Jnr Choi is the genre breaking artist who needs no introduction. With major success in the modelling industry, the creative, who has worked with renowned houses such as Burberry and Givenchy, took a dive into the musical world in 2016. What followed is a beautiful journey – one punctuated with ingenious collaborations, electronic synth samples and gold-certification. We talk to the rapper about the genesis of his sound, future collaborations and the dichotomy of the video driven social media platform, TikTok, (which reminds us of his latest release Tick Tock) a catalyst to his own viral success with ethereal drill track To The Moon.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
What’s good people. My name is Junior Choi. British born, Gambian artist based wherever the bag’s at.
With major success in the modelling industry, including working with renowned houses such as Givenchy, Burberry and Amiri, and now breaking into the musical field, would you say there are many intersections between the industries?
For sure, shooting a campaign is like releasing a song. Doing fashion week is like doing a press run. The two industries are so alike that I don’t feel my life has changed much. Just the pace of things are quicker in the music industry.
For many creatives who work across mediums, they find themselves being categorised by one or the other. Is this something you have experienced since breaking into the music industry? Is it challenging to move away from this idea of you as ‘just’ a model?
It’s something I faced when I started making music but quickly handled by proving you can do both as I balanced the two quite well. Shoots in the week and shows on the weekend.
On the topic of categorisation, you’ve previously been named as a “genre-breaking” artist. How, if in any way, would you categorise your sound?
My sound is similar to an instrument. I focus on creating a vibe for a certain experience rather than focusing on a genre. When I make music for the summer I picture being at the beach or the park and the sounds I’d like to listen to. When I make music for the winter I picture driving at high speed or shows I wanna go crazy at and make that.
Jnr Choi Metalmagazine 2.jpg
Having played Wireless, SummerJam and fresh off a tour with American rapper Saint Jhn, has the surreality of playing to booming crowds kicked in yet?
It’s weird, when I go out on stage I feel like another person comes out and shines. It’s only till I watch videos back that I’m like woah, that’s me?
The subgenre of drill is said to be born from Brixton, London. Growing up in Thamesmead in South London, would you say this surrounding heavily influenced your affinity for music and, more specifically, drill?
I’d say it influenced how I looked at drill as I’ve said before it was never something I was interested in jumping on. The same way the streets have always been around me and I’ve chosen to stay uninvolved is the same way I chose to stay away from drill when creating music. But I do it in my own way, luxury.
You’ve previously spoken about comparisons within the industry. Do you find there is a tendency for the media to label you as “this is the next ___”  rather than, “this is Jnr Choi?”
Yeah, but I don’t blame them. People like to compare as it makes them feel comfortable. If they can’t compare then it’s “weird” and not as many people can appreciate ‘weird’ unless they can find something in their life to familiarise with.
On your track Amused, we’re blessed with a collaboration from Brooklyn king of drill Fivio Foreign. Honourable past work also includes remixing with Russ Millions and Sam Tompkins. Who’s next?
Only more goats! I’ve woken up to features that I’ve had to rub my eyes. I’m just glad it’s all been organic.
With the rise of the video driven social media platform TikTok, there comes a debate surrounding whether the platform is detracting from the integrity of music or, oppositely, offering a place where real talent can be recognised. What is your own stance on this?
It’s a bit of both. It’s definitely allowing more talented people to be discovered due to its algorithm being so friendly. But I also feel like a lot of uncreative, money hungry users are ruining the integrity of music by constructing songs purely around them being TikTok worthy.
Given the success of your viral hit, To the Moon, do you feel there is a pressure, be it outwardly or inwardly, to create something that garners this much recognition again?
I don’t even like hits, I wanna make songs people enjoy listening to. Not just songs that are everywhere you turn.
This feels like just the start for Jnr Choi. Looking ahead, what’s to come?
A beautiful journey. Grab some popcorn and grow with me!
Jnr Choi Metalmagazine 1.jpg