John Samuels aka Just John is a 24-year-old rapper from Scarborough based in Toronto that has finally released his story on police violence, gentrification and DIY spaces for the arts and music culture. Not only is he an artist and the co-creator of Blank Canvas Gallery, but he is also the leader of the Omit Limitation collective based in Toronto.
With his last album titled Renaissance Boy, it’s evident that his rebirth and culture he brings to the city empowers not only himself but the community that backs him up through anything and everything that is an injustice. While his album showcased John and his collaborator’s versatility, he still actively showcases his lyrical ability on his new Black Beret EP – a vital journey he had to face in the past couple years and overcome.
While his last project had bangers, radio-ready hits and a mix of rock, soul and hip-hop flows – Just John stood out profoundly on Renaissance Boy. He spoke on his struggles and setbacks, showing that his pain led to progress, and all his hard work had paid off. However, as people, we are always faced with more struggles and Just John is the voice that tells us that we should never give up. That’s where his new EP comes into play as importance. Just John’s Black Beret EP is undoubted to have a significant impact on listeners and all four tracks will surely help you get inside of his mind, life and his perseverance, that through it all – nothing can break him.
Photo Creds By @tahaphoto
On his Black Beret EP, he speaks of Trump being in office, cops, and the injustice system that POC have to deal with plus more. JustJohn doesn’t hold back on this, and his story reflects on his experience with the police in the city of Toronto. Being a victim of police violence that he dealt with earlier last year, Just John firmly states that he is proud of being black and that he can’t be held down.
He further explains his story, while managing to keep that empowering energy and expressing his thoughts on his life experiences. Haters will never affect his success, and Just John continues to flex with his team while speaking on what is an injustice. Even when more hurdles came along, he kept his composure strong and lets his music do the talking.
While Just John speaks of the system, police brutality, and injustice, he manages to make political bangers that will get you hyped on being strong, not giving in and standing your ground for what is right. Just John proves that despite his struggles, he will always persevere, and continue to add value to the culture of Toronto with love and support from the community.
Photo Creds By @briannablank
I got to ask JustJohn a few questions about the Black Beret EP and his further thoughts based on the content that he’s released.
Peep JustJohn’s answers below and get to know more.
What would you tell other POC who also deal with police brutality?
I feel the main thing is to get home safely so try not to aggravate the situation, be polite, don’t run away, keep your hands in plain sight, avoid physical contact and don’t make any statements or call out any police errors until you’ve met with a lawyer or advisor first.
Police will routinely make up serious charges against anyone in order to discredit the person making the charge.
The system fails POC who deal with police brutality, Police are shooting people dead in the streets and are not convicted for their actions enough or at all, they get away while the victim will never go back home.
Photo Creds By @soteeoh
Do you think DIY spaces in the city run by POC will ever have justice?
I feel it’s up to our communities to support each other and help create the infrastructure and our government to see the value in these spaces.
Artists are bringing up the value in these areas and set trends for condo developers but get nothing in return. The next big artists get their start in DIY spaces. Culture grows economy, so even if it was for the money alone… The city should pay attention to literally paying into the future and help reconsider certain policies like noise laws, or zoning regulations set in place that stop these spaces from flourishing. I hope they catch on to this before another vital space has to close its doors.
Photo Creds By @fudagraphy
What is next for JustJohn and his collective Blank Canvas?
More music. Sharing my stories with the world, moving around with Blank Canvas Collective, bringing curated events around Toronto and in different cities and encouraging POC to be entrepreneurial and work towards owning property.
How will you keep the energy of BlankCanvas alive without a physical space?
Through art. Through collaboration.
Blank Canvas energy is metaphysical it’s always alive as long as we keep creating and producing.
Photo Creds By @soteeoh
Any last words?
Black Beret EP is available on all streaming platforms and look out for much more very soon.
Stream Just John – Black Beret EP below on Soundcloud.
Words by Daniela Campos
IG – @lunadiosa69