J-Kruz, Views from a Local Outsider.
Written By: Milana Edwards | @milanalchemista
Photos By: K.G. Graham | @cosignkg
Local Dallas Radio Host J-Kruz sat down with the COSIGN staff to give his take on the Dallas Hip-Hop scene.
You may not know his face, but you certainly know his voice. 97.9 The Beat’s J-Kruz has been working in radio for years and has been a prominent voice in Dallas since he arrived here in 2010. Although technically a transplant, J-Kruz has gained some insiders’ intel on the who’s who and what’s what in the entertainment world here in Dallas. As demonstrated by donning the Triple D chain sported by so many proud locals, J-Kruz can speak on the Dallas music scene with an authority usually reserved for natives. His physical move here was a far one mirroring the huge departure in music culture from what he knew as an East Coaster, but his journey gives him the unique perspective of an outsider that’s been let in. COSIGN sat down with him to get his two cents on the changing face of the Dallas music landscape today.
CM: Thinking back to when you first moved here, what was your impression of a Dallas hip-hop head and one from the East Coast?
J-Kruz : The music that people grew up to here like Big Hawk, Lil’ Keke. I came here and heard these songs in the club and at the time a lot of local cats was getting play here in the club at that time too, it still happens, but at that time it was more prominent. It was different in many ways but in many ways the same. The love for it. People [here] love Pimp C like East Coast people love Biggie. But overall the love is the same. But yeah, it’s totally different. I grew up to Mobb Deep, you don’t hear no Mobb Deep out here [laughs].
CM: How would you describe the hip-hop scene in Dallas today?
JK: The underground hip-hop scene here in Dallas is getting people’s recognition. You got people like Justus from a local group ended up on [Dr.] Dre’s album. You just have this movement and then you have a lot of dope boys and trap niggas that are also doing their thing. Everybody’s grinding. I will say the radio stations are not as quick to play the local [music] that are killing it in the clubs now like they were back then. That is a difference that I see. From what I see its harder for [local rappers] to get a song on the radio.
CM: What does it take to get a song on the radio today?
JK: The main thing is that anyone making a song that everybody likes. Everything I say is what I think and is [speaking from] my experience, not that I don’t have room to grow and learn I might be wrong here and there. But, I think things happen organically, I think you can’t buy fans. If you could, then rich people would be celebrities and they’re not. Rich people don’t have ten million followers on Twitter but a hood ass nigga from Yonkers or Atlanta might because he got that buzz. I’m serious! A hood ass nigga has ten million followers! He didn’t buy this, it organically happened. Me and [my videographer] Zay argue about it all the time he’s like, “Yeah, but you need money, you need network, you need people,” and I agree with that, but there’s power in me being able to put something on Youtube and it gets ten million views. I don’t need anyone. What do I need a label for? I can just show up to your city and have a concert there, if my buzz is big enough that shit is going to sell out. Then I make all the profit and put all the money in my pocket like Tech N9ne or whatever. Like all them other local cats that come here and sell out the House of Blues in Dallas. Unfortunately, we don’t have artists doing that out of Dallas that can go out to Virginia or Mississippi and sell out a venue there. If there is [such an artist] that’s what’s up, I just haven’t come across any.
CM: Why do you think we don’t have anyone able to do that? Why not in Dallas?
JK: Because it’s big as fuck! Its huge! Or I don’t know, maybe none of the artists have really sacrificed it and lived on the road for two or three years promoting their shit. Maybe none of them have taken it to that level, maybe none of them have had enough money behind them to take something they know has momentum and is working, and take it to that next level with a budget. There’s no wrong or right answer and there’s no to-do list. People want a how-to list, they ask me, “Hey Kruz, how do I get on?” And I’m like, “Bro, think. Who’s your market? What kind of music do you make? Who’s gonna like it? Hood niggas? College kids? Where are you popular? Where are people checking you out? Do some shows there.” You gotta think, this is not for stupid people! I’m not talking about book smart, because we can name the hustlers that made it. Its about using your brain that’s been given to you.
Listen to J-Kruz weekdays 7 p.m.-midnight and Saturdays 3-6 p.m. on 97.9 The Beat. Catch him online via his website jkruzonair.com or follow him @jkruzonair.
The internet changed the game. Artists have the power now, they don’t fuckin’ need labels, they don’t need anybody. Period. There’s power if you make something people like. That’s the key.