Back On The Block
With the first release on his million dollar Babygrande deal dropping, can JR cut through the Dipset drama and take his career to the next level?
Since making his Dipset debut on “Squalie,” a track from Juelz Santana’s 2003 debut From Me To You, 23-year-old JR Writer has stayed consistent. In 2004 he dropped his first mixtape in the Writer’s Block series which kept the streets talking about his diss records at Memphis Bleek, Mase and Jae Millz. But it was his official debut History in the Making on KOCH Records that hinted at bigger things to come. After signing a new seven figure deal (that’s at least a million bucks, kids) with Babygrande Records in September, he’s gearing up to launch his own entertainment company, Writer's Block Records. With all the Dipset drama between Jim Jones and Cam’ron, and with Writer’s Block 5, JR’s first release under the new deal dropping next week, now is the time for the Writer of Writers to prove that he's a driving force in his own right. XXLMAG.COM got a chance to speak with the Washington Heights MC about his big plans.
Seven figures is a lot of money. How did the deal with Babygrande come about?
I was introduced to Chuck [Wilson, Babygrande’s CEO] through a mutual friend. I sat down with them and they told me that they really wanted to invest in me. They really felt what I was trying to do and really [wanted to] take me to that next level. The deal they offered me [is] a really good move for my team and what I have planned next. They’re more like the distributor for Writer’s Block [Records], so I‘m in more control over at Babygrande than I was at KOCH. I’m more hands on and have more creative freedom.
Who can we expect to see you collaborate with on Writer’s Block 5?
Honestly, I’m not really planning any features. I just bought a studio in New Jersey so I can work on some material for myself and really cook up that crack. So besides my little brother [Fred Money], it’s just me bringing that rugged and rawness. With this album I’m really going to kick it up another notch. I already have parts one through four. With [part] five, I think I’ve transformed the Writer's Block mixtapes into the Writer's Block series.
What made you decide to transition it to more of an album format?
When I started the Writer's Block mixtapes, it was really to get my name out there and the buzz kept it going. Then when I released Writer's Block 4 with 50,000 sold with no budget, no airplay or promotions, it spoke to a lot of people. So I think that I’ll definitely out sell part four. Now I’m shooting videos and releasing singles, so it’s gonna be crazy.
You have two artists on your Writers Block Records label—Fred Money and Spectacular—who happen to be your brothers. Are you planning on doing solo projects from them in the future, or have you signed any new artists?
I haven’t really signed any new artists. Spectacular is a producer—he’s produced a few tracks in the past for me. But Fred Money, I’m trying to more or less help him be the best artist that he can be. I’m not going to rush and put out an album for him. Right now he’s only 17, so I’m showing him the ropes to make sure that when he is ready, he’ll be able to make it to that next level. I’m trying to take care of all my fam.
With the back-and-forth that Cam and Jim have been having, some people have suggested that this is the end of the Diplomats.
We’re cool. I don’t like to feed into all of that—the media likes to blow a lot of things out of proportion. But as far as the 50 Cent and G-Unit ordeal, that’s music. Cam and Jim are cool, they just had some personal differences.
Dipset has been involved in a lot of beef, some of which you’ve weighed in on. You and Memphis Bleek, Loon, Ma$e, Tru-Life and Nyce have all exchanged words. Do you think all that negativity could have an effect on your career?
I don’t really feel it will. Anytime I did a record, it was in retaliation. I’m not the type of person to start beef to sell records. I did what I had to do to respond to people getting at me. I did one record and addressed everybody and that was that. I really don’t do the crazy back and forth, because to me it’s not that serious. To me it’s one record, you’re down and I keep it moving. It’s funny how people misuse the word beef—beef is when your mom can’t walk the street and it’s not on record. So to me what’s going on in the industry is not beef. I feel like if you have a beef record, that’s one lane, but when you’re doing your album and working through your label, that’s another. You don’t let the two mix. There’s no way you can be successful and let personal shit affect your work.