Denver native Justin Johnson and his artist and entertainment company Dream Is Grind, is taking over Denver’s hip-hop and R&B scene!
Johnson lived a double life growing up as a beat maker and football player. He took off for Philadelphia for football, but had many run-ins with Philly’s rap heavy-hitters during that time.
“Beanie Sigel, Meek Mill, Jay-Z would be on our campus…That’s when I really fell in love with music and hip-hop because I was seeing the game right there. It changed my whole outlook. Meek Mill would be on my campus freestyling,” Johnson recounts.
Upon his homecoming nearly ten years later, he connected with producers and started making music with local artists. He hustled while working an unfulfilling full-time gig that didn’t drive him creatively or emotionally, “How I created my production company Dream Is Grind was out of depression honestly. I was going through a huge breakup. I was working in cooperate America. When you go through hard times and obstacles you really start to think about yourself. So I thought to myself ‘lemme go start my own business.’”
Dream Is Grind took off from there.
“My first artist that I managed was Lo-Pez, who happened to be Timberland’s nephew. The universe is crazy on how it connects you.” Justin elaborates on those first stages on building his company, “As far as the business aspect goes, I had to learn. [Attend] workshops. I had to put myself in the game. My focus was learning how to manage artists and building a studio from the ground up. Two years later I executive produced Lo-Pez’ first album W.I.P (Work In Progress).”
After this major project, Johnson and his company had established credibility within the local scene that got him some attention nationally. Dream Is Grind was contacted by a talent buyer out of Seattle to promote the Jacquees concert in 2018; which was later cancelled. The upset didn’t stop Dream Is Grind’s momentum as they went on to take two up-and-coming artists under their wing: Jay Triiiple & Chyreco.
Kush Groove, Dream Is Grind’s newest endeavor, is an urban focused live performance party thrown at Meadowlark celebrates its first anniversary this year. Dream Is Grind is celebrating by throwing a showcase of Denver’s musical talent at Ophelia’s.
Johnson talks about how the event came to fruition, “I saw a lot of division in the music culture out here. It’s very clique-y and not supportive. There are really good artists and I believe in Denver. So I wanted to produce a showcase that shows off Denver artists. We wanted to show people how to work together. It doesn’t matter what race you are or what background you have. I’m hoping that it’s entertainment it’s fun it’s networking. It’s a platform that’s the glue of these bridges that we have created.” The night features a diverse lineup of Denver artists: Soul singer Zach Maxwell, and R&B crooner Napalm, as well as additional performances by Adiel Mitchell, Mandy Groves and Yasi, DJ sets by KDJ Above and Destiny Shynelle.
What does Johnson hope people take away from his events and Dream Is Grind?
“Those people work hard. They believe in themselves. They care about Denver.”
Catch Kush Groove’s first anniversary celebration Thursday February 28th at 8pm at Ophelia’s.