After tearing up the charts in 2006 with ubersmash hits “It’s Goin’ Down” and “I Know You See It” from his solo debut Yung Joc City, 23-year-old Yung Joc is ready to roll again in 2007, with his second effort, Hustlenomics, like his first, coming out through Block Entertainment/Bad Boy Records. So how do you top a year filled with nationwide tours, bopping with Diddy himself onstage and a certified platinum plaque? The ATL native with his very own famous dance breaks it all down for xxlmag.com and encourages the multitude of haters to keep the heat coming. Balance and success are on Joc’s mind as he prepares for a picture-perfect year.
How does it feel to go from being unknown to the hip-hop world to having one of the biggest hip-hop songs of 2006, “It’s Goin’ Down”?
It feels good, just knowing that you’re blessed every day. That was one of my unbelievable blessings. Like some people couldn’t fathom the fact that it had got so big so quick. Some people still don’t consider me as an established artist yet. “Yeah, he did it on the first one. Can he do it on the second one?” I did it on the first one. They say, “Okay, it’s a hit, but he ain’t no street nigga. Can he make some street shit jam?” Yup, I dropped “A Couple Grand.” When I dropped that record, then it’s like, “Oh shit, but can he do it again on a national level, on a mainstream level, and make a big hit?” We did “I Know You See It.” Bam! Did that shut the people up? It shut ’em up a little bit.
Do you feel like you take a lot of criticism?
Yeah I do. And I take good, too. I enjoy it all, man. But with anything, just like Katt Williams said, “Don’t get mad at the haters. It’s a job, and somebody gotta do it.” I seen a lot of niggas don’t like the police, but if somebody break into your house, who you gonna call?
How can people be mad at having fun?
I don’t know, dog. If I knew, I’d probably tell ya. I can’t answer that one for you. In this world of critics, the critics are other rappers, other upcoming people trying to do their thing. Or people who got somebody who need that position you got. If I just invested $200,000 in an artist and we feel like he supposed to be the best, hell, I want your spot. That’s just it, right? Now, I’m not gon’ hate. But on a lighter note, I’m happy. It all boils down to balance. I take ’em both in stride. The good only let’s me know that dreams can come true, and bad things people say let’s me know that all I gotta do is work a little bit harder to shut they mouth.
Everybody wants to know: Were you surprised to see Tom Cruise on TV doing the Motorcycle Dance?
No. Because in the South, we done had dances. Remember the Bankhead Bounce? Michael Jackson was doing the Bankhead Bounce. Snap music, I done seen a couple people do that. I had a dance wit’ a big record, and it fits. Check the record. I didn’t know who it was gonna be. He was that marquee entertainer, a star that did it for me.
Anybody can have a hot song, but you’re certified platinum in 2006, which was rare last year. That has to be a huge boost to your confidence—being a rookie in the game, at a time where sales are real low, for you to come out and outsell veterans.
Huge boost to the confidence? No. It was definitely one of those things that helped me solidify a mental state, knowing that there is no protocol to the shit. The way it happened, it etched this notion in my mind that if you work hard and work smart, anything can happen.
You seem like you’re in a really good place right now.
I can sleep a little better at night. That goes without saying. You ever go to sleep worried? It’s harder to go to sleep, ain’t it? You almost don’t wanna go to sleep until you get it figured out. I’m in a place in my life where God has truly blessed me. It’s a blessing every day to wake up.
What’s it like working with Diddy?
It’s cool. When I first met that man, I told him I was a God-fearing man. I let him know that no matter what people say about you, no matter what you’ve done, this is a new situation. I told him straight up, “I’m a man of God. This is gonna work with or without you.” He couldn’t do nothing but respect that. That’s why you don’t see him in the videos. That’s why you don’t see me and him doing all the public shit together. You don’t see me on Puff’s album or in none of his videos.
Did you make it a point to separate yourself from Diddy and have it as straight business?
Nah. Me and him have a very respectful relationship. He didn’t have to be in any of my videos. He said to me, “You got such a good head on. I believe you’re going to be good. We’re going to make sure that we can establish you as an artist so you can stand up and hold your face card.” Bad Boy is gonna step on it, but Block Entertainment stepped on it as well. That’s why you see Block in all the videos.
Block is the CEO of Block Entertainment, which is the label you are signed to. How does the Block Entertainment and Bad Boy deal work?
I’m signed to Block Entertainment. Block did a joint venture with Bad Boy South.
How did it go down?
Well, I’ve been doing it for a minute. Block heard about me, and I wanted to fuck with him, and it happened.
How did Block hear about you?
I did any and everything from recording demos and trying to get them played on the radio, to digging ditches, going to clubs and all that, doing whatever I could. Hopping from studio to studio, trying to get on with people.
You just finished doing some tours, such as Bow Wow’s. How did you like that experience?
It’s a good feeling, man. When you can go from city to city and thousands and thousands of people are willing to come out to see you and be a part of the experience that you and your cohorts bring to the table, whoever they may be, it’s definitely a good experience. Especially touring, because it’s a different kind of money. There are other ways to promote, a lot of spin-offs from touring. Merchandising being one. It’s a good look, because you may not be the biggest artist on the roster all the time, but guess what, you’re attached to something that a big artist is doing, which gives you a second wind.
Tour money ain’t too bad either.
Nah, it ain’t either, homie. Don’t worry about them having your paper, you gon’ get yours. It ain’t like a club date. They spending gwap!
Rarely in hip-hop do you see someone coming out clean-cut, positive and having fun. Do you think that’s helped with your success?
Definitely. I had a different sound and a different look. I wasn’t the average dope boy or thug, so it kind of helped. “He’s not wearing what everybody’s wearing. He’s hot.” It draws people in, and that’s what helps create a movement. A lot of people consider me the Southern Ma$e. But before he was Ma$e…
He was Murder Ma$e.
Exactly. So there was another element. Just because you don’t see it now doesn’t mean it don’t exist. The different elements are there, but what I reflect… I don’t wanna portray all those images, so I don’t define myself in one. I used to sell dope. I did all that shit. Don’t just think I’m a good boy. I know better now. I’m a grown man now. I got kids. This shit is for real to me. I’m really living my dream right now. All that dumb shit is in the past.
What’s good with the next project?
The next album is already in place. We’re wrapping up the album right now, getting ready to shoot the first video.
What’s the first video called?
I ain’t even gonna tell you. I can’t. The album comes out June 5.
You got a name for it?
Hustlenomics. Hustle by any means. I’m taking ’em where I’m ’bout to go, where I been and where I’m going through now. The hustle is showing people how to hustle. How do you hustle? I’m just trying to show cats how I do it. It ain’t just about selling dope or scamming anybody—by no means.
What’s going to be better about this album, instead of folks just getting part two of the first one?
The first album I wanted to go in some other directions, and [the label] didn’t want me to. The label loved it but didn’t feel it was time. And it’s crazy, because a lot of the places that I wanted to go, those ended being things that worked! It’s gonna be a fun, beautiful year.