To the casual evening channel surfer, Terrence J is the amicable new guy on BETs 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 hes 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, Wheres 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. Youre comparing two people that left at the height of their popularity five years deep in the game to two that are young and havent 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 were here to do our job.
AllHipHop.com: Was coming into television a big transition for you?
Terrence J: Oh hell yeah. Im 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, Ive 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: Im 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 thats how I wanna take this. I tell Stephen [Hill] and all of the executives at BET, for the couple of years that Im here if Im blessed to make it that long, Im giving this 110%. We work five days a week so its not like we have a bunch of time. I cant go to Hollywood and be doing movies at the same time as much as Id like to.
Right now Im giving this 110%, me and Rocsi do a radio show together which is getting picked up. Its syndicated right now on Westwood One, and theyre picked up on markets all across the country in Fayetteville, New, York, Chicago, were 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: Its crazy, I was originally born here but I never lived here long enough to know it. But Ive lived all over, in Atlanta, L.A., Chicago, I love down south - thats 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 its hard especially if you not in New York its 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. Id talk to the president of the company and not know that Im 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 Im starting from zero, from scratch. Even Rocsi had radio and a rapport with artists, I dont know none of them dudes. I dont know nobody that comes on the couch, so for me its awkward sometimes because youre starting from scratch and people have to trust you and get to know you as time goes on. But Im 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: Youve been involved in some fashion shows. Would you ever consider getting into modeling?
Terrence J: Ill get into anything thats gonna help me buy my mom a house. Im in the gym right now, Im tryna take my shirt off by Spring Bling. Modeling, acting, radio, Ill drop a rap album if the people want it. [laughs] Its 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 youve idolized go through this?
Terrence J: Its 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. Ill be sitting on a couch with somebody who Ive 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 theres an out or a healthy way to get something aired out.
The saddest thing is when you see these people and they dont even wanna sign the autographs for the kids that are in there. Theres not that many avenues like 106 where the artist comes in and gets the Black young kids like this that are excited, that still dont 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 Im tryna project out there is that theres 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. Im out in the community, Im tryna be a positive role model, and I never sold drugs or shot anybody. But I grew up around all of that, thats 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? Whats your stance?
Terrence J: The way me and Rocsi try to do it on the show is ask the correct questions. On todays show we pretty bluntly asked [Young] Jeezy, Do you think its a issue of the new cats being disrespectful, not doing their homework and paying homage, or do you think its the old cats hating and not wanting to pass the torch yet and give it up when its time?. As we get more comfortable, were 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. Weve 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 wasnt trying to say Hip-Hop was dead, but its moreso from the Soundscans, the music, the internet and the direction its 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, its 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 whos been here for a minute would say Hip-Hop is dead.
However you do have a lot of outstanding young cats - the Jeezys and Waynes. 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].
Im pushing hopefully BET, maybe AllHipHop, lets 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. Hes on there like, Yo go buy Nas album, I hope nobody took what I said the wrong way.
Its 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. Whos to blame for that? Is that their fault? Is it Unks 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 youre 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 its all about renaissance men. I look at people like Nick Cannon and Dame Dash. Now the lane is open for us to multi-task. Im writing a speech right now for Martin Luther King Day, Im doing a kids banquet. Ive 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 Im gonna go out and do everything that I can do until my wheels fall off and the people dont wanna buy. Im gonna try and do everything, I got the marketing company on and popping, were 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 thats like the dopest show. American Gangster is a crazy show, the whole network is doing well and Im 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: Im doing a special on [the movie] Stomp The Yard, Im doing that by myself. Everybody thats been nice to me I appreciate that, everybody thats been hating on me - please continue to do so, and thank you for the hate as well. It is what it is, Im having a ball. All the young people out there, like I always say at the end of the show Dont follow your dreams, chase them, because if I could do this anybody can do this.