Jae Millz Interview (by Timid)
Wanna Blow Entertainment’s first artist and one of New York’s premier battle emcee’s Jae Millz kicks the willy bo bo about his new deal with Warner Brothers, his relationships with the who’s who of the NY hip hop scene, and his idea of the future of hip hop. You might remember him from MTV’s Making the Band when city runner Diddy brought Jae Millz in to test the grit of one of the cheesecake messengers, Ness, in a freestyle battle that reportedly lasted for 45 minutes. From that TV appearance the world was introduced to a cat that’s been doing it on the street level for many years.
So how’re you doing? Everything good with you?
Jae Millz: Yeah man I’m just working, in the studio, traveling, you know what I’m saying, seeing the life a little bit.
Right, sounds good, sounds good. You been in this for a minute.
Jae Millz: Yeah I been in this for a while man, I just got the deal last year but I been doing this for a while, I got some years under my belt you know what I’m saying? I was signed to Motown a couple years back so I had a chance to really catch on to the business early so you can kinda say I cheated a little bit. [chuckles] I got that little early start like “OK this is how the game is? Alright alright.” Now I feel with my second time come around I’m a little more cautious of things that could happen, you know what I’m saying, you’re a little more grateful for signing them papers so you gotta get on your job a little more, I know how to hit these streets, I know how to make the DJs play the music, so I got my strategy down over these couple of years. Been here for a minute though.
Oh so you had a deal before with Motown?
Jae Millz: Yeah.
‘Cause most cats outside of New York first got a taste of you on Diddy’s “Making The Band” and on the show Diddy was like “You know Jae Millz is the hottest cat right now, you know he’s the champion right now”, and I know a lot of cats, myself included was like “Dang why don’t you give the man a deal then?” [Jae Millz chuckles in the background] You know what I’m saying, cause you blazed it up.
Jae Millz: Yeah but, you know what I’m saying, Diddy is like extended family. Tone and Naj, they run Wanna Blow Entertainment. Before I met Tone and Naj – I met them probably when I was around 15 – they had already moved up, you know what I’m saying, cause they were running around with Ma$e… so they were like family. Basically they knew each other for the longest, so when I came into the picture by that time they were already cool. So I remember meeting Tone when I was around 15 years old and I rhymed for him in the studio and all that, and he just let me rhyme… and he was showing me expressions like “Yeah you alright shorty”. He would always tell me over the years like “Yeah you getting better”. He’d always give me advice here and there on how to step it up and stay on top of your job… “I wanna see you with the mansion one day”, you know what I’m saying, he’d always give me that push.
So, when he was doing the making the band thing he called us – like I didn’t audition for that or nothing. He called Naj and he was like “I want you to bring Jae down to the studio and all that” and that’s how that kinda came. Wanna Blow is basically like a Bad Boy – like Wanna Blow is trying to start something from the ground and they trying to build up the same way Bad Boy started from the ground and they tried to build up, you what I’m saying? I don’t really think Puff would have just let anybody sign Biggie… Biggie was his artist and he wanted to grow on something and he wanted to build a family. So that’s basically what Wanna Blow is doing. Puff, he always tell us whenever we need him or whatever kinda help he needs or you what I’m saying, we can always depend on him and he know he can always depend on us, that’s why he’s extended family so. And, I really appreciate what he did for me too because he didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to call me down there you know what I’m saying and have me battle on MTV and all that. I really appreciate what he did for me, that was a good look.
Yeah that’s true. So you’re the lead off on Wanna Blow?
Jae Millz: Yeah, first up.
Are there other artists on there as well or is it just you at the moment?
Jae Millz: I mean it’s just me at the moment but I gotta group called the S.W.A.T. Team that consists of me too. I’m involved with that group. I mean we all from New York, we all spitters, we got a girl, you know what I’m saying we all got different elements but we all nice, we all creative. See, that’s the thing I’m trying to bring to the table – like, I’m creative so my peoples gotta be just as creative as me. That’s just it, I’m the first up just trying to get my team in the door, get the family in the door and then supply y”all with good music man.
Yeah, I’m feeling the joint you got ‘No, No, No’ – yo the beat on that is crazy.
Jae Millz: The video is on TV right now currently, you know what I’m saying, it’s a good look, it looks like it’s about to go down for Harlem real big. [Chuckles]
Who produced that joint?
Jae Millz: Graham Jones.
Graham Jones? Well give dude props because the beat is nice the way he mixes the reggae and the Hip Hop and it’s rugged.
Jae Millz: Yeah man, it’s a banger man. When it comes on it just sounds different from anything else that’s out. You know when it’s definitely ‘No, No, No’ from any other song that’s out right now and we just did the remix with Cam and T.I.
How’d that come out? It come out nice?
Jae Millz: Yeah it came out crazy man, you can catch that on the local mixtapes in the hood right now [chuckles] you know what I’m saying, that’s how I do it man. I do something, we hit the DJs man. Hit the DJs, hit the radio and let it blow up man, you know what I’m saying – that’s how you do it, that’s straight Hip Hop right there. I’m not sitting around waiting for nobody to give me an ad date or “We gonna take it to the station and meet this Program Director”… naw man, what I’mma do is, I’ma get it to DJ Enuff, I’ma get it to Kay Slay, I’ma get it to Flex, I’ma get it to Big Mike, I’ma get it to all these different DJ’s they gonna play it, everybody gone hear it. We bringing that real grind back to the game. A lot of people lost that grind, they don’t know how to get out there and just work, you know… it’s nothing to just sit back, drop a hot joint, do some shows, get a little show money, you know what I’m saying… buy some jewellery, get a little whip, make it look like you’re doing something big when you really not, you know what I’m saying?
My peoples is good – we living alright but we not doing the best. There’s a lot of money out there to be made and we know how to make it. We patient too – we had to sit around for years, nobody wanted to give us no deal. We had to sit around for years, but we got our chance now… we not trying to mess this up. We gotta strategize, we on our grind, everything we doing we doing for a reason, you what I’m saying, everything we doing right now is for a reason. We trying to build that relationship with people – I’m hitting the road, I’m hitting wild radio stations, doing a bunch of shows here and there in a lot of different states and cities. I’m just trying to build that relationship with different people in different codes – in the south, in the east, in the west, you know what I’m saying, so by the time your album do drop they want to hear it… even the rappers wanna hear it. And, I’m crazy humble so people gotta respect somebody like me. A person just gives you respect and all he asks for is respect in return, what can you say – you don’t have nothing bad to say about me, I don’t bad mouth nobody. I’m hot… I’m doing what I do… I’m here to do what I do, I’m not here to bad mouth nobody else and I respect what everybody else is doing, I want to see everybody win. Everybody can’t win but I wish they could. I wish everybody could win, I don’t want to see nobody lose man, you know what I’m saying, it’s hard enough work just to try to get in the game, I don’t what to see nobody get in the game and then lose.
Yeah, definitely, definitely. Its cool you working it to the street to get it out to the masses first. I think that’s kinda how it’s gotta go you know, it’s Hip Hop from a grass roots type of movement. Now You’ve known cats, you saying you met Ma$e back in the day and I read in the bio that Tupac’s wife was the one that got you with the cats at Wanna Blow, and obviously there’s the Diddy connection and the mixtapes, Kay Slay and Enuff… it seems you’ve had everybody around you – did it seem like it took too long for it to happen because you had all these connections?
Jae Millz: See I had all these connections but I never sat back and looked at the connections… there’s people that’s in the game that I used to listen to and they telling me I’m hot, like after that Making the Band battle Puff came up to me and said, “Yo you made me a believer.” I’m good with that. When I first met that man when I was 15 he told me “You’re good but you’re not great.” He kept it real with me, you know what I’m saying – “You’re good but you’re not great – you gotta do this…” and NOW he’s telling me I’m hot, you know what I’m saying? I’m good with that. Most of the people coming out right now I’m cool with all of them – Cassidy, Poster Boy, J-Hood, Juelz. All these people… most people would say that this is my competition but I’m cool with every single one of them. I’m not gonna say like we cool like we speak on the phone everyday and I hang out with them all the time, but I mean we cool to the extent where I got that respect for them. Like even if somebody say, “Yo that was some bullshit” – “Nah that was hot B, I liked it.” We all young – we the new generation B. I’m happy to see everybody that’s young that’s coming up right now – people like Cassidy. I remember when I battled Cassidy… now me and him got a video on BET – that’s crazy right there. I wanna see homeboy win, you know what I’m saying. Like Juelz from Harlem – I wanna see Juelz win, that’s how I’m looking at it. People went through the same thing I went through, they were on 106 and Park battling… I battled on Making the Band, Poster Boy was on 106 and Park battling… but really I don’t care nothing about battling, I wanna see all of us bounce. At the end of the day, 10 years from now, people gonna look back and be like “Yeah these dudes all came into the game at the same time and they still all cool with each other, they still got respect for each other.” That’s what type of generation I’m trying to lead. If I gotta be the leader of this generation, that’s how I’m trying to lead, if there’s going to be another leader, I just hope they lead it in that fashion.
Yeah see, I think that’s needed today because like not too long ago I sat back and re-watched the final episode of Yo! MTV Raps where you had everybody on there, you had Meth, KRS…
Jae Millz: You can’t do that right now, you could never do that right now.
Exactly, them cats were just there like together cypherin’, just showing each other love and that just won’t happen today right now.
Jae Millz: Kinda crazy man but, I’ma try to bring it back to the game, I hope they let me. [chuckles]
Yeah, well I mean if you keep the mutual respect for each artists and the love for everybody doing their thing, it’s gonna happen I think. I think cats want that to come back.
Jae Millz: Yeah please, I hope they do. They gotta cop that album “Back to The Future” man, first quarter 2004. I’m trying to just supply y’all with Hip Hop bring good music back, give you something to listen too, something you gotta pay attention to – not just a hot chorus and a good beat you know what I’m saying? I want you to get into my zone for a minute, I want you to see what I was seeing when I was in the booth ’cause it’s visible… when I speak, it’s visible. So that’s what I’m trying to bring back to the game. I don’t want people to think I’m some self conscious rapper or something like that – I got party joints on there. I’m a kid from Harlem. man. I’m young… I like to be fresh… I like to have money, you know what I’m saying? I’m a jokester – I got a good personality… I joke a lot,… cool sense of humor so that’s just me – I’m just like that person that everybody wanna be around and I’m not going to be no boring person. I say I’m a jokester – I don’t mean I’m a clown or I’m a wanksta or something like that. I mean I’m about having fun, you not gonna sit around me with your face all screwed up – you gonna have fun… you gonna show your teeth… you gonna laugh. We gonna ball out ’till we fall out, that’s what we gone do. So at the end of the day you get all that from my album, man. You get my feelings. You get my dark moments when I’m stressed. You get me when I’m happy. You get lyrics on there. You get me when I’m just coolin’… when I’m just laid back. You get me when I’m in the club… you get me when I’m partying. You get me when I’m thanking Hip Hop. You get me telling you to come visit my life – come walk with me for a day, you know what I’m saying? You’re just getting so much on this album and it’s crazy, and it’s just me, its no guest appearances, it’s just me.
So you’re on Warner Brothers now, how’d that whole deal come out?
Jae Millz: They just basically heard some music and they liked what they heard. They were the first label that heard me and was interested in me and I didn’t have to shove the music in their face like “Listen to this, this is hot.” They heard it and they told me “You’re talented. You’re hot.” Now I don’t sit up there and brag about my work – I just play the music and if you don’t like it, you can tell me you don’t like it… you can tell me your opinion on it because I respect everybody’s opinion. I had to grow to learn that you gotta respect everybody’s opinion if this is what you’re going to do. I wasn’t hearing no bad opinions, I was just hearing “That’s good, that’s good work right there and we want to work with you, so if you’re interested let’s go”. That’s how the deal came about.
Aight, that’s definitely good. So the album is “Back To The Future” and you said that’s the first quarter of 2004.
Jae Millz: Yeah.
Cool. We’ll definitely have to be checking for that. So now, what do you think about Jay retiring? It’s going to be an open spot now for [Jae chuckles] someone to change the whole game…
Jae Millz: Yea man, I mean, honestly… home boy done did everything man, you know what I’m saying? You gotta tip your hat to him – he did everything. The kid came from the gutter… he had to grind it out. People didn’t really cling on to him at first but he stuck with it, put out more albums, showed you his lyrics – he did everything. He flipped his flow, he did all types of songs… he sold records, he did tours, he got the sneakers, he got the club, the label, he got the vodka… like you could just keep going on but at the end of the day you gotta look back – he’s a rapper. At the end of the day homeboy is a rapper, he came in the game a rapper.He didn’t come into the game owning no label. He didn’t come in the game with an artist like “This is my artist and I’m gonna… ” Naw he didn’t come in the game like that – he came in the game as a rapper and look what he got now as a rapper. [Chuckles] Ain’t too many other rappers that have reached that level or can say they accomplished what he accomplished or have visible accomplishments. This man got a restaurant and a club, this man got a sneaker, the movie Backstage, Hard Knock Life Tour, all this is him you know what I’m saying and he’s a rapper… You gotta tip your hat to him man… and homeboy’s still spitting. I heard “The Black Album” and he’s still got it. He don’t have to retire – but I figure he wants to leave because he feels the same way I feel – like what else is there left to do? You see, he was in a different generation, he was in the B.I.G. and Pac and early Nas era, and he was trying to come up. So now to be in this era… 50’s up there right now, Eminem is selling records.
Then you gotta look back and you gotta say alright now are you judging this on people who selling records or on people who are nice? Because if that’s the case there are still a lot of nice people in the game – I think Jada hot… Beanie is hot… Cam is hot, Fat Joe… it’s a lot of people who can really rhyme but they ain’t selling no records – so you’re not going to put them up there like that. But Jay? He’s been doing it for years. Consistent albums AND he’s accomplished everything – so what else can he do? I think he feel like it ain’t no more love in the game… it ain’t nothing left for him to do. Half of the new artists he don’t know them… he don’t rock with them… he distances himself… so what fun is it? Fun ain’t there no more – it’s the same thing with Jordan. After a while, Jordan, he’s still the greatest – but it’s a bunch of young players… the game is different now… so after a while it comes a time when you just gotta take a step back. What rapper has ever stepped away the way he’s stepping away from the game with his accomplishments? He’s done did enough – his statistics say enough for him to retire. He did a lot for the game, he kept the game alive, he kept the game listenable for a minute, you know. When you felt like you couldn’t listen to nothing he always came back with something – the sarcastic manner, the cockiness… even if you didn’t like it, it’s still gonna grow on you. The game is open now. It’s just gonna be up to the new artists to step up. They gotta grind it out. People want to be overnight stars and be rich on their first album.
So, you got any advice or words for cats that grinding right now trying to even get that deal or trying to get the name out there?
Jae Millz: Be yourself. That’s it. That’s what I could tell you mostly. Just be yourself. This is so easy when you’re just being original. When you’re being authentic it comes easy. It’s hard to catch writer’s block when you’re writing what’s real, you know what I’m saying? You can’t block what’s real. When you’re trying to make something up you’re gonna get stuck – you’re trying to think of something, trying to be too imaginary. So all I can tell people is just be yourself – speak what you know. Put your emotions into your work… put your life into your work… bring all of that to life so somebody else can understand your story because sometimes they might want to hear that. If you don’t believe what you’re saying ain’t nobody else is gonna believe it. Don’t try to get too imaginary with it. Be yourself and be patient. Patience is definitely a big part of it.
Do you have any final words or anything you want to say before we wrap up here?
Jae Millz: I just appreciate all the DJs and everybody spinning the records and all the radio stations… everybody showing me love… everybody supporting me right now… everybody playing the video… everybody rocking with Jae Millz right now man. Good lookin’ out. I really appreciate that. I just wanna give a shout out to Harlem, Wanna Blow, all of my peoples man. That’s it man. I appreciate you giving me a chance to speak.
A big thanks to Greg Trani at Room Services Inc for coordinating the interview.