Jin the Emcee Interview

Jin was born and raised in Miami, Florida by his Chinese immigrant parents who ran their own restaurant. In junior high, he became fascinated with hip-hop music and dreamed of becoming a professional rapper. He was inspired by artists such as Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, and other New York rappers from the early 1990’s, an era now referred to as The Golden Age. When first taking up rapping, he struggled with the form of music but with much practice he realized he had a talent for freestyle rap. He soon began performing for his classmates, co-workers and whoever would listen. Jin began entering freestyle battles in local hip-hop clubs where he was usually the only Asian around. He was often underestimated due to his ethnicity. But Jin’s talent won crowds over, and he went on to win many battles. He quickly developed a reputation as Miami’s most clever hip-hop lyricist. But in the hip-hop world, Miami is better known for bass music than clever lyrics. He knew this would be another obstacle to overcome in order to gain acceptance.

In 2001, he decided to move his family to Chinatown in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City. He began performing freestyles and selling his own mix tapes on the streets, in hip-hop clubs and where ever else possible. He quickly gained a huge following, just as he had done in Miami. His big break came when the BET program "106 & Park" began inviting local rappers to hold battles in a segment known as "Free Style Friday". Ready for the national exposure, he auditioned and again was underestimated due to his ethnic background. But he proved everyone wrong by winning the battles week after week. His first battle was against Hasan, who had six straight victories and was one victory away from being inducted into the hall of fame. Jin began the competition by delivering strong rhymes during his round. Hasan countered during his thirty second round with rhymes however, with ten seconds left in the battle, Hasan lost his focus and was unable to deliver any more lyrics and stopped his performance. Jin was then declared the new champion. After winning for seven weeks straight, Jin was inducted into the show’s Hall of Fame. The rappers he defeated during that period were:

* Hasan
* Sterling
* Skitzo
* Skazoo
* Luck Luciano
* Logan
* Sean Nicolas

That same night of his Hall of Fame induction, he announced that he had signed a deal with the Ruff Ryders label. His first single under Ruff Ryders was titled "Learn Chinese." It took a sample from the 1992 song "They Want EFX", from rappers Das EFX. The album was originally scheduled to be released in the summer of 2003, but was delayed for over a year by the label. In October 2004, Jin released his debut album, The Rest Is History, which reached number 54 of the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. It sold 26,000 copies in the first week. To date, the album has only sold 200,000 units, and both of his singles, "Learn Chinese" and "Senorita", failed to be major mainstream successes. Nonetheless, Jin’s music video "Learn Chinese" was the first video ever to be played on MTV Chi. Jin was also featured on the American-born Taiwanese pop artist Lee-Hom Wang’s 2005 album "Heroes of Earth".

On May 18, 2005, Jin revealed that he would be putting his rap career on hold (some people speculate that after he won in a rap battle to Bay Area rapper, Mistah F.A.B ), in order to explore other options. To make this clear, he recorded a song titled "I Quit." The announcement was widely misunderstood to have marked the end of Jin’s rap career. However, he later re-emerged under a different alias, The Emcee, and freestyle over such songs as Jay-Z’s "Dear Summer." His latest single is "Top 5" where Jin yet again displays his lyrical talent in explaining the history of hip-hop’s greatest artists. After signing with an independent label, CraftyPlugz/Draft Records, Jin released his second album, "Jin Presents: The Emcee’s Properganda" on October 25th, 2005. Though it failed to reach the Billboard charts, the album sold 7,000 copies in its first week.

Jin is scheduled to release one album in 2006 and another one in 2007. The first one, 100 Grand Jin is a mix tape/album that was released on August 29. The single proposed for release off the album is "FYI", for which the rapper has shot and released a music video. Jin’s third LP is called "I Promise" and is scheduled for a November 2006 release. Instead of releasing the album in stores, Jin will release it only through his MySpace. Limited copies will be pressed and after November 27, no more copies will be available. Jin is also working on a Cantonese album called ABC Jin, which is to be released on Chinese New Year 2007. The rapper was featured in the NBA: Phenom video game, where players are given the chance to battle him in a freestyle contest.

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