Justin LaBoy made a wine glass of red liquid and a wooden coffee table just about as famous as what Jay-Z did for the New York City Yankees fitted cap. Though that may be hyperbolic, the impact of the 28-year-old social media comedian’s Demon Time series, consisting of women exploring their sexuality on Instagram Live, has catapulted the seemingly two random words into a prominent piece of pop culture in 2020. Beyoncé gave it a shoutout on the “Savage” remix with Megan Thee Stallion and Lil Yachty released a song inspired by it. Its rapid success during the COVID-19 pandemic’s early days has led to him gaining an immense following, a deal for the Demon Time franchise with OnlyFans that was announced in May. The new social media movement called “Respectfully,” gave him the social capital to do just about anything that he wants creatively.
One of those creative pursuits is becoming a rapper, inspired by a chance trip to the studio when he didn’t have anything to do after a club closed early. “I got there, instrumentals were playing and I knew “Respectfully” needed some type of anthem or song,” he says over Zoom about the experience. “I went in there, I made that record, and it sounded good.”
He’s referring to “Respectfully,” his debut single, named after his new movement, that explores his comedic perspective on life and relationships. “I’ve already made five playlists on Apple music, five on Tidal, and hundreds of thousands of streams,” he says about his first song’s success. “ I’m still finding my footing in it, but I know when you make those types of playlists with bigger artists — without a strong label backing and money — people are genuinely picking up on the record.”
LaBoy spoke with BET about his debut single “Respectfully,” future plans for Demon Time, and more below. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What was the original inspiration for Demon Time?
Truthfully, I just wanted to help women out. I come from a family of nightlife. Me and my brother, we own nightclubs and that whole industry was left out when the pandemic hit. You didn’t hear anybody say like, “Oh my God, the clubs are closing,” or, “The women in the night life need help or they’re being affected,” it was more so the corporate people with careers. So my thing for Demon Time was let’s get these women paid. We did it to empower women and make sure that their families and everything was able to be taken care of as well.
How did Demon Time grow so fast?
I don’t know. I felt like when you first do something naturally, people just automatically jump at it. When I created that, it was fresh into the pandemic; no one knew what was going to come on. The whole world’s locked in the house on their phone and it was just fun. Then the celebrities started to come around that weren’t on their burner accounts, but their real ones that showed the human side of them. It’s like going to a club and everybody’s hosting it. The Weeknd and Drake were active in the comments, and it felt like they were hosting the events.
Then, also, I didn’t want to just spotlight the same kinds of bodies. I come from a Black queen, so my focus was on them, then white women, Spanish women, and more, of all shapes and sizes. I just wanted to be inclusive with everybody. So, I felt like the fact it was unpredictable, it wasn’t planned and we had all types of women for everybody, whatever you may like and everybody got to make money. I feel like everybody just wanted to be a part of the movement, so that was really cool.
How have you kept growing your platform since ?
I was actually banned from Instagram for Demon Time and I had an article in the New York Times that explained what was going on. The executives at Instagram didn’t like it so I was banned from the whole platform. And then, I knew I had to recreate myself, reinvent myself. Outside was opening, the COVID cases were dropping at that time. The sex world, the fun world, the turn-up world, is only for a certain number of people. With Demon Time, a lot of my new friends and my new associates were celebrities and they couldn’t help me promote anything.Everyone enjoyed it, but they couldn’t help me promote it. I knew I couldn’t stay in that space for so long.
So at that point I had to go into the meme game. I used my experiences, pain, heartbreak, and everything I go through into words on a page, which was even more significant than Demon Time.Then I got unbanned, I got my page verified. I’m at 1.4 million followers now. I get to work with some of the biggest names in the industry and everyone gets to share my content with no shame or they don’t care what nobody thinks.
Do you have any post-quarantine plans for Demon Time?
There’s a lot of stuff that I wanted to get done, like live events or getting into reality TV. Maybe like a Demon House like how Bad Girls Club was because I feel like that would be something special. I want to be at events like Coachella and Rolling Loud. I’ve been working on my little music. I’ve been working on DJing just to give Demon Time sets at festivals. I know everyone’s going to be reaching out when outside opens.I just can’t wait for everything to go back to normal so I can just do it all.
When did you decide to get into music and what was that decision like?
For many years people always used to be like, “You should do music or you should try to get into the music industry. Maybe you should be a music executive or an A&R.” A lot of my friends were rappers, and I would just be around, I’d be listening, but I never tried. But I was actually out in LA and my guy, Dallas Martin, he works over at Atlantic. He was in the studio, and I didn’t know that the spots out here we’re closing early. So I was at a spot, I’m thinking it’s going to close at two or three, it ends at one. I’m like what’s there next to do? So I called him, “Where you at?” he’s like, “I’m in the studio man, pull up, come say what up”.
And I got there, instrumentals were playing and I knew “Respectfully” needed some type of anthem or song. I went in there, I made that record, and it sounded good. But then I made other records and there’s a lot, people don’t know that’s coming. So that was a fun record, and that was my first time ever in a booth. So I just started doing music a month ago.
I played it for Drake, and I played it for Meek, and they were like, “Oh sh*t, you can really do this. Like take it serious”. So I just wanted to put the record out to see what people think, and I’ve got thousands of people tagging me in the videos every day. I’m in rotation in New York, LA right now, and Canada. So, we’ll see what’s next.
Do you have any plans for an album in the near future?
Yeah, I’m actually thinking about dropping a mixtape around Christmas. I got some huge features, man. I wish I could really share the names on them, but if you follow me on social media, I only follow 90 people. So, you’ll see some of those rappers in the following section, but they were excited. So I’m sitting on about five, six big records. So right now it’s just, do I want to sign an EP deal, do I want a distribution deal? Two, three labels already offered me seven figure EP deals.
I feel like God is using me as a vessel to show everybody that he qualifies us. There’s people who’ve been rapping their whole life who haven’t gotten record deals, just in general. So I just love how he’s using me as an example for people to know that they can accomplish anything if they put their mind to it. I wasn’t qualified, I didn’t graduate from nothing, I didn’t study no music or I didn’t do… I just tried my best and things are happening, so I just want everybody to know that anything is possible, especially right now in this pandemic.
What do you want fans and everybody reading this to know about Justin LaBoy?
I’m not afraid of any challenge or stepping into any new ventures. I want everybody to keep trying. I feel like some people, for instance, if they play basketball and don’t make the NBA, they settle for being average because they couldn’t be Lebron James. I feel like we all have that inner genius and those inner talents in us, and those blessings that we don’t tap into or try because we’re afraid. If something fails, try the next thing and eventually, you’re going to get something. I’m just glad that I did that. I never gave up and kept reinventing myself until I found my purpose. Right now, I feel like I’m there.
Photo Credit: Justin LaBoy