and another one where I said “don’t got to ask (axe), gave him his cut, he drop the tree.” Nobody got that. There’s a bunch. For the site, I’m going to do a video series for The Way Eye See It and just update people on it.

You’ll defend your bars to the death.

I’m hearing on the airwaves my homie Dizzy Wright and his team talking about $500K to rap battle any rap crew, my squad BEEN with it. That’s nothing.

You sure y’all got the bars for a battle?

I got the bars, I don’t got the money. They can put up the money, I’ll just rap.

Since we’re on the topic of battles, what is your opinion on the ghostwriting. Do you think a rapper can be great and still have ghostwritten bars?

Ummm..personally, I don’t fuck with that. It’s been going on for years. It’s a part of music history. But, I write all my verses. That’s all Imma say. I see myself writing other people’s verses. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ll get paid for that.

“FT” does not currently have a release date but CJ promises to release it relatively soon. The production is darker and more abstract on The Way Eye See It, with the lush richness of saxophones that permeated TWESI joined by dirty bass lines and ambient sounds perfect for a Travis Scott album.

But, his unorthodox approach produced one song that has CJ channelling talents never demonstrated before on a song that would make Nas’ “I Gave You Power” proud. If “FT” is an indication of where CJ and Pro Era are heading, then it’s a matter of time before he’ll hit that jackpot his grandmothers have been betting on.

FLY! - WatchLoud


Solo discography:

Pro Era discography:
  • The Secc$ TaP.E. (2012)
  • P.E.E.P: The aPROcalypse (2012)
  • The Secc$ TaP.E. 2 (2014)
  • The Shift (2014)



CJ Fly is a 22-year old emcee born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  Raised by his Jamaican father and Barbadian mother as an only child, CJ quickly learned how to rely on himself for drive and inspiration.  He began writing his own poetry in the fourth grade and by the seventh grade he was rapping.  He attended Edward R. Murrow High School for communication arts where he met Joey Bada$$, Powers Pleasant and Capital STEEZ.  The four of them would spend their school days cyphering in the auditorium and by 2011 they had formed the Progressive Era, an empire comprised of artists of many aptitudes.

After the release of Pro Era's The Secc$ Tape in 2012, CJ featured on and A&R'd Joey's first solo mixtape, 1999 alongside Jonny Shipes (President of Cinematic Music Group).  CJ began receiving his own recognition from his reputable storytelling on tracks like "Hardknock" and "Don't Front."  The crew has since released PEEP: The aPROcalypse and The Shift, which built them a name.

In October of 2013 CJ released his debut solo project, Thee Way Eye See It which received acclaim from fans, critics and music aficionados worldwide.

CJ has established himself with his indisputable charm and lyrical imagery as a prominent artist of his generation.  His goal is to one day receive accolades for his work and make history.

His second project, FlyTrap is set to drop second quarter of 2016.