Huntsville, Alabama, native Jackie Chain has been doing his thing on the music scene for quite awhile. At a young age, Southern rap groups like UGK, Three 6 Mafia, and 8Ball & MJG, were what caught Jackie's ear and led him to first fall in love with Hip-Hop. Although he loved it all, from N.W.A. to Nas, from Scarface to Pimp C, Jackie is a product of the streets and the soundtracks that played to them.
After a heavy grind and work ethic got Jackie noticed by some execs at Universal Motown, he was tasked with creating his first major label studio album, Ain't Slept In Weeks. With a release date set for later this year on his new home, Universal Republic, Mr. Chain continues to prove that with some good ol' fashioned music, a rabid fan base, and a catchy name, anything is possible.
AllHipHop.com recently spoke to Jackie, after the release of his new mixtape with Nich Catchdubs entitled After Hours, about life in Alabama, his relationship with Bun B and Big K.R.I.T., what the status of his album is, and where he got anointed as "Jackie Chain."
AllHipHop.com: How you feeling, Jackie?
Jackie Chain: Feeling good, man.
AllHipHop.com: First things first, being that you and your man Yelawolf are both from Alabama, I have to know what kind of crazy sh*t you two get into when you two are together.
Jackie Chain: Oh man, it’s funny because he’s an Alabama fan and I’m an Auburn fan, and so even though we’re both from Alabama, that’s a big rivalry here, so we both get at each other about that. But it’s really just like, we’ve known each other for so long, and when we get together, it’s more just like two old homies kicking it. We just clown and joke and we get really, really, really drunk [laughter].
AllHipHop.com: What are you guys drinks of choice when you’re kicking it?
Jackie Chain: Well, I’m a beer man, I drink Coors Light, and I’ll take the occasional shot of Jaeger, but Yelawolf, man, he loves that Jack Daniels. He’s a true Alabama boy, and he gets down on that Jack, man.
AllHipHop.com: I know you two have toured together in the past, but now you’re about to hit the road and embark on your own 30-city tour. Tell me about what your fans can expect from Jackie Chain on that.
Jackie Chain: Yeah, man, they’re pretty much more so going to be college towns, and we’re just trying to hit those markets which are the same ones I hit when I was on tour with Mac Miller and Big K.R.I.T. and Freddie Gibbs, and all of them. I’m just really trying to hit the markets that show me love, you know what I’m saying? That’s a lot of the college campuses and a lot of the people that support me right now.
AllHipHop.com: Oh, that’s what’s up, man - that should be crazy. Going back in time a little bit, though, for those that don’t know you and your story, tell me a little bit about your background.
Jackie Chain: I always listened to Rap; even as far back as I can remember. Like I remember being in a Rap group in fifth grade. I always loved all types of music, though, but I grew up and started listening to Too Short, N.W.A., and once I heard groups from the South like 8Ball & MJG, I think Comin’ Out Hard was like one of the first CDs I got, and then I started getting into UGK and Three 6 Mafia.
I’m from the South. We don’t have subways, we don’t wear backpacks, we don’t have big skyscrapers. It’s just totally different from being in L.A., so when I heard rappers from the South, I could actually relate and had been to these places that they’re talking about like Memphis, Nashville, and Atlanta. Especially when the whole Dungeon Family, and Outkast, and Goodie Mob, all those cats that just made me fall in love with it all even more. To be able to see what they were actually rapping about meant a lot. I never really grew up on New York rap, because I couldn’t relate to it. Of course I listened to it, but I really first fell in love with Hip-Hop when I heard the Southern rappers, ‘cause it was just all about them being from the same place I’m from.
AllHipHop.com: Do you actually remember the first Hip-Hop album, cassette, or record that you bought for yourself?
Jackie Chain: It was actually a tape, but the first Hip-Hop thing I bought was N.W.A.’s “Hundred Miles And Runnin”.
AllHipHop.com: That's what's up. I have to ask, where did Jackie Chain come from? I’m going to assume that’s not your government name [laughter].
Jackie Chain: No, it’s not, and it’s funny how I got it. I did a brief stint in prison. I turned 20 and 21 in prison behind bars and that wall, and I was never really serious about the rapping, but once I got in there, that’s what we did to pass the time. We freestyled and we rapped, and I was the only Asian in the joint, so they hit me with every Asian name from Bruce Lee to Mr. Miyagi to Jackie Chan. And in Alabama, everyone’s got that Southern drawl, so Jackie Chan came out sounding like Jackie Chain.
There was this one guy, and every time he saw me, he called me Jackie Chain. So when I got out of prison, I was hanging out with a lot of my friends the street, and I ran into someone that I was locked up with, and they were like, 'What up, Jackie Chain?' and all my friends would get a kick out of it. And then all my friends on the street calling me Jackie Chain, and one thing led to another.
AllHipHop.com: Well, it’s definitely a catchy name, and that’s a cool story to go with it. But like you said before, you listened to and were influenced by all different types of artists and groups, but specifically 8Ball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia and UGK, and you’ve actually been able to work with a lot of them. What is that experience like, being in the studio making a song with someone you idolized when you were younger?
Jackie Chain: Oh, man, it’s crazy. I actually did a song with Bun B 10 years ago, but it was more like I wasn’t in the studio when he recorded it. I did my verse somewhere else; it wasn’t really official, you know what I’m saying?
Jackie Chain: So, my first official single is with Bun B and Big K.R.I.T., and the fact that I grew up listening to these guys, and I get to meet Bun, it was so cool - ‘cause I’ve met Bun at various spots at shows and backstage, but to actually kick it with him for four or five hours in the studio was great.
It took like an hour to do the song but he stayed for like four hours, and we blew through like two ounces of kush. But listening to the music and seeing how real he was, it was really a great experience, because I’ve been around some rappers that are *ssholes, so for him to be so down-to-earth and humble and a legend as one of the greatest to ever do it, that really just meant a lot to me, man.
AllHipHop.com: For sure, man, that must have been amazing. What about the other guys?
Jackie Chain: I’ve kicked it with Juicy J and DJ Paul, and we’ve got wasted. I haven’t kicked it with MJG, but I have had a chance to hang out with 8Ball a couple of times and it’s just…I don’t get starstruck too often, but when I’m around people like that who I’m actually a true to heart fan of, it’s a beautiful feeling and I feel like I’m accomplishing something. Especially back at the crib in Huntsville, because UGK is such a big influence in Alabama that by me doing a song with Bun B, [it 's] like I made it at the crib, and people are like, 'You’ve got a song and video with Bun B!' It just feels good, man, ‘cause like I said, I did grow up listening to them my whole life.
AllHipHop.com: That’s crazy, and I can definitely appreciate where you’re coming from. It’s interesting, too, because I’ve never heard a person say a single, bad thing about Bun B. It’s always about how nice and humble and down to earth he is, so it’s cool to hear you say the same about him.
Jackie Chain: Yeah, man, he’s a living legend.
AllHipHop.com: As far as the song “Parked Outside” goes, you told me how you hooked up with Bun, but how did you hook up with Big K.R.I.T. for that song?
Jackie Chain: Well, I actually did about 30 dates last year with K.R.I.T., and just from being on tour and together every single day. And K.R.I.T.’s in the same boat, he’s a cool, humble guy, and he actually did the beat for “Parked Outside." So when he sent me the beat and I heard that UGK influence and that Pimp C hook on there, I just reached out to Bun and he showed me crazy love ‘cause he liked the song and he messes with K.R.I.T. And it turns out, he was a fan of mine before I ever met him, which blew my mind that he was listening to my mixtapes and all that. So when I reached out to him it wasn’t really business, it was more just like 'let’s do it.'
AllHipHop.com: Well, since we’re talking about the music, I want to ask you about the project you dropped recently with Nick Catchdubs from Fools Gold called After Hours. That’s definitely got more of an up-tempo, feel good, party and get f*cked up type of vibe, so how exactly did the two of you link up for this mixtape?
Jackie Chain: Well, the response has been crazy, man, and I’m a hustler by nature, so I’m trying to get all that money. I want the rave money, I want the dubstep money, I want that Hip-Hop money, I want all that. So I actually hooked up with Catchdubs through Diplo who I worked with and my A&R at Universal was good friends with Catchdubs, and when I met him he was just cool, man. He sent me some beats, and we just joked around about doing a tape and like, I’ve got a song on there called “Molly” that we shot the video for last year at SXSW, so this mixtape has been in the works for a year. Like I said, I’m trying to get all that money, so if you can cut a check and I can come to your city and roll, then let’s do it!
In March I’m dropping a mixtape strictly for the streets, though, ‘cause I’ve been getting a real good response from After Hours, but my homeboys are like, 'Jackie man, you need to do some more street sh*t, that’s where you came from.' So this next mixtape is strictly for the 'hood, and everybody will love it but I’m gearing it very much toward the hood. It’s going to be like that first Jackie Chain sh*t, that pimping hoes and selling dope type sh*t.
AllHipHop.com: I hear you, man. Does that project have a name yet or are you still undecided on that?
Jackie Chain: We’re still working on the name, man, ‘cause I really want it to be – I’ve got three or four DJs that I’m working with, but I don’t know which one I’m going to work with ‘cause they’re all so – I’ve just got a lot of people that want to work with me now so I’ve got to make the best decision for this hood sh*t, so trust me, you will know about it. I’m wrapping it up now, and it’s crazy. It’s bananas.
AllHipHop.com: I’m definitely looking forward to that, and it should be good for the fans to hear the Jackie that they came up on while you still get to experiment with all the other types of music. I have to ask about the actual album, though. So what is the current status of your Universal Records debut, Ain’t Slept In Weeks?
Jackie Chain: There’s about five songs that had sample issues that we’re just having so much trouble with. As you know, I was signed to Universal Motown, but that whole situation didn’t really materialize and I didn’t know where I was going, but they ended up moving me and the whole Young Money camp and Kid Cudi and Pac Div to Universal Republic.
It’s almost like I got a new deal. We’ve still got the songs on deck, but I had to go up there and shake some hands and see what was what with my project. So right now everybody at Republic is showing me love, and everybody is interested in it. So, I think it’s just a matter of getting back up in there and chopping it up with them and seeing what’s up but it’s definitely going to drop this year.
AllHipHop.com: It sounds like a good “fresh start” for you, not to say that you need it, but it certainly can’t hurt. Who were some of the people that you got to work with on the records that haven’t had sample clearance issues?
Jackie Chain: Oh, man, well, production-wise I’ve got, of course, the Block Beattaz. I got some beats from K.R.I.T., he did a couple of joints on there for me. I actually got a crazy song on there with me, Big K.R.I.T., and Yelawolf that he did the production on, and it’s crazy! I got [Kid] Cudi on the album. I got some nice little features on Aint Slept In Weeks, and a lot of the songs with the sample issues have features on them, so I’m not sure if they’re going to get cut or what, but I’m definitely coming strong. Of course, I got Bun [B] on the album, so it’s gonna be crazy, man.
AllHipHop.com: Damn, that Yelawolf and K.R.I.T. joint sounds crazy! I can’t wait to hear that and the rest of the new music. Is there anything else you want the fans to know about?
Jackie Chain: Yeah, man, just follow me on Twitter @JackieChain74, and no I was not born in ’74, a lot of people ask me that. Just look out for me, man. I’ve got a new video about to drop for “Role Models,” and I’m just getting it. I’m trying to get it in this year, so look for me in a city near you.
AllHipHop.com: Got to ask, what does the 74 stand for then?
Jackie Chain: It’s just an organization, man. I don’t want to say it’s a gang, but it’s an nationwide organization that I’m a part of that is all about growth and development and helping each other.
AllHipHop.com: Fair enough, man, just had to ask. It was a pleasure talking to you, and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been cooking up. Thanks for your time.
Jackie Chain: Oh, it’s all good, man. I’m a big fan of the site, so I appreciate the love.
Download Jackie Chain and Nick Catchdub's After Hours Mixtape Here!
Follow Jackie Chain On Twitter: @JackieChain74