Way before Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” and the GS Boyz’s “Stanky Legg,” J-Kwon had us two stepping in the club. Coming straight out of St. Louis, the then teenage rapper introduced himself to the world with his hit song, “Tipsy,” in 2004. Though Hood Hop earned a gold plaque, Kwon wound up homeless shortly after the dissolution of his former label, Arista Records.

Back after a five-year break, Kwon recently released another dance song, “Louie Bounce (I Smacked Nikki),” leading up to his sophomore album, Hood Hop 2.5, which came out earlier this week (July 28). Now independent, the Lou representative is ready to return full force without major label backing. XXLMag.com recently caught up with Kwon to discuss his current label situation, his new music, and the death of dance music.

XXLMag.com: Where have you been?

J-Kwon: Aw, man. Working, in the studio. Just working hard.

XXL: You kind of disappeared so we were wondering what was going on?

J-Kwon: Man, I don’t even want to get into all that. You know the industry don’t like me. I can’t expose everybody like that, yet.

XXL: You say the industry doesn’t like you, but in the beginning when “Tipsy” was out, you were doing well.

J-Kwon: They still didn’t like me then, though. They didn’t wanna spin my record. They ain’t wanna spin it, until they had to spin it. That’s just how the game is. You see how hard it was for me to get another album.

XXL: What is your label situation right now?

J-Kwon: I don’t have one. We doing this independent. Me and Gracie. Hood Hop Music.

XXL: So your latest song “Louie Bounce (I Smacked Nikki)” was strictly independent?

J-Kwon: Yea. That’s all independent. We’re on our own tour. State to state right now, so that’s all out of our pockets. Ain’t nobody helping us with that.

XXL: What’s next for you?

J-Kwon: I don’t know yet. T-Pain just bought a big ass chain. I don’t know what I’ma do. I gotta do something.

XXL: Do you still work with the Track Boyz?

J-Kwon: Nah, I don’t work with them, but that’s my uncle. He brought me in the game so that’s always love.

XXL: Is there anybody you’re looking to work with?

J-Kwon: No, I don’t wan work with none of them, man. They crazy.

XXL: Are you still living in St. Louis?

J-Kwon: Yeah I got a crib.

XXL: How do you feel about other STL rappers?

J-Kwon: Man it’s dead. Me and Nelly run St. Louis. I ain’t lying. We don’t even like em’ for real.

XXL: You don’t like any STL rappers?

J-Kwon: Hell no. They cool. They peaceful. St. Louis real broke up. Like a jail cell or something. You got your set over here. You got your set over there. They stay in they lil turf. I’m from the Southside.

XXL: I noticed there’s a lot of dance music in St. Louis-

J-Kwon: Nah, see that’s where y’all getting it twisted. You know what, I shouldn’t have dropped that “Louie Bounce." They made me drop that. I’m not messing with no more dance records cause that ain’t what St. Louis is, man. Real talk. St. Louis is hood, man. We got music. Dudes who actually can rap, whether I like them or not, they got records. We just be picking the wrong ones sometimes. We just be picking the wrong ones sometimes. Tryna give everybody what they need, I’m finna give em’ what they want though. Watch this, though. You finna see it. Watch this.

XXL: A lot of the artists are just catering to the crowd they’re performing for, like at the clubs.

J-Kwon: Yeah, cause they tryna get on. Cause everybody feel like you can’t get on unless you supplying this type of record. It’s just a lot of these kids don’t have the bread to put up they self so just go with the flow. That’s not what it’s about—hardly what it’s about.— Kamaria Gboro