BIRTHPLACE: Nashville, Tennessee
STAND-OUT INTERVIEW QUOTE
"Contrary to the belief of what I stand for because I wrote a song called “Pop another Pill” I think this whole epidemic with these people poppin pills out here is the crack epidemic from the 80’s all over again. I don’t stand in support of people taking pills, I just tell the story from my perspective. What I am getting to is that, I don’t time my music, I try to make timeless music."
2010 - present
2010 - present
Tell us about your experiences growing up in Antioche, Tennessee.
You know what, growing up in Antioch was actually very interesting because I watched Antioch change. I actually saw the whole format out there change. I come from a long lineage of Nashville heritage. My father and his family were born, bred and raised in South Nashville. My mother is from East Nashville. When my dad came out here and got us a house in Antioch, and at the time that was the place to be, right by the fairgrounds. I watched Antioch change from the American dream that my father had to one of the biggest shit holes in the state. It all happened in just a few years.
One of the best things about Antioch for me is the fact, and I have said this multiple times in the past, but Antioch is the cultural melting pot of Tennessee. I mean, you go down Nolensville Road, man you might see an entire area of nothing but Kurdish people. They even have a gang called The Kurdish Pride Gangsters. I mean, you can hang a right and end up in an all Asian neighborhood literally off of the same street and they will be The Asian Pride Gangsters. Like all of these are real criminals, and then you will go another direction and end up in an all, Black neighborhood. You will have all Black apartments sitting next to an all, White trailer park. At the end of the day all of us there are sharing these two corner stores so it was interesting, man.
Growing up like I did and where I did in Antioch, it kind of made me real open to a lot of things. The race issue was never an issue for me when I came into the rap game because we had never focused on that where I was from. Everyone from there… all of us were just so different and so fucking weird that race didn’t make a difference where I’m from.
Our main goal here at www.musicbliss.net has always been to inspire our readers by sharing the story of each of our featured artist’s lives. When you were growing up, who were the people that you personally gained inspirations from, as well as the people who musically helped mold you?
In my personal life, my inspiration came to me at different times in my life. In the younger years it was definitely my father, the teenage years was more guided towards my brother and now later in life, today it is more back to my father. So personal inspiration was always family based for me. My family is where my faith really came from. My brothers, man my brothers are so different from me, I got one brother who is about, half-a-dumbass (HA HA) his ass was always in trouble. On the other side of that I got a brother who ended up doing real good in life, so growing up we were definitely an odd family, life was always interesting.
My father and my mother was just so different, my mom is from East, Nashville and she is tattooed and a smoker you know, and my father he is more straight-edge, he wore a suit and tie to work for the first 15 years that I was alive, he met my mom in a bar.
When it came to the music… Musically, I was driven by Nashville culture. I think that is what separated me from everyone else. When I was coming up there was a group called Rude Awakening, they was an all, white rap group this was before Vanilla Ice we had Chris Taylor and them, I will always remember “3-7-2-1-1, the area that I rhyme, my hometown is the Southside.” I was so excited that he was rappin about my hometown of Antioch. (HA HA) Haystack, Cool Daddy Fresh both came from here, so I grew up listening to Nashville rap.
So we have uncovered your inspirations, but tell me, when was that first time you heard hip hop and had that passion sparked inside you?
Music, man music has always been a big part of my family, I can remember that my mother, she would always be listening to music. When it came to hip hop… this is an embarrassing story, but ima tell it anyways (HA HA) my brother, he had gotten me the Rumpshaker cassette tape. I remember that it was a stocking stuffer at Christmas, I probably couldn’t recite a single line from it now, but he had gotten me the single on a cassette and I tell you, I wore that cassette out! Every day we would listen to Rumpshaker on repeat.
Humor seems to be something that has really helped you to overcome some of the immense personal challenges that you have faced in your life. For all the good times that we have discussed hidden in those shadows are some very dark times as well.
The truth is Jelly, while most kids who are teenagers are out and their only act of rebellion might be not coming home till well after the street lights have come on, you on the other hand, find yourself having run ins with the law and eventually find your way to being locked-up. Tell us if you would about being a 14 year old kid, and catching a case. How did that chapter of your life unfold?
Man, I had caught a small armed robbery case. My father and mother had just gotten a divorce and I was down the street and had got to fist fighting with a guy. Back then they had the chained wallets, which weirdly seem to be back in style now, anyways so I pulled out his chain wallet to try and hit him with and when the fight was over I still had the chain, the fight wasn’t the big deal, it was the fact that his wallet was still attached to the chain (HA HA). So the cops caught up with me down the street and I ended up going to juvenile at 14 and that cycle… well it’s funny because I was just telling my dad the other day that I remember that I would get to come home once every three months, on probation. I realized when I told him about that, I have been on probation or incarcerated since I was 14… I am not one of these rappers that lies about his age, I am 28, so that is 14 years I have been a part of the fucking judicial system. Half of my life, half of my life to date I have been under the eye of the system. It’s just crazy man.
After coming home that first time, I went back to jail on another robbery case when I was about 16 or 17 years old that was unrelated to the first case, I made bond but had to go back and lay down a little time and that has kind of been the story of my life on and off since I was 14 years old.
In 2009, which is the last time that you had to walk out, with those revolving doors turning behind you, it seems as though you had found it in yourself to want to set the compass of your life back on the right track. What was it that made you come to that maturity as a man?
In 2008 I was in jail, and I just made the decision that I was just not going to go through this anymore. I knew that I had to find something to break that cycle, and that is not easy because those kind of cycles are hard to break. When you get caught up in that trap, when you stuck in that web, it’s hard to break. When I got out, I just came home focused on what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to be a rapper and I believe that God got behind me first and the city got behind me second and we just kept droppin projects, man. I just kept nipping away at it, and that determination that I had in the beginning is still with me today. The truth about me being locked up again, is that I would rather be killed than spend any more time in prison. I mean that literally, I would rather die right here in traffic, then to go back to prison. You got to wake up to that every day, you either do something to get yourself killed out here or you are smart enough to keep your ass out of prison.
As you sat behind those bars, your freedom was taken from you. That is the reality and purpose of being incarcerated in the first place. Picking up a microphone is arguably one of the most freeing experiences that exists in society today. What was it like for you personally to witness that dynamic and to go from one extreme to the next?
It’s been crazy for me, I think the biggest transition was me actually becoming more involved in the corporate world. Rap music is so parallel to the streets it is the heart of that community and so to switch from that, to being in some of the places I have been, there are still times where it’s like “I never thought I would be here…” My father and I went and bid on a piece of land today at an auction… who would have ever thought that I would be sitting here with 2 or 3 old men, who are builders with some serious money listening to an auctioneer ramble off bids, and I’m sittin here with tattoos all over my body (HA HA) it’s just so crazy, man. In those type of situations, I just think “this is a long way from the penitentiary.” This is awesome.
Humor certainly seems to have become a mechanism that you have used in your life to kind of face down some of the roadblocks that have come your way. How have you been able through it all to keep that smile on your face and that humor in your heart?
Life is serious enough as it is, man. We have to take it that way, we have to believe that every single day, because life is serious. The way I live my life, I just chose to smile a little bit, man. The bible says that there is nothing new under the sun. I read something the other day that was the coolest shit I have ever read, I’m glad I can be sitting here with you and show you how big of a dork that I am. (HA HA)
I read that the people who did the voice of Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, were married in real life. I think that is fucking awesome. 2nd of all, Jim Cummings who does the voice of Winnie The Pooh he calls Children’s Hospitals every day, Monday through Friday in character and talks to sick kids. I mean, it is just stuff like that, it’s those kinds of things that help me to keep a smile on my face. It’s the shit like that, that gets me through.
We see that carefree and influential spirit in the music that you make, it might not be for everybody all of the time but it is your expression of your creative nature to the world. From the early days was there ever any doubt about whether or not this was something you could have success with? Was there any concern about how people would take what you said in your music in a negative fashion?
More than you can imagine. I don’t mean to sound arrogant but I do feel like I kind of pioneered a different sound for white hip hop. In my song Dream While I’m Awake, I said “they said that I was foolish/ they said I was actin wild/but dope is all I know/what else should I rap about.” If I was a mechanic, then I would rap about cars. My father, he sells meat so I would expect him to rap about sellin meat. My brother is a surveyor, so he would rap about surveying. I sold drugs. (HA HA)
When I started out I was worried about how the industry was going to take a white kid rapping about that stuff and it has really taken some hard core sellin to get people to accept it. People are picking up on it and it is starting to get accepted.
Over the years we have played witness to you dropping consistent projects that convey that aspect of your life and on some levels we do see you going deeper to a place that can only be found when you’re writing. We have never saw from you a straight thematic approach to your music which I think says a lot about your character. How is it that you decide what it is that you are going to release, when you release it?
You know what, this is the realest way I can put this, man I feel like I make music from the depth of my heart and it shows the full spectrum of where I am at in my life and maybe that is the same place that someone else is at too. Someone told me once that it sounded like all I was doing in my music was glorifying selling crack, but the truth is, not only have I wrote songs from the perspective of the crack dealer, I have also told that story from the perspective of a crack user.
Contrary to the belief of what I stand for because I wrote a song called “Pop another Pill” I think this whole epidemic with these people poppin pills out here is the crack epidemic from the 80’s all over again. I don’t stand in support of people taking pills, I just tell the story from my perspective. What I am getting to is that, I don’t time my music, I try to make timeless music.
On my new project Whiskey, Weed and Women” I have a song called “So Long,” where I talk about the real struggle in this whole thing. Even with songs like “Dope Boy Shit” the video shows a dude baggin up some regular weed, I mean we could have brought in pounds of Kush but that isn’t realistic to where we came from or realistic of where the game is. There are only so many Freeway Ricky’s in the world (HA HA) Where we come from there is a lot of Nicklebag Neds. I make music for Nicklebag Neds.
Today we see this, man who lives his life very much on some “I don’t give a fuck what you think about me,” type mentality. Has that always been the way that you carried yourself? Or is it something that you grew into?
Man, I think that I just kind of grew into it musically. I have always been that way I have always just dressed and done things the way I wanted to since I was a kid, man. The thing is, I was a fat white kid who rapped coming from Antioch, Tennessee. Everything was stacked against me, man. None of this was supposed to be possible for me, I only started rapping in juvenile detention for acceptance. I learned 2 things in juvenile, how to be a rapper and how to braid hair. That got me a long way. There were times, and you know what rappers say this shit all the time and you know that it’s not fuckin true, but for me, man literally there was times when I was the only white kid in D-Pod, in juvenile. There was one other white kid that came through the system when I was in and his name was Richard, I can remember his name because seeing another white kid was very few and far between. No matter who came in, who stopped in and stopped out, I was the lone ranger. Take all that and then add to it that I was fat, and awkward and un-athletic and it was then that I had to just start carrying that “I don’t give a fuck,” approach. It’s sad to say, but as soon as I started to carry myself that way, everything in my life changed. I started making more money, I started getting accepted by more people, I started getting more pussy, everything just climbed from there.
Lil Wyte is another artist like yourself who I really have a lot of adoration for because he is a “take me as I am, and fuck you if you don’t” type of person. How did the two of you, coming from different major cities in Tennessee, come together?
Wyte and my homie Fat Boy from, Jackson, Tennessee. There is a tattoo artist in Jackson, down at Legendary who is also a DJ named Flip. He reached out to me on twitter and I had just gotten home and really didn’t know much about this Twitter thing, but he reached out and told me that he was Wyte’s DJ and that they were working with Fat Boy and Wyte really wanted to talk to me. So they kind of set it up and he came to Nashville and we really never had any intent on doing any kind of music together we were just really there kickin it and we just started listening to some beats and “Pop Another Pill” was actually the first song that we cut and from there me, him and Partee just all started working together. At one point I ended up living on the guys couch for like 9 months, Wyte really kind of gave me his stamp of approval. I already had that approval from Haystak because I kind of grew up under him, but when Wyte gave me his, it really all came together.
Wyte and I have had our ups and downs, man. We are like brother, we cuss each other out on twitter and sometimes you would swear we were shooting a UFC poster picture because we will be at each other nose to nose, but that’s my guy, man that’s my brother. We have persevered and came through everything together.
We have an album coming out this summer, man and I am fucking excited! My last project with Haystak did good numbers, Wyte’s last project did great numbers so this project he and I are doing together is set to be a great release, man. Come late summer, man we will be in Best Buy’s baby.
When people talk about Tennessee in most music circles around the world, Country music is the first thing most people associate. Do you guys feel along with the artists who have also made a staple of the state in hip hop circles, feel as though you are the thoroughbreds that will eventually leave the state with a more diverse legacy that includes hip hop?
I mean, yeah I definitely agree with you on that in a lot of ways, especially in Nashville because we are the Country music capital of the world. I feel like we are going to be the artists to bring it to the forefront again. I think it has certainly been brought a few times but it never stuck. I think that for sure Ball and G brought it first, Three Six Mafia was right behind em, the I think you had Yo Gotti and Buck right there helping to push the movement. Today it’s only right that me and Wyte work together, because you have all these artists from all over the state that are pairing up and working together so it just makes sense.
It’s funny because if you get to the Tennessee Department of Correction, Nashville and Memphis are kind of like oil and water. Out here we have kind of bridged that gap through the music. I know that one thing is for certain, between his audience and mine we are definitely going to have a huge record the end of this summer. I really think we are going to hit.
Let’s just for a few moments talk about your current project “Whiskey, Weed and Women.” What the fuck went through your mind when you are sitting at home one day and you are contacted by Waffle House, and they are telling you that if you don’t rename the album to exclude their name, that they will sue you? Because originally the album was titled “Whiskey, Weed and Waffle House.”
At first, man I was tickled. I was fucking excited when Waffle House sent me that letter. I thought to myself that I must really be popping because I got Waffle House mad at me. (HA HA) At first the severity never really dawned on me. When it started to get clearer what was going on, I was like “do you know how many All-Star breakfasts I have bought over the years? I should have sued ya’ll a hundred pounds ago!” (HA HA) “Ya’’ ain’t served a damn healthy thing on the menu until you just started with the grilled chicken, but grilled chicken don’t do you no good when you serve it with a chocolate chip waffle!” (HA HA) I just could not believe that the most white trash company in America is pissed off at me. They should pay, they should be sponsoring me! I know every damn cook that works for ya’ll, I went to prison with most of them and got tattoos, so I fit the criteria to work there.
You only have 2 qualifications to work at Waffle House, you gotta have tattoos and a criminal record and to be a waitress you have to be missing teeth. (HA HA) I was just shocked that they was trying to sue me, man. To me, it was like a big joke, but my attorney… well my attorney, I talked to him and my whole sense of humor went out the fuckin window, he was like “this is real serious, they even called me and they were mad!” I mean, I did everything as un-professional as you possibly can in this situation. He told me not to go and make a big deal about it, and what did I do? I went and posted all sorts of shit about Waffle House (HA HA) I just really white trashed the whole thing out.
I actually just got another letter from them that said they are definitely suing me now because I guess someone took an old copy of the CD to a Waffle House in Louisville, a few weekends ago. I had nothing to do with that. (HA HA) I mean, we distributed CD’s when it first came out, before Waffle House pissed in my grits, you know, I can’t control where those CD’s are, or where they are popping up. I’m glad that I am talking to you about this now because I am pretty sure here soon I am gonna have a gag order on my about it. (HA HA)
I mean, as white trash as it gets when Waffle House sues a white rapper from Tennessee who is doing nothing more than giving their company free promotion (HA HA)
I told my attorney, I told him “Don’t put me on the phone with them, because something is gonna happen.” (HA HA) If you have never been to your own restaurants after midnight, you need to know that your establishments turn into “Club Trash” between midnight and seven A.M. Before the old timers come in and drink their coffee and don’t tip nobody all you got in your restaurants are a bunch of trailer trash and violent people. (HA HA) Ya’ll got security in most Waffle Houses on the weekends, so ya’ll know what’s goin on. (HA HA)
I mean we are talking about a place that doesn’t even honor Christmas! (HA HA) They are open 24 hours a day, 365 days it ain’t like I just got sued by a Presbyterian Church or something, this is Waffle House. I didn’t even get sued by a good BBQ company, I am getting sued by Waffle House! (HA HA)
(At this point I actually had tears in my eyes from how Jelly Roll was expressing these words you just read.)
We know that you love Waffle House and are completely heartbroken about how they treated you… (HA HA)
Tell us about the project Jelly, that of course being “Whiskey, Weed and Women.” How did this catalogue of work come to find itself as the follow up to “The Big Sal Story,” and what does this project mean for you right now at this point of your career?
I really just wanted to put something out to keep myself in front of people attention and at the same time to really push people into the stores because “The Big Sal Story,” just got release into the retail market in stores, 7 months after its release. Where I am from, I just believe that the title of the project represents 3 things that are very real in my community. Whiskey, Weed and waffle house. I just believe that it is a southern thing. For 1 thing, I am a big advocate for the legalization of Marijuana although I do not smoke it myself. I do not smoke Marijuana and I would just like the Parole Board of Tennessee and The Board of Correction to know that I am not smoking Marijuana but I am an advocate of the legalization of medical usage of Marijuana.
Weed is big, man, and I think people know that it’s not really a bad thing. Whiskey, well whiskey is just whiskey, man. I mean I do not drink often but when I do it is straight liquor and it is brown. Lastly, it’s Waffle House, man. Who don’t eat Waffle House?
Well since we are back to the Waffle House thing again, I have to ask. Since you have gotten your letter from them, have you been back to eat there? (HA HA)
Once, the day after I got the cease and desist letter (HA HA) I was going to shoot a blog about Waffle House in the Waffle House about me getting the letter (HA HA) my attorney talked me out of it… (HA HA)
Just had to ask that because truly it seems like the ultimate white trash irony.
You know how heartbreaking it is to me? (HA HA) Do you know how many sacks of Marijuana I sold in that parking lot? Do you know how many pills I sold to your cooks?
Back on track now, the independent grind is coming to the forefront of this industry as many of us feel it very well deserves to be. Is the independent lane the most comfortable to you or do you have visions of major label grandeur?
The only way that a major label ever gets my signature is if I control the horse. They have to accept me for me. I have had a lot of meeting where people were like “we think if you did this and we did that, that you could be a success…” but it’s like come on, man I look goofy in that shirt. That is what the industry has become about today, image. The thing is, I am too fucked up to have an image anyways! (HA HA) I mean do you understand how fucking bi-polar I am? Tomorrow I might wake up and decide that I want to be a preacher! (HA HA) Then I might snap back out of that, and start sellin crack again, I AM FUCKED UP! (HA HA) You can’t try and control my image, I mean I ain’t gonna go get no liposuction or anything (HA HA) I control all this shit, man. With our without the label, that’s the only way I know how to do this.
If I never make another song, if I never sell another record, if I never get another interview in my life I want to know that it is because people just did not like “MY” music. I want to know in my heart that it was because they just did not like my music. I don’t want it to be because they didn’t like Def Jams music or because they didn’t like this techno beat that you made me rap on, I want it to be because I made music that they did not like. I want it to be because they did not like what came out of my soul. If that is the reason, then I can accept that, man. I would be able to walk away and know that I did everything I could, then I would go get me a regular job, well probably not but I will find a way to make money, for real. I will kick back and have a chance to take my daughter fishing more. I’ll either make it big in what I am doing or go to federal prison.
You know the start reality that some miss out on when it comes to your life is that you are a father. You have a daughter. Along with having a child comes the commitment that you have given to try and give her the best life that you possibly can. How has her birth and the subsequent years in which you have watched her grow up changed you as an artist and as a person?
My daughter’s situation was different from a lot of fathers who probably see their daughter come out of the womb, I was locked up for all of that shit. I don’t have one of those real cool birth stories to share. It wasn’t even real to me that I had a kid until I came home. When I saw her by then, she was already fuckin walking and talkin. So when I came home I realized that I had missed a lot and I wanted to try and catch up.
Her birth taught me that there is nothing important in eternity than the relationships that we have. How good of a father, a son, a brother, a rapper, that all don’t mean shit in the grand scheme of what is really important in life. I understand that today. I missed a show recently in Bowling Green, Kentucky and another one that was in Daytona, because I have a sister who is in the hospital and it was one of the weekends that I had my daughter. My sister usually helps with my daughter when I am out on the road. I really hate for the fans that I didn’t get to get down there, I hate that more than anything. Fuck the money, I am mad because I didn’t get to get down there and see my fans. I will tell you this though, the beautiful thing about my fans is that they respect what I do, more than anyone could imagine. I haven’t gotten 1 “Fuck you,” for missin the shows on twitter, instead I had a bunch of fans tellin me that they hope my sister was going to be ok. That and they wanted me to kiss my little girl for them. They were not mad.
If I had to choose today whether I wanted to sell another record or just have time to spend with my family and my friends and the people who support me, fuck it, they can keep the money I just want to be there for all of them. I’m the kind of guy that will cancel a studio session with Lil Wayne, if my daughter calls me up and tells me she wants to go fishing.
I have to give you my utmost respect for that answer. In the almost 5 years that I have been doing this, that is one of the realest answers I have heard to that type of question. As an interviewer, it is what I always seek out to try and find. A person who has a respect for life in general and not all the glitz and glamour that comes with being a “rapper.”
Your words have an immense power to them. Anyone can head over to your twitter page and see that your supporters are happy to just have a place in your life, even if it is just them being able to say hello and knowing that you care enough to say it back. For some it may be as simple as hearing your voice on a song and they have a connection to what you are talking about, even though it was not written for them specifically. What does that sort of respect and impact mean to you?
I had a guy walk up to me once, I was in a line doing autographs somewhere and I mean I don’t have the M.G.K following and I don’t have the Mac Miller following, I mean my following is small, but we are the mighty 300, you know what I am saying. Other people were coming up to me at that time and telling me that they loved “Trap House,” and then a woman comes along and tells me that “Pop a Pill” is her favorite joint and those are kind of those typical responses that still make me feel like “damn, that’s cool.” But I remember this one guy that walked up to me, already had tears in his eyes and he comes up to the table and tells me, “my best friend, the person that I loved more than anything in the fucking world died a month ago, and we played ‘Farewell’ at his funeral. I just want you to know, man that you helped me through the worst time in my life.” He’s crying at this point, and here I am next to crying and that is what the fuck I do music for, man. I would rather have 1000 stories like that then to hear 1,000,000 people tell me that they like “Come Here White Girl.”
You have grown a great deal from your own recounting of your life during the course of this interview. Are you ever afraid that some of the things that you have said in the past music that you have released will overshadow maybe some of the different messages you know wish to share today?
Let me tell you what I am worried about. The bible tells us that God will hold us accountable for every word that has ever come out of our mouth, and I have said a lot of senseless words, man. I have said a lot of shit that held no value and that is what I am worried about, man.
It’s not that I am worried about this judgment from God, I think a lot of people have this misconception of God where he is like this big dude with a white beard and he is pissed off because you said “God Damn,” 1000 times, it think it’s more like the fact that one day you might have said something in front of a child and it was the first time that they had ever heard it, and from then on it was a part of their vocabulary. Later in life maybe when he became aware of those two words put together “God and Damn,” that he was referring to a, man that did not believe in God at all. I believe shit like that is real.
I don’t know exactly who said this, but a quote that I always keep close is, “The definition of hell is meeting the person that you could have been.” I mean just imagine that I die, and standing in front of me in the new life is a man who is 220 pounds, he’s lean, he’s the complete opposite of me and he says, “hey, I’m Jason I am a youth minister…” and here I am standing there at 500 pounds going “fuck…that is what I am supposed to be”
I don’t know if you understand this but you really touched a sensitive rope there for me. (Sniffle) You touched a very sensitive subject in my life. I have been laying back off of shows lately because people don’t want to see you performing “Riding All Alone,” they come to see you perform fucking “Trap House.” It is a battle that I have been fighting with myself recently, and it is a battle that people are going to fully see when I drop “Therapeutic Music 5,” at the end of the year.
We go through moments in our lives that we might not be able to explain, but just understanding that it was meant to be is sometimes the whole point of the experience.
Giving back the community is something that has become a very important part of your life. With your involvement in an MMA gym and your Boxing club as well as your other community efforts, do you feel like you are giving people a chance to hold onto some of the aspects of your own life and your own cultural upbringing that has been lost throughout the years?
For sure. I told my little dude the other day, “If I would have had a, me when I was your age… I would be a doctor.” I love the corny cliché that people use when they say “if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change shit.” I say to them “FUCK YOU!” If I could do it all over again I would be 200 pounds with a six pack a big cock and a Ferrari. I would be a fucking brain surgeon. (HA HA) Go fuck yourself, then if you wouldn’t do it different cause I sure would. People will tell me that I did awesome with my life, and I am not saying that I didn’t and I am not saying that I am not happy, I’m a big 400 pounds of joy, but I am just real about where I am at.
At the end of it all I just want to be able to help the kids, man. I want to be able to relate and to give back. So that is where stuff like “Trap House” makes sense, because when I go to juvenile and talk to these kids they would pay about as much attention to me as they would a 60 year old idiot, if I hadn’t wrote “Trap House.” They would have never accepted me in, if I wasn’t that guy. So I am building a stage, man board by board and brick by brick and hopefully one day when that stage is finished and everyone is staring at it, that now that I have everyone’s attention, this is what life is really about. Me and my fans are growing up together, so when we get to that place we will be able to have discussions about the things that really matter like the sanctity of marriage and values and all of those things. Let’s talk about morality, let’s talk about our own mortality.
What you said about life just then, that really resonated with me, I’m glad that you said that, because I don’t see the whole picture, life is like a polaroid, you take the picture, you hear the snap, you see the flash, but then you have to sit there and let the motherfucker develop. When my picture develops I hope that it shows me the person that I have wanted to become and that I have achieved the things that I have set out to achieve in life, not just music.
What I really want to do one day is to open up a group home for the youth. When I was 16 years buddy, I didn’t have nobody that came into the juvenile that gave a shit about me. The Giddiens, I believe they are good people, they spread the word of God and I think that is great, but they were the only people that came and all the contact we had was them sliding a bible under the cell door. It was like that for a long, long time until the mentors started coming in on Thursdays, and I still keep up with them to this day.
Let’s talk about the upcoming album collab between you and Lil Wyte. What was it about right now in both of your careers that made you guys say, there is no better time to make this happen? In that same regard, Lil Wyte, and I say with all due respect is almost at the completely other end of the spectrum when it comes to his music ideals, at least that is coming from a person on the outside looking in. How do you guys plan to make it work?
To answer the whole question together. I think that is what is cool about the project. Let me tell you how this whole project came together. Everywhere that Wyte would go they would ask “where is Jelly Roll?” and everywhere I would go they would ask “where is Wyte?” Somehow we became synonymous with each other. So then, the powers that be started getting together the producers started getting together and you know, Partee has been pushing us to do this forever and then a big shout out to Wesley Phillips at Select-O-Hits who is actually managing Wyte, now. See, Wes didn’t come to us first about it, he started asking the people around us what they thought about us making a project and the next thing you know, these motherfuckers have pretty much signed me and Wyte up to do an album without even telling us! (HA HA)
When they came to us with the idea it was like a weird episode of intervention (HA HA) they were like do you guys wanna do this and we were both like… Yeah. So word gets back to everybody and Wyte and I meet up about it, and at that point we decided to do the album together. It was some typical Lil Wyte and Jelly Roll type of shit that brought this whole thing together.
From a listeners standpoint what do you feel like this project will bring?
My whole goal with this project is to bring out a part of Wyte and a sound from Wyte that no one has ever heard before. I think at the same time Wyte wants to bring me back out to the crowds that he first introduced me too. One thing about Wyte is that we balance each other as far as the work goes. Wyte is all about getting on the road and working, Jelly is all about getting into the studio and working. I think the goal is for us both to show our differences in a blatantly good way on the records.
I mean, have you met Lil Wyte?
No, actually I have not had the chance to make that happen as of yet.
Well let me tell you about Lil Wyte. He is every single word that he raps. If you don’t catch Lil Wyte before 3 or 4 in the afternoon, he goes to this very entertaining place in himself. That lil dude, he can drink, I mean it has to secretly fall out of his ass into a diaper or something because there is no way that he can drink as much as he does and still function. The dude is like a freak of nature. (HA HA) I have never seen someone who can pop a couple of Xanax bars, drink a 5th of Crown, smoke about half a 5th of chronic get on stage and then RAP! (HA HA) The motherfucker is 5’ 7”, he is a little guy, come 6 or 7 in the morning he will be the one pissed off because everyone else is going to sleep. (HA HA)
You have written a lot of songs, you have taken some of your innermost thoughts and laid them out to the world in a sonic form, over the course of your career. But do you feel that people understand Jelly Roll the, man the way that you want them to understand you? Or do you feel that there is a conflicting nature because of some of the music that you have made over the years that people might not get the real you?
I think that the people who really tune in, they get it. I feel like I fight our struggle. It’s easy to say that you want to be a good person and that you don’t want to drink but just as easy as it is for me to say that, it’s just as easy now that I have your phone number to call you at 3 o’clock in the morning all fired up wanting to have a conversation. (HA HA) I think that my music is the same way, and I think that people get that. Because fuck, we are all that way. I think people are figuring me out as I figure myself out. I think we are all figuring each other out together.
You know when you talked about how sometimes my story is directed towards people, that’s how I write it to be. My friend Dirt McGirt from Mississippi, he told me about a guy who walked up to him and told him that his music was good one day after a show and he told that, man “nah, brah… we sound good.” That is fuckin deep.
There is a deep seeded connection that a lot of people feel towards you and your music. What do you want to say to those people who support you and embrace Jelly Roll for the good, the bad and the ugly?
I want to tell them thank you for making me feel like I am not the only person going through it in life, man. Sometimes in this big old world we realize that we are the size of an ant and it is easy to believe that we are so alone. The beautiful thing is, these people remind me that we are not alone. My followers base their support off of my music, there are a lot of white rappers that I won’t name who have large followings based off of them and not there music. I want my music to be timeless, I mean I can’t fuckin name all of The Beatles, but their music is timeless. I listen to Eleanor Rigsby once a week. I will write for any artist, it ain’t about the fame for me, it’s about getting the music out. As fucked up as this might sound, I’m cool with people not knowing me. I am super cool with just being the fly on the wall, man. I am just an average guy. It’s about people feeling the music and relating. I am so thankful for that chance and to the people who take a chance on me.
I was literally selling crack in 2007 in a shotgun house in in West Nashville, and now I can pay my bills every month just off iTunes checks alone. I can live a comfortable life because people care about the things that I say, I can live the way I do right now, because those people fuck with me.
Out of all of your experiences in life, what words have you held near and dear to you that might just help someone else facing those same circumstances to persevere?
Life is too short to be unhappy, try to do the best that you can 100 percent of the time, value every moment that you have with somebody that you love, everything else is to the wayside.