Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Justin Ruff is an up-and-coming R&B artist currently based in Chicago, IL. Bridging the gap between old school and today’s mainstream music, Justin offers a refreshing detour from the current state of R&B. His talent has garnered the attention of SoulTrain.com, ABC Windy City LIVE and Chicago’s #1 radio station WGCI 107.5, to name a few; he is well on his way to becoming a household name.
Location: Chicago, IL
Urban Steez: Tell everybody your name and what area you represent?
My name is Justin Ruff and I was born and raised in Cincinnati,OH, now residing in Chicago, IL. Gotta show love to both!Urban Steez: How long have you been doing music and what made you get into music?
Justin: I always knew I could sing, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until my last few years of high school. I attended a performing arts high school in Ohio and was exposed to a great deal of jazz there. My mother is a singer as well, so I was exposed to a lot of R&B/Soul music with her. So, my love and appreciation for music grew. And you know, I also realized I wasn’t that good at anything else. So music was like the only option.
Urban Steez: Singing is in the family, might as well use what you are blessed with. How would you describe your style and best attribute as an artist?
Justin: I would definitely say that the sound is R&B. Having that jazz foundation mixed with my love for R&B/Hip Hop music, I think I’ve been able to find this really cool way of bridging the gap between old school and today’s mainstream music. My unique perspective gives me a different sound and vibe from other R&B artists in today’s music.
Urban Steez: Most Definitely! Tell us your greatest experience thus far as a music artist and why?
Justin: I remember when one of my first songs I recorded, ‘’Take My Time’’, won the Download or Delete segment on Chicago’s #1 radio station for Hip Hop/R&B music, WGCI 107.5. I was at work and my barber called me. I almost didn’t answer because I owed him some money from my last haircut. So I get on the phone and before he can speak, I’m trying to explain how rent was due and I didn’t have any groceries and giving him the whole starving artist story. He stops me and he’s like ‘’Dude, you know you’re on WGCI right now, right?’’ And I immediately streamed it on my phone. It was an out of body experience hearing myself on the radio. Then to hear the listeners calling in and voting the song in was just incredible. That would have to be the greatest experience of mine musically thus far.
Urban Steez: Man, that’s dope… What is the biggest challenge you face being an artist?
Justin: I’ve been told No so many times. I think that’s a huge challenge for every artist. It’s all about getting in front of that right person or getting the right opportunity. You’ll get a thousand no’s before that 1 yes. I’m still waiting on my Yes! I’m grateful for the No’s though. They will make the yes that much sweeter.
Urban Steez: Well you are making the right steps. Now, with social media in full effect the possibilities are endless. Who would you like to collaborate with in the music industry and why?
Justin: I think a Kendrick Lamar and Justin Ruff record would be dope! I respect his grind and his artistry. He’s definitely making his mark in music. I also have a huge respect for Babyface. He’s an amazing songwriter and I’d love to work with him.
Urban Steez: Both I got mad respect for. When I first heard Kendrick, I couldn’t believe no one was giving him shine, same feeling I get when I hear your music. So how do you feel you rank against top music talents today? And why?
Justin: I think I definitely bring something different to the R&B world and offer something refreshing; a nice detour from what we currently hear on the airwaves. I respect all the top music talents out now, because I know it takes work to get there and even more work to stay there. I think I can rock with them though!
Urban Steez: Agreed. What are you working on now, and when can fans expect to hear more from you?
Justin: Right now I’m working on an EP entitled ‘‘The Ruff Draft’’. I’ve released music before but this project is going to show people who I really am as an artist. I’ve found my sound and my lane. We’ve already released a couple songs from the EP and they’ve received a good response so far, so I’m excited for people to hear it. ‘‘The Ruff Draft’’ will be out this coming Fall. I’ve got some pretty cool things in the works. Stay tuned!
Urban Steez: Make sure you run that by The Steez when it drops..Give readers one tip about pursuing their dreams?
Justin: Remain humble. That’s one thing my mother always taught me and I’ve lived by that. Once you start feeling like you’re too good or you can’t be taught or learn anything, you’ve lost.
Urban Steez: That’s wassup! What do you want to accomplish as an artist overall?
Justin: I want to bring back real music. I remember the first time I heard artists like Prince, D’Angelo, Maxwell and El Debarge. The music felt good. I miss that feeling. There was a standard and a quality that is missing, to an extent, in today’s music. So that’s my main goal. I want people to talk about how my music made them feel or how Justin Ruff got them through a rough time. I pray I can leave a mark in music like the artists that I look up to have done.
Urban Steez: I miss those good ol’ R&B days too, America needs it. If music never existed, what do you think you would be doing?
Justin: I would probably be sitting at home, eating and wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. No but seriously, before I started taking music seriously I wanted to be a defense attorney. I’ve always had a thing for helping people and Law has always intrigued me. So if music never existed, I’d probably be in someone’s courtroom right now.
Urban Steez: Nice…Tell us your influences and inspirations?
Justin: There are so many artists that inspire me such as Ella Fitzgerald, Kendrick Lamar, Prince, Al Jarreau, Maxwell, Mickey Guyton, The Weeknd and many more. I appreciate innovative artists and artists that make good music.
Urban Steez: Solid line up. What do you think of the “R&B Soul” music world right now?
Justin: I love seeing where R&B music is headed. I appreciate the innovation that some R&B artists are showing these days. All we’re missing is Justin Ruff! I think that’s the cure to all our problems!
Urban Steez: That Ruff Draft coming soon, yes sir. What quote do you feel best represents you?
Justin: One thing my mother always says is, ‘‘there is always room for improvement; you’re never at your best.’’ That mentality keeps me humble and focused. I find that I work harder when I think that way.
Urban Steez: Good deal. Who do you have playing in your sound system right now?
Justin: Energy by Drake. That’s probably one of my favorite songs right now.
Urban Steez: Tell us something most people would not know about you?
Justin: I love country music. I really appreciate the lyrical content from country artists. Mickey Guyton is one of my favorite artists right now.
Urban Steez: I still have a hard time vibing out to country, but I respect the lyrical aspect. Good deal. How can business heads and fans contact you in the future (myspace, email, number, etc.)?
Urban Steez: Finally, Any shot outs?
Justin: I have to shout out to Team Ruff, my fans and supporters! Thank you for your continued support. And shout out to you all here at Urban Steez for giving me this platform to showcase my talent and be heard.