great, better than ever. I just had a birthday on June 4. Shout out to
all the Gemini's. Angelina Jolie has the same birthday as me. Holler at
your boy! (laughs)
going to adopt some kids?
I might have
to go to Africa because she's got it popping over there. If I were to
adopt a kid, I'd probably go to China. There are a lot of orphaned children
been tearing it up lately. What's your mind-state been like the past couple
doing this whole mini-campaign I created myself. I'm leaking my own songs.
Basically, I've been in the studio making my music and a lot of times
people record for a certain project, but I've just been recording and
putting the songs out. I'll record it and get the urge to share it with
everybody. Much love to y'all for supporting it. I'll post it on my MySpace
and get some feedback on it. It's been great. I've been getting a lot
of positive feedback so far. It's been a lot of love. The MySpace is popping
so that's a good thing. I've had my profile up since '04. It's not an
overnight thing. There are a few people who have me on smash as far as
views and friends. I use my MySpace as a platform for getting feedback
on my music and for interacting with the fans who want to give their two
cents on whatever I'm doing.
as though you actually enjoy interacting with your fans.
Let me break
it down like this: This whole MySpace phenomenon has gotten so crazy that
labels and artists are finally starting to see it as a good promotional
tool. I guess for me, it's kind of like second-nature because I've been
doing the whole chatting and message board thing since way before. I'm
a message-board baby. I was registering and posting threads ever since
I was a teen. As I evolved as an artist, I think that whole process evolved
with me, from logging on to AIM and more.
a new generation of MC.
is. Everyone's doing the blogs now, even the journalists. It's cool, but
it's tricky. There are a lot of journalists who approach it differently.
Some are interesting and some are idiots who go about it however they
can just to create a buzz for themselves.
brings us to the "Fuck Jay-Z" joint.
think you were dissing Jay-Z at first?
irony. I was on my YouTube grind. Every now and then I might go on a YouTube
binge and for two or three hours just look for shit to watch. I started
coming across some wild diss videos. They were dissing known rappers,
unknown rappers, and some were even dissing me. Then I noticed that this
whole beef thing was turning into a platform for people to get on. Hip-hop
is competition. It's always been a competitive sport. I'm talking about
the people who just diss out of the blue and know they are just trying
to use it as a tool. When I did that, I was like, "Let me do a record
about that." I knew if I said "Fuck so-and-so" it would
get a crazy reaction. I wanted to put in somebody who I knew would get
a reaction. That's why I mentioned Jay. Jay was just a variable. It could
have been anybody with that title. He just happens to be one of my personal
favorites. The listeners proved my point that diss tracks spark interest.
People love that kind of shit. They'll listen to that song just for the
sheer fact they're dissing somebody. It's dope, though. Someone sent me
a link to a chatroom at DefJam.com and somebody asked Jay if he heard
the song and he responded, "It's clever." That's cool. It is
what it is. It was me trying to be creative, which is what's lacking in
you think creativity is disappearing?
different agendas. People approach the whole rap thing differently now.
For some people, they're just trying to make a dollar and cake up while
they can, which is respectable. You're trying to do something positive
as opposed to something stupid you could be doing in the streets. I'm
trying to make a dollar too, but I guess people have different formulas.
Their formula is making music that doesn't challenge the listener. That's
not a bad thing because some of the first hip-hop records, like the Kurtis
Blow records, weren't exactly mind-challenging. Those may not be the most
lyrically mind-blowing joints, but they are still considered classic records.
It just seems those types of songs are what radio and TV wants to push
severely over anything else these days. Nine times out of ten when you
turn on your radio, you're hearing the "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It"
joints. They're not horrible records by any means, but that's what they
want to play. If people really wanted the shit to change, they could make
it change. People are all complaining about the state of hip-hop and the
direction it's going, but they can make a change if they want. They're
the ones who buy the CD's, listen to the radio and watch the videos. If
the masses truly felt that Hot97 was playing garbage, all they have to
do is turn it off for an hour. That will make their programming change
drastically. It's on the people. It's partly the artists' fault and partly
your relationship with the DJ's now?
had ill relationships with DJ's. There are a handful of DJ's who support
me, but even then, a lot can only support my shit to a certain extent.
DJs are in a tricky position sometimes. There might be joints they don't
want to necessarily play, but their boss is saying they have to play these
ten songs in the next hour. I give the DJ's who try to incorporate their
own sound into their mix credit because some don't even do that. Some
will say I'm not in their radar or on their list so they can't play it.
A lot of people don't understand it. People will tell me my song with
Kanye was crazy and ask me "why wasn't it on the radio?" The
reality is there are lists for radio stations. If you're not on that list,
no matter how hot that record is, you're not going to get played. There
are a lot of hot records you may personally love but will probably never
hear them on the radio because they're not on the list.
get more love from the radio when you were Ruff Ryders-affiliated?
good-ass question. Being a part of that collective was crazy and I have
no regrets about that. No matter how you cut it, Ruff Ryders is in the
history books. My agenda was always to be a part of it and add my own
little chapter to the books. It's weird because now that I'm doing Jin
and I'm in my own lane making my music, people are like, "This is
you. The Ruff Ryders sound was never you." I don't think the Ruff
Ryders were trying to turn me into something I wasn't. I think at that
time in my life I was trying to figure out stuff for myself. On one side,
they were telling me they needed a certain joint to be a single, and then
the partner, Virgin, would want me to go another way. I'm trying to transform
that whole process into my music so people know what really happened.
"Long Winding Road" probably got the most positive response
out of all the songs I've ever put out. That song has gotten a lot of
positive feedback. I think it's mainly because it's from the heart and
there are no other intentions other than me letting this shit out. I appreciate
all the people who gave me positive feedback on that record.
a year since the "I Quit" statement. What are your thoughts
on that statement today?
You got the
ill questions left and right. I can never regret that. I had to go through
that to evolve into who I am now. The "I Quit" thing, not just
the record, but everything I said in the song, at that point in my life,
I felt there was so much I wanted to remove myself from in order for me
to find the purpose and direction I wanted to go. I don't mean just the
Ruff Ryders situation, but the game as a whole. The rap game was crazy
and I needed to step away from it. In me stepping away from it and me
doing the "I Quit" shit, when I was going through that, Properganda
wasn't even on my radar. I still had a passion for making music, so I
had to go in and record that shit. It was a great experience because I
ended up doing that project without any influence from any labels or A&R's.
I didn't need or want anyone telling me something wouldn't get spins on
the radio. I was getting a lot of love from that project. Some say that
Properganda was one of the iller albums to come out that year and I'm
super-proud of that.
MC's need a coach to push them in the right direction. Do you need a coach
to be successful?
I don't think
I need a coach, but producers can make a big difference. Dre and RZA are
great producers. I don't know why more people don't say RZA when talking
about incredible producers. Sometimes MC's can have the illest concepts,
but it takes a producer to transform that into a hot record. Let's look
at Eminem. He's arguably one of the illest MC's, but you better believe
Dre killed that shit on the Slim Shady LP as far as the way he constructed
it. Not to take anything away from Em, but I'm saying Dre did a lot for
that project. You can tell Dre put a lot into that. Even if you listen
to both Chronic albums. They're both classics and the production was crazy
in how it was put together. I don't necessarily need a coach, but if you
put an artist together with a producer together, it could be magic. Imagine
if I hooked up with Dre. This is not a plea for Dre to sign me, but I
don't think anyone is better than Dre in brining out the best in an artist.
Look at what he brought out of 50. Put Dre and Phonte together or Dre
and Lupe Fiasco. You catch my drift. The people around you when you're
recording and writing can totally change your perspective on things.
looking for your own Dre?
I'm at a
crossroads. I don't wake up every day like, "Fuck, when is this deal
coming?" I think when you have that mentality, it clouds your creative
thinking. These records I'm putting out are records I'm making at leisure.
The hunger is still there, but it's a different type of hunger. I think
once you say, "I need to get signed," you lose sight of what
the goal is, which is making dope music and building your fan-base up.
your main focus right now?
up this Chinese album. I'm going to be in Hong Kong for a minute to see
what type of opportunities are out there. Hip-hop is growing all over
the world, especially in Asia. I'm going to try to be the bridge for the
cats out there trying to get up on the hip-hop scene but they don't have
a thorough knowledge of the culture and what it's about. They don't have
an identity out there. There are cats who rap in Chinese but it only gets
to a certain level because I guess people don't see it yet. I'm going
to go out there and just try to do what I do and bring something different
to the table. I've been blessed to live in a household where I spoke Cantonese
frequently so I am able to speak it now fluently. People look at Asia
and think its nothing to sell a shitload of records out there because
of its huge population, which is actually a huge misconception. In reality,
the market for consumers who purchase music is actually not that large.
I think it will be an interesting just to see what type of feedback I
get with the project. Meanwhile, I have wild joints in the stash just
joints to hold my US fans over. I'll send them to HipHopGame every two
weeks just for the hell of it.
see yourself as a role model for kids?
Whenever somebody becomes a public figure, you become a role model and
you put yourself out there to be criticized and judged. How you deal with
that is on you. Artists might say, "I'm not trying to be no role
model. Parents, take care of your kids." That's just a cheap excuse
to get out of it. I believe parents need to keep an eye on their children,
but we all know these kids are not listening to their parents. They'll
be quicker to do what their favorite rapper tells them to do. That's the
way it is. I don't try to front like I'm a perfect saint, but I'm going
to attempt to pass something positive on to the next generation. I'm going
to tell them it's not cool. I'm going to tell them I wish I could stop
drinking and that shit is not a good feeling. I'm not an alcoholic, but
I'll get twisted sometimes. I'll tell kids they didn't need that in their
You need to know how to control whatever your vice is.
see yourself battling anymore?
whole 'nother chapter right there. The battling scene ain't what it use
to be no more. They're showing the Serius Jones Fight Klub battle on MTV
now. We had battled in October of '05 and now they're showing it on TV.
Everybody's hitting me like, "What happened, Jin? You need to reclaim
your crown." I already had when we went to the Bahamas a month after
that battle. That's another story. I won that one. When I won that one,
I re-established to myself that I still had it. People are telling me
today to not let the loss get me down. I guess the reality is they don't
realize that I already bounced back. You win some, you lose some. You
can't win them all. The same way people are saying, "You got ate
at that battle. That dude killed you" is the same way they'd say,
"Jin, you killed it" at another battle. What does it say about
me if someone can make a name and career off of beating me in a battle?
That says more about me than them.
Serius Jones was going to come with a Chinese joke at some time in the
battle. Does that bother you at all?
Not at all.
I blame myself because I feel I didn't handle it like I should have handled
it. People will tell me that I got jerked and he only won because of the
racial jokes. I don't feel that way. I think he won fair-and-square. He's
not the first person to hurl racial jokes at me. I heard racial jokes
when I was battling in the 7th grade. That night, I let it get the best
of me and he walked away with the $10 g's, but a month later I walked
away with the $50 g's. It's cool. I know my own accomplishments and I
know my own worth.
Jones can make Asian jokes and get away with it. What if you flip it around
and make a Black joke to Serius Jones. How does that go down?
issue that's bigger than hip-hop like dead prez would say. That's the
reality of the world. I choose not to because that's not my steez. It's
not because I feel a certain way like if I say that, this might be the
consequences. Of course there will be consequences. There will always
be consequences for what you do. What I'm proud of and what I think people
like about me is I've never had to go there and I've always managed to
find my way out of the hole without going there. I choose not to go there
and I don't need to. I've heard the most creative Asian jokes to the most
idiotic ones. It's just not a part of my style. There can be double-standard
at times, but I don't think it's limited to just battling. I think it's
the world. Everybody wants to be respected in a certain way, but they
have to respect other people in that same way. It's not a Black and Asian
thing. There are a lot of Asians who don't want to be called racist names,
but they'll be the first ones to say something racist about someone else.
It's like that for every race.
you feel about what went down in the Bahamas a month later?
I feel great
about it. I went into that battle coming off of a highly publicized loss
so there was a lot of speculation as to how I would perform. I went in
with a specific goal and that was to walk away with 50 grand, which I
times do you get asked to battle each day?
Oh my God!
Sometimes I don't even want to leave my house. People come up to me all
the time asking to battle or saying their man wants to battle me. It's
funny. The way I see it, the day that people want to stop battling me
is what I need to worry about because that means I don't matter anymore.
That's not the case right now though. Now, it's, "My man will eat
you. My man will battle you right now."
it take to get you in a battle tomorrow?
about finding something to get me back into battling. It's not about me
battling somebody for prize money. If you want me to get in a battle,
you better cut me a check off top. I'm not trying to sound cocky, but
I know my own worth. Let's say MC Joe Schmo is in the battle. Let's say
he beats Jin, which is not impossible because I'm not invincible. I win
more than I lose, but I have lost before. Still, if the public doesn't
know anything else about me, they know my repertoire when it comes to
battling. That's why I never had to brag about my skills as a battler.
Anyhow, If Jin beats Joe Schmo, it is what it is. Nobody will probably
even acknowledge it. On the other hand, if MC Joe Schmo wins that battle,
he's launching a press release, dropping a single, telling people to check
out his website, the whole nine! I refuse to let somebody use me as a
launch for their career. I'm just simply looking at it from a business
standpoint. At the end of the day, I'm still an MC and that MC nature
is still in me. It may not be a good career move, but if someone comes
up and wants me to battle or my manager is like, "You have to serve
this kid," I will. I'll win these battles and nobody cares because
it's just not interesting. You're not going to see a headline on HipHopGame
that Jin beats MC Get Busy in North Dakota. On the other hand, if I lose,
you'll be writing an article about it, YouTube link included.
happy with how Properganda did?
Yeah, I really
am. I had a concept for an album and I just executed it. I wanted to do
an album of that nature, going back to dope beats, dope rhymes, and dope
concepts. That's it. The feedback I got from it was more special and more
important than anything else. It was a very generic process for me. I
was vibing to the beats and just writing. I wasn't worried about first-week
sales or radio spins. To shoot the video for "Top 5 Dead or Alive"
and to have Kool Herc in your video co-signing you, that's special. You
can have Michael Jackson or anyone else, but at the end of the day, we're
talking about the godfather of hip-hop, the dude who played the first
record in the park. In my mind, if I have his approval, I'm happy, I'm
back on The Rest is History, would you do anything differently on that?
I'm a different person. It's hard to compare a 24 year-old to a 22 year-old.
My whole mind-state was different then. Let's say I had a time machine
and I went back to 2002, I would probably leave it as it is. Going through
what I went through and getting the feedback I got, that was a stepping
stone for myself. It took me going through all of that in order for me
to find out, "Oh man, that's not what it's about. These are the types
of records I should do. These are the types of beats I should rock on."
In no means is that record not reflective of me. Nobody made me do a certain
type of record. There was nothing on The Rest is History I was forced
to do. Everything was laid out how it was supposed to be.
Emcee still rhyming?
I was born as Jin and I'm going to be Jin. I always tell people the name
thing is just such a miniscule aspect of everything. If someone calls
me Jin while I'm walking by them, I'm not going to turn around and say,
"Please call me the Emcee." I might turn my name into a symbol
like Prince did. (laughs) I might have a microphone with a snake wrapped
the next move for Jin?
and the end of the year, I'm going to definitely put all my time and effort
into launching this ABC project. "ABC" stands for "American-Born
Chinese." You have certain Asians born in China that view us differently
because we weren't born in China. They look at us like we're not full-Chinese.
Others may think it's more beneficial that we were born over here because
the goal is to ultimately immigrate to the US at some point. The immigration
process is very uncertain. This project is me breaking it down and explaining
things. The album is recorded in Chinese. Basically, I'm spitting in my
native language. As of now, it's looking to launch back in Asia. If there's
interest for it in the US, I'll bring it back and share it with everyone.
There's a website for it, http://abcjin.com, so people can go there and
check it out. I feel music is all about the sound and the vibe. Look at
salsa music or reggae, it's more about the feeling you get when you listen
to it as opposed to actually understanding what they're saying. My goal
is to have people who don't speak or understand Chinese feel the vibe
off what I'm doing with this project.
trying to get my acting on. I have a couple independent films I'm working
on. The Hollywood shuffle is a hard hustle. The shit moves slow, but I
feel that once I get this opportunity, there's going to be something big
on the table. I don't want to say what it is, but I'm pursuing a couple
projects in particular. It's just a matter of them being developed. They're
developing the script and I'm trying to find the right roles. There's
definitely some shit on the horizon. I love that. The movie world is another
world. Granted, I haven't been in it like that, but to be involved with
something on the major production level, that's crazy. It's crazy when
I see 2 Fast 2 Furious today. I wanted it to be where the shit that I
do pop up in is crazy instead of it being some wild, random shit. You
don't really accomplish anything in that. I didn't want to be the same
guy in seven movies. That's why I'm trying to be selective with what I
you want to say to everyone?
thank you. I've always been real humble about everything and I think that's
what's gotten me to the point I'm at now. No matter how much work I put
in and no matter how good the music is, it doesn't mean anything if the
people don't check it out. Thank you to everyone who checks out the songs
on HipHopGame and leaving honest feedback, positive or negative. I'm trying
to step my five-star game up! (laughs) Check me out on the MySpace page
also. There are a lot of fake pages. The only real one I have is http://myspace.com/therealjin.