Jazze Pha: Party Music & Songs For Your Car

Alot of rappers and producer-types in the industry can be hard to talk to. You often have to pry their jaws open sometimes to get them to spill the beans for a hot exclusive. Normally, the higher up on the Hip-Hop food chain the artist is, the more difficult it is to get them to […]

Alot of rappers and producer-types in the industry can be hard to talk to. You often have to pry their jaws open sometimes to get them to spill the beans for a hot exclusive. Normally, the higher up on the Hip-Hop food chain the artist is, the more difficult it is to get them to speak. Jazze Pha is not that type of artist. Although he’s sold millions of units worldwide producing the likes of Ciara, TI, and Biggie, he just might be the most down-to-earth artist in Hip-Hop. While some interviews can turn ugly when the pressure’s turned on, speaking with Jazze is like listening to one of his beats—he keeps it upbeat and he keeps it moving.

In the coming months Jazze will unveil what he thinks is the highest profile collaboration of his career. It’s so big, in fact, that’s he’s literally been sworn to secrecy. He’s given us some clues though, and if you’re sharp enough to read between the lines, you might figure out who the mystery man is. He also speaks candidly another high-profile collaboration that fell flat—his Happy Hour project with Cee-Lo Green. Whether or not that album is at last call, Jazze Pha’s just bellying up to the bar with some of Hip-Hop’s top echelon of producers.

AllHipHop.com: What’s up, Jazze?

Jazze Pha: I’m in the ATL holding it down, about to get into the mix right now. I’m working on the first single for this Disney movie called “Get Up” with Ciara and Chamillionare.

AllHipHop.com: Field Mob’s “So What” has been blowing up steadily on Hip-Hop radio and now it’s creeping onto Top 100 radio…

Jazze Pha: Oh Yeah! That thing is spinning like…[pauses]… a spinner! It’s a good look. Me and Field Mob have chemistry all the way from our first hit, “Sick of Being Lonely.” Ciara is also one of my favorite people to work with because of the chemistry we have. When we step into the studio, we block everybody out, and it’s just me and her. Ciara’s so much younger than me, you know what I’m saying, and the energy we create is different from the kind I make with artists my age. You know how it goes.

AllHipHop.com: How do the two of you approach songs? Do you have a set routine or do you improvise with each other?

Jazze Pha: I just kinda go in there and do the order of the day. She’s like, “I want to do a song where I feel like I’m floating above the clouds.” So first, we’ll start on the keyboards for something like that and make a sound that sounds like, gravity. [laughs] I’m serious, man. If you can capture an emotion, then you definitely have a song that going to be on a project. When you can imagine and embrace something through sound, you got something special. It’s being really creative; you can’t go in there and make a beat and hope that it gets on the radio. It’s about making a feeling. I learned that by sitting in the studio with Dr. Dre and Babyface.

AllHipHop.com: What other tips did you learn from them?

Jazze Pha: Capture the moment. Even if there is no moment, you have to create one. There’s two sides to it. It depends on what kind of project you’re working on. If you’re working on an upbeat project, you don’t want to capture a sad moment; you gotta be a picker-upper. There’s one thing about stepping in the studio with Jazze Pha: you’re gonna be kinda upbeat. It’s a vibe that includes togetherness. I like to kick it; I like to party.

AllHipHop.com: I found out, today actually, that you signed singer Lloyd?

Jazze Pha: Yessir. As a matter of fact, he and I have been friends for a long time, even before his Murder Inc deal. It was a blessing for us to be able to do it.

AllHipHop.com: Is there a plus to working with young artists like Lloyd and Ciara?

Jazze Pha: Yeah, there’s a plus. They’re willing to grow and willing to learn and try new things. They don’t have it etched in stone what a superstar is supposed to sound like. They just do things that fit them. They make it easy.

AllHipHop.com: With that said, how did you approach “Nasty Girl” for the Biggie Duets project? Those vocal tracks were laid down almost ten years ago—and there was no way to work directly with the artist to try something new; you know what I’m saying?

Jazze Pha: I took the acapella and I listened to the original version. Then I went out to eat. While I was out, I was like “Man, if I put that s**t with that, it would be crazy.” I did it, and made it with more of a party vibe. To make it more sexy, I put Jagged Edge on it and laid the beat down. When I sent it to Puffy, he was like, “Oh my God, that’s it!”

AllHipHop.com: “Nasty Girl” was the first single off of that album, which went multiplatinum. Your biggest record to date is “1,2 Step,” which topped charts worldwide. With such accomplishments, there’s got to be huge pressure to perform…right?

Jazze Pha: [Pauses] That’s really not my aim. My aim is to keep doing great music and try to do a bunch of number one records. Of course, you want every record to be huge. But, a lot of times the big ones are not the ones you’re the most attached to. It’s great that they go big but there’s so many other ones that make you think, “Man, that should have been big.”

AllHipHop.com: So, if it got to the point where one of your artists doesn’t get that sales success, would you have to drop them?

Jazze Pha: I haven’t had to drop anybody as of yet. Hopefully I won’t ever have to.

AllHipHop.com: I guess what I’m saying is, Lloyd didn’t really get that kind of success at his old label. What kind of direction are you going to steer him in to chase a bigger audience than he did before?

Jazze Pha: I think it’s about him being in his element. Lloyd is a very creative person; he needs to be around a lot of creative people to get him there. He needs to be around a couple of producers and a lot of singers to write a few tunes, too. He needs to be able to go to them and pitch those vibes that he got in him. He’s a writer, he’s a singer and he can dance—and he pull it all off on stage. That’s what makes him an exceptional talent, so when you have [that talent] you need to be around people who can fulfill those elements. The planets gotta line up for you, man. You know what I’m saying?

AllHipHop.com: I want to shift gears and ask you about your parents [his father is Bar-Kays bassist James Alexander]. They’ve both been sampled a lot—

Jazze Pha: Well, first of all, if you think Deneice Williams is my mom, she’s not.

AllHipHop.com: She’s not?

Jazze Pha: I knew when you set that up, you were gonna ask me if Deneice Williams is my mom. My mom’s name is Denise Williams, and people twisted that and ran with it. Now, I get people who want to argue with me that say “Yeah, that is your mama!” No it’s not. [laughs]

It’s crazy, man. Eventually the word will get out there that she’s not my mother. My pops is still in the Bar-Kays, though. I originally started out as an artist and then moved into production after I got sick of waiting in the studio.

AllHipHop.com: Sonically, you’re not really known for using sample-heavy music. Why is that? Do you sample some of your music?

Jazze Pha: I sample a lil’ something, but I don’t really make loops. I’m about to, though…

AllHipHop.com: If you sample from your pops, you’d probably get a good deal on the clearance right?

Jazze Pha: [Laughs]. I got some of the reels from Stax Records transposed into Pro Tools files. I got like, maybe a hundred songs. I’m about to really put some s**t to life. I’m about to bring a whole era to the game. I wanted to use some of them for the kid Lupe Fiasco because he’s about to close his album up. He asked for a little Hip-Hop joint and I’m gonna pump up a big Hip-Hop joint. [laughs]

AllHipHop.com: What kind of artists are you looking to work with outside of the A? I know you mentioned Lupe, are there other rappers you’d like to collaborate with?

Jazze Pha: I like Kanye and I love Busta’s new album because it’s crazy; he just got real focused on his project, and that’s what time it is. You know what? I was supposed to get in the studio with Papoose. I was talking to Kay Slay and them to probably hook up. But I’ve been so focused with my artists that it’s kinda hard to [branch out]. I got a couple of secrets in the works with a couple of mega stars, though. I was sworn not to tell.

AllHipHop.com: I know what you’re saying, but can you give me hint? You gotta give me something…

Jazze Pha: They said it’s between me and them. It’s one of the biggest rap stars ever, with 20 million records sold. There ain’t but a few of those…

AllHipHop.com: Intreresting, interesting. You done worked with a couple big stars…

Jazze Pha: I know, but not this one. You know I worked with Biggie, you know I worked with Nelly…I never worked with LL…I never worked with…a couple of people.

AllHipHop.com: You ever work with 50?

Jazze Pha: [Pauses] Nope. I never worked with 50. I know 50 wants some of this. Real bad.

AllHipHop.com: I want to ask you about Cee-Lo and talk about the Happy Hour project. What’s the status of it now that Gnarls Barkley has blown up?

Jazze Pha: It’s on the back burner because the single we put out [2005’s “Happy Hour”] didn’t get a great reaction. I think Capitol was apprehensive about the project altogether and we didn’t follow through with it. So when he went and did the Gnarls Barkley record—which was real great—it was kind of a blessing in disguise. We still do have our [Happy Hour] project—and we still have some great records on it—but we probably put out the wrong single first. When the Gnarls Barkley project came out, it gave me time to focus on my label.

AllHipHop.com: Do you still talk to him?

Jazze Pha: Oh yeah. I talk to Cee-Lo all the time. Me and Cee-Lo are like brothers, man.

AllHipHop.com: You’re kinda like the life of the party in a lot of ways. Have you joined in on the Cristal boycott?

Jazze Pha: The Cristal boycott? I can’t really join it because I don’t drink it. I drink Louis XIII [de Rémy Martin Cognac]. Hooo!