Crown The Brown : Justin (@datboijuju17)
Crown The Brown: Tiktok Exclusive: Justin – Embracing my Guyanese-American Culture As a Creator. Tiktok has become a safe space for creators to share their lives and create an exponential amount of content to relate towards their audience.
Some creators use the platform to find themselves and their community. Justin has been one of those creators! Justin, also known as Juju rose to Tiktok fame showcasing his love for his background and Indian culture.
Justin identifies himself as proudly American-Guyanese. His love for Bollywood and hindi music echoed online as he created content to fuel his community pride! The nickname Juju stemming from a kid’s show called Tak of the Power of Juju. He was always told that he resembled Juju and the name stuck with him.
Apart from playing the harmonium, Justin experienced the journey of finding himself as a Guyanese American individual. Growing up, he felt ashamed of his love of culture and music.
He never cared for mainstream rap or anything else, he loved Bollywood and hindi music but never felt as if he would be accepted for it by others. He spent years hiding his culture and background until he realized the beautiful impact it had on him as a person and a creator overall.
We wanted to know more about this proud creator that showcases love for his community and culture online, here it what Justin shared with us!
Tell us more about yourself, who is Justin?
I consider myself an extremely humble and easy-going person. A firm believer in chances when it comes to opportunities. Hardworking and I love trying new things and never giving up.
Very calm in situations, I refuse to get mad or show any anger unless it is a very serious situation, which I would say is unique than most. I describe myself as a chilled person with goofy vibes when you get to know me more personally that many love to be around. If you can vibe to Indian music so can I.
One time in middle school as everyone was going up the staircase being loud and crazy, I was simply walking and my teacher came to me like “Justin tell me, how do you do it. My head was going crazy with all this?” I simply said “haha, i mean i don’t know” just a very chilled person and I want people to know me as that and that only. (Silent but deadly).
You’re of Indo-Carribean descent, as well as first generation American. What was the experience like differentiating between those two identities growing up?
When I started High School, I was able to differentiate more and embrace my culture as a Guyanese American person. I grew up in the States and in my experience people always asked me about my background and my culture.
It was difficult to explain that my parents are my Guyana and I was born here in the States. People always assumed I was from somewhere else and spoke a different language. I would get asked whether I speak “Guyanese” or other South Asian languages because of my background.
Growing up, I never really cared to showcase much of my culture because of those around me.
When I was in Elementary, my stepmom at the time (now I just have my dad and older brother) would always want to pack Carribean food for lunch and I would want stop her because I was so embarrassed to eat Indo-Carribean food around other American people yet was also scared to tell her. At one point, I just didn’t worry and said “hey it’s food, just eat it Justin! Who cares.”
People see curry and immediately make their own assumptions about you and where you are from. Instantly Indian or describe you as Baljeet from the show Phineas and Ferb. All the usual stereotypes.
I remained very quiet and hung with a small group of friends. Back then I was the fastest athlete in my school so I got a lot of recognition for that as well. Some people embrace it and others just make you feel uncomfortable.
As I got older, things changed. I met a few Guyanese people, which was rare for me. Especially during High School, which helped me embrace my background even more. It made me feel proud of my culture.
You create some really heart-warming content that makes so many feel proud of their background. What inspired your cultural niche?
When I got tiktok, I saw friends of mine making videos and decided to try it out but I wasn’t sure what kind of content I wanted to make. Eventually, my brother got tiktok and asked to make a video with me so that made me feel like i cant be judged since he himself is going to do it as well. Eventually we both started making videos. At first, the views and likes were a bit slow but we both worked hard on our content.
I started watching more videos on tiktok and started seeing Caribbean tiktok videos pop up on my ‘for you page’. I started a Bollywood sing-a-longs for others to duet from the song “Shava Shava” from K3g and it reached a bigger audience. My brother encouraged me to do more because people seemed to enjoy those videos.
I love Bollywood music, so it was easy to create the content because I enjoyed it so much! I was glad to see other people enjoy the content as long. It helped my page a lot and my brother and I started collaborating on Bollywood videos and that soon became the niche.
Entertainment is something I enjoy. I like making skits, dancing a bit, being goofy and just being myself on camera. I put out content that is positive and relatable. I want it to be authentic and personal to my experience and what I enjoy.
You also started a trend on tiktok that went completely viral, tell us about that experience on ‘browntiktok’!
I was in complete shock. I was working in a warehouse part-time with my brother during that time. We would joke to past time and that particular day, I was putting down a box faking I hurt my hand and I randomly started dancing.
My brother and this other guy starts laughing and joking around. He told me to make it into a tiktok video. I made the video the exact same way, tried to find a Bollywood audio that would fit the song perfectly and came across “Sadi Gali”.
I posted it later that week at night, woke up the next morning and saw that the video was on 89k views! I was mind blown. It took me 10 minutes to actually realize what was happening! People started dueting the video and turned it into a full blown tiktok challenge.
With regards to content creation, what is the most time consuming process of it all?
The most time consuming part is actually perfecting the skits as well as the presentation of the content. It takes me 30 min- hour to attempt most of them to get a solid video as best as possible. All the content made has to reflect who I am and my personality. So I like to perfect the content as much as possible.
What do you enjoy most about creating content?
Interacting with people online. Once we starting making Bollywood tiktoks, we started interacting with other Desi creators and collaborating with people on a global scale. We got to collaborate with creators for Diwali and work with other Indo-Carribean creators as well which motivated our content even more!
It helps get your name out there. Many opportunities to collaborate with others as well,just a matter of making it work out.
It is amazing to get to meet new people and feel the love from the audience. The love and support from other people are just indescribable and amazing. I love them all for the positivity they bring and the strive for more content and ideas.
As a creator, what do you find most challenging regarding being online and representing your background online?
The time consuming to make the content . It is challenging to find the right location and perfect the videos. We want better lighting and to actually shoot outside of our home. We want to expand our content and make it more exciting for our audience as well as collaborate with others. I want better quality and to be able to have more free time to create more content.
What do you hope to inspire in others through your content?
I want others to feel inspired in a sense that disregards the opinions of others. I want my audience to feel confident enough to do what they enjoy and feel good watching my videos. I want them to feel inspired by being different and being optimistic because of the videos.
When having a bad day and come across a video or two for them to smile,laugh and vibe along with. To allow a little bit of light in in their darkness. Uplift someone who is feeling down for whatever the reason may be.
What advice do you have for other aspiring creators out there?
Do something that makes you who you are. Embrace your culture and show the person you are,not who you wanna be,be you. Use your own experiences, background, culture and more. It showcases who you are and that is what people want to see.
Make sure you are giving your audience the quality they deserve. Have the right location, lighting and content idea.
Push the ideas and don’t be afraid! Just be yourself, don’t force anything and just do it for fun! Any negativity,skip it and continue doing what you enjoy. Negativity is always to come. It’s whether you allow it to defeat you or you defeat it.
RAPID FIRE ROUND
What have you been doing during Lockdown to keep busy?
Before quarantine, I used to work out a lot but now during quarantine, I stopped.I’ve decided to change for better and get back into a healthy and positive routine for working out a lot more lately.
My day basically consists of waking up, eating, online school which takes up half the day, working out and playing the harmonium or video games.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.
Lavender, red, bright coral.
Favourite dish that you can never get enough of?
Halal chicken/lamb over rice with pita bread.
Something you would love to experience someday
To be in entertainment professionally. Either in a TV Series or a movie. Modelling would be something I would love to experience as well. That would be an amazing experience.
Top 3 Artists on your current playlist
- Sonu Nigam
- Arijit Singh
An embarrassing moment that you remember to this day and would never get over.
I remember playing a card game with my friends, bare in mind I was the youngest there. We played an adult card game, where you had to fill in the blanks and my card had the word “Anus”.
So I was so confused by the word and I pronounced it as “anooose”. Everyone was so confused and finally helped me by looking at my card. They told me the word and I felt so embarrassed!
Another moment that happened more than once was when I would play my thappu (drum) in temple and would accidentally drop my stick. All eyes would be on me because the music would just stop. It is an ongoing fear that I have outgrown now realizing that it happens.
If you could change anything about the ‘online world’, what would it be?
The negativity online. People always have opinions and they spread negativity which makes others feel scared to even post anything online. People are afraid of the comments and hate that they might get from others. I would change that because the hate brings others down.
Instead, we should all embrace and accept different cultures out there. We need to support others because we are all different and should never attack people online.
Any online creators that inspire you and why?
Yes a whole squad of brown tiktokers vibing to Indian songs together making great and also funny content coming together to make ‘browntiktok’
– omar1abbas, arman.markar, izzy.tube, atauqueer43, haramting ,faiz.yy
If you could spend the day with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Shah Rukh Khan. He is such a huge public figure. He has inspired so many people in the world, including me. I would love to be able to speak to him and listen to his story. I am so motivated by his life story and his struggle.
I would love to be able to learn from him because he is so inspirational. It has gotten to the point where my family calls me SRK or other would like to also say SRK 2.0
Another person would be Kobe Bryant. His mentality towards other players with regards to being mentally strong and not just physically strong is insanely motivational.
The way he motivates himself and his team is so commendable. He works hard on himself, his skill, his team and family. It is amazing to see that and it motivates me as well.
DatboiJuju17 brings it all to the table
It is amazing to see creators that work towards uplifting their community through music and good vibes. Justin certainly knows how to keep an audience wanting more. His never ending dance moves and love for his culture has united so many in the community and we love seeing Justin grow as an individual and creator.
It is a wonderful experience to witness creators on their journey towards cultural acceptance and self-love. We cannot wait to see more from this talented young man! Follow his journey on Instagram @____justin17____ and tiktok @datboijuju17.