Love Him or Hate Him, Lil Jake Makes His Own Waves // Get to Know Lil Jake
Written by Greg Harris
In our perspective section, we've established a foundation to break creative individuals whose making their head way in their respective industry. In the past we've highlighted Kei, whose the hard working diligent manager behind household name 21 Savage, we tapped into the intel of Alamo Records and Daily Chiefers with Joey Walker, and today we're featuring The Windy City creative Lil Jake.
Getting hip to his podcast "Chicago Sleepers", him and his co-host Lil Jaw have brought in the likes of Papikodone, LUCKI, Plu2oNash, JoeFreshGoods, and more. The energy on the podcast seems very genuine, intriguing, and more insightful than other major hip hop podcasts. It gave off a central focus to Chicago but also pulling talent from different areas. Aside from his work he's done with Chicago Sleepers, Jake has been a liaison for some of the artist who are on the verge of blowing up such as Yung Bans, BigBabyGucci, Ron$oCold, and more. His position in the game at this moment goes to show you that he's one of the most comprehensive individuals when it comes to connecting artists and have the possibility of being a great A&R.
We recently had the opportunity to speak to Jake about his upbringing, being that liaison, and more.
How's Your Modern Life?
Depends on the day. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately so that’s been fun. On the weekends I’m usually at some kind of concert or party, but for the most part I spend a lot of time at home sitting on the internet.
What are three things you have to do when you wake up?
Make coffee, check twitter, check Soundcloud.
Growing up in Chicago, your musical experience differs from any other city. What were some of your early influences when it came to music?
When I was younger I listened to shit my parents put me on to, some hippie type shit. When I got older I started really getting into a lot of 90s alternative rock. Smashing Pumpkins are from Chicago, and they’re fire as fuck. When I got into Rap at first it was some “real hip-hop shit,” but as I got into high school being in the Chicago area I started fucking with Chance super super heavy. From Chance I found the whole Savemoney movement and a lot of other underground Chicago artists like Lucki, Hurt Everybody, etc.
You mentioned in one of your interviews that you didn't get into rap until you became a teenager. Being at that age, how did hip hop make you feel when you were first diving feet first in it?
I always thought rap music was ass until like 7th grade, because the only shit I had really heard was corny stuff on the radio. The only rap I had liked before that was stuff my dad showed me like Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, and that’s really about it. It’s a super lame thing to admit, but the movie Notorious is what really got me to find rap music on my own. I started to find a lot of 90’s hip-hop music, and then from there I moved on to Tyler, Mac Miller, Cuddi, Kanye, Earl, and stuff like that. Finding those artists were the first time where I felt like I could really relate to a lot of the things they were rapping about.
Aside from music impacting your life in a major way, what was your upbringing like in the "Windy City" and how did it turn it to you to the person you are today?
It’s weird because I was born in Chicago, then I moved to the suburbs, and then I moved back here. Growing up I lived in the suburbs for a long time, but never really fit in there. I spent a lot of time my junior and senior year of high school going to the city. Being in two completely different places it taught me how to communicate with a different people. Not always fitting in made me find the internet and find pretty much everything I’ve been working with now.
In the process of becoming the person you are today, a key part of your recent success is your show Chicago Sleepers, but the other vessel who drives is Lil Jaw. How did you guys meet each other and come up with the show?
We really just met kind of randomly from hanging around the dorms when I was a freshman in college going to Columbia. We ended running into each other a lot and then started chilling a lot last summer. Him and Max (co-owner/co-founder of Sleepers) came up with the idea. Jaw brought it up to me and asked me to join the team. From there we started to take over.
Being an interviewer, what are some key things you try to do to get the most out of each interviewee?
I always like getting crazy stories from artists. I love hearing stuff you wouldn’t hear in any regular interview. I like having natural conversations in our interviews versus the basic Q&A we see a lot of today.
"I feel like my responsibility is bringing people the hottest up and coming artists. A lot of people don’t know how to utilize the internet the way I do and would never be able to find some of the talent I’ve found. It’s my responsibility to take the talent I find and show the world!"
Aside from being a budding podcast host, you've turned into one of the key curators/mangers for artists such as BigBabyGucci, ATLBans, RonSoCold, and more. What do you think you can bring to the table for these artists and furthering their careers?
(Switch ATLBans to Yung Bans) My main goal for all of these artists is getting them to the next level. Aside from handling basic stuff like bookings, features, emails, and stuff like that I try to use the connections and relationships I’ve built to help them out. I also like to guide these artists in what I think is the next big move. Recently we’ve been having labels reaching out so it’s been a lot of traveling for meetings and stuff like that too.
In this day and age of the internet, what do you think your responsibility is when it comes to helping cultivating the culture of music?
I feel like my responsibility is bringing people the hottest up and coming artists. A lot of people don’t know how to utilize the internet the way I do and would never be able to find some of the talent I’ve found. It’s my responsibility to take the talent I find and show the world!
On the path of achieving great things, what are some things you have in placed for the rest of 2017?
There’s a lot in the works right now. I’m super focused on Bans and $oCold right now. I just got back from New York; I had some label meetings for both of them. I’m also working on putting together a super crazy concert for Chicago. Also, I have a surprise with Elevator coming pretty soon.
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as someone who was THE CULTURE.