For Jae Millz, his loyalty is what kept him to Young Money — the label that gave him his career. While he came up as a notorious battle rapper in Harlem, it was Wayne who brought him into the mainstream light, allowing him to tour across the world and hop on timeless records such as “Every Girl” and “Bed Rock.” In January of 2017, Millzy decided it was finally time to leave the label after almost 8 years of being signed. Read more…
Now, he readies himself for the independent grind, excited to start a new venture with Empire. While Young Money wasn’t able to fully dedicated the time and resources needed to properly push out a Jae Millz album, he’s motivated and eager to make up for loss time.
For those who don’t know, who is Jae Millz?
Jae Millz is battle rapper from Harlem, New York City. I started the whole battles on DVDs thing – the Smack DVDs thing. I left that and went and did the Young Money for a few years. I was on “Every Girl,” I was on “Bedrock.” Left them, and now I’m doing an independent digital grind.
Can you talk about how you were a battle rapper and transitioning to Young Money who was more mainstream?
I was actually a battle rapper in Harlem just growing up. All through high school, I used to battle at lunch, night school, summer school, ‘cause I attended all of that. That’s how I met my management at that time. At that point, I went from battling in my neighborhood to battling in studio sessions. Other rappers would have young rappers they were bringing up, and I would battle them. It would be battling on video sets, so then I became known for battling. I don’t know if you remember but do you remember Making the Band?
Yeah, of course!
I was on there, but I wasn’t trying to make the band. Puff had called me in to battle Ness, so a lot of people had saw from that. After I had battled Ness, I had did the Smack DVDs. It was all kind of around the same time. It wasn’t meant to be like that but the internet was becoming real big. This was around 2003 I’ll say, and battles went from DVD to Youtube. Instead of people just watching us in Harlem and NYC, people are watching them in their dorms at college in the West Coast, the South, and the Midwest. I didn’t know that, but then I got a deal with Warner Bros. I had a record called “No No No,” it was like a Jamaican-style type record. So now I’m traveling a lot more. A lot of people knew me from battling but now it’s like, “Oh, he has record deal.”
This is all around the same time so it’s happening real fast. I’m still fresh out of high school. Nothing is really popping but to me, it’s all coming new. With the Young Money thing, I had got a deal with Universal when I left Warner Bros. Wayne was on Universal, so I would see him at a lot of different events. I remember every time I used to see him, I would be like, “Yo wassup.” I would introduce myself to people because sometimes, you don’t remember people unless you see them. You don’t know their name, so I would always be like, “Yo my name Jae Millz, wassup? Blah blah blah.”
I remember we went into a club All-Star week and he was like, “Nigga, I know who you is!” And like laughing. So after that, he would always be like, “Yo what’s good, my name Jae Millz,” and joke with me. When I was getting ready to leave Universal, I had a record call “Holla At A Playa.” I was just hitting different people to see who would get on the record. This was at a time where a lot of rappers were starting their own thing. I remember Jeezy had CTE, Wayne was doing Young Money, Game was doing Black Wall Street. I didn’t really know who to hit. I remember I originally hit Game — shout out to Game — and he was like, “You know you always got a spot with me. It’s love.” I remember I hit Wayne, and he was like, “Well send me the record.” I sent him the record and he sent me back a verse. But my lil brother was a Wayne fanatic, so he was like, “Bro I heard that verse before.” I was like “word?”
So I hit Wayne and I’m expecting him to be like, “Nigga, you should be happy I even did a verse for you for free.” Because I’m expecting him to know that I’m not on Universal anymore. He’s still thinking I’m on Universal, he’s probably thinking I got a budget. I don’t got nothing. I’m at my mom’s crib. It’s bad, but he don’t know that. So I could either act like I don’t know he said this verse on another song, or I could say something about it. I was like, “I appreciate you doing the verse, but I can’t use it because I heard you say that on another song. But I appreciate you doing it though, maybe you forgot.” He was like, “You know what, you right.” I remember the next day he sent me a whole other verse. He said it in the verse, “Millz had to tell stop recycling verses. And since I don’t write it, I recite it in cursive.” That was fire.
When he sent me the other verse, I’m like, “Oh he must fuck with me to do a whole new verse.” Because this is when Wayne was on 350 songs in a whole year. So I’m like, “Alright, let me try some more luck.” I’m like, “I don’t really got no deal right now and I know you’re doing the Young Money thing, when’s the next time you’re gonna be in New York?” He was like, “Well I don’t really fuck with New York right now, they always be pulling my busses over.” This is when he was getting arrested, so he was like, “But what you wanna talk about?” Now I’m like alright, let me swallow my pride. I gotta tell him my situation now. I’m like, “Well I don’t really got no deal, I wanna see what you doing with the Young Money thing.” And I’m expecting him to curb me on the verse. He was like, “Oh you don’t got no deal? I’ma call you right back.” He hung up the phone. I was like shit, I’m deaded on that verse. He’s definitely not gonna clear that verse for me.
He calls me back with Cortez Bryant, and he was like, “So Millz, say that again. You said you don’t got no deal?” I’m like nah. We was on a three-way and he was like, “Tez you heard that? So when can you get on a flight to Miami?” I was like “yesterday.” He started laughing and said “aight bet.” He called me back in 10 minutes and had me a flight for that next morning. After that, that’s how I was rocking with him. I didn’t play him no songs or none of that. I always say I salute Wayne for that because he fucked with me at time where New Yorkers wasn’t fucking with me. Not to shit on New York, but there were a lot of crews in New York, a lot of things going on in New York, but a nigga from New Orleans flew me out.
Put me on a one-way and changed my life, so I salute him for that. It wasn’t about me being battle rapper or me having a hot single, it was just like, “I fuck with you. I been on the same label with you, I know you’re nice. You don’t got no deal? Come over here!” He took me around the world, put me on some of the biggest records I’ve ever been on in my life. I appreciate it. It wasn’t more so putting out an album under Young Money, because a lot of people get caught up in the “Drake put out 6 albums, Tyga put out that and this.” But maybe that wasn’t my path at Young Money, and I’m cool with that.
I remember when Drake tour his ACL and we had to carry him off stage. And then Nicki took his spot on tour, and I seen her shit go. I seen them put out the “Motto,” and then Tyga threw a verse on there and when the video came out, he was in the video. At that point, you gotta understand that I’m still just happy to be on tour. I’m not peeping like “Yo, shit is happening right now.” I’m not really paying attention to that. So when it finally did dawn on me, it was like “maybe you need to get up out of here.” But then it was like nah, you owe Wayne a little more than that. Like if it’s gonna be over, just ride it out until it’s over.
Is it over?
It was over for me. As far as the whole Jae Millz chapter of being at Young Money, I felt that it came to an end. Not the Jae Millz chapter of fucking with Wayne, I talk to Gudda Gudda all the time. It’s not an issue, it’s not a beef, but it was no more business for me to do there. I’m well aware of that. I don’t think any of them can deny that. I don’t think any of them can deny that they just might not have known what to do with Millzy at this point. They might have known what to do with me when I first came around, like throw me on a record with Gudda. We could build Young Money. We family. We got wild love for Millzy, but we don’t know what to do with them. And it’s cool, it’s not the first time I been at a label who didn’t know what to do with me at some point. But that doesn’t mean they never knew what to do with me.
I guess, what was your end goal this whole time as an artist?
They changed over the years. At first, I wanted a deal. It was a big deal to have a deal. I got that. This was Universal and all that, before even Young Money. But then it wasn’t cool to have a deal anymore, because everybody in New York has a deal. Now, it was cool to be a part of something. You had your G-Unit’s. You had your Dipsets. Timbaland Beat Club, Ruff Ryders, Roc-A-Fella, Shady, Aftermath, it was so many different things. It became cool to be a part of something, so now I wanted to be a part of something. I’m already Jae Millz the battle rapper, but I don’t wanna be just the New York guy. I’m seeing people like Cassidy get with Swizz and he doing “Hotel.” And Slim Thug getting with Pharrell, and Game getting with Dre, and then he gets with 50, and 50 with Eminem. So it’s like, I want to be a part of some mega shit.
I saw Young Money and I knew Wayne, so I hit Wayne. Now, I’m a part of something. Now, I don’t even care if we don’t get paid on tour because I’m on tour. I’m not doing clubs. I’m in American Airlines Arena performing in front of 30,000 and Wayne is like, “When I say Jae, you say Millz! Jae! Millz! Jae! Millz! Millzy, where you at?” Then my song comes on. Even if I’m only out there for 40 seconds, I’ll take that 40 seconds in front of 30,000 before I take 40 minutes in front of 300. It’s not dawning on me the kind of energy they’re putting into a Drake, Nicki, or Tyga. When Wayne goes on tour, I’m on tour.
I know Budden. I was watching what Joe Budden was going through with Slaughterhouse, so I’m like my shit is bad, but it could be worse. I remember Birdman was telling me that these niggas don’t get to just sit with the niggas that run the label. He used to always tell me, “You think niggas that’s signed to Interscope just be kicking it with Jimmy Iovine in the studio? Smoking blunts with him and shit?” I will say this, I want to make this very clear. As much as shit might have went bad with Wayne and Birdman, I can look back on so much more good than bad that I learned from Wayne. And good that I learned Birdman, and good that I learned from Mack Maine, and good that I learned from Tez, and good that I learned from Slim — he don’t even talk much. [laughs]
But the good that I learned from them just outweighs the bad shit. Arguments or disagreements, or I might not agree with the song that they think is the one. Because I been up there recording for three weeks and I got 60 songs, but they trying to tell me this one is the one, and I’m trying to tell them that this one is the one. The good outweighs the bad. I learned so much from them than I can be like “man, them niggas didn’t pay me for this.” I could sue for a lot of shit. I want to be very clear that I could sue for a lot of shit, but they could also bring up a lot of shit. “Millz, what about the time that you said you needed this? What about the time you had to move real quick? What about the time you needed a flight out because…?” I think about all of that. I’m not gonna just sit up here like, “Just ‘cause I’m not with them no more, I wasn’t paid for this, this, and that.”
Was there a conversation had about your departure?
See at that time, it was getting so bad with Wayne and Birdman. I remember I was out there in Miami, and I had my lady with me. I’m not living in Miami anymore at this time, I had lived in my Miami from about 2009 to 2013. But at this time I’m living in LA, but me and my girl was in vacation in Miami. Anytime I would come to Miami, I would still go to the skatepark, pull up to the studio, go to Wayne’s crib. It wasn’t like because I moved from Miami, I wasn’t Young Money anymore. It was an interesting night because we staying at the hotel by Fontainebleau.
I hit Wayne like, “Yo, what time y’all going to the club tonight?” He said we going over there around 1:30am. So me and my girl been drinking, we get into adult things. We end up waking up around 2:45am or 3:15am, somewhere around there. I’m like, “I don’t even wanna go over there right now. It’s gonna be hell to get in. He’s gonna be annoyed that I’m even calling him right now because he told me what time to be there, and I’m calling him two hours later. I already know how he rock.” so I’m like whatever.
My girl had to go do the airport in the morning, and all the Shade Room and Baller Alert shit starts coming out. “Birdman throws bottles at Lil Wayne in Club LIV last night.” I’m like wow. This is the first time it hit me like this is crazy. ‘Cause I was supposed to meet him over there with my girl. I would have felt crazy if I’m up there with Wayne and my girl there with me, and these niggas start throwing bottles at Wayne. Because now I feel like how he feel, like fuck niggas. That was a crazy vibe to have, for it to get to that point. And at this point, I’m still hitting Birdman because I still gotta hit him to clear shit.
This is how it ended. I had a deal on the table. At this point, I’m smart enough to be like, “Alright, if they’re not gonna do something with you, at least bring Wayne some money.” I had a plan. I’m not gonna say who it was with because it didn’t fall through, and it wasn’t really my fault. I felt like these people did some funny shit, but I had to go through loops. I had a record called “I Feel Alive” with Wayne. This was the last record I put out on Young Money, you can go look it up. I had a deal on the table with a label and they wanted to do a deal with me for two songs.
It was a single deal, but they wanted me to throw in “Quarter Past 3,” which was a record I did with Wayne for a project I had put out right after my surgery. I was like, “Cool, I’ll throw that in there.” My conversation with Wayne was “Look, whatever they give me in this deal, I’ll give you half of it.” Now, Young Money has never put a record out on me, but this is my loyalty to him. If I can get a bag right now, whatever it’s gonna be, I’ma give you half of it. AND I’ma throw the Young Money stamp on it just because. No matter what label I do this shit with, whatever they give me, I’ma give you half of it. Wayne is cool with that, so I’m like cool. Now I know I still gotta get this song, ‘cause it’s that serious. They wanna know, “If we give you this deal, will Birdman clear this song?” And I really didn’t know if he would because they got their thing, but Wayne was with it.
This is a great story, shout out to 2 Chainz. I hit 2 Chainz because this when the ColleGrove album was out. I’m like, “Yo, how did that work? How did you clear the songs and all of that?” He was like, “Hit Stunna. You’re gonna have to talk to him, so hit Stunna.” So I hit him. And not only did I hit him, but this is how serious I was. Because this is the very last end of me at the Young Money thing. I know they don’t have a plan for me, but I know Wayne fuck with me. Wayne is the type of person where if you bring him something that makes sense, he’s gonna ride with you. Even if he gotta put himself on the line, if he fuck with you, Wayne will go out in a blaze with you. I knew that. If Wayne told me he with it, then I just gotta get Birdman to clear it and then they’ll give me the deal.
I fly us from LA to Miami. I was only supposed to be there for 2 days and I ended up being there for a week. But I finally get to Birdman and Birdman tells me, “You good blood, we got you. Whatever you need, we’’ll clear it for you.” I go back to LA and I get the song mixed and everything done. But one of the producers — I don’t want to say his name because he got some crazy lawsuits going on right now — did something to the record because he wanted points on the record, I gave him points on the record. He got another feature added to the record, like a multi million dollar mogul. Damn near a billionaire, so now this song is turning into something different.
Is the song out?
The version I’m talking about is not out. It’s the last record I did with Young Money, it’s called “I Feel Alive.” Wayne told me if I can get the money play, then he’s with it. So now I have the play in motion. My lawyer gets the paperwork, everything is in motion. I don’t wanna throw anybody under the bus, so I’m gonna say Cash Money and Young Money. It wasn’t Wayne and it wasn’t Birdman, it was Cash Money and Young Money. Now they telling me that this was gonna be the biggest record of my life, and it was. It was gonna be the biggest record of my career. But then next thing I know, they started telling me that they couldn’t tell me about what was going on with the record because they signed NDAs. Now I know when those come into play, this is confidential shit. But I’m like, “what’s so confidential about my record, that I can’t know?” They said “give us until Thursday, blah blah blah.”
Thursday comes and I’m calling the person from Cash Money and the person from Young Money, the people who said they signed NDAs on my record, and they said they can’t tell me the interiors of my record. They just stopped answering the phone. I hit Wayne a few times over the course of a few months. This last time, I was like, “Yo, I need to holla at you. We need to talk.” He’s like “alright bet.” As I’m hitting everybody, I’m noticing it’s becoming less and less contact. Mind you, this record is out, and nobody’s promoting it. I had to get on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music by myself.
How long ago was this?
This was like end of 2016, somewhere around when I left Young Money. I’m like damn, if this is supposed to be my biggest record and it got Wayne on it, and ya’ll don’t want to do anything with that, then I don’t know what more I could do. I’m like shit, it might be time to go. YA’LL not even promoting the shit. I just got this record on Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Play just through my own connections.
I went through all of this talking to Wayne, Bird, and they with it, but it’s the others shit around it – the business. It’s like nah, I’d rather just take and keep it moving. ‘Cause obviously nothing is gonna come more of this than what this is. And if you wanna keep touring, traveling, being around, kickin’ it, then that’s cool. But if I believed that I could do a little bit more that what I was doing then I had to jump off that cliff and see if your parachute worked. It may work, it may not.
How are you right now?
I’m cool, I’m doing the independent thing right now. I got a independent situation that I’m working on right now.
Is it Empire?
[laughs] I can’t say nothing right now, but I’m working on this independent thing. Since I left Young Money, the game changed a lot. It changed right before I left Young Money and that was part of the reason I left too. See, I didn’t know about festivals until I got with Young Money. I didn’t know about Coachella. The first time I went to Coachella was with Wayne. The first time that I went to the Bonnaroo was with Wayne. Those festivals was new to hip-hop. I remember the first time I went to Coachella, the only rappers there was Wayne and Eminem was headlining. But now it’s like we’re damn near the headliners. You go to that and you see Travis Scott, Uzi, Young Thug, Post Malone, Future, you gonna get a Cole on there now. The festivals became big shit. Streaming became big shit.
We have nobody to get our shit out. We didn’t have nobody working the digital shit. We didn’t have no staff. Us as artists on Young Money, we didn’t have nobody we could send our music too. I seen where the blog shit was going. Before Apple Music, it was Beats Music, but I seen where that shit was going. I seen people wasn’t really buying CDs no more. I see I was just buying shit in the Apple store and it would just be on my phone, so I got less CDs in the house. I’m understanding where this shit was going.
When I first got around Wayne and I saw how they was selling T-Shirts, I was like, “Yo they really selling these T-Shirts for $90?” Because I was making me own merch, so I knew how much it cost to make these shirts. I could get a dozen of these shirts for the price that they’re selling them at the venues. He’s doing this every night for six months on tour. He did $150,000 a night but we not getting paid. I loved the experience but after a while, I started to put that shit together.
Did you have anybody else in the industry besides Young Money and Wayne to talk to?
I had people to talk to and I talk to them but my loyalty. See, Wayne could have stopped fucking with me a lot of times. He wasn’t fucking with me because I had a buzz. He wasn’t fucking with me because I had a hot record. He was fucking with me because he just genuinely fucked with me. I seen that he didn’t fuck with Gudda Gudda because he was the nicest rapper in the world, he fucked Gudda Gudda because he thought Gudda Gudda was one of the nicest rappers in the world, and that was his nigga. He fucked with Drake because he fucked with Drake. He didn’t with Drake when Drake was already at a billion streams. He fucked with Drake when Drake had no facial hair and he used to move his hand like that and he was still shy. Nicki wasn’t the Barbie when he found her. None of us was that so it was hard for us to say anything.
Even right now, you can’t bad mouth Lil Wayne in front of me. I don’t give a fuck if I’m not Young Money, you can’t say nothing bad about Wayne in front of me. “Oh, he wore jeggings.” Well he sold a million records in the first week in those same jeggings, what was you doing? I can’t say nothing bad about a nigga that would help me when nobody would help me. That’s till the death. But as far as everything else right now, it’s good to see him get full control of Young Money because I know what he always wanted to do with us and the vision he had for us. But he probably wasn’t hands on so he couldn’t. He probably wanted to put out a Jae Millz album, but the business was so fucked up that he didn’t have the power to say “I want to put out a Jae Millz album.” I know that now and I knew that then.
But when you see something right before it’s changes, and you see the streaming shit. I was seeing how Wiz was being promoted. I was seeing how — God bless the dead — Mac Miller was being promoted. I was seeing Drake, Meek, I knew French. I’m just seeing J Cole, Kendrick, Wale, and some of these people are people that I know. And I know for a fact that’s my lane, like I rap. Yeah, I can jump around and we can make your “Bedrock,” we could do that too. But I’m really a battle rapper. I’m the last chapter of the Smack DVDs. I’m looking at Wale and Cole and Kendrick, even Drake going with it. Not saying that I’m Drake, but I’m a rapper’s rapper. I rap. I live for metaphors and punchlines. I live for a producer to come in the studio and play beats, and it’s some soul shit.
I can appreciate that, as someone who’s stuck between real hip-hop and the ignorant trap shit.
And I could do the ignorant trap shit too! What I was grateful for with Young Money is that it gave me years to experiment with shit. We were so experimental during those years. All of us got autotune on our voice on “Every Girl,” but you probably wouldn’t know that unless I told you that. We were just playing, chopping our voices up and putting chopped and screwed vocals under our voices and shit. So of course in my music, I started experimenting with shit. I did a lot of shit the my fans were probably like, “nah my nigga, we not fucking with that.”
But I’m experimenting because we in Switzerland, we in Paris the next day, and we in London the next day. I’m not hearing the same boom bap shit that y’all listening to all day. I’m hearing EDM. I’m seeing the Ultra Festival. I’m seeing people sleep for three days with glow sticks on their fucking heads, like [dun dun dun] But I’m seeing Waka Flocka got a set now, I’m seeing DJ Mustard got a set, I’m seeing DJ Whoo Kid got a set. So y’all wondering why I’m not at Summer Jam, but I’m wondering why y’all not at Ultra, Coachella, or Bonnaroo? I’m trying to get there! But I realized that I’m not gonna get there, over there. Because they don’t think I’m that, they just think, “You’re just Millzy, you’re just around.”
So how are you gonna prove yourself? What’s your game plan?
The whole reset thing, that’s my campaign right now. If you notice on IG and Twitter, all my hashtags are #reset. Took everything off of my IG, start the fuck over if you have to. Reset is the name of the new album. I put out a couple albums since Young Money, but they were all just me doing the same shit that I been doing, just throwing shit out. Like Datpiff, MyMixtapez type shit, but it’s so much different now. It’s Spotify, it’s Apple Music, it’s getting your songs on playlists. It’s getting your songs in the video games, getting your songs in these Netflix and Amazon mini-series. Even getting yourself as an actor or character in these mini-series. I couldn’t do that over there because that wasn’t where they were at with it.
And respectfully, I understood where they were at with it. Where they were at with it was, we need to get Wayne shit right. We could give two fucks about getting Jae Millz shit right. [laughs] We need to get Wayne’s shit right. Because if we get Jae Millz shit right and we don’t get Wayne shit right, Jae MIllz shit doesn’t really matter to us. We not invested in Jae Millz. We don’t make money off of Jae Millz. We don’t manage Jae Millz. Jae Millz didn’t do a million in the first week. You don’t get $150,000 to go on stage, so we don’t make money from you, off you, or with you. Respectfully, we don’t give a fuck about you right now. Now you either gonna ride with us while we getting Wayne shit right, or we gonna respect what you gotta do for yourself.
I know they respect what I gotta do for myself just like I respect that they couldn’t focus on Jae Millz, Cory Gunz, Gudda Gudda, HoodyBaby, Lil Twist, fucking Shanell, Chanel West Coast. They couldn’t focus on all of us. They could not focus on all of us in the middle of trying to get Wayne’s shit right for the Carter V. ‘Cause if the Wayne shit aint right, then it aint no tour for us to go on. It ain’t nobody to bring us out in London or Switzerland, unless we that hot. And we ain’t that hot because we done fell into the middle of the Lil Wayne and Birdman shit. We had no choice but to ride it out.
Talk about the records that you do have out and who you’re working with now.
I had to get new management, new A&R, new all of that. Shout out to my boy Chibu, that’s my Nigerian warriors. Shout out to Super Mario, I got a lot of new dope shit with Super Mario. Funny story, I didn’t know any of the shit Super Mario did until I started working on him. He did a lot of shit. Of course, everybody know him from the shit on Drake album, with “Blue Tint.” He did Young Thug’s “Thief in the Night,” that was one of my favorite shits. That was my gym song!
Shout out to Bkorn. I didn’t even know Bkorn was a fan of me, I was a fan of his. My boy linked us, he was like, “I’ve been a fan of yours…” When it’s organic like that, it’s love. My man RELLYREL, he’s been on tour deejaying for Desiigner, but he’s from Harlem and Connecticut. He got some real dope production. He did the Fab and Chris Brown joint. We’ll be able to talk about the whole thing soon. I’m about to drop a song called “Look At God,” just for my fans. I got the video for “Ratings and Views” coming in like two weeks. “I Got the Glow” is coming too, that’s produced by Bizness Boi. That’s the first single. We gonna do a real big video for that one too. Shout to you Bizness Boi, he blessed me with that one. He’s got like three joints on the album.