Former Fight Klub battle-champ (where in ’05 and ’06 he defeated onetime 106 & Park and ’04 Fight Klub king Jin [click to read], and more than a dozen additional microphone foes) Serius Jones will provide a feast for his fans this Thanksgiving with the release of a new free mixtape, Serius Bizness.
HipHopDX recently spoke to the 26-year-old Englewood, New Jersey native to get the full mix details, as well as info on the new record deal Serius just signed, and what exactly lead to the witty wordsmith abandoning his previous partnership with Ludacris’ label, Disturbing Tha Peace, after roughly 18 months.
Serius Bizness is a traditional mix of all-original songs and freestyles to other artist’s beats (including “Good Guy,” Serius’ satirical sendup of Jay-Z’s “Say Hello” – that should help to reintroduce Jones’ rumble-ready flow and cocksure coolness to those still sleeping on his obvious talent.
“Basically this is like a culmination of all the underground music that I’ve been recording for like the last year,” Serius explained to DX. “I got some big-ass records on there that I can’t put on [my] album, so I might as well let the streets and the Internet have it. ‘Cause people need some music on me to really know where I’m at career-wise. ‘Cause unfortunately a lot of people…even though a lot of people have, a lot of people still haven’t really zoned with ‘King Me’ and know that my music is crazy.”
Anyone that’s heard Jones’ bone-chilling east coast reinterpretation of Ice-T’s classic “Colors,” the boom bap ode to the origin of his style, “Uptop,” and the 50 Cent-endorsed (and impressively radio ready) explanation of the meaning behind his name, “Serius,” knows that King Me stands as one of the finest street albums released in recent memory.
“I want people to understand one thing,” said Serius, “if you haven’t heard King Me, stop even reading this interview and go out and get the shit right now.”
Demonstrating an amazing ability – especially for someone forced to sport the Hip Hop scarlet letter tag of being a “battle rapper” – to craft songs for any and all audiences, two years after its release King Me remarkably still holds up, so much so that Serius was able to just last month release a video for one of the CD’s gems, “Slow Down” [click to view].
But Jones isn’t stuck in the past and relying on previously released joints to feed Hip Hop fans never ending hunger for new material. In addition to his aforementioned Thanksgiving day mix, Serius recently unleashed a new official single, “The World Keeps Movin’.” Produced by Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” co-star (and tragically recently passed singer-songwriter) Static Major, the track is the first offering from Jones’ forthcoming digital album, tentatively titled The Greatest, which should follow shortly on the heels of the release of Serius Bizness.
“If anybody knows anything about me, they know that I had, and still got, a huge buzz,” said Serius of his relentless grind to remain relevant in the eyes of the fickle music biz. “But everything that was fucked up with my situation was because of the business. It was never ‘cause of the talent. It was never ‘cause of the music.”
Indeed, few would argue that Serius Jones’ skill on the mic was to blame for his previous major-label deal going bust. But just who is to blame seems to remain open to interpretation.
After signing with Disturbing Tha Peace in late ’06, Serius sat on the sidelines until DTP entered what were rumored to be contentious renegotiations with distribution home Def Jam in February of this year. While the deal to continue distributing DTP product through Def Jam was reportedly agreed to shortly after these rumors surfaced, the seeming instability of the situation at DTP left Jones facing an uncertain future. And so due to this, along with other issues, Serius left Ludacris’ label this past spring.
“Shout out to him,” said Jones of his former label head. “I like the new song he got with T-Pain. He’s definitely one of the best we have left in terms of being an actual credible emcee and still a superstar. But it just wasn’t meant to be, man. Like, we had a cool vibe. We kicked it a couple times, partied. I was in his crib making hit records…I fucked with him, but in terms of [being a label CEO], I don’t think he was on a mission to make sure that his artists win.”
Many superstar rappers-turned-label owners have been accused of intentionally sabotaging the careers of the often newer, less-established artists they are overseeing to ensure that they remain the only star shining in their crew.
“I’m not suggesting that [it was] intentional at all,” said Serius when asked if he had been a victim of this sort of sabotage. “I’m suggesting that for me, that’s not acceptable. Because I’m dead serious – no pun intended – about greatness. I’m not playin’! I didn’t come this far in life period to allow my career to be given the bare minimum. Anybody that’s been following [my career knows that] I done way more after I got signed than while I was signed. And there’s no excuse for that. I don’t care what nobody say.”
“Now,” he continued, “the issue that most people don’t understand, and it’s my job to clear up, [is that] it’s not on Ludacris to do that. Ludacris had a company called Disturbing Tha Peace. And this company which signs the artists, their responsibility – if that is their goal – is to make sure their artists get the proper light. That they get the chance to win, and get better exposure opportunities because of the fact they have a superstar artist that’s at The Grammy’s, that’s in movies, that’s in magazines and all over the Internet. That would be their responsibility, in terms of DTP.”
Serius remains adamant in his belief that it wasn’t Ludacris’ responsibility to turn him into a star. And so it appears that while not named by Jones during his discussion with DX, that rumored friction with DTP execs Chaka Zulu and Jeff Dixon may have been the likely “other issues” that lead to his exodus from the label.
“The hospitality in the beginning was really there,” Serius said of his relationship with DTP. “But I think after awhile people just got annoyed of me, and sick of me. It’s like, ‘This gotdamn Serius Jones guy. He keeps going. He’s not stopping and just settling in like everybody else.’ And it’s like, no muthafucka I’m not stopping and allowing myself to be [content] with riding in the fuckin’ promo van. Like, nah B, this is rap star shit. ‘Cause if it ain’t, and if you ain’t no fuckin’ rap star, you just some other little dusty rap nigga with a chain trying to be noticed. And that ain’t never been my style.”
Although the last DTP sponsored event Serius attended ended with an altercation between Jones and a bouncer, and he was clearly struggling in a situation in which he felt was requiring that he sacrifice his own artist ambitions, Serius explained to DX that he not only harbors no ill will towards Ludacris, but towards anyone at his former label home.
“It’s all love though, on my end,” he said. “I don’t have nothing but good wishes for them. I wish them all the best. In terms of being people, in terms of character, I don’t think they had any malice towards me. But it’s a business.”
Frustrated, but not broken by the business of music, Serius is determined to soldier forward and continue marching towards his goal of winning in the rap game, regardless of what anyone thinks of his methodology.
“I heard stuff that supposedly I’m a head case,” he said. “I’m supposedly a diva. Like, I think my shit don’t stink and all this. Look man, if anybody know me, and if anybody has followed anything about me, they know that I’m a humble dude with it when it comes to me not being on stage, when it comes to me not being a rapper. A star is supposed to shine [though]. [And] I’m not turning my shine off because people are uncomfortable about it. I can’t do that. I can’t afford to do that. I gotta feed people. I gotta eat. And at the end of the day, I’m on a mission.”
Serius Bizness will be available for free download Thanksgiving day on Serius Jones’ MySpace [click here].