On the heels of two-critically acclaimed EP’s Music Tu Madre, and A Bottle Of Whup Ass, J-Zone’s first full-length release, Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes, is a more maturated continuation of the brazen lyricism, and off-kilter samples Zone supplied on previous endeavors. While Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes is almost like an interview in itself, J-Zone was gracious enough to let us politic with the head Old Maid Billionaire. And though word of mouth is finally spreading about this slept-on phenomenon, like my counterpart Pizzo cautioned, “if you were sleeping on J-Zone, its time to wake up.”
HHS: On “Q&A” you make it readily known that interviews bore you, is this one of the trivial aspects of the industry you would rather not deal with?
J-Zone: I don’t mind interviews. Actually I enjoy them, but a word to anyone who interviews me: Don’t ask (me) where I’m from, and how I started. It’s routine, and I understand that, but that shit bores me. Why does where I’m from matter?
HHS: How closely does the persona you depict on records, resemble the personality you have off of it?
J-Zone: About 50% is me. I’m like this in many ways. I’m a bugged out funny cat, I’m tacky, cocky; I always have shitty luck with women. But I can also be kinda quiet, and reclusive. I’m humble in some ways, and some of the more absurd shit on the album is shit that’s in my head, but I might not execute. No person is one dimensional, and I try to show all sides of my personality. It’s just that my tacky, rude, dickhead side is more entertaining. I’m a real cool person though, as long as you respect me.
HHS: One of the more interesting tracks on Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes is “The Trojan War”, which puts an interesting spin on (un) safe-sex, but with all of the communicable diseases out there, J-Zone is not “really” going raw dog is he?
J-Zone: That song came from the frustration of not bustin after bonin for like an hour, cause condoms desensitize me. It made sex a chore, like I can’t get a nut? Why even have sex? It made me think: “Fuck Rubbers.” But good sex ain’t worth no STD. Zone ain’t goin raw nowadays, hell no. As wack as rubbers make sex, AIDS, and unwanted pregnancy scare me. At the end of that song I get burned, so I know the time.
HHS: On “Bum-Bitch Ballad” you mention catching flak for wearing a bitch magnet T-shirt, and how some woman take the word “Bitch” out of context. For all of the B-Girls out there, can you break down your feelings on the B-word?
J-Zone: The word “Bitch” sees no gender preference. It’s a petty, weak person, that ain’t shit- man or woman. That’s what a Bitch is to me. I explain that in the song. If someone gets offended by that word, they must be one. It’s like when TLC made that song “No Scrubs.” I didn’t get offended. A lot of guys got mad at that song, but I know I’m not a scrub, so I didn’t care. I knew they weren’t talkin about me, so I wasn’t mad. If a girl wore a shirt that said “Scrub Magnet” I wouldn’t get mad, cause I’m not a scrub. You must know you’re a bitch if you get mad at the B word, the song or the shirt. I always wound up falling for girls that turned out to be bitches, and a friend said “Yo J you’re a bitch magnet.” Then I saw the shirt, and had to cop it. That’s the story behind the shirt, but if you claim you’re not a bitch, then the word won’t bug you. You think if someone calls Snoop Dogg a fat fuck he’ll get mad? He’s not fat so I doubt it. Same scenario. Beeeyatch!
HHS: What are your feelings about downloading music from the Internet? Are you opposed to the practice?
J-Zone: It’s cool cause you can get exposure, but if you download the whole album…that’s wack. It’s like damn, if you like all the tracks that much support me. When you support me, I get that money cause I’m pressing everything myself. When you download the whole album, you’re cheatin’ me, not some pencil neck George Bush looking geezer, and his multi billion dollar company. Buy my shit so I can get this Cadillac, beeeyatch!
HHS: With the “Block Itch” Skit you put a humorous, yet serious spin on how little respect overzealous demo-tape pushers have for an artists right to privacy. How much of a problem is this for you?
J-Zone: Glad you saw the message in that. I made it a real funny ass skit for entertainment value, but that shit makes me upset. I’m grateful for fans, and their support. I’ll answer questions, sign shit…but when they keep drilling me about ‘what record did you sample for “Candy Razors?” Or ‘kick a freestyle’ when I’m tryin’ to unwind, or get with a girl…fuck that!
HHS: Would you consider signing to a major label, and if so, how would it change your sound (considering you use a lot of samples)?
J-Zone: I’m kinda ambivalent. I need my 100% creative control to make me happy with my music, period. But then again, I’m sick of goin into Virgin Megastore, and not seein’ my shit. I’m sick of getting’ no love in The Source after 3 albums. I’m sick of people saying I got talent, and how it’s a shame nobody knows who the fuck I am. I get touted as one of the best upcoming producers, but I only sold 2 beats this year. I wanna rep Pimp Palace East on MTV cribs. I wanna go pick up Lucy in my baby blue drop top Caddy.
HHS: The samples you lift are really off the cusp, especially the vocal sample you apply to “Stroke Happy.” Where do you find records like this, and is there anything you won’t sample?
J-Zone: Just that bug out shit. I usually go for weird shit.
HHS: Who are some of musicians, or producers that influenced you?
J-Zone: Bomb Squad, Marley Marl, Jimi Hendrix, Prince Paul, O.D.B., Ronald Bell, all those funk seven inch groups; Pete Rock, Milk, Too $hort, Luke, Master P, Eazy-E and NWA, Devin the Dude, E-40, Luke, John Coltrane, 45 King, RZA, the first Leaders of the New School album…the list goes on.
HHS: Your list of influences is very diverse. What is it about Luke, Master P, and E-40 that influenced you, their business sense?
J-Zone: True, they got that biz down pat. But I also admire them cause they had a sound that wasn’t embraced by the masses stuck to their guns, and created their own loyal fanbases. They said ‘fuck what everyone else is doin’ and they just did they own thing. I see myself going against the grain like that as well, and they gave me the confidence to do that. Plus, Luke and E-40 got that 808 bass, which I use a lot. Most underground hip-hop producers are allergic to bass. They can’t rattle the trunk like me, and Luke. That’s why most indy backpacker rap gets no play in my ride! Beeyatch!
HHS: In this Bling, Bling era of hip-hop, one of the things that separates you from most emcees is that your lyrics (masturbation, woman problems, job woes, low funds) are very easy to relate too. Is this a conscious effort on your part?
J-Zone: Naah. I just talk about what’s on my mind. I don’t make records just for B-Boys or any specific group of people, just the average dude. I’m a people’s rapper. I’m topical as a rapper. Fuck doing an album of 15 songs about wack mc’s. I don’t really take rappin’ that serious, I just bug out. Maybe that’s the appeal. I don’t care about battlin or freestylin. Anybody who thinks I’m wack because of that, fuck your respect. As long as I get my Cadillac, I don’t give a shit.
HHS: Most producers find it hard to hold down the duties of both producer and emcee. Which aspect requires the most effort from you?
J-Zone: Producing comes more natural, but I work so hard on perfecting the production cause that’s my bread and butter. Rhyming, I just act stupid and trip out, cause I know my rappin’ style is an acquired taste anyway.
HHS: If you were forced to choose between only producing, or rhyming, which aspect would you choose and why?
J-Zone: Producing. I only rhyme when I have a concept, when I got shit on my mind. Like
now, I’m burnt from the album, so you won’t hear J-Zone rhyme for a long time, cause I refuse to waste time rappin about wack MC’s. This will probably be my last solo LP, cause I said everything I wanted to say in 3 albums.
HHS: You mention being done with solo-LP’s for now; can you elaborate on that? Are you really done putting out solo-LP’s, or do you just need a break? I mean, is this really the last solo joint we can expect from J-Zone, or can we expect a Jordan like return in a few years after your battery recharges?
J-Zone: Yeah, as a rapper my battery’s burnt. I don’t feel any subject matter I been coming with, and subject matter is the appeal of my stuff. Like I said, I’d rather go out happy with what I did than keep recording for consistency sake and do an album about wack MC’s. I’m trying to get as far from backpacker hip-hop as humanly possible. Fuck a freestyle cipher, where’s my Cadillac at?
HHS: Do you consider yourself to be slept-on? And don’t be modest….
J-Zone: Hell yeah!! I don’t see many producers, or all around artists that can fuck with me. I don’t know of too many MC’s that can fuck with Huggy, and Al-Shid, but everybody has their own opinion, I guess. People like to sleep on us cause you either gotta be an extra glossy pretty boy drug dealer, or a backpacker that talks about the 4 elements of hip hop on every fuckin’ song.
HHS: What is your take on all the diss tracks that artists like Jay-Z, Prodigy, Nas, Jadakiss, Beanie Sigel, and Cormega have recently directed at one another? Do you think this is a healthy thing for hip-hop?
J-Zone: Yeah, I think it’s entertaining, and exciting, plus it makes money. Just keep it on wax, and it’s cool. Like when Tim Dog vs. NWA, Luke vs. Kid N Play, Roxanne Shante, LL, DJ Quik vs. MC Eiht… it’s dope, as long as it don’t turn to no violent shit.
HHS: Zone followers are all very aware of your Lucy Liu fetish, but give us your Top 5 list of dimepieces.
J-Zone: 1. Lucy…. 2 through 5. Any of the stuck up ass fly bitches you’ll encounter in New York City on any given day.
HHS: If, and when J-Zone blows up, how would fame and money change you?
J-Zone: The goddamn Cadillac!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HHS: Are solo-LP’s from fellow Old Maid Billionaires Huggy, and Al-Shid in the works?
J-Zone: Huggy’s joint is 6 cuts deep. The shit is bananas to me, but I’m scared about the public’s reaction. They’ll probably listen to it expecting to hear a J-Zone album, and it’s different. It’s not that conceptual, or skit heavy, I hope they can accept me doing something different. Hip-hop fans are notorious for not accepting artist growth, and then they’ll criticize you if you keep doing the same thing over and over. You can’t win. But Huggy’s a damn villain on the mic. Al-Shid got some new shit too. He’s gonna blow big. I’m done with J-Zone albums for now, and I hope people will accept me bringing out the fellas doing stuff differently than one of my albums.
HHS: What does the future hold for J-Zone? Are there any collaborations in the works, and will you be branching out to produce other artists?
J-Zone: I rhymed on the Princess Superstar album. I did beats on the upcoming Cage, and High & Mighty projects. Nobody is reaching out for beats, despite the acclaim, so I’m focused on my Old Maid family. Tryin’ to get rich, get Lucy, get my Cadillac and move to a desert island and retire from this rap bullshit.
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