Courtesy of Josh Bleen
After constantly changing zip codes, masked horrorcore hip-hop artist Josh Bleen has finally found his roots in Columbus, where he has resided on and off for 29 years.
Horrorcore is a subculture of hip-hop marked by dark and, to some, disturbing lyrics. The subculture, which controversially formed from Houston’s Geto Boys, is most widely known through Insane Clown Posse, a Detroit group known for its controversial lyrics.
Bleen, whose stage name is J Biz R., said he realized he wanted to be a musician in 2000, when he started freestyling with his brother in Austin, Texas. He moved back to Columbus last year.
“I was in high school, and me and my bro would freestyle. My brother wasn’t really into it. I did other projects and … started a group called Dented Mindz,” Bleen said.
The trio loosely formed two years before its first show, but the chemistry was never there from the beginning, Bleen said.
“(Dented Mindz) did our first show in 2006. It was lame, nobody showed up,” Bleen said. “We put an album together, released the album and it didn’t sell that great … But we were proud.”
After the disappointing album sales, Bleen said he decided to go solo as an artist and producer.
“The group broke up. Everyone flaked off, but I constantly had a solo project going. So it went from Dented Mindz, the group, to Dented Mindz Production,” Bleen said.
Once Bleen started taking on the sole responsibilities of Dented Mindz Production, he said self-marketing and promotion became a top priority. In an effort to create a recognizable image for himself, Bleen put on a mask on stage. “In Texas I did it a lot. I never wear it all the time. I like it, though,” he said. “It really exposes a person flipping in and out of sanity.”
He has yet to expose Columbus to his trademark stage prop, but said he’s planning on bringing it back to the stage Halloween.
The mask’s design is dark in nature, but not entirely frightening, comparable to Mardi Gras mixed with a healthy dose of Jason from “Friday the 13th.”
And Bleen doesn’t wear it for the entire show.
“The real reason I don’t wear (the mask) the whole time is that s— will muffle your vocals,” he said. Bleen does, however, wear the mask atop his head, allowing it to remain a constant part of his on stage persona.
For Bleen, the mask represents his style as an artist.
“(My sound) has a broad span, mainly focused on the darker side. My main s— is those Halloween albums. Overall (it) is very underground, very Halloween,” he said.
Every Halloween, Bleen releases a mixtape in celebration of the holiday. This year will mark Bleen’s seventh consecutive mixtape release.
Still doing his own promotion, Bleen said he’s spanned High Street from the Short North to North Campus promoting himself with fliers and through networking.
Ken New, Bleen’s personal tattoo artist and owner of New Flesh Ink, a tattoo parlor in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, spoke highly of Bleen’s promotional escapades.
“He works hard. Sometimes it’s all about the grind. He’s a very versatile artist and he’s a master of his craft,” New said.
Kayla K, an independent female rapper in Ohio whose real name is Kayla K Miller, has worked with Bleen extensively since his arrival back in Ohio.
“He kept bugging me and I loved his enthusiasm. We do a lot of work together,” Miller said.
Bleen’s latest artistic venture is a Columbus super-group called the UNDERLORDZ. The super-group consists of four artist: J Biz R., Mr. UNSTABLE, J. Trouble and UNRATED. It’s planning to release its first album “Enter the Coven” in November.
The super-group’s members share the same artistic style as Bleen, and he said he has high hopes of the foursome rising above underground success.
“We’re going to launch off of (‘Enter the Coven’). I know it,” Bleen said. “It’s solid and I have full faith.”
Bleen is next scheduled to perform Sunday at 4 p.m. at Alrosa Villa, located at 5055 Sinclair Road.