“Show no fear, spring is in the air, summer’s almost here.” After a long, cold winter, those lyrics expressed by Bobby J, also known as Robert Joseph, was just the reassurance Rockaway needed, that summer is just around the corner.
Local hip hop and rap artist, Bobby J sent out a nice little reminder that summer is indeed on the way, when he dropped his “Breakfast Bar” about Rockaway on April 23. The tune for “Summer’s Almost Here (Rockaway Beach Summer Anthem)" may sound familiar as Bobby J raps to the beat of Q-Tip’s “Let’s Ride,” which came out in the late ‘90s, but for those who live locally, it’s the lyrics that really resonate as something familiar. With mentions of local summer bars like Connolly’s, The Wharf, Bungalow Bar, the Sugar Bowl and Healy’s, the two-minute beat has you craving a frozen drink by the end. The short and sweet rap talks about a night on the town that includes a food stop at Pickles and Pies, and shout outs to some Rockaway notables like Ceddy Ced and DJ Teddy. “I really wanted to make something everybody in the neighborhood could relate to and draw attention from people who may not normally like rap or hip hop. It’s a song I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” Bobby J said.
The short song was just a taste of what’s in store for Bobby J, and a good way to get the attention of new local fans as he geared up to drop the first full single from his upcoming album. Every Monday morning, for the past few weeks, Bobby J has released videos featuring a short freestyle rap set to an already-established tune, which he calls “Breakfast Bars” on the Instagram app. He uses the app to market himself and keep his name out there. But on April 27, he released a single that will surely have people remembering his name, “Bobby.”
However Bobby J’s name has been known around Rockaway and the rap scene for quite some time. The Rockaway Park resident says he started rapping when he was about 10 years old, and started to take it seriously when he was 14. For many years, he has been working with producer, Kwamé, a popular rapper in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, whose short-lived rap career steered him in the direction of producing. Bobby J is just one of the many artists Kwamé has worked with. Among them are big names like Mary J. Blige, the Pussycat Dolls, Method Man, Christina Aguilera and more. Bobby J was introduced to Kwamé by a mutual friend in high school, and from there, something big started to form.
In 2008, Bobby J dropped his first big single, “Don’t Touch,” under the stage name, Beyond Belief. Bobby J says the catchy jam made its way to some TV and radio stations, and the YouTube video has more than 200,000 views, but the timing for major success wasn’t right. “I almost got a deal with Universal Republic Records with that song. There was a lot of interest in that record, but we were probably two years too early for that 200,000-view video to be a 500,000-view video instead,” he said. “The method of promoting that song at the time was still traditional. If we had waited two or three years, we would’ve had so many different avenues to promote it. When you’re an indie artist trying to get on Top 40 radio, and your competition is universal, you’re facing a monster you can’t win against. We had beer money and champagne dreams. Although it had traction and some success, we bled ourselves dry trying to promote it,” he said.
Bobby J continued to put out music through 2012 under the name Beyond Belief. “I learned a whole lot about how the industry works and how records are promoted, but for a team of three to four people, we weren’t prepared for it. The experience left me jaded and frustrated,” he said. After his last song was released in April 2012, Bobby J took a break from putting music out. “I pretty much forgot why I was doing it in the first place. I make music because I love it and it’s fun and at the time, I lost sight of that. I never stopped making music, but I just stopped putting it out to the public,” he said.
That was, until recently. Last year, Beyond Belief rebranded himself as Bobby J and started recording music with the aim of putting out a new album in 2018. Around April, he decided to start releasing music to the public again, in the form of “Breakfast Bars,” and using Instagram to promote himself.
“There was a lull in me not releasing anything, but this year I made it my goal to put music out every week. It’s been a motivator knowing that people are looking forward to it every week. When I made the decision to start that, I said, if I don’t start this week, I’m never going to do it. Now I’m not stopping,” Bobby J said.
The short freestyle raps and videos are leading up to something big for Bobby J. “I’ve really been focusing on finishing this new album. We’ve been working on it for a year and a half and over the past year, it started to come together. I finally started to feel like I had an album that represented who I was and it’s something that I’m really proud of.”
Bobby J has a supportive team around him, including his brother, Eric Joseph, who directs and shoots Bobby’s music videos, his manager, Greg Pastore, Sean Aiken who helps manage and books gigs for Bobby, his producer, Kwamé and a plethora of local fans, old and new.
“Summer’s almost here,” and so is Bobby J’s new album. He plans to drop the full album sometime this summer. If you’d like to check out Bobby J’s music, check out his YouTube channel at Youtube.com/c/bobbyj. His music is also available on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud and more. For new material each week, including “Breakfast Bars,” be sure to follow “BobbyJFromRockaway” on Instagram.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS