“I’m starting over. In my mind, I’m not Jae Millz. In my mind I’m not a dude who’s been around and I got swag and I got leverage, nah. In my mind right now, 2013, I’m grinding like nobody knows me.”
It’s hard to imagine a rapper surviving 10-plus years in the industry without releasing an album. For most artists, it’s difficult to maintain relevancy in a game that constantly asks, “What have you done for me lately?” Harlem born, Jae Millz (@JAE_MILLZ) is on the verge of turning 30 and earlier this month released his 19th mixtape, Dead Presidents 2.
After two unsuccessful deals and landing on Young Money Cash Money in 2008, Millz believes he's finally ready to release his life work. The self-proclaimed Problem from Harlem sat with VIBE to talk about his rebirth, his latest mixtape and more.
VIBE: You started off Dead Presidents 2 with the line, “I know I still ain’t drop my album.” Are you waiting for the right time?
Jae Millz: You know when it’s time to drop your album, and you know when it’s not time. I feel like there was a time where I could’ve dropped my album and I might’ve missed my boat. I had to get back on my grind, I had to start over, and I had to go back to the drawing board. If you notice, my mixtape don’t got no freestyles on it. So I had to let people know. I released Dead Presidents 2 February 5. I hadn’t put a mixtape out before that since April. That’s kinda long for a person like me, so I think the fact that I haven’t put an album out yet, people who don’t really know my past, they hold it against me.
You put 23 tracks on this mixtape. It’s obvious that you’ve been working. Why’d you choose to release such a lengthy piece of work?
Because at the end of the day, I really didn’t put no music out last year. Personally, this is from the heart. I feel last year, was one of my most un-prosperous years that I’ve had in my career. I don’t feel like I got any further last year. I don’t know if that sounds crazy or if I’m being too hard on myself but I don’t feel like I lifted my career last year. I feel like I was staying afloat. I had so much other things going on, with my daughter being born and just trying to get other things right. I was moving to a bigger crib so my bills was different, it was just a lot that came along with it. If you listen to Dead Presidents 2, you can hear it. You can hear that Millz went through something
You chose the title Dead Presidents again. Is money one of your motivations or a theme in your music?
They say money is the root of all evil, but money make the world go round, so it’s like a catch 22. That’s why I feel like Dead Presidents, that’s really what the world is about or at least the world that I live in. I’m from Harlem, New York City, so I’m from the mecca of the whole rap game, the home of the hustlers, I’m a 80’s baby. A lot of people don’t really understand why I’m not a big strip club dude. People don’t get it, but if I explain it to them they’ll get it. It’s like, bro, ain’t no strip clubs in Harlem. I never known a strip club to be in Harlem, not when I was growing up there, not when I was an adult. We got gambling spots. I know how to gamble. I know how to get money. I don’t know how to waste it. I don’t know how to throw it away. If I do it, it’s a celebration. I’m not doing it every night. Not to knock the strippers. I know they gotta get they money, do your thing baby, but everything ain’t for everybody.
Are you comfortable with your current financial situation?