Q&A: Jim Jonsin on Fast Cars, Top Productions, and Having T.I. Babysit
Coral Springs resident and super-producer Jim Jonsin is richer than God from his work making hit singles for folks like T.I., Beyonce, Lil Wayne, and B.o.B. In the vein of x-treme tycoons like Richard Branson, he's expanding his empire and living dangerously via his new Rebel Rock Racing company -- an off-shoot of his Rebel Rock label and a partnership with Pompano's Champion Motorsport -- which is hosting a showcase this Saturday, December 18, at the Palm Beach International Raceway. The exhibition will feature pro and amateur drivers, and Jonsin himself will be behind a wheel or two. Not just for gearheads, however, the event will include food, a cocktail hour, and performances from folks including Pitbull and DJ Affect. County Grind recently spoke to Jonsin about the event and the wild world of pop-rap production.
Tell me a little about the event.
About 20 percent of the [exhibition] participants are race car drivers, and a few pros are coming out. There will also be bounce houses and go carts for the kids. After the event there's going to be a party on-site, and you can make a donation to Toys for Tots. There'll also be a raffle, including Oakley sunglasses, t-shirts, Rebel Rock apparel, and a day in the studio with Jim Jonsin.
I know very little about racing. Are these like, NASCAR style cars?
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No, mostly Porsches. The rest are Corvettes, Camaros, Nissans, Mazdas, Ferraris, and others. I have three Porsches that will be out there, a Works Turbo, a GT3 RS, got a GT Cup car.
How did you first get into racing?
I'm just getting into it now. Yesterday, I finished my racing school. I'm going for my license, and hoping to race in the coming year. I'm doing well out there, from what everyone's saying. I'm hoping to blow them all away.
Do you hope to race professionally?
Yes, at some point.
Let's talk music. What's your favorite hit song you've ever produced?
Trick Daddy's, "Let's Go." To flip an Ozzy [Osbourne] record, "Crazy Train"... that was one of my favorite rock songs. I knew it would do well, although nobody around me thought it would. I also like the Nelly record, "Just a Dream," I love the melody and the concept. I was glad to help Nelly come back so strongly.
You also made Soulja Boy's smash, "Kiss Me Thru The Phone." But his new album, The DeAndre Way, bombed. Any idea why?
He should have called me! He should have called me on that "Kiss Me Thru The Phone," phone. Dance with the bitch that brought you to the dance! [Laughs] Real talk: he's a very talented kid. None of us are perfect, we can't get a hit every time. He'll shake this off and come back.
You were embroiled in a dispute with Lil Wayne's camp over the royalties for "Lollipop." How were you able to come to terms, and were you able to collect the full $500,000 you sought?
The song's [royalties] are probably more than that, by now. We worked out an arrangement. They're giving me some money now, and will pay the balance in the first or second quarter next year. I never had an issue with Wayne, he and I were cool. It's just there was some confusion owing to [clearance issues with] a sample from another song I made for him ["I Feel Like Dying"]. There's never been hard feelings between me and him.
A lot of people have complained about not being paid by Cash Money/Young Money, but apparently the label knows not to mess with you.
I think I have bigger muscles than they do.
Either that, or they know about the heat you're packing.
That's not how I got my money back, though.
You've worked closely with T.I. What do you think of his current situation? It seemed like he had a lot of public sympathy before his recent probation violation, but now people seem to just think he blew it.
The public's gonna say what they want. But he's a great man, as a role model and as a human being. People are hypocrites; people smoke pot...But I don't even think he did it. I think the people riding with him were doing it. If you're driving and you get caught [with drugs in the car], you're screwed. You're can't pay attention to every last thing and every last person around you -- you'd need airport-style screening. It sucks that he messed up, and it's nobody's fault but his own, but at the end of the day shit like this happens. But I think T.I.'s a standup guy. He and his wife can take care of my kids any time.
-- Ben Westhoff
Rebel Rock Racing. 1:30 p.m. Saturday, December 18, at Palm Beach International Raceway, 17047 Bee Line Highway, Jupiter. No cover. Click here.
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