You’re now a free agent. What exactly happened between you and Disturbing Tha Peace?
Basically what happened is it wasn’t meant to be. They had a relationship with Def Jam Records. The majority, if not all of their roster, was basically dropped from Def Jam because their relationship soured. So I was basically caught up in their issues with Def Jam because they were looking at all of the artists. They weren’t prioritizing and saying, “This guy has millions of fans already so let’s focus on him.” When a parent label sits down with another label like DTP, they’re looking at the whole overhead. That was one of the issues. Basically I need to find a new situation where all that baggage doesn’t affect my career in terms of what my project needs and the attention that Serius Jones needs. I feel like I deserve way more attention than that situation showed in the last year.
It doesn’t sound like things were going well for you at Disturbing Tha Peace either.
Yeah, man. I don’t want to create more controversy but I’ll tell you this much. The last DTP party I went to in ATL I got in a fight with a damn bouncer! (laughs) I mean, in reality, it’s pointless for me to try to slander their name or act all bitter even if I feel it’s justified. It’s up to me to give my art the attention it needs and to get myself the exposure that I need to succeed. So when I wasn’t getting that kind of attention that I thought I deserved from them, I saw the reasons why. But the reasons don’t matter. I think it should be about me and I think it’s up to somebody with common sense to take advantage of the international buzz I built. That’s the difference between a label that really believes in the artist and puts their careers and their business on the line for that artist and the label that really is wasting their own time and money signing artists that they don’t even push.
Did DTP not appreciate what they had in you?
Yes. But that’s not the first time that’s happened with a great artist. Most of the time, in order to be great, you gotta do it on your own.
How does you being a free agent affect your album Life is Serius?
Well, basically, what this means is I have to make it bigger than the album. I made an actual movie. A short film about my life story. Right now I’m actually in Atlanta in this house that we got. It’s me and the editor and a couple of musicians. I went on Craigslist.com and got responses from a couple hundred actors in three days. I had the casting call and I got the actors to come through and I made it happen. I had my ‘hood niggas on point and we were shooting the different scenes and doing what we needed to do. We got a battle in it, fighting, sex scenes, beautiful women…I just did the real story though. We reenacted a few main chapters of life that made me Serius Jones because I have to show people who I really am.
When you don’t have millions in marketing and you have a huge superstar like Luda that’s not including you in any of his endeavors, the people can’t connect with you. I’m showing what the fuck I’m about and that’s what I’m on right now. Everything is going to be visual and right in your face from now on and the music is going to be crazy and it’s going to be courtesy of yours truly, that way I know it’s going to be pure. Until I find another situation that I really feel is worthy and committed to this movement, that’s what it is.
Would you take an independent deal today?
I mean, I had a situation. I’m not going to start name-dropping, but I had a situation where I turned down an independent deal because I was told to by DTP. I negotiated into my contract that they had to allow me the option to release one project independent of the deal I structured with them, which is damn-near unheard of. These dudes begged me not to do it because they supposedly didn’t want to confuse the public with my debut. Me being a team player, I agreed to wait until I put out my album through them. But you see what that got me. It just shows that you live and you learn. Last time I wait for anybody.
But I’m on a mission. I’m still doing shows. My buzz is still building even though I haven’t really been putting out anything new, which is a blessing. So now when it comes down to me releasing these projects, like the movie and the soundtrack and these videos and the Serius Bizness mixtape, it’s going to show the people that I’ve been working and that I wasn’t just sitting around, happy to be signed.
Do you regret any of the moves you made while with DTP?
Nah, I don’t regret nothing. I don’t believe in second-guessing myself. At the end of the day, if you know you put your best foot forward and you know you fought with your heart, you can’t be mad at yourself. You’ll go crazy like that. I believed and always do believe in myself. I can’t be mad at other people for not believing in me. When it comes down to it, I don’t regret no moves I make. What you go through makes you who you are. I don’t believe in doubting myself. I’ll let other people do that.
I want to say this right now. I love all the fans that been bearing with me through this last year. I’m to the point where I’m thinking I’m on the low in the supermarket and the cash register lady starts to make a big deal that I’m in her line. The bottom line is that my fame way, way, way outweighs my fortune so far. So it makes my grind real different than the average artist. I’m a household name and a household face in the ‘hood because niggas watched my battles and they saw my freestyles and I haven’t been able to fully connect the dots because I was trying to go the bigger route by going through the system. But when you’re relying on your label, you’re not really feeding the streets, which is what counts when you’re trying to maintain a movement. That’s why I really needed to double back and cover my bases and have product for the streets, for the internet and for the networks so that it can be on TV. Now it’s different because we got TV show ideas that we’re sitting down and shopping to companies. It’s bigger than staying in the ‘hood and rapping for YouTube, but now I’m doing all of that and it’s a lot to do for yourself but the only way to win nowadays is to go full-fledged in everything that you’re doing.
You’ve been out of the spotlight for awhile. What have you been up to besides the movie?
You know what’s crazy? Even though I haven’t released any new music it’s like the spotlight won’t leave me alone. I finally decided to make a few freestyles downloadable off MySpace and in two days they were on the 5 top websites with over 16,000 plays! Like I said I’m already kind of like a known face and a known name and I still be around the way. It’s funny because everywhere I go, it’s like I’m the rap hero they be like, “Yo, when you gonna smash somebody else, When’s your album coming out? Where’s your mixtape?” I’ve really been feeding off of it and using it for motivation.
I got a few projects coming like I said. One is Serius Business. I was gonna do it with a DJ but we’ll see. It’s outrageously-crazy. And I still have King Me for those that haven’t heard yet. It was bootlegged real heavy but I wasn’t even pushing it like I should’ve. The movie “Life is Serius”, the soundtrack and the album Life is Serius. I got some real classical shit to drop on the world. I just had to make sure that the timing was right on it. Also I wish Fight Klub would hurry the fuck up and show the world the other 10 classic battles where I’m going in!
What did you have to do to make sure it’s the right time to drop?
Well, first of all get out that damn deal without owing them nothing! (laughs) I’ve been dealing with some real crazy drama this last year. I had surgery on my gut, sucka-ass niggas trying to sue me, family problems. Real life shit that was trying to keep me away from the dream, but I didn’t let it stop me and I ain’t never going to let this shit stop me. It’s either going to kill me or make me a legend forever and real rich! (laughs)
Are you more focused today than you’ve been in awhile?
Nah, you know what? Hell yeah! But also I’m blessed to be sucka-free in terms of just my overall surroundings and my circle. Sometimes you gotta eliminate certain people from your circle that’s extra weight and extra baggage in order to be able to fly. When you got people holding you back it’s hard sometimes. But I’m a living example that if you believe nothing can stop you, it’s true.
Will we see you on more mixtapes now?
Oh yeah. It’s about to get ugly. When I’m seen, it’s going to be classic and when I’m heard, it’s going to be classic. That’s my agenda. That’s why you don’t see me on a million features and a million rappers from the East Coast on my mixtape just to say I got a song with him. So yeah, the grind aspect of it, if niggas got a couple dollars and they’re not trash, I’ll try to work with you, but when it comes down to me making my videos and my songs and movies and all of that, that all has to be legendary shit because that’s the legacy that I’m leaving. So when people don’t have that kind of respect for what you’re doing and they don’t appreciate what you’re doing, there’s only one thing to do and that’s to prove them wrong. That’s what I’m doing.
Getting back to the movie you’re working on, it sounds like you’re taking it real seriously and trying to be as professional as possible with it. I’m sure you’ve seen the low-budget “street movies” and the expectations fans have whenever they hear about a rapper “making a movie.”
Yeah, I’ve seen ‘em. You know what the difference is? People are just doing movies with an unrealistic plot and a bunch of they homeboys, I shot mine with an actual film director who shoots million dollar films. Dave Wilson and Winfield Ezell. The clarity of the lens we using is like film. There’s no digital cloudy picture. I actually cast models and actors and found the best people. It’s just about knowing what’s good. It’s not necessarily only about doing something. It’s about doing something to the best of your ability and if you don’t know something, it’s about finding someone who does know. The cameraman who shot it, Dave Wilson is crazy and the vision behind it was something that I felt I could put my all into because it’s me and it’s my story. It has to be as big as it can be because it’s going to be my testament to the world as far as who I am as a man and as an artist. It’s gotta be timeless.
What made you want to do the Serius Jones TV show?
I’ve been getting so much love online and I’ve been getting so much feedback and I felt like I hadn’t even started. People been like, ‘Where the fuck you been at?’ I had basically been dealing with everything I told you I’ve been dealing with. I was like, ‘Damn.’ It was like my hands were tied. When you go through legal issues, you can’t put out music. I was like, ‘What can I do in the meantime to keep my buzz and really let the people feel who I am?’ They have an idea of who I am but they don’t know what I am. They know one aspect of Serius Jones. They’ve seen me in the battles and they might have heard a couple of songs. They might be more in-tune because of the MySpace and things like that, but there are more things going on in my head. I’m sitting around and smoking and I’m high as hell and I got all these ideas and I needed somewhere to put them. So we are going to shoot all of these ideas and put them on the internet as a TV show. The shit is coming out crazy. It’s really a whole ‘nother thing that I’ve never seen nobody do before. I want to do things that no one has done and be an innovator out here.
How is your album Life is Serius changing now that you’re not on DTP?
I mean, honestly, they had nothing to do with the way I recorded or created music even when I was signed to them. I recorded over 100 songs for it and have no features from Luda. I just recently recorded a smash joint with Bobby V and that’s after we both are off the label. I read some real disparaging shit on another website where some so-called inside source said I was supposed to have had an “attitude” and It was my fault it didn’t work out. Yeah right.
I’m not one of those happy-go-lucky, just give me a chain and let me go to the club rappers. I have to be passionate and for real about my shit just to be a great artist. How you think I be battling motherfuckers and commanding a crowd of 70 ‘hood niggas? Understand that I’m not half-stepping on anything that I do. And really, most of the stuff that I did, I produced anyway as far as the writing and the ideas for my songs. Most of the producers I was dealing with were in-house. So everything is really the same creatively.
How’s the Serius Business mixtape coming?
That shit is cracktacular. That is some other shit. I was supposed to put that shit out in February but what happened is that I had the opportunity to do this other movie shit. I had been talking about it and I had wanted to do it and I got the chance and this shit requires a whole lot of energy and focus that I didn’t even know. I didn’t even know I could pull it off like I did. I just appreciate the blessing of being able to get something like this done because niggas don’t do shit like this. But it’s nothing for me to brag about. It’s up to y’all to tell me what you think about this. You have to let me know how you really feel so I could be a better actor and rapper and whatever else I could be. That’s what the real shit is. But this mixtape I need another word for. For real.
As an up-and-coming artist, it’s hard to break into the mainstream without a goofy dance. How will you get Life is Serius ready?
Well from now on, my life is a show. It’s basically a TV show without being on TV. It’s basically about me and my perspective on life. The camera’s rolling and everywhere I go and I’m really just showing people what the fuck I’m living like. If you’re a real dude and you’re not about gimmicks, it’s hard for people to really understand it unless they see it. I’ve ran through jewelry. I had jewelry when I was a teenager. I had three or four cars. It’s not about showing people that I’m getting money, which seems to be the only thing to talk about in rap. It’s not about saying you’re a killer and I’ll kill you if you fuck with me. It’s also not about saying I’m some incense-burning backpack dude either. It’s not about being a sentence. I’m more complex than a sentence or a catchphrase or a dance. I can’t expect people to understand it if I can’t show them. That’s what the show is about.
I’m also putting out my independent project, which is called Rising Star, in addition to the mixtape I have, which is bonkers, called Serius Business. And I got King Me, which is a, if I do say so myself, classic underground street album and is available on my MySpace. I shot two videos. Shout to Dave Wilson and one of the hottest young directors in the game Rik Cordero. Check out the “Bang” video on my page. I’m going to have at least seven or eight videos off of this album. Fuck having one video and having that be my one chance. I’m going in on every aspect with everything associated with this fucking album.
Are videos more crucial to the success of an album than they were even two years ago?
I know so because right now, everything is about visuals. People need to have an understanding of what a song is about. Niggas’ attention spans are so short because American entertainment is getting so cheap. It ain’t about the quality or none of that no more. It’s about a quick fix. There’s nothing wrong and I like songs that can be catchy, but in terms of being able to sell a project, you have to show them, literally. They need to see it. Even if you have a song that has a dance, you have to have a video to show them the dance. Everything is getting more visual and the world is getting smaller because of the technology. My whole introduction to the world was through visuals, so I appreciate the power of that.
How important has the internet been to your success?
Oh, man. If there’s a mom and pop of entertainment, the TV is the pop and the mom is the internet, as far as the birth of Serius Jones the Rap Star. That got my fame up. My fame is through the roof. Now I just have to get my fortune up! (laughs)
I don’t know what direction the internet is going, but it’s gotten so huge that there’s really no controlling it. I’ve gotten 6 million views on YouTube. 2.5 million on MySpace. 1.5 million on LifeIsSerius.com. Just that alone just shows you the power of it. And I haven’t really released any videos besides battles and shit like that. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when they see the TV show and they see the music videos and the movie. It’s a blessing that we have vehicles such as the internet to push this shit through.
Going back a year, how did things change for you in terms of your relationships with other artists and producers once you signed to Disturbing Tha Peace?
Money, of course, is one aspect that changes your life. I got a lot of money when I signed that deal. It’s more of a lifestyle thing. When people are thinking at a certain level, it changes your interaction if you’re smart. Then you start realizing that you can’t do the same things. You can’t move the same way. People know I’m signed and they’re expecting big records from me. If some guy’s got $3000 for me to get on a song but he’s completely trash, then I might have to pass on it because in reality, when you get that deal and when you get that stamp where people know that you’re an official signed artist, now people know that the clock is running. I really don’t even think about it. I really just try to live and do what I do automatically. But in terms of the perception of having a deal, that just makes people think you’re more official. It’s like, ‘Okay, now he’s a real artist.’ Before, they’re like, ‘He’s cool, but I don’t know about it.’ Now all of a sudden everything starts from here. It’s almost like you’re starting all over.
The bottom line is once you get signed, it’s really just an opportunity and a loan. It’s about what you do with that. On some street shit, it’s like someone is fronting you a pack and if you’re smart enough to know what to do with it, you come up. If not and if you don’t take advantage of it, you’re worse than when you came up. I got my deal and a lot of the money I got from my deal, I spent that on myself instead of buying chains. I shot videos and I got shirts made. I got CDs pressed up. That’s what someone who’s really dedicated to his own shit does instead of getting caught up in the hype and the fame.
Does it ever bother you when people show you more love after you signed your deal or is that just a part of the game?
I chalk it up to the game because that’s just the way it is with everything. People gravitate towards what they feel is winning. That’s just natural human nature. It’s like if people see you in the streets with a new car. Now it’s like, ‘Let’s go to the club. Come smoke with me.’ It’s only natural for people to want to be around and want to be a part of what’s winning. The real winners know, what I learned from watching the people that I learned from, you don’t get mad at the fact that people are followers. You just have to lead them. And you try to get every dollar you can get while you’re up because you never know when you might be the one that’s back down again. But the difference with a dude like me is that I’m not riding nobody’s coattails. I’m going to make my own shit pop. If you was with me from the ground up from when I started grinding, then I consider you family. And if you’re one of those Johnny Come Lately dudes, that’s cool. I just know where you stand.
You recently recorded “Bleed" with Spot. We don’t see you doing too many collaborations.
(laughs) Yeah. The reason why is I try not to cheapen my music, man. I feel like in this fucking day and age, music is so cheap. Music is like cigarettes. I try to have some of the best weed you have ever smoked in your life. That don’t come around every day. You don’t see that just laying around in the streets, but you see cigarette butts laying all over the place. You see mixtape covers and flyers thrown all over the streets and everywhere. Nobody pays much attention to it. You’re not really jumping through the roof on a mixtape because everyone and their moms has one. So when I do do the mixtapes, I’m doing them with those I respect musically and I feel challenged. Shout to Spot and the whole Kingday movement. BK and all that.
And when I do a collaboration with somebody, I like for them to have a real story. I like what Spot is talking about. And that’s my dude on a different level other than music. He’s dealing with some real life shit too. I just spoke to him. He’s on his way to court to deal with some stuff too. It’s a different thing when we do music than when a lot of these other rappers do it. We do it for a different cause and we have a gift and it really comes from the heart. I have other collaborations that you will hear soon, but I don’t really know that many people. I don’t know these industry dudes. And a lot of times, a lot of your favorite rappers are fake-ass niggas and y’all have no clue because y’all don’t know them. I be knowing them! I don’t want people to get me confused and in that bracket at all.
That’s not a good bracket to be in.
And everyone’s in it nowadays! What rappers do you really follow and really believe in? You can count them on one hand. That’s my reasoning for not just oversaturating it and going crazy on features from just anybody.
In the song, you said, “The best stories are born out of stress.” Does that relate to your album Life is Serius?
Hell yeah. I’m just lucky to be here right now. It’s not like I was a Rambo-type dude, but I deal with a whole lot of fucking stress and a whole lot of fucking issues that just created this character of Serius Jones. I didn’t even realize it until I was in the booth and venting. It helps me knowing that when I’m making music. The problem is that some people don’t know how to take a negative and turn it into a positive. It’s like their music is all dark and gloomy. I mean, that’s cool, but I ain’t into it like that. I like to use stress and motivation and I like to turn my downfalls into shit that’ll help me come up. I like to use my struggle for my advancement. Everything I’ve been through in just my whole life, especially in the last few years, that shit is nothing but motivation to help a nigga make it.
You also said you’re a hard critic on yourself. How meticulous are you?
Yo, I’m like my worst critic. But I’ve been making some crazy shit. I really believe in being a legend. And it’s like a couple of situations just show me all of the time the power that I got within me and I feel like I can’t cheat that. People see shit in me that I don’t even see in myself sometimes and it makes me dig deeper inside myself to make myself make sure that I’m not selling out my own talent. I don’t get all deep and philosophical and crazy with it, but at the same time, I don’t just do any old thing and say, “Fuck it” and put it out.
In your “Nothing but a ME Thing” freestyle, you said you were so cool you could bring back Puma. That’s a pretty big statement.
(laughs) Yeah. You know, I’m kind of swagtastical with it. I’m trying to show people that it’s about what you want to do and I can do whatever the fuck I want to do and it’s going to be cool because I say so. But when you do that shit, you have to be hot though! (laughs) You get people that hate, but I did stuff just to show you I could. A lot of the stuff that people heard from me online, that shit is old as hell and I don’t even authorize that to go online. But people will take some old-ass songs and leak it like it’s new and before you know it, there’s a million comments on it and people think it’s brand new. There’s a lot of songs that I recorded before I was even professional in making songs and people think that they’re official. They took it and leaked it. My songs that I’ve been making lately haven’t leaked out. My man leaked out the “Nothing but a ME Thing” and it’s all love because I went in on that shit. But I’m on some rap star shit, like, ‘Fuck that, I’m doing me.’
Where do you see yourself in the up-and-coming class of MCs?
Oh, man. In the up-and-coming class of MCs, I mean, I’m at the top of that shit, just to be honest. I don’t know how many MCs that can do what I do. And you said “MCs”, not rappers. MC’s cover the whole spectrum, from battling to making songs to having swag. I’m at the top of that because of my work. I literally breathe this shit. This is my job. The whole team is still on the front lines and we’re still doing what we have to do to survive, but this is my passion and this is my art. It’s more than just something to do. I’m going to make sure that I stay at the top. And whoever doesn’t know that I’m at the top yet, they’ll know it because they’ll see me at the top. And when my whole story comes out, it’s going to make a lot more sense than me just talking in an interview.
What’s your main focus now?
My main focus is being the greatest that’s ever breathed. That’s my only focus from now on. If I’m rapping, every verse has to be better than the last one and every action that I make in life, I have to exceed what I last did. I haven’t proved nothing to nobody yet. That’s my expectation and that’s how I’m coming at life in general. I rebuke mediocrity. Anything that’s even close to me being a regular artist or a regular whatever, I have to get as far away from that mindset as possible because I’m trying to go through the roof on everything. That’s all it is really.
I think that’s the first time anyone has ever used the word “rebuke” on HipHopGame.
I rebuke. See, what’s crazy is that I’m the first MC that’s done a lot of shit. (laughs) But it’s going to make a lot more sense later than now. Go to YouTube and go to Google and make sure that you definitely continue to go to HipHopGame.com, as always. And I’m going to have a lot of new joints just floating through y’all’s way. I’ve been hibernating making sure the next debut is classic and everything that it deserves to be. Make sure you check out the freestyles.
I got the video clips for y’all. I’m not even sure how I’m going to put the movie out. I’ll probably get some money for that. I really want the people to see that so they can understand how real it is and where I come from. I don’t like putting certain aspects of my life on blast. I want you to see it.
I’m not one of those happy-rapping-type niggas. This is a gift that I was forced to take advantage of in terms of music and creative shit. Other than that, it’s going to be a real big deal this summer and I want to make sure that everyone is ready for it. I’m going to be doing a release party for the movie and the video at Spotlight Live in NYC. You’re all welcome to come see in living color what I’m talking about.
Shout to all the DJ squads that support real music I might be coming out on some record labels you never heard of or it might be coming out on UpTop Entertainment. Either way Classic is the standard. Life is Serius. Stay tuned to the movement. I appreciate the love 100. Log on to MySpace.com/seriusjones, LifeIsSerius.com, YouTube.com and GetSerius.com. Trust I’m going in, y’all. Let’s make this history. For anything else, see me in the streets.