Civil Justus is a Brooklyn based rap artist and creative. The self-described thirst trap connoisseur initially attracts due to his lush beard and good looks, but it’s what comes out of his mouth that keeps your attention. I recently took some time to talk with Civil about his beard, music and social media presence. Check it out!
MANE MAN::Thanks for joining me here and taking some time to answer a few questions for me. I’m sure that one of the things that immediately gets people’s attention is that you maintain what some might call a pretty serious beard. It looks so well cared for! I think that a lot of men are embracing more facial hair and beards again. What initially inspired you to grow one and how do you typically maintain it?
Civil Justus: I started growing it during Hurricane Sandy because I couldn’t get to my barber for a few weeks. But I liked it and the attention I got for it and kept it. Posted some selfies and my following went from 300- 1000 in a month. I knew the beard was there to stay. As far as maintenance, I don’t really do anything outside of the norm other than just keep it conditioned and oiled. I have this peppermint conditioner I used that keeps my beard feeling cool and never itchy. Saves me from ever having the urge to shave it.
MM: I’ve been following you for a while now and noticed that you speak out a lot on social and political issues, especially on Twitter. What motivates you to use your voice in this way?
CJ: I feel like those of us who have a platform kind of have a responsibility to use our voice for good. Though as an Afrolatino living in the US I’m marginalized myself, there are plenty of folks going through worse and I just want to provide a voice as well as be someone who amplifies the voices of more marginalized individuals.
MM: One of the things that stands out to me about your online presence is that you talk openly about equality. You’ve spoken not only about race and feminism but also seem to be accepting of LGBTQ communities as well. Was that equality-based perspective something that you always had in your environment growing up? If not, how did you gain that exposure and comfort with people whose experiences may seem very different from yours?
CJ: There’s no reason not to be accepting. I have love for all members of my community and alienating people and further marginalizing members of our community does nothing for any of us. Everyone should have a right to love and lust who they want as well as be who they are. I think a lack of comfort folks have with people who are different than them is really a lack of comfort with themselves.
MM: You’ve also done some modeling work for different brands. Is that something that you always saw yourself doing, or wanted to do?
CJ: Not really to be honest, but I definitely can’t say I’m mad about it. I’ve been getting more and more opportunities to work with different brands and I think it’s dope. Never would have thought it. People wouldn’t believe it, but I’m not even that big on taking photos of myself. I do it more for the reception. Also, working with these brands helps me feel like I can still keep my integrity as an artist and get my name out. There’s so much opportunity out there and I’m happy I can stay true while exploring those.
MM: I want to go back to your online presence a bit. Social media is how I got to know you and your work both as a musician and an activist and it’s obviously a big part of our lives these days. What would you say is your favorite thing about social media?
CJ: I think the best thing is the ability to connect with people. I’ve grown a lot over the years due to the many people I’ve met through social media. I’ve also been able to get my voice out in ways I would have never thought possible. My mom’s coworkers even follow me. I think it’s such a powerful and necessary tool today.
MM: AGREED. You’ve also recently talked about how sometimes it can be easy to burnout on social media, especially with all of the political coverage floating around. How do you strike that balance about being informed, using your voice and practicing good self-care?
CJ: It’s hard to be honest. Sometimes I just take a step back. I take periodic breaks and just focus on other things that have nothing to do with what’s going on out there at the moment. We are in this for the long haul so we have to be careful not to burn ourselves out. Trump is going to say some stupid shit at least 3 times a day so I think its okay to watch Bob’s Burgers every now and then.
MM: Good point! And what can the readers look forward to next from you?
CJ: I’ve been working hard on some new tracks and putting together my debut album. Also been preparing some dope visuals for that which we’re looking to put out in the spring. I’m really excited about this year and what I have in store.
OK, I have to admit, I routinely check out Media Take Out to see what’s going on in the world of Black pop and hip hop culture. It’s one of a few guilty pleasures that I allow myself to indulge in. Imagine my surprise when I came across this song where Rick Ross basically details how to sexually assault someone. I wish I were kidding.
To be honest, I didn’t want the lyrics or audio to be what it seemed upon first glance. But, unfortunately it does seem that Ross is boasting about his forceful exploits. To be fair, we don’t know that this is based on real life experiences, but you never know. Glorifying rape, and other forms of violence, is a big problem in our culture and in my not so humble opinion, supporting messages like this is really damaging to direct and indirect survivors out there. Statistics say that on average, one in four women in the U.S. has experienced sexual assault in her lifetime. That being said, I think you can understand how problematic it is to have someone as popular as Rick Ross saying these things. And I know there’s a lot to be said about rap’s history in promoting gender based violence but I can’t recall anything as blatant as this statement, especially in recent history. And frankly, that discussion can’t sincerely be had in a blog post. Maybe I’ve gotten it wrong here, but the lyrics seem pretty clear…
put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it
I took her home and I enjoy that, she ain’t even know it
If you want to check out the audio for yourself, play the video below and pay particular attention around the 2:10 minute mark.