The Business of Hip Hop has grown so much over the years that few predicted its growth and the riches it has bestowed upon many people. When rap was considered a fad and major labels weren’t as anxious to participate, it made for strange bedfellows when labels did decide to dip their toes into the Hip Hop waters. When EMI Records was ready to try its hand in the just beginning stages of commercial Hip Hop, it chose to sign a young artist from Brooklyn who essentially introduced the world to, perhaps, one of the greatest entities Hip Hop has seen.
Jaz-O took the time from touring to respond to some questions and to let us know that he is still The Originator.
How important is it for people to know your longevity in the game, since you were EMI Record’s first Rap signing in 1989, with your major label debut, ‘Word to The Jaz?’
I THINK IT’S VITAL FOR THE WORLD TO KNOW THAT WE ARE NOT WITHOUT MIRACLES IN OUR PRESENT DAY. NO EGOMANIACISM INVOLVED, MY EVOLUTION AND LONGEVITY SPEAKS FOR ITSELF.
Since you’ve been in the Hip Hop world for over 30 years, how do you feel about The Business of Hip Hop these days?
OF COURSE EVERYTHING IS PERCEIVED BASED ON HOW YOU FEEL. WE HAD ARTISTS WHO WERE LYRICALLY TRASH IN ALL ERAS OF HIP HOP. AND OF COURSE WE HAD, AND HAVE GREATS. HIP HOP IS NOT THE ISSUE. IT’S COMMERCIALISM BEING ALLOWED TO COMPROMISE THE INTEGRITY OF CREATIVITY.
People don’t realize you’re also a producer. Could you tell us which songs you produced that you are most proud of? Could you also name some songs that people don’t know you actually produced or had a hand in?
MY FAVORITES AS FAR AS PRODUCTION IS “AIN’T NO NIGGA” AND “FOUNDATION” FEAT. JAY AND SAUCE. MANY DON’T KNOW I PRODUCED “WORLD FAMOUS” FOR M.O.P. AND “I GOT THE POWER” ON PUFF’S “NO WAY OUT” LP.
You’ve recently signed a deal with Roc Nation to partner with your Kingz Kounty Media Group. How did that come about and what projects do you have in the works?
TWO YEARS AGO JAY AND I RE-ESTABLISHED DIALOG INTERACTION AND THE REST OF THAT STORY IS SOLD NOT TOLD. SO FAR JUST MY PROJECT. OF COURSE THERE’S MUCH MORE TO COME. THE WORLD WILL BE INFORMED.
We’ve known about your history with Jay-Z and knowing you’re responsible for his career start. If the two of you weren’t beefing and joined forces earlier, how do you think that would have worked out for you, in terms of what you set out to do in your career?
WE DID JOIN FORCES. DON’T YOU SEE IT? LISTEN TO THE ALBUM. LOOK AT THE NUMBERS. READ MY LITERATURE THAT’S ON DECK.
Being in the game for as long as you have, what changes in the culture of Hip Hop, saddens you? And on the flip side, what changes in Hip Hop was great for the culture?
I DON’T FEEL SADDENED BY ANY CHANGES IN THE CULTURE ANY MORE THAN WHAT I SEE GOING ON IN SOCIETY. I’M HAPPY TO SEE MORE REVENUE AVAILABLE TO ARTISTS – THE ARTIST HAS BECOME MORE BUSINESS SAVVY.
If you could compare yourself to a younger rapper these days, if anyone, who would it be and why?
NO DISRESPECT TO ANYONE, BUT I’M IN A CLASS BY MY LONESOME. FEW HAVE PERSEVERED MY TRIALS. NONE HAVE COME UP SQUEAKY.
If you were able to change anything from your past, what would it be and why?
What is The Jaz-O working on these days?
THE BOOKS, THE ALBUM, THE MEN’S FRAGRANCE, AND MY WELL BEING. WHEN I’M WELL, SO ARE MY LOVED ONES.
Will we ever hear another ‘The Originators’ record?
I WOULDN’T BET AGAINST IT.