Volume 2: Diary of a Con Man - Jake One

April, 1999

It's Just A White Bar

        If you checked out the last column, you mightíve read in the "Shit Iím Feeliní" section about a beat CD by Seattleís Conmen. The 3rd in a series that is essential to anyone who claims to be a beathead, "Veteranos" is chock full oícuts: stuff thatís been used, stuff that hasnít, stuff that Iíve never heard before in my life.
        One half of that dynamic duo is the mighty Mr. Supreme: record specialist, producer, label CEO, DJ extraordinaire, and a guy who can bench almost twice as much as I can! (Check the World Of Beats archives for my interview with him back in '94.)
        The other half of the dyad is a cat by the name of Jake One. If youíve been paying attention to all the hot releases coming out on the Conception label (and if you havenít you best to wake the hell up!), youíve heard Jakeís ill beat making skills on singles like Kutfatherís "Neva Scared", Eclipseís "World Premiere", "Uprising" by Third Degree, and Jakeís own "No Introdeezy". That body of work, along with the upcoming shit on Conception and the Conmen beat tapes makes Jake one of the names to watch out for in hip hop as we move into the 21st century.
        I caught up with Jake recently and played the 20 breakbeat questions game. Of course it ended up being something like 26 questions! Check it out, yíall...

Soulman: First off, the basics. Give me a little personal history- where you're originally from, how you got started deejaying and digging for beats... you know, "The Origin Of Jake One".
Jake 1: I was born and raised in Seattle. Started trying to look for records and deejaying about 91 but not seriously till about 94 when I met Supreme. Got hooked on breaks by listening to James Brown and Sly Stone and hearing all the samples. Started doing records for release somewhere around 96 or 97 with a cut on Sharpshooters "Choked Up" album up to the past year with the various 12's on Conception.

SM: How did you and Mr. Supreme link up to form The Conmen?
J1: I used to go to the record store where Supreme worked called "Music Menu" around 95 and buy stuff but never really talk to him or anything. One day a friend of mine played one of my beat tapes at the store and Supreme was feeling it so we hooked up. I went over that guys house and was amazed. He had some shit that I had never seen and still to this day haven't seen anywhere but his house. Me and Supreme got along real well and he started taking me out on missions and schooling me on beat diggin. The Conmen thing just came about because we were just hanging out so much and shopping mad frequently everywhere.

SM: Before I met Supreme, all I really knew about Seattle was Steve Largent, Gary Payton, Ken Griffey and Sir Mixalot. I never would have guessed that there was any kind of a real hip hop scene there, with kids looking for beats and everything. What's it like to be, I imagine, the kings of underground hip hop in your town?
J1: Seattle isn't really a hip hop city or anything, everyone is into West Coast stuff but we do have a little scene. More and more I see new faces at the spots looking for records and whatnaught but there aren't many who really know their shit. People who do hip hop out here do it for themselves because nobody really cares about hip hop in Seattle. It's wack because I never get to hear anything I do on the radio while I'm hearing people tell me across the country that they heard this or that.

SM: What or who was your inspiration for doing the Conmen tape series?
J1: As far as inspiration for the tapes, of course the Soulman tapes and Muro tapes kind of gave me the idea to do it. I had also heard some wack tapes with a bunch of well known joints on there and I thought we could come with something better. I think if you put out a tape of this nature that you should have some shit, that I or my peoples don't know. Something to make me speculate on what it could be. There was one Muro tape that had a lot of things I didn't know that got me amped.

SM: No doubt, you cats and Muro were and are big inspirations of mine as well. Now, you know that cats are taking your tapes and sampling straight from them, right?
It's kinda ill, Ďcuz I know for a fact that there are at least 2 or more records that were made straight from off of my own Soulman tapes. How do you feel about producers jackiní shit straight from the Conmen tapes?
J1: Who made beats off of your World Of Beats tapes?

SM: Well I really donít want to say publicly since I am cool with the people who jacked the samples. But a couple of beats Iím sure were taken from my tapes and a couple of others I suspect but canít prove. All indy shit, by the way.
J1: I just had a complete beat jacked off of Eclipse "World Premier" by Nicole out of Missy Elliot's camp, so I'm kind of tripping off this whole beat jacking idea. As far as the tapes I don't even know, because most of the tapes aren't really sold in Seattle. We have had a couple of persistent kids trying to find out what certain records are but I don't know of anybody jacking some shit straight off the tape. You gotta be pretty wack to steal off a break tape, there are so many records to use even if you don't have crates.

SM: Damn, Missy and them jacked that Eclipse beat? That's my favorite beat by you. Are you gonna sue Missy and Mocha for taking your shit like that? Kinda ill thought, since we all take shit when you really look at it. But if they're gettin' gold and platinum money off of your beat I can understand wanting to take some legal action. I think I'd have to at least look into it, y'know...
J1: They took everything off of "World Premiere", including the breakdowns. The record was promo only so the lawsuit probably won't be as much as I would have liked. Hopefully the lawyers will get me some cheese though.

SM: Whatís you and Supremeís process for making your tapes? Do you plan out the sequence beforehand or do you just grab a stack of records and go for it? How long does it usually take you to do a tape?
J1: It usually takes a couple of days to do a tape because I like to sequence the records in a certain way. We usually both pull all the joints that we feel are worthy and hit the studio.

SM: On your site, in the "record nerd" section you questioned what was up with people fiendiní for these wack Canadian records. My sentiments exactly! Iíd take that a step further and ask whatís up with people fiendiní for these wack Italian records, UK records, Swedish records, etc. Theyíre not all wack, of course, but a lot of em ainít as hot as their $75- $150 pricetags. What do you think is the reason for people seeking this stuff?
J1: I think people are sweating the foriegn records because they don't have them and they most likely haven't heard them. It seems like they are after the records for bragging rights or some shit, because Frank Motley and some of those other Canadian records are pure shit.

SM: Yeah, I hate Grant Smith & The Power, too. I also was feeliní your statements on dollar bin records. Itís funny, Ďcuz at the last 2 shows I went to people were trying to sell me on all this expensive shit, and I just spent all day listening thru stacks of cheap ass 80ís records. I ended up with a whole crate of hot shit that only cost me maybe 30 or 40 bucks. Whatís it like for you these days, do you still mess with the $100 rarities or do you try to just focus on the cheap buys and trades?
J1: I've been forced to dig for the cheap bins because the rarities aren't turning up like they used to a couple years ago. I can't fuck with the 100 dollar record because I'm a broke college student, I like to find that 100 dollar record for five you know. I get most of my dope records through trading with other people, a skill I picked up from Supreme.

SM: Whatís the most youíve ever spent for a record?
J1: The most I have spent on a record is $50 which was for Fatback "Let's Do It Again", which I bought in LA last year. I usually won't spend more than 20 bucks on a record unless I really want it or can make some dough off it.

SM: Do you do much traveling for beats? Whatís your favorite city or area for finding shit? (you donít have to get real specific if you donít want to.)
J1: I love to travel for beats. Usually I go to Portland and Vancouver around here and I just came from LA . Later next month I'm headed out to Toronto and possibly Detroit. Traveling is dope because you get to see some new spots and when you hit a new store you never know what you'll come across. I think out of all the places in the US the bay area is the best for record shopping. Every time I go out there I find something ill for cheap.

SM: Of course, the question that we all get asked: how many records do you have?
J1: I got somewhere around 3 to 4,000. I stopped counting awhile ago, I recently had to move all my shit into shelves because the crates were everywhere.

SM: Who are some of your favorite artists to collect?
J1: Clare Fischer, Roy Ayers (affiliated projects) and Fatback are just a few of the groups I'm into.

SM: Okay, I know this might be a hard one to answer (it is for me) but whatís the most prized possession out of all your records and why? It doesnít have to be the most valuable record you own in terms of money value, but the one that means the most to YOU for whatever reason.
J1: Monty Alexander "Rass" It's not the rarest record but I wanted this record for about two years before I actually copped it. That Beatnuts cut "Let off a Couple" was my favorite song for awhile and the "Love and Happiness" cut off Rass is dope all the way through. When I heard that Beatnuts shit I got a flat tire on the freeway and was still bobbing my head to that beat.

SM: Out all the people you know or have heard about, who do you think has the illest beat collection in the world? (My vote is probably Prince B of PM Dawn, or maybe that guy from Pure Records. Or maybe you and Supreme!)
J1: I haven't really seen too many peoples collection's but of the one's I have seen it would be between Beni-B and Supreme. Beni-B had the largest quantity of dope records I've seen in my life. Supreme's collection is like my library and shit. He not only has a ridiculous collection but he treats the records like family. All the records are prisitine and the covers are all nice and everything. I go to his house when I want to learn something.

SM: Damn, how could I forget Beni? The sensai of records! So yo, thereís been a recent proliferation of reissues and comps exploding on the scene in the last couple of years. Some people love it, some hate it (you remember Primoís little tirade on the last Gangstarr lp). What are your views on it?
J1: I hate compilations because they trivialize the hard work people are putting into finding originals. Everybody has access to breaks like Shanghai, Skull Snapps and many others for 10 bucks. It's obvious 90% of these producers aint got the originals. Compilations make it to easy to make beats. With some of these compilations the "used by Premier" shit, all they are doing is getting people in trouble. The whole "used by..." is bullshit.

SM: Most of us vinyl junkies love everything about records, even the covers. Whatís your all-time favorite cover, if youíve ever even thought about that? (Mine is the Sheba Baby soundtrack. Why? You know why- Pam Grierís got some big ass tiddies!)
J1: Never really thought about that one but I guess it would have to be Roy Ayers "He's Coming". It just looks like a dope record, anybody would think there would be something dope on it.

SM: As the legendary Beni B has said, we usually start out buying soul records, then we grow into jazz, rock, ez listening, etc. What genre did your musical quest begin with? Where are you at now, what kinds of music are you primarily looking for these days?
J1: I started out looking for records with afros on the cover, went through a rock and easy listening records stage, and now I'm back to soul and jazz. I listen to the records that I've been sleeping on for years, that would've seemed too obvious to me a couple years ago.

SM: Have you had any wild or unusual experiences while out digging?
J1: I think the funniest thing I've seen is a friend of mine trading some weed for a copy of Skull Snapps.

SM: Do records interfere with or complicate your everyday life at all (you know, like girlfriend problems, storage problems, whatever)?
J1: Sometimes I have records on my mind too much and have had some problems. Typical shit like dragging my girl to too many spots and having her get mad and shit. I haven't had to fight over some records but a couple times I felt like it. (some fool grabs some dope shit in front of me at a show)

SM: Man, I KNOW that feeliní! One time this well known producer was at a record show digginí right next to me, and he actually started trying to flip through records in the same crate I was looking in, acting like I wasnít even there! The first time I let it slide, but then he did it again. I just turned and stared at him, giviní him a look like "muthafuckah I donít care WHAT your name is, if you donít get out of this crate Iím gonna fuck up your dental records!!" He quickly relented and apologized, and all was well. Anyway, sorry to go off on a tangent there. Back to the Q and A. How do you feel about taking your originals out to clubs or radio stations to dj with? I ask that because Iím REAL funny about taking my shit out. I basically turned down a chance to dj on Bahamadiaís radio show here in Philly because I didnít want to take my joints out of the house.
J1: I wish I had that predicament, but I don't get to play breaks in the club or radio out here. I do get scared cutting up some special joints for the tapes. I don't want to burn em out so I try to be careful. My Lyn Christopher and Giant records were victims on the first tape.

SM: Yeah, thatís why sometimes my scratches drag a little on my tapes. I canít bear to harm my babies! But Giant AND Lyn?? Ooh, that hurts just to think about. A-ight, next question. How important is it for you to have thousands of records when it comes to hooking up your own beats? I remember you and Supreme talking about this on your site, and for me, all these records really seem to get in the way sometimes when Iím tryiní to fuck with the MPC2000.
J1: When I make beats its usually with something I just picked up. Its hard to listen to records you've had sitting around for awhile. I've been trying to listen to my own joints because I'm getting tired of feeling wack when Premier or somebody else freaks something I already have.

SM: Whatís it been like running your own indy underground hip hop label in this era of "jiggy" commercial rap? Have you ever at all felt compelled to go that route with your music?
J1: It's hard doing hip hop right now because everything is so categorized. The underground gets mad if you recieve money for your work or whatever, and the jiggy stuff is generally formulatic. I'm not on some "independent for life" shit, I want a lot of people to like my records not just the backpackers. If you look at it, the dopest rappers and producers are fucking with majors in the end. Its like Company Flow may be true hip hop and whatnaught but Jay Z is still a superior rapper regardless of how corny the beat he is rapping over. I'm trying to hit a middleground between the two and not change my style.

SM: What happened with the distribution deal Conception had with Sub Pop? (Feel free to dis them as viciously as you want.)
J1: Sub-Pop is a rock label and they didn't get the records into the stores so we couldn't sell no records. With Nu-Gruv I think people will be able to attain the records and that should make a big difference. Sub-Pop is not a very smart label, in the end they basically just set Conception up to do bigger and better things.

SM: As we head into the year 2K, where do you see the beat digging scene going? Is everybody gonna buy Trinityís and sell their samplers? Will used record store owners die of starvation? Or do you think people will continue hunting for beats?
J1: I think they're will always be people looking for records and making beats, it will probably get smaller though. You can't just grab shit and loop it anymore, you gotta have some kind of creativity to be nice in 99. The record buying crowd seems to be growing all the time and it is harder and harder to find things. I'd be curious to see what beat digging would be like without the Japanese or UK influence.

SM: What current hip hop records or artists are you really feeling right now?
J1: Anything by Jay Dee and Slum Village. The new Roots album is banging. I'm also feeling "Guaranteed" by Dilated Peoples.

SM: Yeah, "Guaranteed" is my beat! That was done by my man Al (Alchemist). Heís gettiní ready to explode, watch for that kid. As for Slum Village, everybodyís talking about them so they must be hot but Iíve heard like two tracks and wasnít feeliní em. Must be some other shit I havenít heard yet. Well, what can we look forward to hearing from Jake One, The Conmen & Conception in the near future?
J1: The Conmen will drop two new editions of break tapes within the next couple months. I will probably drop my solo album on Conception in Summer-Fall of this year.

Jake One's Top 5 Record Stores (in no particular order):
1. Django's (Portland) -
Always find ill records in the five for a dollar bin. Apparently it isn't hot 24/7, but everytime I go I get something.
2. Red Barn (Vancouver) -
Ty got that shit out in Vancouver. Stupid cheap also.
3. Grooveyard (Oakland) -
Somewhat pricey but he has all kinds of odd jazz records.
4. 2nd Time Around (Seattle) -
Can be wack or dope depending on the day. They don't know shit so you might see BT Express for 25 and Steamed Heat for 3 (true story). Also found 5 copies of Ramp in a week.
5. Atomic (Los Angeles) -
Too expensive for my pockets but they have ill records regardless.

Jake One's Bottom 3 Record Stores (in no particular order):
1. A-1 (Los Angeles) -
This guy is on the product. Apparently he has a lot of dope stuff for the "program" but that didn't do shit for me. This fool tried to charge me 35 bucks for Lenny Breau! He also talked about all his famous customers like that was supposed to make me buy something. Records start at 15 and go up to 10,000 according to a flyer at the store.
2. Bop Street (Seattle) -
Can be a good spot but the owner is retarted. He's on some anything you bring to the counter is 20-30 dollars.
3. Bleeker Bob's (Los Angeles) -
I heard his store in New York has dumb prices also. I couldn't believe I saw Johnny Hammond "Gears" for 60 bucks. Everything was at least 20.

        Thanks to Jake for taking the time to rap with me. Donít forget to check for the new Conmen tapes and the Ridiculous Records website, and for more info you can e-mail him.

It's Just A White Bar

It's Just A White Bar

1. PETE ROCK: "Soul Survivor" (LP)

    Man, people ainít digginí this album??? A sure sign that the rap world has been totally flipped upside down, Ďcuz this is a damn good hip hop record. My faves: "Tru Master", "Half Man Half Amazin", "Tha Game", and "Itís About That Time" (I read in a couple of magazines that Black Thoughtís verse wasnít all that- what are these muthafuckas huffiní???) What I am NOT feeliní is that video for "Take Your Time". Fuck that flossy shit, they shoulda made the video with more of a "Reminisce" type of vibe. Something you can feel, not some olí plastic "ho in a g string, sippiní cristal in my mansion overlooking the ocean" bullshit. I guess the record wasnít selling like theyíd hoped it would so they tried to go the jiggy route as a desperation move. Bad decision.

2. RAHZEL: "All I Know"
    This cat is amazing. Heís got all the beat box niggas defeated, and that dude from the Police Academy movies canít fuck with him either. People say he needs to work on his rhyming, but he sounds pretty nice to my ears. Pete Rock blazed him with a hot track, but itís really all about the hook. Sounds like Premier or somebody cutting up James Brown singing "all I know" and other vocals taken from records, but itís all coming from Rahzelís mouth. The album should be interesting.

3. GHOSTFACE KILLAH: "Ghostbond"
    OK, so we donít know exactly what the hell Ghost is saying. So what? This shit right here is crazy! Ghost spits his Wu-thug lingo over a sinister blaxploitation style beat, aided and abetted by his partner in criminology Raekwon. People are sayiní Starks album is gonna be the hottest shit to come out in awhile... just the kiss of life that the Wu needs right now.

4. DILATED PEOPLES: "Guaranteed"
    On the "Rework The Angles" 12", this cut produced by Alchemist is the ill shit. Lyrically nice, but itís the beat, man... subtle, simply chopped horns over drums and thatís basically it. Check for Alís stuff, Ďcuz thereís gonna be a ton of hot joints he produced hitting the streets this year.

    So far heís the MVP this year, in my opinion. I told people when he was a rookie that he was the best thing to hit the NBA since Jordan and people laughed. I knew it was just a matter of time. And heís still not really there yet. A little more experience and he might lift the Sixers to the title in a couple of years, for real. Just donít let your cats drive your whip around, a- ight Bubbachuck?

    I was gonna say fuck Jason Williams but itís not really his fault that heís getting too much premature publicity right now, just like it wasnít Kobeís fault last year. Jason and Paul Pierce are both first year players with mad potential. But the rookie of the year is Vince Carter in Toronto. They need to bring back the slam dunk contest, too, because this guy can show you some new shit you just havenít seen before when it comes to dunks. Check Sportscenter whenever theyíre not showing Williams carrying the ball and you might see one of Vinceís rim-bending windmills.

7. NWA
    Just went back and listened to all my old NWA tapes and it really dawned on me- these guys are probably the most influencial group in hip hop history, arguably even in modern music history. Ever since they came out and said, "fuck it, weíre gonna go all the way and say whatever we want to say", music has never really been the same. Some may say thatís a good thing, some of course think itís terrible. But thereís no denying the impact that NWA has made in society within the last decade.

    You might not know who Avonte is, but I sure do. Sheís the brown skin lady thatís been blessing the pages of Black Men magazine for the last year or so, and sheís also been on some of the various Soulman World Of Beats Vol. 3 inside covers. Damn, does she make a bikini look good!

    Yes, Iíve heard it all- heís overrated, heís gone commercial, heís the great white hope. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whuteva. Say what you will, but Slim Shadyís got some rhymes foí dat ass. He paints incredibly vivid images, uses a lot of "compound rhymes" (or whatever the term is for rhyming a number of words within a line instead of just the one at the end of the line) and he comes up with ill concepts that nobody else would ever think of- to me, thatís the most important sign of a great mc. I knew he could freestyle, but itís the story rhymes that really got me- "As The World Turns", "Guilty Conscience", "97 Bonnie & Clyde" and "Brain Damage". Iíve seen people in some newsgroups compare Eminem to Rakim, but with the voices changes and his x-rated storytelling ability I think heís closer to Slick Rick. Regardless of the hype, admit it- this kid is something special. Here are some of my favorite lines from "The Slim Shady LP":

"I used to be a loudmouth / Remember me? Iím the one that
burnt your house down / Well Iím out now / And this time
Iím cominí back to blow your house up/
And I ainít gonna leave you with a window to jump out of"

"Got pissed off and ripped Pamela Leeís tits off /
And smacked her so hard
I knocked her clothes backwards like Kriss Kross"

"Will someone please explain to my brain
that I just severed a main vein
with a chainsaw and Iím in pain?"

"Slim Shady / Brain dead like Jim Brady /
Iím a M-80 / You little like that Kim lady"

"You wacker than the muthafucka you bit your style from /
You ainít gonna sell 2 copies if you press a double album"

    One thing I have to say, though- last time I was in New York, I was talking to some industry cats and the subject of Eminem came up. I hope he knows what heís doing talking so much shit on his records, because the streets are definetly watching. Some people might be looking to test Slim while heís on tour to see if heís really as bad as he spits it on wax. Watch ya step, kid...

10. TOMMY GUERRERO: "Loose Grooves And Bastard Blues"
    Big Rich Medina at Footwork Illadelph put me up on this 1998 release that shouldíve gotten a lot of notice but didnít get much at all. T.G. rocks all the instruments (mostly acoustic guitar and bass) over some recognizable drum loops. Sparse, minimalist and nice as fuck. Particularly feeliní "BWís Blues", "So Blue Itís Black", "30" (which kinda reminds me of Shuggie Otis), "Never" (my SHIT!), "Gone" and "In My Head". A few of the cuts sound maybe a little too similar but so what? This is chill out music at itís best- hop in the convertible, throw it in the deck and take a drive somewhere where thereís a lot of trees and fresh air, dude. If I ever produce a full length album Iím findiní this cat to play on it.
        And that concludes another installment of the New World Of Beats. Feedback is most welcome, so let me know what you think about the new shit, a-ight? Next time out weíre gonna go to a dark alley somewhere in the streets of New York to talk to the mystery man who puts out the Dusty Fingers and Strictly Breaks comps (no, Primo hasnít put a hit out on him yet!). Peace.

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