Don Juan was born in The Bronx, New York but moved to D.C. in 1998 and reps both cities to the fullest. Growing up in NYC Don Juan witnessed friends being murdered, family members in and out of jail and more. His mother and father decided to move to the DMV area in hopes to find a fresh start and better lifestyle for their son.
Most rap artist spit lyrics based on the harsh reality of what is going on around them. Don Juan decided to take another route and deliver music that makes you feel good. He has recorded over 4000 records and takes his craft very serious. I guess you wouldn’t call Don Juan you typical MC of today and he doesn’t seem to have a problem with that.
Don Juan talks glorifying women, Wale, and why the DMV area has been overlooked in hip hop.
Don Juan: Self motivation. I didn’t want to be a rapper because I saw Lil’ Wayne swag it out, or that it was making people money. I wanted to be a rapper since I was 9 years old. My uncle was always in the studio and I wanted to be like him. I moved to Maryland from NY, they don’t like new yorkers so I didn’t have a bunch a friends. I’m the only child so I had to occupy my time. My mother brought me a computer and I took the time to learn. I was the only dude in the hood that had a studio in the crib, so everyone would come to my crib. I learned the studio equipment when I moved to Denver. I was around Dermarr Johnson, Allen Iverson, Kenyon MArtin and Carmelo Anthony. I was surrounded by the stars and I didn’t have nothing else to do but learn my music.
There are a few acts coming out of the DMV area these days, do you feel we will see a movement similar to Miami and ATL from you guys?
Not a chance. I love my city but its hard to touch on but the city mind isn’t right. When you come to New York, Miami and ATL there are people who have done before, so its easier to get behind. This is the first time for D.C., so everyone is trying to get in the limelight. Everyone is looking at Wale to put them on but people gotta understand that he has to finish putting himself on before he can put you on. Me and Wale not the best of friends but I want him to do the best he can.
Wale isn’t the first artist to come out of the area, so why do you feel the DMV area has been over looked in hip hop?
Because until now, they put Go-Go over rap. Now days they are pushing rap artist. Back in the day when rap artist was coming up out the area, they would have a rap show for 10 dollars and Go-Go show for 40 dollars and no one would show up at the rap concert. Now the Go-Go concerts are about 10 dollars and the rap concerts are 40. I’m proud to be apart of the movement but it needs to make a full circle.
You were born in NYC, so are there any hip hop artist from the city that influenced you?
Its so redundant to say Jay-Z, but I gotta say Hov. Other than him, it was self motivation and my uncle. Anybody who he listened to, I did as well. I listened to Onyx, Redman and Biggie. You know all the hottest New York rappers back then. I wasn’t always in the street, I was always with my uncle so I always admired whatever he thought was hip hop.
How did having both parents in the household help with pursuing your career?
That played a major role. My father taught me how to treat a women. He kept my mother happy for 26 years. My mother isn’t the average mom, she knows what’s hot and new in hip hop. Her youngest brother is who got me into rapping.
Degrading women is considered the cool and macho thing to do in hip hop, why have you decided to take a different route and speak highly of them in your music?
I don’t degrade women because you can put on any rapper’s CD and hear them degrading women. At first I wanted to be different but its the way I was raised. My mother is my best-friend and my #1 fan. She goes to the studio with me and to the club when I’m hosting. My mother is everything to me, so degrading women would be like me disrespecting my mother. Now I’m no saint, there are songs when I have fun with words but I rather not degrade women. Women are like 95 percent of my fan base.
Would you call yourself the new LL Cool J?
I would love to say that. If you throw me in a pot and add some Mase, LL and even Loon. They use to call me the rap Trey Songz. If I had a voice I would be a singer. [laughs]
You just threw out names like Mase, LL and Loon, who are considered pretty boys of hip hop. Some people look at being a pretty boy in hip hop as soft, so why is it that you are so confidence about taking on that image?
I’m a hundred percent satisfied with myself. My first single was lookie lookie, you gotta be in love with yourself before you do anything. My upbringing and my hood keeps me grounded well enough for me not to worry about that. If anybody got anything negative to say because I chose to take that route, that means they got some soul searching to do. But when its concert time I bring all the ladies out though.
If you could pick one thing to seperate yourself from the rap artist out right now, what would that be and why?
Personality. I have to say that because I look at life so different. Everybody wanna be macho, the man, that nigga. I’m fine with who I am. I’m a cool dude, I like to burn weed with my crew, I like to holla at beautiful women and I like to kick it with my parents. My parents are still together and still active in my life. My upbringing was totally different than most.