In 2019, Willie Jones is more than a character from an old song written by Charlie Daniels and covered by Bobby Bare. It’s also the name of a 24-year-old who blends country music topics and cadences with the confessional, first-person styling of underground hip-hop.

While simply being himself, the Los Angeles-based singer and songwriter chases Nashville stardom. This strong sense of individuality gives him a real shot at success in a business that, despite the fame of Kane Brown and others, still largely lacks African-American representation.

Want to know more about this unapologetic individual’s trek from singing country songs at talent shows to carving out his own niche in an insular business and prepping the release of his forthcoming debut album? Read on: