story Maurice G. Garland /// photography Michael Blackwell
Yeah, “It’s Goin’ Down” may be the tune that put Atlanta’s Yung Joc on the map in 2006, but since then, everything in his life has been going up, up and away. After riding his motorcycle dance to the top of the charts, a Grammy nomination for his first single and a platinum plaque for his debut album, New Joc City, the cool, collected rapper born Jasiel Robinson could easily have splurged his paychecks on fancy whips. As part of Forbes’ highest-earning rappers list for 2006, Joc’s gotta look the part, right? Well, instead of copping candy-licked Phantoms that cost more than some houses, he chose to keep his personal fleet old-school and buy up expensive luxury whips to start a rental service, Import Rentals.
That kind of business acumen shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. He grew up watching his father start a successful hair-care product line and still hustled his way through school living with 11 brothers and sisters. If that isn’t proof enough, he walks around sporting a diamond-encrusted “H” that stands for Hustlenomics (also the name of his upcoming sophomore album) to drive the point home. Entrepreneurial lineage, motorcycle dances and a car rental company? It’s obvious that the grind is literally racing through Joc’s veins.
Why did you choose to start your luxury car rental service, Import Rentals?
One time when I went to Miami, I had a New Joc City winning weekend. I had a contest where I wanted to treat my fans to a good time. So I rented some Lamborghinis and let some of them ride with me for a little while. We had such a good time. I thought it was cool to rent these types of vehicles, so I thought it might be something that I’d want to do for myself and others.
What kind of rides are you offering?
Right now, I have a S550 Benz, an SL, a CLS, BMW 745, ’06 Range Rovers, a couple of drop-top Jags and a bunch of vans. All of the cars are sitting on 22s, and the SUVs are on 26s.
What kind of clientele do you typically have?
It’s random people who just want something nice while they’re in town. It could be a church pastor, singer, rapper, different types of business people. It’s very broad. Renting out cars is damn close to letting people borrow your own ride.
What kinds of problems have you run into?
One of the problems is just trust. Imagine someone coming to you to get a car for a couple of days, and you don’t even know them. It can be awkward, so I have requirements for rental, just like any other company. Some people have a bad driving record, or they may not have a credit card or insurance. Those are the main challenges. People don’t understand that things like accidents are expensive. Like wrecking rims, for instance. Yes, the insurance pays for it, and the deposit on the rental may pay for it, too, but it’s a problem to actually replace them.
Have people tried to steal cars from you?
No, not yet, fortunately. But I have GPS tracking systems on all of the cars. So I can monitor the speeds and location at all times.Being an entertainer, you have to travel a lot in cars that aren’t your own. Do you rent when you go out of town? No. When I go to other cities, I just hire a driving service. I don’t like being held responsible for other people’s property. I don’t like to have a situation where something happens, like a scratched window or a dented door.
Your videos and rhymes highlight different types of whips. What kind of car guy are you?
Personally, I’ve always admired old-schools. But I like luxury cars as well. I really prefer both, now that I think of it. I like to switch it up, just like my music.
Was the first car you owned closer to an old-school or a luxury car?
My first car was an Infiniti G20. I got it when I was 17. I was a G. I worked hard for what I wanted, and I got it.
Now that you’re living the life of a rap star, working with people like Diddy, do you ever try to keep up with the Joneses, er, Combs?
Hell, naw! I ain’t trying to keep up with Puff. He’s riding around in Maybachs. I’m just getting on; I’ll be there sooner than later, but he’s been around. There’s no keeping up with him.
On your first hit, “It’s Goin’ Down,” you said you’re “from College Park, where they chop cars.” Have you ever been involved in the trade?
Naw, man, I’ve never been involved in that shit. I just know niggas that do.
Since you weren’t in it, have you ever been a victim?
I remember Mama’s car got stolen before, but they never got me for mine. But I’ll tell you, I almost got caught up last year. I was in the truck one night waiting on someone, so I turned the car off. My windows are tinted real dark, so you can’t see if anyone is inside. Some dude ran up on the car with some screwdrivers, trying to break in. I cut on the ignition and sped off.
Damn! That’s wild. Do instances like that make you want to turn down the flashiness that comes with being famous?
Yeah, because it helps sometimes to not be as flashy—that keeps you from being watched. When you step out and you’re riding nice, people are always gonna see you. When they say what’s up, they’re not gonna forget what you’re riding in. Sometimes the cars we ride in are so flashy that they become unforgettable.
Do you own any unforgettable whips yourself?
No, not really. I have a ’65 SS Impala, a ’41 Chevy Master Deluxe and an ’85 Silverado.
A ’41 Chevy Master Deluxe?
That’s old-school for real. Where did you find that one? Just riding around Atlanta, I actually stumbled across it. It was perfect timing, though. My brother-in-law almost killed himself in my Impala. He wrecked it right before I was gonna put it in a car show. I had to make up for that.
Did you win?
It’s electric-blue with flames on it, but the answer is no.
All of the cars you named rock the bow tie on the grille. When and how did you become such a Chevy man?
I just fell in love with the muscle. Growing up, that’s all that was around me. Everybody had a Chevy, so it just rubbed off on me. To this day, my dream car is an old-school Chevelle. I’ve always wanted one of those. I love the way it turns heads when it rolls by.
You’re a platinum-selling artist now, but a lot of people are still getting to know you. Have you reached no-speeding-ticket status yet?
Well, I’m a fast driver, but sometimes they let me go. I’ve found that as long as you’re not an asshole, you won’t have a problem. But you still have some officers who are like that. They want to be known as the one who pulled a celebrity over and wrote them a ticket.
When you came on the scene, you had the entire country doing the motorcycle dance. Do you even ride?
[Laughs] Not really. I was messing around on one yesterday, though. I just really started riding them not too long ago.