Its been quite a while since Jin burst through the doors of the hip hop scene. He immediately won love from many hip-hop fans as a contestant on BET’s 106 & Park Freestyle Friday session. Winning numerous weeks in a row, he would soon be searched down by Ruff Ryders. Once signed, he hit the studio, recording his debut album. Unfortunately, a lack of promotion gather with the fact that his album came so far after his signing, it didn’t do as well as expected. Now, more focused than ever, Jin has returned on the independent tip to teach us all about the propaganda of the music industry.
Why is there so little respect for the industry from some of today’s top artists? Why are the radio jockeys and so forth dictating what’s really hot in hip-hop? Find out now, as Jin takes you through “The Emcee’s Properganda.”
MVRemix: What’s happening with you man?
Jin: Chillin man, staying busy with the music man, just enjoying life, enjoying this music. That’s about it! Working hard!
MVRemix: A lot of people are wondering what happened with you and Ruff Ryders. They built so much of a buzz around you, but then the ball basically got dropped.
Jin: Well, first, I think everybody should know that we are on good terms. I did not get dropped from the label, and that’s what matters. It just came to a point where as an artist and a man, I had to move forward. I got to make these career choices, as far as taking initiative, and putting this album out now. It keeps me out there, and helps me sustain and survive. At the end of the day, I do this to feed my family and myself. They kinda respected that, and that was the basis. As far as in the beginning, I signed with them in 2001, and it was good. They always had good intentions. Sometimes, it just isn’t meant to be. They gave me a great opportunity.
MVRemix: Do you think there was anything that could have been done to fix things, or for you to stay there?
Jin: It wasn’t an overnight decision or anything, because I was with them for four years. My album came out last year under Ruff Ryders and Virgin, which already was a bad union already amongst them two. So naturally, being that my project was coming out between the two, I was caught up in their conflict, but as far as anything being done, I kinda sat around and waited for them, but the reality is they are trying to keep their label afloat. So it’s not so much a Jin issue, it’s just that everybody is trying to sustain. So I had to make a move.
MVRemix: What was all the noise with you retiring?
Jin: Well, I think it all start when I made this song called “I Quit”. Basically, the title was self explanatory. I kinda just wrote a song where I was venting my feeling of “being in the industry”. I love hip-hop, and I love doing this for a living, but certain elements I wasn’t vibing on. So that record came out, and next thing you know, I guess it was effective because everybody said I was retiring. Then everybody wanted to do interviews, and in those interviews, I’m giving it to them exactly like I feel. Certain things are not what they are cracked up to be. But I never wanted it to be a publicity stunt. If anything, it showed me that the media loves that controversy. Ultimately, the objective was to start from the bottom.
MVRemix: It also shows how much people were following you. I got so many emails from site viewers and DJs and so forth, saying that you were retired.
Jin: Right, and that just shows you how music is effective when you use it properly. Doing that record also helped me realize that this is where I need to be. Independently, making this music, catering to the people that really support you.
MVRemix: As far as being independent, are you totally shot on the majors or against them now?
Jin: No, not at all! I think it’s just that before, like, I don’t expect any majors to knock on my door right now like, “Yo Jin, we heard your record and we heard you have this going on, or want to sign you.” My objective right now is to start from the ground and work my way back up. If any majors come knock on my door after this independent project, I’m not completely shutting them out, but the difference now is that I’m wiser this time, so I feel like if you’re not bringing this or that to the table, then what do I need you for?
MVRemix: In what ways do you think that your business is going to run a bit smoother?
Jin: As an independent, your resources are a lot smaller and it’s more low key, but you have more control, and you can make more decisions than when you’re part of a major system. For instance, I have this single “Top 5 Dead or Alive”; it was pretty much me and my manager choosing the single and the video. No red tape or nothing.
MVRemix: Are you doing more than one single?
Jin: The objective is really to promote it as a whole. One thing about these independent albums is there is not orthodoxed way of doing it. If I have the means to do it, I will. I put out vinyl for like five songs.
MVRemix: Where does the title of the album come from?
Jin: Well the thing about the “Emcee”, and Jin changing his name, I want to clear that up. People are too caught up in that whole thing. If you see me in the street and say what’s up Jin, I am not going to ignore you. I’m going to turn around and say, “What’s up?” The whole concept behind me saying the emcee, I just wanted to create another identity that will help people focus more on the music. That was me anyway, but this will help people to focus more in the music. I was an emcee on 106 and park, when you were watching that battle, and ultimately, the emcee is Jin. Forget the name, and focus on the music. If the music is garbage, then it don’t matter what I call myself. The “properganda,” it’s a reflection on my views of what the current state of hip-hop. You know, as far as on a music industry level, you know, a lot of it is propaganda. Not the way I spelled it, but propaganda…the actual word. A lot of ideas that are pushed on people that they don’t necessarily agree with! For example, you hear a song on the radio, and your first thought or natural instinct is “what is this, this ain’t that shit”. But little do you know, after 20 more times, that same person is like “this is my joint”. So that’s one aspect. It’s like radio is dictating what’s hot in this game and in this culture, when in reality, it should be the people making that decision. So properganda was something I created to show that this is the balance. Like, the proper version of propaganda.
MVRemix: So do you feel like you’re doing to fix the current state of hip-hop?
Jin: Well with this album, I wanted to take it back to the real organic state if hip-hop. Ill concept, ill beats, ill rhymes, a lot of flavor, and my music is something for people that appreciate the culture. Not to say that they are the only people that will appreciate it, but that’s who I‘m reaching out to with this album. Because for one, I am one of those individuals. I have the utmost respect for the culture. A lot of the people out here, they don’t really respect the culture. It’s one thing to make money off of it, which I think is incredible. I think it’s great. It’s great that hip-hop can generate billions of dollars, and feed so many families and create so many jobs, but I’m saying that you can not be part of that equation without the respect.
MVRemix: It originally was supposed to be something that you were doing because of the love, but man, you would be surprised how many people would stop doing this if they didn’t make too much money.
Jin: Oh, of course. There’s one line in one of the records called “Properganda,” I guess the title record, “Hip-Hop generates millions, those who get the biggest piece, care about the culture the least, what does that tell you, next time they try to sell you that bullshit, watch out for the properganda”, and I kinda mean that. Those who make the most money care the least. I’m talking about the big business, the one’s that don’t have a face. Not your Jay-Z’s and 50 Cents, I mean the guys that cut their checks. So we have to say, no, we’re not taking that.
MVRemix: So did you work with anyone on this album?
Jin: No, this album is very self contained. A majority of it, eleven out of twelve, are by one producer. A young producer from Brooklyn, named Golden Child. He’s like 16 years old. How we found him was through a beat cd. Somehow, his beat cd got into my manager’s hand, and I thought the joints were hot. When we contacted him, we were like, “Oh shit, this is a kid.” Then about a month or so later, we had an album complete. Then the one joint, “Properganda”, was produced by a dude named Demo from Boston. So that’s the whole album. As far as guests, I do have one joint with me and two of my mans, then it’s just young, up-and-coming emcees.
MVRemix: I can appreciate the fact that you went with Golden Child. A lot of people would have passed him up, simply because of his age.
Jin: Well you know, the one thing is that I really loved his beats, and he has so much potential. Some people said that it was rough around the edges, but that was what I wanted. I want the sound to be rough around the edges. I did not want it to be too overly-produced. His skills are growing, and I’m elevating, so we will ultimately grow together.
MVRemix: Where do you place yourself within the industry in the next few years? Do you ever see your self in the office and behind the scenes?
Jin: Yeah, I think I can see myself doing this music thing for another five years. No more than that. I’ll battle until the day I wake up and say I don’t want to do this no more. I don’t know, I can’t give you a date on that. There comes a time when you just have to make that decision. I think that one day, I’m just going to outgrow battling. I don’t want to be that thirty-year old still battling out there. With this generation, you just have to know when it’s your time.
MVRemix: So what else can we look forward to from you besides this album?
Jin: I’m just staying busy. MTV is starting a channel called MTVChi, and it’s kinda like a subsidiary of the regular MTV. It will be available to everyone that has cable I believe, and it aims toward the young Asian-American community in the United States. I’m really excited to be a part of that. They’re trying to create a platform for young Chinese Americans.
MVRemix: That’s good that you were chosen by them to be a part of it and basically spearhead the entire project.
Jin: Oh yeah, that was the concept. I’m also trying to do more acting, but I’m just looking for the correct projects. I want to take it seriously. I don’t want to just be like, “Yo, I’m Jin the rapper and I’m acting.”
MVRemix: Any final thoughts at all?
Jin: In a sense, I’m just getting started. I know a lot of people have followed my career, and I’m just honored and blessed to still be relevant, and my objective now is to make good music! And please, everyone check out my website, www.theemcee.com