By YRS Jerzy
Hip Hop Vibe Staff Writer
Everybody is talking about FX’s breakout sitcom, “Atlanta,” which stars both Childish Gambino and Brian Tyree Henry. The show has taken over Tuesday nights, receiving rave reviews. Most fans agree that this week’s episode was the best, hands down the funniest, yet.
The part that had everyone talking was Justin Bieber (Austin Crute). A show that operates outside of the box, just as Childish Gambino does, they had no issues making Justin Bieber black. Austin Crute really brought it home with his hilarious performance.
After “Atlanta” went off, fans on Twitter could not stop talking about “Black Justin Bieber” and it became the leading trending topic. Many were wondering who this actor was, he is Austin Crute, a talented rising artist and new celebrity. Hip Hop Vibe tracked him down and spoke to him in a quick interview about both his career and the show.
Read the entire interview below:
What is the best way you can describe your rise to fame? Wow, fame? Lol I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m “famous” quite yet. But, I’d like to think I’m currently rising. I’m starting to get more exposure through some of the things that I’ve done of late between musical theatre and television. I feel like this is, if anything, the start of the start of my rise to fame.
Can you tell the world more about your mixtape, PLAY? It was the summer of 2015 when I decided, “You know what…I’m going to trust myself and be an artist.” I’d been writing for artists throughout Atlanta, in New York, producing for people, and everyone told me I should be an artist. But it’s always that one or two people that get in your head when they tell you “you can’t be an artist” or “you’re only a songwriter.”
I grew afraid of myself, even though performing is crack to me. So, when I decided to do this tape, I did it void of any and all (okay, most) criticism. I really wanted to feel the freedom to do I wanted, to play. And, I was like “OO Hol’ up…that’s the name.” I wanted to make it fun, irrelevant, and, for all intents and purposes, a sonic representation of who I am right now.
I have a strong faith in God, so the first track is a prayer. I felt like the tape that introduces me into the world as an artist should start off with something of that caliber. Then from there on, I let myself create my sonic playhouse. Of course, I have some fun stuff on it, but I also fit deep, moral content in this tape. Being a Christian, I hold strong to certain convictions and, like anyone else, struggle sometimes to keep them intact.
But, it goes beyond religion, I’d like to think anybody can relate to the lyrics. “On the Low / Doctor” highlights the intensity of my deep internal conflicts. “Don’t Stop Now” is basically to every grown human being who their words hold weight in my life. Every post-adolescent college kid goes through this stuff, so I wanted to convey all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful things about my experience so far into one tape, without worrying about “acting hard” or “looking cool” (although, like…who doesn’t wanna look cool).
Music-wise, what comes next for you? I have a new single coming soon within the next couple weeks, and I’m releasing a new mixtape early 2017.
On the acting front, you made a big impression of viewers of “Atlanta,” how did you end up being cast for the show? I did a standard audition. My then-agent sent me the sides, then I went into the casting office and taped the scene. Next thing I know, I’m in the middle of class, and get a call from my agent that I got the role. I was so hype!
When you were cast, did you realize you’d be playing Justin Bieber? Yes and no. When they put out the casting call, the role was “Pop Star”. So, they kept the joke pretty hidden. But in the script, Earn (Childish Gambino) clearly said “Oh sh*t, it’s Justin Bieber” before I say “I’m gonna dunk on a b*tch.” So, I saw the name, but I thought, I don’t know, maybe they haven’t chosen the name yet, or something. I definitely was not at all in on the joke in the audition process. But, after I got the call, it sank in like “Bruh…I’m black Justin Bieber lol.” But even then, I still wasn’t in on the layered implications of what that meant, you know? I just thought it was hilarious a joke and that’s it.
You made quite the impact on Twitter, with “Black Justin Bieber” trending for three hours. Did you think your role would go viral? Not at all, not like that. Yeah, I thought it’d be funny to people, and yeah, I thought my music would get a few more plays but trending? Playa I was mid to high key shocked. Then again, the sheer success of the show, itself, off rip should’ve, let me in on the impact it was probably going to have. And, when I think about it, it is a play on one of the biggest pop stars of our time so, of course the negro-fication of the man would be a big deal.
Did you have a chance to speak with Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino while you were on set? Yeah, a few times. He’s really chill and cool-headed. He knows what he wants, and knows how to get it. I can tell his gears are constantly going. He’s a dope artist.
Will you be making future appearances on “Atlanta?” Who knows! I’d love to be back on that show, it was such a great experience. Everyone was so nice and the craft services was bomb, I’m so sorry, shoutout craft services. Hiro did tell me in a sidebar that it is possible so who knows, it’s all up to them. I really do hope so.
How can fans keep up with you on social media? Everybody can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook as @AustinCrute. On Snapchat it’s @acrute. The only reason that’s not “austincrute” too is because I didn’t remember the password when I first made SnapChat. Lil irrelevant. Also, my SoundCloud is Austin Crute (acrute)! Follow me!
Follow YRS Jerzy on Twitter @IAMYRSJERZY.