The former Flipmode Squad member gets with HipHopGame to talk the indie life, prepping a gang of new projects, and getting down with the legendary P.F. Cuttin.
Labba, you’ve been really busy lately. Your first project this year, produced entirely by P.F. Cuttin, Blunts, Bongs, and Bitches, is officially out. How’s that doing?
It’s a blessing and an honor to actually get a nice, warm welcome. And I was doing a project with a couple of my friends. I would like to thank P.F. Cutin for actually putting me back in the loop and helping me make moves in hip-hop because this is what the people actually love me for doing. Sean Price, I have to thank him because he showed up and he’s giving me such good mentorship. Action Bronson is my friend, my brother. Same thing with Meyhem Lauren. Cortez, on the battle level, came through and blessed it. It was a star-studded event. It was great. People are loving it and it sparked some flames. I’m here, I’m here. I’m working. It’s Rebel Music.
How did you link up with the great P.F. Cuttin?
Oh, man, a street vendor who sells CDs in New York City, he goes by Street Most Famous. He came to my house and told me there was a dude he thought I should go and start recording my music with, because I was looking for a place to record. He told me I needed to record with P.F Cuttin. When I asked why, he said, “Because if you’re wack, he won’t record with you. He’s going to tell you if you have what it takes to actually continue doing what you’re doing. He’s not just going to accept you like that.” So he took me over there and I did a record for one of his mixtapes that he puts out locally and P.F. sat me down and told me one thing. He said, “I would like to sit down and do some records with you, but the guys messed up and put out the wrong records on you,” talking about my earlier days, and from that point on, I’ve been working with this man forever.
Were you a little nervous when you first went over to P.F.’s studio?
Yeah, man. P.F. is one of them dudes from East New York who’s highly respected on a hip-hop level and my homeboy, he knows hip-hop. Street’s Most Famous, he knows hip-hop and when he took me over there, he told me this is what I need to be doing. P.F. told me the sound I really need to put to my voice and I’ve been there since. It’s an honor. It’s a respect level because P.F., he’s not about a dollar. He’d rather tell you you’re wack and keep your money than waste his time, and that’s what I respect.
How did you two end up doing an EP together?
It became a partnership. Really, it started with a song with me and Action. We used to go to P.F.’s basement and catch up with each other from time to time. We’d be in the basement just building, chopping it up. I told him, “Yo, P, I’m looking for the right record for me and Action.” I started the whole EP by doing a song with my homeboy. P.F. told me that we needed to do a record together. I said I wanted the right record and that we should do a project and that’s how it happened. Me and Action were just catching up at P.F.’s studio, smoking a lot, hearing, and not liking, and then boom, we got it one day. And then after that, the train had started moving and the tracks just kept on coming. But in the meantime I was doing solo records also with P.F. It’s a real crazy vibe, doing the Blunts, Bongs, and Bitches. A real crazy vibe.
What’s it like actually recording with P.F?
Oh, man, beautiful. How can I explain this? You might do the song today and then come back and have to do it again in two weeks and then it might get mixed and then we might come back and do it again. It’s very nice critiquing. It’s very nice working with a producer. He did his fair share of doing not just the beats. He wanted to produce the record correctly with my beats. It was an honor working with a producer like that. He didn’t just throw me the beats. He did it different. We recorded, we took a concept, and we built the records around that. We added motion picture songs around that, around me and Action, around me and Cortez. The only straight hip-hop record we did was a Gang Starr record that me and Sean rocked on because when we were young, we had fallen in love with that music before we got into our gangster behavior. That’s one of the real purest loops in music. It was an honor, man. He did his fair share of creating with me.
And I love the album. I was very honored with the product. I was honored that everybody showed up. Everybody showed up and showed me so much love too, man. That was big for me. As an indie artist, I was honored. I was honored on both sides. I was honored on how New York came through and also on how P.F. put that sound together for my voice and made something dynamic. Indie fucking power! (laughs)
Are you enjoying the freedom that comes with being independent?
It’s like playing any sport. I’m not going to sit up here and lie. Of course you want to go to the big leagues, but this is just a start. It’s something brand new for me. I’ve never did this before and now that I’m getting a new welcome, I want to see what’s down the road. You know? So yeah, this is big for me. On my Twitter page you’ll see I’m saying my name is Percy Miller right now. There’s no limit right now! I’m going the Percy Miller route right now and my family has my left my front, my back, and my right. I’m good. Why can’t I be a corporation? Why can’t I incorporate myself? So yeah, now I’m enjoying every second of it.
We also finished an EP, Am Back. I love that project.
We just got into the 730 side of things. It’s like I tell people. When you do a project, it’s genuine. Me and you talked about this project for two years. We built this machine because we knew that I was coming back. I felt that doing this project with you, somebody that knows hip-hop and knows hip-hop, those records that I did with you, 730, I didn’t give a fuck. I just wanted to let young America be free. Those records were done in freedom. Not one of those records did we not have fun doing. Am I lying?
That’s what it’s all about for me. I had fun doing every one of those last records. Me and P.F. had fun mixing those records. We played the Am Back EP so much that at one point, me and P.F. were like, ‘When is he going to put this out? Do I have to call Brian? This is straight crack!’ And I’m not bragging or boasting, but that EP has nothing but big hip-hop singles and I can challenge anyone from pound to pound to “Sunglasses and Advils” to the title song. I’m doing this for the people. 730, we’re doing this for the babies! I’m loving it. I’m loving it, B.
Yeah. This is my debut EP album. My first EP, I gave them all my rap friends and now I’m giving them my solo. I’m not cheating my fans. I’m giving them what they need. I got all my friends out of the way on Blunts, Bongs, and Bitches. Even my homies will say that Labba came with the solo on this one and they’ll see that I’m working!
How does being independent compare to your Flipmode Squad days in terms of the music you’re making, your perspective, and all of that?
It sucked. Those days sucked. It was wack. It was horrible. It was bad business. I was just enjoying the bright lights and not paying attention to what the fuck I’m doing. I was enjoying people taking care of my business and not knowing about my business. It’s different. I learned my lesson from that. It was a learning experience, but to me, that whole Flipmode era, that should be forgotten and fucked off. I don’t give a fuck about it. I don’t even care about it. I erased that shit. I erased all of that shit. The only one part I didn’t erase was that I remember that I would never do business with a rapper that doesn’t have CEO capability. That’s a fact. But as for everything else, it was some rookie shit, man. It was garbage.
Now, I’m prepared. It’s like, I’m having fun with this shit. You hear those records? I make people’s teeth quiver because they can’t believe he’s still here! (laughs) Oh, man. Shit, man. But that’s how I feel about that shit. That shit was garbage, man. That whole shit was garbage. This is the real Labba, man.
Now it feels like Django motherfucking unchained! Django is unchained! Ain’t no fucking little group or motherfuckers telling me what record to put out and Funkmaster Flex is playing the record. If Funkmaster Flex is the best DJ and he’s playing the record, what the fuck does it matter if Dave Lighty is cursing at a bunch of old people? Nah. I feel invincible now. If the DJ doesn’t want to play it, the little kid already downloaded it on his phone. We are not losing. The bootleggers are 17 years-old and they’ll get that shit on their Playstation and Xbox. I’m great. I’m feeling fine. I just came back from Europe without a record label, without a manager, and without a booking agent. How ‘bout that? And I did two shows with a veteran artist, 500 packed every night, screaming. I couldn’t do that on a major label.
How do I feel now? Shit, Brian, I am not lying. You tell me how I feel. Tell me how I feel! I was just in Nice, up in the mountians, waking up in the sunlight. I was on a fucking major label and couldn’t get that. You know what I’m saying, my G? It’s Rebel Music. I’m a rebel, man. I was never met for that systematic shit. I was never meant for it.
You’ve always had a unique, left-field style where you have lines that come out of nowhere. How would you describe your style?
My style consists of a Brooklyn and West Indian mentality. And that’s New York City. That’s what I am. My moms came from Trinidad, dropped me in the jungle of East Flatbush, the Brownsville section, and that shit changed my fucking life. I had to become a man. I had to wake up, get my own, stay clean. The funny thing is Q-Tip said how much times can you say the same thing in a rhyme and when I saw him, I told him I understand that line but how much times can a man tell his story that’s genuine? That’s what sells, the genuine part of it. Like Trinidad James can be Trinidad James but he’s not really representing Trinidad. My neighborhood in Trinidad is crazy. People die in there every day and I represent that from an American standpoint for hip-hop. It’s the same shit, the same greatness that Biggie left, the same West Indian kid. I’m the same guy. Nothing has changed. Shit is tough down here. That stadium don’t mean shit. People don’t got no jobs, bro. I’m lucky. I’m a lucky one that can use my talent for money. We’re lucky, man. I’m the reincarnation of the great one.
What’s next for you?
The Am Back project is about to come out with you on the ones and twos. i’m about to hook up with my man Pauly from Lords of Brooklyn. We’re sitting down for a meeting of the minds. I have a mixtape coming out with DJ Dealz featuring Meyhem Lauren, Coroner, Tony Philips, and some others. It actually should be coming out in a little bit. We just finsihed the drops and the hooks for it. That’s going to be for free. And my videos are coming out. I shot a couple of videos in Europe. I constantly stay working, baby. I consrtantly stay working.
Labba – Am Back (Prod. by 730)