Portrait of the Artist: I Am Many

David Justin Colon, aka I Am Many.
I Am Many, aka David Justin Colon. Photo by Aquiles Torres.

When not recording in the studio, preaching the good-word on veganism, training, or throwing down a few freestyle bars with his friend and contemporary Homeboy Sandman, you can often catch hip-hop artist I Am Many (aka David Justin Colon), with his headphones on, walking down Bay Ridge’s Fifth Avenue. I caught up with him in March. 

I wanted to talk to you about you, your relationship to Bay Ridge, how long you’ve been here, what it is you do…
I’m 34. I’ve been here my whole life. I make music, but I also do personal training. I recently went vegan and I occupy my free time watching videos about the Bible vs. Science…Sumerian stuff…ancient times…I don’t have a TV. It’s interesting, when you remove yourself from what’s considered entertainment, what you’ll gravitate to. Brain food has become my form of entertainment.

The industry (hip-hop) is largely considered entertainment. Do you consider the work you do entertainment?
I think I am entertaining because I offer a perspective that people who are involved in the culture that I am involved in don’t get very often. They don’t get the perspective of a free thinker. There are others, of course. I don’t see what [many] others are doing in this field as entertainment, but as junk-food for the mind and soul.

I know you from the rave scene in the 90s. Would you be able to address that and the other scenes you were culturally involved in growing up here?
I got into the rave scene when I was 16… it was still underground, nobody knew what it was…a friend of mine brought me to a party…I couldn’t believe that there was such a huge world that managed to remain underground. I dedicated myself to it for two years. Money was just the entrance fee. I was into liquid then popping [both forms of dance] and eventually into breaking [breakdancing] which brought me to Avenue U, where there was a B-Boy movement starting in Brooklyn. The rave scene brought me to the club scene, ya know, that brought me to the B-Boy scene and next thing you know, you’re a hip-hop head again.The underground always appealed to me because it was different…I always thought the outsiders were cool. A lot of things changed because of the iPod…it let you have a whole bunch of music from several genres; there really wasn’t that when we were kids…there was a divide…the hip-hop kids were here, the Goth kids were there, the Rave kids were there.

You express a dichotomy in your music between ideas about originality, uniqueness and singularity, and your name breaks that apart as “I Am Many.” There is a really interesteing back and forth between perspectives (i.e. Goth, Rave, B-boy, Graffiti, etc.) that you grew up with.
…I Am Many…but we are individuals…

You’ve got some new work you’re releasing this summer?
I think so. I’m taking my time with it because I’m in a transitional period in my life…spritually, mentally. The Born Again Sinner 2 album will be interesting because you’re going to get songs of a person within a certain state of mind, and then you’re going to get songs that show a person who has come out of that mindstate. Being in a better place.

Catch up on all of I Am Many’s releases and stay tuned for Born Again Sinner 2, to be released this summer, on his Bandcamp page.