(this interview originally appeared in issue #38 of Modern Fix Magazine in 2003).
– interview by pr!
Ever since I heard the “Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes” LP, I knew we’d be running something on J-Zone’s ass. He’s funny as hell and really doesn’t give a fuck, something often said but never really taken seriously. His new album, “Sick of Bein’ Rich” has dropped late last year and it’s pretty fucking tight. So who is behind it all?
Who is J-Zone?
Halle Berry’s baby daddy.
(laughs) So long you been in the game?
I been into music, playing instruments and listening to records, since I was 6, but I started making moves in the rap thing in 1992. That was when I had my first internship at power play studios in Queens. I was 15 at the time. I didn’t learn much there, but I got to see Large Professor and Akinyele work on Akinyele’s “Vagina Diner” LP. That made me wanna do the rap thing seriously. I got some equipment, and then two years later I had an internship at Vance Wright’s studio. Vance was Slick Rick’s DJ back in the day. I learned how to engineer, tightened up my beat making game and produced my first record while I was there. After that I went to SUNY Purchase College, majored in music and my senior project was my first album, “Music for Tu Madre,” back in 1999.
Didn’t you produce a track that Weathermen used on the mix tape that came out last year?
I heard about that. I think it was a beat I did for Tame One.
How often do you give permission for your tracks?
I was never asked for permission, but it came out through Eastern Conference records and they’re the ones who bought the beat off me originally anyway, so yeah.
Thoughts about the current ‘Billboard hiphop’?
I’m a mid-school dude, like 1988-1993. That’s the era I like best. I don’t like current stuff much at all, but I don’t mope about it either. I actually like shit like Cash Money Millionaires, I pump that in my car all day! Big Tymer$ are hilarious. I wanna do a song with ’em. I just focus on me and that keeps me from getting into all that reminiscing, ‘cause it will depress you if you think about it too much.
Most of your words are about normal life and not living as a street gangsta… holding those thoughts back or were they never there?
I’m not a gangsta or a thug, I’m not a lyrical hypo-space rap battle your mama lyricist, I ain’t no conscious or political rapper…I’m just J-Zone. I just like to rap about everyday life and put a humorous twist on it. I like funny concepts and storytelling. Just being an immature bastard on record. I don’t take shit too serious, I just have fun with it and talk some trash. It’s not too enlightening, but fuck it, I just do what I wanna hear.
Speaking of trash, what’s your take on The Source’s view of Eminem as trying to ruin hip-hop?
The Source? Man, I’d rather read Good Housekeeping. They should talk. If Eminem is ruining hip-hop, then what is running articles on the same artists every month?
If music made you rich, would you get sick of bein rich?
Never! Don’t pay no attention to what I say, I talk a lotta trash.
Is that really your grandma on the album covers?
Yeah that’s her. Her nickname is Evil E. we live together. She drives me nuts, but I love her to death.
What was the last song you heard that made you shudder?
I got a demo in the mail. Damn, it was awful. I won’t say the artists’ name, but shit…I’m thinkin about putting it out on my label as a joke cause it’s that bad!
Anything coming out soon that you’ve got your fingers in?
I got my fingers in this box of cereal [and] I have a short album dropping in October.
- Music for Tu Madre (1998)
- Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes (2001)
- $ick of Bein’ Rich (2003)
- A Job Ain’t Nuthin but Work (2004)
- Gimme Dat Beat Fool: The J-Zone Remix Project (2005)
- Every Hog Has Its Day (2006) (with Celph Titled, as The Boss Hog Barbarians)
- Experienced! (2006)
- To Love a Hooker: The Motion Picture Soundtrack (2007)
- The Analog Catalog: 2001-2007 (2007)
- Live at the Liqua Sto (2008)
- Peter Pan Syndrome (2013)
- Lunch Breaks (2014)
- Backyard Breaks (2015)
- Fish N’ Grits (2016)
- J-Zone and Pablo Martin Are The Du-Rites (2016) (with Pablo Martin, as The Du-Rites)
- Greasy Listening (2017) (with Pablo Martin, as The Du-Rites)
- Guerrilla Drums (2018)
- Gamma Ray Jones (2018) (with Pablo Martin, as The Du-Rites)
- Soundcheck at 6 (2019) (with Pablo Martin, as The Du-Rites)
- Break Bonanza (2019)
- A Funky Bad Time (2020) (with Pablo Martin, as The Du-Rites)