Rap veteran Yung Joc is a man on a mission. He recently sat down with us to talk about leaving "Love & Hip Hop" drama in the past, the importance of celebrities being involved in their communities, and what we can expect from his forthcoming collaborartion with Rick Ross.
It's interesting when an artist's career spans decades because how fans know or perceive them will directly depend on when the fan was introduced to the artist and at what stage in their career. For some, when they hear Yung Joc's name, the immediate reaction is to begin rapping, "Meet me in the trap, it's goin' down / Meet me in the mall, it's goin' down," and the signature leaning dance move is often executed for good measure. However, for others, Joc is a central figure on Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, a break-off franchise from the original series first launched in the Big Apple. The rapper has gained a new set of followers who know less of his records and more of his reality television antics, but these days, Joc is looking to progress from his scandalous storylines as he focuses on making mature moves.
Fans would like to think that they know just about everything about their favorite artists, and although Joc has been on our playlists since he released his debut album New Joc City back in 2006, his addition to the Love & Hip Hop franchise in 2014 surprised many. The Atlanta cast proved to be one of the most popular—and most drama-filled—of the series, including Joc who was often wrapped up in relationship issues and cheating allegations.
For the first time, VH1 has united several cast members together for their VH1 Family Reunion: Love & Hip Hop Edition, and Joc spoke with us about how viewers will find that the shift in the series is a result of a shift in the culture. The future of Love & Hip Hop was uncertain as production figured out a way to present the cast during a pandemic, so they flew a handful of their stars to Arizona for a family reunion-styled get together where people faced strained relationships, unaddressed issues, and discussed the socio-political upheavals affecting their communities.
“Expect the unexpected, honestly,” Joc exclusively told us. We recently sat down with him to chat about his growth on Love & Hip Hop and how uniting with his reality television family is important for audiences. “Because what I expected was, I don’t know what I expected to tell you the truth. I was coming out there like eyes wide shut. I didn’t have a clue, but I will say this: I think that the fans will definitely be pleased to see how a lot of these—I don’t want to say characters—but these talents, the people involved, you get a chance to see them from a different perspective when it’s not this drama in they face.”
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“We’re facing real-life scenarios that sometimes you don’t see on the regular franchises. Just because sometimes people are not willing to share information which makes you as a viewer, you’re not privy to who this person is behind closed, closed, closed doors, you know what I’m saying? There are some other doors that people don’t open because it may be too personal. Some of us may be a little more private than what you expect.”
Privacy is something that in the Hip Hop world, as a famous artist, is a luxury—especially when you’re also a reality television star. In 2019, Joc surprised fans when he reappeared on TV with a girlfriend, Kendra Robinson, who he’d reportedly been dating for years. Joc brings in checks hosting Yung Joc and the Streetz Morning Takeover on Atlanta’s Streetz 94.5, while Robinson works as a defense attorney, far from the bright lights of the entertainment industry. The world watched as Joc proposed on television and the rapper hopes that they can be an example to a culture that often celebrates being emotionless as it pertains to relationships.
"We’re in the process of you know, we’re planning a wedding. Trying to figure out how we’re gonna put it all together because this pandemic, life has changed for a lot of us, all of us"
“We’re in the process of you know, we’re planning a wedding. Trying to figure out how we’re gonna put it all together because this pandemic, life has changed for a lot of us, all of us,” said Joc. “We’ve all been affected by this so when it comes to her and I, we’re just trying to be smart with our next moves.”
They’re both successful in their own rights, and their differences bring them balance. “It’s a beautiful thing to be a couple like us… Here I am an entertainer and she’s an attorney. A very good attorney, at that… It’s gonna be a beautiful thing to watch anything unfold between Kendra and I. That’s my lady and I love her.”
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There have been rumors for years about Joc and Robinson following in the footsteps of other Love & Hip Hop couples by allowing VH1 cameras to film their wedding, and whether that occurs or not, Joc stressed that it's important for him to remain authentic in an industry that praises performative actions.
In January 2020, Joc was recorded by a passenger driving for Pull Up & Go, a rideshare service. The video quickly went viral and social media pulled out all of the stops with memes and offenses as Joc was labeled as a rapper that fell off. However, at the time, Joc shared that he’s actively involved in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization and believes it’s important for the younger generation to see public figures being involved. It’s a sentiment that he continues to carry regardless of how he’s perceived.
“I just think you can’t say that you’re praying for people if you’re not praying for people. You can’t say that you’re giving back to the community if you’re not getting involved in the things that are taking place in the community,” said Joc. “You get what I’m saying? I wanted to make sure that—I ain’t never been the cat that wanna be cap.” He mentioned that he listens to artists and influencers talk the talk but when one researches what they’re doing for their communities, they aren’t walking the walk.
"How can we say we want to protect our youth if I’m not actively involved in my community and actively helping the youth?"
“I just never wanted to be that cat. How can we say we want to protect our youth if I’m not actively involved in my community and actively helping the youth?” he asked. “I believe in practicing what you preach. I have kids so I have to lead by example and that’s why I have been a part of so many initiatives and I am apart of so many initiatives, because I do believe in change and better day.”
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“At this point in my life, I’m a more mature man and when it comes to younger people in the culture, they gotta know what’s real. One thing about life, God creates help-mates for a reason. God created emotions for a reason. God gave us the power to love unconditionally and I just think that we have to tap into it,” said the rapper. “I really feel like a revolution is coming when it comes to that because it is so much savagery out here. People out here living like, if a thought comes to they mind, it becomes law because it’s their thought, it’s their world, it’s their way, it’s they life.”
“When it comes to the younger generation, I think they’re gonna get it slowly but surely because a lot of things have changed and a lot of things are changing, and I think people will see even more clear in the very close future. I just feel a revolution is happening, not even coming, happening as we speak."
As he balances his radio show, reality TV, and plans for a possibly-televised wedding, Joc is also back in the studio. It’s been two years since he delivered Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood and while he did release a single in 2019, “Perfect Timing” featuring Gunna and B. Smyth, Joc hasn’t shared new tunes in some time. He exclusively told us that we can hear fresh music soon, including his reunion with Rick Ross on a collaboration titled “Big Stepper.” He called it a “nice club record” that is all about “trying to have some fun” and “talking your sh*t.”
Aside from getting back into the booth, Yung Joc also shared that he’s been working with Kali, an artist that has been making waves on TikTok with her single, “Do a B*tch.” It’s been dubbed the “Pretty Girl Challenge” and Joc is excited about what’s in store for the rising star.
“All I’mma say is she’s coming,” Joc said. “By the time they figure it out, it’s gon’ be too late. Promise you. She’s got everybody and they mama throwing deals at her. She’s got a couple of multimillion-dollar deals on the table… We’re just seeing how we can take her to the next level.”
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As he's being pulled in all directions, Joc wants to be perceived as a man of integrity and legitimacy. “I’m just a caring person who is a very positive spirit,” he shared with us. “I’m always trying to show love and spread love… 'Homie a good one, homie don’t play games, homie ain’t out here just saying he’s doing stuff, he don’t even talk about it ‘til it’s actually happening.' That’s just how I move. Just know that I’mma a child of God and I want to spread positivity to the utmost extent.”