AllHipHop.com: Right, Ive heard The Emcees Properganda, and it seems to really be you getting back to the essence of MCing. Its seems so organic.
Jin: I love that word that you just saidorganic. And I think thats the sound I wanted to get. Even the wholeif I can clear it up alsoa lot of people are like, Man, whats this, hes changing his name to 'The Emcee' now? Whats he having an identity crisis? I mean, I think people are getting too caught up in that. If you see me walking down the street and youre like, Ayo Jin, Im not gonna ignore you. [Laughs] Ima still turn around. The whole reason I wanted to create that whole identity with The MC was kind of just to take away everything else and just focus on that aspect of who I am and what I do, which is emceeing. When people saw me on 106 & Park and all that, thats what I was doing up there, that was The MC already. Im very, very proud of this album.
AllHipHop.com: You should be. So do you feel that when you were at Ruff Ryder, you were forced to put out a different type of music?
Jin: Not so much. Honestly, to give you the reality of it, I think at that point in my lifenot my career, but my lifeI was still trying to figure out who I was even on the music level cause I got signed to Ruff Ryders when I was like 19 and that was like in the blink of an eye four years ago. Im proud of the first album, The Rest is History. Thats my first album and I had so much fun doing it, but I think the best reward that came out of recording that album was learning about who I am. Now I go back and Im like, Yo that record might not have necessarily been something that I would do now. Or, Damn, thats one of my records; I would have done more like that. But theres no regret, because I would go back and do everything the same way. That was the only way that [Id] get to where Im at now, which is just complete understanding of what Im trying to represent as an artist.
AllHipHop.com: So you dont think Ruff Ryders handled your debut album in the wrong way as far as marketing and promotion?
Jin: I mean, yeah in a sense. But Im not gonnaI cant and I never will be like, Yo, its Ruff Ryders fault because my [album] never took off. I mean, I leave that up to the people. If people feel that, I cant argue with their perspective. But I think I came at a time when Ruff Ryder was going through some internal stuff anywayX was trying to do Bloodline, Eve was on a Hollywood tip. So naturally, the solidarity that was there like in 97 wasnt there anymore. But my whole thing was like, Im not trying to come and use these guys to blow my s**t up anyway. Im just a fan of the Ruff Ryders, I believe in their work ethic, I believe in their machine, so I just wanna do me and add my chapter. But then, I basically got caught up in everything I said I was sick of in I Quit, which is Ruff Ryder partnering with Virgin for my project. That was a disaster already out the gate because they wasnt getting along, and whenever you have your label and the parent label not getting along, thats like your mom and dad beefing and youre just a kid in the middle caught up in it. And thats exactly what happened with my project. But I dont feel any bitterness toward anybody.
AllHipHop.com: But being independent now, do you have any issues with major labels as a result?
Jin: I think its all about the perspective youre looking at it from. Im just realistic. What I want out of my music right now is not as outlandish as maybe everybody else. If I can do the music that I want and have all the decisions made [by] me, my management, my team, and were able to sustain off of thatour bills are paid on time, we might have a little extra time to go to Six Flags or some s**t, thats cool. I wanna buy three houses also, but if I can save up enough to buy one for my mom, Im happy. But at the same time Im not on some, Yo, I hate the majors and I wanna be independent for the rest of my life. Im at a point where Im just trying to work my way up from the bottom.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking on the album again, you raise a lot of issues about rappers not taking their craft seriously.
Jin: Oh yeah, its all about the craft.
AllHipHop.com: So is that the main theme that you wanna get across to people?
Jin: Theres a song on [the album] called Properganda, and I think that song sums up exactly how I feel. And Ill give you the prime example, when you know the state of Hip-Hop is kind of topsy-turvywhen you have 16-year-olds talking about whats the Soundscan this week. When I was 16it wasnt even that long ago, like 98 or whateverand you had albums coming out, Cuban Links, Mobb [Deep], Wu-Tang Forever, whichever albums were coming out at that time, nobody I knew was on that tip. Everybody was just like, Yo you heard that s**t, its fire, its crazy. Nobody gave a damn what it sold on the first week. Fat Joe has been around since the golden era and hes still doing it now. He has his big records, but you have that album that comes out and the first thing these kids are talking about right out the gate is, Oh he flopped, things like that. So thats sort of the side of it that hurts me as a Hip-Hop fan cause I feel like these kids are missing out on so much when they have that mentality.
AllHipHop.com: Can you speak on the friction between you and Jermaine Dupri and SunNY? How did that come about?
Jin: Thats like, not even friction. I dont think Ive ever met Jermaine, I dont think Ive ever met SunNY. Ill tell you what thats aboutits basically he came off the 106 & Parkthing, which is cool. I wish anybody success as long as they deserve it. I [was] signed to Virgin, and then Jermaine made that whole move over to Virgin. He signs [SunNY] to Virgin. This kid is running around on the SunNY campaign. Everybody asks him how it feels to come off 106 & Park [when] Poster Boy and Jin really didnt take off. Theres several ways that he could have answered that question, but for the most part, he decides to answer it in a way where I felt like he wasnt really valuing my [reputation]. Him and Jermaine would be like, Yo, SunNYthe official, the real champ from 106. We gon show yall how we really do this. Or [SunNY would say] The difference is I write songs, yo, these cats dont write songs. S**t like that. My reaction to it is not [to be] mad. Nah, my reaction is, Oh really, you wanna go there with it. Aight. You on your MC s**t, Im on my MC s**t, come on lets do this. I guess people forgot that thats the breed that I am. Im a battle MC at the end of the day, so thats where it all stemmed from. Then, coincidentally the Power Summit happened to be like a month or two away at the point when I did that recordThe Open Invitation. I was like, You obviously feel like youre better than me so come on down to the Power Summit and lets battle the good ole fashioned way. And he didnt come, so whatever.
AllHipHop.com: So wheres that at right now?
Jin: Thats not at nowhere. I havent paid them no mind in awhile. Its just another chapter that I just had to open up and close real quick.
AllHipHop.com: With you supposedly retiring, some people started to believe, you know, the claims that youre basically a better battle rapper than somebody who can put out records.
Jin: One thing about Hip-Hop is that its based on opinion. Even that Top Five record [on the album], its talking about whos the top five, aint no top five. Like, Im a firm believer of that. If you say that Biggie is the greatest of all time and I say that Pac is the greatest of all time, whos to say that youre right or Im right. Both of us are right. This is another thing about the whole state of Hip-Hopthe music industry manipulating the mind-state of the people. To them, what they think is a hot record, they dont even realize it, but its what they hear on the radio 20 times in an hour.
That also coincides with the business side of things. Any one of my songs, honestly, that was on my first album, if the label wanted to, they could have made it a hit record cause nowadays hit records are bought. I hate to sound like Im bitter but I just need to kick the reality cause Ive been in the mix and seen firsthand. Ive been in meetings where somebody said, Yo this record has to be played at least four times in the next hour. S**t like that. Ive always felt like the only thing you can do as an MC and as an artist is to just keep making records and to hope that if youre true to your art and take your craft seriously, theres gonna be one day when people are just gonna sit back and listen to your music and be like, Yo, this sh*t is hot. Unfortunately, [laughs], it might be the day you die. But go**ammit yall gon respect my sh*t. Even if it is when Im dead, Im not mad. My whole goal, aside from making the money and being able to take care of my family, is just to be remembered.
AllHipHop.com: There are some people who never get that.
Jin: I hate to say it, but I think thats the problem with this generation of artists. You see [how] nowadays, well talk about the [Big Daddy] Kanes, the KRS-Onesartists that really made an impact. I think this generationI cant think of one that theyll talk about ten years from now. No disrespect, but theyre not gonna be talking about Chingy like that. Theyre not gonna be talking about Nelly like that. And Ive been in the club rocking to these guys records, singing along, so its not that I have something against them. But Im talking about that s**t, that s**t that nowadays when you talk about KRS-One, when you talk about these artists, you talk about them with such high respect. Personally, as a Hip-Hop head, I just dont see nobody that steps to the table nowadays that will leave that mark.