Jackie Chain dropped his Bruce Lean Chronicles this week, which is his second project this year, and is Hardwood Blacktop’s pick for feel good album of the Summer.  I caught up with Jackie to discuss Bruce Lean Chronicles, the follow-up project Bruce Lean Chronicles Part 2, his debut album with Universal Ain’t Slept In Weeks, his excellent production connections, his creative process, and his growth as an emcee.

JB: Talk a little bit about the scene in Huntsville, Alabama.  You guys have one of the best rap scenes in the US these days, just in terms of the number of quality artists that have come out of there in the last few years.  What do you attribute that to?

Jackie Chain:

Man, we kind of got our own unique style man and our own swag because we’re in the middle of almost everything where we’re three hours from Atlanta, we’re an hour from Nashville, we’re right down the street from Memphis, Texas is a very big influence.  So it’s like we get a lot of these different influences and then we kind of formed our own style.  And I just really think it’s starting to come to the light man.  People are starting to notice it.

JB: Talk a little bit about your relationship with Slow Motion Soundz/Block Beataz.

Jackie Chain:

I’ve known them for over ten years man.  Mali Boi has been one of my main producers ever since I started.  A lot of my biggest songs he did, so Mali’s always gonna be family.

JB: Let’s talk a little bit about a  few songs from your latest free album Bruce Lean Chronicles. First up, talk to people about the track, “First Love,”

Jackie Chain:

You know it’s a produced by Diplo who’s a good friend man.  A lot of people just know me for my trap music, my hood music, my street music, my down south type music and  I just wanted to show that even though I don’t do it a lot – I can get down.  I really wanted to do something for the hip hop heads and showcase that you know I’m not the best rapper out there, but I can get down.    So I just wanted something for the real hip hop heads.  I love storytelling rap, I don’t feel like I do it enough, but I love doing it.  And I love when I hear other rappers do it.  It’s a break for the norm for people, because most of my music is club songs or songs about things we do.  I just wanted to give ’em a little bit of everything on this mixtape.

JB: I feel like I’m a pretty keen listener to storytelling songs, and with songs like that I think I can often tell where it’s going before it gets there, but you did a good job of providing hints and themes through the way that could tie into the ending and you notice those more upon listening to it, but the first time through it I wasn’t expecting the end.

Jackie Chain:

Yeah man that was my intent, and after you listen to it two or three times.  You can see like, I say little things like “I was sippin’ on a beer she was already twisted.” You know, twisted up.  But you know the first time you hear it you think twisted like she might of been drunk.  And there’s just little references like that, so when you go back through it, you’ll pick up on like “her cousin’s from Cali,” and you know I wanted to put something out there to just to break the monotony of just the drug anthems and the pimpin’ hos anthems and the things that I’m used to.

JB: Talk a little bit about “Numbers.” What was your inspiration for doing that?

Jackie Chain:

For “Numbers,” I was in the studio with Sonny Digital man and I had just got back from Arizona actually and when I heard the song I just started saying the hook right there.  So I just kind of incorporated numbers throughout the verses.  But man that was just one of those songs where as soon as I heard it I came up with the hook.  We laid it down and that was it.  It came together real quick and real good.  And that’s how I usually pick beats man.  I can hear a beat that’s dope and that I love, but if I can’t come up with a hook as soon hear it I usually don’t mess with it, cuz you know within the first thirty to forty-five seconds of hearing a beat, I usually don’t use it.

JB: That’s interesting, yeah so you always start your writing with the hook first?

Jackie Chain:

Yeah.  I always, you know when I hear the beat.  You know where I’m at in the South, lyrics is last.  You know in the South there’s people that are very lyrical.  But you know when you want to talk about a good song.  Where I go in the strip clubs or the regular hood clubs that I go to, you know, you got the beat, you got the hook, and if you got a good beat and a good hook, I’ve heard plenty of rappers out there that are garbage, but they got hit songs because the beats good and the hooks good.  So that’s what I try to focus on.  Or at least a general idea.  Like when I hear a beat, I gotta have at least a general idea pop in my head, or I’ll move on to the next.

I don’t write at home.  I don’t have a notebook or anything.  I don’t write anywhere except in the studio to a beat.  I don’t write a rap and then pick a beat to go with the rap, because I ride every beat different.  So I know within thirty seconds if I want the beat or not.

JB: Talk about “Windows.”

Jackie Chain:

Oh man “Windows” is really just like some real life shit that a lot of people can relate to, because you know a lot of these rappers are out here with deals and doing shows and got songs on the radio, but you know I mean still out here taking these penitentiary chances.  You know what I mean, to feed our families and to take care of  the lifestyle that we’ve got accustomed to living.  And that’s just sort of like just talking about how I’m a two-time felon, so it’s just reflecting on the struggles that a lot of artists, not just myself, go through.  Because everybody that raps ain’t rich, don’t believe them.  You know what I’m saying?

JB: You worked with DJ Burn One and Ricky Fountaine (of iNDEED & 5PMG) on that one.  Seems like they’ve really been on a role with production lately.  I saw you did another track lately with them along with Mata (“Drown”) that was pretty crazy too.  I know Burn One mixed a mixtape for you before, and I just wondered how long you two have been working together and if you have anything else in the works currently?

Jackie Chain:

Yeah, Burn One’s my family man.  I mean he put out the Who Da Mane? mixtape and he actually put out the second mixtape I ever did called Who Am I?  and I’ve been using a lot of his production.  I got a lot of songs with Burn One and we actually have an album dropping.  We haven’t come up with a title yet, but we’re definitely working on that and there’s definitely some good cuts on there.  Like I said, I’ve known Burn One for many, many, many years and I want to say damn near ten years and you know we work together good.  The 5 Points Music Gang, they’re all my friends, Ricky Fontaine, Walt Live, The Professor, all those guys, it’s not just business you know, it’s just like Motion Family.  They shoot a lot of my videos, but they’re my brothers.  When I go out, when I’m in Atlanta, that’s who I go out with, I hang out with Burn One and the click, or Motion Family and the click, or you know my Slumerican family.  So you know it’s not only business with us.

JB: Tell us about some of the features on Bruce Lean Chronicles.

Jackie Chain:

The features I got on this one, of course I got one with Bun B and Big KRIT. But I didn’t put too many features on there just for the simple fact that a lot of people wanted to hear just me.  I’m bringing out a couple of my artists, and I feel like it’s about time for me to introduce a couple of my artists, just because we have some good songs together man.  My main thing on the Bruce Lean was the production man, I wanted to get really good production.  So like I said, I got Beat Billionaire with Maybach Music, I got Grammy Award winning Diplo, I got Sonny Digital who’s one of the hottest producers out there right now, Burn One, you know Block Beataz, B Wheezy who has been getting a lot of major placements, as you know I got production from Big KRIT.  So I really got in the studio and just came with myself.

The Bruce Lean Chronicles 2 I got a lot of features on there.  Actually I had seventeen songs on Bruce Lean and I took off almost every feature that I had, just to save them for part 2.  But like I said, I got some good ones coming man. But on Bruce Lean 1 I’m introducing my artist Assasyn, and Scoob Vercetti, and you know I got my homeboy Attitude who’s a Grammy Award winning writer from Alabama who raps also, my girl Chinky Brown, my girl Nikkiya.  Nikkiya she’s worked with everyone from Yelawolf to Wiz Khalifa.  So it’s a nice project man, all around, I think it’s one of my best if not the best project I’ve done.

JB: Diplo is somebody you’ve worked with I think a couple of times, he did “Rollin‘” (edit: obviously a Block Beataz beat, beyond the trademark sound, they even had a drop on it) right?  as well as “First Love,”  How’d you two link up and what’s it like to work with him?

Jackie Chain:

Yeah, Diplo actually did a remix to “Rollin’.”  And I actually got booked, he booked me as a special guest at his shows in Miami at different spots.  He’s just a good person, very talented, very down to earth, very humble person man.  To be honest with you, that song, “First Love,” that was a song I recorded for my album (Ain’t Slept In Weeks) and it contains two samples, you know, and it ended up being about a fifty thousand dollar song and I bumped it to Diplo at SXSW and I was like “Hey man, that song is jammin’.  I’ma try to get it on my album, but I just don’t know if I can pay that ticket right now.”  And he told me just to put it out.  Like fuck it, it’s a good song, put it out.  You know, that’s real to me man.  A lot of people wouldn’t do that.

JB: So, talk a little bit about your album Ain’t Slept In Weeks.  I know you moved from Universal Motown to Universal Republic and it’s gotten delayed a little bit and reworked probably, but just talk to us about that.

Jackie Chain:

Man, actually, I went through my situation with Universal Motown and as you know they just disbarred the whole label and Sylvia Rhone was really behind my project man.  I had a lot of dope songs, but as you know man in this music business every six months to a year it evolves and you got to change with it.  So with my new situation, I got moved, I was fortunate enough, along with Lil’ Wayne, and Nicki, and Drake, and the Young M0ney camp, they moved us over to Universal Republic.  And it’s sort of like working from scratch again.  So, my first single off Ain’t Slept In Weeks is produced by Will Power featuring Nikkiya, it’s called “Party Girl,” and we’re shooting a video in about two or three weeks.  It’s a good crossover song.  It’s a crossover pop song, but I’m still keeping it one hundred.  I’ll put it that way.  It’s still Jackie Chain, I’m still talking about the things we do.  Pretty much the concept is the girls I hang out with are Kesha, Molly, Christina, and Mary Jane.  Those are my four party girls.  So we go out and it’s a real good club banger, but I feel like the hood cats are gonna like it too, because once again I’m talking about Molly, Kesha, Christina, and Mary Jane like who don’t love at least one of those girls?

JB: You referenced about a year ago in an interview that you had a single coming with Big K.R.I.T. called “Yeah Dats Me.”  Obviously Krit’s album has come out and your’s hasn’t yet, but there’s a song by Krit out now, “Yeah Dats Me,” and I was wondering if that was a reworked version of the same song or what the story was there?

Jackie Chain:

Well, actually to be honest, “Yeah Dats Me,” was Krit’s song, and I bought it from him for my album and it’s got a Bobby Womack sample and at the time, I just couldn’t get the sample cleared and he actually had the better relationship with the publishing company, so he asked me if he could have the song back, he would make the official remix to it with me and Yelawolf and he’d give me another song.  So Big K.R.I.T.’s the homey, so I couldn’t put the song out, so it’s a dope song and I feel honored to be on the remix with Yelawolf and I’m looking forward to getting a new song from Krit.  Because everything we’ve done together has been very monumental to me.

JB: You’ve worked with a lot of great artists over the years, what has been the greatest honor in terms of somebody you’ve worked with on a song?  Just a moment where you were just kind of “oh shit,” I just did a song with “so and so.”

Jackie Chain:

Man, yeah I’ve worked with a lot of people, but to be honest with you, Bun B is a legend, you know, like I grew up listening to UGK.  I mean they’re still my favorite group.  I grew up listening to them.  I never had the opportunity to meet Pimp C.  I actually did a song with Bun B like ten years ago, me and a group called Alabama Villains and he showed love back then.  I’ve done songs with a lot of artists, but with Bun B, when the song got done recording, he still hung out for like three hours.  I mean, I’m in Houston right now, and I tweeted Bun B, and he tweeted me back like anything I need, like he’s just real.  It feels good to have one of my idols – because I don’t get starstruck by a lot of these rappers, I really don’t give a shit about a lot of these rappers man – but to have one that I have a lot of respect for and actually grew up listening to really be that dude, that real dude and rep everything he says that felt good.  Because I’ve met some rappers that I looked up to, that were assholes, and it is what it is, but like I said, I grew up on him and he’s been one of my favorites and for him to just be so cool and like I said he’s a fan of mine like he knew me before he reached out to me, so that’s probably the biggest experience to me.

JB: Yeah he stays up on everything that’s going on.

Jackie Chain:

Yeah Bun B is one of the few that’s been around and stays relevant.  He’s on everybody’s albums, he’s really relevant in the game and he’s still out here doing it.  He’s got his own thing in Houston and you know that’s huge.  He’s got a key to the city.

JB: Who are some artists you’d really like to work with that you haven’t yet?

Jackie Chain:

I’d really like a chance to work with Rick Ross man.  I’ve met him a few times, but I haven’t had a chance to work with him.  Man there’s a lot of rappers.  I really like to work with Gucci Mane.  And really I like a lot of the bigger pop artists, like I’d love to do a song with Drake.  I’m trying to get that paper, so if you ask me who I want to do a song with I want it to be with someone that’s going to be a huge hit, you feel me?

JB: So what’s up next for you?  You mentioned the Bruce Lean Chronicles 2 and obviously you’re working on Ain’t Slept In Weeks, but are you going to be doing a lot of shows?  What are you up to now?

Jackie Chain:

I’m in Houston right now, I’ve got some shows in Phoenix this month, you know LA.  So we’re staying on the road, we’re about to go on tour after we drop the “Party Girls” single.  We’re going to do a promo tour and I’m not quite sure who we’re going to go out with yet, there’s a couple options on the table.  But after this summer I’m definitely going to get on the road.  I got to, I love it man, I love it out there.

JB: You mentioned Wiz Khalifa a couple times on Bruce Lean Chronicles.  I know you guys have performed together before, but I wondered if you had anything else in the works.

Jackie Chain:

Yeah he’s definitely, if I could go back to the artists I want to work with, I definitely want to work with Wiz.  I definitely want to work with Mac (Miller).  Me and Mac have been talking for a while.  Me and Wiz were actually had a song that we were going to do on the album, but like I said, I’m sure you will hear a Jackie Chain Wiz collabo coming soon.  I didn’t even have twitter until I met Wiz.  He put me on my twitter game.  So he definitely was a step ahead of the game on that, and he’s another guy that’s really down to earth.  He keeps it one hundred.  To be honest with you on the youtube footage, when he pulled me on stage, that’s the first day I met him.  I didn’t even know who he was, I had never heard his music and it was more like we met as friends and then I heard his music.  And if you watch the youtube video he knows all the words to all my songs.  So it feels good when someone like that is also a fan.  And I’m definitely a fan of his.

JB: So one last question.  I wanted to put you on the spot.  You always seem like the type of guy who if we were having a drink together in a bar would have some crazy stories to tell.  So do you have a crazy story to share with all of your fans?

Jackie Chain:

I’ve got a lot of scary stories man.  I remember one time I was in Panama City and I was under the influence of a lot of ecstasy and ended up hanging off the balcony in my underwear off the seventh floor of my hotel and didn’t realize that was a charge.  And I got arrested for a charge called “balcony surfing.”  I’m having to spend the rest of my spring break doing community service picking up trash.

If you haven’t yet, definitely check out Jackie Chain’s most recent project Bruce Lean Chronicles and if you’ve been sleeping, pick up his other mixtapes on livemixtapes.com and datpiff.com and definitely keep an eye out for Bruce Lean Chronicles 2 and Ain’t Slept In Weeks.

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