... JOEY JIHAD
Battle-rap DVDs are the testing ground where Philly's up-and-coming rappers prove their merit. Fans can't get enough of their heroes spitting venomous 16s. Problem is, besides establishing the kings and queens of various neighborhoods, the style doesn't easily lead to crossover success.
Enter Joseph "Joey Jihad" Thomas, 24, who's in the process of defying that. "I think I crossed over," he says. "I've got it mapped out."
It helps that part of that map is being overseen by hip-hop's Magellan, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. When asked during a recent radio interview who in the game excited him, 50 put Jihad at the top of his list.
Jihad doesn't take the nod of approval lightly. "I've been through a lot of situations, and there's a lot of controversy around my name. For me to catch his eye, knowing how powerful he is in the game, it let me know I've really gotta step it up. Once we met and it went well, it let me know where I stand in the city."
Where he stands is hopefully at the crossroads of a new era for the violence-plagued battle-rap scene. Jihad and once bitter rival Reed Dollaz recently squashed their beef under the tutelage of Gillie Da Kid, and the three have a collaborative effort--Three Kings--now set for release. "I'm workin' on, like, five projects right now. My FU Pay Me mixtape drops this week. Murder Cappi Vol. 2 drops on Easter."
Jihad is also popping off his own Go Gettas clothing line, and another album Pay Homage is set for release on July 26, honoring his mother's birthday. (She passed away when Jihad was 15.) "Pay Homage is mainly all songs," says Jihad. "There ain't gonna be no freestyle beats I'm just rapping over."