Florida’s top-tier production trio J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League is definitely in a league of their own. The team of Colione, Kenny, and Rook have already scored a Grammy for their work on 2006’s Best R&B Album, Mary J. Blige’s The Breakthrough, and mastered beats for the likes of Young Jeezy, J. Holiday, and Rick Ross. The latter’s third album, Deeper Than Rap, boasts plenty of J.L.’s film score-worthy tracks, most notably “Magnificent” featuring John Legend and “Maybach Music 2 featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and T-Pain.
Rap-Up.com got the talented threesome to slow down in the studio for a 10-question grill session on the bosses they’ve worked alongside, the story behind their moniker, and the magic number three.
1. Who was the bigger boss to work with, Rick Ross or Mary J. Blige?
Colione: Personally, working with Mary J. was an honor. You can’t really compare working with anyone else when an R&B legend requests to work with you. And Rick Ross on the other hand, his artistic ability is crazy. As soon as he hears music, he says, “OK, I know what I’m going to do with this. This song is going to be called ‘Maybach Music.’ I’m going to put Jay-Z on this song.” And then he’ll start writing it in his head.
Rook: Ross and Mary are both bosses in their own right. It’s not really who’s bigger, it’s just that they’re their own bosses.
2. What made you feel that the name J.U.S.T.I.C.E. (Just Undeniably Some of the Illest Composers Ever) League best described you as a collective group?
Rook: I was the best at what I did, [Colione and Kenny were] the best at what [they] did, and it was just fitting. It’s extremely self-serving that the name means what it is.
3. How many other monikers did you come up with before landing on J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League?
Colione: Actually, we didn’t come up with much at all. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League is actually from the DC Comics. Our name isn’t affiliated with that, [but how] Batman, Superman, they got their own [powers]… It’s like [we’re] super producers. That’s why our name is an acronym.
4. What do you guys do to make sure egos stay in check while collaborating on song ideas?
Kenny: I’d say we never really had a problem with egos getting in the way of the musical process. It’s always been an understanding that this is a team effort. It’s always been about the brand, putting your ego aside, and making music the important thing.
5. What has been the most “magnificent” moment in J.L.’s career?
Rook: Well, to me, as of late it was Rick Ross’ “Magnificent” single, [having] that song be responsible for such great presence on the charts and a No. 1 album. We never conformed to the same type of music that everyone else did. Now everyone else wants to be like us.
Colione: For me, I think it was a little different. The greatest moment of me being in J.L. is just whenever we were able to do music full-time. Financially, this is really happening and I don’t have to worry about anything else right now. This is what I can do.
Kenny: For me, the most gratifying moment was to be able to get four songs on Rick Ross’ album, Trilla, and four songs on Deeper Than Rap. [It] was just an honor because you not only get the single, but you also have a little bit more room to have fun and experiment with different sounds, too.
6. What does each of you bring to the production table?
Colione: We bring a lot of different, individual stuff to the table. We’ve all learned from Kenny, everyone has learned from Rook and myself. Kenny plays over seven instruments, so he’s working to teach us different types of music like jazz. Rook, he’s the one that put me on to chopping up samples. On the other hand, I taught them things too.
7. Do you feel working in a group of three gives your team an advantage over solo producers?
Kenny: It is a very unfair advantage, just for the fact that we all come from such different musical backgrounds. If we’re working with a singer, I might step in and do vocal arranging, Colione might write with the artist and brainstorm ideas, and Rook may be able to craft different elements into the beat. You have a well-oiled machine.
8. Which artists would you like to work with on future projects?
Colione: A lot of people know our hip-hop and R&B music, but we also do other music. We want to branch out, like Katy Perry, do pop like Justin Timberlake, score some films, commercials…
9. What work does J.L. have lined up?
Kenny: We have a lot of projects actually. We just got out of the studio with Plies, working on his album. Also, we’ve been working with Mary J. Blige and came out with some incredible [music]. And just looking forward to working with the biggest and best of other genres too, but looking out for the urban acts and the Top 40 as well.
10. In a sentence, describe J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League.
J.L.: We’re magnificent.