But as rap money dried up in the Bay during its leanest years (2000-04), he returned to crime at a whole new level, even while beginning his solo career with The Jacka (Akbr Records, 2001).
"When I started working on my album, things changed for me I really got into the streets," Jacka says. Rap celebrity gave him connections he otherwise would have lacked. "Whatever rap niggas was talking about, we were living," he says with some pride, although he feels he'll one day have to answer to Allah for his misdeeds. Details of his criminal past are necessarily vague, though if you consider that fellow Mob Figa Husalah was arrested for transporting "over five kilos" of cocaine, a case culminating in his 2006 sentence to 53 months in federal prison, you get the picture.
"The streets are dried up for me," says Jacka. "Once the feds knock your boy, you can't fuck around for the rest of your life. I'm hot. So I stay with the music now."
"I didn't take the business as seriously as I should have," he admits. "So I had to start from ground zero." Fortunately, by the time Jacka's second "official" solo album The Jack Artist (Artist Records, 2005) was ready to drop, the Bay began to heat up again. Even in the heyday of hyphy, the conspicuously non-hyphy Jack Artist sold some 20,000 copies, or "more than all those niggas put together," in the words of the man behind it. Yet despite this success, Tear Gas sounds little like its predecessor. Instead, it reflects Jacka's artistic growth now that he's settled down to music full time.
"I wouldn't trade this for those times again never," Jacka says, when asked to weigh yesterday and today. "This is something legit we're doing that's real. My dream as a child was to do this."