The millennium hip-hop world is all about the pride, the culture, and the experience of the South. As the time ushered in a new age, so did it also ordain southern hip-hop, particularly that of Atlanta, as one of its most fertile breeding grounds for producing crops of prolific rappers. These artists flip a mellifluous vernacular and drawl when articulating some of the most colorful stories about growing up in southern ghettos – be they city or rural. No matter how edgy or boastful some of these tales might be, most of the time they are necessary for redefining and broadening the musical landscape. Adding his chameleon-like style to the Peach State’s field of offerings is Atlanta, Georgia-born Yung Joc. After grinding in the streets and doing what he had to do to maintain his rap credibility, the College Park/SWATS-bred MC is getting his chance to shine through the tutelage of Block Entertainment/Bad Boy South. Poised as Atlanta’s next big hip-hop star, Yung Joc is set to break topsoil and emerge fully-grown into hip-hop culture’s mainstream.
We interview Yung Joc.
Life has to be good?
Everything is good, man.
What is life like now?
It’s full of situations like now doing interviews, media; a lot of labor goes into this for people who don’t know.
Did you expect all of this work?
See, because I played behind the scenes so much I already knew what to expect. So I started getting myself ready. I was creating work for myself to do. People were telling me to take a rest and saying “damn, you already acting like you going on MTV or something.” In my mind I was because I knew it was what I’d have to do in the near future.
You have that positive view.
It’s subliminal. You can think anything into existence that is why you have to be careful what you say and do. If you say you aren’t going to do good then you ain’t going to do shit.
But at the same time you have to be good. When did you realize you had the skill?
Shit, when I was like ten or twelve.
Where you writing?
I was writing. I was trying to freestyle. That is when cats were break-dancing and it was crazy. You had to do whatever you could do to get into that movement. We were wearing Chuck Taylor’s and wearing jogging suits so any time a movement had to do with hip-hop I was trying to find it out. I loved it. I realized I could do that shit.
What were you listening to?
Dana Dane, Run-DMC. Run-DMC was my first album I ever bought, “Tougher Than Leather.” I also had Ice-T’s “The Iceberg.” I was into LL, Moe D. Biz Markie. And coming from the south bass music was big. I just remember that so vividly. Once I got older it was like Outkast, Goodie Mob, ‘Pac, Biggie, Jay-Z. It was about my love. I’ve been working my ass off. [We both laugh]
I was on iTunes trying to figure out what I used to have on cassette and need and one was Slick Rick.
“The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.”
And old Doug E. Fresh.
You know the two tapes I popped? Run-DMC “Tougher Than Leather” and Outkast “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.” I listened to them so much I popped those damn things.
I remember joining Columbia House and getting some of them on record. I think it was because I thought I could spin and scratch on them.
Was there anyone that when you heard their voice you wanted to sound like them?
When did you find your voice?
What happens is that you have to phrase something you’d phrase. Jay-Z wouldn’t say “if I shoot you it’ll be a lot of gun shots.” He’d say “when I’m clapping it’s like a standing ovation.” Andre wouldn’t say “that girl got a big booty on her.” He’d be like “that southern brown stallion got a nice looking carriage on it.” You have to think how people would phrase. Even when you think of Diddy, he ain’t going to come half-ass. That means when I step out on stage my energy has to be up.
Are you like an athlete that always wants to up the ante and be better than the next guy?
There is an edge to it. You are always trying to polish that edge and eventually it isn’t slicing the way it used to and you have to move on. The audience is the one who sharpens my blade. If I’m not keeping it up they’ll move onto the next shit.
Was there a lot of pressure once you signed to Bad Boy?
Some people don’t do well under pressure while others do better. I’m one of those people. In the eleventh or twelfth hour I’m going to do better. It varies from situation to situation. Same shit, different toilet.
Yeah, some people crack though.
Music is an expression of emotion. It’s the universal language. It I’m expressing myself I can’t look at a woman in her eye and tell her I love, but there are going to be those times that I look her in the eye and tell her and the hair on her neck is going to stand up. It’s the same as on a hit record. I work enough that I’m going to end up with a couple of hits.
Do you know when you have one?
Yep. Because you feel good.
Do you know certain songs that are going to get cut or those you agonize over?
I love using analogies. Think about past relationships. She was cool, she had a nice body, but the head wasn’t there and there are those that were the keeper. The one that you dig and really dug. I think the songs are going to grab you and they are going to be there the whole way.
Is songwriting a gift?
I was blessed with that gift, but if I don’t hone that skill it’ll go away.
What is interesting to me is to hear a beat and wondering how the hell someone came up with the rhyme for the beat.
It’s emotion. When you are watching a movie you see a woman sitting with her daughter and looking in her eyes and you see butterflies flying in the background and then you suddenly hear scary movie music and it changes the whole thing. But if something sounds different it changes the movie. Music is the back drop of what you talk about.
You dreamed about being a hip-hop artist—what is the dream now?
The dream now is to see if the dream really is the dream.
To see if it was what you expected?
Yeah, because I remember wondering what it would be like to work with Diddy and now I see I wonder is it what I dreamed it would be like. And it is. You dream what it is going to feel like when you rock ten or twenty-thousand people and I’ve done that.
Was it better than you thought?
Everyday I wake up I’m fulfilling my dream. Every day my manager calls I’m fulfilling my dream. I know if my manager doesn’t call I’m not making money so when he does call I know I’m making money. [We both laugh]
+ Charlie Craine