Entrepreneur: Justin James

Biz: King of Reads

Tilt: Blunt, funny, and accessible ways of engaging with pop culture, politics, etc., affecting Black people globally

Scene: Patreon (1.2K), YouTube (186K), Instagram (43.1K), Twitter (27.1K), and TikTok (6.6K)

Snack Bites:

  • Justin James, aka the King of Reads, fills a gap in mainstream media, providing a Black perspective on Black culture. 
  • Justin looks directly into the camera in his videos to promote a dialog with his audience.
  • Living with HIV, he incorporates his health status into his everyday content rather than dedicating a video or blog post to discuss it. 

Why We Stan: Justin James brings refreshing, fun, and thought-provoking takes on pop culture and more. He also has a confidence in who he is that his audience appreciates. (We’re also fans of his cheeky business name, and that’s no shade.)

The Story of Justin James, aka the King of Reads

Nearly a decade ago, Justin James’ first YouTube video, God Does Not See Your Status on Social Networks, started his camera-facing, raw takes on politics, pop culture, social constructs, and more. Since then, the King of Reads has stayed facing his audience, creating a dialog with the camera and covering topics in relation to the Black community normally overlooked by mainstream media. 

Month after month, the creator has covered The Real Housewives of Atlanta, pop stars like Chole Bailey, Nicki Minaj, and Jesy Nelson. He’s covered hot-button topics, such as colorism and texturism, and he’s turned it all into a content business with paid subscriptions available on Patreon.

Justin James (aka @TheKingofReads) gives his takes on pop culture, social constructs, and more that are rarely covered in mainstream media. #Stan #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Incorporating his life into his content

Justin, aka the King of Reads, talks candidly about his life. As he explains to TheBody, an HIV- and AIDS-focused publication: “​​People tell me that I never talk about HIV on my YouTube channel. I do. It’s not in a video with the title, ‘HIV and stigma,’ but I add it into conversations about other things.” 

Recently, Justin delved deeper into the topic when he created YouTube Originals-sponsored content on HIV awareness. The three-part series HIV: Living Positively discusses his status and HIV’s effect on the LGBTQ, Black, and other communities. In the video, he hosts a roundtable chat with HIV-positive friends and allies, including Byron Jamal, Marnina Miller, George M. Johnson, Dominique Jackson, and Kia LaBeija. They unpack their experiences with what it’s like dating and living with the diagnosis.

Justin tells The Body: “It’s easy for some people to make fun of people living with HIV, when really it should be, if we’re really interested in combating HIV, we should also be interested in combating HIV stigma.”

Developing cultural commentary content

A place for the Block pop culture zeitgeist, The King of Reads is a hub for young millennials looking for entertainment and noteworthy social commentary news by and for them. Alongside Justin, the website hosts the work of many young talented writers offering takes on Black culture. 

@TheKingofReads uses his #ContentBusiness as a place for other young talented writers to offer their takes on Black culture. #CreatorEconomy #Stan Click To Tweet

In The Best Tributes You Didn’t See On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021, writer Taylor S. writes about how annual MLK Instagram posts do not accurately portray the icon. She explains, “What we don’t see enough are actual dialogs about who MLK was and the type of radical he actually was. He was not a martyr – he died as the State turned a blind eye to the obvious plots against his life.”  

In another article, Justin disapproves of Black Love, a series on Black love, because it didn’t cast dark-skinned Black women. He tweeted his concern and highlighted posts from a series of Twitter users criticizing them on social media. 

This commentary fits well into the King of Reads’ content tilt. As Justin details in his mission statement on the Patreon page: “King of Reads® strives to provide original social commentary while also critiquing celebrity culture, capitalism, and how anti-Blackness as a whole contributes to how we, as Black folks, survive, exist, and see the world.”

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About the author

Shameyka McCalman is a wordsmith whose work often centers around fashion, art, and other creatives of color. She earned her communications degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston and enjoys sifting through clothes in local vintage shops, frequenting nearby plays, and gazing at exhibitions on view in museums.