have you been lately?
doing all right man. I'm re-evaluating everything. Not only the music,
but life in general. I'm re-evaluating what are the things I want out
of it, what are the things that make me content, and the more basic stuff
like family and just waking up healthy every day.
happen to make you change your outlook?
I mean, if anything happened, it's just growing up, life. Sometimes, it's
not necessarily a specific incident that happens that makes you change
your outlook on things. It's hard to describe. It's just like, one morning
you wake up and see clearly and decide what you want to do with yourself.
it that you want to do with yourself?
Like I said,
there are different levels. If you're talking about just in general, I'm
very content. I ain't filthy rich, but I'm maintaining. My bills are paid
on time, my family's healthy, I'm healthy, and that's all I really ask
for. On a music level, I'm just aiming to put out something that I can
say "that's me, and I'm completely proud of that." Of course,
everybody has a different idea of what success is. The idea most heads
have is to be worldwide on the cover of every magazine. That's good to
have grand ambitions, but I'm a realist, and that's probably the latest
development I've had, is to be a realistic person. If I could come out
on my own at the grassroots level and do 35,000 copies, do you know how
good that is in comparison to if I had to turn around and get a real job?
No disrespect to people with real, hard-working nine-to-fives out there,
but to be able to do what you love and live off of that, that's a beautiful
thing. Money isn't the primary thing. It's really about having a real
clear idea about what you want to do with your music. I put out what I
put out regardless of the responses, and that's me. There are no types
of influence from any other outlet.
how I felt about "Senorita
talk about "Senorita" real quick, I look back on it, and it's
not like I regret doing the song. I had fun in the studio doing that.
But I look at it like this: if I hadn't been influenced in any way, would
that have been a song that I would have done on my own? It's all about
trial and error.
at "Learn Chinese," first you said you weren't a gimmick and
then there was that
don't ever regret doing anything that I do. It's sort of like, I did it
because I felt it was something I had to do. It wasn't the labels being
like "yo Jin you have to do 'Learn Chinese.'" I went in the
studio with Wyclef and that's what came out. I'm proud of that. I think
that looking back now, maybe it was the timing of when that record came
out that made people say "we already know he's Chinese, why's he
doing that record?" No matter what anybody says, I'll always be proud
of that record for two reasons: It is a Hip Hop record no matter how you
cut it, and it is a first of its kind in that particular genre. It was
played on national television and radio, and it's promoting the Asian
culture. Like I said though, everybody has different opinions on it. I
agree though, strategically, that it maybe wasn't the best record to come
out the gate with. But it's never a win-win situation. If I didn't do
a record like that, I'd also get slapped with "that guy doesn't know
who he is, he thinks he's something else." I just had to follow my
own heart and that's what ended up happening.
How much control did you have with your music when you were a Ruff
I had a lot
of control. They told me they wanted me to be myself. There was really
no conflict, ever, with them saying "you have to do a certain type
of record." I think I just had to learn about myself and find my
talk about the "Bridging the Gap" record and what your motivation
was for that record?
I'd rather focus on right now and moving forward, but I'll answer that
one though. Nas has always been an inspiration to me, and to me, it was
just like, "yo, let me get my pops in the studio just to have some
fun." If you actually listen to what I'm spitting, those lyrics aren't
watered-down or corny. Plus, that's really my pops singing on it. I know
my pops ain't no Olu Dara but he held is own! Haha.
the "I Quit" statement mean?
to be honest with you Brian, I saw that as a big metaphor. It was like,
I quit because I'm sick of certain elements of what was in my life, which
was the whole concept of "being in the rap game and being in the
industry." So many people want to be involved because they get the
wrong idea of what it is. The industry is like poison. It's like a catch-22.
The industry has been great in making Hip Hop a worldwide thing and it's
great that it's provided so many people with jobs but, there's also so
many aspects of the industry that have nothing to do with Hip Hop that
corrupt it, which I couldn't deal with. So what happened is that all of
that frustration came out on that "I Quit" track, which is me
saying "I'm sick of this." Since then, I've been finding my
passion for rhyming even more. That's also what led me to this whole "The
Emcee" thing. People are saying that Jin is losing his mind and he's
a schizophrenic, and that Jin is The Emcee and what is he talking about?
You're right, Jin is an MC. But what's going to happen is that as Jin
quits and falls back, The Emcee is going to come to the forefront. To
sum it all up, I got sick of all the politricks. Utilizing the independent
route I will truly show what my potential is and deliver that raw that
is expected of me from my fans.
because I think that's the only way I could have done it for myself to
start from the ground up again.
your state-of-mind like today?
aspect, it's positive. I'll tell you that much. From a music standpoint,
I've never felt more clear about what it is I want to say and do. I'll
give you an example with the album "The Rest is History." I'd
always be proud of it because that's my first album ever, but I know there
was no direction on that album. The best thing that came out of the recording
process of that album was learning about myself which allows me to mold
The Emcee exactly how I want him to be. The mistakes Jin made, The Emcee
have any regrets from the Ruff Ryder situation?
Brian, no regrets. I'm certain that everything happens for a reason. If
anything, it might have took what I went through to put me in the state-of-mind
that I'm in now. I've always been The Emcee since day one. When people
saw 106 and Park, that was The Emcee. These past four years kind of went
by in a blur. I was just happy to be here. I was performing all over the
world and then the whole movie thing. Just soaking up all the love and
exposure I was getting. So much was going on that I sort of lost track
of what I was really about, which was emceeing. I've done so much in my
short career and now it's
just about channeling all my energy into the music. Like those two joints
that I've sent you, it's going that way.
"100 Thousand Sold" joint you said "I took the stupid route
first." Do you feel like what you're doing now is what you should
have been doing all along?
At the end
of the day, you can't really regret anything because it all happens for
a reason. It took me going that route first for me to realize what it
is I need to do. I think even with the title of that joint, "100
Thousand Sold", it holds a lot of meaning. A lot of people have different
interpretations of what success is. Some people want to go diamond and
sell 10 million records but, what they fail to realize is that before
you reach that level you have to sell 100,000, 50,000 or even 10,000 first!
I want to do this and make a living off of it
Who doesn't want 3
mansions and six cars? But if I don't acquire those things and I'm just
able to buy one house for my mother, I'm good. That's why I be like "y'all
chase your 10 million records, if I come out and sell 100,000 out of my
trunk, I'm good."
106 and Park, did you ever picture all of this happening?
Yes and no.
Yes, I did see something happening. No, because I didn't see it happening
in this course of events I did see that I would make noise and that someone
would notice me for it.
you been doing recently?
in the studio pretty much non-stop. I want to shout out Golden Child,
I've been working a lot with him. He did the "I Quit" joint
and also the "Top 5" joint. You know I'm going to send everything
I do to HipHopGame first. I'm shooting a little independent video for
the "Top 5" joint. Heads should look out for that.
at that song, and rap in general, how important is it to respect and know
Hip Hop's history?
I think that's
the number one reason people say Hip Hop is dying. If you look at Fabolous
and Jadakiss, those are some of the MC's who I listen to, but you have
to know who they listened to. And if you ask a lot of the kids today,
they think Hip Hop started with Wu-Tang. You have to know the history,
because if you don't, it's just going to keep getting pushed to the back.
We living in a time where everyone wants a piece of Hip Hop. I mean, they're
selling cheeseburgers with Hip Hop. It's cool in the sense that it helps
promote the culture, but at the same time, you can't keep raping it without
acknowledging how it got to be where its at. I think that's the biggest
issue. It seems like there's less fans everyday
and that's another
thing that's missing. Everybody can rhyme, manage
which just fucks
my head up. Everybody's making music but nobody wants to buy it. I'm always
saying to kids "chase your dream." I mean that too, but I think
there has to be a realization between what you can do and what you can't
do. Any Joe Schmo can say "yeah, I rhyme, my man got a label."
That takes away from people who really have a passion for it. It seems
like all you have to do now to be an established rapper is to have a little
web page with a couple of mp3's on it.
looking for a label right now?
seems to be the latest trend which is dope. Heads is starting to realize
that you don't have to go to a major anymore. If you have a strong following
and your music is good enough, you can sign a deal with let's say HipHopGame
Distribution. As long as HipHopGame Distribution has the ability to get
it in the mom-and-pops and the Tower Records, you could come out the gate
and be good. People think they have to sign to a major, but you sign there
and you could get caught up in the system. You could get a good distribution
deal through a Koch. The machine might not be as powerful as a Def Jam,
but if you're willing to put in the groundwork and do some promo, doing
50,000 is not impossible. On that note, I definitely see myself going
that route. I'm not saying I'm going to Koch. Everybody's on Koch right
now. If you're willing to do the research, there's plenty of distributors
always been a grassroots MC, from selling CD's at Fat Beats
that's what I'm back to right now, the grassroots movement
day I was at S.O.B.'s and Sean Price was headlining there, shout out to
him and the whole Boot Camp matter of fact
I went through and it
was love. Shout out to the Plague/MCMI. I even performed. I wasn't on
the flyer and I didn't get paid, but you have to be in the zone to just
do shit like that for the love. That's the first time I performed the
"Top 5" joint actually.
been the response to The Emcee?
Even when "Jin" announced that he quit, I did it for myself.
I didn't think XXL would interview me on the strength of that. I didn't
think HipHopGame was going to put it up and have people respond the way
they did. Then you have your diehard fans out there who will always support
whether it "Jin or the Emcee as long as the music is hot." That's
who I'm doing it for, the people that want to hear the music. The main
reason I'm going with "The Emcee" is because that's what I want
to represent. Plain and simple.
title add pressure to you?
because I've been holding it down for four years already. At the same
time, no matter what anybody says, the fact that I'm still here and relevant
says a lot. At the end of the day, even if you have a gimmick, if you
don't have any talent, you won't survive in the rap industry, or entertainment
get tired of being known as "The Asian MC?"
definitely too much focus on that. That shit is wack to me, now that I
look back on it. If you're good enough, you don't have to claim to be
anything. I hear it so much these days. Artists claiming to be the one
to spark "the next Asian movement
" If you're going to
do it, do it. You're not really accomplishing nothing until everybody
says "yo, this is the shit." Let's say you do come out and you
have 6,000 Asian fans
That is not starting a movement. Look at "The
Rest is History." Its currently sold 100,000 copies and some change.
If 80,000 of them were Chinese people, what have I really accomplished
in the big picture? Nothing. The goal is to appeal to everyone. Don't
get me wrong. I'm all for uplifting my people, which is why I started
YOFAM! (Youth Organization For Asian Minorities) www.yofam.net In regards
to the "Asian movement" in Hip Hop, everyone should just focus
on making hot music and let it speak for itself.
The Emcee capable of accomplishing?
Oh man, the
sky's the limit. If I had to sum it up, The Emcee is a representation
of how Hip Hop is not dying. The Emcee represents the element of emceeing.
always been known for battling
The Emcee. All of that. 106 and Park, Fight Klub in Puerto Rico, Smack
DVD. Not to mention all the underground joints I did back in the days.
I want to say that the Mixshow Power Summit is coming up and Jin won't
be there, but The Emcee will. Jin won 50 grand last year. This year, The
Emcee plans on taking it. It's a whole new beast.
is battling to you now?
To me, battling
is everything. I love making records and I feel like I'm still growing.
The Emcee is still developing and learning about himself, he's just getting
started. As far as battling, that's always going to be there. I've never
The Emcee collaborate with Jin?
Oh nah, nah.
That's just too much.
DJ's that supported Jin now supporting The Emcee?
I think it's
going to be interesting. Right now, we're at the ground level of things.
What I want to do with him is start from the ground up. I just want to
let the music speak for itself. All the DJ's at the Power Summit will
see what The Emcee can do. Once they get an understanding of things, who
ever believes and sees the vision will support it.
you want fans to know about you today?
If you listen
to the"100 Thousand Sold" joint, that's all from my heart. The
last two lines where I'm like "bottom line, my music ain't for the
simple mind / so if you're an idiot, keep your $12.99" sums it up
pretty much. I don't expect that everybody will want to rock with The
Emcee. What I'm trying to do for Hip Hop and what I'm bringing to the
table, it is another way of thinking. Even just this whole transformation,
I don't think a lot of people really understand what I'm trying to do.
People are saying "Jin's retiring and coming back as The Emcee?!
That's some publicity stunt shit.", which is not the case at all.
Realistically, what I was saying is that "Jin is done, he's sick
of it, he quits. Now witness the birth of The Emcee."
we expect from you in the next couple of months?
up the album. Heads should definitely check for that. I'll be leaking
some more joints just so folks can get a feel for what The Emcee is bringing
to the table. www.TheEmcee.com will be launching soon. Like I said before,
my music is not for idiots. It's time people start understanding and respecting
the foundation. Look at Kool Herc, without him you could forget about
the billions of dollars people are making with Hip Hop. If not for him
out there rocking records in the park, none of this would exist. The message
The Emcee wants to convey is that you always have to remember and pay
homage to that, whether you're 40 years old or 4 years old. If you're
talking about you're a Hip Hop artist and you do this, you have to acknowledge.
At the end of the day, I'm just another Hip Hop Head.
you want to say to everyone?
To all my
true fans out there that's been holding me down, thank you. I'm getting
a lot of people e-mailing me saying "I'm gonna be honest, that 'Learn
Chinese' shit was corny, but I'm feeling these new joints." I appreciate
the honesty. The one thing I always did was respect everyone's opinion.
Even you. You said you thought "Senorita" was corny. I can respect
that. All I can do now is move forward and really concentrate on what
I'm doing with my music. I don't think there's any one artist that hasn't
put out a joint that someone didn't like, but that doesn't take away from
the classics they might've done. That's the beauty of music. What's ill
to you is ill to you. I respect everybody's opinion and all I ask is that
you give The Emcee a fair listen and then make judgement. A big shout
out to the Rock Steady Crew. They're having their 28th Anniversary celebration
and The Emcee will be there. Big ups to Kamel and the whole CraftyPlugz
camp. HipHopGame got shit on smash. What's good 730!?