When Big Lou signed to DJ Kay Slay’s Streetsweepers Entertainment in 2006, things were definitely looking up. The Camden, NJ product had caught the Drama King’s eye at a series of showcases. His stage show was impressive enough for Kay Slay to offer him a contract, and Kay Slay’s business acumen was impressive enough to Lou that he told HipHopGame in December of 2006 that he was “going to do whatever Slay wants [him] to do.”
Following the plan laid out by Kay Slay, who was also managing Papoose, the mixtape phenom signed to Jive earlier in 2006 for a reported $1.5 million, Lou released his first big project, Resurrecting the Dead, followed by the Kay Slay-hosted mixtape Playtime is Over in the summer of 2007. Both mixtapes received an overwhelmingly positive response from Big Lou’s fans, who began to question why Big Lou wasn’t being pushed harder by the Drama King. Big Lou would soon question the same thing.
The tension between the business partners had been building for over a year. In September of 2008, Big Lou did an interview with HipHopGame asserting that Kay Slay was not doing enough to help his career. Kay Slay fired back in October of 2008 on HipHopGame, citing a bad contract as his reason for not being able to do anything. Details surrounding the contract still remain cloudy. Big Lou says a contract was forged with his signature by his manager, but Kay Slay claims that Lou was still getting paid off that contract and that he was advised by his lawyer to let things settle in court before he started promoting Lou’s music again.
Once the lawsuit was settled, the relationship between Big Lou and Kay Slay didn’t improve. Big Lou recorded a verse for Kay Slay’s then-upcoming album More Than Just a DJ, but that verse would never make the album. Big Lou’s absence on Kay Slay’s compilation was the most obvious sign that all was not good in Streetsweeper land.
Earlier this year, Big Lou confirmed what his fans already expected: Streetsweepers was no more. In the song “#1 Contender,” Big Lou raps, “To all my fans, Streetsweepers no longer exists/But shout to Kay Slay, thanks for the experience.” Lou wouldn’t be so cordial in the coming months, releasing an incendiary diss aimed at former labelmate Papoose and “Rise Up,” where Lou takes a not-so-subtle shot at both Slay and Pap with the line “If you wearing tight clothes like Kid Cudi/Then you become these f***** A&R’s butt buddies/Or you could get off 1.5 million off Jive, dude/But your identity be similar to John Doe.”
At this time, neither side has provided any form of paperwork that exonerates their side of the story, but what we do have is Big Lou’s side. In an exclusive interview, Lou breaks down what went wrong with Streetsweepers from his perspective and lays out his future steps for taking over the rap game.
You’re not with DJ Kay Slay and Streetsweepers anymore. How did that go down?
Man, the whole shit just started, man, when I started noticing that there wasn’t no loyalty there no more. When I came into Streetsweepers, it was loyalty like a brotherhood with real niggas. I went for Streetsweepers because I come from the streets and that’s how niggas came in the Streetsweepers. Niggas would go out in the hall and make that music and Kay Slay made that shit sound good and he couldn’t live up to it. He saw I was moving fast and he tried to make excuses and he tried to blame a lawsuit that didn’t have nothing to do with anything and he tried to make it look like the lawsuit had everything to do with it and it didn’t. Niggas forged my signature on a fake contract and he said he was going to help me out. Long story short, he didn’t help me out and shit, on some bullshit or something. I just decided with all that, I still had respect for him. I just told him I had to move on and just to make sure he played my music and that’s it. But he hasn’t played my music. I started seeing all the bullshit and I had to leave and I left that shit alone. It’s me now. I’m a free agent.
Last year there was a lot of tension surrounding the lawsuit over the forged signature on the fake contract. That’s not what distanced you and Slay?
No. I just think it was his bullshit. He couldn’t handle an artist like me. He couldn’t even handle Pap when Pap fucked up his whole deal. When he went to the label and he wasn’t what the label was looking for, he couldn’t make singles or give the label what they were looking for and I guess Slay just couldn’t accept that these motherfuckers didn’t want Pap. But a smart businessman wouldn’t fuck with Pap and he would go and fuck with Lou and see what I could do and give me my chance. He didn’t give me my chance and I guess he was so hung up on the Pap situation and he was trying to get Pap in so bad and he couldn’t and he forgot about a real nigga that could make good music and could be way bigger than Pap could ever be. Shit happened like that and his way of getting out of it was blaming everything on the lawsuit when that didn’t have nothing to do with it. He made himself sound like a real nigga like he stuck by me when he really didn’t.
How long did you know that you had to get off Streetsweepers?
I was waiting for awhile. If I wanted to get hot by dissing either Streetsweepers or anyone with them, I would have done that awhile ago. I was with them for three years and there was no intentions like that. I’m a real dude. I moved with Streetsweepers even when I was having arguments with Kay Slay. I still would jump on a stage and rep the shit out of Streetsweepers. I was at a show when the crowd was saying ‘Fuck Kay Slay’ and I jumped onstage and told them that saying that was like saying ‘Fuck Big Lou.’ You feel me? Kay Slay called me and told me he heard about it but he didn’t hear what I did. I told him to go back to the videotape and see what I did. After I said that, I rocked it and I got applauded. I’m a real nigga. When he saw that shit, he shoulda been like, ‘Damn, that’s what’s up!’ But see, a lot of shit was bothering him because a lot of people knew he was already being a snake-ass nigga so there’s nothing that he could ever say about me like I wanted to get hot off the Streetsweepers name. Even when we wasn’t seeing eye to eye, all I repped was that logo. I took the shit real serious because I come from the struggle and I always go in 100%. I go hard and he knew that. He just couldn’t handle an artist of my caliber that goes hard and don’t stop and don’t give a shit. Come on, man. I’m from Camden. That oughta tell you how hard I go.
You also released a diss track to Papoose. Do you have a real problem with Papoose or was that just your frustration with Kay Slay bubbling over?
I mean, it’s hip-hop, B. You feel me? It’s hip-hop. If niggas are going to be all faggoty about the shit, then let them be faggoty. You see, when somebody come dissing them, they don’t like it and it’s a team that I rolled out for. Papoose, that nigga was my teammate but I noticed that he didn’t like playing team ball. He’s one of those motherfuckers that you gotta shape and mold and hope that in the future he could play with the team. And if not, you gotta do him like Stephon Marbury and send him overseas. I stuck my neck out for a lot of shit and I rolled out. I knew my position and I didn’t go into Streetsweepers trying to take Pap’s spot. I was just trying to make my own trail and I knew I could make a lot of noise. It was never personal but I think they made it personal. Slay was moving funny as hell. He was moving real funny and shit and that’s all it is. It is what it is.
You and Papoose recorded some good songs together. Would you say there was never any real chemistry there though?
It was like a fake chemistry. When I met him, it was all good and I don’t ride no man’s dick. That’s for females. Your name is Pap, my name Big Lou. Big Lou going to set his mark the same way you set your mark and he wanted to be the center of attention and when I came in there he knew I was just as lyrical as him and he knew I was a threat and of course if I see him in the club, he gotta show love because he’s not going to do that shit in front of my face. I saw him once or twice in Philly and when I saw him there he gave a bottle up and he tried to show love. Of course he wasn’t going to do shit in front of my face because I would have knocked him out. Real niggas can see through motherfuckers, man, and I could see through all the bullshit. I was Streetsweepers but I could see through the fake shit. Kay Slay was trying to do things and not tell me certain shit and then he’ll call me the next day. He used to be on the phone making it sound good but when he was on the phone with me, he was always shitting on Pap too. He was telling me what they were going through and he was playing both sides of the fence but he was really playing himself. I saw both sides of that shit.
You released two mixtapes with other DJs when you were still with Streetsweepers. Could that have created some tension?
If you see them mixtapes, man, I was still repping Streetsweepers. Usually the tag on it still said Streetsweepers on it. Even when we weren’t seeing eye to eye I was playing my position and being loyal like a nigga should be. I dropped them joints and they got a huge response. With this music, I just kept on feeding people and letting them know that I’m well alive and well relevant in this game and hew as supposed to host a couple of joints but it was always some excuses with him, like this and this and that. So I said fuck that, man, and I would get these other DJs that put out good music to do it. He wasn’t going to make me or break me.
What are your goals now?
You know what? It don’t change nothing. It don’t change nothing, B. He’s blackballing now and he’s got a couple of these niggas up on that and they’re doing what they do. The blackballing already started but it’s not affecting me because the game is different now. He can’t stop me. He don’t have no fucking power like that. A lot of niggas don’t fuck with him. It felt like my situation started getting better once I left Streetsweepers. It got better. A lot of people wanted me off Streetsweepers because they didn’t fuck with him. I’m just going to keep pushing and I go hard. I don’t stop for shit and these niggas can’t take this away from me. I’m not doing this to get a record deal. I do this to make good music. If I make good money off of this, that’s good but I don’t eat off this rap shit. I eat off other shit and I’m going to eat regardless. Whether I’m working with him or not, I’m going to make music and this is something that I had a passion for since I was a kid and hey, I just want to let the people know what it is and the reality of it. It’s good music, man.
How have things gotten better for you since leaving Streetsweepers?
I mean, I do a lot more shows. I do a lot more collabs. I’m just moving around more. It’s not about the money but I make more money than when I was with Streetsweepers. I wasn’t making no money over there. Now I’m doing a lot of shit and to me, it ain’t even about the money because the nigga never signed me a check for nothing and I was still repping his shit hard as hell. Anywhere you went I was repping him. I had Jersey on smash with the Streetsweepers. It just got way better since leaving and labels and everything are just getting at a nigga and noticing me and bigger names that I thought would be on his side are calling me and telling me fuck him and they’re with me and that I should keep my head up because he can’t stop me. That was an inspiration for me and it made me want to go 1,000 times harder than even I’m going now. A lot of people reached out and showed me love.
What would you do differently the next time around?
I’ll just make sure that I really do my homework before I lock into it. I’ll just make sure that these niggas are going to move like I move because nobody’s going to do it like you could do it yourself. Nobody’s going to push Big Lou like Big Lou is going to push Big Lou. You grow not only as an artist but as a man. You grow as a businessman and you start seeing shit that you didn’t see before. I would do a lot of things different with my project and try to go the independent route, which is big. I would do it that way.
What projects have you been working on?
I mean, right now I’ve been working on two projects, my album and of course one of them is called Pray for Me hosted by DJ J-Ronin and DJ Snips. That joint is coming out incredible. We also got Goya Product with a Twist of Soul Food hosted by DJ Camilo, DJ No Phrillz and DJ Vlad. We got a lot of good artists on there and we’re basically working on my album, putting a crazy, crazy album together basically and if I gotta do it independent, I want to do it with somebody I know and really go in. I’m just playing my cards right this time and I’m making an impact when I drop this album.
Can you take away anything positive from your Streetsweepers experience?
I mean, knowing that niggas like Busta Rhymes got on a track with me and not because Slay hooked it up. See, Slay went on an interview and said that he hooked that shit up but he didn’t. Busta called him and asked what was up with me and I even got interviews where Busta was bigging me up and showing me the most love in the world. I got that recorded and shout out to him. He’s a real nigga anyway and he showed me mad love and respected me as a new nigga coming in the game and he jumped on three tracks with me. I take that as a positive, man, because he came in there and just showed mad love to a nigga going hard on the streets.
I also did a lot of big shows and made my mark in New York. They thought South Jersey was some old motherfucking country town but no. I come from Camden and I take that as a positive, that niggas like Busta and Immortal Technique, who is a brother now, reached out. Me and Immortal Technique never even dropped a record yet but we were working on some things. He invited me to his studio and just built with me and taught me some lessons and that’s big, man. That’s the positive of that situation and building my name but Streetsweepers didn’t make that happen. Big Lou made that happen because he was grinding. Slay played my music on Hot 97 and I can never take that away from Slay but he never pushed me when he should have pushed me and he’s gotta live with that for the rest of his life and that’s gonna bother Slay because he knew I was a real motherfucker and he fucked up.
Do you think you’ll eventually reconcile with Slay?
It is what it is. I don’t think I’m ever going to reach out to nobody. I’m gonna do me, you know what I’m saying? If he’s going to be the bigger man and let me know he fucked up, he knows he fucked up and he knows how we used to talk about things and how we was going to approach things and he did the opposite. If he can man up and come to me, then it’s all good but if he doesn’t, I don’t give a fuck because I gotta create my own trail and keep on moving. That’s what it is.