206UP first met hip-hop producer Jake Crocker in February 2014 at a 300 Entertainment listening session for Raz Simone’s Cognitive Dissonance: Part 1. Jake was barely out of high school and about to embark on a bonafide real-world education with his close music partner, Raz. The classroom? The notoriously lecherous music industry.
By all accounts, Jake is an honor roll student, having survived a months-long tour in 2014 with Raz (whose team served as the opening act for Rittz’s OD Tour) and as an instrumental player in the roll-out to the hotly anticipated Cognitive Dissonance: Part 2, set to drop online for free tomorrow (Wednesday, 1/28). Jake again plays an integral part in the production of the new album, his dramatic musical backdrops lending emotional heft so vital to Raz’s confessional style.
Focused, dedicated and refreshingly earnest, Jake Crocker hopped on 206UP’s THE SIX to provide insight into his new life as a working creative.
206UP: What’s your life been like since the 300 Entertainment signing?
Jake Crocker: The best way to describe life these days is “positively hectic.” Everything’s happening so fast. Shaking so many hands, listening to and creating so much music. Learning. I wouldn’t say things are tremendously different now that we’re partnered with 300. We’ve always been grinding, always been striving for quality, now we just have amazing advisers at hand.
What types of things are you learning about the music industry?
One interesting thing about the music industry is that there is always more to learn. This business holds so many different crevasses of learning. Going on tour really allowed me to step out into the industry with no turning back. I was able to step out of the studio and really observe how, not only the music side of touring works, but also the business side. I’ve learned that being knowledgeable about the business side of things is just as important as focusing on your own art. I’ve seen too many talented people become swallowed by the industry simply because their business skills aren’t on point. I’ve also come to learn how relationships work in the industry. People come and people go; many people come simply to get what they need out of you and off they go. By seeing this, it’s allowed me to become better at understanding the difference between a leach and an irreproachable person.
Raz seems, for lack of a better term, very “family oriented” with respect to who he organizes and collaborates with. Talk a little bit about what it’s like being part of the Black Umbrella family.
We are all about the heart. The heart of a person can tell it all. Raz is my brother and when I say that I don’t stutter. I look out for him and he looks out for me. Same goes with the rest of the close-knit Black Umbrella family. Vinny, Mike, Hector, Brent, Sam — everybody is genuine. Real as real can be. Going on tour allowed Raz and I to get to know each other on another level. We were close before but being forced to essentially live with someone in a crowded space for two months is a test, a test that we passed. I believe that one of the most important aspects to creating a lifelong bond [and] connection is balance. It’s about doing more than one thing with each other. If your relationship is strictly built off of going to the bar with someone, what happens when one party decides to become sober? The strength of that relationship disintegrates. Where I’m getting at is that with Raz and I, and the whole damn Black Umbrella family, it’s more than just music. I guarantee you that if tomorrow the grim reaper of music came around and abolished music from my life, I would still meet up with Raz that night and get a burrito or some weird ass Himalayan food.
You were out on tour for a grip in 2014. What did you miss most about Seattle?
Seattle is my home. Born and raised on Capitol Hill, I can never really see myself living somewhere else. You know when people say, “You appreciate things more when they’re gone?” The truth is I could never, and have never, taken my home for granted. This place is paradise.
The other thing that really made me miss my city was the food. Got-damn some of these cities around this country are struggling. Only restaurant within 10 miles is a good ol’ trusty McDonalds! You should’ve seen the look on our faces. Raz and I eat healthy, you know? Whole wheat bread — the good shit not the super sugary garbage — coconut oil, veggies, fruits, organic peanut butter, the works. So when we walked on the tour bus in New York only to find Wonder bread, Skippy peanut butter, Doritos, and microwave breakfast sandwiches, we saw a problem that needed to be fixed. So the first stop we made at a store we stocked up. We got the goods! The whole bus looked at us like we were aliens: “Some healthy eatin’ ma’fuckas.” But by the end of the tour, rest assured, everyone on that bus was eating healthier. So, long story short, I most definitely missed Seattle food while being out for a couple months.
Is it hard to find time to just sit and create new music?
No matter how busy of a day, I will always find time to sit down and do something productive, music-wise, for my career. Whether that’s opening up a beat and fiddling around a bit, to creating a masterpiece, I can and will always do something. I’ve never been the kind of producer to sit down and make five beats a day. I always strive for quality, and I think that’s a huge problem people face these days on the come up: Not understanding that quality actually matters. I want to make music that people remember. I want to make music that touches people’s hearts in a way that they’ve never felt before, and that all starts with quality. Knowing that I need to put my all [into] a piece of art allows me to know when a beat is worthy of being heard. The music I release comes from my soul. I could most definitely sit down and make five beats today that would pass in the industry, but the last thing on my mind is to “pass.” I strive everyday to go above and beyond the expectations of everyone.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Sitting in a snowy cabin with my dog and my girl, making beautiful music. Ha. That’s always a tough question because there’s so much I see five years from now. To boil it down I’d have to say that I see creative freedom, recognition and financial stability. Although, number one has to be creative freedom; having say over my creations and foreseeing every step of the creative process. Then comes recognition. I want everyone on my team to be recognized for the hard-ass work we all put into our art. Then comes financial stability. I want to live off of music. That’s a dream of so many musicians and I plan to make it a reality. Also, I of course see my family. I couldn’t do any of this without them.
Aside from personal visions, I see us all making a positive impact not only [in] the music business but also the world. I have a message, we have a message, and five years from now that message will be heard and our thoughts and dreams will come to fruition.
I just want to take a minute to recognize another very hard working artist I work closely with, my “brother” Ronnie Dylan. His passion and ambition for our music is second to none. Our project Manumission will be dropping February, fully produced by myself. Keep an eye out. I am so proud to be involved with such amazing and inspiring artists.
THE SIX is a regular Q&A feature on 206UP with a simple format: One member of the local hip-hop community and six questions. For past editions click here.