|TAKING OVER THE LINE
In light of everything Bigg Jus has always been about, the fact that he dropped two different albums on two different labels in the same month is not so odd. Jus has been one to revel in breaking the rules, in being unconventional and unpredictable - conventional wisdom be damned. From a prolific graffiti artist ducking through the train yards of New York in the bad old days to indie hip-hop pioneer, Jus has, for better or worse, won it his way. When hip-hop was at its shiniest apex and the only indie label you ever heard of was No Limit, Jus' came out the gate with "Rugged like Rwanda…" on Funcrusher Plus. When Company Flow had pretty much exposed a whole subgenre, immortalized a record label and gained legions of fans, it was Jus who decided to move on. When Bush's approval ratings were sky high and the crater in New York was still smoldering, Jus made a record denouncing our fearless leader. So when it came time to pick a release date for each record, I guess it makes sense that he would just be like, drop them both.
So you have two records dropping at the same time, how'd that happen? Is it a problem for either of those labels?
No, no, it's lovely, not a problem at all actually. How'd it happen? Well, basically, to start with NMS, which is myself and Orko Eloheim, all of it came out of me being at Subverse. That was my label; it was on Greenwich Street, right down the street from the World Trade Center. Now remember, Company Flow, me and El pretty much conceived the Funcrusher in a little loft on Murray Street, directly the block before the trade center. So when everything went down in '93, I was right there, and then in 2001, I'm right there again. So, I moved from New York to Georgia…
After 9/11 you moved?
Yeah, I already had a little spot in ATL so I kinda moved down semi-permanently. The whole vibe in NYC and especially downtown was just not peace, for a long time. Y'know, so I moved to this spot in ATL, an old cotton mill that I turned into lofts. A haunted old cotton mill at that, so it was a real interesting spot to land in. It was like I was guided to the spot, the new Negro coming up in the spot and the spirits were very interested in the music we were making.
So, yeah, tell me about these two records?
Basically, Orko came out and we sketched out almost a hundred songs. It was an incredibly creative, productive time, y'know, with two next level cats coming together. We actually had finished both NMS albums at almost the same time; basically 25 songs and then we just marinated on it, let it mature like a fine wine [laughs]. Then we kinda narrowed it down to two sets… at that point in time we were isolated, about forty miles outside of Atlanta, which is basically the middle of nowhere… And we caught wreck. Now for Poor People's Day, Gman is a cat I've known for like eight years, so this was kind of like a friendship album. So it was like, if two cats that really admired one another and decided to make an album, if they only made one album, it had to reflect something positive. Y'know, basically a peace album for the kids to listen to, for the youth to understand the plight at this point in history. I still always got that lil' bit of extra rawness in me though, I can only tone it so much… but yeah, this is something for the kids to hear. Poor People's Day… you shed everything to make a record like that, that's basically what it's about, I shed it all for the culture. I will give up everything for what I believe in, I'll drop all material possessions and walk in the street in a robe. Poor People's Day is just another atonement, basically, for me to power up and do more things. It was one of those records that just had to be made. Somebody has to do it. Somebody has to stop and get out of their comfort zone and do something that they hope is gonna start some type of movement.
What happened to Subverse? You guys put out, reissued MF DOOM's first record, had a lot of connections in the industry and then just folded…
9/11 happened, that's what happened to Subverse. We was right down the block, we had an office that we were subletting half of to another company and that was underwriting a lot of our costs. Then they moved out, everyone moved out of the area and the vibe down there was real caustic. Business deals we had about to pop off, multimillion-dollar shit, all of a sudden companies didn't want to do it anymore and it was impossible for us to survive as a label. So y'know, moving to Georgia and shit starts to piece together and you see 9/11 was all some engineered shit. You get heated. I was heated, like, cats tried to murk me out twice and all, just to stir up some shit and make some money. And that's basically what fueled the NMS sessions; me and Orko would put on the TV and get pissed off.
Looking back at the Company Flow days and Funcrusher Plus, what do you think of all that, and of yourself then?
Well, it's weird, myself then, we could have the same conversation we having now. I was trying to organize something and get something moving. At that point in time, I guess hip-hop was at a different point, there was another door needed to be bust down and basically we realized it. So instead of taking the route everyone else took, when we saw it wasn't going down that way and dealing with shit on a multiracial level… going into offices and speaking to cats at that point in time, cats was like, yeah you niggas is nasty but look at y'all, what am I gonna do with y'all. We didn't fit the mold. We had to create something entirely new, we knew we were gonna do it, but we had no idea of the type of catalyst it would be all across the world. It's the same struggle, trying to organize people to keep the culture going.
You've done a lot of production since Funcrusher, which was almost entirely El-P's beats. Then you did a couple self-produced projects, and now you come with two albums over other people's beats… how does that work? Have you been producing a long time? Is there a difference between rhyming over your own beats and rhyming over other people's?
Well, I came up through the whole B-Boy renaissance, so obviously I touched the tables up [chuckling], but I probably got to production before emceeing. With Funcrusher, it was basically about strong leadership out of a small group of people. We had to do it like, "You're on the safe, You got the alarm… y'know, we weren't cats that grew up together, so even though we were young we had to do it grown-man style and handle it a real specific way. Like, nobody got a chance to see the ultimate true brilliance of Company Flow because we really kinda set out to make that one project, but in our minds we knew if we ever re-upped and did it again, it would be crazy. Production for me, I love production but I try to do a lot of things, I like to get shit organized, make shit happen. I like to run a label, I like to try and help make things happen so that takes a lot of time. And right now I'm really enjoying emceeing, I like the fact that my writing, my emceeing ability is moving up, it's not plateauing, it's nnot moving down, it's getting better. So what happens is sometimes I just stop and lock myself up in a room and make beats. I like multitaking but I'm not that ill [chuckling].
You plan on doing another self-produced album?
Definitely. I got two more joints coming up, and one is gonna be my own production, a short album. I'm gonna try and get off ten or eleven completely different rhyme cadences over my own beats, just to start taking over the line. Busting out mad styles, like back in the day and just taking over the line. Producing my own stuff, I engineer, I produce, I mix, when shit crashes I gotta fix it, by the time you get to mixing you are so sick of the album you don't want to ever hear it again. It's an incredibly hard process; I do enjoy it, just not all the time.
Any chance of another Company Flow album?
Funny you should ask that right now, a lot of things are going on… let's just say… everything is possible. Everything is possible.