Having “swag” is not a problem for rappers today. In fact, too many rappers probably have too much swag to the point where they swag us and themselves out. We all know how easily rappers can get money in a day when people are buying CDs like they’re infected with syphilis. Yet what a lot of these rappers lack is finesse (at least with the media, but probably with a lot of other important things in life too). It’s obvious that the high-priced “media coaches” that are supposed to be helping these rappers give good interviews are failing miserably at their jobs. Here’s a quick 101 for all the rappers out there.
Be on time – Ahh, fuck it. Nothing says cool quite like a rapper who doesn’t pick up his phone for an interview until 15 – 20 minutes after the scheduled time. If someone actually wants to talk to you, the least you could do is be on time. Usually said rapper gives the excuse “I was busy,” which, by looking at their career, you know is a lie. Other times they’ll say, “I’ve been doing interviews since 6 am today.” First off, no motherfucker is setting their alarm clock to speak with you. Second, where are all of these mysterious interviews that you speak of? You can’t tell people how many different interviews you’re doing and then we never see one interview anywhere. Showing up on time is really half the battle in an interview and if you can manage to do that, you’re already ten steps ahead of the game.
Don’t get high or pretend to get high during an interview – It’s always amazed me to hear what some rappers do on the phone. Telling me to hold while you “take this hit” probably isn’t the smartest thing you can do. Sometimes you have to pull yourself back from the situation and say to yourself, “Is this the smart thing to do right now?” And if you even have to hesitate before stumbling to a “yes, of course it is,” then the answer is a “no.” And trust me, contrary to what you may believe, I am not going to have any more respect for you because you can smoke weed and talk on the phone at the same time.
Realize and accept that certain questions are inevitable – 50 Cent can’t do an interview now without talking about Kanye. Kanye can’t do an interview right now without talking about 50 Cent. Certain questions are going to be asked whether you want them to or not. Bobby Knight once said, “If rape is inevitable, why not just sit back and enjoy it?” I think that may be a little extreme. Let’s try this – If sex with Tubgirl is inevitable, then why not just sit back and make the most of a poopy situation?
Never let your manager listen in on the interview on 3-way – This is an important rule. I mean, you wouldn’t let your manager watch you get your morning poop out or contract an STD from the broke hooker you keep around so you feel like you have a groupie, would you? Hopefully the answer is a no, but maybe you and your manager are closer than you appear to be. Yuck. Anyway, the manager’s job, if they even do anything, is to get you the interview and then fall back. Their job is not to listen in on the interview, suggest questions that can be asked (“Ask him how it feels to be the king of (insert name of small mining town here)!”). It’s even worse when the manager chimes in during the interview. What I’ve learned is that if you don’t stop them from doing that early on in the interview, they’re going to dominate the whole interview. When a manager talks more than an artist during an interview, the only thing that tells me is not to expect too much coming from that camp anytime in the near future.
Humor is not for everyone – You know how there’s always somebody hanging around who swears they’re the next Chris Rock but all they really are is a bootleg version of Dennis Leary? Well, those rappers don’t really need to be doing interviews. There’s nothing worse when they think they’re funny and they can’t understand why you’re not sharing in their tremendously hilarious joke with them. Here’s an example:
How does this album compare to your last album?
Oh, man, it doesn’t. I took it back like a chiropractor! (laughs) This album is crazy. Crazy like a crazy person! (laughs again) (usually at this point you can hear chatter in the background from his boys, which only encourages him more) Crazy like a crazy person drinking out of a crazy straw! (more laughter)
Attempts at humor can go incredibly wrong. If you’re going to try to pull that off, test out your jokes on someone other than your boys after you’ve gotten them drunk off Smirnoff.
Never, ever say, “Make me look good” – Countless rappers have said that to me after an interview, failing to realize that it’s not my job to do that. You can make yourself look good or bad depending on the answers you give me during the interview. If you choose to be half asleep and give thoughtless answers throughout the interview, then that’s going to show when it gets transcribed. My job is to ask good questions, listen, transcribe the interview and edit it for any errors. If a typo shows up in the interview, that’s on me. If what you say doesn’t make sense, that’s on you.
An interview is not the time for shout outs – That’s what album credits are for. When you spend more time shouting out the names of your friends than talking about your album or your music, then you have a problem. Plus if your boys need to see their name in print to continue letting you beat them at Madden, then they’re not really your friends anyway.