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article imageDon't Try This At Home: Meet Queens rapper Heartbreak Julio Special

By Layne Weiss     Mar 3, 2014 in Music
New York - Born in Flushing, New York in 1987, Queens emcee Heartbreak Julio has been vying for hip-hop's world title since his friend Donnie Dozens schooled him to the game at the young age of 15.
"All my friends used to rhyme. We grew up in Briarwood [Queens], so we would be at Hoover Park," Julio recalled. "And then like my boy Donnie, he just really had a love for the [rap] game, and he just put me onto rap...and I was freestyling to impress him and stuff like that and then he just schooled me to like freestyling, and then from there, it was just a habit that kicked on...After only freestyling, I started writing my rhymes down," Julio tells me, adding that he was inspired by the grievous events of 911.
Donnie and Julio formed the rap duo All Purpose in October 2002. Julio recalls the tragic death of Jam Master Jay as a key moment that strengthened his bond with Donnie, both from a friendship, and musical standpoint. It just set something off in the two young artists. Jam Master Jay was killed on October 30, 2002, and Julio and Donnie started recording the very next day, on October 31. Their manager "Money" Marc put them in the studio, giving them a place to take their anger and sadness out and turn it into something beautiful. To this day, Marc is still Julio's manager and close friend.
"We just worked from there all the way up to 2011," Julio continued. All Purpose released their first mixtape, On The Brink on July 15, 2011. In August of that year, All Purpose had their first show at Gramercy Theatre in New York City.
In 2012, Donnie left the group to move to Pennsylvania and start a family.
"Did you continue working on your own, or did you take a little break, or what did you do? I asked.
Julio explained that he had to take some time to find his own sound as a solo artist. "I had to work on my own music. I had my own studio, so I would just work on different songs, try to practice my flow, get my flow better...Julio was so used to Donnie being there to bounce ideas off of, be creative and competitive with. All you do is have songs, and you just gotta put a verse in." Going solo proved to be a "whole different animal."
"When you're solo, the world is in your hands," Julio explained. "You're responsible for your own success, your own failures."
Heartbreak Julio released his first solo project, Don't Try This At Home, on August 28, 2013, his 26th birthday.
"My first solo project was called Don't Try This At Home. I guess I'm pretty different because I already have my own Soundcloud, But what I decided to do [for Don't Try This At Home so I could fully...like try to get a feel for who was listening to the project and what songs they liked, I made my own personal Soundcloud for the mixtape, and just dropped it and released it on there. I was trying to figure out what ways I could be....I don't know if somebody's done it before or not, but I figured it would be a cool idea to just keep all the attention on Don't Try This At Home instead of going to my [Julio Raps] Soundcloud where everybody could just play it because I already had released a single beforehand, you know what I'm saying, so...It's just different things...I'm just trying to find other ways to be innovative. And now with my next project coming up and videos coming up, I plan to do a lot more different and creative ideas and express myself in a "cool" and "refreshing" way.
His upcoming project is tentatively set for a September 2014 release (maybe earlier). It doesn't yet have a name, but the project is already six or seven songs deep. "I'm still caught in the middle. It'll either be 'Monday Night Raw' or "1 Life 2 Live". He's working with Canadian producer Real Raw and they've formed a little alliance with Julio's friend, engineer, L'Camino. Julio's new team has been working together on the upcoming project. While there are about six of seven songs ready to go, the team continues to work to help cultivate Julio's sound. He's still growing. He's really excited about this new project, and can't wait to get back in the studio after Texas, after his shows at SXSW in Austin (more on this later), to just clean up the rest of the songs. "I just wanna make theme music that will make people feel good for the summer."
Julio has a hot new single out now called "Outta Here. "Will that be on the next project?"
The Queens rapper isn't quite sure whether or not it will be on the new project, but notes that "Outta Here" was very personal for him. It was his method of venting about something he went through with an ex-girlfriend. He felt the song was the perfect way to vent out his frustrations. It was the first time he's worked with Real Raw. He felt the beat perfectly represented the energy he wanted to express his emotion. He's also happy with the record because it's still gritty and raw. In an amazing way. It's a learning process. It shows his growth. Julio wants his fans to grow with him. Listen to and appreciate the rawness. He realizes Don't Try This At Home had its flaws, he just wants to learn from them, and get better. "I want my fanbase to grow with me. There are gonna be times I fuck up and there are gonna be times I excel."He wants this to be like a "family" thing where everyone can be totally honest about what they like and what they don't.
To Julio, music has such a powerful impact on mood. There is a song that can help you deal with every emotion. He recalls listening to Kanye's Late Registration to help him through breaking up with his first love. "That's just the power of music. I don't mean to go off on a tangent..." But that's the thing, Julio has a true passion for music and passion like that sends us different journeys and even tangents. It's all part of the creative process. He's literally overflowing with creativity and passion, and he wants to let it all out and share it with the world. "I live this [music]. I live and breathe it."
"Who was your biggest influence?"
"My mom's struggles trying to make it and just giving me a better life is a heavy influence on my music," Julio says. "It influences my music. It influences my hunger. It influences that chip on my shoulder."
Wrestling is also another influence because it makes him want to add that entertainment component, that "angle feel." As with a really good wrestling match, he wants his songs to tell a story. "I want my vignettes to be on the level of...Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan in a title match...you see the hype video. I want my hype videos to be on that level." Wrestling has influenced Julio to be more creative not only with the music itself, but also how he markets it.
Julio doesn't necessarily rap about wrestling, but it was a huge part of his childhood, so he likes to pay homage. He recalls popping in his first wrestling tape and being warned that the wrestlers are trained professionals. The viewer should sit back, enjoy the show, and not attempt any of the moves they see. "Please do not try this at home." The name of Heartbreak Julio's solo debut mixtape Don't Try This At Home was born off that disclaimer, but the Queens rapper took it a step further. The words "Don't Try This At Home" go beyond wrestling. For Julio, "Don't Try This At Home" was also about him as an artist. " I feel like that was the perfect title, especially describing me and what I was trying to do, ya know what I'm saying? And I could correlate that to myself as an artist...and I feel like I'm just in my own lane. I just do what comes from my heart. I'm not trying to sound like nobody else. I don't sound like nobody else."
The title "Don't Try This At Home" isn't really a "warning" to other rappers, but more as a reminder that Heartbreak Julio has his own unique way of doing things. As the late great Captain Lou Albano would say, "often imitated, never duplicated."
Why do you think rappers love wrestling so much and wrestlers love hip-hop music?
"It's the aggression...It's the aggressive storytelling. That is the common thread wrestling has with rap music. You're in the ring. You're Chris Hero. You're AJ Styles. You're Homicide. They're gonna fuck shit up, but they're gonna tell you a beautiful story in there...Just like you have your Ice Cubes, your Kendrick Lamars, your SchoolboyQs, A$APs , and they're gonna tell you aggressive stories, but it's gonna be woven so wonderfully."
Any rapper can spit bars just like any wrestler can take bumps, but someone who is truly skilled will captivate you and make you go "damn. This guy is good."
When HHH was asked what the first thing he looks for in potential WWE talent is charisma because "you can't teach charisma." You can be taught to wrestle. You can be taught to rap. But not everybody has "IT" and "IT" is something you can't teach.
Jules has been blessed with charisma and feels like rap is the best avenue by which to express himself. "I just really want to entertain...It's just my calling."
You can probably guess the next question...But Who is your favorite wrestler of all time
Julio's favorite wrestler of all time is The Rock because "he just had all of it to me...He had all themoves. He had all the charisma. Ladies loved him. Guys wanted to be him. [Everyone] just appreciated him. He had respect from all corners. It was real dope," Julio recalls fondly. He "got busy in the ring and then on the mic, he was entertaining." It went far beyond moves and bumps. The Rock "accomplished entertainment."
"It goes deeper," Julio went on. "Like with rap, you know, it's like we all do things...Like if you play ball and stuff like that, you gotta prepare yourself for life after ball. or prepare yourself for life after wrestling. So I can respect someone like The Rock, or someone like Magic Johnson, who has [continuously] used their entertainment value the way Magic did in basketball and The Rock did in his transition from wrestling to movies.
Julio is definitely not one to follow trends. His music is "true to life." His songs tell stories. Sometimes he wants to spit some "gangsta shit." Other times, he wants to be "reflective" and talk about his innermost thoughts. "Sometimes you wanna take a girl out and treat her well, ya know what Im saying? Sometimes you wanna be "hedonistic" with a certain female..." Julio tells his story as it happens. He doesn't sugarcoat it. He doesn't make it try to sound cool.
Sometime his music is "vulgar as hell" and he "cringes" when he plays it for people, but it is a representation of what he was thinking, feeling, or even hearing at the moment. His music is totally honest. I don't think there's nobody out there that raps like me. I just have an original style." The content might have been heard before, but he tells it in a way you've never heard before. "It's so me."
"Do you think Donnie will ever hop back on a track with you or do you think he's done
Donnie is in Queens right now. Julio was hanging out with him during the interview, so he's really hoping to get him in the studio to make some music. "I really miss rapping with him." He heavily influenced him and got his competitive juices flowing. As Jules said before, as a solo artist, he competes with various acts for that top spot, but competing with and being challenged by your best friends and group members gives you a little extra fire. He misses that.
Though Julio doesn't necessarily have Donnie to compete with, he is still competitive by nature. "I live for this. I love it. I thrive off of it [the level of competitiveness only hip-hop brings]. I want to have the best records. And if people aren't feeling it, I can go back into that lab and just be a mad scientist until I get it right."
"Who was your favorite rapper growing up?"
"My favorite rapper was Biggie."
Do you think he influenced your style?
"As far as influencing my style, Big L. Cause when I heard Big L rhyme, I wanted to write rhymes...like the way he wrote rhymes was so dope and the way he just threw punch lines in there."
"I would not even be where I'm at musically or doing it this long if it wasn't for Lamont Coleman, Big L, ya know what I'm saying? He just made me really wanna like rhyme different.." Big L really helped mold Heartbreak Julio into the artist he is today.
Julio has been told time and time again that he's really talented or that he has a lot of potential, but now it's time to bring it all into fruition, break down the doors, turn all that talent and passion into a reality. His dreams are actually becoming real, and it's an incredible, indescribable feeling.
Julio is extremely excited to be performing at SXSW this month with his close friends Trav Ford
and G-Code4:20.
Trav Ford and Julio are childhood friends and business associates.
After Donnie left in 2012, Julio became a hypeman for Trav. "I remember me and Trav would be in the grimiest spots rocking the stage...It was those crowds, though, that really inspired me...cause those crowds are filled with artists and the people they brought to cheer them along...So to go in front of a crowd like that and to get love is a true test of your game. Because in New York it's really not a lot of love, but then again, it's a lot of trash talent, so I can't blame people 100% fully."
"It was dope to me," Julio adds. "Cause crowds like that really build character."
Julio would grow to become slightly annoyed with these crowds, but he also learned how to make them pay attention and listen to his music.
He would go on to be a hypeman for his childhood friend and "spiritual advisor" GCode4:20. He told me it was a "joy" being a hypeman for GCode, "riling up the crowds for 'GMD' (God, Money, Dope) [It] really allowed me to create [a] stage character for myself, which really helped me get more comfortable and have more fun on that stage, which really gave me the tools to take my stage game up."
"I was so fed up with New York crowds," Julio added. "I made sure when I got on the mic, 'they're going to pay attention to me and my boy on this stage cause this some shit you need to hear,' Julio thought. "That microphone is so much power. It's really knowing how to use it for what you need."
Julio is extremely excited for this incredible opportunity to perform with GCode and Trav Ford. He is looking forward to the chance to network and to get his name out there, and to just continue to spread his unique way of doing things. Often imitated never duplicated. "We just trying to shake the city up," Julio says. "We're a talented team and we just really all got bars and good music and swag and charisma."
"I just really feel like we're all that the place where it's time to go...time to get it going, I've been doing this since I was 15. I feel like now I'm 26...I feel like...not that I've wasted time, but it's just finding myself..I took some time trying to find myself...so now I'm killing everything now...because I gotta catch up on [lost] time. I'm just ready. I'm getting my team together. That was one thing I was missing was having...Heartbreak Julio, I was always part of a team...Now I'm [putting together] my own team...I have own original beats and instrumentals now. It's a beautiful thing."
"I feel like I'm a product of the Bronx. What happened in the Bronx 40 years ago, I'm the product of that. I'm just an everyday kid just rapping about what's going through his life. Just giving you my view...I'm just here to push the genre forward..."
For more information on Heartbreak Julio, follow him on Twitter and Instagram, and listen to his music on his Julio Raps Soundcloud or his "Don't Try This At Home" Soundcloud page.
Julio also has a new song dropping called "Been Lit," so be on the lookout for that!
"Just look out for me," Heartbreak Julio says. "I don't even have my first video out, ya know what I'm saying? I want people to come along for the ride with me....This is all I wanna do." Julio invites you to join him on this incredible journey. This is a win-win situation no matter what the future brings. "Even if I don't succeed the way I want to, I'll be alright," Julio explains. Music is his passion. It's his drug. "It's something I can't just let go of."
Don't forget to check out Julio's music and his debut mixtape.
Heartbreak Julio may be imitated, but he will never be duplicated. Please. Don't try this at home.
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