There’s something a little odd about a rapper in a cowboy hat, but then again, Justin Donahue, a.k.a. Jung Youth, has avoided categorization his whole life.
Raised in Louisville, Kentucky, Donahue’s career in music has followed an iconoclastic path. He was born into a deeply religious family, and his first exposure to music was in the church’s choir. Britney Spears and NSYNC were next, followed by an admiration for the style of Hendrix and songwriting of James Taylor. And though Nas and Jay-Z trading bars and barbs grabbed Donahue’s attention in the late ’90s, country music was still closest to his heart. It wasn’t until a trip to Spain in college that he really fell in love with hip-hop.
The rapper’s inspirations are apparent in his newest project, 61502. Even the name is an ode to his past and present, a before-and-after arrangement of the area codes of Nashville (615) and Louisville (502). The first track on 61502 is “Racin’,” an appropriately titled banger that sets the mood for the rest of the mixtape: “Better pick up the pace / For God’s sake pull the E-brake / When I slide to the gate we gon’ pour up a case.”
61502 concludes with a song titled “Gone,” featuring Tracy Champion. It speaks to Donahue’s versatility that a track like “Racin'” and “Gone” can coexist on the same track list; where “Racin'” brings the heart rate up, “Gone” ushers it down with Post Malone-style croons and lines like “I’ve been low / I’ve been high and we still gon’ be fine.”
Donahue will be performing at the Mercy Lounge tomorrow for JoCo Shows’ three-year anniversary. Read our past feature on Jung Youth here.