Producer Jim Jonsin Races Cars, Reveals Lil Wayne Song
You may not know Jim Jonsin by face, but if you've turned on a radio in the past few years, chances are you've heard his work. The super producer, most noted for mega singles like Lil Wayne's 'Lollipop,' T.I.'s 'Whatever You Like' and Beyonce's 'Sweet Dreams,' has etched out his place in music history, but now he's looking to split his focus elsewhere.
As a child, Jonsin, who grew up in South Florida, had an interest in cars, instilled in him by his father who worked in a body shop. His curiosity slowly grew into a full-fledged hobby, leading him to form his very own racing crew, Rebel Rock Racing, in 2010. These days, if he's not spending his entire night in the studio and his days mentoring this season's contestants on 'American Idol,' he's racing Porches all around the country. His antique car collection currently consists of a 1956 Chevy Bel Air, a 1964 Buick Rivera and a 1967 Mustang Shelby, just to name a few. When it comes to cars, he puts as much time and passion into them as his music.
Why did you want to get into racing? Is it a thrill like no other?
It's a complete rush. It's a great hobby. I was into motor cross riding [because] I like extreme sports, but I wanted to do something that I could do as I get older as well. It's cool to be out there with your friends. You meet so many people from so many different walks of life and businesses, it helps with my business. We're connecting and networking.
The reason why I got into it wasn't just to drive. It's because I saw this huge hole in road racing which wasn't as exciting as NASCAR or Indie or Formula One. I thought that it was really amazing; it was a place where any American can take their cars out and drive if their interested, but it seems like they don't know about it.
What are the steps that you had to take to officially break into the sport?
I went and bought a really cool car and was taking it out to driver education events. I aligned with this program called NASA [National Auto Sports Association], a driver's education slash racing thing, and completely caught the race bug. I've been driving ever since.
I bought a couple of Porches to choose my poison. I went to go get my race license with the SCCA [Sports Car Club of America], PBOC and PCA so now I have my race license with all of them.
I know that you're also big on philanthropy. How have you fused that with your interest in racing?
We have a rally coming out in May and one in November, a rally for kids with cancer. We're using the racing part of it to help raise money. We're going to have Pitbull and Nelly, Kelly Rowland said she would come out to perform at these events, and we're just hoping to not only build a race team but the awareness and raise money for cancer kids.
Is there a specific cancer organization you are raising money for or several charities?
We have a foundation that we're working to establish, it's called Rock the Foundation. Right now we're working with Rally for Kids with Cancer, and we joined with them to help and we started Rebel for a Cure, so we're helping with their events.
Why did you decide to use the same name as your record label, Rebel Rock, for your racing team?
Rebel Rock Entertainment is my company name. I have Rebel Rock Productions. I'm trying to brand that name.
Do you ever see a time where the racing will supersede the music, or do you think they'll always be on a level playing field?
No. if you ask anybody, racing costs money. You don't really make much. So unless I pick up tons of sponsors, which we're hoping to do, you don't really make much money. All you do is spend money. What I really want to do is make a difference in racing and help to make the sport cooler. I love music. Music is my career, music enabled me to do what I do in racing, it also feeds my family. Maybe when I retire from music one day -- a long way from now -- I'll go with racing.
Speaking of music, I hear you're getting into the studio with Beyonce. What can you tell us about the project?
Right now I'm dealing with her. We just worked on some ideas, and sent them out. We're hoping to be a big part of that project.
What other artists are you working with?
We're going in with Justin Bieber the first week of June, for a week. We're doing the new Usher album; me and Rico Love are helping Usher with his new album. We're in the beginning stages [but] we do have two songs that he's going to cut. We're supposed to work on it through the summer. I'm [also] working on Yelawolf's project with Eminem; we're supposed to do a couple of sessions together. I have a new artist that I'm developing out of Spain named Leroy. He's a singer-songwriter, he's 19. He's Rebel Rock's new artist.
There's also a rumor that you're working on Wayne's 'Tha Carter IV' release. What can you tell me about that?
We're going to do a couple of songs [on the album]. I heard yesterday that one of the songs we did will be Lil Wayne's next single. I can't tell you [all of the details]. We might be changing the title of the song and so I can't disclose what it is.
What is the feel of the song? Are you looking to go in the same route as 'Lollipop?'
It has a little bit of a feel to maybe a 'Lollipop' but it has its own thing. It wasn't made to be like 'Lollipop.' I can give you a hint of what it might be, there are three parts. Pitbull helped me write the song. I think Wayne's going to interject, but the song goes, "She blows my brain" meaning she blows me away but then there's an alternate meaning. There's like three hooks in the song.
Another one of your major collaborators is T.I. Have you spoken to him since he's been in prison and do you plan on working together in the future?
He is out, he's hanging out here. I got a team that just broke his a-- out [laughs]. I spoke to G [T.I.'s manager Jason Geter] and I think he got in some trouble over there, I don't know what happened. They stopped letting him communicate with everybody.
Are you referring to the incident where he and his wife were busted getting a little too close during a visit?
No, I don't know. Something happened in jail that made things kind of tight for him in there. I haven't heard anything, but he'll be out of there soon. We're definitely going to be working together. That's my man.
With all of this new music on the way, what is the next step for Rebel Rock Records?
I'm building a brand new studio. It's going to be a private studio called the Parkland Playhouse. That should be done in the next couple of months. It's going to be a secret location; it's going to be like invitation only, you have to have a membership card. We're going to have a party annually like the Playboy mansion. It's going to be in a large home on acres, so it's going to be the real deal -- a full-on studio [with] three rooms. It's really just for our friends, close people that we love and are inspired to work with. We just want it to be one of those places where you work and you're treated real well, like your home. We all eat together, that type of thing, like a family. And if you're not into that and you're stuck-up, you're not allowed there. I love being positive I think everyone around you has the potential to be the next huge [superstar], and I think people should recognize qualities in other people and help polish those things if need be.