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Jake One: #1 Beat Supplier

Jake One is well aware that his album, White Van Music, may have confused some listeners. It’s not a collective of any one Hip-Hop sub-genre, and even if it doesn’t work for everyone, he’s happy knowing he made the record that he wanted to make. After years without much control over the final product of his music, the Seattle-based producer is satisfied having the power and now the heightened recognition that comes with your own release. Jake One’s track record is extensive and encompasses artists from all over the map, something the Seattle repping beatman fully utilized when drafting the dynamic duo type pairings found throughout his recent project. Whether it was rhyme-capable producers Nottz and Black Milk on the album opener, or Motown psycho-spitters Royce Da 5’9″ and Elzhi, there’s no denying Jake One’s ear for what works well.Regardless of the reviews the album has served a greater purpose in his career; showcasing his ability to provide a suitable backdrop for damn near everyone he cares to work with. With at least two major projects under his direction slated for next year, along with his usual work with mainstream artists like 50 Cent, 2009 should be another big year for the production prodigy.AllHipHop.com: It may be coincidence, but the last time we talked about a year ago. At the time you were at the RedBull Music Academy in Toronto. Have you been doing many things of that nature in the last year?Jake One: Yeah actually I have a program with Redbull that I run called the Redbull Big Tune which is a producer battle. We’ve done seven of those this year and we’re doing the eighth one in November in L.A. with the finals in New York in December. We throw together a head-to-head producer battle but we also do an educational outreach where I’ll go to a community center with younger kids and show them how to make a beat and answer questions about the music industry. Like how much I make, and whatever else they decide to ask me.Jake One f/ Freeway “The Truth” VideoAllHipHop.com: Talking to the youth must be a rewarding experience.Jake One: Yeah it’s fun to interact with the kids that are still excited. A lot of people my age are kind of burnt out and they got life problems and things, so they don’t have that same fire for the music like they did when they were younger.AllHipHop.com: Looking at the websites and magazines and album liner notes, your presence has definitely increased over the past 12 months. What’s different now compared to back then?Jake One: You know it probably hasn’t changed that much from a business side. It’s more having this record that I’m the face of has made people more aware of what I’ve been doing. That was part of the reason for doing the record, kind of like a bigger advertisement for what I do. A lot of people don’t read the credits. People don’t even buy the records, so how are they going to see the credits? And then sometimes people will leak a song and give someone else my credit. AllHipHop.com: I remember you were venting about that Hot Rod track [“Be Easy”] last year that everyone thought was a Dr. Dre beat.Jake One: [Laughs] Yeah that was one of many where people just drew a name. 50 recently leaked a song of mine called “50 For President” and even though I did it, my name isn’t on it. So that’s just the Internet age, and you kind of have to take that into your own hands and just let people know what you’ve done, or they’re never going to know.AllHipHop.com: As far as people reaching out to you, have there been a lot of inquiries that fell through or you had to turn down?Jake One: Man, I’ve got so many beats that if I think I have something that’s going to work for whoever it is, I try to send them something. I did songs for a couple records this year that just didn’t make it, but I did at least get the chance to work on [those projects]. To me, as long as I’m in the running I can’t really complain too much.AllHipHop.com: Last year you were still getting over the fact you no longer have to hold a 9-to-5 job. Is that transition over for you now?Jake One: Yeah, it does seem like so long ago that I had a job [laughs]. But man, I’ve been working hard! Doing this record was a lot more work than when I do a record for somebody else. I just sit back and let them do all the work. So I’ve been doing release parties, all types of interviews and other extra things that I normally don’t do.Get Er Done feat MF Doom – Jake OneAllHipHop.com: Selling beats, you rarely get any creative control over the final product. Once the paper work is signed…Jake One: Yeah a lot of times, depending on who it is and their process, I usually don’t have much to do with the song once it’s recorded. With this record I’ve been literally able to go back in and do whatever I want with the songs, whether that’s filling them out or taking stuff out or whatever needs to be done.AllHipHop.com: You were already prepping White Van Music a year ago, so it’s been a long time in the making. What was the process?Jake One: A lot of what takes time is just waiting on rappers. That’s part of it. Just coming up with the record that I thought was going to be good enough to present as being my best work took time. That was really the main thing. I could have put it out earlier but it wouldn’t have been as good. I think it was good that I took the time and it all happened for the right reasons. I worked on it for like two years, and I would say only towards the end when I started mixing did I really spend full days on it. I would just do a song here or there and put it in the pile and then go work on it when it was really time to finish.AllHipHop.com: Did it make it easier with most of the artists being independent and not having to worry about all the red tape with “Rapper appears courtesy of label” and all that business?Jake One: Yeah that was definitely a good thing to have sidestepped. I got lucky in a couple situations where I did the record when these guys were on major labels, and they had releases by the time the record came out. But it’s definitely a smaller scale for everything and personally it’s been refreshing to do that. It feels good to be more hands on with everything and not be so disconnected from the process.AllHipHop.com: Was that the situation with M.O.P., where they were on a major at the time you recorded it?Jake One: Yeah that record was actually done for their album on G-Unit. I did a couple other songs that were on there too.AllHipHop.com: I was listening the album and I couldn’t help but think about some of your peers like Marco Polo, Statik Selektah and DJ Babu who also released their own solid albums recently. Is there a friendly rivalry among DJs and producers with their albums?Jake One: You know, producers in general are not really like rappers. All the guys you mentioned I know personally and we’re all friends, so it’s like I want to see them succeed. I look at it like the more people that are in to what they’re doing, the more people that are going to be into what I’m doing, and vice versa, I’m sure. So it’s not like there’s 100 people trying to do the same thing. And that goes for Hi-Tek’s album, I went out and bought that, and Alchemist’s album, and everybody who’s doing that.AllHipHop.com: As for the business side of the album, how much has Rhymesayers helped out with it?Jake One: They’ve been great as far as getting the word out and thinking of a lot of things to do. I’m more of a creative person on the music side, I’m not thinking of marketing plans and all the other stuff. I think they’ve done as good of a job as they could have possibly done, and I don’t think any other label could do a better job than they have. I think it was the perfect place to do this, and it’s looking like we’re going to do pretty well. AllHipHop.com: It seem this may be the beginning of a good business relationship for you. Are there any projects being planned?Jake One: There’s a couple other projects I’m working on bringing to them that would definitely shock people, so hopefully next year we’re going to see those come to fruition. There’s a lot of songs recorded but there’s nothing set in stone yet, so I don’t want to throw something out there that people are going to ask me about that doesn’t happen [laughs] I’ve been dealing with [Rhymesayers] for a minute, and there’s definitely a family atmosphere over there, no pun intended. I believe in what they do, I appreciate the way they handle business the way they pushed the record. It’s kind of a lost art. A lot of the indie labels at this point are so strapped for cash that they don’t have the staff to pull off the kind of leg work that they can do. And they have a really serious brand that I’m contributing to as well.AllHipHop.com: So what do you have confirmed for 2009?Jake One: There’s a couple things I’m working on that are potentially really, really big. But I’ve got a couple songs on the new Prodigy album, I’m on Scarface’s new album, De La Soul should be 2009. I’m doing a lot of work on Freeway’s new record, although where that’s coming out has yet to be determined.Oh Really feat. Posdnuos & Slug – Jake OneAllHipHop.com: It’s an interesting time for these major labels.Jake One: The thing that I don’t understand is why they don’t just take something that’s already moderately successful and just adjust the budget for it. If you can sell 100,000 records in this day and age that’s pretty good in itself. So instead of trying to spend and being mad when it doesn’t sell a million, base your calculations on 100,000. It’s not that wild a concept, but I guess they’re just so used to shooting for the moon that it would weird for them to go for anything else.AllHipHop.com: It’s upsetting for a fan when you know an album is complete, all the money has been spent and invested, and it doesn’t get released. Even if you don’t have any marketing budget, why not just drop it and let the artists’ fanbase help you recoup?Jake One: Yeah, it’s weird [laughs]. As much major label stuff as I do, I’ve pretty much disconnected from the whole scene.

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