JR Writer, on some Doctor Strange astral plane shit
JR Writer is the best non-Cam rapper in the Diplomats crew. In the current crop of New York mixtape rappers, he’s so far beyond everyone else that it doesn’t even seem fair to compare him to them. On his series of Writer’s Block mixtapes, he’s proven that he’s one of very few New York rappers capable of making a mixtape that you can listen to all the way through without going catatonic or ripping your own hair out. He’s got a nice sideline doing truly impressive seven- or eight-minute freestyles on Diplomats mixtapes while Cam goofily cheerleads and expresses disbelief. He’s developed a truly powerful style where he hammers one syllable as many times in as many ways as he possibly can before he moves on to the next one, swirling internal rhymes around so repetitively that it almost doesn’t matter what he’s talking about. He’s about to release his first legit album and his fourth solo mixtape, and I caught up with him in a cluttered conference room at Koch Records, while a bunch of other dudes sat around and watched a DVD mixtape in the background. He was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Che Guevara made out of rhinestones.
You’ve been doing mixtapes for how long now?
About two and a half years, putting out my own solo mixtapes. I’m on my fourth right now, which comes out June 7th.
After doing that all these years, how does it feel to finally get something in the stores?
I mean, you know, it feels good. Just the process, going through everything, seeing my album cover, doing press and press conferences, it’s been a dream come true. It’s fun. When the album hits the stores, the shit’s going to be even crazier than right now. But right now it’s started to speed up. It’s like crunch time for me, doing a bunch of promos and recording. I’m still doing albums, too. I got another album on Asylum with my man Hell Rell called Double Trouble. I’m still working. Just because I put my album together and handed it in doesn’t mean I stopped working.
I wanted to ask you about writing. The six, seven-minute freestyles on the mixtapes, how much of that do you have before you go in to record them?
It just be everything in my head. I just say what I feel, add that swagger to it, it come out crazy, crack.
You do this thing where you take one word sound and then use it as many different ways as you can think of.
Yeah, because the word can be used to mean more than just one thing.
I haven’t heard anybody do it like that.
It’s like I mastered it, right?
Well, I haven’t heard anybody even try it, with the internal rhymes and the repetition, to the point where it’s hypnotic almost. What made you decide to go with that?
I mean, that’s not my whole format right there. That’s just the way I happen to rhyme on that rhyme. I got a lot of ways to rhyme. I might rhyme right now slow, and then the next rhyme I rhyme fast, next rhyme might be bouncy. I’m versatile.
The whole thing in New York rap now, you hear a lot about bring New York back, but you’ve done a lot of work with Southern artists like Slim Thug, Lil Wayne.
They like “bring New York back,” I don’t think New York ever left. I like the South a lot. I like doing the South beats because they all bouncy, no matter what they rapping about. They could be rapping about they moms getting shot, they still bouncing. They could be talking about clubs and hustlers and all that and still bouncing. Our thing is just mad that the South is winning, and it’s not even about that. It’s just they putting out that good music. There’s no bringing nothing back, it’s just like put out another hot joint, nigga! It’s not like peoples is putting out hot records and New York is saying, “No, we just listening to down South.” Who is putting out joints that really represent New York that’s really hot? No one. So that’s why the South is popping like how it is. They putting out crack.
Is there an issue right now between the Diplomats and G-Unit?
No, there’s no beef. It’s not even G-Unit, it’s just Mase; he’s down with G-Unit. He’s just a corny nigga; he’s washed up. I don’t even want to talk about Mase. On my mixtape, I wasn’t even coming at anyone; I was just defending the set. Everybody I talked about with my mixtape done said something about us, disrespected us, disrespected my boss and what I stand for. You see what’s stamped on my arm [points to Diplomats tattoo]. I ain’t going to let nobody say “fuck Dipset.” I was just defending my own. Niggas ain’t going to stunt on us. I don’t care if they Jackie Chan, they not going to stunt on the set.
It seems like the last couple of weeks in rap, around rappers, there’s been a lot of people getting shot. There’s the Hot 97 eviction, Big Hawk getting killed in Houston. That’s been happening since Scott LaRock or whatever, but it seems like it’s been getting up to this insane pitch lately. Do you feel like things are going too far?
I think sometimes things go too far, but that happens every day in the hood. Only reason why it’s big when it happens to a rapper is because it’s a rapper he’s famous. When it happens to somebody in the hood, you don’t even really hear about it. I think sometimes it get out of hand over stupid shit, but niggas get shot every day over stupid shit in the hood. I think sometimes it be taken a bit too far over this rap shit. You shouldn’t be getting shot over it, no way. Rap is rap, beef is not rap. That’s some other shit. Beef is beef, not rap.
What is the relationship like right now with Dipset between Koch and Asylum? Is there an official arrangement?
No, niggas is just getting money on other niggas’ blocks. As far as Juelz being on Def Jam, Jim eating on Koch, me and Hell Rell on Koch, Cam over there on Asylum, it’s still all Diplomats. Those are the people that’s putting up that paper. It doesn’t affect Juelz, it doesn’t affect Cam, it doesn’t affect us. It’s just niggas got different situations.
You weren’t in Killa Season.
Yeah, I was really working on my album hardbody. I was in Killa Season, a couple of shots. I did a couple shots that didn’t really make the joint, but I was really working on my album. That’s why I didn’t show up to the movie right there.
Voice review: Jonah Weiner on JR Writer’s Writer’s Block Part I