man, just grinding.
your state of mind like recording "What the Game's Been Missing?"
was "I need to make myself what the game's been missing." That
was first. To do that, I felt like I needed to just grow. I always felt
that my talent was up on another level already. I just wanted to grow.
I came in with such a focused mind. I knew what I wanted to do and I knew
what I wanted to get across. I recorded so much music. I recorded over
160 records in my new studio. I got a chance to really grow with myself
and grow with the music. I think it came out so much better.
I'm already an original artist. I don't sound like nobody and I don't
try to be like nobody. I work with regular producers. I don't want to
work with a big name. I love all those dudes like Pharell, but I want
to generate the same type of attention that they get. I don't want anyone
saying "that record was produced by 'such-and-such,' and that's why
it's hot." I want to make somebody hot. I want to get my own producers
and make him hot. I want to be the reason a producer gets hot. I want
somebody to say "he did a beat for Juelz Santana and he killed it."
I just think
there's a lot of that not going on and that was my focus on just giving
the people what everybody else wasn't giving them right now, having that
balance. Some albums sound like they were chasing a single the whole album.
Every song sounds like a single but it's not really good enough to be
a single. Albums should have balance. They should take you on a journey
and get you through your day. When you put that in your car, you can feel
everything. There's shit that you can feel, not just something that sounds
good. I say some people get heard, some people get felt. I'm definitely
one of those people that get felt.
Boy Fresh" was a dope concept, what was your inspiration for doing
I think that
every hood has a Lil' Boy Fresh. That's how I looked at it when I looked
at my hood. It came from a movie called "Fresh" about a little
boy. I relate the song to the movie because I always knew that somebody
had one of those little boys around them that was good in the streets
that the O.G.'s looked up to. It was a story that I knew everybody would
relate to, coming from where I'm coming from and representing what I represent.
I just thought that it was a very powerful statement and a strong song.
Everybody has a Lil' Boy Fresh around them, whether he's next door or
down the block. He's around, believe that.
like Rakim might be on the album with him being in the "Mic Check"
video. What happened?
When we got
together, we never actually talked about him getting on my album. Rakim's
been real busy, and I've been real busy too. I kind of lost contact with
him, and by the time I had to turn my album in, it was too late. You have
to turn your album in two to three months early. Me and him are real cool.
He showed me so much love. I always respected him before that. On the
set, he gave me some words that really inspired me that will stick with
me throughout my whole career. He told me, "yo G, you're really carrying
the torch well." For a nigga like him, he said he appreciates what
I'm doing and that I make niggas like him look good. I felt like, "damn,
I'm really a part of this Hip Hop shit!" I just kind of felt like
niggas fuck with me
Rakim is Rakim! That's motivation for me. I'll
never stop doing it just because he said that, and I know I can't slack
off because he said that. I know I got people like him watching me, paying
attention to me, I definitely can't be slacking.
is dope too. Why did you want to feature your nephew on the album?
is in my "S.A.N.T.A.N.A." video
he's grown so much. That
conversation actually happened and I just recorded it like that. He told
me his teacher asked him for my autograph. That was hilarious to me, I
thought it was crazy. I said "I'm starting my intro off with that."
mixtape is dope too
why did you choose to hit a lot of classic beats
and why aren't others doing that?
thing! I always wanted to be different. I wanted to change the game. You
don't see people digging in the crates for freestyles. If you notice now
when I do my freestyles, I don't even do my regular flow. I rap it just
like the way you originally loved it, I'll make my own words though. Like
on "Know the Ledge," or "Kill a Man." Sometimes I
like to just bring back that essence. Hip Hop is missing that. A lot of
these youth don't know these songs, and that's a shame. That's how I also
pay my respects. Shorty's say "that's a dope song," and I'm
telling them, "nah, that's Rakim!" They say "who's Rakim?"
Next thing you know, I'm telling them about Rakim's legacy and they may
go out and buy Rakim's albums.
a dope freestyle on Eminem's "Hi, My Name Is." Eminem is the
last dude in Hip Hop to be funny. How important is it to bring out humor
and personality in your music?
about being different but being myself. I'm a street nigga, but everybody
gives you that same street story. What makes you different? I gave you
"Hi, My Name Is" in a different viewpoint. I didn't want to
just be funny and stupid. I took it and jacked it to be funny in my way:
"Hi guys, do you like my life? Do you like guns, pussy, drugs, the
high life? Are any one of those three things you do not like? Number two,
are you pussy, are you gay, do you like guys?" It's fucking with
it, but it's me. It's being creative. It's still myself. I didn't get
up there and say "I stick needles in my eyes until I bleed puss out."
That's not my thing. I did it my way.
gotten any negative response to "Fat Bitch?"
Nah, I haven't
gotten any hate over nothing. The whole response has been beautiful. Even
though I have the song called "King of New York," with the hook
saying that, I'm saying "nah, I ain't the king of New York, stop
saying that, I'll let other niggas fight for that spot." I was on
tour and niggas were calling me telling me that I'm the king of New York
right now. I'm like, "c'mon man, I don't want that title."
like everybody else does
I don't want
it. I'm good. I'm just me man, your local G, giving you that local street
mention "The Matrix" a lot in your rhymes. How would you compare
your life to Neo?
In a whole
different way. Not the whole action-figure, guns shooting, jumping off
the wall, that's out the window. It's more feeling like I'm the one, that
I was chosen for this. Neo didn't come in cocky. He didn't even know that
he was the one. Cam is my Morpheus. He took me through all them levels.
I wrote "Gangsta Music" in a basement in Chicago because Cam
wouldn't let me go to the club because I wasn't writing any songs. Cam
showed me the way. Neo didn't know he was that good so he had to be taken
through all these tests. When he got it, that's like me building my own
studio and becoming the man that I am, being able to stand next to Cam
as my own man. Neo knew that there would be no Neo without Morpheus. I
can sell all the records, but you always have to have someone at the head
of the table to tell you when you go off track. It's not like Neo became
bigger than Morpheus. Neo was humble with it and he got the job done.
ever a moment when you felt like you were the chosen one?
I just work
hard. I don't sit there and say "I'm the chosen one." That's
for other people to say. I have a lot more to accomplish before I can
sit there and say that I feel like the chosen one. Right now, I'm definitely
getting that feel. My life is definitely headed in that direction.
rumors about Cam and Jay having problems. What made you want to come out
on Def Jam?
problems. There was no real transition. When we were at Rocafella, Jay
was the CEO and we still did our Diplomat thing. Our albums came out the
same way. Our last album came out the same way, under Def Jam/Rocafella.
People think there's a difference but in all actuality, it's not different.
Now it's Def Jam/Diplomats. We're still running our own label and Jay
handles his business. Everybody has to play their role and he's a businessman.
Right now it's not about what side we're on. We don't have to be the best
of friends. It's a big world out there. We don't all have to be cool like
a Memphis Bleek and Jay are. There's not a problem between Cam and Jay,
it just was what it was, we were doing our own thing. It didn't really
affect us. L.A. Reid was more of a transition than Jay, in a good way.
We had to get to know him and see what he's capable of doing. We wanted
to know him.
responsibility should the label and artist take for the success of a project?
doing what you're supposed to do. I know I work hard. It's not about anybody
doing extra. This is what we're all supposed to be doing. I did everything
I was supposed to do for myself, like paying for my videos. It seems extra
because niggas aren't doing that. Labels do their promotion, and it's
like one hand washing the other. We're both making it work for each other.
That's why I wanted to stay there. I just felt like I needed to be a priority.
done work with Jeezy and T.I., any chance of a collab album?
Me and Jeezy
may be working on something. I don't really know what's going on with
T.I., I haven't spoken to him in awhile. Whatever the future holds, I'm
like the Diplomats have definitely learned a lot from watching Wu-Tang
just embedded in us as individuals, but it's not like we were all watching
Wu-Tang back in the day saying "this is how we're going to be when
we get older." I'm sure we all knew who Wu-Tang was individually,
because they were the shit. I would compare us to Wu-Tang as far as our
movement, where you have niggas that are stars in our group and the others
are destined to be. It's all about that consistency, being out there,
and reinventing yourself.
structured like Wu-Tang. I think in a sense of our individuality we're
alike because we all stand together. We can go solo and come together
in full force. You had all the solo albums and then you're wondering when
the Wu-Tang album is like that. It's like that with us. You got the Cam
album, the Juelz album, the Diplomat album...in a lot of crews, you just
have that one head dude and that's how you pretty much know everybody
And I'm working
with Ghost now. I'm taking that real seriously right now. That song is
going to be a problem because I looked up to Ghost coming up. I got no
choice but to come at that the right way.
you compare this album to "From Me to U?"
I don't compare
it. It's a different level of music. It's me. I got a chance to grow,
I got a chance to be different, I got a chance to develop, and I got a
chance to be so much more creative with the music while at the same time
still being myself. That's why I feel that this is so much better. It's
much more creative and grown, and that makes it better.
it take to be human crack in the flesh?
I say that
because you know how crack was effective when it first hit. That's how
I feel I am to this game right now. I'm making everybody want what I got
and wonder what I'm doing that they're not doing right. I may not have
sold all these records with my last album, but niggas are still scared
of me. I keep niggas on their toes. I'm good for Hip Hop. Niggas like
me are good for Hip Hop. Whether I sell records or not, niggas that sell
records are going to say "this nigga can bust out at any time, this
nigga's a problem."
Set is known for coming up with new slang, what's your favorite slang
dig?" And "G-rind." It's no longer a "grind,"
we're on the "G-rind," that's what gangsters do. We're on the
at this Cam shooting that just went down in D.C., are you scared for your
own safety right now?
are things we're aware of. We don't expect them to happen, but we know
they can happen. These things can happen anywhere. It is what it is. You
always have to be on point and you always have to stay focused.
one of the only New York rappers to not complain about the South getting
radio play, why is that?
grinded their way to the top the same way we grinded our way in getting
Hip Hop on the map, period, worldwide. There's room for everybody. The
attention is going to move. The attention is going to be back on the West,
it'll go to the East again, it could go to London. People want that new.
There's room for everybody. The South didn't stop the Game from coming
out or Snoop from having a great year. Why should you complain about what
they're doing? Niggas are saying that because they're not getting played.
Bottom line is, you have to do what you have to do to get played. Certain
songs are crazy, I don't even want to get into it, but you know they're
not Hip Hop and they shouldn't be on the radio. Some of these songs, just
because a person is not as lyrically talented as you, real shit is real
shit. Real niggas are going to relate to real shit. If you say, "I
was walking in the crib, the cops locked me up, took all my shit."
A nigga can be singing it, that's real shit! The realer it is, the more
niggas are going to focus on it. I feel like New York niggas are trying
to chase a hit. The South is making the records that they want to make
and they're getting played. These niggas are trying to make records and
they're not getting played. That's the problem. Make records and let them
get played because they're hot records, not because they're radio records.
If you pick a song because it sounds more like a radio record and the
other song sounds too much like a street record, that's stupid.
you approach putting a mixtape together differently than an album?
are more fun. The mixtape is to show that you're lyrically nice. The album,
you want to give people a journey and give them goosebumps. It's almost
like rehearsing or performing a show. You can mess up in a rehearsal and
it's still all good. The album is like that show, you're putting on that
show, all eyes on you.
Freeky Zeekey doing?
beautiful! 2007, welcome home. Zeek is a good nigga and he's a strong
nigga. They don't build niggas like Zeek. Out of all the niggas I know,
he's not the one that should have went to jail, but he was the most one
that could have went and held it up the way he's holding it up and not
black out and spaz out. He's doing real good though. Zeek has a beautiful
you want to say to everyone out there?
22nd, the new slogan is "Ay, get used to the future, because I am
that. I don't claim to be the king, I just do my thing."