Check out how J-Zone hooked up with the UK's finest, what he's done and what he's going to do and what calms him down after a sitting of MTV Cribs.
I won't front, I know you best from your collab with UK's own Jehst. How was that experience and what's your take on the whole hip-hop thing going on here? How did you hook up?
I was on tour in the UK in 2000. I was staying at Harry Love's house for a few days and he said he wanted me to rhyme with Jehst over a beat he made. I met Jehst at the studio and his verse was dope. They're both cool and talented. My man DJ Jazz T and Diversion Tactics too. There's a lotta dope shit comin out over there. I can't forget Lewis Parker, he's dope too. Pitman as well, I like his view on shit. He got his own thing.
For those that don't know, could you give a quick run down of the albums you've dropped and what vibe each is coming with?
I got 4 albums. Music For TU Madre (1998/99), A Bottle Of Whup Ass (2000), Pimps Don't Pay Taxes (2001) and $ick Of Bein' Rich (2003). I produced all of them and rhymed on most of the songs on them. The guest artists have included King T, J-RO (Of Tha Alkaholiks), Masta Ace, AL-Shid, Huggy, Celph Titled, Copywrite and GO-Rilla Pimp$. My records are rude and outlandish (Especially Newer ones) but if you have a sense of humour and don't take rap too seriously you'll love em. Most of the songs are very concept driven. You'll either love me or hate me. There's really no in between!
Where are you based and what's the scene like there?
I'm based in Queens, NY. Jamaica Queens to be exact. Nobody knows about the kind of stuff I do in my neighbourhood. If it ain't 50 Cent, they don't know about it around here. I like it that way, cause I can be incognito and be an average Joe when I walk around here.
As a child growing up, which hip-hop figures did you look up to and say to yourself 'That's what I want to do, I'm going to be a rapper'?
As for producers, there was a lot that influenced me in some way. 45 King, Bomb Squad, Sir Jinx, DJ Pooh, DJ Muggs, Marley Marl, Pete Rock, DR. Dre, Premier, Timberland, DJ Quik, Ultramagnetic, RZA, Vance Wright…There's a lot of em. As for rappers, Milk D (from Audio Two), Too $hort, Easy E, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Biz Markie, Kool Keith and Tim Dog. My current favourite rapper is Suga Free.
Are you working on any new material at the moment and when can fans expect that to drop?
I'm working on a production album now. Just getting some of my favourite rappers from both east and west coast, old and new school. I'm putting em over my beats. These are all artists I always wanted to work with. I'll rhyme on a few tracks, but it'll be mostly behind the boards and showcase em on my beats. I'm giving myself till August 2004 to finish, and I'm very good about dropping albums on time. Check for it in a year.
Have you got any tour dates planned, particularly in terms of Europe and if so, what are they?
I do spot dates in the UK and Europe every few months, so I'll be back soon. I have a US tour coming up in February with my homie Celph Titled, Louis Logic, Styles of Beyond and Lexicon.
A lot of your material is humorous and entertaining. In a hip-hop world that at times seems totally obsessed with dark stories of gangster life in the ghetto etc, how important do you feel it is to crack a joke and smile?
Very. People are scared to laugh at shit nowadays. I'll make fun of everybody or myself like comedians do. I just like to talk shit and I have a sense of humour. Humour helps you deal with things that normally ain't funny. Everybody wanna be the best battle rapper or shoot somebody, but that's not me. I just like to talk trash and joke around a lot. Even when I'm talking about some fucked up shit, I'll put humour in it. I'll rap about jewellery, cars and ho's like most people but I'll put an exaggerated funny twist on it. People take rap too serious, cause like movies and TV, it's entertainment when all is said and done.
What artists and producers are you feeling at the moment and who would consider working with on a track or two?
I wanna work with the following people: Suga Free, Too $hort, Devin The Dude, Milk D, e-40, B-Legit, Ghostface, ODB, Akinyela, JT Money and a few others. I've worked with a lot of people that I wanted to work with already, so I consider myself lucky.
Besides the rap world, what genres are you feeling? Ever think you'll venture into that style?
I'll always be a fan of funk/rare groove above all, cause that's where my roots are. That's what turned me on to rap. Sampling the funk. I played Bass for 8 years, so I was considering getting back into playing funk when I get old. It's overdue for me and funk is less likely to get your ass killed than rap!
What's the most memorable experience you've had being a rhymer eg. A particular show, record, interview :-p ?
Record: A tie between "Choir Practice? with J-RO and King T on my $ick Of Bein Rich album and recording "Chinese Food?, the song I produced for Biz Markie's new album. J-Ro, King T & Biz Markie…That's me working with some of my childhood favourites, nuff said!
Show: Me and Al-Shid at Neveau Casino in Paris France in 2002. The crowd was so live and so appreciative. We rocked for over an hour cause of all the special requests and we only stopped cause I had to take a leak.
Interview: It wasn't somebody interviewing me, but when I interviewed Too $hort for HHC Magazine. Interviewing one of my childhood idols…that shit is untouchable!
As an artist more on the underground than over, what's your take on the 21st century bootlegging, MP3's?
I used to trip out about it, but nowadays I try not to worry about it. On one hand it takes money out of independent artist's pockets, but on the other hand, it gets me exposed to people that normally wouldn't have access to my music. It's a double edge sword, but I try not to complain cause there aint shit you can do about it.
What do you like to do to cool off after watching one too many episodes of MTV Cribs?
Sit in my platinum studded E-Z Chair on my front lawn and count my cash.
Any words you wanna put out to your public?
To all the J-Zone fans: Thanks for your support! To the J-Zone haters: Thanks for keeping me motivated, cause you still bought the album, bitch. Ha Ha! To all who never heard of me: Go to the store and buy all my albums a few hundred times. Thanks for interviewing my raggedy Ass! Peace!