By the time this sh*t touch the streets/I’ll probably be shackled up/on the bus with beast.
He may not have known it at the time, but at 11-years old, Harlem rapper JR Writer was practicing the law of attraction, made famous by Rhonda Byrne’s critically acclaimed book, The Secret. The law of attraction says that positive energy creates success. “When I was eleven, when I started rapping, I always had that attitude like I’m going make it.” JR Writer said during a phone interview.
After emerging from Harlem ciphers a battle rap champion, JR Writer was introduced to CEO of Diplomat Records, Cam’ron, and became a member of the flamboyant Dipset crew. As a Diplomat, Writer released five volumes of his street-acclaimed, Writer’s Block, mix-tapes and one studio album, 2006’s History In The Making. The abrupt breakup of the Diplomats didn’t stop Writer though. He released 2008’s Politics and Bullshit on the independent Babygrande label and a host of mix-tapes such as Cinacrack (Vol. 1 and 1.5), Stillstanding ( Vol 1, 2 and 3), 2012’s Extra-Terrestrial and 2013’s The Stash. And, all of this was made possible because of JR Writer’s positive energy when he was 11-years old.
Today, JR Writer is 29-years old and he still carries positive energy. Just by talking to him one would never know that he’ll be in prison by the time this article comes out. Seems like only death can stop positive energy; he’s going to prison not the grave. “I’ll definitely be right back to it. I wanted to leave the fans with some crack to listen to while I’m gone, know what I’m saying?”
JR Writer spoke with us about why he’s going to prison, his new mix-tapes, battling Jae Millz and much more.
What’s good, man?
I’ve been trying to finish up this mix-tape real quick.
So, tell me about it?
I just finished up a mix-tape called, The Return of Greatness, I just put out on February 25. It did like, over 30,000 downloads in like six days with no video and no promo or anything like that. But, to make a long story short, I’ve been trying to fight this bullshit ass case. It’s for an assault. I had caught a charge for something that I didn’t do, so I been trying to fight that case for a second now. And, that’s why I took a little hiatus. For the past year, year and a half I ain’t put out no music.I just copped out to a short bid, so I just want to put out these mix-tapes to leave the fans with something.
When do have to turn yourself in?
How long will you be gone?
Umm, I don’t want to give too much detail, but I’ll be right back ASAP, before you know it. I ain’t got to do four or five years or noting like that. It ain’t no rape charge or noting like that. It’s an assault for something that I didn’t do. But, you know, it’s all-good. I just had to step back and evaluate my circle.Being around the wrong studpid niggas will put you in fucked up situations like this, but this is life and you learn. I definitely had to be a man, stand up and handle mine.
No doubt. So let’s talk about the album. How did “Life In The City” happen?
Well, shutouts to Styles P, that’s my nigga. I definitely grew up listening to The Lox, they legends. I reached out to him, told him I was putting out the mix-tape or whatever, and he sent it right back to me. I had chopped it up with him a little minute ago. I think they was in the middle of recording The Trilogy album, so he couldn’t knock it out in time. But, right before I wrapped up the tape sent me his verse.
And, Vado my man, I grew up with Vado, so I knew him before I met Cam and a couple people in this game. I grew up with Vado, Jae Millz, Loaded Lux, T Rex, you know what I mean? niggas like that. But, that’s how that record came out. I knocked it out I was listening to it and I was like, ‘this is hard. This is some hard New York City shit.’ I needed something like Styles P, Uncle Murda, so I sent it to Styles P and he sent it right back. And, as far as Vado, Vado just came though. He that type of nigga, all I have to do is call him. All I have to do is call him or Cassidy and they’ll come through. Those dudes my niggas.
On the intro to The Return of Greatness ,you had a lot of stuff on your mind.
Yeah, I was speaking about a bunch of shit. I feel like niggas don’t be giving niggas their just do. I felt like I had to remind niggas on the intro who the fuck I am and where I came from. And, what type of work I put in. That’s all I was on as far as with the intro. I spoke about a couple other things that was on my mind. My intros always be like that, they always intense.
How did you and Cam meet?
I met Cam when I was 16, I had just came home. When I was younger, I did two bids when I was like 13 and when I was 15. And I came home when I was 16. I was in and out of upstate juvenile jails and shit like that. But, when I came home at 16, I told myself that I was going to focus up and get right with this rap shit. Cause when I was coming up it wasn’t no cameras, no Youtube or none of that.
My first battle was with Jae Millz. So, started doing that. I started battling niggas. I stared battling two niggas at the same time and I got my name up. Cause that’s what it was when you came up in my era, it was a process, you had to be the hottest in the hood and then you moved up to the next step. You had to battle niggas and prove yourself, you can’t just come out of nowhere like, ‘Yo, I rap, I got a mix-tape.’ It was a process. So, I got through that and I ended up getting with a click called “Hotshots.” I got with them for a while, put out mix-tapes, got my name up with that.
Then my man, Vonnie, took me to Luca Brasi. This is the same dude that introduced Cam to Hell Rell, that introduced Cam to a couple niggas. So, he introduced me to Cam, I think it was in ’02. Cam was on 145th with Juelz [Santana,] they had just finished shooting Diplomatic Immunity Vol. 1 cover. And, I had spit for him, they had the minks on and shit, Cam was in the Tahoe truck. I spit for him and he was like, ‘Juelz or nobody has got a deal yet, but as soon as I get this situation, this Diplomat situation, I’m holler at you, just stick around. So, ever since then it’s been love and from then on I just helped build the movement, you know, putting my bricks in the building.
So, when did you start writing raps?
I’ve been writing since I was 11, 10, maybe 9 years old. I was inspired by the 1990s hip-hop, that’s why my shit is so lyrical. Maybe if I grew up in this era my shit would be more dumbed down or sounding more like what niggas is doing now. But, I come from the era of Wu-Tang, 2 Pac, Snoop [Dogg], Big L, Big Pun, Ma$e, niggas that spit, niggas that did that shit for real. So, my shit will never be dumbed down. Now, what was the question, again? [Laughter].
Do you remember the first rhyme you wrote?
Nah, hell no. I remember being interested, I remember the first day I was like, ‘Word, niggas is rapping? How you do that?’ I was just curious. I was on my way to a house party in Douglass Projects in Harlem and my man was like, ‘yeah, we about to rap. At the end of the party we rapping.’ And, I was like, ‘Word.” And, I waited for that time and at the end of the night I seen niggas get around the DJ booth, the turntables and everybody took a turn on the mic, just going in and since that I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do. I definitely want to air it out.’ That was the, ‘Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with,’ that era.
What was the outcome of that Jae Millz battle?
To keep funky with you that was my first battle, Jae Millz won that. That was my first and only lost. This how it went: I didn’t know who Jae Millz was. I was new to the neighborhood. Like, I told you I had just came home. And, Jae Millz heard about my name, I heard about his name, so we ended up bumping heads. His peoples brought him to my block and we battled on 34th and 8th. That shit was crazy. Jae Millz was spitting different, he was a different rapper back then, his voice was loud, it was different for me, but I was ready to battle, I was ready to do whatever because this is my dream, so I was ready for whatever, I just never experienced a rapper spitting like him. He was wild loud, the whole park could hear him, it was crazy, people was on the gates, it was niggas trying to climb up the gates just to see, it was super packed. But, after that I battled a couple more niggas. And, then I went to his block, to Jae Millz block like after my last battle, I was like, ‘you know what, ‘I want this rematch.’Because I’m bodying all these niggas and that was my only loss, so I need this rematch. So, I got to Jae Millz block, four deep, five deep and I call his phone, matter of fact, I tell his man to call him, I’m like, ‘What up, where Jae Millz at? I’m about to kill him, what’s up?’ They call him up, because Jae Millz had moved to 123rd and Lexington Ave. He was like, ‘Yo, I’m at my crib.’ I was like, “Nigga, I don’t care if you at your crib, I’ll come battle you in your living room.’ Like this is fact, you can pull this up on Youtube and you’ll see Jae Millz talking about this story right here. Once I said that he got hyped and he was like,’ Oh, alright, I’m on my way.” I was over there with Fred The Godson, this was before they knew who Fred The Godson was. Jea Mill was with Charlie Clips, I think Vado was out there, Loaded Lux was out there. I got my rematch and I killed him. Jae Millz gave me my props, he was like, ‘You bout that.’ After that my man, Fred The Godson, shout out the Charlie Clips, Charlie Clips my man, Fred The Godson battled Charlie Clips and killed Charlie Clips.
Who else have you battled?
I didn’t battle too many notable names, because I respected a lot of dudes. I used to got to Loaded Lux’s block just the cypher with him. We would spit rhymes to each other. I’d got T Rex hood, T Rex my nigga, he tried to make me his rap partner at one point, so it was always love, it was never like with battle rap now, it’s different, it’s more like WWF. You can be cool with a nigga now days still battle him. When we was in the street it was different, you know you had respect for certain people, but if niggas crossed that line you definitely had to jump at him.
But, besides Jae Millz, I battled Smoke DZA. I killed Smoke DZA on 125th. He might tell you a different story, but I killed him on 125th and 8th avenue in front of everybody. I was on this public access show called Mad Cipher that’s what we had back in the day, we didn’t have Youtube or nothing like that.
Were you around when they had the Tunnel or were you too young?
Nah, I was young?
When did you realize that you could actually do this?
When I was 11. And, I never had an attitude where I felt like I was going to make it years from now. I always had the attitude like, ‘yeah, I’m coming out next year.’ I feel like keeping that attitude helps you succeed, word up. You going to always have haters, everybody have haters.
What’s been your lowest point since you’ve been in the rap game?
My lowest point would probably have to be when the whole set broke up. I had to transition into being a solo artist to running my own operation. Soon as I got used to that I was up and running and I was good, but that was my lowest point. I was definitely trying to reach out to Cam and a couple of other niggas and they was out of reach so I had to go do my 1, 2.
When was the last time you spoke to anyone from Dipset?
I just saw Freaky in the hood, I just saw him in Harlem. I chopped it up with him. He was like, ‘You ain’t supposed to be doing no time, I’m supposed to be the one doing the time.’
But, as far as Cam and Jim, I haven’t spoke to them in a couple of month ago. It was definitely all good a couple months ago. Up until recently, shit been kind of quiet.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned from that situation?
Make sure you put your team on and don’t shit on your team. To me, loyalty is worth everything.
I took heed to the hustling part as far as with deals and making sure I have my lawyer, making sure my money is right, little shit like that. But, as far as anything lyrical, nah.
So, tell me about your next mix-tape?
I got a couple surprise guest. It’s definitely going to be going to be some spitters, but I don’t want to put it out there. It’s going to be crazy. I don’t be liking it to be basing mix-tapes off of features and shit like that. But, you can definitely expect a spitter like Cassidy on there. It’s definitely going to be a lyrical tape. I want to end off the series with Writer’s Block 6.
Expect a fucking beast when I come home. My nigga, I’m turing all the way up. I’ma focus up, get my mind right, get my house right and get ready to tear the game up. Just know that I’m be on some bullshit, I’ma be on my bullshit. Word.
As told to Darryl Roberson (@darry_robertson)