Forming a group with Celph Titled, Zone created the Boss Hog Barbarians. Inspired by early 90's gangsta rap, the songs are a comical mix of witty punchlines and bass heavy beats - the album "Every Hog Has Its Day" is currently available online and at independent Hip Hop retail stores.
MVRemix: What do you think is the biggest mis-conception people have of you?
J-Zone: [laughs] Damn there's a lot of shit. I'd probably say... It depends. God, there's personal ones, there's musical ones. I mean I think the biggest one is that I'm unapproachable. I be around people, and they think I'm gonna go on a Captain Backslap rampage. You know, I'm gonna slap the shit out of some broad for no reason at all. And then there's the others, but that's kind of exaggerated.
On the records everything I say is me, but then you know, I exaggerate it for entertainment value. I have that in me, but that doesn't mean I'm always like that. If you come up and say, "Hello," I'm not gonna say, "Give me $500!" It's just sometimes when people approach you the wrong way you use the music as a defence mechanism, so you make records talkin' about, "Just don't holla, get the fuck out of my face. Fuck you pay me." I've had fans sayin' "You know I wanted you to sign my CD, but I didn't know if you was gonna be an asshole." I'm the coolest cat you ever want to meet if you approach me right. A lot of people probably think I'm an asshole, or whatever, it's far from that man. It just depends on the mood I'm in, it depends on how you approach me and shit. A lot of records is based in reality, but then you could blow it up to kinda give it entertainment value.
MVRemix: Does it surprise you how whole-heartedly some of your fans actually buy what you're saying straight away?
J-Zone: Yo, I'm not sayin' that I'm smart and they're not. But I mean growin' up when I used to listen to a lot of these records, of course some of these guys were really doin' what they were sayin' and some weren't, but it never really mattered to me. I say this all the time, "To me, records are no different than movies". Records are a little more personal, artists are more auto-biographical in their music and they try to stick close to their real life, but to me all that shit is entertainment. When you put a CD in for 45, 50, nowadays 90 minutes [chuckles] an artist has their attention and when you take the CD out, that's it.
Arnold Schwartzennager is the governor of fuckin' California, but in his movies for 2 hours he's blowin' people away, and then he goes home and he's a father to his kids. I always look at it as entertainment. Hip Hop always has that thing attached to it where It's gotta be real kid, this is real life kid, this is a reality kid. Hip Hop always has that connotation that it's gotta be real and a 100% Everytime when I rap on my records, most of the time that's what I'm feelin', most of the time that's what I'm goin' through. But there's sometimes you gotta go a little bit over the top and make it entertaining.
If I go to a club and I have a miserable time, I can make a song about it but it won't be as funny if I did "Disco Ho" and I rap about my leg getting broken, this, that, the other and how much I hate that this bitch wants me to dance. Or if I date a girl with one kid and the kid is really annoying, that wouldn't be a funny record but if I did "Too Many Babies," and we sang it and the bitch had eight kids, it makes it funny. So, everything is grounded in truth, but then sometimes you have to exaggerate it for entertainment purposes.
I always looked at it as entertainment, you meet kids and it's like "J-Zone! Pimp's Don't Pay Taxes, where are the bitches?" Like they'll see me walkin' in the street by myself "Where's the bitches? You supposed to be the pimp! Where's the bitches?" You know what I'm sayin? "J-Zone, where's Lucy Liu?" How the fuck am I supposed to know? When people approach you like that, that's what makes you wanna to make records that are defensive.
I never thought of it that way, I always thought of music as entertainment and fun. How I look at it, he may or may not have a real life, being that character, but I didn't give a fuck, 'cause damn his records were funny and I would sit there and listen to him. Too $hort maybe or maybe wasn't a real life pimp; I don't care 'cause his records are amazing. When I pop them in and out I could care less what he does in his personal life.
MVRemix: And actually kind of going from that, I don't know if you saw, but there was one straight to DVD documentary where Too $hort was interviewed and he said he doesn't see why rappers always have to be sincere because it's a form of creativity.
J-Zone: Yeah, it's entertainment man! I understand the artist wants to see what their life is like, so I feel as an artist I give 'em that. But sometimes you have to put entertainment value. If I'm going through a rough drench and I ain't gettin' no cheques and my car's lookin' fucked up like I'm just gonna totally exaggerate, and come out like Baby and Mannie Fresh and be like, "Yo, I got a Pinto, but it got 97 inch rims on it." You know, and "I got 3 bitches, but they're all 500 lbs." At the end of the day, I take care of my Grandmother, I watch Sportscenter and a basketball game and I go to sleep. Then you get caught up where you feel you have to live the life that you rhyme, but that's not what I wanna do.
That is me, I really am a cheap bastard, I hate spending money... I hate going to clubs. I get drunk off of one drink and start thinkin' nasty bitches look good. I really have a piece of shit car... I love basketball. All I say in my records are grounded in truth, but sometimes just to make the records enjoyable you've got to go over the top a little bit.
Celph might have a fixation with artillery, but he's not gonna take a rocket launcher and aim it at your house. There's a difference, but it's grounded in truth. The guy is into missiles and shit like that, he likes that kind of shit. He's fascinated by it but he's not gonna walk out in broad daylight with a cannon. I feel like a lot of people have to learn how to draw the line between entertainment and this, that and the other. It's not even like I'm gettin' on records and being totally false, sayin' that I'm some crazy drug dealer or I'm a killer and I'm killing all these different people. But I just take my life and stretch it. I'll admit it in a heartbeat when I'm exaggerating. 90% of my records are truth, exaggerated.
MVRemix: How did the Boss Hog Barbarians concept come about?
J-Zone: For that reason; we both love the same kind of shit. We both kind of got pigeon holed as East Coast/Underground/Boom Bap/New York Hip Hop kind of guys. So when we met each other we were like, "Yeah, yeah I know you." We met through Buds Distribution and through Apathy... We would see each other out.
"Yeah, J-Zone - "Bottle Of Whup Ass" - "Yeah, Celph Titled - "Windows '98." Then one day we started talkin' about the simple gangsta shit everybody knows about like N.W.A., we were talking at a CMJ conference and all of a sudden, I started naming some obscure Hip Hop and he was like, "Yo, I'm from Florida." "You heard of Poison Clan?" "That's my group!" And we had about a four hour conversation on all different types of obscure gangsta shit. "I didn't think anybody in underground rap knew about this shit." "I'm the same!" For years we didn't even do music, we were just friends. We would call each other up and be like, "Yo man, I found an E-40 CD before he was on Jive. A straight Sic-Wid-It independent." "Oh, word?" Then I'd be like, "Yo, did you hear the Tweety Bird Loc album?" We would start trading CD's and tapes and it was getting crazy.
When I was working on "Sick of Bein' Rich," I reached out to him to get on the album and I started giving him beats. We started just doing songs together and I had him on the last album, "A Job Ain't Nuthin' But Work" and people would be like, "You know you guys are good together." We appreciate the same kind of music so one day I was like "Man, I just finished "A Job Ain't Nuthin' But Work," but listen man, I'm about to put out a remix album but after that I ain't doin' nothin'." He was like, "Yo I ain't doin' nothin' either."
He was workin' on a solo album which is taking him forever, but I figured if me and him worked on a project because I'm such a workaholic, I would get him to complete it. So we decided, "It's time to do an album, lets give the people what we're known for but lets just do it with a twist. Let's do it on some Hog shit!" Hog is just like that heavy bass sound, that funky ass pimped out shit, and let's just go over the top. Totally pen and pixel this shit the fuck out and O.D. The two of us were just really frustrated with the Hip Hop scene - it as really stagnant, all of our fans wanted us to go back to shit we were doing eight years ago and we were both just kind of frustrated. I was like, "Fuck it," if we're gonna go out. Let's go out all the way. Make music that's a total 180 from "Music For Tu Madre" and "Godz Must Be Crazy" and "Windows '98" and all that shit. Lets do a record that's totally opposite and kind of pay homage to the shit we both like that people don't seem to know that we like. We're just gonna fuck everybody's heads up. We did it.
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