“Meet me in the Trap” — yeah, you know how to finish the line. The summer of 2006 is still young, but we have already had our share of radio hits, led by a cocky rapper from College Park in Atlanta. Signed by Southern Entrepreneur Block (the brains behind Boyz N’ the Hood) and taken under the wing by Diddy, Yunc Joc seems like he was destined to shine this summer. Yes, you can check out the Internet message boards and see the hatred toward the simple hook and snap sound, but Joc (born Jasiel Robinson) must be doing something right. His first album, New Joc City, debuted at number one on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart when it was released on June 6 by Bad Boy. As he would say, “Plan your work, work your plan.”
Tell me a bit about Yung Joc.
Yung Joc: Oh, he’s your favorite. He’s like a kid, right. He’s like your homeboy that your friend’s mother would want to call her son. He’s the homeboy that everyone invites to the party, to the cookouts, you know?
What did you do with New Joc City to separate it from other albums coming out of the South right now?
Yung Joc: I feel it’s basically gonna be at the forefront of the South. We makin’ a whole new sound for the South. It’s witty, it’s got catchy hooks, you got substance, you got heartfelt songs, you got everyday life in it, and you also got some fantasy in there as well.
How do you feel knowing you have not only the backing of Block, but Diddy as well?
Yung Joc: It feels like I can’t go wrong. It’s like a tripod, standing on three legs: Yung Joc, Block and Diddy.
What did you think of T.I.’s movie, ATL? Do you think it’s representative of Atlanta culture?
Yung Joc: Man, I gave T.I. four thumbs up. It was a wonderful effort because it wasn’t exaggerated.
Is there anything about the music culture in Atlanta that you’d like to see change?
Yung Joc: I’m loving the fact that cats are not afraid to try something new. I’m lovin’ what we doin right now for the South.
How did your stint in jail affect your life?
Yung Joc: It opened my eyes to a lot of stuff, man. It showed me that that’s one place I’m not tryin’ to be. I can’t get up and get no milk and cookies in the middle of the night? Hell no! I can’t make me a bologna sandwich at one o’clock in the afternoon, when I ain’t doin’ shit else? Hell no! [laughs] I can’t even be a man, know what I’m sayin’? As far as just being able to have freedom, I mean c’mon, man. It’s the little stuff. I can’t be a part of a family life; I can’t make decisions on my own?
Can you talk about the role of your family and the hardships you’ve been through with them?
Yung Joc: Man, I been done through everything. I had to live in a hotel, day to day, not even knowing how I was gonna pay for that next one. I sacrificed a lot to have a family. Just imagine working on holidays, you wanna be with your family but you out doing a damn show on Christmas, you ain’t even getting paid to do it. I sacrificed a lot to be able to provide for my own because I had so much invested as far as time and passion in what I’m doing that I wasn’t able to work on a day-to-day basis. I had to have some kind of hustle, two or three hustles at a time.
For someone who’s never been to the Royal Peacock, could you explain its atmosphere? Is it almost like the Apollo of the South?
Yung Joc: The Royal Peacock is a venue in the historical part of Atlanta. You got a lot of history, a lot of black history right there in itself. The Peacock was hosted by Kenny Black of Hot107.9. Kenny had been doing stuff like this for a minute, and he went off on his own at the Peacock, and I just stayed down with him, doing the shows Wednesday nights. Word got out on the street that I was this new cat with a hot record. Block heard about it, so my homey called and hooked that up to meet with Block.
So I met with Block and we talked about doin’ something, and he said “Okay, I think I wanna do something with you.” He said he was gonna give it time, let me sleep on it, and I said, “Cool.” So one night I’m doing the Royal Peacock and he called me and said “I’m gonna be there tonight.” He said, “If you come out with you’re ‘A’ game, it shouldn’t be nothing to worry about.” And that’s what happened. Two days after that I was signed.
Where did the inspiration come about for your hit single, “It’s Goin Down”?
Yung Joc: I didn’t wanna get caught up in trends, but at the same time I had to go with what was working, the feel of Atlanta at the moment. The hook was something that we been saying. All I had to do was throw a little bit of that flavor, some of that A-town, some of that Southside meets the Westside, ya know?
How has the reception been from other artists in Atlanta? Has anyone taken you aside and given any advice on the game?
Yung Joc: Everybody says, “Keep doin’ what you doin’. You doing real good. You representing for the A well. You ain’t coming sideways and people love you for that. Don’t change.”