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The Mission Interview: V The Writer

Navi Johnson, better known as V The Writer, is a Virginia rapper that strives to uplift her community. She shares her thoughts, dreams, and epiphanies in her music, spoken word, and storytelling. V The Writer has three EPs in her catalog and does more than music. The Virginia State University alumna is the owner of the RVA Black Farmers Market, which hosts various black-owned businesses monthly. She gracefully wears many hats with an entrepreneurial spirit. V has received recognition from Voyage ATL for her endeavors and with her work ethic, her influence will only continue to grow.

Jay: How was the process for creating your single Over?

V: Over is a fun, gritty energy-type song. I wrote it specifically because I wanted to create a song that I would work out to in the gym. I’m in the gym about four times a week and have been going extra hard to get rid of post-baby weight. The song came to play with the gym in mind and the end results. Then I saw a meme that said something like “…when I finally get cute it’s over for you bitches” or something like that and that’s how I came up with the hook.

It’s also a fun post-partum anthem. I want women, especially women who struggle to get back into themselves after they have a baby, to have those boss moments; those pick-me-up moments, whether getting back into the gym or going back to work or whatever they are getting back into. I want women in post-partum to feel like they still got it because we do.

Jay: What are some differences you noticed in your craft from your first EP, Taste I, to the most recent EP, Delivery?

V: Confidence definitely. I was so timid and still trying to figure out my sound in Taste I. My delivery needed work and I didn’t pay enough attention to the engineering. In retrospect, I just wanted to get a project done and hear the project back. There is a big difference in how I approach making music now.

Now I take my time. I will take an entire year for four tracks if that’s what it takes to provide the sound and experience I want to give. I developed a deeper love and respect for the craft. And of course, I grew in life experience as well. Things that happened in the three-year difference between the EPs affected me emotionally, and those emotions were evident in my vocals and my delivery. But I love the growth between them all and I love getting better with every release.

Jay: I think the song that defines you is Victorious. What stood out to me was when you said "It's hard sometimes, scratch that. It's hard all the time and that's no lie. When you're an entrepreneur, you're moving all the time. The money is only guaranteed when you grind..." In what ways do you balance your work life with your personal life?

V: Victorious is one of my favorite songs. The theme of the song is to be victorious in everything that I do. and how difficult that can be. I overwork myself in pursuit of the life I want to live. I am relentless so it’s hard for me to balance my personal life and work life. Most of my personal life is work.

I think what saves me from myself at this point is my son. While I’m trying to build a legacy for him, he keeps me present. He keeps me grounded. He requires me to take personal moments, even if it’s just for a few hours, to take care of myself. Because if I don’t make myself take personal time throughout all of the work, then I’m no good for him. I get my personal time when I can: I go to the gym, I write at night, I binge watch shows, or sometimes I just sleep. And being able to make that time is victory.

Jay: You published your first book at thirteen and have continued to write song lyrics and poetry ever since. What has kept your inspiration going?

V: My inspiration for both music and writing, no matter the form, is life and love. My very first poem was a love poem about springtime. I wrote it at my grandmother's house when I was in the fourth grade because I missed the springtime so much. I feel deeply and writing music, poetry and even fiction were my outlets. Angry love, romantic love, saying “f***k love”, and oh, the future. Writing is a powerful tool when it comes to manifesting and doing the work. I’m inspired by the person that I want to be, or my higher self, and a lot of times, I write as if I’m my future self already.

Jay: How are things going with the RVA Black Farmers Market?

V: RVA’s Black Farmer’s Market is such a blessing and a learning experience. We’re going on our third season and I finally feel as if I am getting the market to where I imagined it would be. It’s amazing to be able to provide space and opportunity for farmers and makers that look like me to sell their goods and products and be successful.

Jay: In what ways has the farmer market influenced your other passions?

What I love about the market are the opportunities it provides for the vendors. Many of them have expanded to bigger and better things and they started right at RBFM. So many vendors who were afraid to go into business have made collaborations with other vendors. It inspires my passions by reminding me that we all need somebody. We all need help to make it to where we want to be. Collaboration is truly key and I bring that lesson with me in all of my endeavors. Jay: Do you have any shows later in the year?

V: Currently, I’m on the bill for a show in Roanoke in May, but I plan on putting on a show for the Fall. Fingers crossed.

Jay: How did your time at Virginia State University influence your entrepreneurial career?

V: VSU is an incredible University because of the people around you while you’re there. I didn’t enjoy my time there like I should have because I set a goal to graduate early and worked two jobs. But dedicating myself to my goals and seeing them through is the thread from VSU to my entrepreneurial endeavors. Being an entrepreneur is all about how you pivot in order to reap results. It’s setting goals for yourself and your business and putting plans in place to see them through, and I learned that in my experience at VSU.

Jay: Who are some indie artists that you want to shout out?

V: Big love to Big Sty, Tracy Lamont, Low Beatz, Ratchet Ric, Michael Millions, the greatest Angel NativBlakk, and all other Richmond artists who show love!

Jay: What was the best no that you have ever received and why?

V: Spring 2016. I was in the car with my boyfriend at the time and we were having turbulence in the relationship. I hadn’t pursued music in years, but I had a feeling that I wanted to slowly dive back into writing music. He liked house music and he had a bit of experience in production. So on this car ride, I pitched the idea for us to do a small project together. In my mind, it was a great idea, but I got an instant shut down. I broke up with him about a week later, and that same week I started writing music again.

V The Writer can be found on Instagram at @iamnavimusic and stream her music on all platforms.

Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhisprime on all social media.

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