One of the artists hard at work for an impressionable 2009 is Bay Area talent The Jacka. Having toured with C-Bo and Yukmouth prominently in the earlier part of the decade, the rapper's recent Street Album lived up to its name in intention. "These songs are songs that I had strictly made for the prisons," said Jacka.
He continued, "We sell a lot of CDs to prisons. We had to keep it real gutter. A lot of people talk about the dope game and the hard, street life, but we're really givin' you the life. Some of this shit might sound simple and plain when we rappin' about it, but to the dudes livin' this life, it's real." The project also features Messy Marv and Keak Da Sneak.
With an awaited studio album in tow for March, Jacka was adamant that, "This wasn't made for reviewers or magazines or other rappers, this is only for prisoners and the streets." He added, "It did way better than I thought it was gonna do."
Among the 21 tracks mixed by Big Von from the retail mixtape release is "Addiction," a first-person commentary on losing a battle with drugs. For The Jacka, a song this is a testament to his risk-taking artistry, as well as the way the street rapper empathizes with his streets. "For a major artist, who's trying to get on and get on the scene, it's no a good idea to do [records like] that. It's a chance you're taking. But the way that I did it was, I'm putting myself in the shoes of somebody who's actually on the shit, using the shit. A lot of my closest friends is on heroine or coke or something. In our generation, those are serious drugs!"
He notes the closing lyrics to the song as indicative of the thin line between love and addiction, in this case tilted towards the latter. "I'm doing it for the people on it. At the end of the song, 'If I didn't love you, I would've kicked you a long time ago / Even though it's better off if I let you go.'"
With recent rappers such as Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg having public struggles with drug addiction, the rapper is also quick to note, that while addiction is universal, the song is more art than reality. "It was a feelin' I had, and I felt I could express it. Everybody has their addictions or problems."
Before leaving, the rapper spoke about next month's slated studio album, Tear Gas. The Jacka said he stressed to producers and engineers to craft a companion sound that was both unpolished by state-of-the-art, something unique. "The sound is new. The sound is bigger sometimes than the things that are actually being said." With a career driven by mixtapes, he said he wanted to sound close to the listener, in a way true to how people sound in everyday conversations.
The results have been positive thus far. "Everybody I'm letting hear this shit, they're blown. They want to hold it." Although he works and associates with several Hyphy-labeled artists, The Jacka wants to distance himself from the national perception of the movement. "I want something that people can hold onto it, not like the Hyphy movement. That was spurt of the moment, something that was going on right [then]. This is real."
Looking at his strongest feature, The Jacka affirms Tear Gas to be marked with, "I'm straight-to-the-point and I'm lyrical."
The Street Album is out now. Tear Gas is due in March.