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Jacob “The Chancellor” York: Defending Gucci Mane

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Over the years, Hip-Hop has been no stranger to the words, “beef and controversy.” Many of these situations start off as small disputes usually being resolved on diss tracks or battles. Unfortunately, sometimes they escalate into unneeded violence.

What is one to do when the industry erupts like an earthquake between two friends?

AllHipHop.com spoke with Jacob the Chancellor, co-owner of Fat Cat Records to discuss the beef between Gucci Mane and Jeezy circulating around the track, “Icy.” The song was the root of the the violence, and the lead single behind Gucci’s Fat Cat/Tommy Boy album Trap House. He also speaks about the current legal charges proceeding against Gucci Mane.

When will the Hip-Hop culture learn that problems can not be solved through violence? It’s bitterly cynical to say, but similar to the Tootsie Pop owl, “The world may never know.”

AllHipHop.com: How did you get the name, The Chancellor?

Jacob York: [Laughs] Cam gave me that name. He said I was in charge of everything, and the name stuck. Mase even started calling me The Chancellor.

AllHipHop.com: So you’re the man to know in the street…

Jacob York: I guess that I have a pretty good reputation.

AllHipHop.com: Tell us a little bit about your history, because people may be surprised to learn where your experience is rooted…

Jacob York: At the time, we were a young company when we had a deal with Junior M.A.F.I.A. Children of the Corn was how we found Cam’ron. When Big L passed, we got a new deal and picked up Cam. I actually have two unreleased C.O.C. CDs that I’m staring at in my office right now.

AllHipHop.com: Any chance that you can give me a release date on those?

Jacob York: We’ll save that for another time.

AllHipHop.com: Why didn’t you also pick up Murda Mase?

Jacob York: We originally had Mase first, but Puff outbid us.

AllHipHop.com: Have you heard Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s new album, Riot Musik?

Jacob York: Someone called me when I was in Chicago and told me. I had no idea that they had one out. I heard that they dropped my name on the track, “Just Us.” But I haven’t spoken with them in a while.

AllHipHop.com: So fast-forward to now, for those that don’t know, what do you do?

Jacob York: My partner and I are the owners and C.E.O.s of Big Cat Records. My artists are Black Magic, Young Sneed and Gucci Mane are a few or our artists.

AllHipHop.com: Let’s just get to the meat of this. From your perspective, break us off what happened with him and Young Jeezy…

Jacob York: Basically, it started off as two friends in Atlanta that rhymed. Gucci asked Jeezy to do a few bars on the track, “Icy.”. It got circulation on a mix-tape. When it took off, a lot of people were skeptical, because they didn’t think that it would work on an independent label. Jeezy eventually went to Def Jam, and they wanted all the rights to the track. We wanted a “hold back period” between albums. Jeezy still wanted to put it on his album. We were going to take him off of the track and just put it out on Gucci’s album. They were going to do a video for it and Gucci showed up late to the shoot. Def Jam told us that we should have just taken Jeezy off of the track to begin with. Their partner told us that we should have just held it. It was basically the big label vs. the little label.

AllHipHop.com: Damn.

Jacob York: Yeah, it happens all the time. It’s currently selling without permission on Jeezy’s Trap or Die, album. Def Jam is distributing it.

AllHipHop.com: So how’d it get personal?

Jacob York: It all became about ego and we were told that we couldn’t use it. Gucci felt betrayed, but was going to pay Jeezy again to appear in the video. They were going to do a spot for MTV, but some words were exchanged and people became offended. It was about keeping your word. These cats go back a long way and it’s sad to see these things happen. It truly destroys friendships. Jeezy released a dis-tack [“Stay Strapped or Die”]. We were surprised, but replied. That wasn’t the problem though. My problem was when Jeezy sent out a death warrant saying, “I’ll give $10,000 for Gucci Mane’s chain.”

AllHipHop.com: Word?

Jacob York: Some people take the music a little too seriously. Hip-Hop fans, a lot of the times, don’t think that artists are lying, but rather telling the truth. The next thing that you know, five guys show up to Gucci’s crib with bats and brass knuckles. When people show up at your door like that, they’re not interested in talking peacefully. Gucci started bucking shots and jumped in his car and left. One of the five guys that came to the house was from Gucci’s hood. He was supposedly an up and coming rapper and was probably trying to impress Jeezy. That guy died.

AllHipHop.com: So what did Gucci do?

Jacob York: He turned himself in. At first, one of the witnesses called the Atlanta Police Department. They didn’t even call him back. A lot of people say that it was in self-defense. He had a high cash bond. There was a reward put out for information on the other four guys that were at his house. The police think that it’s an open and shut case, but it’s not. Recently, several witnesses have come forth. It hasn’t been handled properly from the jump.

AllHipHop.com: Is this his first offense?

Jacob York: He’s never been convicted before. The only thing that he’s ever had was a possession charge.

AllHipHop.com: What did Def Jam have to say about all of this? It doesn’t seem like their style.

Jacob York: Def Jam claims that we’re using it a form of “hype” for the album. It’s not true. We don’t need to do it for sales, we already have that. Because of all of this, we’ve been losing deals left and right. People are backing out. I even had a radio group tell me that until the whole thing blows over, they couldn’t do business with us.

AllHipHop.com: You would think that all of this would increase the sales around Gucci’s album.

Jacob York: Hip-Hop today is mainstream. It’s unfortunate to say so, but it’s true. Bill O’Reiley uttered a few words about Ludacris and got him kicked off of a Pepsi campaign. You lose deals and profits because if thing like this. We’re an independent label from Atlanta, so radio stations never have enough time or room to play our music in the first place. We may sell a few extra 1000 copies in Atlanta because of the beef, but even after this whole thing blows over, Gucci is going to have to deal with this for the rest of his life. He has no real possibility of getting the things done that he originally had planned. We were getting 2000 spins, now it’s a lot less than that. We literally had a million downloads of Gucci’s stuff. Now it dropped to 100,000.

AllHipHop.com: It’s unfortunate that this all had to happen. You said that they knew each other from way back?

Jacob York: Yeah. I’ve known Jeezy for a long time, even before we signed Gucci Mane. I hope to God that he didn’t really call out the hit. I knew him back when he was Little J, doing Crunk. Now he’s a different person. He’s mad talented. I can’t say that I’ve ever known him to be a gangster. I’ve never seen him hurt anyone. I used to sit him down in my office and tell him to be careful and to watch out. Regardless, people acted on the words that were said and now one man is dead. Jeezy was getting play on BET and people know about his record. He’s been signed to Def Jam for over a year. So I don’t know what the deal was. I can only speculate it was because Gucci is on an independent label and is on the same level. Jeezy has two big record deals right now. It doesn’t make sense. He never should have said what he did. Even in his own hood, cats are looking at him like he’s a crab. Hell, even Magic is dissing Jeezy. But like I said, I originally only had a problem with the hit threat. They’re both talented artists. I just hope that the whole thing is dealt with properly and resolved in a good way.

AllHipHop.com: What happened in the beginning? Didn’t you and Def Jam talk?

Jacob York: I personally set up sit-downs six times. It always came back as, “Big us and little you?” Def Jam doesn’t even have anything to do with the hit. They were just about the money. It was all coming from Jeezy and his camp. He did it all himself. Jeezy just started acting like he was the boss. He started claiming that he was “Icy.” Why did he have to do things like that? I don’t know.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think that all of this has affected Jeezy’s career at all?

Jacob York: I’m sure that it has. Like I said, a lot of people aren’t happy with him right now.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think that he actually called out the hit?

Jacob York: I’m not sure, so I’m going to say, “No.” A lot of people down here think otherwise. It’s sad that in 2005, things like this are still happening in Hip-Hop. You would think that we would have learned from our previous mistakes. To a lot of people, it doesn’t matter. I liked Jeezy. He’s not a bad guy, but his ego and the fame got to him. I remember when he was just happy to be in New York. I mean the guy got A’s in school. I tried to stop him from getting swallowed up by the whole thing.

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