Media personality Jason Lee’s love for hip-hop goes back to rap’s golden era. Artists like Queen Latifah, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur are just a handful of the rappers that helped make Lee a big fan of the genre. Over the past decade, the 44-year-old Stockton, Calif. native has grinded his way to L.A. socialite status by appearing on season 2 and starring in seasons 3 and 6 of Love & Hip Hop Hollywood, launching his popular site, Hollywood Unlocked, and publishing his book, God Must Have Forgotten About Me. Now, Lee holds the title of Head of Media for Kanye West.
Here, Lee talks about how hip-hop inspires his career, which artists he appreciates, his friendship with Cardi B and working for Ye.
XXL: What rappers are you listening to right now?
Jason Lee: Well, I’m definitely listening to Ye. I listen to a lot of ’90s hip-hop still, 2000s. I’m a fan of Lil Baby for sure. I love his whole movement. Ironically, I find DaBaby extremely entertaining. I think he deserves to continue to be a star. He’s very talented. I do love Megan Thee Stallion. Doja Cat is doing her thing. I really love the fact that women, it’s not even female hip-hop, it’s hip-hop and women are leading. I’m excited about all of them. Oh, and I love Latto. She’s a breath of fresh air.
What do you look for in a good song?
I listen to hip-hop because of the beats or the melodies. I need to hear the music. If the beat is lit, I love the song. If the beat is wack, I don’t care what they saying. I don’t know if that’s the best way to rate them, but that’s my system of knowing who’s hot and who’s not. Oh, I love Moneybagg Yo! Would you consider anyone in the industry a close friend of yours? Definitely Cardi B. I don’t want to say that in a way that means nobody else that I’m friendly with is not friends. I do think that sometimes the lines are blurry for them, although it’s never blurry for me because I have a job to do.
That’s not a bad friendship to have.
Nah, she’s good. I’ll tell you I don’t even know what it would've been like back in the ’90s to be friends with a Tupac ’cause I don’t see Cardi as Cardi B the big superstar. I know her, I know what she is. I know what she does. I talk to her as a mom. I talk to her as a friend. I talk to her as the modern day Cinderella who’s living out her dreams. And, I just love her come-up story. We’ve had to be critical of her. We’ve had to post stories she doesn’t like and I love that she doesn’t call me to talk about it. We don’t talk about it.
What are your top five favorite albums of all time?
Lil’ Kim Hard Core. I’ll say Biggie’s first album [Ready to Die]. Tupac’s double album, All Eyez On Me. The E-40 album that Tupac was on [In A Major Way]. Kanye’s album, The Life of Pablo. Nah, fuck that, 808s & Heartbreak. That’s my favorite Kanye album. And, I told him that to his face, too.
Can you tell us anything about your new partnership as Head of Media for Ye?
Coming off the Future Brunch, where we were able to bring people in media that look like us together with someone who has had their doubts with the media and culture, the cancel culture era, it’s just helping to understand the media landscape. Create opportunities to create experiences like the Future Brunch to move the agenda forward. I’ve focused on just really understanding the benefit of proximity and helping him to allow others to have that same proximity. It’s an exciting opportunity that I’m enjoying and we’re continuing to keep it moving.
Read the cover story with Playboi Carti and check out the other interviews in the magazine with Fivio Foreign, Latto, DaBaby, Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J, Joey Bada$$, Denzel Curry, Hit-Boy, Big K.R.I.T., RZA, Saba, Morray, Kali, Sleepy Hallow, Nardo Wick, ATL Jacob, SSGKobe, Pink Sweat$, Saucy Santana, Angie Randisi and Colby Turner in the new issue of XXL magazine, which is on newsstands now and in XXL's online shop.