Congratulations on winning HHG’s Demo of the Month contest for November. Has that brought more attention to what you’re doing?
Absolutely! I’m so grateful for that. I’ve gotten so many texts and messages on MySpace. I’m real excited right now, man. It’s a real blessing.
You got a lot of positive comments on the site, which is not easy for new artists to do.
Oh my gosh, it’s unbelievable! The guys on HipHopGame are rough! It’s like The Apollo. I’ve seen it happen consistently and I’m amazed at the feedback and I’m grateful and I’m hoping for the best.
You’re working with some great producers like Focus and Wyldfyer. How did you link them?
I was connected through my man PhD, who is my manager. Him and Focus are connected and one day he invited me to his studio and I was blessed with the opportunity to spit for Focus and he fell over with excitement and he was excited to work with me. Along the way I linked up with Wyldfyer and he heard me spit and I heard his beats and I was amazed by his beats. We finally got the opportunity to connect and make some magic.
You’re primarily working with Focus today. How did you turn that situation into more than just doing a track together and staying in touch?
Just from being around. My man PhD, he always believed in me. He was telling me to always come around and I was always coming around and Focus was allowing me to just hang while he was working on Detox and any opportunity I had to spit, I seeked. He was absolutely impressed with me and I loved his beats like everyone else does. I had the opportunity, man. God blessed me and the stars lined up for me and it all worked out.
That’s a cool story. What does Focus bring out of you as an artist?
Focus, he, I don’t want to say he’s hard but he brings absolutely the best out of you. He doesn’t let me, how can I say it? He doesn’t let me go mediocre. If he believes I can go harder he will tell me he thinks I can do this and to think outside of the box. The end result is always magic with him.
Focus has always impressed me as a producer with a huge range and various styles. When you work with Focus, what kind of beats that he has bring out the best in you?
Truthfully, man, I love Focus’ ear. He’s the kind of guy who will think outside of the box. He doesn’t’ have one way of making a beat and he always tells me to do that with my writing as well. We never go one way with it.
As a fairly new artist in the game, do you feel like you’re ahead of the curve so far?
You know, that’s really rough to say but I’ve heard that. At this point I’m not really thinking of competition and what I am to everyone else. I’m just really really focused on what I love to do. I’ve been doing music for quite some time now and I’m really focused. I’m with a guy who really brings the best out of me and a great camp of guys who brings the best out of me and whatever happens, happens. I’m loving the attention that I’m getting. I believe it’s well-deserved. I worked really really hard at this and I’m just enjoying every minute of this.
How did “Affairs,” that was featured on Focus’ Dedicated mixtape, come about?
It’s almost like preparing for a role with a script. You’re reading a script with Focus. I was actually in the studio when he made the beat from scratch. I’m not even exaggerating when I say he made the beat and it was tracked and ready to go in 20 minutes. I was amazed. I was sitting on the couch and I was already spitting stuff in my head and he asked me to get on this and I was amazed because it was still the early stage in the relationship. I said yeah and I wrote a rhyme for it but he said he wanted to go another direction with the whole affairs thing. I approached it like it was a script for a movie and I acted like it happened to me and I put myself in it and it came out really beautiful.
You’re also working with Rapper Pooh on his solo album. How did you guys link up?
The funny thing about that is that I’ve been a fan of all those guys in Little Brother for a long time now. Having done that was probably the highlight of my career so far and it’s just beginning. That was a very lovely moment for me. That came around dealing with Focus. This guy knows everybody in the industry and I happened to be in the studio and Rapper Pooh came through and he was letting us hear a lot of his music and Focus, he loves to show people what I can do like, ‘Yo, listen to this kid.’ He let Rapper Pooh hear some things and he told me one day we would get on some shit together and I was really anticipating it and one day I got a beat and was told Rapper Pooh wanted me to get on it so I did it and it came out lovely, man.
Your freestyle “L.A. State of Mind” really talks about what L.A. is like and where your head is right now. How did that come together?
That was through my man PhD. He called me and said he was at a hip-hop club this one evening and “New York State of Mind” came on and the crowd went nuts and he said he thought I should really chronicle my life and do “L.A. State of Mind” and we could redo the beat and do it from scratch. He said we should do it again. I thought that was a great idea so I went straight to the studio and started working on it. I listened to Nas’ version again because I wanted to hear his hunger and that was a classic album. I wanted to hear his hunger when he wrote that song. I vibed out to that song for a second and I just let the pen hit the paper and it let the people know my point of view growing up. I wasn’t in gangs and I don’t shoot guns. I would like to let people know my point of view in everything.
“The Pandemic” is the song that really caught my ear and made me pay more attention to your music. Do you think that song will always be one of your most important songs?
I do, man. I really do. And I’m glad that you said that. I really appreciate that as well. “The Pandemic,” to me, when we was fiddling with the name The Pandemic, to me, what pandemic is, it’s like the disease that takes over a town. My next project is going to be called The Endemic, which is slightly bigger than The Pandemic and then it’s going to be followed by The Epidemic. That’s the big daddy of them all, The Epidemic. The Pandemic is going to be taking over a small town and letting that town know what we’re doing. When I linked up with Wyldfyer for that song I wrote it immediately and within 10 to 15 minutes we had the entire track. It came out very lovely and I appreciate what you think about that.
How far along are you on The Pandemic mixtape?
The Pandemic should actually be in everybody’s hands very soon. I want to say next week. It’s actually in the final stages of being mixed and mastered. It’s almost completed. We got DJ Warrior hosting that and he’s putting his finishing touches on everything. He wanted to make sure that it was great. He really respects the album. We had to reach out to our West Coast DJs first and we want to conquer everybody who hears us, man.
Back in 2001 you had an opportunity to sign with Suge Knight. Looking back on that, are you happy that you didn’t sign that deal?
First off much props to Suge Knight. He offered me my first deal in the game and I thought I was prepared for the game but looking back I can see that I wasn’t and I’m very glad and thankful that God made me pass on that opportunity because now I’ve grown musically. I’ve grown as a businessman and I’ve finally linked up with some people that have my best interests in mind and has my family’s best interests in mind and just respects me as an artist and lets me make my own decisions. So I am glad I didn’t take that but I really appreciate Suge for offering me that.
Have you stayed in touch with him throughout the years?
When I turned him down that was pretty much the end of it. We’ve seen each other in club situations but it’s all love with him.
You also worked with Shaq on his album Respect. What was that experience like?
That was beautiful, man. I have a gift of gab, man. I used to go to all the Lakers games and my boy was a ballboy for them. I used to go and I knew Shaq had a couple of previous albums before the Respect album. I used to just talk to him about how I rapped and he gave me the opportunity to go to the studio with him. I appreciate that opportunity from him because that was another notch in my belt to me becoming the man that I am today. The Respect album, in my opinion, was a great album for him. He had a lot of great producers working in it like Clark Kent. That was a very good experience for myself and I appreciate him for that too.
Was Shaq as funny in the studio as he is in his interviews?
Oh gosh! You better believe it, man. Everything you see on TV is him. He’s a big kid. That’s him.
You’ve also done some street promoting for Rocafella and Rocawear. How important has seeing all of the different sides of the game been to how you handle your career?
Everything that I’ve done has had a positive impact on who I am right now. I worked directly under Dame Dash. He took me to Vegas. I was just a street promoter doing my thing out there. I really appreciate Dame. A lot of CEO’s of labels like that, they hand out small jobs like that and don’t show any appreciation. I recall Dame Dash calling me in his office personally and shaking my hand and thanking me for the job I had done for him. I really respected that man from that day forth and I really appreciate him for that opportunity because that helped make me into the man that I am.
What is your place on the West Coast right now?
I believe that I can be put with the best that we have out here. We can start with the Cube’s and the Snoop’s and the Dre’s and ultimately The Game. I believe I can be put right in the rankings with those guys because I love and respect all of their music. I just want to be respected by them and with them. Shout out to Bishop and Crooked I because those are the new cats that are helping me. We’re going to stick together and bring this West Coast music back and bring the appreciation back out here and I do believe that with people like us we’re going to make that happen soon.