Despite Turbulence, Fiend, AKA International Jones, Keeps His Jet on Autopilot

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If you're old enough to remember the golden years of No Limit, then you may remember the aggressive tone of a 21-year-old Fiend, who rapped, "Fiend exercisin' this right, of exorcism bustin' out the expedition/Bullets choppin' haters business to about the size of prisms our mission" in 1998's hit "Make Em Say Ugh."

His verse served as an introduction to a young man who harbored anger and used it as a way to express and find himself.

"When you don't totally know who you are just yet as a young person, you can do things that probably isn't the proper way to do it but a more social way to do it," Fiend says now.

With No Limit, Fiend released two albums, There's One in Every Family in 1998 and Street Life in 1999.

After his departure from No Limit, Fiend has found himself with Ruff Ryders and Def Jam. Neither situation provided fans with a product, and the rapper sometimes found himself questioning his lot.

"Sometimes as an artist you wonder, 'What the hell is going on?'" said Fiend. "When is it that time to either say, 'OK, I see things are getting better as it gets to the run' or whether it's the time to say, 'OK, maybe you've had your run.'"

Fiend admits an inability to grasp business opportunities at that young age. This cost him in the long run. The transitions from one situation to another were accompanied by feeling like he wasn't in a position careerwise where he thought he'd be at that point. These obstacles Fiend took on bravely with positive results. It was a more personal situation that was his hardest to manage. A couple of years ago, Fiend's father passed away. Fiend described his father as more of a brother, even traveling everywhere he went.

"There's nothing like picking up the phone and asking your dad about something," said Fiend. "I hadn't felt like I learned everything I was supposed to learn from my father before he passed."

Now 36 years old, Fiend has rekindled the interest of and is recognized by today's young mixtape listeners under his other alias, International Jones, and has aligned himself with another former No Limit soldier, Curren$y.

The rapper has released six mixtapes since last year, and his most recent project, the DatPiff.com exclusive and Cookin Soul produced Iron Chef, has more than 22,000 downloads since an April release.

The once-ferocious bark Fiend was associated with has been replaced by a tranquil sound along with a set that provides concertgoers a more audible sound.

"I stopped a lot of the more aggressive stuff just because I feel like there's a time and place for everything," said Fiend. "Those thousand, fifteen-hundred-seated venues with a live band and people being able to make out every word that you're saying and literally seeing what you've been saying. They know you're a nice lyricist. "

In the song "Champagne," Curren$y says, "We all wish we could sing like Fiend." And though a singer is something Fiend does not consider himself to be, it has become his melodic and smooth-talking flow about women and "sweet trees in the air" that brought a new generation of fans to appreciate his craft.

To some, his voice may come off as Barry White-esque, but in the landscape of hip-hop, Fiend's baritone is more reminiscent of Nate Dogg, an artist whose career Fiend wouldn't mind replicating.

"I would say, 'Oh my God. Am I really that worthy?' And say, 'Thank you,'" says Fiend.

Until then, Fiend is on the grind with his fellow Jet Life members for the Jet Life 2012 tour, and making a stop at Revolution Live tonight.

Fiend with Curren$y, Smoke DZA Trademark Da Skydiver, Young Roddy, and Corner Boy P. at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third St., Fort Lauderdale. Buy tickets here, or pick them up at the door for $25. 

Follow Lee Castro on Twitter @LeeMCastro


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