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of my cars was empty like a nigga done went in there and took everything. Were you always calling yourself 9th Ward? Even before Katrina? Nah. My nickname in the streets is Gucci. 9th Ward could be anybody’s name [in New Orleans]. So my name is 9th Ward Gucci. They got 9th Ward Shawty, 9th Ward Phil. They got bookoo 9th Ward people. When I came out to Atlanta, they got Gucci Mane. Just to show people I was different, we dropped the Gucci and rolled with the 9th Ward but we worked with Gucci [Mane] and everything. We got a couple of songs together ‘cause [my producer] Nitti does a lot of his beats. We coulda dropped the Gucci and went with a whole ‘nother name but I said, “Nah, I’ma go with 9th Ward,” because I think 9th Ward stands for something now. It stands for when the levees broke in the 9th Ward. That’s where most of the damage happened. It means overcoming the storm and the weather, literally, but I use it in a spiritual sense, ya dig? What were you doing prior to rapping? I was rapping but not seriously. One of my cuts is named “You Can’t Compare Me To No Rapper.” I just write stories. Most of the time I rap about life, but I really wasn’t a rapper. I was hustling and I had my own studio. I moved all my equipment in a building and it was a hang out spot. One of my big homes who rapped got shot and paralyzed so he started rapping more. Being around him, he just told me to spit something, that’s how I started writing and rapping. This was in 2002. I was fucking around and niggas was telling me I could flow, I knew nothing [about how to rap]. I went to Guitar Center and got everything there. I still remember the guy who helped us, white boy Bill. I told him I wanted to be a rapper, what I need to get to recorded. So we got a MPC, modules, blue mics. I bought a whole studio, just fucking around. I want to be the best. I hate when rappers come out and say they’re the best and make garbage. What you wasting people’s time for? I told myself I’m not gonna be that person. So I listen to the radio and compare it, and say, “Nah, my shit ain’t hot yet.”

“I was watching Rap City and Nitti was on there. They asked Nitti about his upcoming projects. He said he was gonna sign 9th Ward Gucci. Who, me? I ain’t talked to this nigga in six months. But that let me know he was thinking about me. So I went back to Atlanta, found his crib, and knocked on his door.” - 9th ward

44 // OZONE MAG

Where does that humbleness come from? I think God just blessed me with an understanding. Like dawg, do my shit really sound like 50 Cent? No. I really started taking rap serious after the storm because I had nothing to lose. I was fucking around with the rap, I had the equipment so I just started doing it. I took the equipment I had in Louisiana and put it in my hotel in Atlanta when FEMA kicked in. I had a studio in Metairie, outside of New Orleans, so my equipment was safe. That’s a blessing, to lose everything but that. That’s a sign. I was recording in the FEMA hotel, rapping and chilling. They’d have open mics in Atlanta. I was like, “I can do this shit.” I ran into an A&R for Nitti and Playmaker and she took my CD to him. He sat on it for like 6 months. I was back in New Orleans by that time. I was watching Rap City and Nitti was on there. They asked Nitti about his upcoming projects. He said he was gonna sign 9th Ward Gucci. Who, me? I ain’t talked to this nigga in six months. But that let me know he was thinking about me. So I went back to Atlanta, found his crib, and knocked on his door. I thought it was Hollywood talk at first, but shit, he shouldn’t had said that. “I’m here now, nigga, where the contract at?” But I didn’t want the [advance] money yet. I said, “Just sign me, dawg. Just put me in a position to make my own money. I’m a hustler. I want to be in that position.”

“H

ow many artists do you know who would say that?” laughs JD as he eavesdrops on 9th Ward’s interview. “That’s why I love this dude.”

Of course, any label exec would love an artist who says they’re not in it for the money. But when JD says he love 9th for that kind of attitude, it doesn’t sound like he’s wishing to take advantage of the rookie rapper. It genuinely sounds as if the veteran producer and current President of Island Records Urban Music actually wants to put money in the 9th’s hungry pockets. Known for his contributions to the careers of artists ranging from Mariah Carey to Jay-Z, JD working with a new artist like 9th Ward is a testament to his dedication to Hip Hop. Far from the usually polished rap that he’s known for making and promoting, dealing with 9th Ward offers more risk that reward. He’s a new artist who’s gone through a traumatic experience and is entering a ruthless game that isn’t for the weak at heart. “I know a lot of times, people look at me as the dude that makes pop records and makes records that’s more successful [as crossover records],” says JD. “But the artists that I always liked and listened to were the artists that had that edge. I always want one of them artists in my life forever. I always wanted one and I see the little parts of DMX in [9th Ward] from listening to him talk. It’s just a realness about 9th Ward that made me not be scared of nothing. I ain’t never really have

Ozone Mag #67 - May 2008  

Ozone Mag #67 - May 2008

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