What do you get when you cross Usher and Nelly, and add in a little Lil’ Jon? J-Kwon, the 17-year-old rapper behind today’s hottest club hit, “Tipsy.” Jermaine Dupri‘s done it again. First Kris Kross., then Bow Wow and now J-Kwon.. Except this mini-MC is straight hood. He’s been homeless, has two kids and could probably win the title on Survivor. With his album Hood Hop about to drop on March 30, HHDX caught up with J-Kwon to find out more about Da Lou’s newest star.
How has your life changed now that your hit “Tipsy” is playing everywhere?
Everything. People look at me different. So much. I can’t even sit here and explain it to you.
You’re on a promotional tour right now?
I’m traveling a lot. I do a show every night.
Since you’re a minor, can you perform in clubs?
I do the clubs.
But you don’t drink.
Yeah, I don’t drink. I drink Kool-Aid.
What does the title of your album Hood Hop mean?
That name is like I’m introducing pop to the hood and the hood to pop. It’s a thin line.
You’re from St. Louis. What else should people know about you?
I came up on the freestyle tip, making songs and battling people. I was homeless for a little minute. Two kids. Ain’t really nothing else.
Being from St. Louis, do you know the St. Lunatics?
Everybody knew the Lunatics from around the way because they used to be everywhere in St. Louis. I used to hang with Murphy Lee’s lil’ brother. But when I got in the industry, I guess the industry meet up with the industry, so I started seeing them a lot and started getting’ cool. So that’s family too.
What made you want to rap? Was it another artist?
Nah, it wasn’t no artist. This is what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I just seen people doing it and I was like, man I can do that. I’ve been writing since I was 12. I look up to Jay-Z. I give him his props. That’s the only person I give props to in the game right now cause I grew up on him. As far as my sound, I’ve been trying to work on that since I was 12. And I think I finally got it.
Where do you get inspiration from for your songs?
My whole life. My whole life is crazy. I’ve experienced everything. Experienced it all. I’ve got something to say for every day of the week.
How did you hook up with Jermaine Dupri?
I got hooked up through the Trackboyz [producers who did 90% of J-Kwon‘s album]. We had deals on the table. We went with Jermaine Dupri because he’s like the best marketer in the world.
What made you snap on JD and pull your pants down in front of L.A. at your audition for them?
In the showcase I took shots at him [JD] because even if they didn’t sign me, I wanted them to remember me.
Is there any artist you want to collaborate with?
Jay-Z, that’s it.