San Antonio bred but raised in Omaha Nebraska, Justin Dingman (Minus) fell in love with music when he was 13 years old as he started his music career beatboxing for his friends. The Nebraska native has performed with the celebrities such as The Alumni Legends of Hip Hop (Dana Dane, Chubb Rock, Kwame, Greg Nice), Rich Homie Quan, and currently is featured on the hit single “Keep It Gutta” with legendary Texas artist Lil Flip. The hip hop artist has also been featured on arguably the best independent mixtape of 2014, Southern Riot Vol 2 hosted by DJ Big Redd of Swisha House.
Reviewers are saying “The Infamous EP is well produced from top to bottom and will leave listeners hooked on its unorthodox addictive wordplay and rhyme schemes.” Minus’ writing and rapping has been molded around the Midwest style. Yet he also has a down south drawl and confidence that contributes tremendously to his delivery. In a recent exclusive interview Minus gave us some insight into his thoughts.
- How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started in the first place?
MINUS: I’ve been involved with music since i was thirteen years old, i use to hang out with local emcees and beat-box for them to rap over.
- Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
MINUS: Nas, DMX, Method Man, and Redman.
- Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
MINUS: I listen to a lot of Joe Budden, and I’d really like to collaborate with Redman, or Nas.
- Have you suffered any ‘resistance’ from within the industry, and if so how have you handled that, and how do you handle criticism and haters in general?
MINUS: I’ve been told they don’t like my image. I look at criticism and a huge building tool, but I’m not going to totally change my image for anyone.
- How do you usually promote and distribute your music and brand? Do you take care of the business stuff yourself or do you outsource?
MINUS: We are being digitally distributed through IMF by iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc. But I also keep physical copies to sell. I do both, I have a publicist but I always self-promote through flyers, giving away copies of our mix tapes, promoting with social media, etc.
- What exactly is your involvement with Mysterious Entertainment LLC and IMF?
MINUS: I am an artist signed to Mysterious Entertainment. When I release projects, I get distribution from IMF
- How did you get onto Southern Riot Vol 2 mixtape hosted by DJ Big Redd of Swisha House?
MINUS: I had met Dino the CEO of Mysterious Entertainment through social media. Long story short I was at the right place at the right time, submitted a few tracks for Dino to listen to, and was brought onto the label being a part of multiple songs of Southern Riot 2.
- Tell us something about your lyrics and music production on your releases. Which part of these processes do you handle, and which do you outsource?
MINUS: I had all my beats made in house by Mysterious Entertainment. I let the mood of each beat carry the direction of the topic in each song. I make all the raw recordings at my personal studio, then send it all off for production and mastering at Mysterious Entertainment.
- Tell us how the “The Infamous EP” Ep was received by fans and what project you’ll be working on next?
MINUS: I have multiple reviews from fans and other artist alike, and the response has been amazing! It’s been such a blessing.
- Which do you ultimately prefer? Entertaining a live audience or creating songs in a studio setting?
MINUS: I love the creative process of making music, but performing in front of a live audience is always such a rush!
- If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to be a part of this tough business. Is it joy, desire, passion or pride and why?
MINUS: I’d have to say passion is what drives me the most. No matter what I’ll always have the passion to keep making music regardless what happens in my life.
- Which aspects of being an independent artist excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?
MINUS: Being an independent artist gives me opportunity to work how I’d like to. There’s really no creative restraints on what or how I want to write. One disadvantage to being an independent artist is that you have to put in a lot more work yourself. But the reward and payoff can be enormous.
- How do you achieve the pro sound that can be heard on your recordings? Do you work from a private home recording environment or do you use commercial sound studios?
MINUS: I first record at my personal studio, then send that back to Mysterious Entertainment where it is mixed and mastered.
- What is the best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
MINUS: Staying humble is most important to me, you need to always remember where you came from.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your music, and the music business in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
MINUS: I believe it’s both! It is fundamental for promotion because social media is so relevant today. But at the same time it has brought a wave of bad rappers and gimmicks.
- If someone who has never heard you, asks what does MINUS sound like? Which 3 keywords would you personally use to describe your overall style?
MINUS: A creative, complex, lyricist
- What are your thoughts on visual media? Do think that video is an appropriate marketing tool for your music, and do you have any videos to support your latest releases?
MINUS: I think visual media is where it’s at right now. With so many people watching videos on social media, it is a preference to users over reading a post. And yes I have a video out right now for my single “So Gifted” from my EP which is called The Infamous.
- As you continue to work your way through your career, which, more than any other fires-up your imagination – A Grammy Award or Platinum music sales?
MINUS: I think platinum music sales. Simply because that is physical proof by numbers that my music is wanted.
- Straight off the top of your head, can you shoot out 3 words to describe the current state of Hip-hop?
MINUS: desperate, unoriginal, and boring
- What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
MINUS: Anything that would go against my morals or core beliefs. Regardless of what happens in this music I have to stay true to myself.