Words by EchoSlim
Whether it be for the beaches, food, great weather, or the people, the Caribbean has an energy that immediately makes visitors feel good, and at home. Those beautiful aspects of each island, however, come at a price. As Justin Nation (aka J. Nation) sings on his new single “Hard Work”: I bet you think its paradise, coconut trees, and rum on ice, but everything round here not so nice, its an up-and-down kinda life.
Hailing from Antigua, Nation knows more than most about the struggles of Caribbean life. Known for his productions under the moniker Jus Bus, Nation has likely produced music that is on your phone right now, whether you know it or not. Working with the likes of Snoop Dogg, John Legend, Diplo, Jazmine Sullivan, Vybz Kartel, Supa Dups, Walshy Fire, Kes and Jah Cure, he’s had his hands in some big projects. But now he is stepping out into the spotlight vocally as an artist with his own voice and a story he feels needs to be told.
“The video is based on the culture here,” J. Nation says of “Hard Work,” and his home country of Antigua and Barbuda. “But I also wanted it to be general enough to also be relatable to working class people worldwide.” Influenced by the social commentary offered by great calypsonians such as The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Kitchener, J.Nation wants to explain the reality that he and most people living in Antigua and the rest of the Caribbean experience daily. Included in the video is a boxing scene with red and blue lighting, representing not only each boxer, but also Antigua and Barbuda’s political parties, ALP and UPP. “That scene represents political fighting and how people are always fighting when elections come around, down to family members living under the same roof,” he says. Nation himself isn’t in the clip: He says he wanted the objective to be about the good, hard-working people, and the music which is the heartbeat of the culture.
From quoting the great Antiguan calypsonian King Short Shirt in the beginning of this video, to the cameo from local artists Asher Otto & Itchyfeet, J. Nation waves the Antigua & Barbuda flag proudly in the clip, which he shot, edited and directed himself along with Anderson Andrew. It’s not the first time: He’s also produced music and/or directed videos for local Antiguan artists such as Drastic ISwag, Them Island Boyz, Promise No Promises, and Logiq, to name a few.
“Hard Work” also features CYN, a talented bilingual singer from Miami who Nation tapped to represent the Latin side of the Caribbean. “I wanted CYN to sing in Spanish not only because of the Latin guitar on the track, but because I thought it would be a cool experiment since we have a huge Spanish community in Antigua,” he says. Like everything he strategically does, his ideas usually has multiple meanings. “Even the cover art is an actual painting that is a part of a multilayer creative [package] for the album, which is a short story of my life,” he states.
Be on the lookout for the release of his self-titled album, J.Nation, next month, on iTunes and all other digital retailers. There will also be 300 signed physical copies, including the aforementioned package on the story of his life. Until then, keep up with J. Nation here.