In an age where influence and reach is determined by the amount of followers one has on social media, Justine Skye effortlessly dominates the competition.
The R&B singer-songwriter rose to notoriety simply by being herself and letting her undeniable vocal ability shine. In 2010, Justine covered Drake's "Headlines" and racked up nearly two million You Tube views purely from word of mouth. Since then, Justine's popularity has only grown with over 40,000 followers on both Tumblr and Instagram respectively.
But if you ask the violet curly-haired chanteuse how she and her group of eclectic and creative friends continue to stand out and keep people's attention, she'll tell you its all organic.
"We're just being ourselves, living our lives and putting our pictures on the Internet. I think what people like most about me is that I keep it real. I'm just real with you."
Justine was 8 years old when her grandfather, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry of the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, New York realized she had a gift. Justine accompanied Perry to political events where she would often sing the National Anthem and the Black National Anthem.
However, Justine was still nervous about her talent.
"I always knew I could sing, I just didn't think I was that great because of all the other singers out there. In my mind, I was like 'I'm just a girl from Brooklyn.' "
Justine soon left her insecurities at the door. In 2010 she attended a BMI music panel with her mother, entertainment lawyer, Nova Perry, who has represented everyone from Eightball & MJG, Lloyd, Machine Gun Kelly and Eric Hudson. It was during the Q&A portion, Justine surprised everyone.
"They were talking and I don't even know what they were talking about but I just knew there were a lot of music executives. During the Q&A, I walked up, grabbed the mic, and I asked 'Can I sing for you guys?' they were like sure. I sang "Black and Gold" by Sam Sparro and that's when my mom realized I was serious about singing because that was really gutsy to do."
After wowing the panel, Justine began to make strides towards her career, which included vocal lessons and writing songs about her every day life, which she would then turn into songs. In 2012, Justine started working with producers August Rigo and Eric Hudson whose musical resume includes Justin Bieber, Sean Kingston, Kanye West and Mary J. Blige.
On the seven-track EP, which helped her ink a deal with Atlantic Records, Justine fuses traditional 90s soul, but also sprinkles in hip-hop, alternative and dub-step elements to create a unique sound unlike anything in today's musical landscape.
The free-flowing harmonies and relaxed beats are reflective of Justine's calm, laid-back demeanor. When writing and recording, Justine said there's no structure in the studio, she just does what came naturally to her.
"August and Eric would ask me how I’ve been? How I'm feeling? Whatever mood I was in they would then create a beat around my mood, and we lay down melodies and start writing. We let it feel its ways out and once we have the melody and the beat then we start developing the story once the foundation has been established. It’s all random."
Justine also realizes the impact that she along with her music will have on other brown-skin girls. Justine isn't naive to the fact that there aren't a lot of entertainers who look like her, and hopes with her music, other girls will learn to love themselves.
"A lot of young girls come up to me and say I make them love their skin. A lot of dark-skin women feel insecure because they only really see the light-skin women in entertainment, you don't see brown-skin women singing. If I can make it, I think it'll give a lot more girls hope."
Justine is proof being yourself not only works, but is contagious. There's no gimmick or planning behind her talent and relatable personality. Justine isn't trying to impress; she's just living her life.
"I want people to know who I am I want people to know how I think. All my songs are personal. I just want people to connect to my music and to me.”