Last Friday, international hip hop sensation Jadakiss came to Harvard to appear at Eleganza 2007. Before taking the stage at the fashion show, Jada sat down with FM’s Kate Cetrulo to rap about life, music, and the Ivy League.
1. Fifteen Minutes: So, your real name is Jason Jerome Phillips right?
Jadakiss: [Laughs.] Oh Kate! My middle name is Terrance though. That was good, that was close enough. They probably should have named my shit Jerome though! Romey rome!
FM: Don’t be modest, where did that nickname come from?
J: I just got it from some of my peers. Really one guy named me that. He didn’t even name me. He just called me [Jadakiss] by mistake and I was smart enough to experiment with it. I took it and ran with it cause I was looking for a name at the time anyway.
2. FM: When you were younger how did you know you wanted to become a rapper?
J: Oh I started from snappin’. From snappin’ with my friends. That’s how I started, I used to just always be rhyming. Joking around with my friends about their clothes or their sneakers or their needing a haircut. I just always loved music though...from listening to what my moms and pops was playing, or just hearing it on the radio, whatever, I just knew I loved music.
3. FM: You have a song entitled “Is We ****** or not?” Has that line ever worked on a girl?
J: Oh Kate, I like this interview! This is one of the best interviews I ever did! That line ever work? I mean, I don’t really use that for...but...yeah, it work! I don’t really use it but it work!
FM: What about “k-i-s-s me?”
J: Oh yeah, they love that one! That one’s a guaranteed hit!
4. FM: “Why?” is obviously a very controversial song. What was your mindset when you wrote it?
J: Coming straight from the heart. It’s just a lot questions that I had. Like really personal questions...it was really just a bunch of personal questions that I had for the past few months or maybe the prior year and stuff that I thought everybody wanted to know why and it happened too, you know. It was controversial, you know controversy sells in this business.
5. FM: What would you say to people who think your music has a negative effect on society?
J: You only can do what you can do. Just make sure you’re pleased with it as a individual and then you know some people gonna like it some people ain’t, that’s just part of the game. No matter you a rapper, actor, ball player, figure skater, some people gonna like you some people ain’t, you just hope that the majority is more like than dislike.
6. FM: Have you ever done anything really embarrassing on stage?
J: Oh yeah. I bust my ass. I did like a triple...what I did that time? I did a back flip! I did a back flip! By accident! I thought I was dead! The crowd thought I was dead too ’til I got up. It was crazy. It was an ugly spill. Once they seen me move they was happy again. I was happy again once I wasn’t paralyzed.
7. FM: What are your favorite audiences to perform for, or favorite venues to perform in?
J: The venue doesn’t even matter—its on the crowd. I go off the love that I get, you know. We could be at a Bar Mitzvah, we could be anywhere, as long as the crowd is into it.
8. FM: Your birthday is next month—do you have any plans for celebrating yet?
J: I’ll just come back up here with you. [Laughs.] No, um, I don’t know, Miami, Cancun, or something. I usually have a bash in Miami. I really like South Beach.
9. FM: You have a new album coming out—what can we expect?
J: I got a new part in a new Spike Lee movie called “You’re Nobody ‘til Somebody Kills You.” It’s like a serial killer movie about rappers. Serial killer killin’ a lot of rappers. Should be good. It starts shootin’ next week.
10. FM: What’s your favorite drink to have in the club?
J: Depends. Mostly cognac, Courvoisier, lately I’m a Grey Goose man. Ketel One and Grey Goose.
11. FM: Who is your favorite artist to work with?
J: I worked with almost everybody. But my favorite artist is passed away. Notorious BIG. Now I wanna work with Andre 3000.
FM: Any least favorites?
J: Nah nah nah, I listen to everybody. Give everybody a listen.
12. FM: What was it like working with Mariah Carey?
J: MC? She’s my girl. She’s the coolest. She’s a genius in the studio, she’s everything, a beautiful person, even smarter person in the studio, her voice is incredible, she’s just a lot of fun to be with and work with.
13. FM: Jay-Z claims to be “far from a Harvard student”—how do you think you’d stack up in the Ivy League?
J: I woulda did good, you know? I’m working with a lot of sense over here. Know what I mean? I’m very smart. I was actually thinking of going back and taking a class or two.
FM: What would you study?
J: Some type of business. Management. For all my endeavors that I’m gonna get involved in after the rap game.
14. FM: If you weren’t rapping, what would you be doing?
J: I’d probably be down South. Probably be working some type of self-business. My pops got his own coffee company. My pop distributes coffee. Does a lotta business with Brazil, Canada, so you know if I wasn’t doin’ this they probably have me somewhere in the family business.
15. FM: Okay, my last question is: can I get a shout out on stage?
J: Kate? No doubt! My girl Katie, the best interview I ever did in my life! I got you.