Your new album with Meyhem, Acknowledge Greatness, is about to drop. What was it like recording this album?
It came out good. There’s a lot of guests like Cormega and Tragedy. Meyhem is signed to J-Love Enterprises. This album is to introduce the both of us. It’s also to showcase myself as an MC. My solo album is coming too.
Are people surprised to find out that you rap?
Yeah, a lot of people are surprised. But you know what it is too? People start to perceive you in one light so it’s hard to transition. They see me doing the mixtapes. Even when I first started producing, that was hard. People were like, ‘Oh, nah, he’s DJing and now he’s producing.’ But it was hot. And now I’m trying to get that same love for my MCing.
What kind of response have you gotten to your MCing?
It’s been mixed. I’ve gotten love. There’s always going to be haters no matter what you do. And then there are people who genuinely don’t like you.
DJ Doo Wop has the crown for being the best mixtape DJ rapping. Can you take that crown?
I don’t want to take anybody out. I don’t want to be in the category of mixtape DJ rapping. I want you to look at me as an MC. I definitely think Doo Wop is the best at it anyway. We’ll see what happens. I guess time will tell.
Going back to Acknowledge Greatness, there’s 39 tracks on there. Why did you guys put out so many songs on one project?
If you know my mixtape work, I always make full CDs. Some DJs put 10 songs on a CD and think they accomplished something. I always wanted to give something full and give the people a full taste of everything. This is the album. I didn’t want to really waste any tracks, so the second disc is like a treat. It’s extra bonus tracks. It’s the bonus disc of everything we did. I just felt like a lot of it was real solid and that it didn’t need to be cut. The best songs are on disc one, but at the end of the day, I like disc two as well. I didn’t need to cut anything.
What made you want to sign Meyhem and take him under your wing?
I like him. He’s original and he’s hungry. He’s been working. There’s a lot of artists that come across and they want to do stuff, but a lot of artists have the tendency to think they know everything. If they see one rapper do something, they think they can do it. As we all know, making it in the rap industry isn’t as easy as it looks. There’s a lot of things that you need to do to get people to check for you.
I definitely like his style and I think he can be a star. I’m working on bringing him to that level. He just caught my ear, man. He’s a local cat from around my way. It started off where he bought some beats off me and I heard what he did and I heard the development and the growth real quick and I was like, ‘You know what? Just fuck with me.’ And then I signed him.
How are you able to make his come-up in the game easier?
I already walked the path for him. I’m bringing him in on my back. A lot of things, he may not be knowledgeable to. I already know I can help him on the song-making process. We can help each other. A lot of rappers, it might take them 10 years just to get into the game. I already kind of walked the foundation of the game.
How is Meyhem’s debut album coming?
It’s coming real good. Both of our solo projects are totally different from Acknowledge Greatness. Acknowledge Greatness is just some straight MCing shit. Meyhem’s CD and The Greatest Man Walking, my CD, shows us as individuals and the stuff we go through. I got a joint where I’m talking to myself back and forth and he has a joint where he’s talking about his parents. It’s more of a personal side where this CD is showcasing our ability to rhyme.
How’s The Greatest Man Walking coming?
My solo album is coming real good. See, with me, you can even see it from the mixtapes, I’m a beast, man. When I work, I work. Music is my life. I just go in there. I’m in the studio. I done recorded over 100 joints, seeing what I’m going to do and I redo a lot of joints so they sound more updated and stuff. I mean, I feel real good about The Greatest Man Walking album. I got all types of stuff on there. I got personal joints, some straight MCing joints and I got some real good features. I got a whole variety of stuff.
How has your DJing helped you as a producer?
It’s like if you got that gift, use it. I was always kind of stuck in a certain realm and light and it translated to my production. Music was something that I always wanted to do and it just makes it that much easier to do because you have so much knowledge of music and samples. You know where the samples are and it makes it so much easier.
You’ve also toured with Ghostface. What’s that like?
It’s great, man. To me it’s like a blessing, man, because I got to learn a lot about how shows go down and touring the world. I also have the opportunity to work with one of my favorite artists of all time. I don’t really like a lot of New York rappers right now and Ghost is one of my favorites, so to be as cool as I am with one of my favorite MCs and to have a dope relationship with him, it’s great. I always thank Ghost. We were able to go around the whole world and different states and countries and I was able to help him and bring him what he was missing. He didn’t have a DJ. He had Mathematics for awhile but he was juggling Method Man and everybody else. One man can’t DJ for nine dudes. Ever since I started DJing for him, I’ve been doing pretty much everything for Ghostface.
What’s the craziest stuff you see on the road?
It’s wild. You got some crazy fans. They’ll pull their shoe off for Ghostface to sign. You might see the same people following you from state to state. It’s crazy just to see the love that fans have for the artist. Some artists get fans for the time being, but maybe two years from now, they can’t sell out a venue. Ghost has a strong following. It’s crazy, man. And on top of that it’s just crazy being able to see the world and meet the fans and be a whole part of the Wu-Tang experience.
What’s worse, the long hours on the road or the male groupies?
Yo, the males are disgusting! If you’re a grown man and you want to get an autograph, that’s cool, man, but don’t try to swing on a nigga’s nuts. Be a man. I definitely feel like that shit is crazy.
And there’s definitely a lot of them. “Yo, Ghost!” Even me, I get that shit. I’m like, ‘I’m here, you wanna say something?’ I understand you’re in a position where you feel like you’re in a state of awe for a second, but snap out of it, man. We’re all people. I’m not better than you and Ghostface is not better than you. Don’t act like a little woman.
How much are you working with Theodore Unit now?
I’m working with Trife and Shawn Wigs. And Ghostface isn’t the type of person to just accept anybody into his circle. I was cool with Trife when I met him. He was coming to my studio and he started banging out stuff. He started coming around and linking up with Ghost. Trife and Wigs, they’re definitely my brothers and I definitely want to help them get to the point where they need to be at and to the point where they get the kind of credit they deserve.
You’re famous as a mixtape DJ for dropping mixtapes from artists who were prominent in the golden era of NY rap. Why do you focus on those artists?
That sound feels pure. Not too many people have originality. Down South, that’s cool. I respect their movement and everything, but we’re not Down South. Why are you following this? Why are there 30 people trying to rap and look like Jay-Z? It’s disgusting and I don’t understand it. That’s why the artists that I try to deal with are my personal favorites. As a fan, I like their sound and I like what they’re doing for hip-hop. So I do it like that. I love the era of hip-hop around ’94 and ’95. You had to have substance. You couldn’t just sing some bullshit in a hook. You had to do something. When everybody’s making club records, there’s no balance. There’s no real hip-hop scene because everybody’s chasing the radio and trying to portray a lifestyle that they don’t even live. I just do what I like and that’s what makes me an individual. There’s 5,000 DJs, but how many of them stick out and of the ones who do stick out, why do they stick out?
What new artists are you feeling?
I definitely support a lot of new artists. I like Joell Ortiz and I like Papoose. He has joints here and there. I like Uncle Murder. But you have to prove it to me. Just because you have one hot song, it doesn’t mean that everything you do is going to be great. Nah. You have to prove that your shit is worthy of being played because there’s a lot of one hit wonders. I definitely support anybody that I feel is up-and-coming and has good music. Their music has to appeal to me and that’s why my mixtapes always have the same genre of artists. I like the music and they genuinely made me a fan of their craft. Some of these new guys might have one joint and five wack songs.
Can the way new artists approach you turn you off from the beginning?
Some of them. At the end of the day, man, I’m a grown man. I don’t owe you shit. They have that aura like I have to play their shit and point blank, fuck you. I don’t have to do nothing. And then you have some artists who feel like they’re Hollywood stars. They’re mixtape artists. They have nothing. They have nothing on iTunes or the streets. Some of these artists feel like they deserve so much respect and they haven’t achieved that level yet. I don’t care if your man is playing your joint on the radio every day. If he’s your man, of course he’s going to.
And being that the radio stations are intertwined, of course everybody’s going to support the same record. That doesn’t mean it’s hot. And if I’m in the studio, don’t come to me like I have to play your shit. If I listen to it and I like it, I’ll play it. You might be somebody in the streets and you think you can do that to a couple of other DJs, but you’re not going to do that to me. I’m from the streets too. You’re not going to intimidate me to the point where I have to feel like I have to play the shit. I’m a fan of music. People’s perceptions and the way they act now is crazy.
Mixtapes and albums aren’t selling like they used to. Are a lot of artists frustrated right now?
Yeah, definitely. Number one, there’s a lot of saturation. There’s a lot of artists and people trying to do this rap thing. And then you have the internet where everything is accessible for free. I don’t understand why there’s one idiot who buys the album and then hosts it on his site so everybody can download it for free. There’s not enough money for artists to really sit in the studio and create because they’re not making enough money. Why pay a few million dollars so you can sit in the studio and make a classic when you’re not even selling 20,000 albums? That’s why a lot of rappers are doing other things. They’re not seeing the money. They’re not seeing much off royalties. You have to do shows. The Big Doe Rehab didn’t sell and I think that album’s incredible. You got all these fans and they come out to the shows. How hard is it to invest in the album? I understand we’re in a recession, but don’t walk around playing my music for free.
Does that frustrate you as far as your mixtapes are concerned?
That definitely frustrates you because you put in a lot of time and a lot of effort and the people do whatever they want. They bootleg and download you and you have all this competition. When I first started in the late ‘90s, there might have been 10 DJs. These mixtape DJs today feel like they deserve respect because they can download a song faster than I can. Come on. These guys don’t even own a pair of turntables. It’s definitely frustrating. That’s what pushed me to doing the old projects because the mixtape game is aggravating. It’s not even worth the hassle and the struggle. It’s like being a slave where you have to work for free. I have to go to the studio and put the CD together, travel and put the CDs out, get the artwork and covers and they just take it for free? Get the fuck outta here. That’s what every artist and every DJ is going through. I’m definitely not going out there and killing myself.
Are there too many mixtape DJs out there right now?
Definitely. There’s a lot of DJs, mixtape-wise, who aren’t even eating. It’s crazy. There’s definitely saturation. If you come to New York and you go to any mixtape store, you’ll see at least 40 CDs and you won’t even know who these people are. Everybody has to come up and everybody has to start somewhere. I understand that. But this shit isn’t for everyone. Just because you have access to music doesn’t mean that you should be able to do a CD, especially when you’re not really doing it for the love either at the end of the day. You’re just trying to get a little name and a little money. It’s presented as being easy so that’s why they’re taking advantage of the opportunity. A lot of the big mixtape DJs aren’t even doing mixtapes anymore because it’s so aggravating. Why compete with the little guys when you’ve already laid the foundation?
Would you rather put more of your energy into making albums today?
Yeah, definitely. At the same time, I do a lot of mixtapes with artists and that’s helping them, but there’s very few that come back and try to help me. I’m not going to help somebody if it’s not reciprocated. Ghostface looked out for me and I’ll always help him. Cormega, last night, he had a show and he invited me and Meyhem to perform. He’s like my brother. Guys like that I will never turn my back on. Other artists have an album coming out or something and then you don’t hear from them. I love being in the studio working on my own beats and working with my own artists. I have the control and it’s going to come out the way I like it. I would much rather do that than do a whole mixtape that’s going to get bootlegged. That’s how I see it.
You did some of Cormega’s best tracks off The Realness. What’s it like working with ‘Mega?
I like working with somebody like Cormega because he’s original and he stands for what he loves in his music. On The Realness, I got him that record deal. ‘Mega was at a point in his career where the world needed to hear his shit and even if he took money up front that didn’t look like a lot, it would generate a lot. I A&R’d that album. I was doing that whole project and calling people and I did a lot of stuff on The True Meaning also.
What’s your best memory from working on The Realness?
Definitely doing “Dramatic Entrance”. “Fallen Soldiers” was originally for a compilation that I had. I had a record deal in ’98 for a compilation with a record company. “Fallen Soldiers” was originally for my album but it was hot and we used it on that album. We were just going through mad joints. We had a few joints that didn’t even make The Realness. I knew “Dramatic Entrance” was crazy. He just knocked it out real fast. Doing that whole album was a good experience because I was in the studio where I did the majority of my work out of. He’s real hip-hop and he takes it real serious. He wasn’t in there getting high and fucking around in the studio all day. Stuff like that doesn’t get nothing accomplished. He was in there trying to finish his album. If you hear Cormega now, you can hear the growth. He’s a good artist and he’s coming through on everything. I’m just glad to have been a part of it.
How did things change on Cormega’s second album The True Meaning?
Nothing changed. IT was the same elements and the same creativity. I played him the songs and he rhymed on it. We were in sync with both of those projects. That’s why I feel both of them came out real solid. ‘Mega is real independent and he knows what he wants to do. I respect artists who really know what they want to do and they have good lyrical content and their songs are tight and their beats are tight. You can go back today to The Realness or The True Meaning and they’re good albums all the way through. A lot of rappers today have albums out and you’ll never listen to them again. You’ll never go back to a lot of the new albums coming out. Even with my music and my beats, I want you to go back and know that that shit was all right. I want people to get that feeling where people want to keep feeling it musically and I want to be around projects where the shit is going to be timeless and not just for the moment. I want to be around Large Professor and make something that you can play now and you can play 10 years from now and still get that same feeling.
It’s dope how you’ve always showed love to guys like Large Professor and Cormega, who don’t get the respect they deserve. Do you agree with that?
Definitely. That’s a big problem in the music industry. Certain artists may be the shit right now, but two years from now, you’re not going to hear from them and you’re not going to support them. You might be in a funk but you might come with some shit on the next album. That’s the problem with DJs and the music industry in general – there’s no loyalty and no support. Don’t act like artists don’t exist no more, and I’m not just talking about Large Professor, I’m talking about artists in general. I think Large Professor may be one of the best producers of all time and he’s underrated on the mic.
I even see a lot of DJs on the radio kissing artists ass on their face and as soon as the artist leaves, they’re throwing their record out. Be a real person, man. That’s what it is – a lot of people aren’t genuine. Even the fans are like that. Artists try to cater to women because women buy most of the albums, but a lot of the women are not fans. A lot just follow what’s hot and what’s trendy and if you’re trying to appeal to them, you might not get that support two years from now and you might not be that sex symbol.
I like LL Cool J and I think he’s one of the dopest rappers ever, but I want to hear him on some rhyming shit. I don’t want to hear him talking about women all the time. I think LL is too dope to always be doing that, but the labels are pushing for it and that takes away from the album.
Out of all the tracks you’ve produced, what track are you most proud of?
That’s a hard one, man. I like a lot of the stuff that I’ve done. I got one on my album where I’m talking about my daughter’s birth. I got her talking at the end. I like the stuff I’ve done with Ghost and Mobb and Large Professor and Cormega. It’s real hard to single out anything. I like the remixes I’ve done. I feel like I’ve done a lot of remixes. Some of the songs were okay or wack and I brought a whole new life into it. I bring some bias into it because that’s my shit, but my shit has some knock to it and you can rock to it. The drums are crazy. I’m not saying you can rock to everything I do. I’m realistic, but the majority of the tracks are good. It’s hard. To single out one joint, I don’t know. I like the Pun shit I did. I like “Full Metal Jacket” with Ghostface. It’s hard to just single out one, man.
What’s the next move for J-Love?
I’m definitely trying to get this album out there and have the people respect me on the mic and respect my artist. I’m working on The Greatest Man Walking LP. I’m trying to make that shit seamless and banging from the beginning to end with the songs and content and reality and guest appearances. I’m also working on Meyhem’s shit and trying to get that shit right. I’m just working, man. I’m working with my man Roc Marciano and Trife. I’ve always been there for Ghost and Cormega and Large Professor. I’m just trying to stay doing the same thing I’ve been doing. I’m still going to do the mixtapes. I’m going to stay consistent. I’ve been consistent since I came in the game.
Even if I was to have one song that had commercial success, I wouldn’t want to aim to duplicate that. That’s the problem with a lot of artists. They always want to taste that again and do that again. Some things are better off as they are. Mobb Deep’s “Quiet Storm” just kind of crossed over. They didn’t make a banger for radio. It was just some dope shit that people liked and that’s what artists have to get back to doing as opposed to doing just what the public feels. But this year, man, I’m just trying to get Acknowledge Greatness out there and The Greatest Man Walking LP out there and just trying to keep this New York shit alive. A lot of people in New York, they won’t even support their own music. I’m just trying to be that backbone for New York and just trying to stand strong.