I’m feeling all right. I’m driving on the road right now. I’m going from Ohio back to Gary (Indiana). I’m just making moves and doing what I have to do to finish up the album.
What was it like growing up in Gary?
It’s a town that’s like 95% black. I pretty much grew up around my people. It’s a factory town. Most of our parents and grandparents worked in the steel mills when the industrial period was around. Then crack came in and it turned into an inner-city ghetto and there was the white flight. After the jobs left and the crack came in, the white people left and we became 95% black. I was born in 1982 so I was born right into that. I saw Gary change. For the last 15 to 20 years, it’s been pretty much the same - niggas killing niggas, the school system’s fucked up and the government’s corrupt. It’s your average black American town. I appreciate it though. I would not have wanted to have grown up anywhere else.
Do the people of Gary support their own artists?
Some people. I don’t think we support our artists as much as we should. We’re only a half hour from Chicago. The radio around here is more controlled by Chicago. We don’t support our artists like we should. There’s a lot of hating between Gary rappers. There’s probably more rappers than fans. We need our own radio here. We’re going off Chicago radio. We have a special make-up. I look at coming from here as a challenge. We have all the odds against us.
From what I’ve heard from you so far, you have a lot of different styles. How important is that?
I listen to all kinds of music. What I thrive off of the most as a rapper is versatility. I can make any type of song and flip anything. At the same time, I’m going to have my musical integrity and I’m not going to do anything that I don’t like. The game is real elementary right now. Hip-hop is real elementary right now. We need to have some different angles. I’m not going to give you the same song twice.
What was your inspiration for “G.I. Swangin’”?
That was a beat I did from Trae’s album. I love Houston. I just did it. That’s how I do it. That was some mixtape shit. That song puts you in my mind when I was riding. That’s all that was.
You signed to HHH Artists which goes through Interscope. How did you get your deal?
3H and Archie had heard of me. I was in Murder Dog Magazine and I was trying to get my buzz up. I hadn’t even been rapping that long. I’ve been rapping since 2003. It was something that I wanted to focus on and not do half-assed. I knew I would get a situation and I wouldn’t be wasting my people’s time. I made good on it. They heard the music, flew me to New York for a couple days, did some songs and it was on from there. A month later, I’m here in Cali. I worked hard to get here to the spot, but I can’t lie, it did come relatively easy compared to other people in the game. God put me here.
How much does it help that you’re coming from an unestablished area?
I think it helps me a lot. I think I’m bringing something into the game that’s fresh. No one has done this on an international or national level from my area. I’m just bringing something new and fresh to the game. Nobody’s ever heard of a rapper out of Gary, Indiana. People don’t believe me when I tell them where I’m from. I think it’s time for the Midwest to raise up. Me coming out of Gary isn’t just going to help Gary, it’s going to help the Midwest as a whole.
What made you want to sign with 3H?
He’s young like me. We’re the same age. I just respected his ear so much. I respected his ear on music so much and I never thought I would be saying that about a little white dude from Cali. I appreciated that he felt my music.
I also peeped the shit that he listened to. He listens to a whole lot of ‘Pac and I was loving that. We would have long discussions on 2Pac. He’s a really good dude and I just felt comfortable. He’s energetic and everybody in the industry knows him. He can take me to another level. He saw it in me before I saw it in me. I think that’s what makes him one of the best A&R’s in the game.
What do you think he saw in you?
I don’t know. I think he just saw my work ethic and how bad I wanted it. When I met him, I wasn’t doing shit. I was just scraping and hustling like everyone else. I was getting jobs and getting fired. I was on the road to destruction, pretty much. He saw how badly I wanted it. He saw the talent in me and put it over the top. I’m not going to let nobody else work harder than me. He saw that and the shit has been coming out good. If you put two and two together, we make a good team.
How have you grown as an artist since seeing the industry side of the game?
I know I’m just getting better with time. I’m getting used to being in the studio and finding different ways to rap and finding different concepts. I think my ear for the music has definitely gotten better when it comes to picking beats. I’ve also been able to see how Hollywood this industry is. I just know that I better count my blessings and just take it one day at a time. You can be here today and then be gone tomorrow. I just take it like that. I know there are no guarantees in this motherfucker. There can be one thing wrong with your whole getup and shit can just be fucked up. I think the key to this shit and what I learned is that I have to stay true to myself and do the music that I want to do and I’ll be okay. There are still too many niggas in this game who are scared to be themselves.
How’s your debut album, White Heaven, Black Hell, coming?
It’s almost done. We’re about to mix it and maybe do a couple more records for it. I recorded 50 or 60 songs. We’re about to sit down and see what we want to put on it. This album is going to be something to listen to. It’s going to entertain motherfuckers and educate motherfuckers at the same time. It’s going to show our ignorance as a people and what we need to do. I’m not going in all preachy on the album. I want niggas to have real shit. I’m showing people that I’m not perfect. I’m just being myself. Too many niggas are scared to do that. I’m showing everybody the world through my eyes. I’m not trying to be a superthug. I did my dirt in the streets and I’m going to tell you what it is. I will also not be disrespected by anybody. I’m just trying to give my perspective on everything.
What do you have to do to be successful as a new artist in 2007?
To be successful, you have to stay up with the competition and come with new ideas. You have to do you. I try not to let the radio or video dictate what I do. That’s the main thing. That’s all you can do in the game, be original. Record sales are down and labels are dropping niggas. Nowadays it seems like it pays to be independent. I just have to stay true to the music. Enough niggas aren’t true to the music. As long as I do that, I’ll be all right.
How important is the internet to a new artist?
It’s a plus and a minus. The internet helps niggas touch motherfuckers you could never touch before. I got motherfuckers in Germany because of the internet. If it weren’t for the internet, people in other countries and states wouldn’t know who I was.
But at the same time, it takes a lot of money out of hip-hop too because of the downloads. You can get an album two weeks before it comes out. A lot of motherfuckers are downloading songs and sometimes not even the whole album. It’s the game. It’s entertainment and everybody needs to step their game up and give the fans a whole album that they can ride to. I remember back in the day when there was no internet and I just wanted to get albums, hear them and get the artwork. Now they’ll download it and it’ll go straight to the iPod. Making albums doesn’t mean anything anymore.
Ideally, when would White Heaven, Black Hell drop?
I’m hoping to drop this year. That would be cool. With the onslaught of shit that I’m about to come with, I’m pretty sure I’ll drop this year. I got music that nobody’s touching right now. I got this joint with Polow da Don and I got this joint called “The Bobblehead Song.” I got some shit. I got some shit on my album that’s going to make you laugh and might even make you cry. I’m having fun with this shit and informing motherfuckers at the same time. Music is supposed to inspire and entertain motherfuckers at the same time and that’s what I’m trying to do.
How important will your first single be?
Dropping a single is always important. We’re going to be doing that in the next couple of weeks. It’s the first look that everybody gets of you and it’s the first thing that people hear. That’s going to be important. I’m definitely going to come with the heat. The game is fucked up because too many people are one-hit wonders. The single is important but I’m going to make motherfuckers really want to hear the album. That’s the thing that’s important to me.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Give the Midwest a chance because we got gangster shit, club shit, all of that shit. I think it’s our time whether motherfuckers like it or not. I just think the hip-hop community should support each other more. The game is real WWF right now and I’m not into that shit. I’m in here to make good music, make my cheese and entertain motherfuckers.