How J.P. is turning a viral moment into an even catchier career

J.P. Photo by PhatPhatProductions.


J.P. is a musical performance major, D3 basketball player, and Billboard-charting rapper who prays every morning, although his songs frequently focus on how quickly he can “make a bitty hit her knees.” Another artist might play up these contrasts to highlight how different they are from their peers. Not so for 20-year-old Josiah Gillie, who’s always emphatically himself no matter which hat he’s wearing. On the bench or on the court, backstage or on stage — he’s J.P.

“It’s not a facade or something that I got to put on,” J.P. says on a video call. “I know a lot of YouTubers, a lot of streamers, when they off the camera, they’re a completely different person. I’m who I am regardless — if the cameras are on, if the camera’s off. It’s not hard to be yourself.”

Raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with “a pretty good life and a real close-knit family,” J.P. “grew up in church, listening to a lot of different music: country, classical, musicals, etcetera.” He was musically inclined from a young age, but it wasn’t until 2020 that 16-year-old J.P., then going by Jody P, started “dibbling and dabbling with the BandLab.” What began as a fun hobby turned more serious in November 2022, when he put together the bluesy CLASS ACT, a 10 song album in the vein of NoCap or Rod Wave. “I was actually going through stuff when I was making that album,” he explains. “Those weren’t just bullshit songs, those were songs about actual events and things going on [in my life].”

At Thanksgiving later that month, a cousin suggested Jody try hopping on a lowend beat, the uptempo, handclap-driven bass music gaining traction around Milwaukee. “Juicey Ahhh” picked up steam almost immediately, netting millions of streams and plenty of attention in the city and beyond. “ I didn’t capitalize on the moment like I was supposed to,” J.P. reflects. “It was a viral moment at the time, but I just couldn’t, because you don’t know what you don’t know.”

He kept recording, trying out different styles as he began attending the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point on a basketball scholarship. Though he was majoring in communications, J.P had his eye on the school’s “great vocal music program.” He auditioned after the basketball season was over, not only getting admitted to the vocal emphasis program, but earning a vocal jazz scholarship as well. A few weeks later in March 2023, he would shorten his name and release No Discounts, featuring “Get Down.” Like “Juicey Ahhh” before it, this breezy jam made waves in the city and online, but it didn’t quite suggest J.P. would score a hit as big as “Bad Bitty.”

“One of the biggest differences between ‘Juicey Ahh’ and ‘Bad Bitty’ — well, first of all, the song is way better,” J.P. tells me when I ask what he thinks contributed to his breakout moment. ”It’s easy to market a good song. Second of all, it has everything to do with your interaction with the people and how you convey the message to the people. If you have a good song, but somebody else is the face of the song, your song’s gonna die out pretty quick, because people can’t put face to music.”

“Bad Bitty” is the sort of effortless summer jam that spurs haters to claim a rapper sold his soul to a label or partook in some nefarious ceremony (“I seen a comment the other day and somebody was like, ‘Oh this is the humiliation ritual.’ What the fuck?”). Heyyy, huhhh baaaaoooowwwww, front row shake it you a bad bitch. Wistful guitar strums are pepped up with lowend’s signature handclaps (on 1 & 3, rather than 2 & 4) and a perfectly rounded 808. She shakin’ dummy ass, I just wanna grab it / It’s another one like DJ Khaledddd. J.P.’s flow is effortlessly hooky, demanding you sing along with as much diaphragm as you can muster. I said DJ, can you put this song on blast? For the hoes in the back shaking ass? I know, and you know, that she gon’ throw it back when I throw this cash…

Out now, his new project Coming Out Party refuses to be boxed in. When I ask how much of the album was recorded via BandLab versus in-studio, J.P. turns uncharacteristically coy, but reassures me that “it all sounds clearcut.” There’s the shuffling lowend lullaby “Bring ‘Em Here,” where J.P. makes group sex sound as routine as falling asleep, and the cozily brassy single “Come And See,” a perfectly temperate climate for J.P. to assert, “it’s a method to my madness/I’m living out my dreams, never thought I’d be a rapper.” Two of my favorite tracks come courtesy of A Lau and Hardheaded, who coproduced the Laurie Anderson-sampling “YDKM” and the thrilling sexy drill come-on “Private Room.” Still, there’s an emotional depth to Coming Out Party that will likely surprise casual fans familiar with J.P. through TikTok snippets, whether on twanging mea culpa “My Fault” or the wearily triumphant “It’s Yo Time.”

“I make music based off how I’m feeling, so if you hear a country song, nine times out of ten I was just feeling that way when I was making it,” J.P. tells me of the album’s range. “Now, if I feel that way, there is no doubt in my mind that there is a lot of other people that feel the same way.” From his perspective, having music for fans to put on no matter what mood they’re in — partying, chilling, pissed off — is just another component that can help a musician become “a timeless artist.”

The FADER caught up with J.P. earlier this week to chat about the parallels between making music and playing basketball, leveraging social media to connect with listeners, what younger generations can learn from their elders, and more.

I know you spent a lot of time with your grandmother growing up, and people have called you an old soul because of how you carry yourself. I’m curious about what you feel people our age should learn from previous generations.

I wouldn’t say it’s a matter of what we should learn; I would say, take time to really just listen to the older. You become more wise when you listen to the older, because they’ve lived the life that you’re living already. Now, I’m not saying that everything that comes from them is good information, but that’s up to you to filter out the good from the bad. But when you take from the older you become quick amongst the young; and vice versa, when you take from the young, you become quick amongst the older.

You also play basketball at UW Stevens Point. Do you see any parallels between music and basketball?

If it’s one thing I would compare the two it’s work ethic. If you want to be the best on the floor, or if you want to get minutes on the floor, you’re gonna go put in the work, on and off the court, whether that’s in the classroom, whether that’s you in the gym putting up extra shots, [or] you in the weight room. It’s the same thing with music: if you want to become better, you’re gonna study more, you’re going to vocalize more, really take the time and dedication into perfecting your craft and not just putting out bullshit. Like if you’re working out, you don’t wanna go in the gym and bullshit through sets. It’s the same thing with music.

You’ve had a few songs go up, like “Juicey Ahh” and “Get Down,” before breaking big with “Bad Bitty.” What do you think turns a viral moment into a more sustainable movement?

The thing I did, and I still do, whenever I create content with my music, I try to make it as personable as possible. I’m laughing, I’m engaging with the camera as if I’m dancing with a person right in front of me, so people that can open up their phones and watch it from home, they can feel the same way, they can feel like they know me, like they doing the dance right with me back at home.

That’s something that’ll take a viral moment and sustain it, the more you can do that and the relationship you can build with people, the more you can show the people who you really are through your music. That’s what sustains the moment. Because if the song is good, then the song is gonna be good. But good songs are made everyday. The person and the personalities, that’s what stays.

Not to get too salacious, but you recently caught the attention of Cardi B after you went on 20v1 and [appeared to receive oral sex], off camera but on mic. I know you say you don’t care what anybody says about you, but I’m curious how you feel about living so much of your life in public.

[laughs] Absolutely. Well, we don’t know what happened in that bathroom. We could’ve just had a great conversation in that bathroom. But that’s neither here nor there. However — you are correct. I don’t care what anybody else has to say about what I got going on. I feel like what I say is law, and what I do is the right decision. And then if it isn’t, I have a lot of people, the right people around me that’ll tell me if it is or if it isn’t.

Everybody has the right to their own opinion, I don’t give a damn who you are. I don’t care what I say, what facts are presented, what is what — if I do something, and you don’t like it, or you feel some type of way about it, that is what it’s going to be to you. A lot of people say “oh, it doesn’t matter what they think,” but it really does matter what they think. And it matters what you think as well!

Now, if you think what they think is the reality, then you in a world of trouble. But if I think what I think is what the fuck is going, then that’s what matters.

You’ve also caught some flak for a relationship with another young man. You’ve talked about this a bunch of times, but I wanted to ask your thoughts on the people who make a big deal out of that.

This goes back to the opinion situation. Everybody has their own opinions on things, everybody’s going to think the way they want to think. I personally choose not to involve myself into the situation, especially because it’s something that I did five plus years ago. But everybody else feeds into it. If they do it, that’s their thing about it. I don’t let it drive away from the simple fact that I’m an artist, and my music is what got me here. At the end of the day, I made great music. That’s why I’m here now. It has nothing to do with something I decided to do five plus years ago.

They say what they say regardless. They talked about Jesus. Who the hell am I thinking I’m not going to get talked about?

A few months ago when you were talking to No Bells, you said your dream collab was Drake. Outside of rappers, who are some singers or other people that you would like to collaborate with?

Zack Bryan, Morgan Wallen — SZA, she’s great. Who else? I would love Jamie Foxx because he’s like me where he can do everything: the music, comedy, the movies. Leon Bridges is another good one.

You’ve got your project Coming Out Party dropping later this week. If you were showing it to someone who had never heard any of your music, what would you tell them?

I would tell them to prepare to have fun and gain confidence. This project is gonna give you an extreme adrenaline rush of confidence. You’re gonna feel like you can do whatever the hell you want to do, because I’ve seen it happen in real time. If you a shy person and you listen to the album, I guarantee you gonna feel like you can go to the club and bag anything moving. You gon feel like the kid that can go and try out for the basketball team and make varsity, you gon feel like the girl that can go try out for the cheerleading team and become the captain. You gonna feel like the best thing since cake and ice cream, I’m trying to tell you, brother.