John Robinson aka Lil’ Sci
The key to balancing the business and creative sides of hip-hop is to not separate them at all, and the product for John Robinson is a decades-long career as a creator, label-runner, educator, author and then some.
Young JR witnessed a friend’s parents show and tell about their musical endeavors in elementary school in Queens and this pivotal moment gave Robinson his first inflection point in a life of hip-hop. Soon after, he started making his own poems and raps with friends. Robinson grew up in the tri-state area (The Bronx, to Queens, to Jersey, to be more specific) and in the mid ’90s began attending showcases as Lil’ Sci of Scienz of Life—a group with his brother ID 4 Windz and their late comrade Inspector Willabee. Scienz of Life caught the ear of Bobbito—of New York radio’s legendary Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito Show—who helped release Robinson and Scienz of Life’s music through Fondle ‘Em Records.
JR and Scienz Of Life officially connected with MF DOOM, who was a label mate via Bobbito’s Fondle ‘Em Records as he made his turn to the Masked Villain at the time. This re-connection happened outside of Atlanta’s grimy and legendary MJQ in 1999 and soon after Robinson and Scienz of Life relocated down South. There, JR and Scienz of Life posted up in a loft outside of ATL making cold calls to record stores and radio shows, learning website and graphic design as well as many other indie music related business tasks I.E. designing merchandise and promotional materials, all while performing and making music–encompassing the true customs of an independent artist.
Robinson moved to Los Angeles right before the percolation of LA’s lo-fi beat scene in 2003. Work with Blu, Emanon (Exile and Aloe Blacc), Ta’Raach and more through independent label Shaman Work Recordings helped round Robinson’s professional catalog in front of and behind the scenes. All the while, Robinson has released dozens of solo and collaborative projects over the last 25 years.