Southern music has been scrutinized and criticized for the lack of substance and lyrical content, leaving hip-hop connoisseurs bamboozled over the popularity of the dominant movement. The South continues to disrupt the long run of the East Coast reign as Yung Joc stormed the scene less then a year ago, and already he has achieved a Grammy nomination and named one of the richest rappers in the world.
Atlanta is one of the main sources of music today and record labels have been hip to the game for quite a while. Bad Boy South became the first to notice the potential in College Park born artist, Yung Joc. From being under constant attack for not being a real “lyricist,” Yung Joc is articulate and as precise as he means to be. He understands the rules of engagement and is simply playing his position in the game. He tells Ballerstatus that he’s content being the “fly and flashy” rapper and explains his perception of the current state of hip-hop.
BallerStatus.com: How do you feel about certain people feeling like “hip-hop is dead” just because the South is having its reign?
Yung Joc: I don’t even think that’s what it is — when you think of that phrase — “Hip-Hop Is Dead” — who do you think about? Nas. I think hip-hop is alive that’s why he made that statement because hip-hop is a culture and Nas is one of the pioneers. That man’s been around for a long time. He’s a great lyricist and that was a great marketing move. When you think of that phrase, you think of him. And he sold some records off that. And if you take a trip to Atlanta, you’ll see lots of people from New York there. People have been coming to Atlanta. We reach a lot of people.
BallerStatus.com: When someone says the South ruined hip-hop, what do you think about that?
Yung Joc: I don’t know. Me personally, I’m just like, “that’s your opinion.” Freedom of speech, man. If that’s how you feel, I’m sorry. I apologize, but we doing what we love to do. You know ,we’re in an era where people like to party and vibe out at the clubs. People just want to have a good time and I don’t see people in clubs trying to break down metaphors and similes while they’re jammin’. They just want to have fun.
But if you’re riding and you really wanna hear some wild, lyrical assassinations, that’s when New York comes in. If you listen to any of my interviews, my influences are Dana Dane, Dougie Fresh, Slick Rick, Run DMC … you know what I’m saying? For someone to say the South ruined hip-hop — man I’m sorry you feel that way.
BallerStatus.com: The East is notorious for starting and ending careers with rap battles. Why do you think the South has always been more concerned with having fun then duking it out on wax?
Yung Joc: Yeah, we want to have a good time and get this money. You know, trying to knock a n**** out his position to gain a position, f*** that man. There’s enough money for all of us. Here it is: I’m one of the newest inductees in the Top 20 Highest Paid Rappers of ’06 in Forbes magazine. If I can be in a list with motherf***ers like Puff, T.I., Jay-Z, Ice Cube — with all these n****s out here getting all this real paper and here it is — I’m out the gate my first year, that lets me know there’s enough money to go around for all of us. I don’t think hip-hop is dead, and I don’t think the South has taken over. I think people from other places are just regrouping. I don’t think the South will be on top forever. But I’m making sure I get mine here while it’s doing its thing.
BallerStatus.com: Southern artists have made a killing with dance centered records. Why do you think the fans are more inviting to these types of records then knowledge based records from artist like Talib or Common?
Yung Joc: Lifestyle man. Hip-hop is youth driven. I dig cats like Talib Kweli and Mos Def. I wish there was more of them. It’s almost like opening up a text book ’cause you learn something from them. But people want to dance; they want to party right now.
BallerStatus.com: Do you take offense if someone calls your records “Snap music?”
Yung Joc: No. I just don’t think they understand what snap music is. Just because it has a finger snap in the record, doesn’t mean it’s a snap record. There’s a definition behind it. It’s a rhythm.
BallerStatus.com: What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
Yung Joc: I think just expression of who I am and what I do. I love to perform, but I love doing videos. I love being in front of the camera. I waited a long time to get this opportunity, so I’m going to enjoy this.
BallerStatus.com: The first time you heard “It’s Goin’ Down” on the radio, where were you and what were you doing?
Yung Joc: Hell yeah, I was finnin’ to get ready to rob a bank.
BallerStatus.com: No way.
Yung Joc: I’m not smiling. It was finnin; to go down.
BallerStatus.com: So you could say that song kind of saved your life?
Yung Joc: Yeah. Nobody’s ever asked me that question, that’s why you’ve never seen that in an interview.
BallerStatus.com: So this is a Ballerstatus exclusive?
Yung Joc: Yeah, man.
BallerStatus.com: Did you think that “It’s Goin’ down” was going to be that successful? Obviously not, if you were about to rob a bank.
Yung Joc: Nah. See what it was, I was waiting for the record to break. And it was like, “Let me not do this ’cause I love what I do too much.”
BallerStatus.com: You exploded onto the scene. What were you doing independently to create momentum for your career?
Yung Joc: I was selling a mixtape, but it was only six songs with no DJs. I was going to all the barber shops and sh** in ATL selling it for like $5. Then I was on the road with my sister, Mz. B, who wrote “I Know You See It” with me. She had a record on So So Def called “Bottle Action.” Hit that bitch with a bottle. I helped write the hook to that record, so I was already getting money off that but it was slowing down. I didn’t want to go back to selling dope, so I felt like I was at the point where I was finnin’ to go rob a bank.
BallerStatus.com: What do you think about people saying you’re not a lyrical rapper?
Yung Joc: I’m good. I’ll accept that. It is what it is. It’s like you got a top of the line Benz, air conditioned cooled seats and all that. But right next to it, you got a 65 Chevy Impala. It can’t do none of that sh**, but it look just as good. And believe it or not, it holds that value better then that Benz ’cause it’s old school. And in the end, it’s still a good product, people still love it and its still doing the God damn job (laughs).
BallerStatus.com: You’ve been on show bills with hip-hop sensations like Young Jeezy and Keyshia Cole. Is there someone in particular that you specifically enjoy watching perform?
Yung Joc: Mary J. Blige.
BallerStatus.com: Mary? Why?
Yung Joc: For one, she’s been doing this for a long time. She’s definitely mastered her craft. She embodies soul. She embodies R&B. She exudes the type of womanly appeal that I saw growing up in the hood, meaning she’s not saying she’s trying to be the baddest chick on the block, but she is the baddest bitch on the block. She gives that off a lot and I just love watching her perform. You know Mary can’t really dance, but she still be grooving, doing her thing and I love her music.
BallerStatus.com: Let’s say that you have a restless crowd that’s been waiting around for hours for the show to start, how do you get on stage and win back their attention and interest?
Yung Joc: You got a come out with that sh**. You can’t come out with no slow record. You gotta come out with something with a lot of energy. You better come out with something to throw in the crowd, come out doing back flips with your d*** out (laughs). You can’t come out there half ass. I’ve seen that too. And it wouldn’t be my fault. I’d be there on time, but the promoter could’ve been slow and stalling waiting for the spot to fill up. At the end of the day, if they’re [fans] on your side, you’re good.
BallerStatus.com: It seems like you’re the feature of the summer. What other collaborations can we expect?
Yung Joc: You know, I really can’t say ’cause this sh** is so political. You could promote a song that you’re on, but then the label could put someone else on ’cause they want to make a relationship with another label or we want to do a barter situation with this label and you’re f***in’ around promoting it and then someone else is on it.
BallerStatus.com: Is that what happened with the Lloyd record because he’s rapping in the place of your verse?
Yung Joc: Well, that was just so last minute. He and I both had very, very busy tour schedules. I would’ve loved to be in it though. The whole timing of the video and everything didn’t work, but it’s still a top ten record. And the T-Pain record is another Top Ten, so it’s all good.
BallerStatus.com: Being on a powerhouse label like Atlantic — with chart toppers like T.I. and Pretty Ricky — do you feel the label is doing your career justice?
Yung Joc: I definitely do. When the label gave me the opportunity to go in and they allow me to select all the people I want to work with and go in and pick all my tracks. I turn in an album, they say “Alright,” they ask “How you want the photo shoot to look?” And they say “Alright.” They ask “what kind of video you looking for? How you want your album and your layout to look?” And all they say is “alright.” Cause I know a lot of cats that say they’re label won’t let them do anything. They say I’m lucky. I’m very happy to say, I’m proud to say that Atlantic stands behind me and vice versa. I have a good home. Everything’s good right now.