Jaz-O conducted by Timid  

Jaz-O Interview

July 2002

These are the transcripts of an interview with Jaz-O. The interview was conducted by Timid at D&D Studios on July 15th, 2002. Jaz-O is an emcee who has been around for a while and is best known for being responsible for helping unleash his former friend Jay-Z to the world.

MVRemix: Where have you been? What's been going on? People haven't heard from you in a minute...

Jaz-O: For the most part man, I've just been around doing production. Just living a regular life, you know. I did a lot of things in my life, so as far as music is concerned; I basically took a break and lived off of my legacy so to speak. For the most part though, I'm back. I feel like there's some more things I need to do that are necessary.

MVRemix: In the last couple of years, lots of cats from back in the day have been coming back and dropping albums. I for one feel that it's kind of necessary because some of the game is getting off...what do you think about that?

Jaz-O: Yeah, yeah...I agree. But I don't think it's for everybody. I think some people's styles' are dated. It's not a bad thing, but I don't even look at it as a detrimental thing as far as how they'll be received by the mainstream market when that's what they're trying to attack. I mean most of the time, 99.9% of the time - it's not like the crusade or anything, they're trying to make some paper. If that's the reason why you're coming back, which for the most part it is, you really have got to address the market. Try to capture it, you know what I'm sayin'? I don't think it's for everybody.

MVRemix: Are you involved in Hip Hop for the love or for the money?

Jaz-O: For both. The rap game, which I choose to call it - it's not really Hip Hop to me, I'm getting into the rap game for the money. There's nothing really in it except money. As far as Hip Hop is concerned, I love that. You don't have to get back into the rap game to love hip-hop. You can just make music, you can just go out in the street. You can just freestyle in clubs for that matter. You've got to be real, you get into the rap game for the dough.

MVRemix: Is there something that you think you'll be bringing to the game that's not out there right now? Something different from you?

Jaz-O: Oh yeah, yeah. A realistic individual for one. There are not a lot of realistic individuals out there, there's a lot of frauds. You know, everybody's a "gangsta," a "superthug." "Everybody bust their gat everyday," everybody got "mad bodies," everybody got "stupid weight" in their trunk. It's like "Come on man, be serious!" You might be led to believe that about a couple of people. But how do they expect the world to believe that about everybody? Every new rapper you hear is the same story. Everybody's a criminal. Now it's so bad that even in the street, you know, it's like it's not even cool to work with transit no more. It's not cool to work for the city, it's not cool for a cat to have a regular job. You have to be like "Nah, I don't really do that, I hustle son." I mean come on, everybody wanna live the movie. That's not what it's about.

MVRemix: You said you're "Living off the legacy" and part of that, well personally, my introduction to that was with "Hawaiian Sophie." For me it was a big thing, I mean, I grew up in Hawaii and I first saw that joint hit the TV...how do you feel about those tracks back then?

Jaz-O: About mine or everybody's in general?

MVRemix: About "Hawaiian Sophie" and "Originators," how do you feel about that stuff today?

Jaz-O: Some of that stuff was not stuff that I did as far as "street" music. A lot of that stuff I was not so much catering to the market, but I was catering to EMI at the time. EMI was saying "Look, we like this," in my mind at the time I was saying "Look, if you like it, that means you're going to support it." So, as long as it's me and you're going to support it then I'm good. That's why I ran with it. It kind of put me in a pocket where people were to ask me am I from Philly because some people would get me confused with Fresh Prince, on some level like that. We don't look nothin' alike and we don't sound alike, but I guess it was the whole novelty rap thing. Where it wasn't intimidating or anything, so I guess they associated us. The music was a lot different, I mean as far as it wasn't as much gangsta rap prevalent. It was just a more open market. It was a market that was closer to the ideology's of Hip Hop rather than what it is today with all the gangsta music's point of view.

MVRemix: There's a whole generation of Hip Hop heads now that haven't heard who Jaz-O is or anything about you, what is it that they need to know - that you want them to know?

Jaz-O: For the most part, I'm represented by my music, primarily - on an introductory level. When you speak of individually, they'll learn about me by way of the media. Through interviews, so on and so forth. That's important, and I think it's also important that it gets back to a point where you have artists who have the ability to express themselves and articulate properly who they are and what they're all about. Not just the guns and the cars and everything, but the real. Talk to people. That would alleviate a whole lot of people because most cats and females really step up and say a lot of ignorant shit. We really need to have people who can articulate, I mean you've got a lot of words to say - you rhyme. You're supposed to be a writer, a lyricist, half a mark because they've got ghost writers, but still...you can't articulate, you can't talk. I'm not saying it's an artists' job to be a positive role model, because it's really not. But, it doesn't hurt and at the same time I feel it's more incumbent upon the parents. For their children, "If this is what you want to listen to, listen to this, understand what this is" and "No, I don't want you listening to this" then tell 'em why.

MVRemix: I agree, it starts with the parents. I grew up a hardcore NWA fan, but that's not my style, I just liked the music.

Jaz-O: Right, this is not something you should do, these guys are saying this, and also tell them. These guys are not real "gangsta's." Maybe some were at one time, and they know a lot about it, but they're recording artists, so don't go out there with this attitude that you can go and gun somebody down and it doesn't mean anything. You're gonna come back in the house and have dinner, finish and go to school tomorrow. It's not like that.

MVRemix: You just did the Kingz Kounty album...

Jaz-O: Yeah, it's a compilation, it was done in partnership with other parties and so I compromised some of my control over the project, just for the good of the project.

MVRemix: You comin' up with anything solo?

Jaz-O: Yeah, I'm working on my solo - it's gonna be called "One Magnitude." I also have a project I'm working on, well, putting out some of my material that I recorded but was never released, circa '93, '94. It'll probably put the pieces together for a lot of the younger audience who are not familiar with me. They'll hear in the material, like "Damn" - they'll say it sounds a hell of a lot like Jay-Z but better. Then they'll realize, "Damn, that's where it came from."

MVRemix: I know you want to speak on that, any thoughts there? I mean what's going on? What's the deal?

Jaz-O: He said what he said on "Murda Marcyville" the remix, I said what I said on "Ova," they came back with a corny freestyle having everybody come at me. I shut them down with the "Nothin'" freestyle, I don't know if y'all heard it. And after that I've heard no response.

MVRemix: Is there any place you can get to hear that? It's just their joint is everywhere...

Jaz-O: Yeah, that's disgusting. But "Ova" is gonna be everywhere soon. I recorded "Ova" before the rebuttle, the reason they came at me was because of "Ova."

MVRemix: Any guest appearances coming out on other people's projects?

Jaz-O: None that I can think of right now. I'm basically in my own little mind pool.

MVRemix: For those that don't know about you, take it back to how you got started...

Jaz-O: My starting goes back to the mid/late '70's, my mans wanted to rhyme, so he was like "Yo, I don't know how to write, so could you write me a rhyme?" So I was writin', and he was like "Write it for yourself, save it for yourself" So I wrote what I write now, which turned out to be an eight bar rhyme and I said it, he liked the way I said it. "Yo, that sounds good man, you're good," I didn't really understand what he'd said but he encouraged me to write more. I wrote like two more rhymes. You have to understand that back then, that was before people used to walk around with their rhyme books and all that. It wasn't near that type of a situation. I wrote those three rhymes and I went to a party or two, said the rhymes and everybody went crazy. That's what set it off.

MVRemix: So you were there at the very, very beginning...

Jaz-O: Nah, I wasn't, people don't understand that the roots of Hip Hop, before they called it Hip Hop, it was called B-Boy. It was associated along with the breakdancing. All of that shit all together, with the rhyming and the breakdancing was called B-Boying. Hip Hop got the name after the mainstream saw something. Then it evolved into "rap music." That's when everything went shit, fell apart.

MVRemix: So you pretty much think its gotten out of control from the roots where it started to where it should be.

Jaz-O: Oh yeah, it's way different because you've got a situation where they call it "Real Hip Hop" where you've got the backpackers and everybody got a Chinese or Japanese girlfriend and shit, and it's not real hip hop. There's nothing wrong with it, but they say it's "real hip hop" and the other shit is rap music. But, real hip-hop is just the variety of music that evolves from the source.

MVRemix: As far as Hip Hop, worldwide, it's state right now. I mean you've got Japanese Hip Hop, Chinese Hip Hop, I heard some Korean rap the other day...

Jaz-O: That's a beautiful thing, that's a beautiful thing man. To me, that's what Hip Hop is all about. It's not about politics, and this should be played more than that because they're talking more about guns and some gully shit over here. This dude is talkin' 'bout his moms, some emotional shit. It's talking about a hot song, what the people want to hear. What people don't realize is that they created the condition for what people wanna hear. It's like I grow coffee beans, I want the world to buy coffee, when everybody wants to buy all different types of groceries but in your cereal, I keep slippin' in little bits of coffee. So, you know...you want coffee; I created a condition for you to want coffee. And that's just what they do with the radio. They put you through all that garbage, that gangsta and ignorant music, and they've got the same program because they're programming people, they've got the same line up every fucking day, and that's what you wanna hear. They created the conditions for you to want to hear that shit, and then they only allow those artists who are kickin' that ignorant shit to get deals. And they get major, and they look big. They're looked upon as talented artists because they've got so much money behind them, so much politics behind them. You might have a multi-talented, diverse, crazy motherfucker over there, male or female that won't see the light of day. Just an example y'all tellin' me like you haven't heard "Ova." You've heard about it, but you ain't hear the song. What kind of shit is that? But you've heard the answer, that's because that's Roc-A-Fella and they've got a machine. As opposed to independent Jaz-O who's not that way, I've got to service motherfuckers right out of my office. Where they've got their regional reps, gettin' shit the next day and hittin' the radio. But, it's gonna come around.

MVRemix: You've kind of got that underground mindset, yours on your time type of deal...

Jaz-O: Yeah, but at the same time, nah. I need that major vehicle. I need that machine, it's like you've got a choice, it depends on your mind state. You could live with an angel and let the angel lie to you or you could live with a demon and let him tell you the truth. What would you rather have? I'd rather have the demon telling me the truth. But if I sit here with the stupid mindstate, "Oh, that's a demon, that's a demon" I'm not gonna live. So this is the system that these motherfuckers created, and that's how I'ma be heard.

MVRemix: Hottest cat out right now?

Jaz-O: Me.

MVRemix: We'll end things on that note unless there's something else you want to say?

Jaz-O: Nah, I've said it.

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