Jake One: Hitting Paydirt...with 50 Cent, Sha Money, and Young Buck


the digital age we live in, when everybody and their friend is making

beats, it can get difficult to distinguish the real from the fake, the

fluke from the official. It’s at the point where producers are almost

forced to ‘Just Blaze’ their beats to keep from getting lost in

a sea of mediocrity, where biting is abundant and originality is the

key to buoyancy.


there are guys like Jake One at the helm of this Hip-Hop ship. One listen

to his signature ‘blap’ and it’s clear that what you’re hearing

is genuine dope, and you will most definitely need another fix. Curtis

Jackson certainly did, and there’s a long line of A-listers who have

been hooked. Timeless and genius are not words that are thrown around

often, but with each press of the ‘Rewind’ button the legacy of

Jake One is being established worldwide, by mainstream and underground

heads alike.


one to buy into hype, the Seattle native is only beginning to adjust

to life without a regular 9-to-5, and still has time to give some direction

to fellow producers while checking in with the good people at AllHipHop.com. 

AllHipHop.com: Yo Jake, what’s

up man? 

Jake One: I’m just trying

to find a place where somebody’s not blasting some music. There’s

literally like 10 different studios where I am and people are just off

into whatever they’re doing. It’s really some crazy s**t. AllHipHop.com: Let's jump right into it. Sha Money XL has been your manager for a couple

years, you’ve got a couple tracks on Curtis, so the money must just

be rolling in right now right? 

Jake One: (Laughs) You know,

things are good. I don’t have to work a job and I’m comfortable,

but it’s not all it seems sometimes. I think people have a funny way

of looking at the industry and what kind of money they really think

is there in the fist place, and what you can actually make. It’s definitely

a big, big blessing to have two songs on [Curtis] and have two songs

on [Young] Buck’s album, and some other things I’ve done the last

few years. But the money takes time to come around, you don’t just

catch the big check the day it comes out. You gotta wait for it all

to cycle around and all that. I’m definitely happy about it, but you

know I wish I would have caught that Get Rich or Die Trying

$10 million dollar check. I’m not complaining about that, but it’s

definitely disheartening to see the sales go down the toilet for everybody

as soon as I start placing all these records. But in the end, I don’t

really do it for that. It’s a great bonus and it’s great that I

can set up my future with music, cause I never even would have that

I would get paid to do music. I was working a job until two years ago,

so I always treated it as a side thing. It’s always been something

I loved to do, but I didn’t think it was really going to pay me money

or pay my life. I don’t even look at it like that now. I figure some

day I’ll probably have to do something else.

AllHipHop.com: Well at least

you’re an educated dude. You’ve got a Sociology degree from the

University of Washington, and as you said worked a 9 to 5 as a file

clerk in a courthouse. Have you been able to apply that education to

the game and working within the industry? 

Jake One: You know, I don’t

think anything particular I learned in college has really helped me

as far as that. More than anything it’s just being disciplined and

following through on things and being on top of whatever it is. Whether

that’s sending somebody beats in a timely fashion, or showing up somewhere

on time, or just being reliable and being somebody of your word. I think

going through education on some levels gives you more structure in your

life. Some people have issues with that and it costs them gigs, so I

would say that part of it has been real good. 

AllHipHop.com: Tell me a little

about where you are? I know you’re doing your thing in Toronto

right now, but what was it that brought you to my neck of North America? 

Jake One: It’s basically

a project that three guys from Germany started called Red Bull Music

Academy. They bring 30 different people from around the world, all different

kinds of music, people from different places. It’s really like some

UN meeting up in here. So there’s 30 participants and four studio

mentors. I’m one of the the guys in the studio, Om’Mas from Sa-Ra

[Creative Partners], my boy Zanku’s the drum and bass guy, and another

guy from Detroit named Todd Osborn who does a little of everything.

So you know, we all hang out and everyone kind of knows what they’re

doing already, but we just help them record their ideas and give them

our experience and knowledge. 

AllHipHop.com: From what I

know, you got your start digging for records back in the early ‘90s.

As you were taught it, how’s digging in the crates different from

just record shopping. 

Jake One: I really became aware

of what it was from ’91 or ’92, and just realizing that songs I

liked all came from samples. So at that point when you start, you’re

just looking around at James Brown or just the standard stuff. But the

more I got into it, all of my favorite music that I was really into

like Pete Rock, Diamond D and D.I.T.C., Premier, they weren’t just

using the obvious records that you could find anywhere. So that got

me into the whole mind frame of going out and just trying to find something

obscure all the time. It might not of even been that obscure, but to

me at the time it was. But the more time you do it, the more you understand

the music of the past and you will have the knowledge to know when something’s

genuinely rare or not. 

AllHipHop.com: So has your

taste and preference developed as you’ve been producing more? 

Jake One: I started

buying records just because I wanted to make beats. And over time I

bought a lot of stuff not necessarily to sample, just because I liked

the music. Like I’m really into Sweet Soul right now, so I’ll go

out and buy whatever it is I’m into. I might have bought a lot of Jazz

records because that was what was going on back then. But now, I don’t

have a particular thing I’m looking for, just something that moves

me that might get me headed into the direction of making the beat. I’ve

tried not to sample as much and work with musicians, but it might set

off an idea that I have. 

AllHipHop.com: Alright, let’s

talk about your album White Van Music that’s being released

through Rhymesayers. I think it’s a lot of people’s dream to be

in a position like yours, have a full album of their own production

and get their favorite MCs to get down on it. Was that how it felt for


Jake One: Yeah, I had been

working with a lot of different people, and people have been telling

me “You should do a project where you make the decisions.” Cause

when I do songs for other people, I’m not necessarily in charge of

making the decisions on what’s going to roll. So basically just getting

out there what I think is a representation of me instead of just what

people choose beat wise. But obviously if they chose the beat, I made

the beat, that was what I was feeling at the time. I’m sure a lot

of producers will tell you a lot of the beats that end up coming out

aren’t necessarily their favorite ones. So this is my opportunity

to just do some records that people haven’t heard me do, and put it

all together and show the diversity of music I do. It’s not like I

just do one thing at all, and that’s been the fun thing. It’s also

challenging trying to figure out ways it’s going to somehow fit together,

because I’ve got so many different kinds of artists on it. 

AllHipHop.com: One beat that

you’re well known for is “Rock Co.Kane Flow” by De La Soul. Now

when I first heard that track, it bugged me out when they spit “Write

pens lines without saying the producers name all over the track/ Yeah

I said it/ What you need to do is get back to reading credits.” I

don’t know how you were feeling when they said that, but I’d have

been thinking, “Aww s**t, I wish they’d have just said it!” 

Jake One: (Laughs) You know,

I thought it was funnier that they did it that way. It honestly didn’t

bother me at all, I’m not the one out here crying for attention. I’m

good with what I’m doing, and people find out I do things and it comes

the right way. Even when I first made beats, I wasn’t psyched to just

to go “Oh, wait til my beats come out, or wait til I do this,” that’s

just not really my style. I’d rather you hear the music, be like “Who

did that?” and find out eventually. And you know, a lot of people

have. So he was just going at the cliché. When they came out with “Just

Blaze!” that was dope, cause you were like “Who the f**k is Just

Blaze? I like all his beats.” But then everybody was whispering the

names at the beginning, like I’d get people’s beat CDs and the drop

is playing like five million f***in times. And it ain’t about that,

you should have a sound that when they hear the beat they’re like

“Damn, I think so and so did this.” I think a lot of times when

I make stuff, it has the certain sound to it, where if you know my style

you don’t need to hear them yelling my name on the s**t.

AllHipHop.com: A guy like me,

I’m checking all the credits on the albums I pick up. But I mean with

MP3 technology and iPods… 

Jake One: Yeah that’s kind

of crazy. I will say one thing good about tagging a beat, because there’s

no doubt about who did it. I’ve had a lot of beats I’ve done for

people, it gets to the net and people are calling it a Dr. Dre beat,

or somebody else. Like I did a record for Hot Rod with Mary J. Blige

called “Be Easy.” A lot of people still think Dre did that record,

when he didn’t have anything to do with that record. And it’s not

like he had anything to do with saying he did the record, it’s just

motherfuckers make shit up. They’ll make up an internet tracklisiting,

that’s f****ng hilarious! Who the f**k sits at home and makes up titles?

C’mon now. (Laughs) What the f**k is that? It’s ridiculous. But

I guess that’s just the age we live in.