Hustling for yourself:
an interview with independent Bay Area Hip Hop
legend JT the Bigga Figga

by JR of the SF Bayview Newspaper

JT the Bigga Figga is one of the pioneers of this Bay Area independent music game and one of Friscoís biggest names in this Hip Hop industry. He has always been one of rapís most talented hustlers, with a catalogue just as big or bigger than anybody operating today coast to coast. I was in the Hunters Point going to get something to eat on Third at Your Community Restaurant recently when I saw JT in there smashing down on a meal, and I got at him about an interview.

Itís a trip how things work, because we had been missing each other in previous weeks, and now at the restaurant when we both was about to go get something to munch on, we caught up with each other and sat down while our food was cooking and chopped it up about his new book and his thoughts on everything from family to reading. This is just part 1, but the dope that J is spitting in this interview is definitely worth your time, so kick back and let your eyes follow his words. Check it out Ö

JR: How long have you been in the game, and what has inspired you most about being in the music game?

JT: I been in the game 12 years, and what inspired me most is the opportunity to take care of my family and do for self without nobody holding me back. I canít blame it on nobody else if I donít make it now. My destiny is in my hands.

JR: Itís always been a big thing with you to put a lot of people on. Where did that come from? And why is that necessary among us as Black people?

JT: It comes from helping other people and the benefits that comes with it, it doesnít necessarily got to come from them. It comes from all angles, you know what Iím saying, itís like getting blessings. Itís like you trying to get put on. If I got any type of leverage or any type of edge on something and I could put somebody else on, whether itís study time, whether itís this or itís that, and I do it not looking for nothing in return from them, as I go about trying to make the moves for myself, peopleíll put me on out of nowhere. And why it is necessary is because the time that we are living in is hard times. We not used to helping each other, so right now is the perfect time to incorporate that into everything that we are doing.

JR: How important is Minister Farrakhanís leadership and the mosque to your life?

JT: Minister Farrakhan is the key reason why my life took the direction, took the turn that it is as far as doing for self, as far as knowing for a fact that whatever talents God blesses you with, itís to serve his purpose, you feel me, so through his leadership he is showing me strength, he is showing me how a real Black man is supposed to do it. The mosque is like a training center, to come out of an evil and foul world and to come to a place of peace and security and get the proper training from the way it is supposed to be taught, without no cut and no chaser on it. So the mosque and Minister Farrakhan is very instrumental in the foundation that Iím standing on right now.

JR: So how important is family?

JT: Family is very important. I mean, everybody knows itís important, but to have family means hard work. So we can all say that family is important, but family starts with you, you know what Iím saying. Family starts with you interacting with your family members on the right basis, from the proper perspective. It ainít about just ďthatís my brother, thatís my cousin, thatís my momma, thatís this, and thatís thatĒ - itís bigger than that.

JR: Can you speak a little about what you are working on musically, and could you tell us a little about your book that you got coming out?

JT: I would say that I am working on music right now, but the book is done now. So Iím just pushing the book on the website. The book is a CEO manual, itís a step by step program on showing anybody, from a new person coming into the game or somebody who has been doing it 10 years, to use tactics that I used basically to get to where I am at. Itís half autobiography, itís half training courses on how to get this money, how to establish yourself in the industry. Each of them things, if you donít have no direction, youíll just be hoping that somebody else put you on, youíll be hoping to get discovered, youíll be hoping that somebody finds you, and most times it doesnít happen like that. So I put the book together as a means of promoting myself, generating income and helping others, all three in one.

JR: What is it called?

JT: ďBlack Wall Street: The CEO ManualĒ

JR: What inspired you to write a book rather than put it on an album?

JT: What inspired me to write the book was trials and tribulations that I was going through in my life. Putting out so many albums, doing a few movies and just being in the game as long as I have been in the game, I wanted to do something to make a real mark in the game. I wanted to do something thatís going to separate me, I wanted to do something that people really could get something from thatís different from the rest of the artists. When I was promoting ďBlack Wall Street,Ē just the whole history of Black Wall Street comes from the original Black Wall Street in 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and you know that was my peopleís back then, feel me.

Just like all the other people we lost, the inspiration comes from a lot of different things. It wasnít no one thing. Maybe it was because my head was so filled up with stuff swirling around that I wanted to get it out and look at it, then get out something else, and now I want to start doing books. So thatís motivational because people was bugging out to see me in that arena right now as a newcomer. My life story, my history, my track record is a track record that people need to know about. And I wasnít going to wait for somebody else to write a book, Iíll write my own book.

But there was one key brotha though, his name was Bro. Alim, and he actually showed me that I could do a book, because he interviewed me about four or five days straight, coming to see me every day with a tape recorder, and took all the tapes and transcribed it down to paper and gave it to me. It was like 87 pages long, and I was like, man, this is my thoughts, and I got to read back what I was saying and I was like wow, I need to share some more game, cuz we talked about my life. We talked about everything so we could get the whole picture to come to life at that time, and that was in 2000.

So I always had that paper, and I wanted to make my book out of that, but I knew that that was a lot of paper work to go through, so that was discouraging. It was like a big mountain in front of me, so I didnít want to mess with that out of the gate, but making something about my life and putting chapters together, thinking of a title and just writing what I think about this chapter, just like how you are asking these questions right now, thatís how it was.

JR: How long did it take you to write this?

JT: It took me 12 days to write it, but it was probably brewing in me for about a year or so, I donít know. One day I just got the idea. God sent it to me, make a book.

JR: What are some of the books that you have read and who are some of your favorite authors? And why is it important to read?

JT: Reading is an art form, but itís a lost art form because everybody including myself doesnít like to read. We read what we like to read, but we donít read what we should read. We donít focus in. I think author-wise the books that I really got into first without no pictures was ďMessage to the Blackman.Ē Thatís the first real book that I really enjoyed. It made me think of my life differently, it led me to where I am at right now. So I would have to say that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad as an author, reading his book helped me understand the Bible better, it turned me on to the Koran, something I never knew about, and I just think author-wise him and Min. Farrakhan write the most potent words, and of course the Holy Koran and the Bible. Thatís pretty much the only books I really - I mean itís other books of course that Iíve been reading or I read, I canít think of a book that Iíve read cover to cover straight through.

JR: What are some of the books that you have skimmed through?

JT: I liked Russell Simmons book. That was another book I read. I liked his book.

JR: When does the book come out?

JT: The book is available now -, or they could get it from me right out the trunk. I ainít really put them in no stores or nothing yet.

JR: What would you say to young Black writers or just Black people? What kind of advice would you give them off of the top of your dome?

JT: The key thing that I would say is first you got to see it, and first you got to figure out what direction you want to go in. The thing that motivated me was I wanted to stand out, I wanted to be recognized, so doing music was a foísho way to be recognized. I wanted to have the fortune that comes with it. Itís like canít nobody tell you how good you could be and good you canít be. Thatís the first thing and the most important: if you canít see it, than it ainít going to happen anyway. Not that it ainít going to happen or it canít happen, but it might fall into your lap or one day it might just click, but you got to identify the things that you want to do, you got to stay away from the negative things.

And you donít really know how bad negative things are; we donít know how much of an impact that it has on our life. Even the littlest thing like stealing $5 off of the table, what kind of impact that that could have on the rest of your day, or your week, or your month. So selling dope and robbing and stealing and things that a lot of the young dudes is into, letís say people thatís not into that, what would I tell them? ďMan, I donít steal, I donít rob. I got a job.Ē

Ok, cool, you got a job, but you still got to think above that job, what if they drop you? What if this happens, what if that happens? And then people say, ďWell, Iíll take it one day at a time.Ē Yes, you are supposed to do that, but you always got to be thinking ahead, you got to map it out, you got to see it, and you got to have goals, you know what Iím saying, you got to have dreams and then you just go at them and make it happen.

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