“Hard working and humble.” That is the way a mutual friend described Toosii’s D.J., Johnny Goin 2X, before he introduced us. Nothing from that moment forward has convinced me of anything different. Johnny has opened for some of the biggest D.J.s on Earth, completed full tours alongside rap superstars and performed as the official D.J. of Toosii on the rapper’s first headlining tour in 2021- one that sold out every show – and yet Johnny speaks to me as though we met casually on the street.
I originally contacted Johnny through social media, and not long after we spoke on the phone. After bonding over common stomping grounds – we were both born and raised in North Carolina – Johnny spoke candidly about his philosophy on life. It was simple: “I’m just trying to remain humble.”
It is not that hip-hop is without humility. But, such self-awareness and modesty are rare for any 27-year-old, much less one that is riding with one of the rap game’s most promising young stars. Toosii and Johnny Goin 2X have already experienced enormous success, but there is a sense among fans and the media that these two are about to explode into the stratosphere. Still, Johnny presents himself as though he is just getting started – with the experience and maturity of a man perhaps twice his age. He is hungry for more success, and with his approach there is little doubt that he will get it.
I sat down with Johnny for an interview on March 24 (2022) to find out more about this D.J. extraordinaire and all-around decent human being.
HAVE YOU BEEN ON THE ROAD RECENTLY?
Our last show was in Miami, and that was a good spring break party…We are gearing up for April. We got like 8 shows.
WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOHNNY GOIN 2X LOOK LIKE?
I’m an entrepreneur. I wake up at about 7:20 [a.m.] and I go into the office around 8 o’clock…We do janitorial work, landscaping, maintenance work…You know we have different contracts around Raleigh…
DO YOU OWN THE BUSINESS?
Yeah. It is me and my father. It is called Management Professionals…It’s nonstop. But, around 5:00 P.M. I’ll probably sit around for a good hour…hang out with my buddies or studio time. It’s nonstop. There’s no days off. 2 lives man, Hannah Montana (laughing).
YOUR CHILL TIME IS YOUR WORK TIME?
Exactly. Exactly…It’s work but it is still fun, especially the music aspect of things, you know, because I love music and so it’s not like ‘Oh man, I’m so tired from work.’ It’s having fun being creative and connecting with people through music. [Now] is a time when people [need to be] in their best spirits…Gas prices are high. We are still in a pandemic. We have war going on. So like, what outlet can people really have, you know? That’s all we have is music to bring us together.
When Toosii first broke – it was the “Red Lights” record – but, that is when the pandemic had first hit and we couldn’t see our audience…We could only see the numbers going up online. But when we first started touring, and when we had our own tour, that’s when it was like, ‘Okay, cool. Like, people really rocking with us.” We were really impacting lives. People were leaving notes and letters and sending us mail [telling us] “This song got me out of this situation.” So that’s what it is really all about at the end of the day.
AND THAT WAS A BIG TOUR!
Big tour man. Yeah sold out every city.
WHAT DREW YOU TO MUSIC ORIGINALLY?
It was early…I’d say by the age of nine, I already had a passion for music, but I didn’t think I’d be doing music…I was listening to hip-hop all the time. I was real into the culture of fashion and clothes while everybody else was doing kid stuff, you know? But my mind was somewhere else. Like, I was nine years old asking my dad for Beats by Dre headphones.
SO IT CAME NATURALLY?
Yeah. And plus I looked up to a lot of O.G.s in the game like Diddy…So that’s how my process started with music.
WHAT IS YOUR MUSIC-MAKING PROCESS?
So usually, we’ll get a beat if it’s from me or not from me. With [Toosii], even when I first met him, I knew he was blessed with a talent…I can play a beat and the words tell him what to say. He doesn’t write. He doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t have no writers. He literally goes into a beat, like ‘Boom. Let’s go do it.’ He knocks out songs fast like Lil Wayne used to do. Like it’s crazy. It’s amazing. I knew one day it would pay off.
DO YOU IMPROVISE ON STAGE?
So like, every time before I go on stage, I’ll take an energy drink…I walk around and I pray…I don’t want no hiccups or nothing. I want everything to be perfect…I’m a perfectionist, especially on the stage. Like the labels, they care about music and everything, but it is really about what you can do on that stage. So I go out there and give 110% every, every day. You go from big audiences to clubs, and I give the same effort, and it is to make sure the people get their money’s worth, and feel like ‘Man, that was a good Toosii concert’…And also I keep my music different than a lot of people. I’m very, very studied of the game. I’ll hit that stage…and I’m on a whole different level.
YOU HAVE COMPLETED TOURS BESIDE POLO G AND DA BABY, OPENED FOR DIPLO AND COMPLETED A TOUR WITH TOOSII. THAT IS BIG TIME!
We finally got our first headlining tour after like..I would say we had about 3 other tours before that. We was with Polo G, we was with Da Baby…The Kascade and Marshmellow came early in my career before I even met Toosii…That was back in like 2015.
HOW OLD ARE YOU?
SO YOU STARTED YOUNG?
Yeah I started at age 17…summer of 2012.
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO PERFORMING NEXT TO FUTURE, KANYE WEST AND KENDRICK LAMAR AT ROLLING LOUD MIAMI?
Yeah bro. It’s really a blessing because…I’ve always dreamed about playing Rolling Loud, but I never thought about how I’d get there. I used to have daydreams like, ‘Man, I would love to rock that place out.’ When I met Toosii…about a year in it, I was like ‘Man, Rolling Loud [is] coming up and we’re not big enough yet,’ so I created my own concert. I came up with this thing called “Spring Madness”…and I ended up saving up enough money and renting out the Lincoln Theater in Raleigh…March 12, 2016 I believe…to go from that to Rolling Loud is just amazing.
WHO DO YOU WANT TO SEE PERFORM THE MOST AT ROLLING LOUD MIAMI?
Future. I’d say Future. If Drake was on it, I’d say Drake…but definitely Future. I’ve been a Future fan for a long time.
DO YOU GET NERVOUS PERFORMING AT AN EVENT LIKE THIS?
My first Rolling Loud was Miami last year…physical Rolling Loud – everything we did before that was the virtual. They had us confined to a studio and we had to do it virtually, you know, it was kind of awkward! But the first one we did in front of everybody was crazy. Like, I wasn’t nervous at all UNTIL (smiles and points at the camera)…So, the stage was like a high platform, like high, high. So, it’s like you couldn’t see nobody. So, I’m like, ‘Okay, what’s going on here? I can’t see nobody!’ Until I looked over the platform…I looked down and saw a crowd! A wave of people! I said EW! (covers his mouth in shock)…I thought I was about to fall!…I was like ‘Yo.’ (Laughing) There are so many people…It was like Sponge Bob or something! So I was like, ‘You know what…you got this.’ So, I ended up praying, and we ended up killing it.
IS GOD IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE?
Yes. He is, he is…I’m Christian but I’m not too big on like a specific religion…You can praise whoever you want. It’s still a God that you are praising. I feel like, whoever you are praising is really inside of you. It’s a spirit. You have to unlock that spirit. You have to bring that spirit with you. And like, ‘Hey, listen, we need to get this done.’ It’s like having a friend that will do anything for you, but you don’t hang out with em that way…Like, ‘Listen bro, I’m not about to blow your phone up, text you every day, but whenever you need me, I’m here.’ And that’s who God is to me, I feel like.
HOW CLOSE ARE YOU AND TOOSII?
We’re close. It’s like the little brother I never had. And it’s so crazy how you can spend so much time with somebody, it’s like, you don’t even really have to say anything to understand how they feelin. Or like, we’ll talk to each other without saying anything, like through our minds…Say we performin. We just bounce off of each other so well, and I know when he is gonna stop and take his breathes, and I come in. You know? It’s that type of thing, if you are ever able to see us in person. Anybody. Anybody who hears this interview, you will see the chemistry is on a thousand.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR STAGE NAME, JOHNNY GOIN 2X?
So listen, it started with Johnny Let’s Go…That’s what I was going by coming up. Then we started the whole 2X thing once “Red Lights” hit…When you have an artist on the rise you need a whole bunch of people around to get that push. Like, somebody gotta do this. Somebody gotta do that. Like a manager, an assistant, a D.J., security…We all came together and said, ‘Hey. We gonna call each other 2X’…And I ran with it. Johnny Goin 2X, like always going 2X harder….Going from being a contractor to a D.J. in everyday life and just going 2X harder.
WHO ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
Drake…I’m [also] slowly listening to Blue Bucks Clan. It’s a group out of California. They hard man, they hard. They like the hottest thing in Cali right now…They will be big like the Migos. They like that. Um, I listen to Ye…I listen to us. Like I said, I’m a studier of our craft as well, and making sure that our performances are great…Who else…surprisingly Justin Bieber. I said Diddy inspired me to start doing music, but what made me feel like ‘Man, I can really do it too,’ was Justin Bieber’s Netflix movie Believe. That’s what it was. I sat and watched it with my homeboy, and once he left I watched it like 10 more times and I was like, ‘Bro, I want to do this. This is my calling. I gotta get there one day…’
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO KEEP UP WITH YOU?
Find me on Instagram at @johnnygoin2X. I’m also on Facebook at Jonathan Johnny’ Debnam.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW THAT WE HAVE NOT COVERED?
…I can give some advice…Just believe. Ask, believe and claim it. ABC you know. That’s all we got to do in life is just sit back, you know what I’m sayin, and be patient and just know that whatever we want we can get.
AND YOU ARE LIVING PROOF OF THAT!
For sure. For sure…When I was coming up, my grandfather he was a pastor. So he was always like, ‘Grandson, you gonna be a pastor’…and I was like ‘Grandpa, I don’t know!’ (laughing) I couldn’t see myself talking in front of all these people. And, it’s crazy that I’m kind of like doin that now, but through music. Like, my testimony is a little different, but I’m still speakin the name of God…With Toosii music, we talk about a lot of things that other people don’t talk about…We want to hit home, like the struggles of life. Things that people are afraid to talk about. And this new album, I’d say its gonna drop around May – I can’t give the title right now – Man…it is a whole different lane. It’s Toosii going back to the older him…He’s going back to that sound…He’s going back to his roots and letting people know, ‘Who is Toosii, the artist? Who is this person?’ And he’s tellin em that. I feel like the world is gonna be shocked with this new music…But we are still writing this movie, and I’m just glad to be a part of the journey.
Cover photo by Brandon Jefferson: Eye of Takeoff Marketing & Media