September was your month on HipHopGame. Did you enjoy that?
Oh yeah. I definitely enjoyed it, man. I’m like George Bush, I need another run like George got the extra years! Y’all should give me October too! Give me another 30 days, man. But I’m going to keep pumping y’all with music anyway even though I ain’t the Artist of the Month no more. I’m gonna probably outshine the October Artist of the Month.
Can you go another 30 days dropping good music on such a consistent basis?
I’m in the stu every day. I’m really trying to make a movement and a statement right now.
Can you ever give fans too much music?
No! There’s still a lot of people that aren’t sure so I gotta make it positive in their minds. I don’t mind. I’m at this every day. The more work I put out the better it is for the fans and whenever I record something real crazy I put it in the tuck so I’m still going to have a lot of good music for y’all and I’m still going to keep providing y’all with good music every other day.
Do you find that the more you record on a regular basis the more your music improves?
Definitely. With any artist and with any craft they do, if they work at their craft they’re going to get better at it. If you’re a doctor and you work at that, you’re going to become a better doctor. If you’re a hustler and you work at your craft, you’re going to become one of the best hustlers and that’s what I’m doing. I’m working at my craft and the more music I make the better it gets.
Do artists make the mistake of hanging onto songs for too long?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve seen it happen with artists before. Earlier in my career I used to want to hold onto everything that I did but now I know that you gotta flood the streets and the internet with it so that the people can know that you still got it.
Did you have to prove to fans that you still had it after the low sales of Free At Last?
Definitely. The album Free At Last, you know the album was real good but it didn’t get the promotion and the press that it should have gotten so that some people don’t even know that it’s out and some people don’t know that it’s as good as it is. I gotta flood them with more music and let the people know that I’m still relevant and I still make that good music and that soulful street music that the fans loved.
Were you feeling like you weren’t relevant in the game at one point?
Me, the way I feel, I feel the more work I put in the more relevant I’ll be. If I’m just sitting around and not doing the work that I’m supposed to be doing, it’s easy to become not relevant. It’s easy for fans to forget about you. It’s real easy. That’s the type of business that we’re in. They’ll forget about you if you’re not producing.
Why didn’t Free At Last get as much promotion as it should have?
There was a lot of stuff going on at Def Jam. They had a lot on their plate. Jay-Z had just dropped his album and me and Beanie Sigel were dropping around the same time. If you put it on the totem pole, I’m lower on the totem pole than someone like Jay-Z and they were spending a lot of marketing dollars on him and I had to show them that it’s sick. But it’s good. That’s why I’m working as hard as I am now so that I can show them that I belong at the top of the totem pole.
It sounds like you accepted your situation without causing a big fuss.
I just accepted it. That’s the way the game goes. I can’t point the finger at anybody because that’s what people expect me to do. People expect me to blame such and such and such and such did it and it’s his fault. And instead of concentrating my energy on that, I’m going to concentrate on making more music and this time it will be undeniable this time. I’m going to do my part 100% so the fans and the streets know that I’m coming so I can’t point the finger at nobody. That’s why I’m putting so much work in.
You have a new mixtape out, Freeway Is Back, for free download. Are you happy with how that’s done so far?
I don’t know how many downloads I got but I’m sure people downloaded it. I’m happy with it and I got more mixtapes coming as we speak. If they ain’t catch that one they’ll catch the next one.
A few years ago you would have to press up copies and sell them wholesale to bootleggers and mixtape stores. Do you like putting it up for free download better?
I prefer both because you know, there are still a lot of people in the ‘hood that don’t got computers and they don’t got the internet like that. There’s still a lot of people that can’t afford computers. They don’t have computers. You still gotta reach the streets and press them and get them to the people in the streets who might have $5 for you but they can’t afford a computer and they can’t afford to download it.
Do you think that will be an issue five years from now?
I’m sure it’s coming. I’m sure it’s coming because they’ll dropping all that money in it, I’m sure it’s coming.
In your “HipHopGame Freestyle”, you talked about how you had to hide your lyrics from your parents because they didn’t like rap and we’ve talked in the past how you struggle with being a rapper because of your Muslim faith. How did your parents treat your interest in rap when you were growing up?
In the beginning when I was still living with my parents, they didn’t like it. My parents broke up when I was 12 or 13 and I was living with my mom and of course she wanted me to stay in school and I wound up in the streets. I dropped out of school and ended up hustling and all of that. Really how it worked out, before I got on the “1-900 Hustler” thing I had to do three months in jail and I had to do six months house arrest so while I was on house arrest I couldn’t hustle. I wasn’t getting no money in the streets and Beans was telling me where he was at and how the shit was crazy and what he was doing. So when I got off house arrest he had me around and I got on the “1-900 Hustler” shit. Before I got on that I told my mom that if this music didn’t work for me this year then I was going to get a job and I was going to try to do something positive and all that. I forgot that I told my mom about that shit but when that Dynasty album came out, my mom told me, “You said you would go get a job if this music didn’t work out and it did. I’m proud of you.” That made me feel good.
Did you always think you would succeed in music?
I always thought I could make it. I always believed in myself. I knew I was different. There wasn’t no rappers out there with beards and I was Muslim. People actually told me I couldn’t do an album because of my voice. They were like, ‘He did good on ‘1-900 Hustler’ but I don’t think people would want to sit through a whole album with his voice.’ I ignored that and I still worked hard on my music and people love my first album.
You also spoke in the “HipHopGame Freestyle” about not being a fan of rap today. Are you losing interest in keeping up with rap the way you used to?
I like people that can really rap. I like people that made me feel like, ‘Damn, did you hear what he said? That shit was crazy!’ or ‘Did you hear his flow? He killed that!’ I like people that keep my interest and talk about what they’re going through. That’s the type of music that I like and what I grew up on with Biggie and with ‘Pac. I like that kind of music, like The Lox and Naughty By Nature.
Speaking of Naughty By Nature, me and Young Chris just did a remix of “Ghetto Bastards” for Mick Boogie’s Hip-Hop Honors mixtape so that will be good. I’m dropping a lot of old school beats. I did the Tribe Called Quest beat and the Lords of the Underground remix. We did the State Property reunion show and I saw Do It All from Lords of the Underground and he said he was feeling it. That made me feel good because I was a fan of his when I was growing up. Those are the hip-hop people that I listened to coming up, like Black Moon and Boot Camp Clik.
I just like people that put something into their music and it’s different and you can hear it. You can hear the different techniques and flow patterns that they use and they’re talking about stuff that’s relevant. I’m not hating on people with what they’re doing now but that’s just not what I do and I’m going to stick to doing what I do and hopefully that will affect the people coming up now how the others affected me.
You also said, “The new dudes are doing music but they don’t do it properly.” What are they doing wrong?
When I say “doing it properly,” that’s just the music that I was raised on and the proper way that I came up on and the proper way that other people did it who came up before me. That’s what I meant. The way they’re doing it might be the proper way to them. But as far as me and my generation and the way I came up and the music that I listened to and the way I’m doing it, it’s proper. I respect spitters. I respect people that spit and you can hear the talent.
There’s no denying there’s a ton of talent in State Property but not as much unity as fans would want to see. How did the reunion show go?
It was good. The only thing is Oschino and Neef from the Young Gunz couldn’t make it. They already had some prior things that they had to take care of but besides that the show was good. And we’ve been working together for the last few months and we got some music done. We’re just looking for the right situation for the State Property thing. We’ve been in the studio a lot lately. The chemistry is still there. The music that we’re putting together is coming out real good.
You and Young Chris showed great chemistry while going back and forth with Wale on “Cyphr.”
Yeah. It was good. Me and Young Chris don’t write so we come out with the product really quick. There were three talents right there with Wale and then Beanie Sigel makes it four young talents. It was steel sharpening steel. It was competitive and it came out good. It didn’t even take that long. We did that in about an hour.
From what Wale was saying when I interviewed him Beanie getting on “Cyphr” was kind of a surprise wasn’t it?
Nah. Actually he came in. We had already started it and he came in when we were already in the room and he came in on that joint and killed it. It was a good surprise. And the fans loved it.
Are you having more fun making music today than you did when you were first coming up?
It’s definitely more fun and it’s exciting too to read the comments and to see that. When I first started dropping joints people were saying it was all right but now everybody is loving it and they’re starting to realize the talent. It’s definitely a good thing and it made me feel good. Whatever you work at, when you get the results it feels good and I love it. Every day I go to the studio and try to produce something for the people and something to put in the tuck for the future.
On “It’s Over” off Free At Last, you talked about how Just Blaze didn’t respond to you when you wanted to work with him for the album. How’s your relationship with Just today?
I gotta talk to Just. I love Just. Just did a lot for me. I can’t front on him and I can’t really say nothing bad about him but we just couldn’t get together when I was trying to work with him for the album. I don’t know what the situation was or whatever but I still got love for Just and I definitely want to get back with him and make some more music because we got good chemistry. He’s been responsible for a lot of my hits like “What We Do”, “Flipside” and “Roc the Mic.” I definitely want to get with him more. I just gotta reach out to him.
Have you found another producer that can match your style as well as Just could?
I’ve been working with a lot of producers that complement me. I just did two joints with Blunt. He’s the one that did “Hustlaz Prayer”. I’m working with some other cats out of Philly. There’s a lot of producers that I work with that complement me but I definitely want to get that Freeway/Just Blaze chemistry back. Also, you know who complements me well? Jake One. I’ve been doing a lot of things with him lately too. I just did a joint with him for his album it came out real good. We just shot a video for that. Me and Jake are probably going to do a Freeway and Jake One album so y’all should look out for that. That will be crazy.
Philadelphia Freeway and Free At Last were two very different albums but both very solid in their own way. Do you have a favorite?
No. See, there was different spaces. I was in different spaces in my life. I’m a reality rapper so I rap about what phase I’m in in my life. That’s what was going on in Philadelphia Freeway and what was going on in Free At Last is what was going on. I love both of them. It depends what mood I’m in how the music comes out.
Are you going to release your third album under Def Jam?
As of now.
Can you get out of that contract?
To tell you the truth, I don’t know what I’m going to do right now. Right now I’m just getting the music together and I’m going to take it from there once I get a strong catalogue of music together. Right now I’m just giving the fans what they need right now. I’m supplying the streets with that good work and we’re going to either stay at Def Jam or we’re going to find another nice place to move the work out of.
Are you still in touch with 50 Cent today?
Yeah. That’s my man. That’s my man. Definitely.
Would we ever see you sign with G-Unit?
I don’t know. Anything’s possible. It could happen. But me and Fif, we ain’t really been discussing that right now. He’s been working on his album and I’m working on what I’m working on. I’m definitely trying to get on Before I Self Destruct and we’ll take it from there.
Is your old group Ice City still together today?
What I tried to do with them was a little premature. I tried to help them out with their situation and help them get some songs out and help them get some credibility but right now, the space that I’m at, I have to worry about myself and get myself together and get my stamp in the game and then I can go back to people and help them out.
Can I expect you to mp3 me five new songs by the morning?
You definitely can. I’m on it. Right now I’m in Miami. I’ll be back home on Friday and I’m going to be doing some more recording. So y’all can definitely expect me to be sending you some more joints. As a matter of fact I got a new joint coming to y’all tomorrow morning. I’m on it. I’m going to keep dropping them bangers for y’all, man.