JAG Speaks on the Possibility of Signing with a Record Label

“2018 is going to be the most life changing year of my career. Going from an independent, underground artist, to a more mainstream artist in terms of visibility.”

South Central, LA’s JAG followed up the momentum from his 2016 mixtape run by officially releasing his debut album Dalton Ave in November 2017. In a time where “mumble rap” albums (not a Belly reference) top the charts and receive the airtime — it really is a crime Dalton Ave has not received the mainstream credit it deserves.

Aside from the album, what really opened my eyes is a few weeks after Black Thought’s Hot97 freestyle blew-up, LA Leakers invited JAG up to their studio and the LA native delivered just-as-mind-boggling bars:

I got a chance to talk to the Dalton Ave rapper about his upcoming 2018:

“I’ll be involved in a couple things for the All-Star game here in LA, doing a cypher for that…

…I’ll be putting another album out and hitting the road at some point in 2018.”

JAG basically confirmed new music and a tour are on the way in the up-coming year. He also mentioned becoming more visible which I was interested to see him say:

“I’ve gotta couple label situations on the table and I’m definitely looking to sign my first deal ideally in Q1.”

I asked him why he feels signing with a label is the best route for him as opposed to staying independent:

“It comes down to a few things…

…timing, where an artist is at in their career and leverage.”

I think that sometimes fans need to remember that not every artist is in the same situation. What is best for one artist, deciding wether or not to sign to a label, may not be best for another artist. JAG spoke to this:

“…If I had the fan base and leverage of a Russ or a 21 Savage — I’d stay independent — but I’ve been rapping for over 10 years…

…if signing to a major (as long as the deal makes sense and I’m not gettin’ killed or locked in for too long) helps me provide for my family in the immediate future, then I have take that bag.”

Staying independent has been a growing idea inside the industry ever since artists like Chance The Rapper and Tyler, The Creator have proven you can be successful with this model. In my eyes, Chance’s “deal” with Apple to distribute his Coloring Book project was, essentially, him signing a record deal regardless of the length of deal. JAG had this same sentiment:

“Chance kinda created this facade around being indie when he was never truly an independent artist. His manager comes from stupid bread and then he did the Apple/iTunes deal.”

It shows that outside of a few cases, it is very difficult in the music industry to be crazy successful without being backed by a large amount of money:

“At the end of the day, to me, a major label system is still the quickest way to reach the masses and build a worldwide audience — outside of getting lucky and having a viral hit — ie. Tee Grizzley.”

This isn’t to say that Tee Grizzley isn’t talented or is only successful because he is lucky. It’s highlighting that it’s not everyday a rapper can make it or reach the masses with a viral hit like First Day Out.

JAG’s (@southcentralJAG) debut album Dalton Ave was released this past November, it’s available on all major streaming platforms so definitely make sure you give it a listen.