Terrence J: Star Power

To the casual evening channel surfer, Terrence J is the amicable new guy on BET’s 106 & Park. Alongside his bubbly co-host Rocsi, Terrence spent the latter part of 2006 befriending regular viewers of the popular entertainment show, while catching his own wave of new fans. Of course, there is a lot more to learn about Terrence beyond his new life in front of the camera.

Whether he’s discussing career moves with guests or freestyling with Jamie Foxx, Terrence J has made an effort to bring his own flavor to the forefront. The optimistic young entrepreneur is an alumni of North Carolina A&T State University, and is enjoying a journey that eludes many college grads with big dreams. We met up with Terrence to talk about everything from Hip-Hop to fashion, and the complications of staying neutral in a political entertainment scene.

AllHipHop.com: How has it been reacting to fans? Have you had people walk up to you like, “Where’s AJ and Free”?

Terrence J: I mean in the beginning, of course some people asked, but Tigger and Julissa had been there a while as well and then they had a lot of celebrity hosts that come in, so it was a long period of turnaround time between us coming in and AJ and Free. So of course we still get asked the questions, but a lot of the fans are being supportive and I try not to put that weight on myself. You’re comparing two people that left at the height of their popularity five years deep in the game to two that are young and haven’t even been in five months yet. I try not to put the whole AJ and Free thing too much on me. I think they were great, I was personally fans of them, but like anything time moves on and we’re here to do our job.

AllHipHop.com: Was coming into television a big transition for you?

Terrence J: Oh hell yeah. I’m fresh out of college honestly, so I did things on the small scale of college basically being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. I did on campus TV shows, college radio and some commercial radio in the market that I was in. I was student body president, I’ve always done stuff in the public eye but this is a whole different game though.

AllHipHop.com: Free had her rap career, Tigger has his radio show, different people on the network have their outside interests. What are you working on outside of your gig here?

Terrence J: I’m taking acting classes right now, acting has always been the thing I wanna do. I look at people like Jamie Foxx who had his start with In Living Color and Will Smith who started with his sitcom for years and that’s how I wanna take this. I tell Stephen [Hill] and all of the executives at BET, for the couple of years that I’m here if I’m blessed to make it that long, I’m giving this 110%. We work five days a week so it’s not like we have a bunch of time. I can’t go to Hollywood and be doing movies at the same time as much as I’d like to.

Right now I’m giving this 110%, me and Rocsi do a radio show together which is getting picked up. It’s syndicated right now on Westwood One, and they’re picked up on markets all across the country in Fayetteville, New, York, Chicago, we’re all over the place. I own a marketing company Team Dolla Marketing and Promotions with my brother. We do events all across the country.

AllHipHop.com: What was it like for you going from a very rural area [North Carolina] and coming to New York?

Terrence J: It’s crazy, I was originally born here but I never lived here long enough to know it. But I’ve lived all over, in Atlanta, L.A., Chicago, I love down south - that’s where my heart is. For me coming from what I came from even, and from the environment that I came from to be able to this I really have grown to believe in God more. I would never think that this sh*t could happen to me, real talk. Not because of what I came from, but it’s hard especially if you not in New York it’s hard to break out and get in this industry.

AllHipHop.com: Do you feel like not being from here and not knowing the politics makes it a little easier for you to move?

Terrence J: Yes and no, I had no idea of protocol. I’d talk to the president of the company and not know that I’m not supposed to step over a million peoples toes to do that. So yeah in that sense it is [easier], but when it comes to knowing people to help you in positions I’m starting from zero, from scratch. Even Rocsi had radio and a rapport with artists, I don’t know none of them dudes. I don’t know nobody that comes on the couch, so for me it’s awkward sometimes because you’re starting from scratch and people have to trust you and get to know you as time goes on. But I’m an outgoing person, you see me in the clubs and we wild out. By the time you meet me you gonna love me. We like to have fun, we just having a good time with it.

AllHipHop.com: You’ve been involved in some fashion shows. Would you ever consider getting into modeling?

Terrence J: I’ll get into anything that’s gonna help me buy my mom a house. I’m in the gym right now, I’m tryna take my shirt off by Spring Bling. Modeling, acting, radio, I’ll drop a rap album if the people want it. [laughs] It’s whatever.

AllHipHop.com: Given the beefs that are going on with particular rappers and crews, how does it feel having to watch all of these people that you’ve idolized go through this?

Terrence J: It’s like dreaming of that girl, you meet her and you realize she farts and has boogers in her nose like all of the other girls. I’ll be sitting on a couch with somebody who I’ve been a fan of for years, and the next day or three days later their adversary is about to come on the couch too, and I may hate or love them or whatever. Being able to politic and be fair when everybody comes on the couch is the hardest thing, because you have your own opinions. But 106 is not the avenue to promote beef - the only time that we talk about beef is when we see that there’s an out or a healthy way to get something aired out.

The saddest thing is when you see these people and they don’t even wanna sign the autographs for the kids that are in there. There’s not that many avenues like 106 where the artist comes in and gets the Black young kids like this that are excited, that still don’t know what you and I know. When you see the artists that brush them off you really lose a lot of respect for them.

People can say what they want about me, but the perception that I’m tryna project out there is that there’s another option. You can be a young successful dude and not have to turn into that. I sign every autograph, I hug every kid that comes on the show. I’m out in the community, I’m tryna be a positive role model, and I never sold drugs or shot anybody. But I grew up around all of that, that’s the disappointing part - and I wanna try to be in a proactive approach where I can try to change some of that.

AllHipHop.com: With people saying that Hip-Hop is dead, have you had to refrain from having too much of an opinion on it? What’s your stance?

Terrence J: The way me and Rocsi try to do it on the show is ask the correct questions. On today’s show we pretty bluntly asked [Young] Jeezy, “Do you think it’s a issue of the new cats being disrespectful, not doing their homework and paying homage, or do you think it’s the old cats hating and not wanting to pass the torch yet and give it up when it’s time?”. As we get more comfortable, we’re trying to phrase our questions and be very direct with these artists and ask them how they feel about it.

My personal opinion is I think that it is a 50/50 thing right now, the rules are missing to the game. 10 years ago when we was coming up on Hip-Hop it was a totally different thing, people had real reasons to go at it. Now the rules are missing and you got everybody going at everybody, both parties are to blame right now. We’ve talked with Nas about it. I think people misinterpret it, taking it and flipping it a little bit wrong. From what he told us he wasn’t trying to say Hip-Hop was dead, but it’s moreso from the Soundscans, the music, the internet and the direction it’s going. You got artists, especially the younger ones where the only thing they look at is, “How many records am I gonna sell?” The creative aspect to art is not number one anymore, it’s all these other things [like] your marketing strategy that come before it. The art gets pushed to the backburner, so in that regard I can understand why Nas who’s been here for a minute would say Hip-Hop is dead.

However you do have a lot of outstanding young cats - the Jeezy’s and Wayne’s. You got a lot of young cats that are coming up right now. Have you heard Cory Gunz? Fire. You got a lot of these dudes that are gonna come out, Papoose I think lyrically is dope. You got a lot of down south cats that I think take it a different [direction].

I’m pushing hopefully BET, maybe AllHipHop, let’s do a special and get these people in the same room and talk about it. That would be dope to get Nas and Jeezy on the couch. Jeezy on [the] show clears it up. He’s on there like, “Yo go buy Nas’ album, I hope nobody took what I said the wrong way”.

It’s unfortunate when artists that are dope like Lupe [Fiasco], Talib Kweli or Mos Def are not selling the amount of records that they should be selling. Who’s to blame for that? Is that their fault? Is it Unk’s fault to make “Walk It Out” and the ringtones go crazy off it? Is it his fault to do that? The song is popping.

AllHipHop.com: I notice you’re wearing the Dame Dash CEO clothing line. Do you have intentions of becoming a mogul yourself one day?

Terrence J: I think that in this day and age it’s all about renaissance men. I look at people like Nick Cannon and Dame Dash. Now the lane is open for us to multi-task. I’m writing a speech right now for Martin Luther King Day, I’m doing a kids banquet. I’ve been studying his life. People died so that a young Black twenty-something year old like myself can go out and do everything that he wants to do and not have anything over his head stopping it.

So I’m gonna go out and do everything that I can do until my wheels fall off and the people don’t wanna buy. I’m gonna try and do everything, I got the marketing company on and popping, we’re doing the radio show. 106 is very healthy right now, the ratings are at a all-time high. BET is growing, we just bought The Wire and that’s like the dopest show. American Gangster is a crazy show, the whole network is doing well and I’m tryna use all of this to my advantage.

AllHipHop.com: What do you have coming up in the next three months or so?

Terrence J: I’m doing a special on [the movie] Stomp The Yard, I’m doing that by myself. Everybody that’s been nice to me I appreciate that, everybody that’s been hating on me - please continue to do so, and thank you for the hate as well. It is what it is, I’m having a ball. All the young people out there, like I always say at the end of the show “Don’t follow your dreams, chase them,” because if I could do this anybody can do this.