Jae Millz recently sat down with VIBE to talk about his latest mixtape, Dead Presidents 2, and what his favorite song off the project is.
They also discussed Millzy‘s “Molly” song featuring 2 Chainz, working with Beautifull April, what he thinks of the new rappers coming out of Harlem today, becoming a father, how he feels he has changed as an artist from when he first started, and more.
You can read the full interview after the jump below.
VIBE: You started off Dead Presidents 2 with the line, “I know I still ain’t drop my album.” Are you waiting for the right time?
Jae Millz: You know when it’s time to drop your album, and you know when it’s not time. I feel like there was a time where I could’ve dropped my album and I might’ve missed my boat. I had to get back on my grind, I had to start over, and I had to go back to the drawing board. If you notice, my mixtape don’t got no freestyles on it. So I had to let people know. I released Dead Presidents 2 February 5. I hadn’t put a mixtape out before that since April. That’s kinda long for a person like me, so I think the fact that I haven’t put an album out yet, people who don’t really know my past, they hold it against me.
You put 23 tracks on this mixtape. It’s obvious that you’ve been working. Why’d you choose to release such a lengthy piece of work?
Because at the end of the day, I really didn’t put no music out last year. Personally, this is from the heart. I feel last year, was one of my most un-prosperous years that I’ve had in my career. I don’t feel like I got any further last year. I don’t know if that sounds crazy or if I’m being too hard on myself but I don’t feel like I lifted my career last year. I feel like I was staying afloat. I had so much other things going on, with my daughter being born and just trying to get other things right. I was moving to a bigger crib so my bills was different, it was just a lot that came along with it. If you listen to Dead Presidents 2, you can hear it. You can hear that Millz went through something
You chose the title Dead Presidents again. Is money one of your motivations or a theme in your music?
They say money is the root of all evil, but money make the world go round, so it’s like a catch 22. That’s why I feel like Dead Presidents, that’s really what the world is about or at least the world that I live in. I’m from Harlem, New York City, so I’m from the mecca of the whole rap game, the home of the hustlers, I’m a 80’s baby. A lot of people don’t really understand why I’m not a big strip club dude. People don’t get it, but if I explain it to them they’ll get it. It’s like, bro, ain’t no strip clubs in Harlem. I never known a strip club to be in Harlem, not when I was growing up there, not when I was an adult. We got gambling spots. I know how to gamble. I know how to get money. I don’t know how to waste it. I don’t know how to throw it away. If I do it, it’s a celebration. I’m not doing it every night. Not to knock the strippers. I know they gotta get they money, do your thing baby, but everything ain’t for everybody.
Are you comfortable with your current financial situation?
Yeah, I’m cool.
What’s your favorite track off the mixtape and why?
My favorite track off the mixtape would probably be “Pure Honesty.” I couldn’t even find a name for the song, so I just named it “Pure Honesty.” My boy B Don sent me the beat — shout out to my boy Steve Reason; he played the loud saxophone on there. I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want the song to just go off, that’s why I put the rain and the thunder on for about a minute. I think that’s what’s missing from hip-hop, just creativity, different things. We’re dealing with a whole different era, a whole new generation. I think ‘Pure Honesty’ is one of them songs where it could’ve been an album record. It could’ve been an intro to an album record or the outro to an album, it could’ve been a single. It could’ve been anything. I’m just glad that my fans took it for what it was when I recorded it. I appreciate that.
You worked with Beautiful April, who’s a published model on two different tracks: “She Bad” and “Sleep with my Shades On.” What was that like?
Yeah, April is my home girl. She’s from out the West Coast. She told me she wanted to try the rapping thing a couple of months ago. So I told her she should put her face in music, let’s work on some stuff and we just been working on some music lately. Just to get her out there, see how people perceive her. I threw her on the mixtape, and in the midst of us working we did another joint. She’s something new. It ain’t like she’s been down with a bunch of labels and a bunch of different crews and had deals.
You also worked with Smoke DZA on the mixtape. He’s obviously from Harlem, like you. Who else do you respect out of Harlem that’s coming up in the game right now?
I respect everything that’s coming out of Harlem. You gotta understand, Harlem is only about fifty blocks long. From Central Park to the Rucker, up the hill down the hill. There’s not a lot of people that’s going to make it out of this little place. For us to have people like Juelz — he’s back and his mixtape was hot. He’s one of those people from New York who’s a frontrunner. Of course my homie Vado, you know that’s like my brother. He’s basically family now, congratulations to my boy. He just signed to We the Best/Cash Money. So he’s YMCMB now, that’s all love. I’m feeling the whole A$AP movement, all of them. I think that’s just like some Wu-Tang, Dipset, Death Row type new shit. I know where they come from and I’ve seen a couple of them grow up. Shout out to my boy A$AP Ferg. He just got a big deal too. They’re ringing his records off in New York. It feels good to see people like A$AP Rocky go Number One on Billboard and he’s from Harlem; he’s from the hood. I got my Most Hated movement, Diplomats supposed to be doing they 10th year anniversary of Diplomatic Immunity, so that’s going to be fire.
In a recent interview, you dropped the name Nothing is Promised as the title of your upcoming album. You said that you wanted to make sure that if you never release another album, you want to be comfortable with it being the only one. Can you explain?
That’s just life: Nothing is promised. I put out a song every week since the ball dropped. Since we walked into 2013, Jae Millz has put out a new record every week. Some people don’t even notice that. That’s how I got my buzz back. That’s how I got people to pay me attention. You got to just come with the music. I know I can’t give you no freestlyes no more. Ya’ll don’t want to hear me rap over “Bitch don’t kill my vibe.” Ya’ll don’t want to hear me rap over “Started from the Bottom.” Ya’ll done seen me do that shit for so long, that ain’t impressive. I ain’t getting no points for doing that. You know what I get points for? When you turn on the radio and you can’t stop hearing that new Jae Millz shit and you turn on the TV and you see that new millz video. Every time you log on to a site, there’s a Millz interview. You got to stay digital, it’s not about being nice, it ain’t about being the flyest dude in the world, what you drive and getting jewelry. It’s not about that. It’s about being digital and just coming with the music. There’s niggas out that aint got no swag but they come with that music and you can’t deny it.
You have a track with 2 Chainz called “Molly.” Why has that drug become so popular?
To be honest with you, when I recorded that record it was 2011 and the people still didn’t hear the whole record because I never released it. Shout out to my man Stevie J, DJ Stevie J YMCMB. I didn’t release the full song. He put it on his mixtape and people was rocking with it and then I started to hear a bunch of molly records and I didn’t want to fall into the category of just being the dude with the molly record. I did that shit in 2011. I’m off that. It is what it is. It’s a dope record. Shout out to my man 2 Chainz for doing the verse for me. We got some other shit that we working on now. But it’s a good record. Everybody got a molly record. It just turned into something else. When I did the record it was a different time; now we’re in 2013. I’m just on some different shit and just trying to move forward.
Do you think rappers/artists can influence a listener to try the drug?
I don’t even think it’s just a rapper that can influence a person to try the drug. If you’re a person that’s easily influenced, a person can influence you to do anything. It doesn’t have to have anything to do with a molly or a drug.
One of my all-time favorite mixtapes ever was the one you did with DJ Kay Slay, The Problem from Harlem.
That was one of my first mixtapes ever.
How have you changed as an artist and a man since then?
The difference between me on that mixtape and right now, I’m a man. It’s as simple as that. I was living in my mom’s crib when I did that. I was sharing a room with my little brother. I was paying for chicks to come over in cabs late night, sneaking them in the crib. I was in the hood with it. I was still battling. I might’ve had cornrows at that time. It was just different. My mind was on punch lines. My mind was on, “Oh that beat is hot. I’m going to do it over my way.” Doing freestyles over another nigga beat, you can’t get no money like that. But now I understand the game, I understand where it’s at. I done had deals. I didn’t have a deal at the time. I had never experienced a contract. I’ve had different experiences. I almost died twice. I got a kid. I’ve been around the world. I’ve been on number one songs on the Billboard charts. “Every Girl” and “Bedrock,” that was different from battle rap.
You’ve been in the game for over 10 years now. If hip-hop was a person, what would you say to him or her?
Thank you. I don’t have no crime record. I’m not out here doing anything crazy. I graduated out of high school. I got a half scholarship to go to NYU. I wanted to be a rapper so bad. At that point, I was so far into it. I was going to the studio everyday, battling niggas, being in magazines, looking at rap city, stuff like that. Things I grew up on, just mixtapes at that time. I just chose music when I could’ve chose a lot of other things. Music ain’t never steered me wrong. This rap shit ain’t never put me behind bars. It ain’t never do nothing to get me in trouble with the law. It ain’t do nothing but make my life better. It gave me a way to get my emotions out, get my feelings out. Sometimes I say some shit that you might have to have your kids cover their ears. I have a daughter now. I think about things like that. One day my daughter is going to hear the “Molly” song.
Probably, your whole collection.
And one day, I’ma have to explain it to her. You gotta be real with yourself before you can be real with anybody else. Where I’m at right now, I appreciate this hip-hop shit. As much as I might rap over a down south beat — and yeah, I put AutoTune on my shit sometimes and play around — but that’s what makes me an artist. You can’t put me in a box and just call me a battle rapper. All the Virgo mixtapes, I put out four of them. Those wasn’t battle raps. Those was mixtapes for the ladies. Dead Presidents 1, I did a bunch of freestlyes over other people’s beats. I was at a different point in my life. Dead Presidents 2, I ain’t getting no bad feedback and I’ma keep it real, I read comments. I’m one of those dudes, I don’t take it personal. Their opinion is their opinion, whether they respect it, hate it or love it. But I just feel like right now, if I wasn’t doing this rap shit, I would be doing some real flagrant shit.