J-Zone Vs. USPS (and LinkedIn and Russell Simmons)


[Editor’s note: In Tweets is Watching, Phillip Mlynar asks local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.]

J-Zone has taken a break from his self-imposed exile from the rap world to ready his new album, Peter Pan Syndrome. The excellent project drops next week; before then you can listen to some snippets at Zone’s SoundCloud page. Cue that up in the background while we take you through the rap curmudgeon’s Twitter timeline, which includes ranting about LinkedIn profiles, Russell Simmons’ tofu issue, and his epic beef with the United States Postal Service.

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What happened with USPS?
It’s deeper than that! I have a Mac, right? So I had an old Epson printer that I used to use and it wouldn’t recognize the drivers. I called up Epson and they’re talking this shit about it’s not compatible with OSX and you’ve got to use Windows. I’m not a tech savvy guy, I just want to plug the shit in and have it work. They told me the printer I have wasn’t Mac compatible so I borrowed a couple of other printers from friends and the same shit happened. So I go to Staples and ask for a printer that works with Mac and they don’t help me at all ’cause Staples is a PC place so they’re trying to sell PCs.

So I basically couldn’t print my labels so I was going to go to the library ’cause I pay tax dollars for that shit and I was going to print the labels there but the problem with it is if you use PayPal you can’t ship international as air mail — you have to ship priority. They have all these rules — nobody allows you to ship the cheapest way possible! So I went and got the software for Click ‘N’ Ship from USPS and that shit doesn’t work on Mac either, just Windows.

So I go to the post office and I’m like, “Look, what do you want me to do? ‘Cause if I come in here with 250 packages you guys are gonna be upset ’cause you have to sit at the computer and punch in the entire customs form manually.” I’ve shipped like two packages international and the clerk went nuts ’cause they’re not used to doing it. And they’ve increased the rates of the postage, everything got more expensive, they’re gonna stop weekend delivery, but when you go in there and ask them to do their job they get aggravated. My thing is, alright, I’m about to go up in there with 250 pieces and see what happens.

Which post office was this?
This is all of them! I planned out a little route! I mapped out a little route in Queens of ten post offices that are all off Springfield Boulevard starting from Bayside. I’m a get in my car every day and do like ten packages a day and chip away at it.

Do you think there’s a grand conspiracy going on involving the post office, Epson and Staples?
I think there is. I think the printer companies, the software companies, USPS, PayPal,, I think they’re all in there fuckin’ around cross-collateralizing and making this shit hard for people. It’s like buying software — everything becomes obsolete within six months and you got to go and replace things that aren’t even broken. That’s why I still use ProTools from years ago. People laugh but it works. I’m not upgrading shit. I’m not gonna get got — I’m just gonna make everyone else work harder.

The snippet of “Jackin’ For Basquiats” seems to have got a good reaction on Twitter.
Yeah, I think because of all the songs the subject matter is the most current. This summer everyone was talking about art show rap and rappers talking about these painting and shit and Watch The Throne or whatever. It’s like a hot button topic, whereas the other topics on the album are either too obscure or someone else has talked about them, but no one has specifically made a response record to that shit. That’s what it is, rappers are flaunting cash but their audience is broke. My thing is, the guy who painted it lived in Central Park, he was homeless, you know? The paintings are going for millions so instead of rapping about them why don’t we just go and steal them and hang them in a fast food joint so the poor people can come in and eat chicken nuggets and enjoy art that was made by somebody was who as poor as they are? To me, that makes more sense rather than having it up in some gallery.

Are you a fan of Basquiat?
Yeah, I mean I’m not really an art buff though. I’m not really a guy you can ask about art. I’m not really into art so if I give you an opinion it’s gonna be completely subjective. But my song’s more about using his painting and fine art as a symbol of status. So let’s jack it. Ice Cube jacked for beats. Hip-hip has to go back to jackin’ shit and being disrespectful. You wanna rap about shit that your fans can’t afford then we gonna start jackin’.

What’s your issue with LinkedIn?
It scares the hell out of me. If you go on there, like most social media it’s tracked to your email so if there’s people on your contact list that’s on LinkedIn they’re always being suggested to you. I’m like, “Damn, this girl’s a ho” but she’s dressed up here in this blouse or you’ll see some dude who’s mad grimy and used to go to the strip club and sit up drinking White Lightning and you and him used to do grimy shit back in the day and now he’s got the suit and tie and the nice haircut and “Operations manager”? Get the fuck out of here. I’m not trying to hear that shit at all. I was on LinkedIn for six years but it took me six years to get the photo where I’m looking presentable. I don’t have no professional photo but when I finally got the photo up there all I’m getting is emails about other peoples’ jobs! I had six connections and every time one of those six mothefuckers added a job title or a new position to their profile I got a fuckin’ update so now my email account is getting bombarded with shit about other motherfuckers making money. That ain’t got nothing to do with me making money so why do I give a fuck what my connections are up to? I had to disable that shit.

Did you ever make any money from LinkedIn?
Hell fuckin’ no. I only had six connections! People would add me but it’s people that I’m trying to avoid. I was like, “Damn, there’s some grimy people that are dressed well.” What I’m gonna do is probably bring it back and as a joke just do a profile with the photo with my hair all wild and my finger up, I’ll be Head Position of Pimpin’ at Hoes ‘R’ Us. Then I’ll just go add all corporate stiffs and see if they’ll accept me. I mean, getting a job is all about knowing people and then sucking dick — it ain’t about being connected on LinkedIn.

Talking about haircuts, when did you get inspired by Ali’s haircut?
When my book [Root For The Villain] came out two years back I was doing promo videos for it and I was watching the Tribe video and I used to have a gumby back in middle school but this was a gumby that was like flat, like a slanted flat-top, and I had never seen no shit like that before. Back then I always liked it but I never got it. So what I did was I watched the video on my phone and froze the camera and showed it to my barber. I had a big ‘fro so he had enough hair to cut it and I wore that shit for about six months.

Did anyone make the connection?
What I really found was that white women thought it was really cool, black women thought I looked ridiculous and need to grow up. A lot of people thought I didn’t have a real job. Nobody made the distinction between me and Ali though.

Which other hip-hop artists did you ever attempt to dress like?
When I was younger I wanted to dress like Scoob and Scrap ’cause they had that whole Bally thing where they had the letters printed all over the shirt like that. The closet I got to that was buying a Triple Fat Goose coat and turning it inside out ’cause the inside of that lining was designed like that, just a logo printed all over the jacket, so I wore my coat inside out. That phase was like ’89, ’90. I used to try and dress like Stezo. I used to rip my jeans and have everybody write on them. Like the cover of Crazy Noise, he’d have like “Keep out sucker” written on his jeans. I’d do the same thing in middle school. My mother made me a polka dot shirt like Kwame used to have and then with the jeans I ripped them up and had everyone in school just write their name on it. I would walk around like that.

Sounds like a potential LinkedIn profile picture.
Yeah, exactly, I would do some dumb shit like that for the picture.

Do you really believe that tofu has tampered with Russell Simmons’ mind?
Yes. I think if a fortune cookie company isn’t generating his tweets then tofu has finally destroyed his brain to the point where he can no longer say anything that makes any sense whatsoever.

Do you have any evidence of this?
No, but one thing I did notice is that most people I know who happen to be vegetarian or vegan also happen to be overweight. That lifestyle can’t be too healthy for you.

What happened to Russell Simmons?
It’s money. When you get too much money you start talking about spirituality and shit. If you’re poor and you answer the door to the debt collectors with spirituality, they just come with the cops. Spirituality is great when you’re rich, like being above money and all that shit — you can afford to say that shit when you have enough money and you have a crib in the Hamptons. But for everybody else out here, money matters.

Would you attend the Church of Simmons?
I probably would attend but I would just go when the collection plate comes around and take all the money and walk out. We’re jackin’ for Basquiats and we’re jackin’ for religion.

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