Jim Jonsin is one busy man. The South Florida producer has been in the lab lately carving out beats for the likes of T.I., Mary J. Blige, Wiz Khalifa, Usher, Yelawolf and B.O.B.

Here, the producer extraordinaire sits down with XXL to talk creating for an All-Star cast, how he hopes to produce more for T.I. and land a beat on Jeezy's Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition album, being in the studio with Eminem and Yelawolf and how Diddy's former group Danity Kane passed up on Weezy's "Lollipop." Bet they would ask for that one back. —Mark Lelinwalla

Who are you currently producing for?

Jim Jonsin: Wiz Khalifa, T.I., I got stuff for Usher, and a Mary J. Blige record — it’s called “Mr. Wrong.”

You have history with T.I.

Definitely. Tip’s my homie.

He’s in the halfway house and is almost home. What kind of record did you submit to him?

I just want to do great songs for him. I can’t [think] for him, but when we get in, I’m going to get out there to Atlanta and he’ll spell that out. T.I. is his own man. He’s a writer. He does his own thing, he’s got his own vision, so we’ll follow what he wants to do and then produce it. He’s a genius. He’s been through some tough shit in the past two years–a lot of bumps in the road–but he’s going to get past that. We’re just hear to help however we can.

From one ATL rapper to another, we seen the YouTube video where you’re constructing a beat for Young Jeezy. What’s the background story to that?

Well, here it is. Jeezy will hit me occasionally, like just random hit me, 'I’m looking for some music,' and I’ll send him some music, something I think he might like working on, and it hasn’t transpired into anything yet. So, I’m eager to get a record on Jeezy's [album] because I like him as an artist and as a person also, so I’m trying to really make something. So, it’s become this running thing like if I’m doing an interview on TV I’m like, I’m making a beat for Jeezy. I was in a session with LL Cool J and I was making a beat for Jeezy. So, that’s that. I’m really trying to make a smash for him. So, I make a couple of beats for him. He has the option to [record over that beat].

TM103 is coming up soon…

With every album there’s a process from the label standpoint to the artist’s. The artist believes he has something, the label believes they need something. They bring in producers to give him something they think is for the radio. It’s funny because it could be the first three records recorded on the album that are the biggest records and because they heard them so much they got used to them, but they’re looking for that fresh meat, that flavor. So, it tends to be the last songs cut for the album that tend to be the singles. Doesn’t mean they should be. Jeezy probably feels like, I got a record and then the label might think otherwise. So, they’re looking for that one because you have to lead off with something. Right now we’re all learning from the Internet with artists like Wiz, Mac Miller, Yelawolf. They’re kind of dictating how shit goes themselves. You don’t need a label to tell you, a program director, a Jim Jonsin… you need your fans. Artists like Tip, Jeezy, they need to really adjust to that, have faith in their music and see if the kids like it. I could tell you what sounds great, give you an 80%-100% chance it’s a hit, but I can’t guarantee that. If I’m in a room and I kind of see people talking like, 'his shit is crazy,' I know I got something. You just came up on a diamond.

Talk to me about the B.O.B. and Lil Wayne record.

As far as a lead off, I think it’s good to drop something like that. I’m not crazy about the record, personally, but I think it’s a good lead off, a good teaser. B.O.B. got some joints. This [second] album is better than the first one…by a long shot. He’s killing it. B.O.B. is a whole new beast on this project. We’re slated to get back together real soon.

What’s good with your guy Yelawolf?

I was just in Detroit with Yela and Eminem. We did a couple of songs. We did like three records–one called “Alabama,” another called, “Yeah, That Boy.” The “Alabama” record is a heartfelt record for the state of Alabama. It’s a smash.



Is that Yelawolf alone? Or are there features on that track?

That’s just Yela, yeah. We’re going to feature a singer on the chorus because it got a real emotional chorus. We’re going to get in for another two weeks before [his album’s] done.

How is it being in the studio with Eminem and Yelawolf?

It’s just three creative people vibing. Eminem has very strong, good concepts. He’ll sit with us and we’ll talk about direction and where we’re going to go. Then it’s about feeling the room out when you’re making beats–see if Em is digging it, Yela is digging it. From there, he lets Yelawolf do his thing, then he puts his input in and co-writes whatever. Yela and I were talking about…I actually introduced Eminem to Yelawolf, played his videos for them.

What did you say to Em about Yelawolf?

I told Eminem, Look, in terms of Yelawolf being a new artist and new White rapper coming out, he’s going to get compared to you. People are going to say, Oh, he’s trying to be like you, but if you get in with this kid, maybe do a couple of records with him–some sort of co-sign–it’s going to help. Eminem is a legend and if he puts his stamp on somebody it’s a great thing, but I think he sort of owes that to somebody like Yela because he knows how hard it is being a White rapper. Yela and I talked and we manifested that situation of what it would be like if he signed to Eminem. That’d be crazy. When we got in, I made it my point to open my mouth and he signed him, which is incredible. God is good. I still get to produce for him. Eminem was graceful enough to allow me to come in and still work with him. I look at Yela like a kid brother. I want him to win regardless. Same thing with B.O.B. I look at him like a little brother also.

Are you working with Eminem individually also?

When he gets in, I hope he reaches out. There’s no guarantees, but I’d love to be a part of it.

Fans are aware of the whole Lil Wayne “Lollipop” lawsuit over unpaid royalties. Is all that squashed?

Well, we handled the business end of that with Cash Money with Slim and Birdman, but Lil Wayne and I never had beef. We were hit with a couple of lawsuits from different people that’s over now and then the royalty thing. They have a history of being a label that conducts business a certain way. I knew that going in, but we have an understanding now and everything is cool. Me and Wayne never had a problem. I just sent a record to them to do. I’m not sure if they’re going to cut it or not.

Producers often make beats with an artist in mind but it winds up in the hands of another artist. Do you have situations like that?

Yeah, “Lollipop” was that story. “Lollipop” was the beat I was making for Diddy, Danity Kane. A guy named Slam told me that he needs the next “Showstoppers” because I did that. I made “Lollipop,” [Danity Kane] wasn’t really feeling it. I brought it over to Static and he had a melody, chorus, bridge and delivered it to Wayne. Another one and I hate this story, but Baby Bash called me about doing this remix. But they sent the wrong record like, Aw man that’s the wrong one! They sent the right one, I remixed that, readjusted it and that was “Whatever You Like” T.I. It worked out. I worked with Rich Boy on some songs and I worked with Yo Gotti and we were playing the “Just a Dream” track and we had a different hook ideas. They both passed on that record. It wound up being “Just a Dream” for Nelly and that was huge. I know the records, the beats that are going to be big. You could never go away from that feeling.

How did you get into racing?

I grew up around cars. My buddy told me he wants to take me to the track, but I didn’t have the right car. My wife has a BMW. I asked her, Baby, can I take your car to this driver’s education thing. She’s like, Sure. Had I known, I was going to be killing it–breaks gone. After that any track I got invited to, I’d go. Then I started my own racing team with a friend. I love it. Hopefully, I’ll bring some artists out to the track.