If you were a fan of the East Coast’s Underground Hip-Hop scene in the late 90’s to early 2000’s then you know who J-Zone is. While growing up he immersed himself in funk records, interned for Large Professor and Greg Nice, while praising the misogyny and overall ridiculousness of rappers like Suga Free and Too $hort. His albums (released independently on his Old Maid Enertainment label) were chock-full of insults, braggadocios rhymes and stories that encapsulated his over the top persona.
In his prime, J-Zone was a sarcastic curmudgeon/American iconoclast as well as a brilliant sample-based producer and hilariously witty emcee. His style could never be categorized but J-Zone always stayed true to himself regardless of outsiders opinion. His book Root For the Villain: Rap, Bull$hit, and a Celebration of Failure serves as a memoir of his life and times as a hip-hop obsessed kid growing up in Queens, New York and the tale of a producer/emcee who never achieved the level of fame and fortune he desired.
Having left the rap game for over five years, J-Zone has filled his time by writing stories as a sports journalist, teaching and blogging for Ego Trip (a multimedia website that deals mainly with satire, race and hip-hop). All of which are equally entertaining and hilarious as his music. Root for the Villain is equal parts a love letter to hip-hop and angry diatribe of the music industry. The combination makes for an enthralling and spirited read for any hip-hop fan. I highly recommend picking up a copy.