Lost Ones: What Happened to J-Kwon?
Welcome back to "Lost Ones"! It's been far too long and I blame myself for that completely. If you're new to the series, or the DJBooth x RefinedHype merger, I'll give you a quick breakdown. "Lost Ones" is a series that takes a look back at the rappers of yester-year. We've already got a few under our belt, such as Chingy, Petey Pablo and fan favorite Mike Jones. Feel free to suggest others in the comment section below and look forward to a weekly installment of a peek into the current lives of past stars. As for today's edition...
If you were around for 2004, you learned one thing and probably were disobeying it as you heard it: “teen drinking is… very bad. Yo I got a fake ID though!”
St. Louis’ own one-hit wonder J-Kwon released the Billboard #2 charting single “Tipsy” at the tender age of 18. Before that Jerrell C. Jones was born in St. Louis, Missouri and expelled from school for dealing drugs at age 12. He later rose to stardom after a long homeless period in which he slept at friend’s houses or in cars. Unfortunately for me, and maybe fortunately for Kwon, his backstory left little to be uncovered online previous to the breakout of "Tipsy." Luckily there’s plenty left afterwards to get into, but let’s take a quick look at the peak of his fame (actually J-Kwon in "Hood Hop" is surprisingly a banger, but more on that later).
In 2003, J-Kwon put together "Tipsy," which I can now safely say was a banger in the same vein as "All Gold Everything" by Trinidad James. The song went on an absolute firestorm as a single, getting tons of radio play nationally, and picking Kwon up with a record deal from So So Def and Arista Records for his album, "Hood Hop". Jermaine Dupri was arguably (one of) the hottest producer and mini-moguls in music at the time and courted Kwon effectively by shooting the music video for "Tipsy," which features Daz Dillinger, Murphy Lee and Da Brat. With a budget behind him "Hood Hop" actually peaked at #7 on the Billboard charts without many big name guest features. Inevitably, as is the case with every one-hit wonder, J-Kwon’s next single flopped hard and the album was widely considered an underwhelming body of work. Remember, this was right at the beginning of the whole Napster phenomenon; shout out to Limewire, Kazaa and Bearshare!
And it just wouldn't be right to watch your mediocre album get released milking every last bit of fame so they had to do a remix. Chingy and Murphy Lee did the honors and doubled down on "Still Tipsy (Remix)," on which J-Kwon begins the record with “Hey Track Boys, this is about to be the biggest remix ever! Let’s go!”
Here’s where things started to finally slide off the rails, akin to Trinidad James latest Def Jam release. J-Kwon released the underrated "Hood Hop" banger, produced by Dupri himself, and it actually knocked pretty hard, but the streets weren't having it. Conversely, So So Def and Arista said goodbye to Kwon and without another album deal the rapper started his own label, of course. In February of 2009, "Hood Hop 2" was released online only, so needless to say there were no Billboard charts to come after. The fact that I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who owns this record wasn't a good sign for Jerrell.
Later that year, "Hood Hop 2.5" was released, you know, because the streets were just begging for one more half of an album, but not additional buzz was built.
It was revealed online that a few months later the rapper had gone "missing." His label at the time, Gracie Entertainment, reported that they had not heard from him for a few months and after a bit of press went out, J-Kwon himself revealed that he was just taking a hiatus and would eventually return to rap. It had been a long, odd road for J-Kwon and his latest offering came over three years ago in 2010, when Gracie again released his self-titled album "J-Kwon", that came with no singles. In fact, one of his last releases might just be a DJBooth freestyle, Mr. Fly.
I’ll leave you with the last remaining piece of media I could find on J-Kwon, and it’s a good one; a YouTube video entitled "J-Kwon has Gone Crazy". So, there's that. Will we hear from Kwon again? Will he randomly pop up soon, like Mike Jones’ latest collaboration with Mac Miller? We’ll just have to wait and see...
[By Thomas K. Welker. You should let him know what rapper you want to see on "Lost Ones" next right here @ThomasKWelker.]