Award-Winning Music Producer J Rhodes Discusses His Latest Film ‘It’s A Wonderful Plight’
After working with some notable artists in the world of music, Justin L. “J” Rhodes, who has won some coveted awards (Billboard, Stellar, and Dove) and is a platinum-selling music producer from Dallas, Texas, is now making his mark in the film industry with a film titled, “It’s A Wonderful Plight.” BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with Rhodes about the transitions he’s encountered, the reason he created his latest film, and what he is working on for the future.
You are an award-winning music producer who has worked with notables such as Dr. Dre, Styles P, Rick Ross, Royce Da 5’9, Talib Kweli, and LeCrae to name a few. With your success in music, what prompted your transition into film and TV?
Ultimately, as successful as I was, producing for other artists is great… but the waiting game is what killed me. There’s a powerless feeling to creating something and then just hoping that an artist will use it. Once someone of note values your music and wants to use it, there is a euphoric feeling. After the money is paid, and the track dies down a bit though, you are right back to playing the waiting game. With film, there was so much day-to-day freedom and control in the process. Every day is a journey, not just the end result. Film is a place also where ALL of my talents can live. Producing, writing, rapping, film scoring, acting, editing, my comedic timing, my ability to tell a story… they all can live in one place and I LOVE that about it. It was ultimately a natural progression. I still am heavy in the music industry but now the work comes to me instead of me seeking it so there is freedom in that as well.
It’s A Wonderful Plight is gaining a significant following in the film community as it delves into many societal issues such as gentrification, systemic racism, microaggressions, and inequalities that plague our communities daily. What inspired you to make this film?
Just wanting to approach the age-old conversation about the plight of the African American in a unique way. We got accepted into the American Black Film Festival in 2019 for a music visual to a song I created called MakeItTakeIt. It attacked 400 plus years of systemic oppression of black in America. I was at the ABFF awards, and I thought “Hey if they loved this song so much, what if we made a musical with various songs that were similar, Kind of like a WOKE Christmas Carol”. Then the title “It’s a Wonderful Plight” just instantly came into my head. And two years later… here we are.
What tips would you share with those looking to take the entrepreneurial leap into the creative industries?
Make sure that you’re loving what you do. So cliche, but if you love it and feel it and are telling YOUR story in YOUR own unique way… the success and money will come.
Not only are you a seasoned music industry producer and film director, but you are an editor, sound designer, and film scorer. How important is it for someone to be flexible and multi-faceted in business?
I think it is VERY important. The more creative vehicles that you yourself are able to navigate the easier it will be to get your projects moving. I will however suggest MASTERY in something before you make it an official hat. Master at least one thing first and don’t try to learn everything at once. Learn an instrument, then pick up another one in essence.
What is on the horizon for upcoming projects or entrepreneurial endeavors?
I’m still producing music for your favorite artist so stay tuned for some new things on that end. I’m currently creating music for an IAWP sequel. After the music is finished I will start fleshing out the script, but a sequel is in the works. I’m also working on new music for myself and other up-and-coming indie artists that are sounding immaculate right now!