DFW Music News

Jui$e Leroy and Stack Moses Create a Visual for Social Reform With 'I Still Can’t Breathe'

Jui$e Leroy and filmmaker Stack Moses created the video for "I Still Can't Breathe."
Jui$e Leroy and filmmaker Stack Moses created the video for "I Still Can't Breathe." Ahmad J
Jui$e Leroy is one of the best showmen in North Texas hip-hop, an artist who displays pure ferocity when he performs, matched only by his prowess writing lyrics.

Leroy labels his music “conscious trap,” a description he coined to describe reality rap filled with stories about the pros and cons of street life, combined with social awareness.

The edgy content of his music doesn’t prevent him from having fun with his craft. Leroy has no qualms about breaking out a variety of dance moves, nor does he shy away from fully committing to various costumes and characters to fit a theme or concept. He has the credentials and respect to assume a stoic, menacingly competitive demeanor that’s necessary at times for elite rappers.

Leroy has found a long-term creative partner in filmmaker and frequent collaborator Stack Moses, who directed the video for Leroy's single “I Still Can’t Breathe.” Together they crafted a gritty, black and white video that depicts Leroy engaged in a boxing match fighting a white opponent, as a metaphor for the struggle of Black Americans against police brutality and institutions of white supremacy.

We talked to the artist about the making of the song and video.

What moved you to make this song; what was your mindset at the time?
To be honest, I wasn’t going to speak about the George Floyd incident because it seemed so reminiscent of Eric Garner and so many other unarmed victims that have taken place within the last decade alone. I was tired of them making a trend out of us, and I did not want to react and fall into the rabbit hole. My manager Keedo hit me up a few days after George Floyd was killed and asked me how I felt about making a song speaking on what took place. I was hesitant and in a somber mood. It took about two or three days before I went ahead and did it. My mindset was and still is we as a whole — meaning my people and people for my people — have to uplift ourselves. We have to be proactive, not reactive, move in unison, remain diligent and make effective moves that will shift our community and culture in the direction we seek. I didn’t want to see people behaving belligerently or becoming destructive, but I understood why it happened and did not, would not, blame them. I just know there’s other ways of getting our point across without damaging property and whatnot. Regardless, I’m down for my people.

Who made the beat?

Z-Will from Blu Majic Beat Co. made the beat and I actually had it for a while, but the day I decided to speak my piece that beat was the very first one I played and I knew I wanted to talk my shit. As soon as I pressed play and that guitar came through my speakers, I made that ugly face and said yeah ... this the one, and proceeded to create the song in 30 minutes or less. I just spoke about what took place. I’m tired of pointing out the fact that this steadily happens. People are going to rebel because it’s reached a boiling point. After I finished the song, my team heard it and went insane. We sent it off to get mixed and [to] a Grammy Award-winning producer by the name of Lab Ox. He added some instruments, and the rest is history.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your career?

It has helped me out tremendously. This year has been a roller coaster before it even started for me, honestly. I lost a family member in December, lost three close friends in January, Kobe passed, another baby cousin was killed in a house fire, and more. I say all of that to say the temporary freeze allowed for me to rest. More time was allotted for me to create and plan effectively. I feel my vibrations raising, I see clearly where I’m going and how I’m going to get there ... I’ve been flying in and out of town with my team and making necessary connections, bro. It’s been heavenly and productive.

How has the movement against police brutality affected your career moves this year?

It hasn’t really affected my career moves because I’ve been on that wavelength for a long time, so seeing it play out on the world stage is like déjà vu in a sense. I’m glad that people are uniting in solidarity across the board. I also notice things taking place that are trying to taint the main message. I’m just aware, bro, and I’m minding the business that pays me. I’ll just say I move in silence.

What does it feel like being a Black male in 2020?
Excellent question. I feel blessed to be a Black male. People look to me for leadership, and I feel strong. There are instances where we are being oppressed, targeted and attacked. I feel based on the narrative in the media that I’m a threat to the society for reasons that I won’t go into. Ultimately, I’m proud to be who and what I am.

How do you feel the second half of 2020 will be? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?

[Laughs] Man, just when we think things can’t get any worse, boom, something else takes place and either humbles us or fires us up. Truth is, in general I’m the optimistic type. I always see the glass as half full and look for the light within the dark. I think things are going to get worse, especially by the fall. Something abnormal is going to take place. I can’t say what that is, but I know something crazy is going to happen. Even though that’s the case, I still hope for the best for us as a society. Nature always finds balance, so I know things will work out eventually. I just can’t pinpoint when that time will be.

Do you have anything else you’re working on?

I’m working on multiple projects and still pushing my collaboration EP Blade 4 with Asshole in Gold from Houston. We have a musical short film dropping this summer as well titled Connek, which was shot by Stack Moses. I’m featured in some local short film projects produced by Al BlaqFilmz and working on other movie roles. I have festivals lined up for when the doors reopen, and I will be featured on albums by major artists. I can’t say who, but just know that it’s in the works. I’m just staying ahead of the curve and proactive. 
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Roderick Pullum
Contact: Roderick Pullum