Jay IDK Opens Up About the Double-Edged Sword That Comes With Getting Money
"Mo' money, mo' problems." When The Notorious B.I.G stamped that phrase into the hip-hop history books on his iconic song of the same name in 1997, he wasn't lying. The more money you have, the more problems you're sure to run into. Financial stability or wealth is something every person wants to achieve in their lifetime. The ability to buy what you want and spend what you want without a care in the world is a tantalizing fantasy that most people have, especially in hip-hop.
But money isn't everything, or Jay IDK says on his new album, The Empty Bank, "Money ain't shit." That's why the DMV native's LP is so refreshing because he keeps it real about the obstacles that come when the bag is secured. Jay shares his story about the struggles and outside pressures he's experienced when it comes to money. On tracks like "Boy’s Innocence,” he raps, “The money take the boy’s innocence/The money tell the boy load the clip.” Thought-provoking lines like this prove Jay is out to send a message with his new album.
The Empty Bank is not only sonically impressive, it's a conceptual think piece for mass consumption. Jay IDK sits down with XXL to talk about making real money, saving and the balancing act of being a rapper while being financially responsible.
XXL: I feel like there’s an obvious jump in recognition for you this year. What has the last couple of years been like for you?
Jay IDK: I think the last project got my name out there, to the point where at least most the people in the industry kind of know who I am or heard of me. Same thing with my hometown. Nobody didn’t know who I was but now almost everybody at least heard the name. That’s cool. We’re definitely getting a lot more shows and interviews and things like that. A lot has changed. I definitely got to a next level so that’s what’s important.
What’s changed with you as a person?
Now that I’m getting money a little bit more and being around it, now I’m starting to see how it really is. It’s not all that’s cracked up to be. That’s what my album is about. It’s about money and telling the truth about money. People kind of expect me to have more than I actually have and sometimes being a rapper you play into it. I’m starting to realize that’s not really the route to go. It’s about keeping it real.
More money, more problems. What have you learned about the money? What instances have you been involved in?
Maybe sometimes when I’m close to spend my money on something or save my money and keep it in a savings account instead of clothes and shoes and things like that I really shouldn’t [buy]. But because I have it I do it, I feel like I’ll get it back anyways. That’s one of the main things that I’m learning and be more mindful of.
Saving is not something you hear a lot from rappers. It’s the keen thing to do, the smartest rappers do.
The Empty Bank talks about really specific instances where I kind of make the wrong moves based off of money and it also details instances where I was acting like I had money when I really didn’t have that much money. The project really spells out a lot of that. If you listen to it, you’ll get an understanding of what’s going on in my head.
That’s super honest of you. Rappers tend to be the opposite when it comes to discussing financial stability. Are you fearful of potentially negative responses?
No. There’s peer pressure of not being respected of having a certain amount of money but if you know who you are then you see that and look past it. For me, I just want to be honest because there will be a time when I could afford all that but if I’m acting like I have it now, it’s not going to be as dope when I actually do have it and talk about it. I just talk about the truth so that people can kind of grow with my music and when I do have it, it feels a lot better.
What is the most difficult thing about the creation process up until now?
Just always trying to find the next thing to do that’s different that hasn’t been done. Finding the next thing to do as you continue to progress.
How do you discover that? That’s so hard.
For me, what I do, this sound crazy to say, but a lot of these ideas from me come natural. I never force it. I sit down and I think about it for a little bit. I might be driving in a car and an idea would just come to me. If it’s really important and really good, I can hold it in my mind but sometimes I write it down on my phone, for like a marketing plan. For the most part, all the main big shit stays in my head.
Why such a provocative album art?
I thought that was the best way to explain the whole project in one picture. I wanted it to be something that stands out when you see it. When you see it and you see 10 other album artworks around it, [mine] matters the most. For me, I just wanted it to be bold and telling the truth. That picture represents being a slave to money. Not saying someone else is a slave to money or people around me are, I’m saying me. At times, I can be a slave to money.
How do you break free?
Honestly, realizing that there are more important things than money like family, having a wife one day that you can start a family with and kids. All of those things are very important. There are people that would trade any amount of money for that. There’s people that have lots of money and can’t have that. There are a lot of things that money can’t buy and once you realize that is how you break free.
What’s your favorite song off the album?
I like “Priorities 1” and “2” just because of how honest they are. I feel like people will really feel what I’m talking about on there. I also like the outro too. It was very honest as well and truthful and different.
Were your parents very money-conscious?
My mom was a little bit. My stepdad wasn’t too crazy. My mom just didn’t like when I used to get money in ways that you’re not supposed to get money [laughs]. When I started buying my own shoes and own clothes, it was like, she used to get mad because she wanted to know everything and if she didn’t buy it, it’s not allowed to be in the house. That transition was a little weird. But for the most part, they weren’t really too crazy because we didn’t spend money too crazy.
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