Juelz Santana (New York)
by Kandis Knight
It’s rare when a national Hip-Hop artist signed to a label as large as Roc-A-fella comes to Minneapolis to “chill” out. Last week, Juelz Santana, the 21-year-old vice president of Cam’ron’s Diplomats crew, was in Minneapolis on an official mission. To “chill out,” meet as many people as he could, shake as many hands as he could, hug as many fans, take a boatload of pictures and flood our streets with his new mix CD, More Crack.
The Diplomats are geniuses at colonizing cities like Minneapolis and finding out what the lay of the land is like here for the next project their crew may have in line. This is the basic formula for how the Diplomats have started an underground movement in city after city. Although the Diplomats founder, Cam’Ron is no longer signed to Def Jam, Santana and his large entourage of bejeweled New York City hood stars is no less confident then when Cam’ron was at the top of the charts with “Oh Boy” and “Hey Ma”.
Kandis: You brought a new mix CD with you today called More Crack. When is your next album due?
Santana: We will be setting a release date soon and all that so stay tuned.
Kandis: On this mix CD, I hear constant promotions for your next album and I really like the way you did that. Not a lot of emcees in Minneapolis are hip to dropping mix CDs to promote their albums. What else have you been up to?
Santana: I’m very excited, it’s beautiful right now. I built my own studio, I got so much music that people have never even heard. I feel like I totally stepped my game up and took it to the next level. Now I’m just ready to prove it to the world. I’m going to be releasing another mix CD a month before my album drops. Know what I mean? I got one record that’s real big in the city (New York) and it’s already on everybody’s countdown. It’s a record called “Mic Check.”
Kandis: Have you been to Minneapolis before?
Santana: I have been here once before but I didn’t get to enjoy it like I really wanted to (Smiles).
Kandis: We’ll definitely make sure you have a great time. So what else do you want people to know about you?
Santana: Basically that I’m here to take over everything first of all, not be the King of New York, not be the King of Minneapolis, I’m here to take over everything. I have been working so hard and I don’t think there are too many people out there fucking with me. I got three mix CDs out and one album From Me To You, which did fairly well but was not up to my standards. I feel like I can be where other people are at, especially with the work I have been putting in this last year and a half. I’m up here with a mix tape and it’s not even my album. Ya know what I’m saying?
Kandis: You’re definitely doing your thing, not many people are grinding like that. DJ Green Lantern is hosting this mix CD. He just won a big award out in New York last week for the mix cd he did with Jada Kiss, Mix Tape of the Year?
Santana: Yup, shout out to DJ Green Lantern.
Kandis: How did you feel about your last album, From Me To You?
Santana: My last album was real personal, I enjoyed making this mix CD, I was able to be more creative and just have fun. My love for music was always crazy but now it is ridiculous. Before it was like, If I make it then I make it—I know I’m good. But now I’m just determined. If it ain’t this album, and if it ain’t the next album, it’s still going to happen. I promise that. That’s what I’m feeling right now. I’m comfortable with my work ethic.
Kandis: If there’s anything that you could do differently what would you change?
Santana: Nothing, I like the way everything is going down. I never really wanted to take off fast, people got to know me from my first album and it solidified my spot in the game. I didn’t overly commercialize myself the first time around. People want to hear what I got to say with my next album. People want to know what’s up with Juelz Santana. We make music for the hood, we the only “real” people who have not totally crossed over but we got urban on smash. We kinda stay in our gangsta music Dipet Anthem mode.
Kandis: How do you explain your cult like following? I heard the kids at The Perpich School for The Arts got a little out of hand when you and your crew showed up there.
Santana: We have a movement, even though we may not have five million people messing with us, we got loyal fans. They love us, they want to be Diplomats. I have saw girls with Diplomats tattooed on their necks. People don’t go out and just buy our records, they feel us. They travel to come to our shows, state to state.
Kandis: Do you want to speak up about all the beef going on in the Hip-Hop community?
Santana: Not really, it’s not affecting me or anyone in my crew. Us as rappers, our opinions are effective. Even if I didn’t like this person or that person, it’s not fair to just come out and say that on wax. My word people listen to and if that is how you feel you keep that to yourself. What’s going on now doesn’t concern us but everybody knows how we get down. When it’s time to man up, we man up. I’m just comfortable with making my music now.
Kandis: What about tour plans?
Santana: There’s a big tour being planned but I’m focusing all my attention on my next album. A lot of people haven’t gotten to know me as Juelz Santana, they got to know The Diplomats. That’s why I’m doing my run early before my album comes out so people can know. I put out this mix CD, it ain’t no label, I put this out on my own. I currently don’t even know what label I’m on because so much shit happened with Def Jam. But I got it so crazy in the city that everybody is trying to sign me right now, everybody. Without the help of any label I got regular rotation on Hot 97 and other major radio stations. When labels are paying to get their artists regular rotation. I’m doing what I got to do.
Kandis: What’s it like being the Vice President of The Diplomats?
Santana: It’s cool because I love everybody on the Diplomats like I love myself. I’m working extra hard. I’m so focused on what I’m doing. When I leave here as soon as I get home I’m back in the studio. I just had my first son so he’s my drive now. I don’t never want my son to have to depend on anybody even though I’m always going to teach him morals and how to be a independent man. I want him to have the kind of life I didn’t have.
Kandis: With all the stuff you saw go down with Def Jam, what are your feelings about the industry?
Santana: It’s shady, everybody. You got to make sure you keep good people around you. Everybody is trying to get you and everything is not what it is cracked up to be. These labels are just wack now, they forgot how to put artists out. You just get one hot song and they think that’s putting out an album. When Jay Z came out he was not the biggest rapper but the people around him believed in him, and they made people understand that this guy is going to be somebody. Labels forgot how to do that.
You can find out more information about Juelz Santana by visiting RockAFella.com or Juelz.com and you can pick up your copy of Juelz Santana’s More Crack mix CD at Digital City or Urban Lights.