The Jacka: Penning For The Pen

posted July 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM CDT | 13 comments

The prison community and Hip Hop seem to be two industry that would have a natural connection. Most people involved with it artists and all have some type of relation with it. Be it a family member, friend or maybe the artist spent time there, it's a unfortunate truth. It would seem that a lot of artists would try to reach out to that market or speak on it more. The Jacka is an artist who took the time out to actually make his music not just for the freed fan, but the one's in jail as well. With a pretty strong buzz on the west coast particularly in his home are the Bay, he's managed to release albums off his independent label with Tear Gas being his most recent and most acclaimed.

With prevlient talent such as Andre Nickatina, Too Short and E-40 creating a name and representation for the Bay area not to mention the Hyphy movement and slap music that show the innovative and energetic side for the Bay. The Jacka is another Bay artist on the come up who is creating a buzz on the underground. Although The Jacka's widely noticed in the Bay he has collaborations with people such as Freeway and Cormega. This could possibly grab some fans on the east as well. At the end of the day it's all about the music for him.

HipHopDX: What does The Jacka represent?
The Jacka:
I represent Hip Hop. I represent Islam. That's basically my main thing; everything else just comes with the territory.

DX: Being Muslim clearly influences your music. When deciding to work with Freeway on your album Tear Gas, was it more about working with a fellow Muslim or to get more of a reach outside of the Bay area?
The Jacka:
It was just two people coming together to make music really. I think hes dope and he liked my stuff so we came together. Im from the west coast hes from the east coast. It was really something to wake people up. Taking it upon ourselves to go figure out what Islam is. It was just to do something good and get people to think.

DX: How did you and Cormega end up linking up?
The Jacka:
Im not sure if it was 2001, 2002 or 2003; I honestly cant even remember. I was in North Carolina and I saw him and one of his boys. Someone told us it was Cormega [click to read] and we were already up on Cormega. My boy used to have these beats on CDs like mixtapes. Them boys used to be ripping mixtapes back in the mid 90s with the mixtape game. Im talking about Capone-N-Noreaga [click to read], Cormega and people like that. I would hear 'Mega on em and I always thought he was good. He would have stories he talked about and he seemed like a real nigga. His boy ended up getting us in contact and he flew over to the west coast and wanted to get introduced to the Bay area. He wanted to see how we get down out here and I thought he was dope. Thats how I started fuckin with him, out here in the Bay.

DX: How about with Andre Nickatina?
The Jacka:
I always knew him. We would always speak to each other and whatnot. Hes a fan of Hip Hop, or just a fan of the music as well. He heard my shit and liked my shit so we linked up. We put out three albums with the Mob Figaz and he presented them. Weve known each other for a long time now. One day we were talking and said if were going to do something we might as well do it big. I took some beats and he came and ripped it down. Hes just a genuine cat and he really likes the music. He doesnt fuck with everybody either. I think its a privilege for me to even fuck with him.

DX: What have you learned and taken away from Bay Area veterans?
The Jacka:
First and foremost, I learned to just stick to the program and dont give up. At the end of the day, the dude that works the hardest is the one thats gonna get to eat. They really paved the way for me. I can go everywhere E-40 [click to read] went. I can go anywhere Too Short [click to read] went, or [even] Master P. I can go anywhere everyone before me went on that independent level and just let them know I know these cats. Its all good. They can all vouch for me. I just try to follow the routes that they set. I just try to stay with it because its a market and its real. Were starting our own companies and putting these albums out ourselves. We gotta hit these markets up real hard just like we used to do in the early '90s. We gotta get on the movement. Whenever somebody came out with something on an independent label; the movement for the artist was the movement for the label. Its just gotta get back to that ground work. Thats what I picked up from the Bay area veterans. That ground work and hustle to have your own thing going, [not a] label telling you what to do. You just go out and get your own shit. the whole thing to start a label and do your thing. Thats really what I got out of it.

DX: Speaking of independent labels, your own music label which is an accomplishment. Want to speak a little more about that decision?
The Jacka:
A lot of the Bay area artists have their own label. Even people who arent from the Bay, like Master P, have their own thing. I wouldnt say Master P got his exact start in the Bay, but I remember when he had a No Limit Records store around here in the Bay. He was pushing the No Limit thing real hard and it was before they got big all in the south. It was huge in the Bay area though. Master P, they were repping that Richmond, California and all that. Silkk The Shocker and all them boys knew what was up. After seeing that and how he took his to a whole other level, I was like, "Damn." I saw the same happen with E-40 and Too Short. They had their own labels and are able to put out what they want. They dont have anybody dictating them and saying what they should put out. They get the chance to stay creative and really come up with the shit that they like to do. That was really my inspiration to do it myself as well.

DX: Creating music for prisons is a very interesting angle, where did that idea come from?
The Jacka
: A lot of people that I know might have been in the pen. They come up to me and say, Hey man, a lot of people listen to you in the pen man. They play it all the time. When youre in prison, you got a lot of time to think. You have to really listen to music because it gives you a chance to separate good music from the bullshit. You can separate it from the nigga who is trying to be famous, to the nigga who is trying to really spit their shit. You get the time to really just sit there and soak it all up. A lot of these cats are just talking it but they're not really saying the life. You have to really live to know their life - to actually see shit and watch it go down and see how it happened. When you do all that and deliver it with your music, people cant believe that shit. People who actually been through some things and now are in prison, its their life and they wanna listen to it. That ain't no bullshit because you cant even come up with shit like that; you have to either been around it your whole life or done it.

DX: Where do you plan for that approach to take you and your music?
The Jacka:
Im not really trying to make a gain from it. Its just me delivering something to someone that knows what theyre going through. If I can make someone be able to deal better just through my music, thats big to me. A lot of our brothers and sisters are in prison. If I can help these dudes deal with their time away from their families and anybody else that means the world to them and they listen to me. Thats the crowd I need to roll with.

DX: Do you feel like there is any pressure on you because you are one of the few people representing the west coast?
The Jacka:
It isnt actual pressure. I know once I get out and people actually get a chance to see me and hear me and fuck with me, itll be a whole other thing. It isnt like Im a typical west Coast artist that everyone is used to seeing. Im on some whole other shit as well. At the same time, Im keeping it so true to what it is that I dont even feel any pressure. Its just that everybody wants to see you do the right thing so you just have to do it. Right now I know that if I ever really blow all the way up people are going to be like, "Yeah, hes hot, but hes a shaky dude." Thats what people do. Right now Im the underdog and people want to see me make it.

DX: What did it mean to you to be on the Sound Scan top 200 as a Bay rapper?
The Jacka:
It was crazy. Its kind of crazy because I come from a culture where we always be on the Billboard [charts]. When you get that ground work in, theres a lot of real genuine fans. Every time we drop an album, that shit is always on the Billboard. Its a big deal. These days and times, its a way bigger deal than what it was then. I get more credit for what Ive done recently when I feel Ive done better before. I guess it is a different time where music is either dying out or something. Everyone that is dope, you dont get a chance to hear them because radio doesnt really play anybody with any substance to what theyre saying. It goes down to real fans buying your music. We were out there grinding. Going everywhere and dropping CDs off, posters and showing face. Letting people see us and know us. The true fans will want to support it and see you get there. They want you to be there. It feels good. We always get recognized for it.

DX: What's one of your favorite songs?
The Jacka:
Theres so many of em. It might even be like the ones that I have on my records arent even my favorites. It wasnt like I was just doing em to shoot the breeze. It was for the love and a lot of people feel the same way about it. Right now I would have to say, Dream off of Tear Gas [click to read]. Its a different kind of rapping. It means a lot to me. To some people, they dont get it. If youre listening to it and are truly a Hip Hop fan, youre gonna get it.

DX: "Glamourous Lifestyle" is a hot song. It was the one used for your album release trailer. Want to talk a little bit about it?
The Jacka:
When I first heard the beat, I knew what it would sound like. I was actually on the phone with one of my boys who was in federal prison at the time. I was actually just picking the beat. I listened to it while he was on the phone and he thought it was a good beat so I just used it. It was used for some other people prior, but it never came out too serious. I took the beat and it ended up being better. We mixed it [and] made it happen.

DX: What do you think the west coast might have to do to become a major standing in Hip Hop again? Do you think its all an evolution and it will take the wheel soon? Is it just the evolution of Hip Hop making its rounds?
The Jacka:
Theres a whole underground movement that everybody doesnt even see. Im underground and in the Billboards, thats gotta be something. Thats a genuine thing. Thats what Hip Hop should be. You gotta find it. It isnt commercial, its in the streets and thats real. Everybody is on their high horse. They dont see whats going on. They dont see the real Hip Hop. We live it and thats what it is. Everyone who doesnt get it isnt meant to get it. Everybody just wants to be famous. They want to come up with this scene and just do that, instead of trying to take the fans over and winning their soul. I think the way Hip Hop is going is great, and were here.

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