‘That’s the No. 1 Song Ever’: J-Kwon on His 2004 Anthem ‘Tipsy’ & Shaboozey’s ‘A Bar Song’ Reviving It 20 Years Later

This week, Billboard is publishing a series of lists and articles celebrating the music of 20 years ago. Our 2004 Week continues here as we catch up with J-Kwon, the St. Louis rapper who had one of the year’s biggest breakout hits with “Tipsy” — which has now also been revived in one of the biggest breakout hits of this year, Shaboozey’s “A Bar Song.”

J. Kwon’s rags-to-riches life story could be turned into a movie.

Hailing from St. Louis, Kwon — born Jerrell Jones — went from sleeping in cars and eating out of trash cans to being a millionaire rapper battling Usher on the charts and performing on the season 20 finale of Saturday Night Live (hosted by the Olsen twins). Oh, and all before the age when kids typically get their high school diplomas.

A 17-year-old J-Kwon saved the best for last when it came to recording for his debut album Hood Hop, as “Tipsy” was the final track added to the project. “All I know is I did ‘Tipsy’ and ‘Tipsy’ is forever it,” he asserts when looking back at his trunk-rattling breakout hit. “That’s the No. 1 song ever.”

Kwon’s party-starting ode to underage drinking arrived in January 2004 and carried its club-friendly momentum to No. 2 on the Hot 100, where it was boxed out by Usher’s “Yeah!” (a popular fate for many hits in ’04). Parent album Hood Hop was released through Arista Records that April, and debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 with 125,000 albums sold in the first week.

In conversation with Billboard about his achievements, J-Kwon is charismatic and grateful. In a serendipitous turn of events, Kwon’s name and signature hit has been revitalized in the top 40, thanks to Shaboozey’s chart-schorching new hit “A Bar Song (Tipsy).”

The Cowboy Carter guest put a country twist on J-Kwon’s counting flow from “Tipsy,” which he interpolates (along with the song’s main hook) on his own “A Bar Song (Tipsy).” The viral track arrived via American Dogwood/EMPIRE earlier this April, and vaulted to a No. 36 debut on this week’s Hot 100 (dated Apr. 27). The singer jumped to No. 1 on the Emerging Artists chart and also topped the Digital Song Sales and Country Digital Song Sales charts.

“I got a crazy percentage,” J-Kwon reveals of the business dealings behind Shaboozey’s interpolation. “The clearance process – can’t nothing go down unless J-Kwon say it goes down. That’s facts. Of course, when I come in, I’m talking strong numbers. That’s all of my song. But I’m proud of him.”


Check out the rest of our interview with J-Kwon, which finds him reflecting on 20 years of “Tipsy,” Shaboozey’s interpolation and receiving Kanye West’s co-sign.

Take me back — it’s the 20th anniversary of “Tipsy.” Last week was 20 years since it hit No. 2 on the Hot 100.

Hold on now, we can’t just take you back — because we still taking you forward.

What I remember most is probably me needing a sign from God. I needed a real sign from God. I used to look in the mirror and I used to see my face changing. It was so crazy to me, because I was like, “I just need to make something happen.” It was me and [producers] the Trackboyz. It was epic.

When I [met] with L.A. [Reid]. [Producer/affiliate] Memphitz flew down to St. Louis like, “Yo, we gotta take J-Kwon up to L.A. Reid.” I’m like, “You’re lying.” This s–t is not happening. When they took me to L.A. Reid it was so crazy — because this is L.A. Reid.

L.A. Reid pulls out his drumsticks… He’s hitting these drumsticks extra hard. He’s like, “I got millions [of dollars] for you.” I’m like, “Don’t lie, Reid.” Jermaine Dupri was in the room. I think he was the president of Arista Records. That’s how we all connected.

I had this song like, “Diamonds big and blue like Papa Smurf….” I was kinda referencing JD, you little. No disrespect, I love Jermaine [Dupri]. I still love Jermaine, but it was so funny. I put everything on the line to get that situation done. Everybody in the room start rocking. L.A. Reid had the whole office shutdown when J-Kwon came up.

So at that point, when you met [Jermaine Dupri] and L.A. Reid, you didn’t have “Tipsy” yet.

I had “Hood Hop.” That’s my baby. I was like, “I’m so much bigger than…” not “Hood Hop” per se, but I’m bigger than the ears listening to something as such. I wanted something massive. [“Tipsy”] was the last record I recorded [for the album].

I purposely went in there and did it as the last record. They said, “Kwon we got money open on the budget.” I said, “I wanna do one more record, and I want a smash hit.” Everybody would say that once they got a hit. Ask Mark Williams. I was like, “I need one more.” We some people that they thought couldn’t do it.

What do you remember about the “Tipsy” studio session?

It was definitely crazy. First of all, they bought me a club in [Mark “Tarboy” Williams’] house. The opportunity to show them I could do it is crazy. They bought me a club inside their house, before I got my own mansion. The session was so surreal. It was like American Horror Story. I’m like, “Yo, this is going elsewhere.” I wasn’t 18 yet. Put it like this, the studio session was like nothing you’ve ever heard of. What I remember most is money keep coming.

When did you know “Tipsy was a hit?

I was at 100.3 The Beat. It was the St. Louis station, and Kanye West was rolling through town. Kanye called up there and he was like, “Yo, this is a hit.” He was like, “That song is out of here.” Song of the year, decade, century, it never stops. I didn’t need him on the remix, because that would’ve been more money I had to pay out. We could do a new remix right now because my songs never die.

In 2013, Kanye said it was his “No. 1 song.”

And he’s my No. 1 artist. Him, Nelly, Eminem and Jay-Z. Put Kanye up there.

What do you remember about performing on Saturday Night Live with the Olsen twins [Mary-Kate and Ashley] hosting?

If I told you everything I remember, we couldn’t use the interview. I love them twins. I have twins of my own. I have Jason and Jessie. I have twin brothers so I get it. I’m striving to get my twins as high as them. The only thing I remember about SNL is the twins and all I remember is Full House.

I don’t understand how “Tipsy” is still only certified gold [on the RIAA website]. They have to update the plaques!

When it comes to J-Kwon, if you think about it — I had my own shoe deal, Pepsi deal, grand finales of Saturday Night Live, I did the Apollos all before the internet era. I took Greyhounds up to New York and I wanted to be on. Then I look at the massive s–t I’ve done.

They gave me a gold plaque the first day my record came out. I cried, dog. Big Bob was like, “What are you crying for?” I say, “Because I only got gold.” He say, “It’s only the first day!” My gold means more than n—as’ platinum. Of course, “Tipsy” is like quadruple-platinum. Coming off that, that was a big situation for me. I come from nothing. I came from sleeping in cars, homeless, eating out of trash cans [and] selling drugs.

What do you think about Shaboozey’s “A Bar Song (Tipsy)” interpolating you and paying homage to “Tipsy?” He debuted at No. 36 on the Hot 100. 

It really ain’t even paying homage; I got a crazy percentage… Let’s say it like this, we did that together, and I’m proud of him.

[H-Snow, J-Kwon’s manager, joins the call to interject]: We were compensated. Basically for the song, we do have credit and a deal was worked out in both parties’ favor. Respect the artist and his craft. We license it to somebody and the original artist has to be compensated. As far as the clearance process, artists have to clear their record. They didn’t want to clear Kanye’s “Through the Wire.” Shaboozey has [J-Kwon’s] blessing and the label has his blessing.

J-Kwon: I probably own more than the labels own. You could go on his page and he’s yelling HHM [Hood Hop Music]. Any deal Kwon do, it’s Kwon. We did huge numbers with that and I’m proud of myself because I actually structured that myself. I had consulted with -– I’m just that guy, you can’t move without J-Kwon. Even with the new era, songs still move, but every song that got J-Kwon influences pops. I did a couple deals. Wait and see. You never know.


H Snow: Let’s just say you might be calling us in another month or so.

J-Kwon: I wanna say shout-out to Trackboyz. [Staff member] Lisa Elise Covington. [Co-manager] Sean Caldwell. Memphitz. Jermaine Dupri, did I mention him? If I didn’t, let me mention him now. I got to shout-out L.A. Reid, God and my momma Terry Jones. I gotta shout-out [Empire president] Tina Davis and Shaboozey.

I gotta mention Nelly. Nelly is real big for me. He’s super huge for me. Me and his relationship is crazy. He does things for me that no one has ever done. I try to be as humble as possible, if you look at the way my career is set up, it don’t happen like that.

Could we see you on the “A Bar Song” remix?

Well, I’m on the original. It might be a remix!

What are you up to now music-wise?

[My new album] Last Call, Sobriety Check. That’s what we doing now. Let’s go, HHM. If I give you a date [for the new release] then I gotta stick to it. One thing about it, two things for sure — the fans gotta know I love them for real. Without them, there would be no J-Kwon. I can’t believe all the love I’m getting. [J-Kwon also mentions his Expen$ive Ta$te clothing line].

“Tipsy” peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 only to be boxed out by Usher.

I hit No. 1 on every other chart. It’s cool. If I hit No. 2 on Hot 100, you already know what I hit on the other charts. I need people to say it how it really go. The boy was No. 2 on Hot 100. I’m still selling right now.

What do you think about St. Louis rappers now like Sexyy Red?

I love Sexyy Red. My No. 1 artist out of St. Louis right now is I got [a few] – J-Kwon, Sexyy Red, Kane Koca, T Tone and I got Nelly.

Anything you want to leave us with before we go?


I wouldn’t rather be nowhere but right here, right now. I’m driving through all these big-a– houses. With or without all of that, all I know is I did “Tipsy” and “Tipsy” is forever it. That’s the No. 1 song ever. Shaboozey’s “A Bar Song” is the No. 1 song of the year.

Scroll to Top