Exclusive: Yung Joc reveals why he won't be put in a compromising position on "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" and recalls convincing Puff Daddy to greenlight the song "Knock It Out."
People don’t generally associate Yung Joc with the likes of Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Juicy J. Joc enjoyed early success that pre-dated his most notable hit, “It’s Going Down” by crafting a jingle for Revlon as a teenager and co-writing the hook to onetime So So Def artist, Miss B’s “Bottle Action.” What followed was the gold-selling New Joc City, which spawned the triple platinum single, “It’s Going Down,” another platinum single with “I Know You See It” and the gold single, “1st Time.”
His sophomore effort, Hustlenomics didn’t enjoy the commercial success of its predecessor, as the single “Coffee Shop” spent a week on Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100” chart before bowing out at the #78 spot.
This is usually the part of the story where Bad Boy artists make the predictable fall from potential superstars to cautionary tales. However, behind the scenes, Joc signed the GS Boyz of “Stanky Legg” fame to his Swagg Team imprint and inked a deal with Polo Grounds Music/RCA Records after his tenure at Bad Boy. Additionally, 2013 saw both Eminem and Nicki Minaj co-opt parts of the Yung Joc and Hotstylz 2008 hit “Lookin’ Boy” into their singles. Joc re-emerged with his own single, “I Got B*****s.” And as the second quarter of 2014 begins, the College Park, Georgia native is enjoying the marketing push behind the single as well as a role on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta.
“I don’t want to hear that regional shit,” Joc says, in reference to the “Snap” label “It’s Going Down” earned in some circles. He speaks like someone who has seen Tom Cruise on television doing his signature dance, while a new generation gets reintroduced to material he made over five years ago. So just what is Yung Joc’s place in Hip Hop and the greater pop culture lexicon? His answer may surprise you, but for those paying attention, it shouldn’t.
Yung Joc Explains Why His Music Appeals To Female Fans
HipHopDX: Before we get into anything music-related, how did Yung Joc end up in a back and forth with June Ambrose about why men cheat?
Yung Joc: [Laughs] Man, that was just one interview that I guess was merged with another interview, so it looked good. It was definitely an odd couple, because it just seemed out of the blue. But I think it was good. It made it interesting, and it was kind of informative from both points of view.
DX: True. It was pretty random though.
Yung Joc: I mean, it was random. But sometimes that’s the best shit. It’s like when I’m listening to the radio, and a random song out of the blue comes on. It’s like, “Oh shit, where that come from?”
DX: As it turns out, the topic you two discussed leads perfectly into your new single, “I Got B*****s.” The single dropped last year, which presumably gave you time to reach different markets. How’s the response been?
Yung Joc: I think people had love for it, and that got even better when my label jumped behind it six months later. Everywhere I’ve gone and performed this record, I get great feedback. The funniest part is the women say, “I Got Bitches” louder than anybody. That shit is weird, man.
You know a funny story? On my first album, New Joc City, when we were trying to pick records for the album, I sent Puff all my favorites. And I remember [Bad South President,] Block [Spencer] coming in there saying, “Yo, Puff said you can’t use “Knock It Out.” I was like, “Huh…why not?” Now “Knock It Out” is a record I had been performing acapella on the road, and I was just getting great responses and feedback from it. So, I get on the phone with Diddy, and he’s like, “Yo, so look, playboy. We trying to groom your image. You gotta be a smooth player though. You can’t be getting on these stages with a record on your album saying, ‘I knock the pussy out…knock it out. Knock it out.’ That shit just ain’t player.”
I told him, “I get what you saying, my nigga. But I’m gonna send you some videos of me doing this shit acapella, and I want you to watch how the women react.” I sent that shit in, and that nigga called me back like 30 minutes later. He said, “Well I guess this shit’s going on the album [laughs].”
So it’s funny, because the women would say it harder than the dudes. I ain’t even gonna use the word ratchet, but they just like the most controversial, edgy shit. You can’t just be directly disrespectful with the word, but even some women say they got bitches. They’ll be like, “Oh, these my bitches.” They don’t mean those are women they’re having sex with, they’re just their homegirls.
So the word “bitches” is equivalent to the word “nigga.” It’s a term of endearment, although it’s derived from a very negative connotation. But who gives a fuck?
DX: It sounds similar to when you hear Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun” playing at a club and see a pack of women singing it word for word.
Yung Joc: Right. And the women love that shit. [Sings,] “If the homies can’t have none.” I’m gonna do that over. Thank you. I’m glad you brought that up [laughs].
Yung Joc Points Out His Influence On Pop Culture
DX: When you debuted in 2006, some people wanted to either label you as regional or relegate you to the Snap sub-genre. How have things changed since then?
Yung Joc: I don’t wanna hear that regional shit, man. That’s great and all, but I mean, at the end of the day, people know I’m from Atlanta. This shit is undeniable. Numbers don’t lie, and I definitely put numbers and Ws on the board. I don’t give a fuck what nobody says. I’ve said this in numerous interviews: if you look at the shit I did eight years ago, niggas is bringing that shit back around.
Eminem’s last single was “Rap God,” right? In “Rap God,” Em used 20 seconds of his record to kind of recollect on the “Lookin’ Boy” record we did. In that record, he’s got 20 seconds of “Lookin’ Boy” in that song. Nicki Minaj just dropped “Lookin Ass Nigga.” Six months after Eminem did that, she dropped this. The [Nicki Minaj] single is called “Lookin’ Ass Nigga.” That’s the title of the “Lookin’ Boy” record—“Lookin’ Ass Nigga”—but we could not push a record that was gonna be so fun and kid-driven called “Lookin’ Ass Nigga.” So we had to clean it up and say, “Lookin’ Boy.” On the dirty version, we’re actually saying, “Lookin’ Ass Nigga.”
So here it is, Nicki Minaj just does it, like, “Boom.” That shows you it just comes right back around. If you listen to Juicy J and Miley Cyrus [on “23”] singing, “Jays on my feet / Jays on my feet / Jays on my feet, so get like me,” that’s me. “I just bought a zone, J’s on my feet / I’m on that Patron, so get like me.” So I don’t give a fuck what nobody say; you can call me whatever. Just know that I definitely have helped influence pop in my short time being in the industry. And I’m coming back at they ass to influence it some more. So everybody that likes to recreate and pay homage to a sound, get your pens and pads out, ‘cause we gonna try this shit one more time.
I ain’t being arrogant about it at all. It’s flattering, man. You don’t know how flattering it is to have people you know, like and admire go back and do some shit that you’ve done. We’re talking about Eminem, Juicy J and Nicki Minaj. All them motherfuckers is iconic right now.
DX: Where were you when you first heard “Lookin’ Boy” get co-opted into “Rap God?”
Yung Joc: Shit, I was in the studio. My homie hit me like, “Yo, you need to goddamn check this shit out. You need to holler at Em, ‘cause that’s a good look.” I listened to the shit, and I was like, “Wow, that’s crazy.”
A few months ago, I’m sitting at the house when the shit by Nicki Minaj comes on. I hit play, and it’s “Lookin’ Ass Nigga.” Everyone hears my song again. I’m like, “Goddamn.” So it is what it is. You can go back even further to the “Teach Me How To Dougie” shit. If you listen, they say, “Teach me how to Dougie, teach me-teach me how to Dougie / Everybody love me, every-everybody love me.” That’s me you’re hearing. “Everybody love me, I’m so fly / Niggas throw the deuces every time I ride by.” So the sound has been in niggas’ face, but if I take the time to pinpoint it, I seem corny for pointing the shit out. Fuck that. I’m just letting it be known that the sound—my sound, my movement, my whole everything—had enough impact for niggas to be using it years later.
Yung Joc Revisits “Bottle Action” And The Motorcycle Dance
DX: Presumably the same applies to “Bottle Action,” which you wrote the hook to?
Yung Joc: You know, the thing is that record could have been a major, national record. It was a major record, because she was signed to So So Def and Zomba at the time. So Miss B was a major artist, but the record was so violent, and I think certain places couldn’t allow themselves to let that fly—a girl saying, “I’ll hit that bitch with a bottle.” It was just creating too much negative controversy.
I helped write the hook on that record, and as a matter of fact, I introduced Miss B to Nitti. Another dude from Memphis by the name of Mack Ron had produced the record. When I introduced Miss B to Nitti, he redid the track and that shit went. Boom. So it is what it is.
DX: You’re obviously proud of the impact your early work had. How do you balance that with keeping attention on this current project?
Yung Joc: You just go for what you know. There’s nothing to it really. Some of the new stuff I’m coming with…some of the shit’s gonna be futuristic. Some of it’s really gonna be some throwback shit with a new twist. I got some good records and some good artists on my records too.
DX: When you were on 106 & Park, you mentioned staying away from the motorcycle dance to some extent. But the fans brought it back…
Yung Joc: When I talked about trying to stay away from it, I said… You know that’s my initial claim to fame. When people think of Yung Joc, they think of that dance. So anywhere I go, people see me and do that shit. Sometimes it kind of gets on your nerves because they can do it at an awkward moment.
If you’re at funeral grieving the loss of a friend and shit, you might not be crying. You’ve cried enough already, or you might not be a crier. You look across the room, and the motherfucker in the church is looking at you doing the dance and pointing like, “Respect.” Nigga, we’re in a funeral! Why is you doing the dance? People do the shit at the most awkward times.
It’s a thing where, I may not be thinking about doing it, but that’s what they remember. Next thing you know, we’re sitting there and I have to do it—especially on stage. I like to see the crowd do it, but they like to see when I do it.
Why Yung Joc Calls Prior “Love & Hip Hop” Seasons A Cheat Sheet
DX: On a different note, we see a lot of rappers looking ratchet on Love & Hip Hop. Knowing that, what made you embrace the opportunity to be on the show?
Yung Joc: Because I see what these niggas do! It’s easy. I figure when somebody gives you the cheat sheet, you’ve gotta acknowledge that shit and say, “Okay, here’s what not to do.” I’m not gonna be fighting nann nigga over no bitch in real life, so I’m damn sure not gonna be doing it on TV. I’ll check a nigga before I let a nigga play me. And off rip, I already know how they be doing shit anyway. So before I let them put me in a fucked up position like that, I’m in on the producers like, “Hey…yo, that ain’t flowing. I’m ain’t about to do that.”
When you watch the first season, my nigga Lil Scrappy was outside the studio because a nigga called his baby mama a bitch. Nah…uh-uh. If they ask Scrappy to do something similar to that now, he knows and understands what it is. In real life, I would not be waiting outside no studio for nann nigga. If he knows like I know, when I come out the studio my pistol be on me. Shit. I wouldn’t be waiting outside nowhere for no nigga to talk with him about no shit like that. I’ll see you in passing and bring it up, but I’m not about to wait on you. So if I was in that situation, I would definitely rethink it before I allowed anybody to put me in harm’s way like that. I’m not saying Scrappy played himself with that scene, but at that moment—it was his first time doing a reality show not knowing how it worked. Once you see it, you know it.
DX: What do you think is the best opportunity for you after the season airs?
Yung Joc: Well, you gotta understand, I’m already aligned as far as my music career goes. I’m on board with RCA, and we’re rolling out this record. That’s why I’m on the phone with you. We’re not on the phone for Love & Hip Hop, but because I’m doing a real roll out campaign for a major artist through my label. So it’s already starting as far as getting ready for the initial quote-unquote comeback.
That’s one thing. Then I have other irons in the fire that require a marketing and PR campaign as well. So as this progresses in the near future and the show airs, other things will be strategically placed to be rolled out.
DX: You used an interesting term: comeback. How much does the perception match the reality as far as you being in and out of the public eye?
Yung Joc: Here’s one way to look at it, man. It’s all about the timing. I feel like when I hit, it was unexpected. Nobody knew who the hell Yung Joc was. Nobody had no clue…no idea that I was gonna come with a sound like I came with. With Diddy backing me, nobody knew this. It was just like, “Boom!” Even now, the timing is perfect, because I’m back in your face out of the blue. Even if you don’t want me to be, I’m on the radar. So it’s about timing and the fact that I’m obedient. I’m obedient to my overseer. He’s got me, and I’m protected. Anything I want, all I have to do is stay grounded, stay faithful, stay humble, pray for it, and I’ll get it.
I’ve been patiently waiting in my brief hiatus, and now it’s time for me to come on and do what I do. I’m favored right now. I’m getting good favor from God, because I’ve done good. I do good on the regular. I’m not arrogant or cocky, but know that I’m about to be in their face. I’m back on the scene on they ass.
DX: Obviously you’re in a new label situation this time around…
Yung Joc: No I’m not. Where did you get that info from? I’m not on a new label.
DX: The assumption is that you moved from Bad Boy to RCA.
Yung Joc: Yeah, but we can’t call it new anymore. I’ve been signed over here at RCA for almost four years. When I left Bad Boy, that’s where I went. So I’ve been over here. I guess it’s new from Bad Boy, but I thought you meant new like I just did a new deal or something. I can’t even call it a new deal.
DX: Fair enough. Between four years at RCA combined with the time on Bad Boy, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned both musically and on the business side?
Yung Joc: You just gotta keep up with the times, man. And while you’re keeping up with the times, you have to think ahead of the times. These kids be on some other shit. They don’t have the same responsibilities you have. Their mind often has the chance to wander and be lost in any world…imagination. They can do all kinds of shit. They ain’t dealing with paying health insurance, life insurance, taxes, a mortgage, car note and day care. The average kid is thinking about their clothes and a cell phone bill. They’re not dealing with the same shit. So they’re constantly trying to hit the refresh button and be new with the latest.
As an adult, it’s a little different. We live in this world, but we’re constantly dealing with the everyday, real life struggle of adulthood. So I learned that you gotta stay close to these kids. They’re gonna keep you young, keep you in the know and keep that light on you.
I’ve also learned to create allies. It’s the only way to be successful, because you can’t stand alone. People try to say, “Oh, I can do this on my own.” No you can’t. It’s not possible. It’s too many people that have to be touched and connected, so it’s hard for you to do it by yourself. It’s cause and effect, man. You gotta build a foundation and create strong allies.