It’s not easy being a rising rapper coming out of New York these days. Not only has it become harder to get noticed as an MC coming from New York but the term “rapper” has become overly saturated in the Empire State. But, you can always count a few up and coming acts to prove why they’re separate from the bunch. The Bronx-native Jae Tips has been working to stamp his name in this industry for quite some time. Although he’s putting in overtime to make sure people recognize him for his musical talents and sick pen game, he’s no stranger when it comes to the hypebeasts and their love for streetwear and fashion.
With the release of his brand new project Volume 10, I had the opportunity to catch up with the MC to discuss his 10th studio effort, how he’s managed to stay consistent with his music, the creative process behind putting the body of work together, his love for fashion and more.
What you made you want to start rapping?
Jae Tips – It was peer pressure, to be honest. When everybody was cutting school, I wasn’t the guy cutting school. So I had to catch back up with them. When I got out they were always at my boy’s crib. One day I penned a verse and that was that. It almost sounds like a fairytale. Everybody use to be like “Y’all ok but, Tips is nice.” I never paid attention to it and even thinking back on it I never would agree. I didn’t think I was that dope but it was just something I stuck with. Around that time it was like MySpace and stuff like that and I remember throwing up little freestyles. That was back when people use to put songs on their pages. It started to give me a rush. I always wanted to have that new song, that new track or just that new moment when it came to music. It kept people talking.
You’ve been consistent as far as your music goes. You’ve dropped a project every year for the last 10 years. What inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Jae Tips – My motivation for the music has always been obstacles. There’s obstacles that life throws at you. I feel like being a musician isn’t necessarily just based off talent, it’s based off endurance too. I feel like you’re tested a lot of times. It’s not about that moment when you get notoriety or when you finally start making a little money. It’s about how can you last. I feel a lot of different things have been thrown at me to make me quit, make me give up or even slow down. I see it from a perspective that it’s a clear reminder to go even harder. I tell myself it’s time to step it up more and do more. If I’m trying my hardest to shoot a video and it’s coming out bad, that means it’s time for me to focus on something else. I’ve always looked at things like that and it’s worked to my advantage because they say you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. But, I’ve always tried to maintain the same routine and that’s at least putting out new music every year.
What’s your creative process like when it comes to making a record/project?
Jae Tips – A lot of times I try to cater around sounds. It really depends on the kind of mood I’m going through. That’s another reason why a lot of my music is really sample-heavy. When I’m recording my music, most of the time I’m talking about me. A lot of times I’m not even talking about anything that’s out the realm or anything like that. It’s all based on my current state. While I’m constantly creating I begin to shape my music round something. Once I create a song, I try to find songs that can dance in the same park as this one. That’s why there’s a Hypebeast 2 and things like that because I have this one song that sounds like it could’ve been on the last tape.
Let’s talk about Volume 10. How did you go about creating that?
Jae Tips – I was actually on my 8th project which was Hypbeast 2, I started saying to myself “10 is really close.” I was trying to get to 10 so bad that I was going to throw a little EP or something like that cause I wanted to get there so bad. 10 is a special number. My life revolves around 10. I was born the 10th day. 10 also means the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. I really wanted to do something that was special. I played with a lot of ideas and a lot of different names. I wanted to bring back old songs and possibly introduced them to a new crowd. I even thought about redoing some songs. When I sat down, the place in my life was perfect cause I was able to put something together that meant the end of one chapter in my life and the beginning of another.
What would you say is your favorite record off of that project and why?
Jae Tips – It’s crazy that I have to think about it cause I’ve been really focused on pushing this as a whole project and not just something singes-based. I don’t want to pick any crowd favorites either. I would say my favorite is “Dat Time Again” or “1995 Interlude.” I say that because it came from a place of talking about the backstory of how I recorded the record. That was probably my favorite to put together. I put in the most work on “Dat Time Again.” It was a beat that I had for like five years and it took me a whole to put a pen to it. Every time I tried to lay something down to it or write, I just couldn’t catch the pocket. I wasn’t coming up with anything that I felt could stick to the record. On “1995 Interlude” I had a little dispute with the producer. It all came together in the long run.
What you made you team up with Dizzy Banko for the creation of the project?
Jae Tips – He’s really somebody that I’ve known for my whole ten years of rapping. He’s a lot younger than me but he was always the kid that use to just send me beats. He was the one who would just have a massive amount of beats on a project but not aware of how dope he was. I had to just let him know how dope he was. I would have beats of his for years and I was just let him know if anybody was going to use it, let me know before I do. We never really worked that close together. It would be like every so often he would send me a bunch of stuff or I’ll send him a bunch of samples and he would send them back. It got to a point where he didn’t even know what I was working on and I’ll have his beats spread out on my next four projects. It just always been like that with him. And, I’m super happy for him cause I see him spreading his wings within this industry and getting in good with the industry guys. That’s really dope.
Let’s talk fashion. Have you always been into fashion and streetwear?
Jae Tips – I was always a fan of just like, the art. Similar to how an artist can put himself together and I’m not even talking about the glam and the jewelry. I mean like how the jeans look or how the sneakers may look. It was always something that I admired so much. When I really got out there and became old enough to travel and go inside stores and look at things, cop magazines, and stuff – those magazines would have the credit of what the person was wearing. I use to always look those things up. Even when I was just able to go outside and explore, it opened up my world even more. All of that ended up falling into the music. When you look at my complete catalog, you can see exactly when it fell into my world a lot. It just consumed me. It was almost like a drug. It turned me on so much that I did anything to get this or get that. I needed to get around this and know the who’s who. I started to know designers names like I know LeBron James. It really just caught up to me.
Did you see yourself being what you are now as far as being one of the streetwear guys of NYC?
Jae Tips – I always wanted to be, I’m not going to lie. A lot of times people try to be in the mix but not in the mix. I always wanted to be that guy. I get a great pleasure from helping people out. I knew how hard it would be for me to discover like where BBC was or how to get a Bape shirt. I always wanted to be that guy that people looked at as a bigger brother or the people’s connect. I found my way in and it turned into so many different avenues for me. I created this lane for myself and my music just became my back story.
We both know the sneaker culture is crazy. How did you get into flipping kicks?
Jae Tips – When you out of school, my mother always told me you not just going to be laying around. She told me to get a job or something. There were two people that I knew. One of them worked at Footlocker and another one of my homeboys worked at Jamba Juice. I had two interviews and when I went for the Footlocker interview it just turned me out so much. I’ve been to Flight Club and Supreme but being in Footlocker was different. It was like thousands of shoes. I’ve never been in a store that had that many shoes. I wanted a couple months and I got the Footlocker job. I was a sneaker purist. But, I started to realize a few things. It’s like getting your dream and after a while realizing that it’s just a job. It’s just a job and you got to angle yourself so you can win. I knew what stores would get things because I worked in Footlocker. I knew how releases use to run and sorts of things. I used to get my feet wet and it turned me out.
What was the very first sneaker you flipped?
Jae Tips – The first sneaker that I flipped that turned me on was the Galaxy Foamposite’s. I believe it was 2011. There were people that I knew that were already lined up on like a Tuesday that I knew were big timers. I mean big timers like the dudes you wouldn’t normally see on the sneaker line. Those are the dudes that are paying people to stand in line for them. I started overhearing little conversations and I heard they were going to give out tickets at the end of the night. I ended up calling everybody I knew. These Foamposite’s were big. They were on the news and the newspaper. I ended up getting a pair from working there and then getting a few extras from people who stood on line. People were offering me $1,200. I never saw that type of money unless it was tax time. It felt like you did some elite.
What’s your favorite streetwear brand and why?
Jae Tips – My favorite streetwear brands right now is maybe Off-White and Kith. Kith gives me the feeling I use to get from BBC. I grew up idolizing anything BBC did and Kith gives me that feeling. I feel like Off-White gives me the piece of Kanye that I can’t have all the time because he’s not that visible. If you can rock with Virgil you can definitely rock with Kanye. I think Virgil is very talented. He found a way to tap into a market where people in the hood aren’t just wearing your brand. There’s different ethnicities and cultures rocking Off-White
What’s next for Jae Tips as we move through 2018?
Jae Tips – Right now I’m just trying to to do things a different way. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to get right back in the studio. I want to try to see things from the outside looking in. I want to try to see what people really want from me. I really do everything on my own, no management. It’s just friends that want to help me out. I think that covers any type of management or PR. I let the people that genuinely rock with me in on my creative process. For the next few months, I want to take in as much information from the people around me on what they think the next direction I should go in should be. I think the music aspect comes very easily but I’m at the point now where I really want to separate myself from the pack.