FEATURE: Jim Jonsin, Anonymous
Jim Jonsin may not look familiar, but his production's undoubtedly recognizable. Having quietly produced hits like Trick Daddy's "Let's Go," Pretty Rick's "My Body," Jamie Foxx's "Unpredictable" and Danity Kane's "Show Stopper" in the past few years, Jonsin's name finally started buzzing when he scored two consecutive no.1 hits with Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" and T.I.'s "Whatever You Like."
Now, with Soulja Boy and Sammie's "Kiss Me Thru The Phone" sitting at no.4 on Billboard's Hot 100 single and contributions to Beyonce's I Am Sasha Fierce album among other projects, Jonsin is on the verge of becoming one of the game's most sought after producers. Adding entrepreneur to his resume, the Miami-based producer signed XXL Freshmen 10 alumnus B.o.B to his Rebel Rock imprint. The Atlanta MC's debut LP is poised to be released via a joint venture with Tip's Grand Hustle. XXLMag.com recently caught up with JJ to discuss how "Lollipop" was initially meant for Danity Kane, why his music is bigger than his name and the death of the super producer?
XXLMag.com: There’s definitely been a change in your sound. What made you switch it up?
JJ: I actually did a song called “Show Stopper” for Danity Kane. The thing at Bad Boy was as they were working on the album they were like we need another “Show Stopper.” I was always the guy that’s like, 'I’m not trying to do a record just like that record for a long time.' B.O.b can tell you I used to get aggravated when I had to do something that sounded like the last record but they wanted [it] so I made the track for “Lollipop” and meant that to be for Danity Kane. Static Major wrote an amazing song to it and it ended up being Lil Wayne’s record. The success of that record was so crazy that I said you know what, 'let me use the same sound I used in that and let me build a couple more tracks' and this happened in June  when I started doing those tracks, the “Whatever You Like” record I made the “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” record, I made quite a few tracks that are coming out, in June. It was like two weeks in June I hit the Hit Factory and I just murdered out that sound and like let me just use that same string sound and I made a few things and people loved it so I guess that song is a great ringtone sound it kind of follows the cookie cutter theme with "Lollipop" and built off that and I learned a lot from that. I learned a hell of a lot from that. I learned a lot about melodies and music and T.I- that T.I record was an inspiration. I was going to do a remix for Baby Bash and I was working on a remix for him and ended up getting those sounds for a remix for him and the very next track I did was the T.I record so I kind of fell into that. Everything happens for a reason, it’s strange.
XXL: How much has your phone been ringing since Lollipop or whatever went to number one?
JJ: My phone not much but my managers probably a lot. [Laughs] It’s been amazing to have that kind of success like that and ironically just off that sound I’ve done a lot of stuff like it and people ask me for that sound like, 'we need that thing, we need that thing, we need that sound.' I try to throw other stuff into it and be unique in ways but I also have so much other dope music like rock music and pop music coming out that don’t have anything to do with that sound, trying to be diverse.
XXL: Who are you working with right now?
JJ: For the past three days I been with Rich Boy and I had Ricko Love and Yellow Wolf in there writing with me for Rich Boy. We did some really good stuff, got like four records already, crazy. I’m working with who else right now… I’m working on stuff for Leona Lewis and Rihanna, Backstreet Boys, just did about five records with them. I’m going back in with them. I just sent some music for Tip before he went in. He's supposed to record two songs [on] two of the tracks I sent him. Young Dro, got a smash for Young Dro, pretty crazy, there’s a bunch of people and of course B.o.b, Baby Bash, Pitbull, I’m executive producing both of their projects.
XXL: How did you end producing “Kiss Me Thru the Phone” for Soulja Boy?
JJ: That was one of them June session tracks. I was in Atlanta working with B.o.b and Collipark called me up to swing by with Soulja Boy and told me to play him some music. I played him that track and him and Sammie wrote the hook. I believe Soulja boy wrote the hook and they did that on set, they did that at their own studio then brought it to me and I loved it.
XXL: So Soulja Boy wrote the hook for Sammie?
XXL: How much has the state of the music industry right now with all the budget cuts, affected producers?
JJ: That’s funny, I was just thinking about that yesterday. I was saying how just four years ago if I had this run I would be charging, like them other dudes are charging $100, 150 grand a record, those days are gone. I mean if you can get $25, 50 arranged like that then that’s pretty incredible. I could still charge a boatload of money for records but the way I look at is like if you have a budget of $300 or 400 [grand] and I come and charge you $100 [grand] for a record I’m only getting one on there and it’s gonna make it rough for them to get any other good records. So I try to keep it in a good price range, from independent to major, I try to keep my price at a reasonable rate so I can stay working with different people that don’t have big budgets.
XXL: Do you think the age of the super producer is over?
JJ: I hope not, I hope not. I think in all fairness as far as budgets go to artists, there might be other ways to make extra money. There’s other things creatively people can do, negotiate in different ways because if you want a record and your budget is 20k and someone else wants that same record and people are fighting over records it's hard for you to back up the price. So you may find other ways of doing it at the end of the day when it comes to those big advances, they're exactly that they're advances, so if you believe in the record you're doing or the artist you’re gonna get that money back anyway, they’re gonna recoup it from you anyway.
XXL: That’s interesting.
JJ: I want them to come back man. I don’t think I have an identifiable thing that I’m stuck with like, 'oh you like that sound good I’m gonna work on some new shit for you now' and I believe I’m talented enough to do it. I don’t wanna be that guy that charges $200 thou a record and they’re like aight I’m over him.
XXL: Why do you think your music is bigger than your name?
JJ: I don’t know it’s funny I was just...the past few artists I worked with, even with Lloyd, I was with Lloyd a couple of weeks ago and one of his buddies and they asked me to tell them what songs I’ve done and when I named the songs they flipped out like “wow you did that? You did that?” And so I made a CD the other day off my lady’s computer. I said, 'let me just put something together just to reflect back on the records I’ve done' and I’m talking about what I call my new run being this new stuff and then the old run and then the very old run when I was Jealous J back when I had bass music out [in the] early '90s. But now I’d say from like 2003 'till now there was some really good songs on there so to myself it’s pretty impressive, but yeah I moved on from that, from winning awards from stuff I did yesterday I need to work on some stuff from now so I don’t think people know. I think my name is a lot smaller than the music I’ve done and I just hired a publicist for the first time in my career really. I had a publicist in the past, I wasn’t really interested in being this famous guy I just wanted to make the music but now I think having the notoriety, people know who I am and just inspiring other people is important to my legacy and to everybody in my family.-Carl Chery