After his much-anticipated Ruff Ryder debut The Rest is History pretty much tanked sales-wise, Jin metaphorically hung up the mic, leading most fans to think he had retired forever and renounced the game. Quite the contrary. The Queens-bred MC simply felt the need to address certain issues in Rap, particularly the lack of quality MCs, the lack of passion, and of course, music industry politics. Feeling that the major label route wasnt the right forum for his expression, Jin redefined his objective, returned to his roots, and became The Emcee.
His agenda skewed a bit after a loss to Serius Jones at an AllHipHop.com-sponsored Fight Klub in New York, as some feared Jin had lost his edge. But weeks later, the battle-tested MC redeemed himself with a win at Power Summit in the Bahamas, claiming 50 large and reclaiming his dignityat least from a fan perspective. AllHipHop.com felt Jin had a lot of explaining to do about these recent events, not to mention his perceived retirement, his split from Ruff Ryder, and his conflict with Jermaine Dupri and fellow 106 & Park Freestyle Friday champ SunNY. Here, The Emcee lets loose and enlightens inquiring minds.
AllHipHop.com: Lets start with your recent Fight Klub win in the Bahamas. What was your mindset going into that battle; did you feel you had to redeem yourself from the [previous] Fight Klub in New York?
Jin: Well, first things first, I went in very confidentthe same way I went in last year. I guess the L that I caught a few weeks ago or so had an effect on me, but it also didnt. I mean, it didnt in the sense that, it wasnt the first battle that I lost. That L was sort of like a reality check, like, Yo youre going to the Bahamas, its 50 grand, and on top of that, you know whos gon be there watching already, as far as the media and the industry. So that gave me a heads-up, which I think, honestly, I wouldnt have had if I didnt catch the L at the Fight Klub [in New York].
AllHipHop.com: So you dont think the battle in New York scathed your reputation at all? People said Serius said some crazy things [in his freestyle].
Jin: Oh, no doubt. I mean, its sort of like a catch 22 because I understand that at this point, the majority of the interviews that I do, that issue will come up, that battle will come up, and hell come up. My whole thing is just, I aint trying to give him extra promotion that I feel he doesnt deserve cause, you hearing this straight from me - he beat me fair and square that night. No matter how people wanna debate. Some of them are like, Yeah he had those certain type of lines that he could use and all types of different angles. But you would only hear that from them and not from me, because I know that the objective of a battle is basically to win the crowd, and different people have different strategies. But the one thing about battling is that, there really is no set rule. Its all contingent on what your own personal guidelines are. Now, the reason I felt so inclined to battle him at the Bahamas on some, Yo come up, let me smash you right now, is because I think he was getting a little more hype than he deserved. For one, because none of the stuff he said was particularly spectacular, like the whole eating dogs [comment].
To me, its not s**t that I havent heard before. Ive been battling since the seventh grade, and even [then], I was hearing these racial jokes, and its sort of become part of my career. One thing I pride myself on is Im able to bounce back from those without resorting to the same levels. And its not because I feel like I gotta worry about consequences and repercussions. I just feel like Im wittier than that. I dont need to go there. So, that particular night, I just lost myself, meaning I didnt bounce back from it. I really let it affect me that night. I was completely out of my element, and he was just on point and he killed it and he won. Now, the follow-up to that is just, hes doing interviews, and hes like, Im the guy that beat Jin and hes getting wild buzz off of this, and hes like, Yo, my spins went up ever since I beat Jin. Yo, all that tells me isthat says something about myself and what Ive accomplished, [that] somebody can build a career off of beating me. So that tells me like, Alright Jin, pat yourself on the back. Cause this guys claim to fame is beating you. I do so many battles outside of what people know about. People know about the Puerto Rico joint, they know about the Smack DVDs. Ill be at a car show where Ill end up battling somebody that just wanted to call me out, and Ill serve em and Ill smash em, but nobody will know about it cause its like, Jin wins another battle, whats the big deal. Meanwhile, if I catch an L, then its the end of the world. I mean, all that tells me is that people view me highly. And this whole Fight Klub in New York assured me that fact. When I went to the Bahamas, honestly, [Serius] wasnt even on my mind. [I was supposed to battle Rhymefest, not Serius.]
AllHipHop.com: Are you saying they planned that?
Jin: Yo, you tell me. I dont know, but honestly, my mentality that day was like, I dont care who you bring. On the day of the battle, when they had the pre-meeting when they bring all the contestants in to talk about the rules and the prize and whatever, all of a sudden at that meeting, theyre like, Rhymefest isnt in it but we have a substitute for him. And here comes Mr. Jones strolling in. So I dont know if they thought that was supposed to faze me or whatever. Nobody even knows this, but they asked me in the room, Yo, Jin is it cool if hes in the battle? And, I dont know, maybe they expected me to be like, Nah yo. But Im like, Hell yeah! Now, the moment I saw him and I knew he was gon be in it, my mindset was like, Yo, I hope he makes it to the finals. That way I can just settle this once and for all.
But, lo and behold, he doesnt even make it to the final round. He loses to the kid from London. I beat the kid from London, and at that very moment, I already knew what I had to do. I knew I had to be like, Yo, everybody, dont go nowhere. I know youre still in the building. Why dont we do this? Ima take 10Gs out of my own pocket. Cause the reality is, that Fight Klub [in NY], neither one of us put money up for that. Its not like I lost 10Gs to him. I just didnt win the 10Gs that they put up. Now, here at the Bahamas, I was like, Yo, if nobodys gonna sponsor this, Ill take 10Gs out of my own pocket. I know you still here Jones, lets do this. So it unfolded how it did. We waited and waited and waited. The DJs and everybody still in the building, but for some reason hes gone. Thats pretty much the whole story right there, and youre probably not gonna here me acknowledging him or addressing him anymore because you know at this point, no matter what, hes gonna try to salvage some sort of, Yo I left because I had to do this or something like that, but Im so beyond that, so thats what it is.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, so have you decided what youre gonna do with 50K?
Jin: [Laughs] Good question. I mean, the same thing I did last year wasmy unofficial money manager is my mom, so ultimately Im a grown man, so theres responsibilities I have. So its not necessarily like, Yo heres 50 grand, lets blow it at the strip club. Im just like you and everybody else thats reading this. Light bills, phone bills, [but] it was a blessing to be able to spit three 16s and make 50 grand. Thats another thing about people who are like, Yo why the hell is Jin still battling? Like, why one earth would I not do that? I aint Jay-Z yet. I aint getting no 25 grand for a guest appearance.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking on thatthe whole retirement thingcan you talk about why. When you said you were gonna retire, did you mean retire from making records?
Jin: Well, all of that, the whole concept of that retirement stemmed from this one record that I did. Basically, around June or so I turned 23, and I was just thinking to myself, like, Damn another year. What are you doing now? At this point in your life, what are you doing not only with your music, but just your life? So I come across this beat, and it just inspired me to kind of unleash all my different feelings and emotions on the beat. And the song ended up being I Quit. That record was just something I did in the spur of the moment, and pretty much, the joint was me expressing my distaste with being in the music industry. Not hip-hop itself, but just the whole being signed to a major and things of that nature. So I was just saying once and for all on that song, Yo Im sick of it, I quit. Now, next thing I know, that joint leaks and its on all these different sites, and people are like, Oh whats this, Jin retiring? And then, you got all these different publications calling and wanting to do interviews, andit wasnt even so much that that was my agenda. I wasnt doing that to get attention, but while all these people wanna interview me, I kind of expressed to them how I feel. Sometimes the best music is just expressing how youre feeling and thats how I felt.
AllHipHop.com: So you didnt really quit, per se?
Jin: Exactly. I think aside from all the speculation of it being a publicity stunt, the number one reason I did that was sort of like for my own personal sanity. I just needed to disassociate myself from that element. So where Im at with it right now is, after that whole saga and that episode unfolded I started getting back in the studio and I just started recording, and next thing you know, I had an album done. So right now what Im doing is the independent thing.