Tuesday, April 20, 2021

‘Growing Up Hip Hop’ Exclusive: Jhonni Blaze Talks Music Journey and Battle with Depression

*We caught up with Jhonni Blaze of “Growing Up Hip Hop” to dish about the current season of the show, which has seen her sparring with music manager Deb Antney, Da Brat and opening up about her personal battle with depression. She’s also about the drop a new video for the single “Back End,” and tells us why she’s “dope as hell.”

Get into our Q&A with Ms. Blaze below.

I’m following your journey on the show and I think it was brave for you to open up about your battle with depression. So I’m wondering how have you been coping during COVID and are you going to therapy?

Jhonni Blaze: I would say that it is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me, that all of us are inside. I’m not happy about the COVID part. I’m really only happy because I stayed inside, and I got to learn myself, and I got to learn what matters to me. So, last year, thank God I didn’t catch COVID, but my best friend did. I lost a couple of family members, and I still was able to work and do 10 music videos inside. And I didn’t have management last year. I didn’t have my guidance. So, then I kept praying. I pray before I pick up my phone, you feel me? I’ve always been,  I guess you could say, a gangster cry baby, God-fearing person.

So, with me, I want to focus on what matters. I’m old enough to acknowledge my downfalls, my ups and downs, and these are the things that I need to focus on and think about in order for me to be successful in this career.

I had everything I needed, my management and everything that I needed to get my mental right. I also got a psychiatrist. And there’s nothing wrong with it because I feel like in the black community, for example, we chastise and we point at the little boy and tell him don’t cry. You’re not supposed to show your feelings and your emotions. Women are not supposed to show their emotions, even though they’re in domestic violence or human trafficking like I’ve been or being molested like I had. We’re supposed to shut up and be silent. So therefore mental health is looked at as like why would you… That’s no such thing because we’re considered to be strong and all the things that we’ve been through in the black community. Me, I don’t believe in that because that can also make you very, very depressed. It can make anxiety come about.

And I never wanted to be that woman. I never wanted to be that person, that with all of this going on, I don’t want to be the person that just shuts up. I can probably change or help somebody feel free enough to get the right people around them, get the help that they need and be successful. So I wasn’t caring about being embarrassed or being looked upon badly because I knew that in my heart, it was something that people needed to see. I use my life, I use my social media, I’m goofy, I like to sing, I like to play, but there’s times that I cry in the shower. I have those moments and I get out the shower and I pray and I keep it moving. So I thank you for actually watching my journey in that.

READ MORE: Kyle Massey and ‘Millennials’ Cast Explore Black Brotherhood in New ALLBLK Series [EUR Exclusive]

What has been the fan response, especially young women who are going on this journey with you and they can relate to what you’ve been through — as far as sex trafficking, molestation. Do you often hear from these young women?

Oh yes. People definitely reach out to me. I have hundreds and hundreds of DMs and I answer them because I’m like an owl, honey. I’ll be up all 24 seven, I’m thinking of things and ideas with my team. And I see these DMs and I don’t ignore it, sometimes I’ll surprise them. And sometimes I’ll have an extra phone on the side where I post that number and have people call and Facetime and talk to me from different countries and stuff. Because they’re talking about their depression and what they’re going through, what should I do? And I give them advice. I mean, the first thing you got to do is start praying. And I know this sounds very, very religious, but I pray before I get home. My boyfriend who died seven years ago used to tell me, pray before you pick up your phone and it takes 10 seconds.

You start shifting things, you start putting things in your life. I stopped drinking, I stopped doing drugs, recovering addict for eight years, you have better friends around you to actually care and take time to care about what you feel like. There’s nothing wrong with medication either because I’m on it. So what? And I’m a lovely person, I’m a wonderful person, and I have no shame in it. The only person that I have fear of is God. So these are the things that I tell these people in the DMs. So yes, I do answer DMs, I think it’s cool to show people that everything isn’t peaches and cream in this career of mine and also in the music industry it’s not, it’s not going to be an easy road. Why would you want an easy road? There’s something wrong with the easy road to me.

 

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A post shared by JHONNI BLAZE (@imjhonniiblaze)

What would you say has been most challenging about filming the show with all these different personalities while managing your personal issues. 

Oh, I’m not managing my problems and issues. We are managing my problems and issues. My team and I are managing. That’s what I mean by having people around. Once a week, twice a week, if we need to be four times a week, we strategize. So that’s why you see me so cool. My mom used to tell me, and my manager, people circle back around. Eventually, they have to circle back around. And this is not towards cast members. It’s just in general in life.

So I manage the issues through my people, my friends. I talk about it, rather than going on social media and trying to expose and do all this stuff, that’s going to sidetrack me from my music because that’s what I’m here for. That’s what God put me here for, to be a musician, and to stamp something before I die. I mean, I’m very straightforward and honest about it. I have people, that’s how I manage my issues. I talk about them and they care enough to sit there and listen.

Have you learned anything surprising about yourself as you watch the show playback each week? 

No, there’s nothing that I would want to change. Everything that you see that’s about to air is who I am now. And I’m very proud of it. 

 

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A post shared by JHONNI BLAZE (@imjhonniiblaze)

And what’s the status of your relationship with Da Brat now, cause what we’ve seen on the show so far, you two aren’t exactly on the best of terms. 

I’ll give you a hint and maybe this’ll clear things up. I am able to Facetime Da Brat and giggle with her. I like how your energy is on this phone. So I gave you that hint exclusive, you’re the only one who got that.

Well, thank you for that. Cause you, Da Bart and Deb are my favs and I need ya’ll to be great together. Do you read what folks have to say about you and the show on social media?

I look at comments. I think they’re funny. I don’t really be caring what people think, because I’m focused on the main thing overall, like just winning. So I don’t really look at everything, because what we’re supposed to do as cast is support. I support the music stuff, anything that’s positive, I be supporting, but I really don’t feed into any of the negative things that I do see or don’t see.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by JHONNI BLAZE (@imjhonniiblaze)

Lastly, for our readers who are not family with your brand, how would you describe your music.

I would describe myself because I haven’t in a while. So this is going to be fun. I describe myself as shocking, I always want to shock the audience because the first thing is, oh, she plays six instruments, she sings, I’m tatted up. I’ll walk out with baggy pants and don’t care, sometimes I don’t want to do my hair. I just want to sing and play the piano. You know what I’m saying? I just want to chill and be around my friends. I’m goofy and I want to be myself. And I feel like a lot of artists aren’t themselves because they get stuffed into what people want them to be. So I bring something new and refreshing and I’m dope as hell.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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