Philadelphia rapper Ms. Jade hasn’t had major label backing since she left, producer Timbaland’s now defunct Beat Club roster, but she’s still the champ. Taken right off the stoop in after a chance meeting with Elektra Records A&R, Jay Brown, Jade jumped into the industry head first, and hasn’t looked back since. In 2001, she was first featured alongside Da Brat and Missy Elliot on Slap! Slap! Slap! off her platinum album, Miss E So Addictive, which allowed fans to taste her aggressive charming lyrical prowess.
She was even able to stay standing with the release of her 2002 debut Girl Interrupted, which failed to garner her the credit she deserved as a street contender or an industry heavyweight. The North Philly femme fatale is holding her own, taking a rope-a-dope stance on her career as an independent artist focused on the mixtape circuit to drop wins like 2007’s “Million Dollar Baby” causing a stir around the web. Priming another mixtape material entitled I’m Not Dead and her sophomore album slated for release this fall, the Nicetown native wants to show everyone she packs a mean punch on the mic. In the legacy of female rap pioneers MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Roxanne Shante, who Jade grew up listening to and emulating, she intends to protect her name and skills at all costs.
AllHipHop.com: When Girl Interrupted was released you had a stable of beats from Timabaland, guest spots from Jay-Z, Missy Elliott and Nate Dogg, yet it didnt seem to leave a taste of your skills in people’s mouths. Did you consider that album successful?
Ms. Jade: No, not at all. Business-wise it wasn’t successful but for me when I came in the game, I wasn’t really focused or interested. I wasn’t even thinking about the numbers, I was just happy to be there. So once, you are put into a position where you have to think about all that stuff, it kind of leaves a different taste in my mouth, like right now. Back then, I just wasn’t thinking about it. But to me, right now I know that it wasn’t successful because I’ve been in the game for a minute and I know what it takes. But it got me where I needed to be. It got my name out there, I did make a little imprint, and I cranked the door open a little tiny bit.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think is the biggest reason that contributed to the downfall?
Ms. Jade: Basically, because it didn’t sell. People didn’t even know it came out. It’s like “oh, you had an album out?” and this was maybe a f***ing week after my album dropped. Nobody knew, so I think it wasn’t promoted how it was supposed to be.
AllHipHop.com: Also, when listening to Girl Interrupted it seems that you may have been conflicted between the commercial and street side. Do you feel that’s how the album turned out?
Ms. Jade: Yes, I really do. Especially since I was young, whatever Tim said to do I was doing it. Because I mean, who’s not going to listen to Tim? Who is not going to listen to a f***ing super producer? I didnt have any control over my beats and I did not know at the time that I could say, “I don’t want this beat” or “I dont want to do this song.” Because when I did do it, it was like this big commotion. They’re like “well we want you to do a radio song” and Im like “I don’t necessarily think the song is hot.” But I was put in a situation when they say I have to do it, then I have to do it ¾ otherwise I won’t have any f***ing food. I tried my best to make it work. And I’m not mad at it, it’s just when I hear it I cringe because I know it’s not me.
AllHipHop.com: In retrospect, do you think there is a medium for you in between the varying styles on the album? Looking back on it, would you have taken more control?
“Especially since I was young, whatever Tim said to do, I was doing it. Because I mean, who’s not going to listen to Tim? Who is not going to listen to a f***ing super producer? I didnt have any control over my beats and I did not know at the time that I could say, “I don’t want this beat”
Ms. Jade: I think there is a medium for in between because you have to know who you are, especially in this business. You have to have a strong backbone. I think if you know who you are and if you know your s**t, then you know you can still be street and have your radio songs. But you dont have to go the total opposite way of what you want.
AllHipHop.com: You’re talking about standing up for yourself a lot more now. You really did that when you got involved with the beef between Timbaland and Scott Storch back in 2007. You released a diss track “Beam Me Up, Scotty” about Scott, why did you jump into that beef between them in the first place?
Ms. Jade: The beef was for them, but I felt he was taking a jab at me. Like “ya’ll n##### ain’t as talented as us” that’s how I felt. I talked to Tim directly and he’s like “yeah, basically he’s talking about ya’ll.” So I’m like “Oh, alright well you know.” It wasn’t for any publicity, I’m just feeling like “Dang, Scott Storch I thought we were alright.” I mean who is did Tim have? Me, Bubba, and Tweet, there was nobody else really. So I didnt just jump out the blue or anything like “let me take up for Tim, let me say something.” No, I don’t give a f**k about that but when you put me in it — I have a problem with that.
Ms. Jade – Bank Rolls
AllHiphop.com: Do you feel Beat Club had potential?
Ms. Jade: Of course, I know on my end and with Bubba, I think we have potential. I just feel like the leader had to be strong. You’ve got to see the situation. If you’re not going to see, it then how can we? You’ve got to be able to say if this doesn’t work then let us do something else. If your not willing to compromise, like we’re compromising, ain’t too much to be said about it. I don’t think I was a wack rapper, Bubba wasn’t wack. I might have been wrong time, wrong place, I don’t know, but I think we all were hot, I know that.
AllHipHop.com: Do you still talk to Tim or anybody from Beat Club?
Ms. Jade: No, I mean if I see Tim we might buff it up for a little while but I haven’t spoken to him in a couple of months, long time. There ain’t no beef, I just haven’t spoken to him.
Ms. Jade – “Big Head”
AllHipHop.com: How does that make you feel that before you were looking from the top down and now you’re looking from the bottom upward?
Ms. Jade: I feel like the underdog but I’m me. Nobody writes for me and I dont need to stand on nobody’s shoulder. Its not any hard feelings, I asked to be released from the situation because our camp wasn’t where I needed to be. I dont know what the problem was and why it didnt work. I dont have any hard feelings about Tim doing his thing now. I mean that’s what’s up, he’ll do his thing forever. I’ll see you when I get there.
“Nobody writes for me and I dont need to stand on nobody’s shoulder. Its not any hard feelings, I asked to be released from the situation because our camp wasn’t where I needed to be. I dont have any hard feelings about Tim doing his thing now.”
AllHipHop.com: Since those days, Timbaland has definitely taken his style to new heights. Do you think there might be room for you to work with him in the future?
Ms. Jade: It’s a possibility, anything is possible. I mean I dont have no beef with him. Tim’s all right with me, I never did anything to him and he never did anything to me.
AllHipHop.com: Recently, you’ve been doing a lot of work with DJ Drama and Don Cannon, like the first mixtape you dropped two years ago Million Dollar Baby. How did you feel about releasing that? Was that more the direction you wanted?
Ms. Jade: Yeah, I loved it. I’m grateful for having an album out, that’s an accomplishment. But I can listen to every song on my mixtape, I can really say, it’s all me. I’m proud of it because I think it was all me, the real me.
AllHipHop.com: You dont have any reservations about doing this indie thing on your own without major label backing?
Ms. Jade: Only reservation I got is not being able to stay in those high a** hotels. I can’t do those anymore but that’s okay, I’ll get there. I just want people to hear my music and that’s it.
AllHipHop.com: What can you tell us about the new album? Do you have any set collabos planned yet? Do you have a possible release date?
Ms. Jade: I’m thinking about maybe sometime Fall 2009. As for collaborations, I want a few but not a whole bunch ¾ since I had like 13 people on my last album. I just feel like I got a lot more to say, I’m able to stand in my own two.
Ms. Jade feat. Timbaland & Nelly Furtado
Ms. Jade & Big Daddy Kane – “Set It Off 2000”
Ms. Jade’s Scott Storch Diss