We got so psyched about ATL newcomer Blak Jak when we first heard his Shawty Redd-produced, Project Pat-assisted smokeout "Ride and Swerve" this past spring that we threw a Gen F on dude in the Summer Music Spectacular (which you can still grab in PDF form - with accompanying music mix - and as a hard copy back issue). He's just put the finishing touches on his debut LP (all were gonna say is that the T-Pain song is bananarama and Don Cannon came with some Tribe Called Quest shit), but before that drops, look out for the Roll Da Dice mixtape with DJ Smallz as a teaser. And as a teaser to the teaser, click "more" to read that aforementioned Gen F article in full.
The united diversity of Blak Jak’s South
By Eric Ducker
Earlier this year Blak Jak, a 23-year-old rapper from Atlanta, independently released “Ride and Swerve,” an off-center nugget of “vintage sound.” Produced by Young Jeezy architect Shawty Redd, it had a stoned piano sample that hung around the track like nighttime fog and a chorus made from chopped and slurred Bun B lyrics. The song was anchored by a middle verse from Project Pat, who despite having just come off a stretch in prison for weapons charges, got laughs with lines like, Now they was thinking the Dirty South was like, Hee-haw hee-haw. In contrast, Blak Jak delivered his bookend bars with a baller’s mix of nonchalance and threat, explaining, Now down South we ride/ Out West they cruise/ Up North they bend blocks/ Kind of got me confused/ From these highways to parking lots/ Projects to barber shops/ I got them beatin this here with 15 down on every block.
Soon enough “Ride Swerve” was selling tough in mom and pop shops and spreading across state lines. “It’s been playing on the radio down here, all through the south,” says Blak Jak. “It’s a little in Midwest spots, St Louis got it now, Memphis on it hard, Jacksonville on it hard….”
Blak Jak was able to parlay this one song into a deal with Universal and is currently working on his debut album, Place Your Bets—he hopes it will be out by the end of the summer. On it, he is working to create a sort of united southern sound that combines the heavy viscosity of slow rolling and the anxiety of the club. It’s a move away from the recent trend where sub-Mason-Dixon rappers have pushed to differentiate their cities, making it clear that each one has its own pioneers and peculiarities. Instead Blak Jak is collaborating with producers who are behind some of the best work of each city’s superstars, collecting beats from DJ Toomp (TI’s “What You Know””) to Juicy J (the Three 6 Mafia catalog) to the Nimrods (Nelly’s “Dilemma”) to Mr Collipark (the Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (Whisper Song)”) to Don Cannon (Young Jeezy’s “Go Crazy”). “I don’t just do one kind of music. I don’t just do crunk or snap or trap music,” explains Blak Jak. “I like to do more laid back music, diversify everything.”