Multi-talented and Chicago native, Ajani, has dropped the visuals for his latest single ‘Speak My Peace’, inspired by the legendary Tupac Shakur.
Since we last spoke with AJ Carr he has matured and grown personally and professionally. At the time AJ appeared on Chicago P.D., This Is Us, The Chi and All American. While also leading his organization ‘Building Bosses’ and wrote his children book ‘Ballardine’.
Now the 17-year-old has a new recurring role in a new Hulu series titled “Love, Victor“, which premieres June 17th. Not to mention he will appear on BET’s American Soul, and has two feature films set to release this year.
Aside from his passion for acting, AJ Carr aka Ajani is prepared to make a mark in the Hip Hop world. We caught up with the talented artist as he premieres the music video for ‘Speak My Peace’ on the 49th birthday of Tupac Shakur.
We last caught up with you over a year ago, how much has changed since then with you personally?
Man, so much. But at the same time so little. As far as professionally I’ve done multiple films and TV shows. But personally I think I’ve just expanded on the qualities that i already had before. I’ve become even more disciplined, driven and ready to take on the world. Ready to show everybody everything I have to offer. I’ve taken on the military mindset that Pac and the Outlawz had. I’ve had a whole lot of growth in this last year and now it’s time for everyone else to see it.
How do you feel your growth personally will translate professionally into your acting and now as a Hip Hop artist?
I feel like it will make me more confident in my decision making for both. I’ve really worked hard on my craft in both acting and music, so now I’m more sure of myself. If I’m on camera I feel more comfortable being fully authentic because the work ethic has contributed to making the authenticity shine even more in a well executed way. With music I’m becoming better as an artist. Better writing, more consistency, getting goals accomplished, etc. I can clearly see a very bright future for me and the people around me. The whole team, you know.
When did you decide you wanted to be involved in Hip Hop as a rapper?
I always loved hip hop. I started to get really passionate about it in middle. By 8th grade I was teaching myself how to make beats and started writing more raps and poems. When I got to high school I decided it’s what I really wanted to do and started to take it more serious. I didn’t only want to rap for my friends in the hallways at school or do cyphers and battles anymore. Not that I still don’t have a love for those things, but I started to want more. I wanted to be on stages and have the same impact on the youth the way people like Kendrick, Cole and Pac had on me.
From the last time you spoke with O4L Online, we understand your admiration for Tupac. As you get older, how does the impact of Tupac evolved for you?
I think the more I grow, the more I understand him. I always say a good album or song gets better with time. So when you listen to it multiple times, you get it more than you did the last. You feel it more. You can relate to the message more. I feel the same way about Tupac’s words. The more I hear them as I get older, the better the understanding I have of them. It’s gets clearer and clearer to me why he was such an important and unique person.
Your mother who if I’m correct exposed you to Tupac’s music, do you guys share the same favorite Tupac songs?
Yep absolutely. The literal exact same songs. I could say one word to start off a line and from a whole other room she’ll finish the entire verse with me. It’s crazy. We could listen to Pac all day every day.
I have to ask. Your Top 5 Tupac songs?
Aw man only five that’s tough. In no particular order off the top of my head I’ll have to say
Hold Ya Head
Do For Love
It Ain’t Easy
Do For Love
Tell us about “Speak My Peace”. Is this your official debut single and how did the concept for the music video come about?
“Gotta Make It” was my official debut single so this isn’t the first, but it is a very important release for me. After recording the song and really just hearing how the vibe was, it reminded of how the keep ya head up video looked. That’s what visually popped up in my mind. That’s where the concept of the video came from. I wanted to make it a tribute and dedication to Tupac. After that we just brainstorm ideas and figured out how to execute them. Now it’s come to life, so I’m very happy about it.
How important is it for artists in Hip Hop to create music that uplifts its listeners, especially now as we protest in the fight against police brutality and racism? Do you feel that is an automatic responsibility that comes with the being a rapper?
Man this is a question I’ve went back and forth with for a while now. I believe if you know better you gotta do better. We all know the vast majority of the youth is influenced by hip hop culture. If you choose to speak up lyrically, that could do many things for the listener. It can give them something new to think about that maybe they haven’t before or let them know that they’re not alone.
Now while nobody should be at fault for being ignorant to certain things, I believe anyone that chooses to stay that way should be. So to answer your question I don’t necessarily want to say that it should be every rapper’s responsibility to speak up, but I do believe it’s important and that it should happen more. Because that’s what’s really cool. That’s what’s real.
Recently Eminem tweeted his favorite 18 rappers who he thinks should be on the greatest of all time list. Who is in your top 5?
(Honorable mentions Cole & Kendrick)