By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Youngstown singer J-Trip opened a magic shop in Eastwood Mall last month.
But if he hits it big, it won’t be an illusion.
Through talent and effort, J-Trip is making a name for himself as an R&B singer and actor.
The 2005 Rayen High School graduate (his given name is Joshua Triplett) will next perform Saturday at the All-City Christmas Party at Choices Nightclub, in the MetroPlex Hotel in Liberty.
J-Trip talked about his career, including his newly released songs, in an interview.
Q. Tell me about the making of “My Girl” and “Wonder Woman.” Are they definitive of your style?
A. I have several styles, and I would rather not be put into a box. Simply put, I just really love music. And music is my expression.
“My Girl” is how I felt at the time I wrote it. I worked with powerhouse producers Maverick and Grammy Award- winning producer Kevin Deane [on the song].
“Wonder Woman” is the only song I did not write. High school friends Bryon Allen and Johnathon Allen actually submitted it for placement on my album. Once my team reviewed it, they fell in love with it, and my in-house producer, Youngstown native Randall Thomas, added some fine tuning and added the J-Trip element, and we had a hit! I love that song.
But overall, my style is very directed and in the pocket. I am mostly compared to Chris Brown, Musiq Soulchild, Jamie Foxx and Drake.
Q. What have you been up to locally? And what can the audience expect at Saturday’s show?
A. I perform sporadically in Youngstown all the time. My last show was an artist showcase at Duka’s on the South Side. Before that, I was a guest star on “The Deborah Show.” [Tonight] I will be performing at Wilson Middle School for the Christmas program.
I stay pretty busy. I just love to give back to my home. This is the city that made me. I have only good things to say about my upbringing in this city, especially when it comes to music and the arts.
I love to just engage with the audience and help them escape for a short period of time. It’s not just about showing off my voice or my talent, or saying, “Hey, look at what I can do.” I sing and perform because I love the way it makes people feel. They forget about all their problems, and they get lost in my music for a short period of time. That’s the element that I love most.
Q. Tell us about your history and past credits.
A. At Rayen, I was in marching band, concert band, jazz band, choir and the select ensemble. I was a three-year member of the Youngstown Connection, under the direction of the greatest leader, teacher and musical director, Dr. Carol Baird. With them I traveled abroad, performed on a cruise ship in the Bahamas and was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I later went to New York to pursue acting and musical theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
In New York, I was in several films, national tours, Off-Broadway shows and TV productions (including “Notorious,” “I Am Legend,” “30 Rock,” “Ugly Betty,” “Law & Order SVU” and “Lipstick Jungle”).
I moved back to Ohio in 2010 to pursue music and connected with [Youngstown-based rapper] Kenny Ali. He and I teamed up with a former member of 50 Cent’s group G-UNIT on the “Millionaire” song and video, which made it into rotation on several radio stations throughout the country. Our video was featured on Worldstarhiphop.com. We received over 50,000 views on YouTube alone.