TDE’s star is steady rising and that’s not by sheer chance. The hip-hop label boasts some of music’s best artists today and that can be attributed to their steadfast grit and grind to get to the top. The first artist to open the door for TDE’s success was the OG of the crew, Jay Rock, and he learned the importance of hustling from hip-hop legend Tech N9ne.
When he was a budding rapper breaking into the spotlight, Jay Rock was given the opportunity to tour with Strange Music, Tech N9ne’s infamously independent label (Strange Music was actually one of the labels attached to the release of his debut album Follow Me Home). While touring, Rock noticed real fast why Tech N9ne is one of the biggest independent artists in the music biz.
Sitting down with Real 92.3’s DJ Damage and Bootleg Kev, the Watts, L.A. native spoke about the eye opening experience and how it factored into his own success in hip-hop.
“This dude Tech man, he tours damn near like, I don’t know how many days, like almost a whole year doing his stuff and he don’t sleep with it…he’s a hard worker man, much respect to Tech N9ne,” said Jay Rock.
“Just a story he was telling me like you know for him going into different little spots, it was only like two people up in there, and they going city to city and they was performing for minimal people like ten people. Then the next town they go there’s twenty [people] you know what I mean, and they kept hitting these certain different spots, they do the same spots or whatever but it’s just a grind. He just stayed dedicated to what he was doing and man…it showed me you gotta stay hustling, you gotta stay dedicated to what you doing and you gon’ get there.”
Being the first artist to introduce the world to TDE might have seemed daunting, but the man born John McKinzie Jr. knew they would achieve their goals regardless of which artist was tasked with carrying TDE to the mainstream. The work ethic they instilled in themselves, paired with the work ethic he’d seen in other hip-hop vets such as Tech N9ne, served as validation that their persistence would eventually pay off.
“It was the grind you know what I’m saying, we was hustling like, we was broke you know what I mean and that’s what we really wanted, we just stayed dedicated,” he said.
The full interview can be viewed below where he discusses: the upcoming Black Panther soundtrack (unfortunately he says he only makes one appearance), the current state of hip-hop, his upcoming album and more.