I had the great pleasure of interviewing emerging Brooklyn-bred recording artist, IAMPOPULA, aka, Junade Hassan. We chilled out during the Friday night vibes of the Mad Tea Art Party held in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. Junade is a co-organizer of the grassroots, non-profit organization called the Indigo Artist Collective, who created and sponsors this eclectic gathering. The party is an awesome mashup of where people can enjoy art and fashion exhibits, engage in interactive visual drawing, and watch a variety of performances by local artists. This venture is one of the many brands of IAMPOPULA. He’s a warm soul that is passionate about his “genre-less” musical platform and endless effort to bridge the class and age gap in Brooklyn and beyond with his diverse ventures. Despite the rhythms bouncing all around the party, we relax on a cozy couch as he openly shares his personal and artistic journey.
Junade became active in music during his college years at High Point University in North Carolina. He genuinely fell in love with the North Carolina hip-hop sound, in which he describes as being deeply influenced by gospel, soul, and rhythm and blues. He even performed and helped organize local artist showcases where Terrence J frequently hosted, and super-talented acts such as Fantasia were celebrated performers on the roster. His earlier music was mainly produced by North-Carolina-based producer Gav Beats. At the time, Junade was heavily inspired by Kanye West, which influenced him to create soul and blues infused hip-hop music. Although he was recording and active in music since 2000, it took him many years to step out into the forefront as a solo artist. Junade enjoyed putting the spotlight on other talented artists, but he admits that he was actually afraid of his own success. It wasn’t until he returned to live in New York City, and the encouraging words of his friend and collaborator DJ Jeff Haze, that he truly believed and appreciated his musical gifts. That’s when he took on the name, IAMPOPULA, which symbolizes his courage to fearlessly and proudly exhibit his talents to the masses.
This brave leap of faith allowed him to create several EP’s and mixtapes such as: Lord of the Fly, Champagne Campaign, Love Is, and Vintage Frames and Fedoras which can all be found on either Sound Cloud or ITunes. Junade discusses that he strays away from being too on trend when creating music and keeps himself open to diverse musical influences that capture him at the moment. He takes pride in building his alternative sound and doesn’t want to stunt his creative growth with the restrictions of classifying himself in a singular genre. His production influences are Sia, Sza, and Little Dragon. The artists that he musically relates to and hopes to work with someday are Kanye West, Andre 3000, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean, and D’Angelo. Junade shares that his melodic-driven lyrical style stems from his Islamic religious background of reading and reciting the Quran since childhood.
Junade’s passion is equally displayed in his live performances. He is a part of three different bands that all represent different aspects of his expression. The first band, The In Crowd, allows him to tap into his alternative rock side with message-driven songs that promote self-love. I’m personally a huge fan of this band’s hypnotic vibes after seeing them perform at BRIC Arts Media in Brooklyn and as the headline act at the Mad Tea Art Party. The second collaboration, Whiskey & Apple Juice, is music that he creates with his label Indigo Music Group which is very swagger-driven and expresses his lyrical abilities as a hip-hop artist. Plus he will be releasing a new EP with the same title this upcoming spring season. The third band, Mint June, reflects his vulnerable side with mainly a rhythm and blues influence.
IAMPOPULA is pushing his one-man movement full steam ahead in 2015. He currently doesn’t have a manager, and is 100% hands-on in all aspects of his emerging career. He’s excited to create an album of poetry inspired by the legendary member of the Last Poets, Umar Bin Hassan, with one of his leading music partners, E Rock Beats. The album will be entitled, Memoirs of a Shoe Shine Boy. In addition, the dance interpretation of the album will be performed by his friend and fellow artistic collaborative partner, Jewel Philbert. The project is set to be released later this year on his new independent label he’s creating called IMG. Plus, he plans to extend the Mad Tea Art Party series into a tour that travels throughout the East Coast ranging from New York City to Miami.
His ultimate mission is to create economic advancement and a creative platform for the youth of his hometown of Brooklyn, NY. His IMG label showcase venture, he plans to also start in spring 2015, will serve as the foundation for his personal goal of exhibiting the young local talented artists in Brooklyn. Junade believes in always maintaining his organic approach in all of his growing projects. He loves to promote the perspective for all artists to protect and own their brand, and pride themselves in “being an experience.” He feels that all independent artists can be successful by having a solid strategy of how to promote work on the internet, facilitate financial means, and consistently grow your image. His inspiring ambitious drive is the essence that evokes the popularity of IAMPOPULA.