Today mixtapes can garner the same importance as the elusive début album. Queens Native, Jonathan “John Depp” Ruiz, continues erecting his creative legacy with hisShould’a Been An Album mixtape series. Depp exudes a visceral talent that's rooted in a celebrated Hip-Hop history.
Standing firmly on two sturdy legs Depp refuses to look to a relative to pave his way. This AllHipHop exclusive poignantly expresses his stance on everything from maintaining a healthy penis, releasing his next project, Should’a Been An Album 3, and sharing his perspective on surviving being shot.
Given the potential and possibility that you possess, how do you continue to challenge yourself to make an impact while striving to remain humble?
Just knowing how powerful my music is it puts me in a humble state. When I don’t call everybody whose number is in my phone like, ‘Yo, bro can you do this favor for me. Yo, I need you,’ or, ‘Can I come to your show?’ Yo, I don’t do none of that. I just know what I got to do. And I work on what I got to do. Remaining humble it plays a big part into what I do. If I wasn't humble I probably would have jumped out the window 20 times already. Just the fact that I didn't and nobody knows what I’m capable of doing I feel more powerful. Everybody thinks I fell off or I stopped rapping, but once they get a load of this sh*t.
Respected artists like Juelz Santana and Drake have taken a keen interest in your creativity. So far, this year what have you been working on?
Right now, I got a single out “Buss A Move.” I did a joint venture deal with TNF the record label. They had put out that record. That’s the first single off the tape. I’m treating the tape like an album. I got so much confidence in it. I know what I’m capable of doing. With these mixtape records I’m going to have everybody wondering why I put so much good music on a mixtape. But, I have a following already that’s looking forward to hearing them. They’re looking forward to the next Shoulda Been An Album: 3.
Up to this day, when I’m out and about in the streets – when I bump into people in the streets that’s all they talk about. ‘I didn’t get part one, but I love part 2,’ or, ‘I didn’t get part 2 yet, but part 1 is my sh*t.’ That’s the only reason I stuck to the title, Shoulda Been An Album, because the 3 is my last tape. I feel like this is my last mixtape. If they don’t get the point after these projects, then fu*k it maybe I should be a songwriter. I’ll never stop doing what I do. I’ve been doing this for 12 years. It’s just timing. I’ve been humble this whole time.
You've had the experience of growing up with Jam Master Jay's nephew and your cousin, Lloyd Banks, is an essential part of G-Unit. Initially, what about Hip-Hop compelled you to contribute your efforts to the genre; so far, what’s been your favorite Hip-Hop memory?
I’ve been humble from a kid watching 50 Cent and the whole G-Unit. I’ve been in that circle since I was a kid. They helped a lot. Just with me being from the neighborhood. I’ve lived on Hollis. I’m from Southside of Jamaica Queens. I’ve got a lot of experience of just being so close to them guys. Every neighborhood that I’ve lived in I’ve looked up to somebody. Everybody had their own person that they looked up to. I happened to be on both sides where we looked up to people like the Lost Boyz them being Southside dudes. And then Biggie, Puff, 50 Cents and them guys. So, that was a lot of motivation.
But my greatest Hip-Hop memory is tied to Summer Jamm 2011 when I performed on stage with Julez. I didn’t have my own record at the time, just the energy of me running out on that stage -- that’s been my greatest impact in Hip-Hop.
A tenacious work-ethic combined with organic talent has perhaps delivered you to the eve of your creative revolution. Being an independent MC requires investing a tremendous amount of energy into your profession. Regarding your creative, financial, spiritual, and physical health what do you do in order to operate to your fullest capacity?
Good question. It’s a part of what I said earlier with remaining humble, but I study the industry. I read books – just things to keep me ahead – like with my wordplay just certain things to keep me hip to what’s going on. I grew up in a holy household. My grandma and everybody is Catholic. Help from God has put me in the position I’m in. He gave me he drive that I do have. I feel like I don’t talk to Him as much I need to though. Sometimes just going to church is not enough. When I’m waking up I don’t pray as much as I need to. I thank God for everything that I do have and for everything that I do have coming.
I’m still getting booked for features, and for little things like walk-throughs. I invest my money into certain things to where it comes back. I put everything towards my music, though. I hardly buy gear; I only buy clothes. Everything is studio time – buying beats, or for the production –everything goes towards the music. Any little money I make or profit goes straight to my career, definitely. I make sure I work out. I go to the juice bar and things like that. When it’s time to go to the club that’s when I get my system dirty. I use protection every time. I’m not a big fan on raw sex or sh*t like that. I use protection and not just for the babies for the rabies, too.
[laughs] According to Mr. Ruiz, as you use the mic to share your evolving maturation as a man and as an MC is there anything you’re unwilling to share your thoughts on?
Yeah, glorifying the whole fact that I got shot. That’s not the message that I’m trying to put out there to people. I’m not that type of guy. I was the victim in the situation. There are certain people that look at these different interviews and they act on what they see. And they believe what they see. They think you got to behave a certain way to get somewhere in life.
Basically, you don’t have to get shot to be a rapper. I’m not trying to glorify that whole situation. I’m totally against what happened. It’s not cool. If this is your dream there’s other ways to go about it. You don’t have to get shot. Some people think it’s cool like, ‘Yo, you got hit?’ What if I wasn’t here. My leg is okay. I still got the bullet in it though. When it gets like real cold outside, you know, my leg tends to numb up on me in that certain area where the bullet is. But I’m getting it removed sometime later this year.