Nu Jerzey Devil Readies Solo Debut With Lil Wayne, The Game
Having been the first official member of Games BWS crew, Jerzeys recent decision to move from behind the boards (and the turntables) to behind the mic was not surprisingly at the suggestion of BWS leader, as Jerzey recalled, Its always been in the back of my mind [to emcee], but one day we was in New York and people just started really [recognizing] who I was. And [after seeing that, Game] was just like, Man, you need to get on your Swizz Beatz shit. You need to start rappin or getting on some hooks. So I took that shit and ran with it.
[After that] I went inside the studio, I felt it out [rappin], and I liked it, he continued. Then I went back to Miami and started working on my own shit. Then [I] did Different Girls with Lil Wayne [click to listen]. And then from there, we went on tour. I was opening up for Game overseas [in November]and when I felt that love, from [there] it was all she wrote. I was like, Fuck it, Ima do this full-time.
And after that final decision last fall to make the move to full-time spitter, Jerzey found a distribution home for his LiveliHood Entertainment, and his Art Of The Devil promotional mixtape (due March 3). But why the decision to bring his business to Miami-based SoBe Entertainment, and not longtime musical home Black Wall Street?
I feel like Im a grown man, [and] I just wanna venture out on my own and do what I gotta do, replied Jerzey. Not to sound selfish or nothing like that, but I just dont wanna wait for nobody. I wanna do me. I wanna be my own creative person. I just wanna do me, period. Games a general, Im a general, [and] two bulls be knocking heads a lot. [And] I just feel like I got more control over here at SoBe, being that Im my own person over there. And a lot of people know me from Game, so I just wanna step out of that a little bit and pretty much just build my own identity and do me for a second.
BWS faithful should fear not, as Jerzeys stepping out is not a sign of his breaking away from the crew.
Its Black Wall Street all day, everyday, for life, said Jerzey. But I just want people to know me for me, and not [just like], Thats Games homie.
While Jerzey compares the development of his LiveliHood venture outside of BWS to how Jim Jones Byrdgang, Juelz Santanas Skull Gang, and Freekey Zeekeys 730 brands all spawned from the original Dipset collective, a more apt comparison of what appears to be taking place aside from Jerzeys move within the BWS camp is that of the Wu-Tang Clan in the 90s, with affiliated artists spreading the BWS brand through a variety of different major labels.
A lot of offers [to distribute BWS artists] been on the table, said Jerzey. We had Clyde Carson with Capitol [Records]. And its other [labels] thats interested [in distributing BWS]. Like, obviously Interscope is interested. But I think Game just wants to wait and make the right decisions and make the best move. And I dont think he wants to put all of his eggs in one basket. So every time he [puts out] an artist I think theyll be on like separate labels, just because you wanna see which label works the best until you really know whats going on and you know they behind you 100 percent.
So will a label be joining forces with The Game, Juice [click to read], Clyde Carson, X.O. (formerly known as Scipio), Southsider and the rest of the BWS collective to finally unleash the long-delayed label compilation sometime in 09?
Im hoping [that happens] just like everybody else, man [Laughs.], replied Jerzey when asked about BWS first planned non-mixtape/retail-available release. But we just have problems with these artists, man. Like, its hard to find good, loyal artists these days. So until Game feels like he has a strong team, I dont think [the compilations] coming out anytime soon.
In lieu of a formal release from his crew, Jerzey told DX that he plans to continue cranking out BWS mixtapes, including two that he is currently working on: one with DJ Haze entitled Red Carpet Affair, and another being the long-awaited fifth installment of Games U Know What It Is.
But for the moment Jerzey is firmly focused on his own mix, Art Of The Devil. Black Wall Street's resident beatsmit-turned-emcee's EP, Heaven or Hell, will come in April, and it will be followed up by the full length album, Devils Playground in August. Both projects boast cameos from Game, Young Buck, and a couple more potential guests that Jerzey told DX will definitely be eye-catching. In addition to Jerzeys own production, fellow Miamian and SoBe affiliate Scott Storch, BWS beatmaker E.P., and Cool & Dre all chipped in tracks.
Art Of The Devil's club-friendly first official single from the release, Different Girls, boasts arguably Jerzeys most noteworthy collaboration on the mix with Lil Wayne. Graciously guesting on his first effort, Weezy is making his official endorsement of his new emcee peer.
Me and Wayne is cool, said Jerzey. We aint really meet on no music shit. We met in Orlando at a Hornets game through my homie Baron Davis, when he was playing for the Hornets And then when I started spittin I let [Wayne] hear [Different Girls] and he was like, Go for it. Do what you gotta do. [And] let me get on it. So he been helping me a lot [Ive] learned a lot from him as far as studio work, and how to go in the studio and how to make songs. I look at him as like one of my mentors in this game. Cause I dont really see nobody going hard like him and Game in the studio.
Although having just begun his career as a rapper, Wayne is apparently already trying to convert Jerzey into a singer for Weezys upcoming rock album [click to read].
[Laughs] He made a crazy comment to me, he wanted me to [do] something [as a singer], said Jerzey. I was doing something with him in the studio and he was like, Man, you got a Sting voice. I was doing this hook. And Im like, Man, I cant. Im not ready to go in that lane yet.
While Jerzey and Weezy may not yet share a love for singing, they do appear to share an unspoken love of one thing: the color red.
After relocating from New Jersey to Los Angeles in 2001 to work as a producer for Rodney Darkchild Jerkins Darkchild Productions (a short-lived relationship that Jerzey noted left him without proper credit for his productions), Jerzey soon found himself basically stuck in L.A. without a place to stay. Moving in with one of his local friends who subsequently was arrested, Jerzey was essentially on the verge of homelessness until new acquaintance The Game offered the producer a place to crash.
Living in Compton, man, you living in a Blood neighborhood, said Jerzey of his gang-controlled onetime home in Cedar Block. [And] even if you not a Blood, youre gonna get treated like a Blood. So I was getting approached left and right. I didnt really have a choice. I was kinda forced to join a gang.
Fake gang affiliations run rampant in Hip Hop, but Jerzey insisted in his discussion with DX that his ties to his hood are not a creation for commercial consumption.
It wasnt like I did it for a fad or anything like that, he said of pledging Piru. They showed me a lot of love. Coming up from that area, your boys gotta be really your boys. They gotta protect you. You gotta protect them. Yall gotta live together, [and] yall gotta watch each others back. Thats some real shit. And I would never play with nothing like that. I wouldnt do it for no music I have a real deep understanding. I lived it. I witnessed it first-hand. Living in Compton for like three years, I was forced into it Luckily I came out alive, man, [and now] we doing our thing.
Art Of The Devil is due in stores March 3 from LiveliHood/SoBe Entertainment.