When Jasiel Robinson was growing up in Atlanta, he learned much about running a business from his father, who owned a hair-care products company. Years later when Robinson became platinum-selling rapper Yung Joc, he applied the same progressive business acumen to his career in hip-hop.
It's not just about making music.
"You have a recognizable name and face and a credible reputation. You can relate all that to building financial wealth," says Joc, who plays 1st Mariner Arena tomorrow night as part of Screamfest '07, which also stars fellow Atlanta rapper T.I and R&B-pop; princess Ciara. "Any time you have a career like this jumping off, you need to have other ventures going."
Since selling a million copies of his self-produced debut, New Joc City, Joc, 25, has opened up Import Rentals, a luxury car rental service in downtown Atlanta. He also has established a music production company and is working on a fashion line. The entrepreneurial ethos of hip-hop culture is celebrated in the theme of his new album, Hustlenomics, which hit stores Tuesday.
"I made some serious cuts this time around," says Joc, who last week was at a tour stop in Indianapolis. "It's more of a balance. I'm talking about how to make it every day. It's not just party music this time."
Like New Joc City, Hustlenomics features a slew of cameos, but the names are bigger this time. Diddy, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg, Trick Daddy, Jim Jones, the Game - they all grace different tracks on the new album. The production of Hustlenomics is still trend-conscious and rooted in the aesthetics of Southern hip-hop.
It's not too different from what was heard on New Joc City. Sales of that CD were spurred by the catchy club single "It's Goin' Down." The song spawned a dance called "the Motorcycle": a bouncy move from side to side, arms extended with accelerator-revving wrist action.
The simple dance became such a mainstream hit that Tom Cruise tried it on BET's 106 & Park. But the album, the first smash on Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy South label, garnered mixed reviews. The consensus was that Joc's brand of hip-hop lazily recycled rap cliches - hanging in the club, rolling in tricked-out cars and the like. Some critics also felt that his style bore too many similarities to fellow Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy.
"I wore shades, my hat to the back. Folks said I looked like Jeezy," Joc says. "But I don't think I sound like nobody else."
The rapper says his laid-back flow was fully developed before he signed with Bad Boy South.
"I knew I had a team in place and management was on point, so it wasn't a big surprise when the first album hit," Joc says. "And I had the work ethic, man. Nobody in the game was selling records like that last year."
But the performer doesn't expect hip-hop, his main venture for now, to support him forever.
"I'm trying to generate some other money in other things," Joc says. "It just makes sense to put your money in other stuff. Ain't no guarantees out here."
See Yung Joc at Screamfest '07 at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., tomorrow at 7:30. Tickets are $27.50-$57.50 and are available through Ticketmaster by calling 410-547-SEAT or visiting ticketmaster.com.