interview Jake One  (February 2008) | Interview By: Nima

Dubcnn linked up producer Jake One for an exclusive interview. The Seattle native has been in the game for well over a decade, making his mark in the underground Hip-Hop scene over the years, but it wasn't until he got his management deal with Sha Money Xl and that people started to hear his beats on G-Unit projects that he started to get worldwide recognition.

In this interview we speak about the Seattle scene, his path up until now, his past work, hooking up with G-Unit, his upcoming album "White Van Music" and what to expect from it and much more.

As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave feedback on our forums or email them to nima@dubcnn.com.

Interview was done in February 2008.

Questions Asked By: Nima

Jake One Gave Dubcnn A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Audio Interview Here

Dubcnn: We're right here with the producer Jake One from Seattle. What's going on with you man?

Chilling, chilling!

Dubcnn: Seattle is a place that's often forgotten when talking about West Coast music, tell us about the Seattle music scene a little bit.

People have been doing it here since the 80's like everybody else, we just haven't really had that artist that had that break. We had Mix-A-Lot, but that was a generation before me and he was only one man. He definitely made his mark, but since then it's been a lot of people doing dope shit, it just hasn't really reached the public for whatever reasons. A lot of cities got the same story.

Dubcnn: Which artists and producers from Seattle have you been collaborating with?

The most probably my homie Vitamin D, he's a producer he's been around for a long time, he kind of got me into it, through seeing him to his thing. He's been tight since '91-'92, I was hearing his music back then in high school and shit. It's cool to see him get that look. Also, rapper wise it's been a lot of people throughout the years, right now I've been working with a young kid named J. Pinder, hopefully he's gonna be somebody who can help put the city on the map.

We'll see what happens with that, but we've had people come out of here, Seattle is a weird city cause people are more off East Coast traditional Hip-Hop, but then I'd say up until the Mobb Music kind of fell off, that's what ran the city. Everybody was on the Bay Area shit, we kind of always wanted to be the Bay, and that our focus, E-40 is kind of like a God here, and pretty much anything from the Bay, Totally Insane, RBL, all that was big up here.

Dubcnn: I think you had a dude called 151 who rolled with C-Bo who's also from Seattle.

Yup, I did some stuff with 151. We had Funk Daddy, who's a producer from here, he did Sidewayz from E-40, that's a big record. To me that was crazy, that a guy from here did a bunch of songs with E-40.

Dubcnn: You worked with E-40 too right?

Yeah I ended up working with 40 later on, he's one of my favorite rappers so that was a dream being in the studio with him, hanging out and doing music.

Dubcnn: I believe the producer Dow Jones who's also with Sha Money XL is from Seattle as well, have you worked with him before?

Yeah, that's a good friend of mine, I've known Dow since he first started to do anything. One of my good friends taught him how to DJ, that was his mentor, and I remember Dow being a youngster coming around, I've seen him grow, him uniting with J-Hen. I remember J-Hen's first little mixtape release, he impressed me with that. So it's definitely a lot of talent out here, and I wouldn't say it's undiscovered, cause people know, but it's not like a national phenomenon.

Dubcnn: You've been producing for a minute now, what was your path up until hooking up with Sha Money and G-Unit records?

I was doing a lot of underground records, underground Hip-Hop, and that's where my heart is for the most part. Sometimes you end up going the other way and work with some commercial people, but just working with people like Encore, Gift Of Gab, pretty much anybody from the underground that you can think of in the late 90's, early 2000's. It just got to a point where the movement stagnated, I kind of got tired of it, and I started getting attention from other folks, like E-40 or G-Unit when they first saw me on the G-Unit album. That's kind of what I'm known for at this point.

Dubcnn: You produced one of my favorite joints of the last years, "Rat Race" by Gift Of Gab, can you tell us how that song got put together?

Yeah! Gab had heard some of my music, I don't even remember what year that was, 2001-2002 something like that, and he had heard a bunch of my beats and a bunch of Vitamin D's beats, and he decided to come out here and record his whole album! We ended up getting it in and doing a whole album. "Rat Race" is funny to me, cause when I first did that beat, it was when I was getting more... I won't say commercial, but it was going into a different direction than underground Hip-Hop at that point, cause I thought underground Hip-Hop kind of fell off.

A lot of my favorite records around that time were more mainstream, and that was my way of doing that, but it still sounded hardcore, no glossy shit or nothing, but it surprised me that Gab rapped on that. It ended up being a dope song, I like the way he came on it! When I did it, I thought it would be like a Snoop Dogg record. I think that's why I've been able to last so long, cause music I make will hit different people in different ways.

For example the intro the Gift Of Gab album was a Game song first, before he even came out on his first album. Or De La Soul's record that I did was a 50 Cent record, all these people who do totally different things were hearing what I do and liking it. It's kind of like me, cause I am into all different sides of rap like that.

Dubcnn: I believe you had a beat on the first G-Unit album before you hooked up with Sha Money, how did that happen?

That happened through this dude Fusion who I knew, he was on tour with them somehow, and he had slid them a beat, and I didn't believe that shit was real until the last second when they sent me a contract! That was the first time I had a record come out that was everywhere. It sold like 3 million or whatever, and it's cool to be a part of something like that, to know that you're in every store, in every car, that was a dope experience.

Dubcnn: I read an interview with you when you said that up until 2006 you worked a 9-5, why?

I don't know man, I just never really looked at rap like that was supposed to be my life, like that was going to pay my bills, it just didn't seem realistic to me. Nobody from where I'm from made it like that, just being a producer, and I just thought pursuing that would be crazy. I had different people shopping my beats, but it was something I did on the side, I did it cause I wanted to do it, it wasn't for money.

So it got to a point where the shit was definitely making me more money than my job, but my thing was, I only wanted to quit my job when I knew for sure I wouldn't have to go back. *laughs* I didn't want to quit and go back in a year, I wanted it at least to be 5-10 years. It got to a point where shit was looking good and it seemed like the move to me! 2006 and 2007 have been my biggest years ever, so I guess it was a good decision.

Dubcnn: So what happened from there, you got a call from Sha Money that he wanted to manage you, and then..?

It's kind of crazy, cause I had been on the verge of making a bunch of their records, I would send my beats in to all these different people, but I didn't know the guys, but they were telling me that Sha Money was feeling my shit! Denaun Porter actually, he was out here for a show when they were doing Anger Management, and he was like "Come to the show!" So I went, checked them out, he played me a bunch of crazy beats, and he took me to meet Sha Money, and Sha was shocked when he first met me, like "Damn, that's YOU?"

He sees thousands of beat CD's and it's all MP3's, and I guess he had liked my stuff for a long time but didn't have a way of getting at me. We exchanged information, I gave him a CD, and one of the tracks on the CD became "I Don't Know Officer" off the soundtrack. He hit me a couple of weeks later and said he could sell a lot of my music, and wanted to make some shit! I was basically like "Let's go!" Things really picked up from there.

Dubcnn: You had two beats on 50 Cent's "Curtis" album, you had a track on the Get Rich Or Die Trying soundtrack and on Young Buck's album, did you produce those songs in the studio with the artists or did they take the beats off beat-cds? How was it working with the G-Unit camp?

I haven't worked with 50 Cent hands on, but me and Buck have a real good relationship, I did a few joints on "Buck The World", we recorded a lot more than that, I got to go in there and hang with him he's a entertaining dude. When he first met me he couldn't believe that was me making the music! Like "Damn, I've been listening to your shit, I can't believe that's you!" It's been great for me, I honestly didn't think I would be part of something that big ever, so it's been cool to be a part of the wave.

It's kind of weird, because I think people have a lot of misconceptions about what [G-Unit] do musically. I think once your successful on the level of 50 Cent, people are just gonna have a problem with you. I kind of had mixed emotions about how my work with them would be received, cause depending on who's hands it gets to, people would probably be like it but be like "Fuck 50 Cent!" just on GP because they think it's too popular or some shit.

But I've done records with them that are harder underground records than a lot of this underground bullshit! It's crazy to me, cause they can put the shit out on that level, and make a real rap record like that! At least the joints I do, I'm not giving them anything remotely pop. So it's cool, we had a video for "Buck The World", that was dope to see that, we had another video for the Hot Rod record I did with Mary J. Blige...

Dubcnn: Everybody was saying Dr. Dre produced that joint when it came out. It took a minute for them realize that wasn't Dre.

Yeah! That was actually a Bishop Lamont record at first! It was a record called "Fuck Yo Couch", and it was a dope record too, I got it somewhere! They didn't pull the trigger on handling the business on it, so Fif' ended up taking the beat and making Hot Rod get on it and putting Mary J. on it, so... I was hearing that beat a lot of strange places, a lot of people didn't react that well to the song but they liked the beat.

Dubcnn: Yeah, the whole thing was the beat.

I kind of feel like it was dope, if it would have been the right song, it could have been a hit. But when I look at it, I don't really make hit songs, that's not what I do. I might try to do some in the future just to see if I can do it, but up to now, that hasn't been my intention when I make a beat, like "Ah, I gotta make a beat for the clubs, I gotta make the girls dance." I'm literally just trying to make something that I think is good. So it was crazy that I ended up having two singles like that. And I almost had a single off the Mary J. song on the "Curtis" album. So I guess in the end, if it's good music people are going to ignore all the other shit.

Dubcnn: You're working on your album "White Van Music", can you explain the title to us?

The first song I ever did, in high school for one of my homies, he was rapping about a white van, like a scraper basically. When I had started my publishing company, I didn't have any creative ideas for a name, so I just used Whie Van Music. Then people always think it's White Man Music and shit *laughs* I always have to explain that, but it's really no deep meaning behind it, it's just to show my homie from high school that that's really how far it's come. They buy the record and they see that shit, it's funny.

Dubcnn: Which artists can we expect to appear on the album?

I got Prodigy, Alchemist, Young Buck, Little Brother, M.O.P., Freeway, MF Doom, De La Soul, Bishop Lamont... I'm actually mixing the album right now, I was in the studio late last night mixing the M.O.P. record. This record is definitely some super Hip-Hop shit. Lately I've been on my early 90's West Coast shit for some reason for the past year, like DJ Quik's first album, N.W.A., I got some stuff similar to that.

I wouldn't say it sounds like that cause that was a different era, but some of the beats were made in the same fashion, like scratching, collage type of shit, two beats in a beat and all that. I'm just trying to make something not generic, rap is so muthafuckin' generic right now that I felt like for my shit, I had to do something a little unique. It's been a lot of fun making the decisions on what's going to roll.

Dubcnn: Where would you like to see yourself in the near future, where are you trying to go with it?

I really don't know, I've just been focused on creating something I can stand behind in front of whoever and be proud of it. It's funny cause this will probably get my mine out there more than doing all these platinum records and big releases, cause I'll be in the forefront, even if it doesn't sell a fraction of what some of the other joints did. So that's part of it, just to show people what I do, my diversity.

Everybody that's on this album, they ended up going to my sound, Buck's record doesn't sound like a typical Young BUck record, it sounds like what me and him would do. I could play the Young Buck record and the MF Doom record next to each other cause they got the same vibe! *laughs* As crazy as it sounds, they are though! So that was a challenge, trying to make all that merge together.

Dubcnn: Do you have a release date for the album?

I'm gonna drop it around summertime.

Dubcnn: Is it an independent project?

It's on a label called Rhymesayers from Minnesota, they're one of the biggest independent rap labels around, they do a group called Atmosphere, Brother Ali and a bunch of other folks. This is a record I've been working on for probably two years, it's something that I wanted to do on the side to show people another side of me, different from what I do for other artists. And I really took it there! It should be interesting, I've got a little of everything, like a big pot of gumbo.

Dubcnn: Which producers are you currently feeling?

Nottz is real dope to me, Denaun Porter, DJ Khalil, all these guys are dudes that know. And just seeing how humble they are and how they push their craft inspires me.

Dubcnn: What about rappers?

Rappers is hard man! *laughs* I'm just waiting for something new. I want a new voice. There's a lot of guys that I think are dope, obviously I'd love to work with Jay-Z. I did something with Nas for his new album, I don't know if it's gonna make it, but he was somebody I definitely wanted to work with. Freeway, I"m a big fan of Freeway. I'm trying to think.. Scarface always makes hot shit, E-40. Bishop Lamont got some shit! He hasn't let people hear his hot records yet, like his super super shit, he hasn't let it out, he played me some stuff that was really on the "wow" factor.

When I listen to beats and songs, I wanna hear shit that I wish I would have done. That's when I know I like something, when it hits me like "Damn I wish I would have done that!" I guess it makes it kind of hard when you get to a certain point, when a lot of stuff isn't that impressive to you anymore. But it's a lot of guys out there, I would really like to hear something new emerge. There's this group out of L.A. that I like a lot too called Pacific Division. I think they've got their own little shit, I appreciate that.

If you can have your own style and be dope with it, that's what I wanna hear. I don't want to hear any more half ass Jay-Z's, I'll listen to Jay-Z if I wanna hear that, for real. But rappers, a lot of the stuff coming out is dope, I can't say that they're not dope, but it's just nothing new. Like when Young Jeezy came out, I ain't necessarily the biggest fan of his music, but it was like "He got a whole new thing." I wanna hear a whole new thing, when I hear a new artist.

Dubcnn: Is there anything else you'd like to let everybody know?

Yeah there's something else I wanna put out there. I'm working on a beat battle with Red Bull that we did last year called Red Bull Big Tune, and it's basically a competition for new producers, and we're going to go to 8 or 9 cities this year, so anybody who's trying to get down with that, I wanna direct them to the website so they can apply. It's www.redbullbigtune.com.


Jake One Gave Dubcnn A Shoutout! Check That Here

Full Audio Interview Here


Enter Your Email Address
To Receive Our
Free Newsletter!