You have a single out called “Ride the Wave” with Trav and Lloyd Banks. Have you ever surfed before?
Like literally? Really surfed?
Yeah. You’re in Harlem. The Jersey Shore’s not too far from you.
Nah. I ain’t never surfed. Maybe when I was a kid, I used to probably go to the beach a lot. I might have had a surf board out there. We’re talking about a different type of thing.
No doubt. “Back to the Crib” is your single right now with Chris Brown. How did that collab come about this time around?
When he first came in the game I was on his first single “Run It.” I got the beat from Polow and I heard Chris on it so I said let me reach back out to the homie. It’s time for us to do it again. When I called him he was down in Orlando and he said he was down. I flew the next day and we made it happen.
Do you feel like you know a different Chris Brown than the one most people have seen since he beat Rihanna?
I’m from the ‘hood. I’m from a totally different walk of life. Things like that happen every day where I’m from, not to say that’s right, not to say nothing, but you know, where I’m from, people have fights with they significant other. So at the end of the day, I know the media’s always going to try to drag somebody. I felt like they just made it a bigger deal because it was Chris Brown. It was definitely something that should have never happened. A man should never put his hands on a female. Everyone knows that. But you know, people’s personal lives are people’s personal lives.
‘Pac said it best. At the end of the day, as long as when you get the CD, you get your $15 or $18 worth. Now it’s not even that. It’s about $12 worth. Then, you know, the job is done. The music is great. He’s a great artist. He’s talented. Nobody should worry about what he’s doing on his own time. You have people out here doing God knows what so for us to criticize or judge or drag his name through the mud or even try to kick a person when he’s down, that’s never been me. That didn’t even go through my mind. When I reached out to him, I didn’t even care that he was in that situation. I know him as a great artist. I wanted a great artist on the record with me. We had made magic before so I said let’s do it again. I reached out and we made it happen.
Did you get any negative feedback from fans for working with Chris Brown?
You’re always going to have people who say something. But overall, the outlook is great, you dig? There’s a billion people in the world and some people just wait to have something to say. I’m easygoing and I know how to deal with them things. I don’t let too much of what people say bother me and at the end of the day, the song is great so they really couldn’t say too much.
When you look at taking a girl back to the crib, sometimes they might be scared. How can you convince them that you’re not like Jeffrey Dahmer?
If a shorty’s already feeling you, most of the time it’s all about your game and your swag and if a girl is comfortable with you. If a girl is comfortable with you, she shouldn’t even be thinking you’re Jeffrey Dahmer. You just gotta lay your game down, you dig what I’m saying? That’s what I do. My swag pretty much talks for me.
How do the people without a lot of swag get by?
It ain’t about how you dress. It ain’t about what you put on. It’s just about the way you move. You just gotta have that sense of confidence. You gotta feel yourself. You feeling yourself? ‘Cause I’m feeling myself. That’s how it go. Even in a humble way, you ain’t gotta overdo it. It’s just in a way where you gotta look comfortable. You gotta always be able to look comfortable. You can’t crack under pressure.
What do you recommend guys do if they get nervous talking to girls?
Oh, man. You know, don’t go over there with no stupid game lines. Go over there and say what you feel. Girls are going to like you for you. Any line you come up with, believe me, it’s been said before. Just do you. Have enough confidence and go over there and do you, man. If you think she’s beautiful, tell her she’s beautiful. If you think she’s sexy, tell her she’s sexy.
What if you think she’s ugly? Should you tell her that?
Then you shouldn’t go walk up to her! (laughs) Definitely don’t do that. That’s rude.
You got good manners.
I come from a good household. My mother raised me.
What’s the smoothest line you ever dropped on a girl?
I don’t know, man. My shit is natural so I say a lot of things. I say whatever’s on my mind at the time.
You’re not going to give up the game, are you?
Nah. You know, I might tell her…Shit, I ain’t gonna get into that.
This is HipHopGame.
When are we going to get another anthem from you like “S.A.N.T.A.N.A.” and “Dipset (Santana’s Town)”?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That was actually going to be the first record I put out but it just so happened that Chris Brown was my more radio record and more over the top. I’m about to release that record within the next couple of days. A couple of DJs have it. My man just called me and told me Miss Info just heard the record and wants a copy of it. That record was supposed to be first but some engineers leaked “Back to the Crib.” That’s a great record and I’m Juelz Santana. I'm always going to feed my fans and do what I do best and that’s what I do best. That’s pretty much the base of the album. The Chris Brown record was a record that got leaked but it’s my baby. You know, I got a lot of grimy, hardcore Dipset fans and that’s where I come from and that’s what I do. Over my three albums I never gave the ladies nothing. They’re calling me and they’re telling me they think I’m a cutie and sexy and I had to give them that. It’s produced by my man Polow Da Don and we’re about to shoot a video for that. And just look out for that record. We got a record called “Mixing Up the Medicine.” It’s crazy.
And go listen to that “Forever” shit, that shit I did over the Drake song. You see how I burnt that up. They don’t even play the other version up here no more in the city. They just play my version now. I said, “How can you compare those motherfucking weirdoes/To a nigga like me, when they swag is on zero/Here I come to save the day, super, hero/Pocket on casino, Robert, Deniro/Any uptown niggas slanging pounds, kilos/Cars paid for so they never get repo’d/Niggas throwing dice against the wall, cee-lo/This is my movie, you’re an extra, B role/Your girl says I got a very big ego.”
And Drake killed it. I ain’t taking nothing away from Drake. I like what he’s doing. But when I do something, I just have to come the way I come and bring my energy at the end of it. And that ain’t even the end of it. I told them I would get in their ass, no homo, Speedos. That’s a record, that’s a little freestyle that I did. It won’t be on my regular mixtape, which is right around the corner. I want people to get familiar with that. It’s going down real crazy. Fly up or get flown over. I’m in the sky making niggas pay tolls and shit. Know what I’m saying?
I just want you to keep that in your head. You’re going to be hearing a lot of music from Juelz Santana so you’re not going to really be missing me until the album comes out. We’re about to put out The Reagan Era, which is similar to an album because I’ve been gone for awhile. I got a whole bunch of songs that’s recorded that are not going to be even able to fit on my album that’s just great material. I plan on dropping two mixtapes before my album comes out. Another Skull Gang mixtape too. We’re shooting all the videos and DVD. I got a lot in the works right now. Just stay tuned.
How’s the album Born 2 Lose, Built 2 Win sounding?
Oh, it’s crazy. It’s crazy. It’s beautiful, man. The name speaks for itself, the title, Born 2 Lose, Built 2 Win. It’s going to be theatrical. It’s going to be real nostalgic, like my man Kasa say. I got a street record called “Mixing Up the Medicine.” You’re going to have to hear it.
When are you dropping your mixtape The Reagan Era?
About two weeks. That’s pretty much done. I’m just putting the icing in the cake. Actually I’m putting the candles in the cake and I’m about to light it. You already know what it is. They know they can’t fuck with me. They know I’m back. And I just did another crazy record, well, actually I got a crazy record on my mixtape. We did this record four months ago. It’s me, Jadakiss, Fab and Lloyd Banks and we took the Estelle sample where she’s saying “Take Me to New York.” I heard Jada’s verse got leaked and that’s my record. That’s a crazy record and we had done that way before Jay-Z had done the New York song. So that’s going to be a crazy record on my album.
I got another record called “No Justice No Peace” which is me, Fab, Busta Rhymes, Diddy and Jim and I forgot who the other person was. But we had done that around the Sean Bell time but I just never released the record. So I got a whole bunch of records that are in store for people including all the freestyle shit I do. It’s going to be real interesting. Just pay attention, man. It’s Juelz Santana. Ay! When I come I don’t play, baby. I ain’t wait this long for nothing.
There’s been talk of you and Wayne doing an album together. Will that ever happen?
Oh, man! Me and Wayne just did a crazy joint. Oh, man! We just did a crazy joint. Crazy joint. Crazy. As far as that album go, it’s hard with the politics and that situation. As you can see, the T-Pain and Lil’ Wayne album ain’t come out. Sometimes it’s out of our hands. We’re still artists at the end of the day signed to these major companies. At the end of the day, you have to satisfy a lot of people when it comes to doing a project like that. We have a lot of music recorded and if it doesn’t happen, we’ll still put it out and give it to the fans. It ain’t nothing. Just put it in the street. We still got about 16, 17 records unheard.
What’s a Juelz and Lil’ Wayne session like?
To be honest, you know, a lot of weed. A lot of weed smoking. No pens. No pens. He don’t write, I don’t write, you dig what I’m saying, so there ain’t no pens around. A lot of weed smoking and just fucking around. You know, niggas are walking around in their own little area, just getting their thoughts together, gathering thoughts. For a minute there was some syrup. I ain’t gonna front. I had my cup heavy but I stopped fucking with that for about a year now. And despite that, we just goin’ in. The rest is just goin’ in.
What made you want to quit drinking syrup?
It ain’t even that it was getting too addicting. I’m the type of dude where I got control over everything that I do. So I’m never one of those dudes that will let something take control over me. Everyone around me knows that I was drinking it socially. It was a social drug. I got introduced to it at the time from fucking with Paul Wall. Everybody was talking about it and I actually liked it. I was fucking with it, to make a long story short. But it wasn’t like it was affecting my work. It wasn’t affecting my life. It wasn’t affecting me as a person. Of course some people are going to say it’s still a drug and I shouldn’t be using it, which I can understand, but at the end of the day, like I told you with the Chris Brown situation, my personal business is my personal business. It’s not like smoking crack. It’s not like shooting heroin. It’s far from those things. You know, to each his own.
Did it ever bother you when Cam’ron talked about being worried about you being addicted to syrup in XXL?
It bothered me when Cam said it because it was like this is the reason why you’re going to tell the world why you stopped speaking to me, because I was drinking sizurp? You still spoke to other niggas that was sipping sizurp so it’s just fuck me because I’m drinking sizurp. It just didn’t make sense to me. I knew it was a lie and something to say to the people so maybe some of the people could agree with him. It’s like Bun-B saying he wouldn’t fuck with Pimp C no more because he was sipping sizurp. You’re my man. What are you talking about?
It’s all love. I wish him the best. He put me on one of the best situations despite the bad business. I learned a lot from it and I wouldn’t take it back. I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s still Dipset for life, forever, and Skull Gang is just the new chapter. Dipset is the building and Skull Gang is just a floor in the building. It’s like the mafia. You got the Genovese family and then this family and then everybody runs their own family. That’s how you keep things together.
Can things get better between you and Cam?
There’s some things that gotta happen. I would love to do anything for the fans because I’m not a selfish person. If the fans want to see something, I’m not saying it would be genuine, but it would be cool and I ain’t on it like that. It’s just different with somebody that you look at different do something to you than somebody that you don’t expect to do something to you do something to you.
What did you learn from the days when Dipset was all together?
Everything. I learned so much. My best quality is just being observant. I observe everything around me. I’m like a sponge. I came in the game when I was 17 or 18 and had four older brothers being in the streets, hustling hard. It was definitely a great experience learning everything. I got to be around Dame, got to see Cam. Cam is, just as much as he’s a foul businessman, he still knew how to do business. He just didn’t do it the right way. Some people become their situations and some people learn from their situations. That’s what I always tell people. It’s like if somebody do something to you, you’re going to be the type of person to do the same thing to other people or you’re going to be the type of person to not do other people the way people do you. I feel I’m the type of person that learns from my situation so the people around me are not going to have to experience me doing to somebody what somebody else did to me.
Are you enjoying working with Skull Gang?
I love it. We dropped a compilation. It did 700,000 downloads the first week. Nobody wants to talk about that. When I first put that out, Koch loved it so much they wanted to pick it up. We gave then three new songs and they re-put out the same album about seven months later so it was a good look. The sales weren’t super-crazy but it was the same mixtape we put out and it did 700,000 downloads the first week.
Will there be another Diplomat album in the future?
Hey, man, if the situation presents itself, then I’m with it. I ain’t the type of person to say I would never work with Cam. I’m too big for that at the end of the day. I just couldn’t be blind or act like I’m blind when I see everything. Maybe for a minute I felt like I was just acting like I was blind when I was seeing everything and then it got to be obvious and now you’re just looking stupid or niggas think you’re stupid.
But I’m in the best position of my life. I’m my own boss, you dig? I’ve learned so much and there’s still a want and there’s still a need for an artist like me, Juelz Santana, a quality artist. I’m just ready to go, man. My ball is rolling and I ain’t gonna let it stop right now.
Are you satisfied with your 50/50 deal at Def Jam?
Yeah. It’s still a 50/50 deal. Def Jam, they’re definitely looking at me to just be a superhero. You know, the year wasn’t as great as it could have been for them with a lot of the records that they put out and I’m definitely a main focus up in the building right now. I just had a great meeting the other day. I’m all about, like I told everybody, as long as I feel y’all roll me out the same way y’all roll a certain artist out, I’m cool and I’m happy. We’re playing ball and it’s a great thing. Shout out to L.A. Reid and the whole Def Jam staff. Until I feel like it’s another thing, it’s Def Jam right now and we’re rocking and rolling.
Can you bring some life back to the label?
I can’t say that I’ll bring the life. Def Jam is always going to have their life. The name speaks for itself. I’m definitely a priority in the building and it’s going to continue to be that way because I’m going to make sure that they deliver as long as I deliver and the ball is going to stay rolling. If niggas don’t wanna get rolled over, get in the cubby.
Do you enjoy having Twitter or do you look at it like something you have to do as an artist in 2009?
Nah, nah, I enjoy having Twitter. I fuck with Twitter. Twitter is just like everything else. I tell everyone that everything has a negative and a positive and you shouldn’t abuse anything because it could come back to haunt you. I tell everybody to think before they Tweet. It’s just so much easier access to Twitter. People forget they’re celebrities and they’ll go on Twitter and say something and as artists, you can’t just say something about anybody. You gotta watch these things. Niggas might punch you in the mouth for what you say. On some old school shit, they might just start decking niggas. You know, Twitter beef, I don’t understand how niggas get into Twitter beef. How do you get into beef over Twitter? It’s bad enough niggas gotta walk outside and he’s worried about a nigga staring at him too hard. We’re fighting for that and now nigga are fighting over Twitter. Now niggas is beefing on Twitter. That’s kind of crazy but it’s definitely a great, great source or promotion and a great source of all them other things, you know, communicating with your fans firsthand, beats, networking, shit like that.
Have you ever regretted any of your posts?
Oh, man, yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I don’t know which one. I never really have too many regrets and I don’t say nothing too crazy on Twitter. Sometimes I put something up and I think I should have just kept that one to myself. That’s why I tell people to think when they’re Tweeting and you can’t always Tweet anything that you want. We’re powerful voices in this game and people feel what we say so we gotta watch what we say.
Have you ever found any girls on Twitter?
That’s more personal. Everybody’s human so if you like her, you’re going to go for her, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or she’s walking down the block. If I see a girl and she’s bad, I’m not going to say I’m a celebrity and I’m not going to holla at her. She’s got my attention. It’s not about how famous you are. You’re still human.
Do you ever get tired of prefacing every post with an “Ay!”?
Nah, nah, nah. I always type that. That’s my shit, baby. Ay! Gotta let the world know what’s up.
What’s going on with your nephew Lil’ Jah?
Oh, man, my man Jah been recording some music. He’s got some crazy songs. He’s about to take over this whole young wave that’s going on. He’s too swaggy. He’s too splashy. He’s too savvy. He gonna be one of those kids to come up and then after when we start talking about some real shit you’ll talk about him. He’s around gangstas every day in Harlem but he goes to school and he gets an education. He’s a fly dude and he’s fucking nine!
So he’s starting even younger than Lil’ Wayne.
(laughs) Yeah. He’s ready. He’s more than ready.
What kind of potential do you think your Skull Gang members have as individual artists?
Oh, man. Richmond Rab is coming up out of VA and he’s got a sound like none other, especially coming up out of the South. I really believe in him. He’s like my brother too. We’ve been though a lot together from the streets to him playing ball with my brother in college. We’ve been through a lot and it’s definitely something that he takes seriously and he wants and I believe he’s ready for.
Do you feel a responsibility to help your artists succeed as solo acts outside of the group?
Oh yeah, man. I feel like God puts people in your life for a reason. You gotta utilize everybody. There ain’t no I in “team.” If I’m 90%, I still need 10% to make a hundred. You gotta respect that.
Can 50 Cent unite New York rappers?
For one, I didn’t know that he said he was trying to unite New York rappers. He reached out to a lot of people to do a concert and it was a great thing for New York. He didn’t say he was trying to get everybody to be friends and be cool with each other and do this, that and the third. Despite that, it was still a great thing for New York. That’s how I look at it. It was a great thing for New York. Why can’t we still go to a concert and tear it down? They do that at Summer Jams. It was a great thing no matter who would have did it. I would have went just for the simple fact for I know what that was like for New York, for my city.
Do you buy into the New York needs unity argument?
I tell people if I come out right now and sell 10 million records, New York is not hot. Juelz is hot. New York is hot when it’s a bunch of people making moves. That’s when your city is hot. Of course more people just need to make that music that’s not just going to be New York based music. They need to unite and the energy has to be there, like going to the club and seeing four or five stars there. That’s good energy for your city. That’s good energy when everybody’s feeling it. Me, I ain’t got no time to be mad at nobody. I know my place in the game and I know niggas can’t fuck with me. I’m comfortable with myself. I ain’t got time to be mad at no artist who ain’t do nothing or say nothing to me just to be mad at him. I tell a nigga I got my own lane like the H.O.V. lane. Its’ the JUELZ lane. I’m watching them, of course, because it’s my job to pay attention but when I come around, I’m like fucking Alicia Keys on my shit. Niggas know. Y’all bitches can do your thing for a minute, but when I’m here, it’s shut down season. That’s how it go.
Are you a fan of the new artists coming up like Drake and Kid Cudi?
Yeah! You know I’m more a fan of these niggas than some of these other niggas. People will wonder about that but I believe in being yourself more than anything. There’s just too many people trying to follow that wave of what they think being a gangsta is. Be yourself. That’s why these guys are coming up selling these records because at the end of the day, there’s billions of people in the world. Nobody can even crack half of that when it comes to record sales and that’s because nobody is venturing out and being different. You’ll have maybe a million people that can relate to Kid Cudi and in the same way other artists that are just doing what they do but people don’t get that. They want to be thugged out because they’re from the ‘hood. Be yourself. I got just as many thug niggas I hang out with as non-thug niggas I hang out with because they’re cool. Let niggas know, it’s cool to be cool. Niggas will fuck with you because you’re a cool nigga. Be you and if a nigga fuck with you because you’re you, then he do. If he don’t, he don’t.
Is there a lot of insecurity in the game today?
Yeah, man, niggas are bitches. Niggas are sensitive. At the end of the day, niggas ain’t got secure spots. Niggas gotta sometime do bitch moves and do weird things and wear thongs and solidify their spot in the game, I guess. Me, I come back around and it’s shut down season. I ain’t worried about what niggas are doing. I’m just speaking. I’m speaking. I’m giving niggas the peace sign and giving them a pound, letting them know it’s all love.
What producers are you working with today?
I’m working with my man Polow. I like working with Toomp. I always love the young dudes coming up because they’re always just so hungry. There’s a lot of up-and-coming dudes. I got my own dude Tirico from Spain. He’s amazing. And things of that nature. Oddz N Endz got some shit. They’re from Miami. I think they’re real underrated.
What kind of sound are you looking for?
I’m just looking for some hot shit, man. As long as it’s hot, I’m going to try to put my magic to it and see how it comes out. I’m a person where I don’t just sit there and record 15 or 12 songs for an album. I may record 100 songs and then pick the best ones. I’m going to record hot shit and then it all depends at the end of the day how it comes out. A beat can be crazy, I had the Mario and Gucci Mane beat. I had that beat for about a year from this guy Bangladesh. But I couldn’t do nothing to it. Not that I couldn’t do nothing to it, it was just something that didn’t come out the way I wanted it to come out. When I heard their record, I was happy. I wasn’t like damn I had that beat. They did their thing on that joint. I didn’t even hear R&B on that joint. It was hot. It’s all about what you do to a beat and how you’re feeling in the moment.
As time goes on, do you feel that you have to update your sound and flow?
I update every day. I update everything every day. I try to stay fresh all the time. You gotta do all of that. You gotta adapt and you gotta change but you still gotta remain yourself. It’s like you can’t wear an afro because you were wearing it in the ‘80s. That comes with everything. If you were playing basketball in the ‘80s you gotta change and adapt to what the people are liking and do the things that separate yourself from everybody else.
Even though we’re about to be in the age of the ‘90s babies, it’s still cool to be an ‘80s baby, right?
Oh yeah! It’s always going to be cool to be an ‘80s baby, man, because we taught them. It’s always going to be cool.
I didn’t want to feel like I was getting old.
How are you liking your Dodge Challenger?
I love it!
How come you didn't get the all white?
It’s just ‘cause the orange one was a classic color. I figured I was going to run with that and do something different for once. Fuck it, it was already a different type of car with an old school look so I said let me do something different. I’ve been thinking about painting it white with the two red stripes. I don’t know. I might do that, I might not.
One thing that’s always confused me is guys wanting to be involved with girls who like girls. If a girl is really into other girls, won’t the guy get no attention? Wouldn’t it just be easier to chase girls that like guys?
No, no. You gotta be the type of guy that just, you know, knows how to take control of the situation. If they’re doing something, join in. Make your presence be felt. A girl can’t do what you do just like you can’t do what a girl do. Life is built on a negative and a positive. Everything in life, it’s like an iron. You can put on your clothes and take the wrinkles out of your clothes. This just came from nowhere but I just think like this sometimes. You could iron your clothes, right? But if you put that iron on your face, what’s going to happen?
Exactly! So everything in life has a negative and a positive. You dig what I’m saying? What I’m saying is that girl may be into that girl but that other girl can’t do what you can do so go do what you can do as a man. You dig what I’m saying? Ay!