The Bandemic Is Real: A Conversation With IHateJulian

Photo by @sagecausie

It’s been nearly a year to the day since IHateJulian dropped his first track on Soundcloud. Over the past 12 months, the Broward County native has built up his catalog by dropping music in waves throughout 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the world, IHateJulian found a way to rise above all the adversity he faced especially when the state of Florida was on lockdown.

Julian Hanlan took advantage of his free time to capitalize on his notoriety in the film and nightlife industries by entering the music industry as IHateJulian. When you press play on his music, his confident rhymes and melodic flows instantly stand out. Songs like “I Ain’t Impressed (Remix)” and “Sex Symbol” put his braggadocio bars and unique beat selection on full display. Despite his rap alias, Hanlan has been getting a lot of love from his longtime fans, and new ones. 

“Some of my career inspirations are Nick Cannon and Diddy,” IHateJulian told Citrus Rap. “How they tackle every avenue of entertainment, I figured in due time I should tackle every avenue of entertainment. I always knew I had the skills to rhyme and stuff like that so it’s just a part of my journey.” 

Born in Broward County, Florida, Hanlan began his journey as an entertainer in high school. His opportunities to host major events followed him through to college at Florida Atlantic University, where his plans for bigger productions flourished. Hanlan acted as the MC next to the DJ at all the events he either put together or was a part of. He would assist the DJ and help curate the party and get the vibes going. Hanlan even launched his own imprint 2KLIFE in 2009, which hosted the infamous 2K Pool Party in Miami that brought out people by the thousands before the pandemic hit. 

Not only was he one of the most prominent hosts on campus, but he also garnered a separate audience as an actor. In 2013, Hanlan joined a group of his friends to create “Close Friends,” a web series that lasted four seasons and won the award for ‘Best Web Series’ at the American Black Film Festival. He went on to star in another series called “Diary Of A Cheating Man” and two films Intuition and True Colors

The party promoter and actor had it made, that is, until the pandemic hit. Since cities including Fort Lauderdale and Miami had shut down, Hanlan wasn’t caught up with curating the vibes at his parties or shooting new scenes for an upcoming movie. That’s when he got inspired to pursue his other passion: music. 

“I’ve been into hip-hop and rap since I was like six-years-old,” Hanlan explained. “When I was in elementary school, I used to write down rhymes in my notebook so it’s always been a silent hobby of mine. I could owe it all to COVID and quarantine like that idle time just made me feel like ‘why not?’ This is the perfect time to start something new and build on it.” 

Thus, IHateJulian was born. He dropped his freestyle “What’s Ya Budget” at the top of the quarantine. Soon after, the Broward County native began dropping tracks regularly. He even began collaborating with the crib’s more prominent MC’s like Zoey Dollaz and Jay Burna. In May 2020, IHateJulian dropped his debut project Feed My Ego. The 13-track album includes stand-outs like “Sex Symbol” and his song with Zoey and BenDaDonn called “Which One?” 

Feed My Ego is really very experimental because it was my first project,” IHateJulian said. “I didn’t have any goals for it. If one person listens to it, if 5 people listen to it, that was going to be considered a success to me because it was me just stepping into something new and I understand how that is.”

The album is the first collection of songs IHateJulian worked on during his time in quarantine. Songs like “I Ain’t Impressed” and “VVS” featuring Kenny allow us to experience his versatility as an artist. The positive reaction to his first record was good enough for him to work on his second project of 2020. Three months after dropping Feed My Ego, Hanlan released Keep It Player.

IHateJulian comes through with 12 fresh tracks for his follow-up. His standout single “Bandemic” featuring Teddy Blow is an ode to all the bands he’s been racking up since the pandemic began, and what’s been doing with it. He also calls on fellow Broward rapper Lajan Slim to hop on for “I Just” as well as other guests like Kenny, Starling, Arlon, Lee Cavalli, and Judah. Julian says Keep It Player is a lot more “sonically cohesive” than his previous body of work. 

“I focused more on my lyrics in the second project versus that fun feel in the first project,” IHateJulian said. “Not to say the first project doesn’t have good lyrics though. I was also focused more on making the second project like sonically cohesive.” 

Julian kept his foot on the gas until the end of 2020. In the final months of the year, he dropped off loosies like “Song Cry” and “Hold It Down.” In the weeks following the untimely passing of King Von, IHateJulian released his own tribute to the fallen MC with “Crazy Story.” 

“Over the past year, “Crazy Story” has been one of my most-played songs,” Julian explained. “So that’s something I would listen to while I work out, when I’m running, and stuff like that. So when he passed, I would say it affected me because it’s not a lot of times where people have passed where I really connected with their music. But just specifically this one song, I connected with it a lot, and the next day after he passed I was like ‘Yo I should do a freestyle to this song’ because it is my favorite song from him and I’d be honoring him by telling a story in my own way.’”

Julian Hanlan’s evolution from prominent party host to rising rapper IHateJulian is a success story in itself. As we ring in the new year, Julian continues to find new inspirations that make him run to the studio. Over a week into 2021, the Broward rapper hit the ground running with his latest freestyle “Crocodile Teeth.” He’s also got plans to flex his acting muscle and dominate nightlife once again. 

“I also shot a movie during the pandemic called Intuition 2,” IHateJulian said. “The first one did really good on Amazon and Netflix. So this is the sequel to that. There’s no set date yet but it will drop in 2021. Then, back to my events, I’m hoping that things get back to normal so that we can continue our 2K Pool Party, which is the biggest pool party in the whole South.” 

Listen to “Crocodile Teeth” above.