In today’s digital age, many artists choose the fast food method of success by simply being seen rather than building a firm foundation to reach the masses. For indie pop artist JopauL, visions of music began when he and his twin brother were in his mother’s womb. Their father would place big, bulky headphones on mom’s stomach and play songs like Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” and Chicago’s “Saturday In The Park.”
“It would calm us down to keep us from kicking the crap out of each other,” jokes JopauL. “Music was with us before we were breathing oxygen.” These days, JopauL (real name Joseph Lerner), 30, logs time in the studio working with Dominic Durham of Domwan Entertainment. (Durham, who is also Flo Rida’s music director on tour, has worked under Rodney Jerkins’ Darkchild Entertainment, producing hits for the 2003 Honey soundtrack and served a a composer for Yolanda Adams’ 2007 Smooth Jazz Tribute and Ray J’s 2005 Raydiation).
JopauL also recently released his latest jam, 2015’s “You Got It,” a collaboration with Dudley Stephenson. The love note has also boosted his online presence. His Spotify streams veer toward 70,000 streams a month. The summery visual for “You Got It” has been viewed on Vevo more than 242,000 times.
Despite his pop offerings, the Staten Island native, who previously choreographed and penned songs under the name Lyric Inforca, remembers his ties to hip-hop, crediting legend Ice-T for taking him under his wing early in his career. “He let me appear in promotional runs for Icewear and assist with a jingle for his old energy drink,” he recalls.
Industry beginnings didn’t pack his bank account, though, as he was driving a beat up 1992 Toyota Corolla, which had doors that didn’t work. JopauL had to climb through the windows to enter the driver’s seat. “The doors that don’t get knocked down with force, doesn’t open up a path to righteousness,” he says. “You can’t take no for an answer. If you don’t create your own opportunity, nobody is going to do it for you. It forced me to create my own opportunities and create my own path.” He then took a job in corporate America as a business relations manager at Chase Bank. While he was able to save money and pay bills on time, the banker life wasn’t for him. DJ Sirome, a producer and long-time friend, had purchased a studio at the time and persuaded JopauL to give music another shot.
He rebranded his image at the suggestion of Domwan and stepped away from gangster rap for a more mainstream-friendly sound. “The music kept calling me back,” he said. “I was already doing the pop thing on the dance wave, so it made sense.”
The transition to pop showcases his crossover appeal, like his recent release “Party Started,” an uptempo track fit for a summer night in Miami’s South Beach or at a Hamptons hangout. “This kid’s got exactly what it takes,” said Shampoo Ramirez, a lifestyle marketing manager at Def Jam Records who has been instrumental in placing JoPaul’s records played in the New York club scene at venues like Le Souk Lounge and Slate. Ramirez also introduced him to hip-hop mainstays like Capone and Noreaga as well as influential DJs like DJ Camilo, DJ Dprizzy and DJ G Kidd. “He is surely going to shock the world.”
His pop style — and similar physical features — has even garnered comparisons to chart-topper Pitbull. “I don’t mind people typecasting me as the Pitbull type,” says JopauL. “I guess they see the bald head and the Ray Ban sunglasses and they think I’m his twin or something. Pitbull makes popular music so popular music by definition is popular. So if I’m going into a genre that is exposed to the masses of people and I have the ability of making the masses where people shake their derrieres then I’m all for it.”