J.U.I.C.E. conducted by Hugo Lunny  

J.U.I.C.E. Interview

October 2004

There are few people that remain prevalent upon people's memories for freestyling. When you think of talented freestylers and amazing battles, but two emcees prevail above others. One of those is J.U.I.C.E. The Chicago born emcee has maintained a reputation throughout the years without having released a full-fledged solo release. Now, with his own label under his control (The Conglomerate), J.U.I.C.E. is gearing up to springboard himself and his artists deep into Hip Hop notoriety.

These are the transcripts of an interview conducted with J.U.I.C.E. by Hugo Lunny on October 28th, 2004.

MVRemix: How did you get the moniker J.U.I.C.E. come about?

J.U.I.C.E.: Well I was rapping in L.A. I was born in Chicago but I grew up in L.A. There was some cats from New York and they had heard me rhyme. My real name is Terry so at the time my rapping name was Fresh T. I thought I was so hot. I was like "Yo, my name is Fresh T." And they was like "Yo, you got big respect man. The way you rhyme, you gon' have all the juice. You gon' have all the respect. Your name should be "Juice" man, 'cause that's how you rhyme. You rhyme like you want respect." These two New York cats, they were younger than me too. They were like Shorty's. I was just hanging out with them, I was about three years older than them and they basically gave me the name. It stuck ever since then.

MVRemix: From being taken back and forth in L.A., Chicago and such... what made you decide that you wanted to pursue rap as a career?

J.U.I.C.E.: Well, I didn't know that I was doing it. I just did it because I liked to do it. I didn't really try to put out records, I didn't try to do any of that stuff. I just wanted to rap. The only way I knew at that time how to rap was just to get in contests to show that I was better than people. That was it. Everything was predicated on me just doing that. Then the records just started 'cause people were like "You should spit those battle raps you're doing over vinyl." That's how it started. It was inadvertent. I don't think it was on purpose.

MVRemix: Who influenced or inspired you to begin battling?

J.U.I.C.E.: There were two people. There was LL, who in my opinion is the greatest on a major label scale and there was Big Daddy Kane. Who, although I'd never heard of him being in any battles, it seemed to me that if somebody was standing in front of them, he could eat 'em up. They were the original inspirations. Then LL obviously was a songwriter, and so I took that side of it too. This dude kicks those kinds of raps, but he also kicks stories, so I would say those two are the main.

MVRemix: Who would you say is the best person that you have battled?

J.U.I.C.E.: It's funny; the best person that I've ever battled is an unknown guy. He was from L.A. and his name was David Drummond. He used to be cool with Nu-Mark (J5's DJ), so he was his protg and their crew used to battle our crew all the time. They had a crew called Bumrush and we had a crew called C.S.S. (Constantly Serving Suckers). We would always battle and he was the best dude ever. He used to stalk me, just threaten me everywhere I went. He was like a bully he was so good. Every time I would be anywhere, like my high school graduation - he was there. Prom night - he was there and I said "If I could beat David Drummond then I could beat almost anyone," because he was great. He was the best person that I've ever battled. He was perfect with metaphors, perfect with his style and he set me up for the future days of battling. I just didn't know it yet.

MVRemix: Do you know if he still records any material? Or...

J.U.I.C.E.: The last I heard was that he was doing Gospel rap. He was doing religious rap. He went through a bunch of problems personally and I guess he got into that. I haven't heard anything from him since but I know that if some of the supposed great emcees of today were battling him, it would've been a difficult situation. He was good with it and he was such a ridiculous freestyler, you just couldn't beat him. I only beat him twice. The second and last time I battled him, so I don't ever want to see him again. I hope he's not rappin' like that.

MVRemix: What about C.S.S.? Can you tell me about who was in the group and what happened to it?

J.U.I.C.E.: C.S.S. was a group I started. We were a battle crew; a bunch of cats that were from the Valley. It was me, this cat DJ Domino - who ended up battling Nu-Mark at one of our battles and Nu-Mark ate him up. This is obviously before the Jurassic 5 days. There was another emcee named MC Trance, another MC named Mar-di and we were C.S.S. We had DJ Breakdown and DJ Domino as our DJ's and we would throw house parties in the Valley. We would throw house parties where everybody would show up like Tha Alkaholiks, Xzibit... everybody who would come to our parties - we would always end up battling whoever. At the time there was another this DJ who was cool with the Bolo Unit who ended up being Tha Alkaholiks. We were about to merge with that group, we were about to merge with this dude named Suavie D. He died in a drunk driving accident and that's some of the reason for the name Tha Alkaholiks, 'cause he was definitely on that tip. He had gotten a little production deal and he was gonna fuse his guys which was him, Tash, J-Ro and another producer with C.S.S. and we were all gonna become a crew. But when he passed away, it didn't happen.

So C.S.S. basically ended up throwing parties, we ended up changing our names a couple times and then we started adding members. Then we became more of a gang than a crew. So now, the cats that originally started C.S.S. are on some other shit. It's a different level... It's more street now; it's not really about rap. The crew is still in existence, it has another name but it ain't about rap. It's about the streets. That was the demise of C.S.S. Once we didn't merge, I moved to Chicago and I really couldn't further it out here.

MVRemix: Do you still maintain much contact with the likes of Chali 2na, Tha Alkaholiks, Nu-Mark and such?

J.U.I.C.E.: I mean I see those cats on occassion. I'm doing a DVD pretty soon about freestyling and Chali 2na gave me some good words. I'm definitely tryin' to get some good words from Tha Alkaholiks. My producer is messin' with those cats. I guess he's gonna do some tracks for Tha Alkaholiks & Tash's new album. Yeah, I speak to them. They're in Vegas, they're doing good. But other than that I think we all do a different type of stuff. I mean my album is about to come out and it's really not like the old school stuff I used to do.

MVRemix: What can you tell me about your album?

J.U.I.C.E.: It is a cross between Kanye's "College Dropout" and 50 Cent's album, because it's not so street to where I have bullet holes on the cover and all in my face but it's definitely not to the point where I like to have a teddy bear on the cover. It's somewhere inbetween those two. It's gonna be a good project. It's almost done and we're looking at May 31st of next year for the release date.

MVRemix: Nice. And that's coming out through your own label?

J.U.I.C.E.: Yeah, the label is called The Conglomerate. It's my label. I have me, we have another cat who's an owner of the label and produces - his name is DJ Emaculate. He's ridiculous. He's the label's lead producer and we've got production from some of the local cats out here like Spike & Jamal. We're gonna work with a few cats - Boogz and SC, just local cats. We're not really tryin' to go outside of our crew for production unless it's a ridiculous track and we can afford it. I think it's gonna be alright. I'm gonna do a mixtape first and then I'm gonna do the album after that.

MVRemix: How did the Nu-Gruv deal come about? And as a result of that, have you been able to obtain any of the monies that were owed to you?

J.U.I.C.E.: The Nu-Gruv deal came about through a guy named Lucas Zimmer. Lucas worked at Nu-Gruv and he was instrumental in getting a lot of talent into Nu-Gruv. He brought a lot of groups into them and he brought me. They wanted to do "Sincerely," the single that I did. And then they wanted to do a mixtape which was "100% Juice." We did it, signed a contract. I'd heard we were doing quite well, because every retail outlet we were at in different cities and stuff, I would see it. But I never saw any money from it 'cause Nu-Gruv folded. We tried to pursue it because Nu-Gruv was part of TRC, even though it didn't look like it, they were in the same building and shared offices. So we tried to pursue it with TRC, but TRC really wasn't giving out any information. Then we tried to find out from Caroline [Distribution] what they'd moved and they wouldn't tell it. They were like, "We can't disclose that, you'll have to ask your label." But the label isn't in existence. So I wrote it off as a promotional tool and that was the reason that I started my own label. I was like "If I want to make music, I might as well make some of the money off it." I haven't really made any money off my music today.

MVRemix: With your label, are you seeking any major distribution or are you keeping it independent?

J.U.I.C.E.: It depends. The business plan is being written up for the label to have private funding. We've been lucky enough to get some private guys who are fairly heavy and kind of know my history and believe that we can make a dent in a major label market especially. Because they see what Eminem did and even if I do a tenth of what Eminem did then I'll be successful. So, that's the plan - to move the records independently. Obviously major distribution is always an option. If we get the kind of deal that like a No Limit had where we're getting 8% in ownership and we get to use their marketing department and that's recoupable then major label distribution would be first on our list. But if they're not listening then we're gonna have to go through alternative distribution channels to do it. I think based on the album that we have, we can do it. I'm confident.

MVRemix: You briefly touched on Eminem. What are your thoughts these days on "Just Lose It" and the controversy surrounding that?

J.U.I.C.E.: I think that Eminem is someone who is gonna do what he wants to do regardless of what you think about it. I think that the timing of the song might be bad for Michael Jackson, but it's a hilarious song and it's even more hilarious visually. So, is it Eminem's fault that Michael Jackson's in trouble? Nah. Is it bad for Mike? For sure. Do I stand behind Eminem? Of course. Do I think he's a racist? No. I think that the way you know that he's not is that there are dozens and dozens of minority's who are millionaires from Eminem and if he didn't want it that way; it didn't have to be that way. I don't think that him not liking any particular group of people is necessarily a true statement. I think we all say stuff in the privacy of our own homes that we don't expect to be taken. I think in his instance, it happened to be taped when he was kind of young and it's coming back to bite him. Do I think it's gonna have some effect on his celebrity? It could. I doubt it. I think that the powers that be support him. I consider him a friend of mine... I'm as cool with him as I could be with somebody who has a hundred million dollars. I mean we can't really kick it in the same places; I'm not as rich as that. But I'm sure if I was in the industry with a successful album, I'd probably be hangin' 'round him a lot. As a fellow artist and a future rap star; I got his back. I know a lot of people who feel that way.

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