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Campus Celebrity: Julian “JSWISS” Caldwell

There is a reverberant allure to Dobbs Ferry, New York native and UNC Senior Journalism and Mass Communication major, Julian Caldwell. I will never forget my first time seeing him rap at Jack Sprat Café in Chapel Hill. His bars were like lyrical incantations resurrecting a denigrated art form and I remember the lingering sense of enchantment I felt after I caught the bus home.

Julian—or “JSWISS”, as he is known to fans—possesses an enigmatic quality that commands attention, an energy that magnetizes audiences and makes you want to know him. Per our latest edition of “Campus Celebrity,” Her Campus endeavored to do so.

HC: What did you dream of being as a kid?
JSWISS: Um, basketball player…. all these people around town knew me because I was the person always dribbling the basketball through the streets going to the park or whatever. I used to wear basketball jerseys every day…I still got a bunch of them—those are like throwbacks. My kid is going to be hooked up with Jordan Jerseys and all that stuff, yeah.

HC: So when did you let go of that [dream]?
JSWISS: Um, I really let go of it officially, probably during my sophomore year here. I mean, I went to a small high school. I didn’t have this decorated basketball team while we were there but I still had this idea that I was going to come here and I was going to work and I was going to walk on. Freshman year, I stayed in Hinton James. I would wake up in the mornings before class, go to the gym and shoot and stuff. I played club my first year here. That went pretty well. Next year, you know, I was like, I’m going to make the step to JV if I can…. I didn’t make JV that year so I didn’t do club and then I think that was the last year I tried out for JV. It was a real ambition…where I’m from, in Dobbs Ferry, not a lot of people play basketball, which is fine… I would go to the park by myself and I’d be working on my game, shooting for hours—because I had something to work towards. And now, it’s like if I go and do that, it’s not as motivating to be out there putting up hundreds of shots…..It’s a little sad but I guess that’s something else now. But I still love basketball. I wear this basketball chain that monetarily is probably worth like $15 max, including the chain, but I still wear it. And if I lost it, I’d be devastated.

HC: Wow.
JSWISS: Yeah, that’s the deep story behind it (*laughs*)

HC: Well, thank you for intimating that to me. So, you’re from New York. What led you to Carolina?
JSWISS: Um, well, I was into sports—basketball—and journalism… and I knew it was a school that was good in sports and good just in school generally. Then, looking into it more, I found that actually journalism, specifically, they were one of the best.

HC: Since coming to Chapel Hill, how do you feel that your extracurricular activities—with the rapping and journalism—have helped you to grow?
JSWISS: I mean, it’s great… the opportunities with the sports in journalism, being at such a big sports school, to see ESPN and they’re covering the same stuff you’re covering, it’s cool. Um,as far as rapping, really coming here is what started it…. you hear a lot of people say oh, I dropped out of school to start my rap career but coming to school is what really spurred my rap career so that’s cool. So, you know it’s been great to do the journalism thing, the rapping thing, meet a lot of new people experimenting with things. I think I’ve done a good job of taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible…..I feel like, in my four years here, I’ve been able to make an imprint.

HC: Share a little bit about No9to5 and your connection with them.
JSWISS: Yeah, um, No9to5—it’s been coming together for about a year now. It’s Josh Rowsey, J. Rowdy—he was the mastermind behind bringing all of us together…..we’ve all been doing it for different amounts of time but right now, it’s like a family. We’re all close friends. We perform together. It’s a great energy. We have a movement of No9to5, you know, quit your day job…and it’s about just doing what you love, even if it is a 9 to 5, having a job be something that’s not really a job or a chore but something that you love, which for us, is music.

HC: Okay. Final Question: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
JSWISS: That’s far ahead. I’m hoping in ten years, that I’m at a spot that I’ve already been at for several years. I hope, even say, five years from now, I’m doing music, touring. And you know, ten years from now to continue doing that. I mean, hopefully, it doesn’t take ten years to get to that spot where I’m doing what I love as a job and being able to go to different countries and perform for people and still doing the music that I want to do….fulfilling my own standards of what I feel my music should sound like and having people recognize it and um, you know, not being known as a campus rapper anymore. I want to come back for homecoming and have them pay me $100,000 and people be in line. I see it being completely possible….like I said, within five years.

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Jaleesa Jones

Chapel Hill

Jaleesa Jones is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a communication studies major with double minors in journalism and screenwriting. She is president and co-campus correspondent of the UNC chapter of Her Campus, a Collegiate Correspondent for USA TODAY and a member of the Carolina Association of Future Magazine Editors, Carolina Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Jaleesa loves covering lifestyle, race, feminism and the arts. In her spare time, she enjoys confusing her roommate with alternating sessions of Juicy J and Taylor Swift, imagining her Ramen was pasta, and binge-watching movies - because TV series are so '90s. 
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