Sometimes the most fun part of continually and endlessly covering music and the scenes that come with it is being able to watch an artist grow. It’s a symptom of regularly reporting on anything, but in music, especially today, that growth feels more palpable, as an act I’ve personally watched grow over the past couple of years has been New York City’s own Justin Rose. Rose has hit the second half of 2015 with a sort of vengeance to this point unseen from the eclectic MC/Producer.
The two of us first met three years ago at SXSW in Austin, Tx. I’ve written this story about a dozen times in the years since and I’m hoping to finally put it to bed officially here. At the time, Rose was a 22-year-old working with fellow locals like Kris Kasanova, Nakim, and a host of others, learning the game in and out while touring and finding precisely what his sound would be.
Those experiences materialized themselves on his 2014 release RoseWavve Vol. 1 which was the first time he seemed to really break through on a personal steeze that has since mushroomed into something wholly different. Where Rosewavve was a decidedly down-beat, kick-back collection from top to bottom that had a certain mixture of chilled out and turn up sprinkled throughout. Tracks like “Moving Tho”, “Regular”, and “Tone It Down” had this distinct sense of pop-leaning hip-hop that felt at times like Hall & Oates got in the studio with ‘Ye. It was smooth if nothing else. The project served its purpose, allowing Rose to catch eyes and ears from around the city and appeared on Kitty Cash’s iconic first Love The Free mixtape that also featured GTW, Vic Mensa, and a host of others on the verge of stardom.
Earlier this year, though, Rosewavve disappeared from the internet, making me relish the fact that I clicked the early download. It was with his SoundCloud bare that we linked up for only the second time since meeting at the Illmore back in 2012. While out in New York, we had him opening for The O’My’s headlining set at SOB’s and it was there that Rose seemed to finally pull things together in the sensibilities he had expressed to me years before. Performing alongside a live drummer and DJ, Rose used every inch of his long build to shuffle, slide and dance his way across the stage, at times looking like a sort of spider exploring the room as his long locks bounced freely from his shoulders. Channeling a sort of inner Future, the NYC artist seemed to make the transition onstage, first performing from Rosewavve before giving way to new work and ending with “She Movin” a new track that would debut the following month on Pigeons & Planes and erase everything that came before it. The single seems to be the direction Rose is heading from here on out, which works for me personally because it seems to embody a more lyrical version of Future. I guess we'll see where it goes from here. Justin Rose hasn’t made it yet by any means, but if what I’ve seen from the kid over the last couple of years is any indication, I expect him to continue to steadily climb.