TF Archives

Jake One - The One And Only

Author: Cyclone
Monday, December 1, 2008

The perfect beat writer according to himself, Jake One’s assurance is far from empty bluster. 3D’s Cyclone talked to the Seattle native about the proof: his debut LP White Van Music.

Seattle is the spiritual home of grunge, not a place associated with hip hop – unless you count Sir Mix-A-Lot of Baby Got Back infamy. But emerging producer Jake One, AKA Jacob Dutton, intends to challenge that. He big ups the city's surging hip hop subculture on his debut, White Van Music.

Jake, who cites J Dilla, DJ Premier and Dr Dre as his heroes, has made impressive power moves from the Emerald City, even producing joints for 50 Cent. In fact, he has an ongoing relationship with G-Unit Records as part of Sha Money XL's Money Management Group. Nevertheless, Jake elected to release White Van Music on Atmosphere's Rhymesayers Entertainment in Minneapolis, deeming it “the best independent hip hop label.” Jake wanted to reconnect with his roots. “When I started this record, I was really doing a lot of G-Unit stuff, that's when a lotta records were coming out, and that was the focus of everything I was doing, and I was just burnt out on the whole thing,” he says from a noisy cab. “It's just a different experience working on stuff that big, because there are so many people involved, and things are changing all the time - it's very unstable. But I didn't want that to be the only thing that people knew me for.”

Indeed, the self-proclaimed “perfect beatwriter” has underground credentials stretching back to the '90s. He has worked with Gift Of Gab as well as De La Soul. Jake called on many of his contacts for guest spots on White Van Music. He's brought in a cross-spectrum of underground and 'mainstream' MCs. Brother Ali, a favourite here in Australia, raps on the single The Truth alongside Freeway. But, while G-Unit artists do pop up, you won't hear Fiddy.

Above all, White Van Music defines Jake's aesthetic. “I've done a lot of work with a lotta other artists for their projects and I just wanted the chance to put the stuff that I want out there. I wanted to make the record that I actually want to make and make all the decisions.” Jake decided to “go back to basics,” acknowledging hip hop's ol' skool values in a contemporary context - not unlike Kanye West.

The finale on White Van Music is Home, a tribute to Seattle's '90s hip hop movement that features Jake's “mentor” Vitamin D, among others. The producer admits that Seattle doesn't have the “illustrious hip hop history” of New York or Los Angeles, but it is beginning to deliver promising MCs such as J Pinder.

Jake could leave Seattle but prefers to stay. He has always been an avid networker, often travelling to establish ties. Today Jake sends his beats off to artists, working long distance. “In this era you can be where you are and really not worry about it. I had to get it going, just to have people checking for me, but, once you got the music going and people are looking for you, you don't really have to be in LA or NY.

“The reason I really like being in Seattle is it's home, first and foremost. I'm comfortable creating here. I just feel like this is where I'm gonna create my best music.

WHO: Jake One
WHAT: White Van Music through Shock
WHEN: Out now