I met Justo at a conference in spring 2004, and in a brief year we became friends. He was also a mentor to me and a true inspiration. He had a lot on his plate but he always took the time to chop it up with me, help me out, or give me advice. I was so inspired not only by what he accomplished but how he carried himself. He would walk head on into any confrontation, and wouldn’t back down from anything. You couldn’t get anything past him, at the same time he had a heart of gold. He was a real dude and he kept it real with people no matter what, and so many times thats a hard thing to find in this industry.
When I first met him I had just released my second mixtape; later in 2005 as I had grown and progressed with a few more releases under my belt he put me on his team, Justo’s Mixtape Allstars, a crew that he had started, as he explained it to me, of DJs that cut and mix on their mixtapes and show their skills as an actual DJ, and not just an mp3 compilation tape. I could tell his passion for the preservation of that aspect of the mixtape game. At the 2004 awards, I received the nomination for best female mixtape DJ. As an up-and-coming female mixtape DJ in this industry, he knew there are a lot of obstacles I was facing and will continue to face. I could tell he really wanted to see me succeed, stay consistent, and not lose focus.
Usually, when I take a trip to NYC people always say, we got to get up, hit me, and it usually never happens. With Justo, he was the one person I could always count on to come through. The first time I had seen him since I had first met him at the conference he picked me up where I was staying, drove me around the city, dropping me off at different labels, and making calls cosigning me with different reps that weren’t servicing me. He helped me lug all my vinyl around and took me out to dinner. Later we just drove throughout the city, going through different boroughs, talking about politics, family, and life. He had so much to say on any topic, mixtapes and hip hop were his thing, but there are few people in this world that I have been able to have such amazing conversations about really any topic on the planet. When I left he offered to take me to the airport, I had so many records with me , we stopped by FedEx and he mailed a huge, heavy-ass box overnight to my house. On several other occasions, he gave me rides to gigs around the city, helping me haul my records. Most recently he came with me when I went to chill with the Murda Mamis at a party in Jersey. The last time I talked to him he told me he had just put my most recent mixtape an upcoming issue of the Source. He supported me so much over the brief time I knew him, cosigning me in several situations with different individuals, jobs, opportunities, and crews. At one point I was worried because I was afraid I had put him on blast by quoting him out of context. When I talked to him and explained what had happened I was afraid I would catch his wrath but he was really easygoing. He said he had no secrets and if anybody ever had a problem with what he said they knew where to find him! I loved that about him.
During the Rapattacklives.com HUSTLE convention last September I asked him to be on a panel, and he said he would do it as a favor to me. As a thank you for everything I cooked him and G Brown dinner, and we ended up chopping it up for hours about mixtapes. He was sharing a lot of stories, some from when I was just a kid, and I fell silent, trying to soak it all in
I remember having many conversations with him about his son, brothers and sisters and the rest of his family and although I never met them I could tell how much he cared about them, and about being a good father. He was so proud of his son, he would always say hes, a good, really intelligent kid and headed in the right direction.
When he passed he was in Virginia on a tour of the east coast doing some promotion. I couldn’t wait for him to come to North Carolina so I could return his favors by taking him out to dinner and showing him around my hometown like he had done for me so many times in NYC. I had just two-wayed with him the day before he passed, trying to see when he was coming into town. I still am incredulous that he is not here.
I know my stories are just a fraction of what he did for DJs such as myself. Justo was gold. At 34 he was just getting to a point where his awards and business were really taking off. I know there is nobody else like him and nobody that can fill his place, but I want to see his legacy live on. Like so many other people I feel regret that he will never see the end product of the movement he started, and what he will have helped me to accomplish. However, I know he is still with us and it is up to us to keep his legacy alive.
Justo, thank you for everything, most importantly your friendship, I love you and miss you!!!