Petroleum engineering sophomore Johnny Igbo, performing under the stage name of JohnyyP, has had an eclectic year with the release of his first mixtape, “Juan Night Only.” With some witty flows and Christian-based lyrics, the effort included songs that were geared toward sparking an inspirational drive to the listener. Some of his signature tracks, like “Definition of Beauty,” “Join The Revolution” and “Down and Out,” not only helped him amp up the level of his entrance into the rap game, but also allowed him to bring positivity to those who were willing to listen.
The Daily Cougar sat down with Igbo to catch up on what he’s been doing lately, get some details on his approach to his next project and delve into some of hip-hop’s recent happenings with one of his biggest idols — Kendrick Lamar.
The Daily Cougar: You dropped “Juan Night Only” on Black Friday of last year. How has everything been since then? Have you received any sort of new recognition for your work?
JohnyyP: A lot of people who are very close to me told me that they’ve heard it and I could tell that there are some very influential people who have heard it as well. I still think it’s worth listening to and I want more people to hear it. But yeah, it’s been coming up about a year now and a lot of people have showed me some love on it. Hard copies are being asked for — I have more which will be passed out pretty soon. I also got featured in some other articles as well by 97.9 radio station and HoustonHipHopFix.com.
TDC: In your opinion, what were the strengths of “Juan Night Only?”
JP: All of the productions on the mixtape were very likeable. Not only did I like it, but other people have given me feedback saying that they liked the instrumentals on it, and I have nothing but thanks to my friends who helped put those together.
My hooks and my lyrics are great too. Those are really the most important parts of the song and I feel like they’re great highlights of the mixtape. Of course, I know how I write my lyrics, but that’s still something that I know not everyone is going to be able to relate to. I’ve grown to understand that there are people who will feel you and understand the lyrics and there are others who listen without much understanding.
TDC: Do you feel that your artistry has grown overall since then?
JP: To be honest, I was really wild with “Juan Night Only.” I was constantly doing everything that I could at one time and I’ve learned through that project (this sort of approach) might not always work. Now, when I make songs, I focus more on questions like ‘what do I really want to convey in this verse?’ or ‘who am I trying to reach?’ Especially with my videos as well. I want them to be more content-driven rather than just some regular thing. So, I’ve matured in the aspect of specializing and finding myself — find who JohnyyP is.
TDC: You mention God a lot in your music. Would you consider yourself a Christian rapper?
JP: I make inspirational and uplifting music for those who need it. I mean, even now, I still haven’t found a genre that I can fit into. At the same time, I don’t like my music being put into a box. I’m still trying to find myself, you know?
TDC: So to reinforce that, what have you been working on lately?
JP: I have a couple of songs that have been made. Reginald Helms, who was on the mixtape, and a guy I recently collaborated with, Sharif, recently made “Down N Out Too.” We’re definitely using that song to promote ourselves using that song by making appearances at different schools and different venues.
TDC: In comparison to your previous work, how would you describe this song, along with the other tracks you’ve been working on?
JP: You can definitely hear a more refined JohnyyP in it. Everything I do is always a reflection of me. Every verse that I spit and every song that I make reflects who I am. There are certain songs that showcase different sides of me, especially the songs I’m working on for this next project. I have about 14 songs done, but I want them to be more cohesive and for each song to (be) geared towards one message.
TDC: And what message is that?
JP: That’s the thing. (At this stage of the production) my thoughts are so jumbled. I do have a mapped-out idea of where things could go, so we’ll see.
TDC: You’ve been on your game as far as making appearances and doing performances, right?
JP: I performed at Frontier Fiesta last semester and I recently appeared at the UH Delta Fashion show. I also had performed at Grace International Church. I also have a few upcoming show performances — one being at the NAACP Talent Show and another at Zanzi’s bar. This Saturday will the first out of them though, which will be at Block Party for Project Row Houses.
TDC: Sounds like you’re covering a lot of ground. How do people like your music when you perform?
JP: I normally put on a good performance. Aside from a few shows where there would be something wrong with the sound system, most of them are pretty positive. The reception, too. People are feeling it and tell me that they enjoy the type of stuff that I’m doing.
Sometimes I’ll be performing and people will just be standing there watching, and at first I thought it was because they didn’t like it. But they always come up to me afterwards and tell me that they were focusing on listening and hearing the message. That always makes me feel really good about what I’m doing.
TDC: Any set title or release date on your next project?
JP: I honestly had a few names written down, but I scratched them out. I’m really working on a high-quality mixtape that people will be able to appreciate and a project that I will be happy with. So, no real name or date right now, but it’s all being worked on at the moment.
TDC: Where are your inspirations at right now? Who are you still listening to now?
JP: I still love Kendrick Lamar. Everything he puts out is just solid.
TDC: So, you’ve obviously heard the “Control” verse, then?
JP: Everybody heard that. I was surprised when he did that, though. I knew that every rapper was thinking of doing something like that, but never had the guts to do it. The funny thing was, it wasn’t even Kendrick Lamar’s song. It’s definitely going to raise up a lot of competition since he has set the bar so high now.
At the same time though, I just recently watched Drake’s new video (for “Hold On We’re Going Home”). By watching that, I could tell that everyone is trying to be better than the next big thing.
The state of hip hop at the moment — it’s inspiring me. I wanna be able to spark that edge in artists. I want to be one of the leaders of the new school artists, whenever that will be. Who knows?