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J.J. Brown - conducted by Hugo Lunny  

J.J. Brown

June 2000

These are the transcripts of an interview with J.J. Brown. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on June 28th, 2000. J.J. Brown is a very talented producer from New York, best known for his work with Louis Logic. There have been some rumours floating around about what went on between them and this is J.J.'s side of the events that happened and reasons behind them. To read what Louis Logic had to say, click here.

MVRemix: So, basically what's your side of the story ?

J.J. Brown: My stand is this; basically, Louis and I go way back, I enjoy working with him, I think he's talented. This is nothing personal, it's all business and the last couple of months I've been offered a few major label projects and I started my own publishing company. And I put 5G productions out as a business, 5G productions and 5G publishing should go on everything I'm a part of.... Nobody even told me that a CD with my production on it was coming out. Let alone what I wanted the credits to say or anything like that, and if Louis and I are supposed to be friends as well as business partners, you would think that something like that would happen.

Plus, the way that I had to buy the 'Loud Mouth'/'Secret Agent' single which I produced. I had to go to Fat Beats and buy it myself. Tell me who's not trying to slide someone else. And as far as Celph Titled goes, he's cool from what I know of him, but he's taking credit for the 'Secret Agent' song which all he did is make a beat. I recorded Louis doing the vocals at my studio, added all the delay, all the reverb, all the effects at my studio. I'm the DJ in the song and I mastered the song. I have nothing against him but it's like there are some people not getting credit where credit is due. And all of a sudden I turn onto the internet and there's a CD for sale with all my work on it and I don't even know if my name is on it, let alone my publishing. I go to Fat Beats and the single came out, and I have to buy it with my own damn money? Nobody even told me anything about it. You know, I'm a little pissed off.

MVRemix: So do you think you could resolve this or not?

J.J. Brown: Well my stand is exactly how Louis said in your online magazine - sure, this can all be resolved real quick. I have nothing against him personally, it's not like he called my Mom a ho, right? I mean it's nothing stupid like that. It's straight business. If we could reconcile with the business portion of our relationship that would be fine and everything would go back to normal. He spoke the truth in that interview, like we've helped each other through some very hard and depressing times, in our friendship, we're like brothers in a lot of ways. But, I never throught that someone who was my friend would try to play me like this.

He tried to claim that he didn't try to play me, that this guy Shanti is messing it all up. But really, the things that Shanti said, he's just getting a bad rap. He just kind of put the icing on the cake for me.

When I turn onto the Internet myself, or when I go to Fat Beats myself, and see that yeah, my credits are on there and everything but nobody even told me that it had dropped and nobody even sent me a test press. It just feels kinda weird.

Also, what is surprising about the CD is we were working towards a full-length album. Like I have tracks at my studio right now that aren't 100% finished but they were supposed to have been part of when he decided to release a full-length album.

I understand that he said this was supposed to be a collection of songs, which he decided to drop to pay his rent. But, I mean, there's a whole lot of people in this industry trying to pay their rent too. He wants to slide everyone else to put a couple more bucks in his pocket - that's real selfish. That's bad business. He claims that.... Let me just tell you how Superegular works...

Louis is signed, but he's not signed. There has never been any piece of paper signed, there has never been any business transactions with who gets royalties, who gets publishing, who gets this, who gets that, nothing. It's just a bunch of homeboys getting together, putting out records and claiming they're a record label, because they started where you can log on and read all about it. But, there is no business. What he needs to understand is, sure I want my publishing on there, I want my business name on there and I want my credits to be professionally written out, but the truth is, that's not just for me. He doesn't know that he's losing money too, I'm not trying to act like a big wig because I want publishing on there, I'm looking out for the interests of all of us.

If he would just start up his own publishing company or publish his music through my publishing, he'd get money every time the record was bought. I'm not telling you I'm in Hip Hop to strictly make cash, I love this more than life itself, it's what keeps my alive. It's just there are ways that he can make money through Hip Hop without having to screw everyone else over. All he needs to do is copyright his stuff, publish it, and set up a business where he could get the record scanned - it gets real technical. Basically what's happening to him and what happens to people associated with him, like me, is that the distributors put it out and grab all this money. There's nothing ever written about it - nothing on paper. So they take what they want. Then they throw Superegular what they want, then the people at Superegular throw Louis what little they think he earned and then Louis decides to throw me $100 which is all I've ever seen from the 'General Principle' 12" Like I said, I'm not doing this for money, but I spend all my time trying to make my artists sound like superstars, but then when I'm not getting reimbursed... I'm broke. I'm not getting credit where credit is due, I mean, it's pretty sick.

Yeah, that does seem odd, I mean the 'General Principle' 12" was pretty popular and $100 does seem low

J.J. Brown: It still is popular, I mean you can go on any website and check the reviews which are all great, it sold this many thousands of copies and hits and it's in Gavin. And I've seen $100...And I'll be honest with you, this isn't patting myself on the back or anything like that. But, rappers are just that. They rap. They write some lyrics and they spit it over the beat. Without the producer, the rapper can rap all they want, nobody's buying that shit. I spend, at the very least, about 12 or 13 hours per song, that's after the lyrics have been recorded. The mastering of it, adding the scratches, making all the volumes right, compressing the vocals and making everybody sound like superstars. And then they wanna run around and take all the credit and act like they own it all. Louis should realize that there's more than goes into a record then just him and he shouldn't try to slide other people because if he loses those people, he's no longer Louis Logic. Who knows what the next producer will do to one of his tracks?

People receive his records or albums a certain way, because we've developed a sound together and I don't think he realizes that. He's not giving it much thought that I'm taking it so personally because he thinks he's gonna run to the next guy and he's gonna make him sound like Louis Logic all over again, and that's not so man.

I don't know if you've ever heard his first single, the one he did with the Tommy Knockers where I was just the DJ, I wasn't the producer, but that was booty. It played his part, it got his name out, but nobody's still spinning that bullshit. That sounds like hell, the people didn't know the first thing about making Hip Hop. They knew how to press a few buttons on a mixing board or whatever. It's not just the rapper, it's the whole package. To do anything to mess that up, to break up something that's doing so well for him, he's gotta be nuts. Why didn't he just tell me about the CD. We could have written out the credits, could have got the publishing on there, he could've made some money, I could've made some money. He's so quick, he's not a business man, he's a rapper. And he's got nobody over there that is a business man representing him.

Vinnie, the head of Superegular, is just a punk. He's just like a street punk, he can rhyme, I'll give him that. And he started a group, the group got too big for their own good so they decided to "sign" other groups and make it Superegular Recordings. It's nothing. There's not even a way that my lawyer can track them down besides sending a mean letter to their home address because Superegular doesn't really exist in any way apart from the name. There's no way to link them to business, there's no publishing, no copyrighting. All they have going for them is they're distributed through Landspeed. Which is a good thing, they're a good distributor.

I go home at night and I have "This is Charmaine from Universal Records" on my answering machine and then I turn on the Internet and see work that I've slaved over being sold for $13 and I'm not seeing a penny for it? I'm living a double life here and I gotta kinda cut my lose ends a little bit unless something's gonna change.

Vinnie called me up and he's like "You think you're DJ Premier now?" or something like that and no, it's not that I've gotten big headed all of a sudden because I've been working on a few major label deals. It's just now my name is out, I'm starting to make some money that I do deserve from these major labels. It's time for me to make sure I'm represented correctly. It's fine when you're first starting out to be like; "Oh, I'll do it as a favour..." That's how me and Louis worked a lot in the beginning when I was his DJ for his first project, he was my boy, I knew how to scratch records, I did my thing and so that was that. It blew up on the underground, so whatever. I didn't ask for anything from that.

But those days are over now, I'm trying to really do this. I'm not Premier yet, but I feel like I'm at the very beginning of being the next Premier and I want to do everything in my power to be represented as such. You know, I wanna be a professional. Not one of these cats that's like somebody's name that gets dropped a lot but nobody knows exactly who they are, nobody knows how to get in touch with them.

I'm running a business here. And Louis, and a lot of other cats that I've worked with on the Underground don't wanna move with me, they wanna stay where they're at instead of moving forward because they think I'm like selling out or something. It's not that, it's not that at all. I'm still making the same bomb ass Hip Hop, it's just that I want to be represented and connected the proper way.

Louis mentioned that Vinnie wanted to do something physically to me and he's called me and threatened me like that to, but it's like, this is not some street shit, this the music industry shit. I'm not talking about "Oh, I just bought a gun now because I'm all pissed off about the Louis Logic CD," it's not like that. I'm 22 going on 23 and I've been in this game for ten years. It's time for me to start acting like who I've turned into. It's time for me to start being a professional, and if nobody likes that and they wanna you know, try to cross me like that then fine, but they're cut off because I can't deal with that bullshit anymore.

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