MC Jin’s True Hip-Hop Stories: Pres. Barack Obama, Kanye West and DMX
Few, if any Christian hip-hop artists have had more mainstream success than MC Jin who released his latest EP Hypocrite on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
BET’s “106 & Park” inducted him into the Freestyle Friday Hall of Fame after he won seven straight rap battles on the show. The next year, he signed with Ruff Ryders Entertainment—former record label of DMX, Swizz Beatz, Eve and Jadakiss.
Jin crossed paths with numerous icons early in his career. Here are three of those occasions.
Jin Quenches DMX’s Thirst
Jin recalls being in DMX’s presence just eight or nine times in the four years that they were Ruff Ryder labelmates.
“I’m not saying any of this from a place of disgruntledness or bitterness. I’m just pointing that out,” Jin told Wade-O Radio’s David Daniels. “Once again, because when I encounter people to this day, they still ask me the million dollar question: ‘Yo, what’s up with X? You still see him?’ And I’m like, ‘I barely saw him when I was signed to the label, what makes you think I would see him when I’m not?”
One of those eight or nine times left Jin anything but disgruntled or bitter.
It was a summer day in Harlem. Jin and the Ruff Ryders lined a street with their cars and motorcycles. Their mission: to hang out.
When DMX arrived, the face of the Ruff Ryders greeted his crew, but shortly postponed his welcome at one car. An Arizona Iced Tea sat upon its hood. DMX was thirsty.
“Yo, whose ice tea is this?” DMX asked. “Let me get that.”
Jin had been thirsty several minutes earlier.
“Yo, go ahead, you can have it,” Jin told him.
What had begun as the average purchasing of an iced tea turned into Jin’s most memorable DMX moment.
“It was my ice tea, though,” said Jin. “It was my Arizona Ice Tea that I sacrificed for the great Earl Simmons [DMX]. And I will never regret it. I would do the same thing a million times. He probably will never even remember this story, which is fine with me because I know that it was a vivid DMX memory for me. And it was cool. Like yo, DMX, he drank my Arizona Ice Tea.”
Jin Only Talks to the God of Heaven
Jin took advantage of the benefits a major label offers on the one album that he dropped under Ruff Ryders, The Rest Is History. They asked if he had any wishes. He wished for Kanye West to produce a song for him, and they made it happen.
West hadn’t released College Dropout at that point, but he had developed a reputation as one of hip hop’s top producers for his work on Jay-Z’s Blueprint in particular. Jin joined him in the studio in 2003. The session primarily consisted of Jin watching West on the keyboard, looking for beats to sell him.
“I can’t recall what we talked about,” said Jin, “if anything at all. And I can’t recall how many sentences we actually exchanged. Seriously, it might have been as much as just, ‘Yo, what’s up Kanye?’ ‘Yo, what’s up Jin,’ if that.”
Jin didn’t blame West for the lack of communication, or intimidation for his own silence (West hadn’t called himself a god at that point either). If anything, he was just so excited to have West produce a song for him that Jin forgot to talk to him.
“It slipped my mind that, wait a minute,” said Jin, “this is a really great opportunity to build with him, to talk emcee stuff, to talk beats.”
West may have not started a deep conversation, but he produced what ended up being the song “I Got Love” and even recorded a verse for it—an act Jin remains thankful for.
Listen to ‘I Got Love’: HERE.
WARNING: Song contains explicit language. Please do not listen if you will be offended by it.
Jin and Barack: Best Friends
A 24-year-old Jin had decided prior to the 2008 Presidential Election that he would finally vote. Barack Obama quickly separated himself from the other candidates, who included Hilary Clinton and John McCain, in Jin’s mind.
“This is from the bottom of my heart,” said Jin. “The fact that he was African American wasn’t the primary thing that caught me. It could easily have been, but I truly believe before even that—yes, that obviously struck a chord with me—but before that, what struck me the most was what he was bringing to the table. Now, people will be like, ‘Oh, you mean his rhetoric?’ Who knows? It may or may not be.”
All Jin knew was that—after he watched the Democratic National Convention and video documentation of Obama’s work as senator in amazement—he not only wanted to vote for Obama, but support him. The manner of support that Jin chose: song. He penned “Open Letter to Obama,” put it out and the track went viral.
As the song’s popularity peaked, Obama’s campaign organizers messaged Jin on Myspace, thanking him for his support. A week later, they made Jin Obama’s top friend on the social networking website.
“I’m glad this is documented because if I just told people that then it might even sound like I’m crazy—‘Ah, Jin and your little fairytales,’” he said.
Obama’s campaign hadn’t finished expressing its gratitude to Jin. It invited him to open up for Obama in the presidential candidate’s “Walk for Change” event in Manhattan’s Union Square Park by first performing “Open Letter to Obama” and then introducing him.
Jin performed in front of thousands who attended the pep rally.
“Obama, Obama,” Jin chanted, reenacting his performance. “Whatever. I don’t even remember how the song goes. And then I’m like, ‘Y’all ready? Make some noise for the next president, Barack Obama!’”
He met Obama after his speech. The next president thanked Jin, told him ‘good job,’ shook his hand, took a picture with him and signed his book, addressing it to Jin and his future wife Carol.
“I don’t even know if he’d heard the song himself,” laughed Jin.