Remember When Jayo Felony, Method Man & DMX Made A Cross-Country Def Jam Hit Together? (Video)
While ONYX and 50 Cent are two of Jam Master Jay’s star proteges—even if the latter found his success beyond JMJ Records, there is another artist he ushered in that is often overlooked. Jayo Felony became one of San Diego, California’s first national Rap stars. Signed amidst the height of G-Funk by Jam Master Jay, Jayo joined Warren G, The Dove Shack, and Richie Rich for Def Jam Records’ expansion into a West Coast territory popularized by Ruthless, Priority, and Death Row Records.
From just hours south of L.A., Jayo Felony represented a largely virgin territory in the Rap industry market. Fresh off of ONYX’s Bacdafuccup success, Jam Master Jay signed the 22 year-old MC, and got to work on 1994’s Take A Ride. A mild success, Jayo’s debut came during what is often remembered as Def Jam’s darker period. Groups like EPMD and 3rd Bass fractured into solo pursuits, while the Russell Simmons-headed label appeared to be chasing trends as much as making them. Of course, there were exceptions—notably in the form of Def Squad’s Redman and Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, as well as label flagship, LL Cool J.
But by 1998, the label was back in form. A new crop of talent such as DMX, Ja Rule, Foxy Brown, and a rhyme juggernaut named Jay Z had made “the house that Rick and Russ built” seem like a major contender again. In the last days of the Polygram-owned Def era, artists who were in development in the mid-’90s were given a second chance. One of them happened to be Jayo. Now housed entirely within the Def Jam Music Group, “Bullet Loco” as he was also known, would release 1998’s Whatcha Gonna Do?.
A major bolster in giving Jayo his first (and only) Top 50 album came from the title single. Produced by emerging beat-maker DJ Silk, the song was a tag-team, all-Def Jam moment featuring Method Man and DMX. Meth’ and Felony would work together again (on Xzibit’s 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz album), only adding to the fact that this in-house job seemed to be rich with organic chemistry.
For the video, all parties showed up. Just like the beat, a clearly amplified form of G-Funk, lights flashed, lowriders bounced, and partygoers danced as the three MCs delivered heated verses over the booming beat. The visual also served as a cross-promotion to Babyface-produced 1997 film, Hav Plenty. The song, big on flare just as much as lyrical fiber, showed that West Coast MCs and East Coast MCs could sound great on a track together, without being heavy-handed about it. From S-D to Y-O to Shaolin, skills reigned supreme.
In the years that followed, Jayo Felony would work closely with Kurupt and Snoop Dogg. However, during a Motown-backed tenure, the SD MC seemingly struck foul when he dissed Jay Z—prompting a memorable reply during Jay’s “takeover.”
These days, Jayo is still active—in First Generation with Kurupt, MC Eiht, Tha Chill, The Comrades’ Gangsta and King T, in addition to doing work alongside 40 Glocc and others. A hero in the city just north of Tijuana, reminders like “Whatcha Gonna Do?” serve as evidence that Felony served time busting bars.