I interviewed Jae Millz for AllHipHop.com. Read it in full below!
Jae Millz has been in the game for almost a decade but still has yet to see a solo album drop. As early as 17, he made a name for himself on the underground battle scene. Diddy was the first mogul to take note, which lead to MTV’s Making the Band. His success was far from secure.
Millz eventually saw his career return to ground zero, recording tracks on his laptop in his mother’s Harlem apartment. But fate smiled upon him when he secured Lil Wayne for a feature, and he then found himself a member of Weezy‘s Young Money crew. These days, Millz continues the upward path, but finds himself hitting turbulence again. Wayne is in Riker’s Island and he’s raised the ire of most of the top tier talents in hip-hop’s freshman class. Will Millz make his way through it all?
AllHipHop.com checks in with Jae to discuss Young Money, his recent controversies that have him all over the blogs and what it is that has kept him so resilient after so many doors have shut on him over the years.
AllHipHop.com: Recently you’ve been the subject of a lot of controversy over your comments on the XXL Freshmen cover. You stated that you barely knew any of the artists featured and that you knew others that were way more worthy of the spot. When you did the original interview expressing your opinion, did you think all the controversy would follow?
Jae Millz: Actually when I did that interview, I wasn’t thinking about controversy, I wasn’t thinking about what anybody else was going to say. I kind of just was talking off of anger at the time. I might have said some stuff that I shouldn’t have said, but at the end of the day, that’s my opinion, that’s how I felt and I stand beside it. But I wasn’t thinking of controversy or what anyone else was going to think, I wasn’t trying to start anything. It was just my opinion at the time when I first saw the cover.
AllHipHop.com: A couple of the artists that were on the cover took it really personal, with Nipsey Hu$$le taking to his Twitter saying you’re washed up, and Pill saying you can’t come to Atlanta. What do you have to say about that?
Jae Millz: As far as the people who took it personal – I don’t know exactly who took it personal or whatever. I can’t really say who took it personal because at the end of the day, Pill is the only person who said some slick sh*t out his mouth. I mean Nipsey, I saw what he said, I saw what Wiz Khalifa said, I heard what J. Cole said, but at the end of the day, they’re voicing their opinion. If Nipsey feels I been in the game for too long and I’m washed or whatever, that’s Nipsey‘s opinion. At the end of the day, Nipsey is one of the few people on the cover that I felt I knew. I know J. Cole, I know Wiz Khalifa, I know OJ the Juiceman and I know Jay Rock. I don’t really know too many of the other people. I wasn’t trying to be personal about it, but that’s just my opinion. I still said I wish them the best and all of that, but I was just stating my opinion at that time. So when I heard Nipsey‘s reply to what I said, I wasn’t really thinking about it as a diss. That’s really his opinion. Like, I listen to Nipsey‘s music. I wasn’t going to stop listening to his music because he said whatever he said about my opinion. That’s how he feels, life goes on. As far as the Pill n*gga, he said some street sh*t and he took it to that level so you know street sh*t stay there. I’ma just leave it at that.
AllHipHop.com: You were actually supposed to come out at the XXL concert. Why didn’t you make it? Did you think any confrontation would occur if you went?
Jae Millz: Actually it was Cam’Ron‘s idea for me to come out at the XXL concert. Once he got the word that they wanted him to host it and then he spoke to whoever he spoke to that said he could bring Vado out, he told Vado it would be a good idea to bring me out to do whatever songs we got and for me to close the show with “Lemonade.” In all honesty, I wasn’t really thinking about no type of confrontation or none of that. I didn’t really think it would be that serious. I knew people were probably going to be salty about my comments, but I was going to see everybody that night so I would have let everybody know what it was – like let them know it wasn’t personal. When a person hears that straight from your mouth, they can respect it. But when you let the media get into it and websites quote this and quote that, it turns into something so much bigger and everybody always going to try to make a small situation larger. But I mean I wasn’t thinking about running into no problems. I was just going there to hold my homie Vado down and show everybody else the same support. But on the way there I got arrested on some bullsh*t. I was on my way to the Highline Ballroom and I was driving without my license on me. Cops pulled me over in Jersey as I was leaving my crib and I had just changed all my clothes in a rush, and I left all my stuff in the pockets of my other jeans. I was speeding, I was on the phone AND I did an illegal turn, so once he asked me for my license that I didn’t have, it was over. So that’s how that situation went. It’s all good though. I’m out obviously, so I’m straight.
AllHipHop.com: You also were a topic of a crazy groupie’s recent video and Twitter rants, and the media pointed fingers at you calling you disrespectful – but it seems like she was just disrespecting herself. What do you feel about the whole situation?
Jae Millz: I got nothing to say about her. I don’t feel nothing about nothing. Life goes on. (laughs)
AllHipHop.com: You’ve been rapping for a while now. Over the course of your career, you’ve had 2 failed deals and almost faded into irrelevancy before you started rocking with Young Money. What do you think would have happened if you never got at Wayne?
Jae Millz: As far as me thinking what would have happened if I never got at Wayne, I guess we’ll never know. That’s just a question you’re going to always have a question mark next to and you’ll never have the answer because hey, it happened. Who gives a damn about the deals I had that failed, who cares about me almost fading into irrelevancy? I don’t think about none of that. If I was a person that sat here and dwelled on that every day, I wouldn’t be able to write good verses. I wouldn’t be able to have the personality or do the interviews that I do because I would just be a sour person still mad at the world. I’m trying to make up for lost time. I’m still a young man. I came in the came when I was really young, so I’m still young, I’m still having fun. I’m part of the hottest group out right now, the hottest label, the hottest movement, so I don’t even look at how many years I was in the game. People keep on saying that, but they need to look at how long someone like Jay-Z was in the game before people really started paying attention to who he was. It is what it is. It’s been a long road but I’m still here so, that’s all I got to say about that.
AllHipHop.com: Did you ever feel like giving up at some points?
Jae Millz: I mean honestly, it’s not like you feel like completely giving up but you just kind of question yourself at some points. You get writer’s block, and then it goes from writer’s block to the money slows up or you might lose a deal and other people might be coming up and you look at it like people passing you. You just got to block all of that out and you got to just lock in and go hard for yourself and you won’t pay that stuff no mind. It definitely was some points I kind of really questioned everything and I was living in a blur, but you know you got to focus and get your mind right.
AllHipHop.com: Your original claim to fame was being a battle rapper. Did you have to put effort into the transition of making radio-friendly songs or did it just come naturally?
Jae Millz: It really just came pretty naturally. I think it just came naturally because the music I liked was always radio-friendly music. Not like they were radio-friendly rappers, but they always made songs for the radio and they always were lyrically nice. Nas always had records that came on the radio; Biggie always had records that came on the radio, Jay, Kim, Foxy, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang – that’s the era I come from. They always had radio records. Even if you want to talk about the whole Death Row – they were just straight reckless, but they all had videos that you saw on MTV at any given time any given day. So that’s the type of stuff I grew up on. Even with me being a battle rapper, I always used to like to make songs. I always used to like to take three 16’s and have a hook or two 24’s and a hook. I used to always like having songs so it really wasn’t a hard transition. I think the hard transition was just making songs that were going to appeal to the world instead of just your region. It’s easy to make a song for the radio, but I don’t think most people understand that it’s not easy to make a record that will appeal to all genres. Like there may be a song where a little kid likes it, and a woman that works in a strip club likes it and a man thats working on Wall Street likes it too. I’ve seen records like that; they’re just worldwide records. So that’s definitely a hard transition right there and I can say that’s something I’m still working at, but it’s a work in progress so I ain’t really mad at it.
AllHipHop.com: Diddy really helped put you on with the Making the Band battle. How did your relationship with him come about? Did you ever try to contact him for help when you were without a deal?
Jae Millz: My relationship with Diddy is more like extended family. The dudes that used to run the label I was signed to and was managing me, all of those dudes were basically extended family of him. So at a young age, they took me around him. The whole Making the Band thing came through him just knowing about me through them and knowing my talent, and he gave me a great platform. Like, he always knew about me and everybody always wondered why I never got signed to Bad Boy. It’s because the people that introduced me to him, I was signed to them and it wasn’t more so me signing to Bad Boy because it was like anything I needed, I could always get from them. If I needed a song, or I needed features or I wanted to write stuff for people, I could always go to Bad Boy and they would look me out so it wasn’t a bad situation. I never really tried to contact Diddy for a deal even after my deals fell through, though. I don’t know – I just never really did.
AllHipHop.com: There hasn’t really been a major look for New York, even more specifically Harlem, since the Dip Set days. Being in a predominantly southern crew, is putting New York rap back on the map something you really care about doing, or are you more focused on the Young Money group as a whole?
Jae Millz: I’m focused on both. Like if anyone knows me, they know I’ve always cared about repping New York. I rep New York. That’s always been my thing, that’s always been what I wanted to do. But now it’s at a point where I am on a higher plateau and it’s more than just New York. It’s still about NY but it’s also Harlem, it’s also Jae Millz. I got to reinvent myself and just keep that whole Jae Millz thing going before I can do the whole New York thing. I got to get it where everybody understand that it’s the Jae Millz moment, like it’s my time and then when they understand that, then I can focus on bringing back New York rap all the way. Before that, I need to get Jae Millz solidified again with everybody. Once that’s right, definitely getting New York back on the map. Well I don’t really think it fell off the map, I just think the sales of the rappers that were in that higher position dropped, so people looked at it like New York fell off the map. But everybody in New York still works, from the mixtapes, to the songs, to the clubs, to the features, to the appearance, to the swag, to everything. We all still work. So I’m not really focused on that. Shout to Vado, shout to Cam and the U.N. Everybody in New York is doing their thing, it ain’t like it’s just me. I don’t want y’all to say it like it’s just me. Shout out to Maino, shout to Red Café, French Montana, Fab - he got one of the craziest mixtapes out right now. Shout to Juelz, shout to Jim, shout to my boy Joell Ortiz and my boy Cory Gunz too. It’s a lot of us doing it out here. I think when I do my thing; I’m doing it for New York, for Harlem, for Young Money as a whole.
AllHipHop.com: The Young Money crew has a pretty big roster, and two of your labelmates, Nicki Minaj and Drake, already have their first singles out and albums dropping soon. Where do you think you fall in terms of priority of your album coming out?
Jae Millz: Well right now over at Young Money, it’s not really like anybody’s a main priority over another. I mean yeah, of course Nicki and Drake are the first ones up and when Wayne comes home, Tha Carter IV coming out, but we’re at a point right now where we could all drop albums, so everybody’s a priority. Like literally everybody over here that’s working on their album is a priority and whoever turn their album in first and it’s a complete album and it seem like it’s ready to go and the buzz is there, that’s who’s going to drop. So it’s not like Lil Chuckee is scheduled to drop next and Lil Twist is on the shelf or Jae Millz is up next and Gudda Gudda is going to come after that – there’s no set order. It’s really just everybody working. You don’t know whose album you’re going to get this year, and that’s just in all honesty. But I’m definitely working on my album right now – it’s called Nothing is Promised.
AllHipHop.com: Who are you working with or looking to work with on your album?
Jae Millz: It’s just fun, man. For starters, I’m working with Pete Rock, I’m working with Scram Jones, I’m working with Dame Grease, I’m working with Oddz N Endz. The whole Young Money crew is on there. I got Gudda, Baby, Wayne of course. I’m still working on a couple of other features right now. I got a joint in the works with Estelle, just did a joint with Chris Brown. I got a couple of other joints I’m working on right now too. As far as who I’m looking to work with, I’m really looking to work with my boy Talib Kweli. I spoke to him the other day and I’m going to do a joint with him and Hi-Tek. I want to work with Kanye and Premier too. If I could get Kanye and Premier and add them with the joints I already got with Pete Rock, I think that would really be a classic New York album right there.
AllHipHop.com: What do you feel Jae Millz brings to Young Money?
Jae Millz: Jae Millz just brings the whole New York vibe. Jae Millz just brings a lot of personality. That’s really just it. I try to bring a lot of life to the group. But lyrics are also a big thing I bring. A lot of people like to say a lot of slick stuff about Young Money like ‘Oh, they’re a pop group and their songs are all for the girls,’ but man, we spit. Like, everybody ain’t really caring too much about that lyrics sh*t but I’m one of the dudes in Young Money who I care about getting on every beat and really trying to tear every n*gga on the beat. If you ain’t with Young Money and I get on the beat with you, I’m trying to tear your head off. That’s just friendly competition because I know when a n*gga get on the beat with me, he wants to just say the most outlandish sh*t in the world because he already thinking about what I’m saying. I’m not even thinking about what a n*gga saying, I’m just thinking about killing every n*gga on the song. That’s what I bring to Young Money.
AllHipHop.com: When you first heard the verdict of Wayne going away for a year, what did you think?
Jae Millz: When I first heard it, I mean of course you’re going to think what a messed up situation but at the end of the day, you got to prepare for the worst. You never know what’s going to happen in your life, and he went about it like a soldier. When I first heard the news, I just got off a plane and Gudda had called me and he had told me they gave him the year or whatever. It really felt awkward hearing Lil Wayne gotta go to jail, the dude who you done been around the world with for the last two years every night on the stage performing and you ain’t seen him do nothing to nobody, but yet he got to go to jail over some bullsh*t, away from his kids and his family at the height of his career. But you know, it is what it is – the time is going by and he’s doing good. He’s holding his head, we’re holding it down for him.
AllHipHop.com: Do you speak to Wayne often while he’s gone?
Jae Millz: Yeah, we speak to him all the time. He always calling and we all speak. He may not call us all directly but we always together so he’ll call Mack or Tez and we’ll all get on the phone. One thing I could definitely say is he’s always been in high spirits every time I speak to him. So definitely shout to Wayne. He just started a website too where he’s writing to the fans. It’s called Weezythanxyou.com, so check that out and you can read his letters and all that.
AllHipHop.com: You’ve said you’re going to put out a mixtape every month for 2010. Are you on track with this goal?
Jae Millz: Yea I’m really on track with my goal. We’re in the fourth month and I’m getting ready to put out my third mixtape at the end of the month. I would have been on four but I had a seizure in my sleep in February so it kind of held me back a little. I had to spend time getting my health back in order and all that, so I missed that month but I’m definitely back on track. But I came back with The Flood in March. I appreciate everybody who downloaded that. I’m really going to stay on track with a mixtape every month and in the midst of doing that, I’m still working on my album, so nobody can say Jae Millz is just a mixtape rapper. No, I got singles lined up and ain’t none of them going on the mixtapes. The mixtapes are just for the streets and the little videos for the blogs and websites and all that. You know I’ve watched Wayne do it, I’ve watched Gucci do it – you got to just really flood the streets. You got to outwork n***as, you got to out-grind n***as. It ain’t about outshining them and being all on TV; it’s literally more about just being in peoples’ faces more. You got to keep music out there to stay relevant, so that’s where I’m at with that.
AllHipHop.com: Is there going to be a Young Money tour soon?
Jae Millz: Yea, there’s definitely going to be a tour soon. As soon as Wayne gets home, Tha Carter IV is dropping. It’s already finished; he finished it before he went in so as soon as he gets out, he’s dropping that and we hitting the road. It’s no name for it yet or whatever, but it’s definitely going to happen. By then too Nicki will be out, Drake will be out, whoever’s up next album should be getting ready to come out and we should all have our singles out, so everything gonna really be moving by then. I really can’t wait for that.
AllHipHop.com: Anything else you want the fans to know?
Jae Millz: If you haven’t downloaded The Flood Warning or The Flood, make sure you go get that. We Are Young Money is in stores. I speak for the whole Young Money when I say we greatly appreciate the support on the album and on the two singles, “Every Girl” and “Bedrock,” and the support y’all giving the Young Money crew on “Roger Dat” and the “Girl I Got You” singles. It’s really heavy on 106th & Park, so it’s definitely still love on the album. We got a gold plaque coming real soon so we appreciate that so shoutout to Young Money/Cash Money, Universal Records, the whole Harlem. Shout to my crew, Most Hated. Free Weezy all day. And of course shout to AllHipHop – I appreciate it.