You’ve been grinding for awhile, releasing solo mixtapes and mixtapes with Brisco. Do you feel like you’re in a good position to release your next project, On My Own, hosted by DJ Khaled?
That’s the plan, really. I just been putting out so much music, trying to flood it and hitting them with free music and back to back mixtapes. It’s all been quality, but it’s just a lot of old music that I’ve had laying around. The Khaled shit is something I really worked on and put my all into. It’s all original beats and it’s just music. I feel like that’s what’s missing from rap. It’s about getting them acquainted with me and you gotta get the buzz up before that can happen.
Did the free music serve its purpose?
It definitely created a fanbase for me in places I’ve never been to and on the internet. And the mixtapes were getting sold physically. Without a doubt it laid out the infrastructure for the Khaled shit and it laid out the groundwork for my solo album produced by my producer Cheta. We’re just banging it out and keeping the pressure on them. That’s all it’s about – pressure.
Is it ever hard staying on schedule and releasing as much music as you have?
It’s hard because there’s nobody pushing me but myself. Most of these motherfuckers got whole teams behind them and million dollar budgets behind them and I’m just trying to keep myself moving and keep myself on point. You just gotta have a vision to really be able to stick with something like that. If you’re not ready to work you’re never gonna eat.
Being that you’re doing it all on your own, do you think you’ll appreciate the success more?
Yeah, because when it all pays off, there’s no 360 deals with me! A lot of people got thrown into the position and they didn’t appreciate it and they fucked it up. That’s not gonna happen with me.
Are you happy with how On My Own came out?
I love it because it’s my life. When I make music, I’m just telling the people what’s going on from my perspective and where I’m standing. I put that project together in probably two months. I wrote it all in two weeks. It’s just gonna let people know what’s going on. It’s real hectic right now and I have to represent that voice of reality because motherfuckers are talking about cars and jewelry. That’s not reality and that’s not life. It’s a recession and you know motherfuckers are cutthroat. Motherfuckers have to get that voice of reality that’s missing in rap, period. There’s all this dancing and party music and I feel like there’s a time for that, but that’s not touching their life. I feel like I’m making music that people can really live by.
Do you feel you’re at your best in On My Own?
Yeah. It came to a point where I was all in. It’s all growth and maturity. I’m getting better every day. Every time I go in the booth my music is going to sound better. My music is on that level. You can play this next to Jay-Z’s shit and then tell me how you feel. This is quality music. It’s 16 tracks and you don’t have to push a button except Play.
How do you improve when you work on your own so much?
Really, all I listen to is my music. I’m not too much in tune with anyone else’s shit. I just keep listening and try to improve. I feel like I can take it further and my only competition is myself. I can move myself forward. Worrying about the next man is never gonna get you shit.
Your single is “One Promise.” How did that come together?
It took a while for that to come together. I had the record for about a year and I had just been sitting on it. I knew I had some shit that could cross over and that really fell into no genre. I had to take my time putting it together. I really feel like if anyone has a category for me in their mind or who I sound like or what kind of music I’m making, that song right there is gonna separate it. That’s what all my music is. I can’t tell you about anyone else’s life but my own. For a lot of these rappers, the truth is missing and I’m trying to bring it back to the music.
How hard is it getting new fans?
It’s a matter of time. Word of mouth is a beautiful thing. I try to touch everybody on the internet but nothing is going to spread your music like people talking. You can have the people talking in ten different cities but you’re still irrelevant to the world. The only thing these motherfuckers got on me is bigger accounts to pull money out of. If you could drop the money right now, you could get the exposure and grow your fanbase but the problem is a lot of these people are putting out bad music. It’s not how it used to be. They used to fall in love with the artist and now they fall in love with the song.
On “Too Much” it sounds like you’re getting a lot of frustration out. Was writing that song a therapeutic process?
Man. My friend told me to tell 'em everything that was on my mind "Don't hold back!" The situation is crazy but you gotta keep it moving. That’s the kind of shit that’s gonna affect you. I know people go through that kind of shit and I hope that people can appreciate it. By the same token I know some people don't want to have to think about that aspect of life which is why you hear songs like drink, smoke and party. I try to give 'em a little bit of everything.
What are your favorite songs to write?
The songs with the feeling because those are the songs where you feel like they took a part of you with them. There are those certain songs that really make you feel like you went thru it with the artist. A lot of these motherfuckers want to make themselves look better in the song and I’m trying to tell you the truth even if the truth is not pretty. I try to tell you the good, bad and the ugly. It’s not all good. You gotta let them know what’s going on.
At first glance, people might think “In Love with the Club” is a party record. Where did you want to take people on that record?
That came together off some life experiences, just learning and growing and doing some traveling. I’m from a small town and when you get out of that small town, you gotta meet some new people and do some new things. That’s a real good song right there. That song was some trials and tribulations in my life, but nothing major. I made it through unscathed, still standing.
You’ve been releasing your Lost Tapes series over the past year. How important was it to get those songs heard?
That was big for me. I gotta shout out J. Green MoneyTalkz. That’s the DJ that put it all together. He mixed it , hosted it and put that out for me. Those were songs I had sitting around for years. I knew it was now or never to put them out so I approached J. Green and he made it happen. I think the real fans really appreciated it and that’s all I really care about at the end of the day.
How would you describe the hip-hop scene in your home town of Albany, NY?
Upstate! The thing with upstate is that nobody’s ever done it before. It’s not like you’re from New York City where you can run and get something from someone who blew up in your borough or coming from Miami and you can run to Rick Ross or Poe Boy. There’s a lot of talent up here and I think they’ll have a huge impact on the music game. We’re trying to provide an outlet and the local radios and clubs aren’t doing it. Our only option is to flood the streets and that can only get you so far.
You’ve done a lot of work with Brisco. How did you guys first link up?
It first happened because I hit up somebody on his team and I sent them a joint I needed a hook for (Albany 2 Opa Locka). He’s a real good, humble dude and he’s approachable. That’s why I fuck with him. A lot of these motherfuckers, I’ve never seen in my life. We put some music together. After we did a couple of songs, I saw that we made completely different music that still complemented each others styles and that a collaborative cd would appeal to all types of different crowds.
Did the Brisco mixtapes help expand your fanbase in the south?
Of course. At the end of the day, he’s popping. He’s on deck and these motherfuckers know about him. He definitely did some things for me but at the end of the day, it’s just about grinding and having something built. They’re seeing me and I already have my shit together. It’s the same with having Khaled’s name on my project. At the end of the day, it’s all love and that makes the grind easier because now I’m touching your fans without even going there.
“Albany 2 Opa Locka” is one of your biggest hits to date. Did you expect it to do as well as it did?
Like with everything I put out, it’s unpredictable. It was a new sound for me because I never really did a song with nobody like that. It came out real good and gave my music a different appeal at that point. I didn’t expect anything. I just put it out to see what would happen with it and the response was great.
What do you learn working with an artist like Brisco?
That it’s hard work. I’ve seen with him that hard work pays off. I know he’s been in the game for ten years but if you’re with it, it’ll happen. And to stay humble and grounded. I know I can do this too. It’s just good to feel that energy. You’re up in the studios and the labels and it feels good to get that energy. That shit is a boost right there.
Are you guys going to work more in the future?
Definitely. We have a video that just came out.
Really, I’m just trying to get my shit out right now, just like with him. I’m pretty sure he’s trying to do the same. Just working. I’m sure Brisco & It's Nique Volume 3 is going to come one way or another. You’re going to hear it. I’m going to drop the Khaled CD and then put out my album. I just gotta get situated first.
What are your goals for 2011?
2011, I’m really trying to get heard and once I get that spotlight shine it on the artists around me who are very talented like L.G., who’s a producer and rapper from back home. I think he’s more talented than 99% of these industry artists. We’re working on my boy Jorge H’s shit. He’s from South Florida. We’re just trying to put some shit together and I want people to know that there’s talent out there and it’s just not getting the look that it deserves. Really all it is is getting where I’m supposed to be.