Photo: Frank Micelotta/GASTON DE CARDENAS/AFP via Getty Images
  /  01.21.2023

On Saturday’s (Jan. 21) episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with legendary Florida rapper JT Money to discuss his Poison Clan beginnings, Uncle Luke, meeting Tupac, and much more.

Born in Miami, Florida, JT Money emerged onto the music scene by way of the hip hop collective Poison Clan during the 1990s. He was discovered by rapper and executive producer Uncle Luke, who would later sign him to Luke Records alongside former collaborator Debonaire. Together, the pair dropped their first album, 2 Low Life Muthas, and were later joined by fellow members Madball, Uzi, and Big Ram. In 1992, they released Poisonous Mentality, which peaked at No. 62 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and spawned popular songs such as “Inside Edition” and “Shake Whatcha Mama Gave Ya.”

Fast forward to 1999, JT made his breakthrough as a solo artist, releasing his debut project,  Pimpin’ on Wax. The offering debuted at No. 28 on the Billboard 200 chart, gaining major success from standout cut “Who Dat,” which was RIAA-certified Gold and peaked at No. 5 on the charts. He continued to establish himself in the industry with the release of 2001’s Blood Sweat and Years, tailed by his third studio album, Return of the B-Izer, the following year and 2005’s Undeniable. Most recently, the Florida native dropped his fifth studio album, P.G.P. (Pimpin Gangsta Party), in 2015 with plans for a Poison Clan reunion project that is slated to drop soon.

To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from the JT Money “Drink Champs” conversation. Continue scrolling to read them and watch the full season seven premiere episode here.

1. On meeting Tupac

Kicking off the interview, JT shared a story about how he first met Tupac following the release of “Brenda’s Got A Baby.” As told by the rapper, the two had several run-ins with one another while doing various conventions and shows in Florida.

“I had just heard about him when I first met him. He had this song, I think ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’ was out, but I’m like, ‘Nah, we gotta go see this guy.’ I pull up and I walk in the back where they was at,” JT recalled. “He already knew who I was though from 2 Low Life Muthas. Since then, [we’d] been tight, so we’d see each other on the road at different conventions.”

2. On Uncle Luke’s ties to Florida 

DJ Luther Campbell, better known by his stage name Uncle Luke, was one of many influential figures in Miami’s early hip hop culture. Even though he challenged the Supreme Court and introduced 2 Live Crew to the globe, he is seldom given credit for his enormous influence on the genre. “Luke was like the biggest independent,” stated JT.

“Luke did more marketing, promotion… more of an international scale. Then with the controversy, that man was nationwide, international at that. That’s the way I saw it. I didn’t know nothing… I just knew I was playing on the winning team and I was going to Kobe that s**t,” he explained. 

3. On splitting from Poison Clan 

In 1990, Poison Clan formed and released their first album, 2 Low Life Muthas. However, after several full-length offerings and a falling out with Luke Records founder Uncle Luke, the group split. JT Money shared that they are currently working on a reunion project with 10 songs already complete. He noted, “Still my brothers. Still love them. We’re doing a new Poison Clan album.”

“By the time it got to Poison Mentality, that’s when everyone left Luke. From 2 Live Crew to Home Team, I just stuck with him. It was a lot of n***as waiting on him to fold too,” JT explained. “If you listen to Poison Mentality, you’ll hear my name a lot on that b***h. I made sure a b***h knew who I was after that album.”

4. On “Something ‘Bout Pimpin’” with Too $hort 

In 1999, JT debuted his smash hit “Something ‘Bout Pimpin’” with Oakland rap pioneer Too $hort. The record helped bridge the gap between East and West Coast hip hop, serving as their first-ever collaborative effort. Regarding the track, he shared that it was also his first time paying for a feature.

“I always wanted to do some business with $hort. So, when I finally got a situation with a little budget, I was able to say, ‘Hey man’ without being disrespectful. We ain’t had no features, that was my first time doing features on Pimpin’ on Wax,” JT pointed out. “Everything else was n***as from the hood, n***as I knew.”

5. On Verzuz 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s Verzuz series has captured the interest of hip hop fans everywhere by bringing together musical legends in seemingly unlikely encounters. Thus far, the battle series has had a slew of artists from Miami, including Trina and more. On who JT Money would battle, the rapper shared that he’s open to just about anyone.

“You probably gotta get about two or three people to f**k with me. I’m just saying, in real life though, and you can pick who you want to pick,” JT said confidently. When N.O.R.E. suggested Trick Daddy, he responded, “Trick my brother, I’ll do anything.”

6. On Uncle Luke and Fat Joe’s exchange over who discovered Trick Daddy and Pitbull 

Fat Joe got in trouble with Uncle Luke when, during an appearance on Math Hoffa’s “My Expert Opinion” podcast, the Bronx rapper claimed he helped Trick Daddy and Pitbull become famous. According to Luke, Trick Daddy’s career got its start when he got out of prison, and the two of them recorded the song “Scarred” together in 1996. Meanwhile, Pitbull’s beginnings can be traced back to 2001 when Luke signed the Cuban superstar to his Luke Records label. Having ties to both musicians, the “Bad Influence” emcee chimed in on the situation.

They handled it like they should because I was hoping they wouldn’t try to make it big like it’s a big issue,” he said. JT added, “N***a, the deal was done. Whoever got paid, got paid. I think [I] discovered something, I discovered America, b***h.”

7. On how he initially fell out with Uncle Luke 

Following Poison Clan’s final album, 1995’s Strait Zooism, JT split from Uncle Luke’s Luke Records in favor of Priority Records. The two had a disagreement that led to both parties going their separate ways with the latter going bankrupt that same year. Regarding what caused their falling out, JT shared that the issues were financial.

“It’s always financial. One n***a getting the money, other n***as pocket watching, outside feeling like they should be getting more. I don’t know nobody’s deal, I don’t know nothing. I was getting more money than I was getting my freedom,” JT explained. “Then I look at Luke. That line, ‘Picture jewels being handed to an innocent child’… He doesn’t know what he got in his hand. He don’t know what it’s going to be.”

8. On LA Reid wanting to buy his smash hit “Who Dat”

Released in 1998, “Who Dat” earned JT a No. 5 record on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song, which was later RIAA-certified Gold, appeared on his first solo studio album, Pimpin’ on Wax, and featured Solé. The emcee shared a story of how LA Reid heard the record on a boat and offered to buy it.

According to JT, “Tony Mercedes came to me and said, ‘Yeah, man. I waited, and I played your s**t, and the boat went crazy.’ The n***a was like, ‘Damn, Tony, what’s up with that record?’ The n***a LA [Reid] was like, ‘Just give that n***a $50,000 or something.’” He went on, “If I would’ve, I would’ve had $50,000, but I already got 100 from him.”

9. On the rise of other hip hop collectives like Wu-Tang Clan and X Clan 

On the topic of hip hop groups with “Clan” in their moniker — like Wu-Tang Clan and X Clan — JT debated N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN on who can take credit for inventing it. Discussing X Clan, JT stated that if his own group’s breakthrough wasn’t pushed back a year, they ultimately would’ve been the first out.

“Remember, we had to wait a year ‘cause Professor Griff came down. We was the Poison Clan… We waited a year, but [X Clan] was the only other clan. We can’t even say they heard us, and then they made up whatever other clan,” JT revealed. “In our world, it wasn’t no other clans. I think their record came before ours because we had to wait that year. Again, we was into their music, so we liked that s**t anyway.”

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