Jae Millz: New Money
And so it was, Jae Millz was signed to Warner Brothers. Though he was signed, and released a big-budget video, the direction towards an album grew tangential. Then came Universal Records. Once again, an album was not in the cards, as Millz was overlooked for budding careers of southern and midwestern stars.
After self-sustaining a career ever since, Jae Millz might best understand the value of a major label full metal jacket. The same deejays and artists that embraced him when he was backed, turned their own backs as the "No, No, No" prodigy opted to make his own music. Then came Lil Wayne. After announcing signing Jae Millz to the Carter's Young Money imprint [click here to read...], the Uptown rapper's phone started ringing. And for all those fair-weather friends, Millz changed his number.
In between studio sessions, Jae Millz spoke to HipHopDX about what a long, strange trip it's been. He examines the worth of the majors, the freedom of being unsigned, and just how quickly your stock rises in this fickle industry. Get some exclusive details on Young Money's plans for 2008, and their New York delegate that's going to take them there. Amidst all the twists in Jae Millz' story, one thing is certain: he never lost his edge as a ferocious battle rapper.
HipHopDX: You was smashing the mixtape scene, you was killing people on the underground as one of the hottest battle rappers that got talent. With that being said, do you think your time is finally now in 2008?
Jae Millz: I feel like my time been came, but now, its not even about that. Its really about what you're doing to stay above water in rap right now. It aint really about being your time, because sometimes it dont really even be peoples time. Sometimes they might throw a record out there and it just might blow up, but you know you hear that saying, I wasnt ready it just happened to fast. That comes from thinking, My time is going to come. I dont know whats going to happen, all I know is Ima keep making bangers. Cant nobody say I dont put out bangers, cant nobody say I cant make a record. You cant say I dont make records; I came in the game with No, No, No. I came in the game with a video in Jamaica with a Benz. I came in the game like that, if you want to go to Who, Bring It Back, the Bring It Back, remix with [Fabolous and Lil Wayne]. You can go to Holla At A Playa, My Swag; I got records. I got a resume and can get on stage and perform for 20-30 minutes. I still didnt put out an album yet. I used to always think My time gonna come, my time gonna come, man, just work and its gonna happen.
DX: So what was the problem? You think the A&Rs at the label didnt know what the hell they was doing, was it the timing, what was the case?
JM: It wasnt the A&Rs, it wasnt nothing really like that. It was at the end of the day the people who really make the decisions. Consider the time when I was at Universal when people was kind of still selling records a little bit before this whole Internet thing really took over. I was in the middle of that Nelly [reign]; Lil Wayne was doing The Carter thing, then you still got Baby, Prince, Stevie Wonder [Laughs], Chamillionaire [at Universal Records], you understand what Im saying? Im in the middle of so much and its like Im a new artist. It was so much focus on other places and people who is working on other projects. Everybody was trying to prove themselves, but it was certain people that was made priority. When new people came to Universal and all this other stuff started happening, David Banner just switched. I remember when that man was serious, like they totally fucked his second album up. The Play joint and all that, fucking up going for ads, but to make a long story short, it was just the people who make the decisions at the end of the day. I guess I wasnt a priority so no matter even if I did do the Ridin Dirty remix and it was poppin all over the eastern region. If I was doing records with DJ Khaled, Scott Storch, Cool & Dre on the strength, nobody on the label reaching out, no invoices, they just doing this on the strength. None of that really matters when your not a priority. You mine as well sit the fuck back and wait till they call your name to come to the front of the classroom. I couldnt really do that, thats why I left Universal.
DX: What ever happened with the situation with Warner Brothers?
JM: The situation with Warner Brothers, just really didnt work. After the No, No, No, single, the remix, and the promo I did for the album when we got ready for the second single I recorded my album kind of fast with the Warner Brothers situation. That deal went through kind of fast and it really wasnt no kind of stalling with that. No, No, No, was playing on the radio for about a week, next thing I know we got people coming to the studio. It was like all these people from Warner Brothers want to talk to you, they're interested, they want to hear your music. I played them like three songs they was feeling the No, No, No and the other three songs a couple days later we got bottles of champagne and contracts. It really happened that fast and the next week Im at the Warner Brothers office in Hollywood staying out on Sunset [Boulevard]. I aint never been to L.A. a day in my life, but Im out on Sunset looking at the Golden Girls set and all that. [Laughs] That shit switched up so much, but at the end of the day they didnt really know where to take me. You gotta think, Im a dude from Harlem, and Warner Brothers is not really known for rap, they just like music. Most of the people that was working my project was white; Ima be real with you. The people who used to roll with me was black, that might have controlled the little shit, but the main people who did shit like the artwork, this and that, the way the cover is gonna look they was just musical people. So that kind of didnt fall through and they didnt know where to take me. My first single was a Jamaican song, Im from New York, Im from Harlem, Im a young battle rapper, and my first single is like a Jamaican sampler as I shot the video in Jamaica. Its like, Where you go from that?" We knew where we wanted to go, because to us, that was just like a song. Time was going by, and when I think about it now as I was kind of young. I was real impatient with that situation. Now when I think about it I wish I wasnt that impatient, but its a learning lesson.
DX: Do you think the lack of foresight the labels have is coming back to hurt them with poor record sales?
JM: Im not gonna put that on the majors, because at the end of the day a major is still a major. Its still a major way for you to make money if you're doing shit on a major level. Independent is good if you know how to pimp it, if you know how to pimp the situation independent is always going to be good. Thats like a nigga hitting you with a brick and you know you got a bunch of niggas you can break it down to. Its a different story if a nigga hit you with a break and its like you just sitting in ya crib looking at it. If you just want get it out, get out! You dont even know what to do with it you just want to get that shit away from you.
At the end of the day there is a lot of major labels that dont know what to do. A lot of these niggas working at the label is young, a lot of these niggas aint been listening to rap that long. A lot of these niggas dont know who Rakim is, they know a Rakim song, they know a Kool G Rap song, a Eazy-E song, a N.W.A. song, they dont know albums; they dont know shit. Real talk, Ive been at different labels and they just people who work. They might be fans of the shit, they might be people who dedicated to doing they work. Those are people who are dedicated to doing they work, but they just dont know what the fuck they doing. The people who do know what they doing theyve been doing the shit for so long they feel like it aint worth it no more. They feel like its no money in sales, its no money in music right now all the money is in merchandising and this and that. This is where they mindset is, I aint putting no hard fuckin work into no motherfuckin' album, because I aint gonna make no money with that album. Now we can do some ringtone shit with iTunes or Sprint.
DX: Youve been with Warner Bros, Universal, and now you're with Lil Wayne so do you think this is the right move for you?
JM: I mean you never know, man. It felt like a good situation. Whenever Im around dude, dude keeps it real. He kept it real within 20 minutes of me being in Miami, he pulled me in the other room and we just had a one-on-one, and from there I just been rocking with him since the beginning of 08 - in January. Ever since then, I just been rocking with him like and its a cool vibe. When we go the to studio, Ive been in the studio with him for the first time in Atlanta. Ive been in the studio with him in a bunch of other states, but I really didnt record nothing. Im a laid back guy that just be chilling and he one of them dudes that go in the studio at about [eight or nine o'clock at night] and just leave the next day, he might leave ten oclock in the morning the next day. The kid be in the zone he just walk around putting that shit together and just go in the booth hard. He knows how to do shit, he aint just no rapper; that shit is like Damn!
Im like a perfectionist, because at the end of the day, Im a dude that was recording an album. He looks at me like Im basically him, but I just never came out with an album and I aint get that shot. We both young, we both the same age, we was born in September, we was both on the same label if you want to be honest about it. We both about spitting that fly shit. At the end of the day I respect him, because aint nobody tryin' to fuck with me right now. Wasnt nobody tryin' to hold Millz down, nobody was tryin' to throw me on their album, deejays that I did a million fuckin' drops and promos for, for years with they names and deejay crews, they radio station when No, No, No, Bring It Back, and My Swag was hot. I couldnt even get them niggas to answer the phone when I was pushing Holla At A Playa independently. I couldnt even get these niggas to throw my shit on they mixtape or nothing like that. Now Lil Waynes on stage and announces that Jae Millz is with Young Money, and that shit on the Internet, I changed my number. Real talk, I changed my number, I didnt even like what was about to go down and I saw it. I never even put it out there like that; Wayne was the first person to put it out there. Nobody didnt even know it until he said it a couple weeks ago.
DX: So basically now that a lot of dudes know that you fuckin with Wayne is dick-riding now?
JM: You know people want to hop back on the band-wagon, but thats with anything. Im a cool nigga, so it is what it is, thats just the way of the world. At the end of the day, I realize whats going on. I read between the lines; we can still rock if you can hold me down and play my record. The shit aint gonna be the same, if you want me to do a bunch of promos and drops for you Alright, but you gotta play my record for a little while and show me that you fuckin' with me. I aint gonna do no promo, no drop, do no record with your artist, do this and do that, and you dont even fuck with your nigga like that, it gotta be a mutual understanding.
DX: What's the rest of 2008 hold for Jae Millz?
JM: After The Carter 3 comes out, we're working on this Young Money compilation s thats gonna come out towards the end of the year; we just gonna have fun with that. As far as me Im working on Zone Out: Season 2, thats an actual mixtape and we putting those on the Internet for free, Im about to throw that out in a couple weeks. Im actually working on a new CD called Welcome to Young Money, and its gonna be all Young Money. I want people to see this is some shit we really doing and that I dont just fuck with Wayne, I fuck with all my dudes. People love Wayne, and if y'all think he the best rapper alive and he cosigning me along with the rest of the click, what the fuck we supposed to be? Are we wack, you think the best rapper alive likes wack niggas? [Laughs]