CJ Flemings has a masterplan. A Canadian rapper blessed with incredible depth of talent, his releases have been sporadic but sought after, his work enriching but never ostentatious. Following three breakout features on "Blood on the Leaves" and TNGHT producer Lunice's new album, CCCLX, CJ Flemings has unleashed his own new material. Highlighted by emphatic bars and ear worm hooks Forever Wanted More is a promising debut from Montreal's newest standout.

Listening to the album from beginning to end, CJ keeps tacking on surprises and flaunting increasingly impressive flows, peeling back layers to expose a multi-faceted, consistent album that showcases his range of abilities. Forever Wanted More is constantly in motion, full of exhilarating lyrical exercises (“Forever”) and sweeping sound installations (“Down”). Taking a more measured approach to composition on this project, Flemings comes closer to achieving the artistic equilibrium that has eluded him in the past, and he spits as if to settle a score.

Ahead of the release of his LP Forever Wanted More, which is out now, I talked to CJ about his debut album, fame, and his plans for the future.

You’ve been releasing music for a few years, but Forever Wanted More is your debut studio album. Why is now the time to put that out? What are you trying to present to the world?

I feel like it's something that's been long overdo. It's a project that I've been carefully working on, I'd say for about 2 years now. Long enough. That's why I consider it long overdo but... I don't know, it took a lot of living experiences for me to put together something as a whole. For example, it wasn't so easy coming up with a body of work with a lot of meaningful songs.

Forever Wanted More is a story behind the perception of fame that people fall into everyday. That's what I started to break down on the album. I feel like nowadays, what people want is just to feel loved, right? To me that's what life is about. It's not about hate or anything, it's just about sharing love. People want it sometimes to the point where they need to hunt for fame. Sometimes they might create a perception of themselves just to get that. I called the Outro "Accept Me" with a piano solo playing in the back. At the beginning of the song there's this one girl saying "Will you ever accept me again?" and that's just a message to portray to everyone while they're listening. Continue to be yourself. There’s a never ending desire for love which can play with someone’s emotions. How do you deal with that? When no one’s around it can put you in a vulnerable place. As long as your passionate about something, you will find peace within the purpose of your actions. This album should encourage you to be yourself in front of the world.

Is that something that you're experiencing now that you're gaining more fans and attention?

Absolutely. Emotions, we all have them. That's what plays with certain characters. I guess someone with fewer emotions would be able to go through a crazy industry and learn the hard way without feeling much pain and without switching up too much. When you're someone with a lot of emotions, you might get turned off very quickly, you might act a certain way. Me, personally, I have a lot of emotions because I do believe I am human like everyone else and I accept that. I try to control myself. Self-control is everything to me in terms of who I am and how I've grown up. Self-discipline and trying to stick in my lane. For CJ Flemings I wouldn't say it was tough for me to figure that out or go through the industry like that, it's just a matter of time. Everyone has their own path, I guess...

How did this version of the LP change from its first version? Did you have to fight any battles to get it to where you wanted it to be?

It really changed based on what I was talking about. I feel more grown with my lyrics and my delivery when I'm making music now. If anything, just the content of the words and what I'm saying is what improved in order for me to feel satisfied about releasing it. I have a very good team, so I didn't really have to fight too much over anything in regards to putting it together. My team allows me to really create. That's why it was very easy for me this time, I didn't really have much trouble coming up with the music that I make. I'm always creating all the time, I do it out of passion. If anything, we're in the music business and that's where I'm still learning: how to move in a certain type of way to be successful in this industry.

Is there any song in particular that was especially personal for you to write about?

I would say "Talking to Myself". It's personal because I'm not only speaking from my perspective... I tried to take a different approach with my writing by writing from someone else's point of view. I think everybody has their own alter ego or whatever, so they end up talking to themselves. I feel like if you haven't once talked to yourself, you're weird. So in this song I tried to almost tap into a different point of view, just to create this story that everything is possible. I don't ever limit myself when I'm writing.

On Forever Wanted More, you have the support of producers like Young Martey, Cheg Byer, SORENA and Mihailo Nassah. How did your relationship with these producers develop?

They're all over the place, some are based in Switzerland, America, some in Canada and France... But they're all very close to me, I've built a relationship with these producers along the years and they've consisted given me motivation. They essentially inspired me to produce this album, so shoutout to them.

On "Famous" you say, "I want to make sure the city's heard and well-reflected". How did your upbringing in Montreal shape you as a person and as an artist?

I feel like coming up in Montreal it's very peaceful to create, there aren't many distractions if you decide to not step out for a bit and really focus, come up with something solid, you know? Montreal to me is a place that can be led by greatness, and that's where I feel like I can make sure that the city is lit. I really wanna put Montreal out there on the map. Also showcase different talents that are coming out of the city and really bring up the culture in Montreal. Some people think it's tough to 'make it' as a respected artist out of Montreal, but I try not to think too deeply about where I'm from. You just have to put yourself in the right situation.

You and your team have been going out to L.A. quite a bit and worked with the likes of producers like Bizness Boi. How has all that traveling, and being in a city with more "distractions", impacted your work?

To be honest, to me it's the greatest feeling ever, I just love traveling and I feel like it elevates my level of thinking as well. Step foot out of home, see how other people live, looking at different lifestyles... to me there's nothing more interesting than that. Visiting different cultures and experiencing new things is just what I need to refresh my mind and be able to make new things. I'm the type of person who can't really stay in my house for too long.

Do you feel like your fan base is mostly Montreal-focused, or have you noticed fans showing love from elsewhere?

I know that in Canada there's a lot of love coming out of Montreal and Toronto as well. There are definitely fans in America but also in Europe and weird places that I had never heard even heard of! I never thought that people from all these corners of the earth could actually be listening to my music. To me, that's more motivating than anything. I keep writing regardless of whether anyone's listening, but the fact that someone is listening reemphasizes why I should focus on my craft as much as possible.

How did your family and your upbringing impact the music you make today?

Well my family was actually brought up in music, a cousin of mine is a DJ and my father was actually a reggae artist, amongst people like Buju Banton. I saw him literally rehearse in the basement all the time. Growing up as a kid I'd grab the mic here and there... that's probably how I ended up grasping music to be honest. They've been really supportive too; my mom has been supportive now more than ever actually. I thank her for being there to ground me and teaching me everything that I know so far.

What would you like your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?

I just want people to remember that CJ Flemings was one of the Canadian artists that came out and was able to conquer in the best way possible. I want people to remember my legacy as being dominant. I write music as a passion just so that I can hear more and create even more. I'm always wanting to create the next best thing and top my last song. That's why I think I can be dominant in a way that I'm really feeding the people music.

CJ2