Yung Joc burst onto the scene in 2006 with his smash hit, “It’s Goin’ Down.” The track earned the ATL up-and-comer a Grammy nod and the high rankings on year-end lists by MTV and BET for top 100 songs honors. Teaming with Diddy’s Bad Boy label and Block Ent., Joc dropped New Joc City that same year, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.

With a feature on T-Pain’s megahit “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’),” it looked as though Joc was only continuing to gain steam. But soon things soured with his label situation, and just as quickly as he appeared in hip-hop’s forefront, he vanished from the spotlight. Yet, with successful singles from his own artists Hotstylz (“Lookin’ Boy”) and GS Boyz (“Stanky Leg”), he managed to stay relevant, behind the scenes as a budding executive rather than in the spotlight.

Now, with a new label situation at Jive and more focus than ever on his Swagg Entertainment, Joc is ready to talk about what happened with Bad Boy, what he’s learned about dudes in the industry, and infamous 360 deals. It’s still goin’ down. It’s been a couple years since people heard from you. What have you been up to since you parted ways with Bad Boy?

Yung Joc: Man, it really hasn’t been a couple years since people heard from me, though. It’s so funny when people say that. Last year I was on a Bobby V record [“Beep Beep”]. Just last year I put out the GS Boyz with the “Stanky Leg.” But what I’ve been doing is getting my business together. Last year—’cause I knew I was about to get out my deal—I did the Grind Flu album—a free album. Not a mixtape, an album. It’s mixed, it’s mastered, real foldouts, people get credits. I got Silver Dagger Vodka, some people from Chevrolet to come in and pay for the album. I knew once I got out of my deal, I was gonna have to show the label—for Swagg Team, my business side of things—that I could put a project together from start to finish and I got people to pay for it, without a buzz. They saw that, they was like, “Oh, not only is he a viable artist, he’s definitely a business man.” So I was able to get my label a deal and my deal at the same time. What about those situations are different?

Yung Joc: I’m more in control. Period, point blank. I control my own shit right now. And at Bad Boy that wasn’t exactly the situation? What was it like over there?

Yung Joc: Actually, it was cool at Bad Boy. And it was cool at Block Ent. to start with. The problem was, over time, that’s when the miscommunication began. Was there a particular breakdown in communication? Or things just began to grow in separate directions?

Yung Joc: We just grew in separate directions, I’m gonna leave it at that. Contractually, I can’t really talk about them. That was part of my release. I have nothing to do with them—anybody, Bad Boy, Block, or Atlantic. What did that whole situation teach you about the industry, beyond the music?

Yung Joc: I learned a lot, man. That’s a broad question to ask. But let’s just say, one of the funniest things that I’ve seen is how when you on fire and you call an artist to do something, they break they neck to get you a verse or hook from anywhere. When yo shit slow down, you can’t even get them to return a text message [Laughs]. That’s what’s funny to me. But I understand; ’cause a lotta these niggas ain’t real, no way. They were fortunate enough to make good music that caught the attention of the consumer, and that’s why they in the position they in. I’m just being honest, I ain’t hatin’ on rappers. I’m just saying this industry period, but I knew that anyway. But I got a chance to see it actually take place. What would you say about the current state of Atlanta hip-hop within itself, and where it sits within hip-hop as a whole?

Yung Joc: I would say this: the artists from Atlanta are good. But what I’m noticing is people from outside are coming here and using Atlanta as a springboard. A lot of people record in Atlanta. We have fertile soil for the business. It’s a good thing. So what’s the situation with Swagg Entertainment? It’s an imprint under Jive that you’re heading?

Yung Joc: Yup, I’m the head. It’s not just under Jive. I can place artists anywhere in Sony under the RCA umbrella. I just recently signed a cat Jah Jah from Columbia, South Carolina; a kid by the name of J.C. from Nashville, Tennessee. I put out two artists under the Jive regime, anyways. That was Hot Stylz, with the “Lookin’ Boy,” and GS Boyz with the “Stanky Leg” record. So the imprint is not new. It’s still fresh, though. We haven’t heard much from Hot Stylz since “Lookin’ Boy.” What’s their situation right now?

Yung Joc: We had a situation where one of the main members of the group, some stuff caught up with him. He had to sit down for a minute. He had to sit down for a minute, just to be straight with you, man. A lot of people are like, “No, don’t tell people that he got locked up,” but I have to be honest. Because, if not, people say, “Ah, well, he could only put out that one song, and that’s it.” I know some things may make you look bad, but the truth is the truth, and he had to sit down and do some federal time for a minute. He gets out on the 28th of this month, and they already got a record ready to go. What kind of position are artists in at this point? How can they function within the current set up in terms of deals and distribution within the state industry?

Yung Joc: There’s really no way to get around a 360 [deal] at this point in time. If you can get around a 360, you the shit. I was like the last artist to do a deal that didn’t fall under 360, back at Atlantic. 360 is nothing new. It’s new to the urban side of things, but it’s been around on the rock side of things. My situation is not a 360 deal. I’m one of the artists that got away Scott free, and I’m proud to say that. Is there a timetable for your releases?

Yung Joc: I’m about to release my new single, “Yeah Boy,” produced by Don Vito and his team. That shit outta here, so get ready for that. I’m back on they asses with that one, homie. You can tell, Okay, this cat is coming back for his spot and anyone trying to step in the way of that is gonna have some problems. And I say that with all my heart. I’ve been ready. I wasn’t sitting around waiting on a label to put me out—I wanted to make sure I had the right music. I can’t afford to fail on this project. I sat down with everybody; I sat down with Atlantic all over again, I sat down with Def Jam, I sat down with Capitol. I’m ready. I’m gonna put out a whole bunch of music and we gonna go from there. I’m not tryna drop no one single and then go buy the album. I know what the people wanna hear from me. It’s a formula for me. I’ve had a lot of people copy my style, and it’s all good. You set a trend and people follow trends. That’s how it go. —Adam Fleischer