Jin: Jin vs The Emcee Pt 1
HHDX: For those who dont know, can you explain a little about your upbringing?
Jin: I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. I was born in 1982. My family was hard working. My Mom and Dad immigrated to the United States when they were teenagers. Well, mainly my Dad, actually. He immigrated to New York. He was raised in New York and, as he got older, married my Mom and moved to Miami, which is where I was born. As I was growing up, they were just trying to do the you know, your typical American Dream. Trying to start a little business and just trying to maintain. Thats pretty much what my childhood was; being a part of that environment watching my parents work hard. The thing about it is that they were working hard just to barely make it. I think thats the case with a lot of different families regardless if youre Asian or not.
The one thing about a lot of families in this country is, of course you have your families that are poverty stricken in horrible conditions. Im fortunate enough to say we were never at that point. But certainly, things werent all gravy. Right in the middle, its just as hard because youre not at the point where youre able to get assistance but then at the same time, youre not at the point where youre like filthy rich.
HHDX: Most fans already know about Jins past, including the freestyle battles, but what is The Emcee trying to accomplish right now?
Jin: I think The Emcee is not too different from Jin. I mean, realistically, its the same person you know what Im sayin. Thats one thing about the whole Oh, what is he changing his name? I mean, I dont think its so much as changing my name, its just that right now, Im trying to take my music in a new direction. Or basically, a different direction I should say. One that I certainly feel is more reflective of who I am as an artist. It certainly wasnt something that was just gonna happen. I feel like, in order for me to get to where my mind is at right now, I had to go through all of the stuff I went through in the last four years. So, you know, I never look at it like Ah! My career was screwed because of So and So or because of this company... You know what Im saying? I thank all of them for the opportunities, you know what Im sayin? If I would go back, Id do it the exact same way. I never regret the Ruff Ryders thing. I never regret picking certain songs. I think its all supposed to happen for a certain reason.
HHDX: Yeah, Im sure a lot of people ask you Do you regret being with Ruff Ryders?
Jin: At the end of the day, Ruff Ryders...Theyre a legacy. No matter if theyre at their ups or their downs right now, the one thing you can't deny is that they came into the game, they flipped it and they made their mark. That Ruff Ryder name as a whole is already stamped in the Hip-Hop books. Then you think about what they contributed musically like the DMXs, the Eves, the LOX, Drag-On and whatnot. For me to be able to add my name to that is an honor. Thats all I really wanted to do when I signed with them like Yo, its a privilege, because I was always a Ruff Ryder fan. I get to add my name to the story, you know...thats beautiful.
HHDX: In an interview, you said you wanted to do a song with Craig David. Who else would you want to create with, mainstream or underground.
Jin: Well, the Craig David thing, I said that in like 01, 02. People be keepin track of everything. Um, I think they were asking me about non-hip-hop artists who would I work with and I remember he had one joint on a Premier beat with Mos Def and he was singing. So, I was just like This joint is hot, Craig Davids ill. I think hes still doing music now, which is good. But, as far as a more Hip-Hop artist, who would I wanna do something with? I mean, Yo...Cats like Redman, you know what Im sayin...Ive always been a fan of. I mean, itd be so amazing Id get to do a joint with Nas. You know, Im just like everybody else, man. A regular Hip-Hop fan.
HHDX: What top 5 things should an up-and-coming emcee look out for when starting out in the business.
Jin: Thats a good question...Wow! Theres way more than five. Definitely, know your business. When I say know your business, thats very general. So, know the ins and outs, you know what I'm sayin. Know how royalty rates work. Know how your management gets paid. Know how much the label gets paid. All of that. You know, keep an eye out for that. Thats important.
Number 2, know your own identity. You know what Im sayin? I think its important for an artist to have at least some sort of idea of who they want to be, as an artist you know what Im sayin. Before the label tries to turn you into something, you have to at least have an idea of like, Well, this is who I am and this is what I represent.
Number 3, I think you have to know that once you decide you want to do this as a business, there are certain things you have to understand. Especially if you decide to sign with a major and become a part of that system. There are a lot of things they dont take into consideration before they sign that paper. There are certain things like Yo, man if you dont give us this type of record, we are not going to put your album out. You know what Im saying? It be things like that. Kids dont know this. They are watching BET and they watching MTV and they watching CRIBS and they lovin all of that. I mean, thats great but then they dont realize theres so much other shit going on.
HHDX: How did being with Ruff Ryders at the start, show you that in what to do and what not to do?
Jin: Yo, I think thats what the whole last four years was all about. I learned a lot being with Ruff Ryders on a business level. Just understanding promotion factors and dealing with a major. You know, I was signed to Ruff Ryders but my first album The Rest is History came out under Ruff Ryders/Virgin. Seeing the interaction between them two, it gave me an understanding of whats really going on in this world.
HHDX: Alright, so...Your retirement left a lot of people surprised.
Jin: Well, first of all, just to address the issue...the retirement thing. I think theres a lot of misconceptions people might have had. I think they might have taken it figuratively. Well, naturally I did a song called I Quit. That song is just me expressing how I felt at that time. I think thats when the best music comes, when youre just writing from your heart. I think the reason why it was so affective was because I was spittin it and the lyrics was like...I was doing it with so much conviction. If it didnt sound genuine, people wouldnt have paid it no mind. But here you have Jin on a track called I Quit and just pouring it out. They're like Yo, Fuck! Jins quittin!? Then Im doing interviews with magazines and websites and whatnot and people might have taken it as a publicity stunt like Oh, hes trying to pull a Jay-Z on us. I mean, it might have come across as that but what I want to tell people is that it was the last thing on my mind. I think it was a more personal thing. For me, I felt like in order to move on, I had to really close a certain chapter. That was that shit, the whole you know, Yo, Im Jin, Im signed to Ruff Ryders. Im on a major label! I'm a rap artist! I had to really just close all of that and start from scratch which is what I did with The Emcees Properganda.. And you know, even as Im contributing to all of the stuff Im doing: the battlin, the open mics you know what Im sayin...I feel like I need to just start back from the foundation and work my way up again. Im really proud of this album.
HHDX: As you should be. So, youre new single/video is Top 5 (Dead or Alive). Who are your top 5 alive emcees? If there aint no best, what makes a great emcee in your eyes?
Jin: Well, a great emcee in my eyes is Number one: In order to truly be great I think you have to make an impact. When I say make an impact, it can vary in different ways. It can be like 50 Cent. No matter how you look at it, he made an impact. Pac made an impact. Lyrically, these guys are all on different levels, you know? Some people might be like Yo! Lyrically, Nas is better than Pac. This is all opinion. He might be right, he may be wrong but that doesnt take away from the impact that Pac made. I would say that the impact that Pac made on the Hip-Hop generation was deeper than the impact that Nas made.
One thing you have to do in order to be a great emcee is make an impact. Thats what I personally set out to do. When I do these battles, when I work on these songs, when Im out...My whole agenda is to make an impact. So, forty years from now, when theyre talking about hip-hop hopefully theyll be like Oh yeah, then there was that one dude. He was on 106 & Park and he got signed with Ruff Ryders. Then he did that Learn Chinese joint with Wyclef and then he quit or something like that, right? Yeah, then he came out on some other shit... Like thats the shit Im talking about when making an impact. Oh yeah! Yo remember when he dissed Hot 97 cause they did that Tsunami shit? But thats what I mean when making an impact. For other components, well...Im an emcee myself. You know, Im The Emcee you know? When they tell you what the four elements of Hip-Hop are, you got the B-Boys, you got the Graf Writers, the DJ and the Emcee. Thats me, the fourth dude.
So, as far as what I look for in selecting what emcees I respect and admire...I look for the real shit. you gotta have style, you gotta have flavor...You gotta be unique, you gotta have an identity of your own that is similar to no one. Even if you are kickin the same shit, like all of these dudes right now, the new generation of cats at least. Lets say the New York dudes that are rappin. They be on they street shit hustlin and thats cool if thats the lifestyle theyre wearin. But what sets Jay-Z (apart), who kicks the same topics same content, but Jays shit is just so unique. You hear a Jay-Z rhyme and right out the gate you know, Fuck, thats Jay! Or Biggie...like Damn, thats Biggie. Even in the new generation, like a Fabolous. Hell kick the same thing as all these other dudes but you see his identity. I think thats an important thing. So, on a more technical aspect, creativity is important. Since everyones rapping nowadays, the only ones that stand out are the ones who are creative.
Thats why I like a Ludacris cause he got his own lane, yo. All of the guys that are great got they own lane, yo. Luda is a relatively new artist, but I can easily see down the line, when they talk about the last generation of who was ill? Definitely Luda or Eminem. Its all about having your own lane. Like the Jin lane...no one else can come in the Jin lane. I can come into your lane but you cant come in my lane! [Laughs]
HHDX: Thats what I see a lot on the new album, a lot of This is me and this is what I represent. People might look at you weird for saying you could cry over a girl or talking about how wack it is to just talk about shaking asses in the club.
Jin: My whole thing is balance. I love ass. I love tits. I love seeing them shake. But once you get into a point where its an extreme of either one, then it becomes an issue.
HHDX: What I was referring to was Foolish Little Girls, because I work with kids and...
Jin: Its all about the kids, man. I have a little sister thats 14. Shes turning on Hot 97 and shes listening to shit like (impersonating singing) Why don't you pull down your pants just a lil bit. And this has me like Damn, this shit is powerful. Little do you know, that affects her and it affects the way she sees herself. Im not mad at that, because they gotta do what they gotta do. But, I just think they need to be balanced. Definitely, a big part of it is in the upraising of the children too. I'm not on some Artists are responsible for everything! You know, because I think your parents are only right because I listened to all types of Hip-Hop over the last six or seven years. I listen to Wu Tang, 36 Chambers and all of that drug dealin, gun bustin. I listen to Onyxs Throw Ya Gunz in the Air but that never affected me to when I got heated I (would be) like Yo, man...Im going to run out and put a fucking bullet in this guys head! You know? Thats because of my upbringings. So, its not only the artists fault, but I think artists need to know that its a team effort. Artists have to know that they are influential on kids.