Yung Joc: Joc’in for Beats

After signing Outkast nearly twelve years ago, Antonio “L.A.” Reid predicted that Atlanta would become the Motown of the South. It seemed like a bold prediction considering that Jermaine Dupri was the only person moving big Soundscan units at the time. No one doubts that prediction now, as artists like Outkast, Ludacris, Lil’ Jon and T.I. dominate the charts. While the ATL has given us Snap, Trap, Crunk Music and everything in between, newcomer Yung Joc is determined to play the role of Barry Gordy in the new Motown.

Despite being falsely labeled as a snap artist, Yung Joc chooses to align himself with ATL veteran rappers. Should he have his way New Joc City won’t just be the title of his debut album, it will serve as another Atlanta prophecy come true. He may have gotten his nickname due to his baby-face and lack of facial hair, but the current owner of Billboard’s #13 single is a businessman and an MC. Diddy’s newest Bad Boy recruit relays his thoughts on everything from his creative process to the nuances of African American hair care-it’s goin’ down indeed.

AllHipHop.com: A fellow Atlanta artist, Young Jeezy, caught a lot of heat for the whole ‘Snowman’ thing, are you worried about catching similar heat with tracks like “Dopeboy Magic”?

Yung Joc: Nah, I might catch some heat because I said this one line in this song, “First things first, I like all kind of hoes / Some go to Spellman, some dance with no clothes.” I know that Nelly caught a lot of flack for sliding a credit card down that girl’s booty [in the “Tip Drill” video], so I might catch some similar heat over some silly s**t like that, but I ain’t really trippin’.

AllHipHop.com: Your father owns a hair care line, Claudio St. James, so were you financially cool prior to getting in the game?

Yung Joc: With a company, you have to take all of your own capital and reinvest in yourself. I won’t say I was cool financially, because my dad had his own thing. Anything I needed, I could get it, but I was always taught to do without. That’s not because of my pride, it’s because of my hustle-I tried to not ask for s**t unless I really needed it.

AllHipHop.com: The Dungeon Family gave the Hip-Hop world a vision of Atlanta about ten years ago, how would you say it’s changed since then?

Yung Joc: Outkast crossed that threshold of just being South and Hip-Hop. The threshold was that either, ‘you were South or you had Northern exposure to make it Hip-Hop.’ They blended the two, which gave credibility to the South and Hip-Hop itself. It allowed people to say, “Damn cats in the South can actually rap too, they actually have other s**t to say than just some booty shake s**t or just hollering.” They are definitely pioneers in their own right, so I respectfully give them a big shout out and take my hat off because they paved the way. They broke down a lot of barriers, without them there would be no Jeezy’s and no T.I.’s. People wouldn’t have given a f**k about what we had to say.

AllHipHop.com: “It’s Goin’ Down” is getting a lot of love from radio and the mixtape circuit, didn’t you originally construct that song by making the hook and building around it?

Yung Joc: Nah, what happened was Nitty said that we needed to give the people something new that was catchy. Remember how back in the day when people would be in your business and you would answer “Nunna,” like, “None of your business?” It was a little call-and-response melody, “Who you came with-nunna! Who you hang with-nunna! Nunna, nunna, nunna, nunna yo’ goddamn business!” That’s how he came up with the melody (sings) da-da-da-duh-duh. After he began to produce the track, that s**t outgrew the hook, so then we figured since we had this great beat we should drop some verses.

AllHipHop.com: So the hook actually turned out to be the last thing, right?

Yung Joc: Exactly, and that’s why I tell people, there’s no protocol in making a record. It could go either way, you could’ve written a hit song before ever hearing the track, you never know. I had to go home and sleep on “It’s Goin’ Down” for two days, then I came back and dropped the hook. Matter of fact, we were getting ready for some big party and I’m at the studio trying to come up with a hook or something to make the song right. It was just me and Miss B [of So So Def fame], Diddy, and Chino Dolla were in the studio Everyone left to go get some outfits for the party, except me and Miss B. When they left I made up the hook and I got her to record me, so by the time they got back the song was finished.

AllHipHop.com: There’s no protocol but you’ve obviously got an ear for what will hit in the streets, where does that come from?

Yung Joc: That comes from understanding your target market. It’s like if I walk in the club and there’s a wall full of women. If there’s some sididdy chicks in one corner and some freaks in another corner, I can’t come at the sididdy broads with that “cut something” s**t. I’m going to have to be talking some real classy s**t like, “Yo, you look like the type of chick a cat could rendezvous with from time to time, how can we make this happen?” You know, you’ve got to put your sexy on. Now if I go over there to them freaks, I already know what it is, I’m coming at them like, “What y’all drinking?”

AllHipHop.com: So how do you balance the concepts that you’re personally feeling with what your target audience might want?

Yung Joc: Music is only an expression of the emotion. At the time when that emotion comes across, I don’t fight it, I go with it. If that emotion tells me to say, “Hey hallelujah / Who’s smokin’ buddah,” then I’m gonna say that s**t and I ain’t gonna think twice about it. If it sounds like bulls**t or not, I’m gonna do it. And from there, you move on. You can’t think too hard about it. If you think too hard, you fall behind. That’s why you see cats go in the studio and do two or three songs a night while you’re doing one song a week. Don’t think too hard, it’s emotional. If a motherf**ker run up on you and slaps you, it won’t take you a week to think about how you feel. You’re going to be pissed off right then and there. It’s gut instinct dog.

AllHipHop.com: You’ve had practice on that too though; word on streets is that you recorded a commercial jingle for Revlon as a teenager. Is that true?

Yung Joc: Yeah, man. Revlon was doing The Bronner Brother’s Hair Show. The Bronner Brother’s is a black owned hair care line and every year they have this big event in Atlanta. Revlon has so much money, but when they come to this venue, nobody’s f**king with them, because they’re not making any products for ‘locks or braids and natural hair. You know how it is, our hair is naturally different. So they came up with this product line called Lotta’ Body and they tried to make it hip. They’re thinking, “What better way to get to the black audience than through their music?” So they had some s**t that was like different colored mousses, like bumpin’ brown and boomin’ black. I knew a young lady named Shayla Simpson, who had ties with Revlon. She did makeup for a lot of the stars like Denzel Washington and [Evander] Holyfield, so she got me on and plugged me and my group. We did the jingle, and Revlon loved it so much that they purchased it from us. They also paid us to perform it at the hair show, so we used to get cake off of that s**t.

AllHipHop.com: That’s a good look as a teenager, or at any other age.

Yung Joc: Yeah, that s**t paid some bills pimp. My momma was happy than a motherf***er, she was like, “You need to go do something for McDonalds now.”

AllHipHop.com: Fast-forwarding to now, is your solo mixtape with DJ Drama out yet?

Yung Joc: As far as the “It’s Goin’ Down” mixtape, we decided that since I’m the first artist from the label, why not go ahead and make it “Welcome To My Block” so we can reintroduce the people affiliated with the situation. So this mix has me, Block, Nitty, Boyz N The Hood, and different people tied in to our situation. We’re about to drop that in a few days so I’m waiting on that and I think it’ll get a good response. We leaked a record called “A Hundred Grand” where I stole a beat. I did a verse to it and then I jacked a beat from D4L, or I should say I “jocked” the beat.

AllHipHop.com: You admittedly have a shoe fetish, so would you rather rock some Bapes or Air Forces?

Yung Joc: I’d do the Forces over the Bapes. Only for the simple fact that when you get a pair of Bapes, they’re supposed to already be exclusive. They’re supposed to already be in that upper echelon. I feel like if I get some Bapes I shouldn’t have to do nothing to them, but if I get some Ones, I can do whatever I want to do with them and nobody can say anything. I feel that there’s room to grow in Forces, if I pay $50 for some Ones and I have to pay to upgrade them, that’s cool. I don’t want to pay $250 for a shoe and then still have to do some extra s**t to it. If I pay that much money for it, that b*tch better be all the way upgraded when I get it.

AllHipHop.com: So does that apply to the whip game too? Do you roll with the old school big body or something new like that 600 Benz?

Yung Joc: I’d take an old school. When I drive off the lot with that Benz, that b*tch is going to drop in value by $10,000 right off the rip. It’s probably going to take you some time to pay it all the way off, and to get it like you want it. If you spend all that money on a whip and you’ve still got to do upgrades to it, shoot yourself! Politely go call Dr. Kevorkian, and go kill yourself. I’d rather get that old school and turn it from nothing into something. I can always resell that old school, but that Benz is going to be hard as hell to sell. You could probably sell the accessories off of a Benz easier than you can sell the car itself. That Benz is bragging rites, but the old school is street cred. I could ride through the hood in that Benz and everyone would say, “Oooh that thing is clean.” If I’m rolling that old school everybody’s going to say, “Boy, he’s for real!” I bet you’ll see which one they’d rather ride in.

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