Down in New York City
When Jae Millz scored a hit with 2003's "Rude Boy Get Up (No, No, No)," he thought he was well on his way to a promising career. The song, which sampled Dawn Penn’s reggae classic, “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No),” was getting spins on New York City radio and was receiving some video play on MTV. Millz’ album, Back To The Future, was supposed to be released as a joint venture with Wanna Blow (also home to Mysonne) and Warner Bros. Records in 2004. The two sides, however, never saw eye to eye and Millz decided to leave for Universal Records. For the next two years, the Harlem native prepped for the release of Back To The Future, dropping singles such as “Streetz Melting,” with Swizz Beatz, “Bring It Back,” with Jadakiss and “My Swag,” which was produced by Scott Storch. But Universal never granted Jae a video for any of the songs. It has been four years since “Rude Boy Get Up (No, No, No)” and Millz still hasn’t released an album and places the blame solely on Universal Records and it’s employees. Frustrated with his situation, Wanna Blow Records and Millz fought for their release in December of 2006. Now a free agent, Millz claims he’s on the cusp of signing a major deal that will give him the freedom to finally drop his album. The self-proclaimed “Statue” [of New York] discusses his label drama and his new deal in the works with XXLMag.com
What you been up to?
Just finishing some projects. I’m not on Universal anymore, so I’m a free agent. There’s about to be a big move made, but I don’t want to put it out there just yet. We also just finished shooting a documentary about me called Politics As Usual. I got a bunch of people on there — T.I., Young Dro, Jim Jones, Kay Slay, DJ Drama, DJ Khaled, Maino, Red Café, Stack Bundles. I’m talking about the struggle and grind I went through. It's answering everybody's questions.
So you signed a new deal already?
Nah, I ain’t sign nothing yet, but it's in the works. I have something up my sleeve. And if y’all think I’m just bullshitting, then you’ll see when it happens. Its gonna be a big situation.
How does your new material compare to your old songs?
My song making ability [has improved]. As you get older, you get better with time. But with me, I’m more comfortable now in my ability put songs together and bring my personality out. That’s not to say I don’t like my earlier music or I wasn’t in a zone, but all of the [old] records I put out were radio records. The record I did with Swizz [Beatz], “Streetz Melting,” was a big record. The song I did with Cool & Dre, “I Like That/Stop,” was a hot, summertime record. “My Swag” [produced by Scott Storch] might have been a radio record, but it was about being fly. “Bring It Back,” with me and Jadakiss, or the remix with Lil Wayne and Fabolous, was about being in the club. I move with the times. If you want to call me a battle rapper or a mixtape rapper, I don’t care. But I move with the times. I put out good records. I still got loyal fans and I never put out an album. People just want to hear me. They are gonna keep waiting for me to drop because they want to hear my story.
Do you think too much pressure is placed on bringing New York back?
Fuck all that bringing New York back. I'm done trying to bring New York back. Be fully muthafuckin’ clear, I'm representing New York to the death, but you can't bring New York back until the niggas in New York want to come together. One person can't do it. It's gonna take hearing Jay-Z back on songs with The Lox. It’s gonna take 50 [Cent] and Nas making a song about Queens. That's what it's gonna take. I can't do it. What the fuck can I do — a rapper who didn't put out an album? This shit is 10 times bigger than me. Like, Maino can't do it. Papoose can't do it. Remy, Juelz or Tru Life can't do it. We can't bring New York back. Everybody knows this shit. Niggas know what it's gonna take. So until then, I don't wanna hear no more, bring New York back shit. That shit ain't gonna happen until niggas want it to happen. Until then, put out hot records, get money and that's it.
Did you think your album, Back To The Future, was coming out after "Rude Boy Get Up (No, No, No)” dropped?
It was supposed to. Just think about it, if I would have dropped my album when “No, No, No” came out, what do you think would have happened? Imagine if Interscope would have never dropped Rich Boy’s album when “Throw Some D’s” blew up. What if Lupe Fiasco just did a video for “Kick, Push,” but his album never came out? Imagine if Universal [Records] put out “Who?” as my first single, then “Streetz Melting” as my second single. Then I came with “Bring It Back” and “My Swag.” I had four or five crazy songs off my first album. I basically put half of my album out already. So now, I have to re-record. That was all a waste of time. I learned something from it, but I just wasted years of my career over there.
What was the reason Universal gave you for not releasing your album?
I don’t know. Any questions that you have involving Jae Millz and why Back To The Future never came out, you have to ask Sylvia Rhone. [Laughs] I’m just being real. All you have to do is go to the Universal offices and ask Sylvia Rhone. Send her an email. Write her a letter. Do whatever, ‘cause she definitely has the answers. She’s the one who made the decisions about my project at the end of the day.
On your new song, “Respect You,” you talk about Sylvia Rhone [Executive VP of Universal Records] telling people you’re not a star.
Yeah, she didn’t think I was a star. So of course you’re not gonna invest money into someone. People are only going to put their time and money into what they think will make them money. So she didn’t put her time and energy into it. She didn’t feel anything good would come out of the situation, even though we got a record from Scott Storch on our own. Even though we got Fabolous, Lil Wayne and Jadakiss on our own. We got Slim Thug and T.I. on our own. We got a record for DJ Khaled on our own. We got all of this on our own, and we never did a record in the studio that they paid for. The final straw was when we didn’t get a video for “My Swag” or “Bring It Back.” It’s like, 'Damn, are we still trying to prove ourselves to you?' I thought I proved myself when you signed me? I can go prove myself somewhere else. I’m not gonna bad mouth or disrespect her, but I feel [she] stagnated my career. I’m not sitting around there, trying to prove myself to an old lady. And if I do have something to prove, you need to tell me and stop playing this little game like we about to pop off.
Are you afraid they might try to blackball you?
No! That’s going to happen regardless. Of course they are gonna do that. The whole game revolves around people blackballing people. But the minute I hear somebody tries to blackball [me] or throw some salt in the Kool Aid, then it's definitely going to be a problem. Nobody wants to see me and my niggas eatin’, but I’m cool with it. You can’t stop and block shit forever. But let me tell you how its gonna go [from] now [on]. My next record is gonna be some simple shit. I’m telling y’all now. I’m about to go straight simple, ‘cause I don’t have to prove I’m nice. I don’t think people get wacker. I’m not gonna fall off. At any given time, I’ll go for a 100 bars. But I’m letting y’all know, my next record is gonna be some simple shit. Then everybody who doesn’t know about me is gonna be like, “Who is this nigga with this stupid record?” But it’s gonna pop, brainwash y’all and you’ll start to love it. So I expect Universal to blackball me. I really don’t give a fuck, though. [Laughs] Do what you wanna do. No matter what, people are still gonna be grease balls, so do what you wanna do. That ain’t gonna stop me from recording and getting my money. It’s really gonna be middle fingers to the sky once I finish this next situation. I’m comfortable because I know what’s about to happen. Nobody else really knows, but I do, so I can talk hella shit right now and feel confident.