You’ve been talking about The Money Shot for a very long time now. Now it’s finally out.
Yeah. The Money Shot was actually a concept album even before I ever had a record out. I’ve had that concept since I pretty much started recording solo music. The original concept I had was a lot more raunchy and a lot more dirty. I figured I would take a little bit more of a higher road with this. I figured I’d just keep it cleaner but have the fun concept there. I’ve been running with that concept since I was selling CDRs at Rocksteady anniversaries. I was selling Money Shot t-shirts in 2002 even though none of the songs on this album existed, but the concept was around for that long. It feels good to kind of get that out of the way but it feels weird because I’ve been talking about The Money Shot for so long and it’s finally out. Now I can finally move on to the next one.
Why didn’t you go the 2 Live Crew route with The Money Shot? Why’d you clean it up?
People on my side of hip-hop associate me with a certain group of MCs and they think I grew up with a fucking backpack attached to my spine and shit or they think all we care about is lyricism. I mean, I have fun too. I grew up off of 2 Live Crew and 69 Boyz. I listened to everything but people want to stick with one thing, which is kind of foolish. I wasn’t sitting there trying to make this a lyrical mastermind record but I figured I would keep it a little more basic than the original album was going to be.
Shout out to Akir, four doors down from me in this hotel. I just figured I would keep it basic because I’ve been affiliated with a certain group of MCs and rappers and heaven forbid, I do some shit for women or have some fun and make a bugged out record like “Work that Pole.” It’s obvious that song was a joke but some people take it seriously. When you’re on a certain side of hip-hop, you’re not allowed to have a sense of humor or like women.
Hip-hop, from day one, was on some fun shit. It was kind of fun and people were at parties wilding out. Later on, for whatever reason, everyone became so holier than thou. There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in lyricism and preserving the culture, because I do, but this shit was about having fun. It was also an alternative to violence in the 70s and 80s. Even though niggas might not have been the most authentic, like The Sugarhill Gang, they were having fun. It started off in the park, just having fun and dancing under the streetlights.
The whole purpose for this shit, besides trying to feed my family, is to have fun. If I could drop a jewel, that’s cool too because I’m capable of doing all that shit. When I touch on serious topics, people act like it can’t be done. I could do whatever side of hip-hop but at the end of the day, I’m here to have fun and that’s what I was trying to do with this album, just have fun.
Why do you think there’s a group of critics out there who don’t understand your humor?
You want me to keep it 100? I’ll keep it 100, man. This isn’t no gangsta shit because I’m not a gangsta. I tell people that all the time. The Poison Pen persona is me. It’s not an act and it’s not fake. It’s enhanced. It’s an enhanced side of a certain aspect of my life. It’s really real. There’s nothing to think about and it’s really true what I spit about. I’m known to drink but do you think I walk around with a bottle in my hand and grabbing ass? Come on. Nah. Maybe at 4 am (laughs), but I don’t walk around doing that shit all day. But honestly, I don’t think people get the sense of humor because on some real shit, I’ll probably fuck them up because I’m not a sucker. The fact is, I get busy and on some real shit, I can be real intimidating. I’m 6 feet tall and 315 pounds so when somebody says something, they’re like, ‘Oh, this big motherfucker’s upset.’
But come on. I said, “I’ll beat the shit out you, feed you pheromones and beat the bitch out you.” That’s humorous, dog. “Work the Pole,” that’s a fucking joke. I set the last album out with a joke to let you know the tone of the album and for whatever reason, people just think that I’m just a super-duper tough out-for-anybody guy. I ain’t no sucka, but come on, it’s whatever. This is entertainment and for whatever reason, when I say certain things, they don’t get it. Come on, man. I’m having fun. Really. For whatever reason, people don’t understand the humor.
I had a conversation with Torae the other day and I did a video for “Facebreaker” with Swave Sevah and this is an enhanced part of my life, an enhanced characteristic, but it’s the real aspect at the same time it’s entertainment. So when I’m talking about how I’ll break your face, there’s a part of me that can do that but I’m just bugging out. It’s rowdy fun. It’s rowdy fucking fun. I did the video at a wrestling event because people know I fuck with the wrestling shit. I did it out in Jersey and what I did was I did the shit in the ring and I got Butterbean and all the independent dudes like Sabu, Urban Legends and Balls Mahoney. A lot of the classic wrestlers that were out there, I got them in the video just to prove that it’s just like entertainment, I think particularly to show the direct correlation between rap and wrestling.
The song is tough and I wasn’t going hood and looking for pit bulls and motherfuckers in the projects looking real upset. The reason is I’m not out there trying to fucking intimidate people but I did it at a wrestling event because wrestling is obviously entertainment. I’m not going to say it’s fake but it’s not like people are really out there to kill each other. I wanted to do a video at a wrestling event to show the correlation, like it might just be entertainment but the real risks are there. That’s why I did it at a wrestling event. We’re bugging but you could still get hurt though. That’s what I was trying to prove.
That’s why I did it at a wrestling event. It showed me having fun and bugging out, but if the average motherfucker steps to a wrestler and tries to fight them and be disrespectful, chances are you would get fucked up no matter how fake you think wrestling is. You step to Triple H or Kurt Angle or Batista and say, “Fuck you,” what do you think is going to happen to you? That’s why I did the video there. We’re showing that we’re bugging and it’s funny, but there are boundaries.
And this shit is entertainment, man. I love this shit and it’s my life, but this shit is entertainment. Maybe I should get a comedy coach. People who read my journals know I have a sense of humor. I’m not running around all tough. I do have a sense of humor and I thought that it showed in the music but for whatever reason people take it all serious. I think that’s why people discredit what I do and they think I try to walk around like a super-tough guy. I’m probably the most humble dude in this rap shit to have any little bit of a name. I got a rep. I’m under the radar but people know me. I’m probably one of the most humble motherfuckers. I go to the bar and pop drinks with niggas. I’m not trying to have no trouble. I’m just trying to have fun.
That was a long explanation.
I gotta get some orange juice but I don’t feel like going to get it. That’s what’s up. You’re calling too early.
How am I waking you up?
It’s 9 o’clock. I’m on the west coast.
You should have already had a good breakfast, maybe a quick jog and be all good for the day.
Work out? I stopped working out a long time ago.
You call yourself fat a million times on the record, but you also said on “BK’s Fatboy” that you were “Fat boy from BK, but I’m working out.”
Honestly, man, I was going hard in the gym for a few months but I had to put some extra work in for the album and I kind of had to re-concentrate on working on this record. But now I’m jumping right back into it. I already started recording a new album and shit. I already started recording “The Glass Ceiling.” I had to walk outside and shit. I have to get me some juice.
Stay hydrated. Now what happens if someone walks up to you and calls you fat? Is that standard fare or do you take offense?
It depends on what the intent is. If you don’t know me and approach me like that, it’s whatever. If you don’t know me, don’t approach me like that. I got here too late. There’s no juice. I have to get me something to drink. Yeah, if you don’t know me, it’s like you can’t just walk up to me and say, “Fat motherfucker.” It don’t work like that, man. (Laughs) Should I get cranberry? I’m going to get a cranberry juice. This looks good.
Hold on a second. (Talks to waitress) Am I too late for the juice? The juice? (Back to interview) I got a juice. If you don’t know me like that, watch your mouth. It’s irritating but you still gotta deal with certain people in certain ways. If I’m in the club and getting ready to perform and people call me “BK’s Fatboy,” that’s cool. If I’m walking down the street don’t come out of your face. It’s all in how you do it. I’m a grown man and I’m not with someone trying to disrespect me.
I’m a good judge of character for the most part. It depends on how you go about your day. But listen to my music. Do I sound like someone who takes themselves too serious? People take themselves too serious and that’s why music is not as fun as it should be. Everybody’s Superman, Superthug, they get all the women on the planet and they got all this money and everyone’s so focused on doing this false male bravado that no one is focused on the fun side of it. People just take it way too seriously. I take my art very seriously but I don’t take myself so seriously where a motherfucker can’t laugh and I can’t show a chink in my armor. A lot of these rappers think they’re God’s gift to the earth and that’s just not true.
On “What’s Hood,” you talk about using your oven for drying clothes, heating your apartment and cooking food. You can’t use it for anything else?
(Laughs) All that shit I said, all that shit is true! I used the oven for all of that shit. I grew up in the crib with no heat at times. We had no heat so we had to heat up the oven and let that heat up the crib. You could do lots with the oven! That shit is crazy, man.
How do you heat up your clothes without burning them?
You gotta watch it very carefully. You gotta watch it very carefully. In my old building there was no laundry and living in the hood, you had to walk around the corner because we weren’t allowed to have machines. If you were a broke and couldn’t afford to wash your clothes, you’re going to run your stains out, wash it, ring it out, let that shit hang. If you had to wear it the next day, you would hang it out. If you had to wear it the same day you washed it, you would put that shit in the oven and try not to let it get too crispy.
One thing about that song, that’s one of the most straight up, authentic songs about what it is. I think sometimes people just add on to the real point they’re trying to convey across, but that song was pretty much one of the most 100 joints that I wrote. Everything was the way I said it was even though I try to do that anyway, but this song was exactly how I lived. The whole purpose of that song, think about it. How could someone who makes that take themselves that seriously? Did you hear that song?
I already know people are going to associate me with Immortal Technique and think I’m going to be on some strictly revolutionary shit or that I’m like C Rayz Walz or MF Doom because I rhymed with them. People have to appreciate this record because nobody does what I do. I’m not saying I’m the best or the worst, but nobody does what I do. For whatever reason, man, you gotta meet me halfway. But that record, “What’s Hood,” was an accurate account of growing up.
People say they’re hood but there’s mad people from the hood. Just because you’re hood, that doesn’t mean you’re a threat. That just means you’re broke. There’s not a direct correlation. You’re not tough because you’re from there. You might have tougher skin and you might have better survival aspects than somebody who grew up without those issues, but that doesn’t mean that you’re gangsta. That means that your parents didn’t have no bread. People weren’t in there because they had a choice. Think about it. All these rappers say they got bread but where do they live? They’re in the hood because they’re broke. I grew up in NYC in the 1980’s and 90’s. The Mayor Koch, Giuliani, David Dinkins era. The crack era. You think we did it by choice?
When I got money, I went to a better block than I was on before. All I did was turn a corner. I still live in the hood and I still rep the hood but what I’m trying to get across is what’s hood. I’m going to show you what hood is. Hood is being on Medicaid and not being able to afford the hospital bills and Jehovah’s Witnesses banging on the door and trying to give you pamphlets. Pancakes with flour and water made on the hotplate. Sugar water. It doesn’t make you gangsta being in the hood. There’s grandmothers and churches in the hood. Being in the hood doesn’t make you a gangsta.
You have “The 2nd Amendment,” a song about gun control, which is one of the more misunderstood amendments in the Constitution…
Right. I actually touched on that. I said, “Obama, congratulations on your win/Don’t take away my right, to hold my llama/I’m a citizen, like that dude in the militia/No felonies, unlike that dude in that militia.” There’s a lot of fanatics and shit that are insane and want to run around with guns and a lot of these militias, they’re a bunch of fanatics that don’t like “them towel heads” or “wetbacks” or “them niggers” so they’re in the fucking mountains gearing up in their bunker, kind of waiting for the next Civil War against whoever they have an issue with. So I actually touched on that. The amendment is so vast that I could do a whole album on that subject. I had to touch on all those aspects. Immortal Technique also said, “I keep a burner stashed, loaded up with hollow tips/’Cause politics can turn your city into the Gaza Strip.”
I also shouted out Condoleezza’s father because he formed a little union back in the day and they rebelled against the klan because they were coming in and trying to attack the people in the Alabama, I believe. When it comes to instances like that, a responsible person should be able to have a weapon. At the same time, everybody doesn’t need to have guns. I’m not nobody’s judge or anything, but I can’t get a gun in New York City. I can’t go to Wal-Mart and get a gun like I live in a confederate state. I can’t do that in New York.
Granted, I don’t think everybody should have guns. We touched on a lot of things in that song but it’s only four minutes long. We could do a whole album based on gun control. I was touched on being an oppressed people and needed to defend. My whole verse is on the government not acting right and if the police aren’t acting right. The police are part of the city’s government. You know, with my “gray piece, I’m Haiti in the 1790’s.” That’s when their revolution happened. If the government’s not acting right, we should be able to get what we need, not just get guns whenever we want to go kill everybody.
After hearing a lot of your drunk stories, I think I’d be afraid of you carrying around a loaded firearm. You brought Silkk Tha Shocker out on “Shut Up.” If anybody could bring him back, I think it’d be you.
People should appreciate what I do! I do what none of these motherfuckers can do with a straight fucking face. People should give me credit. I do what I want to do in my own fucking way. Every record I made, if you listen to this album, none of these collabos sound forced. I didn’t just get people to do a verse for me. All of these records that I did are real fucking joints. I sound just as at home with Silkk Tha Shocker as I did with M.O.P and Immortal Technique. We could do whatever.
Silkk, honestly, when I was doing the record, I wanted to do something that nobody expects. That was my angle when I did that shit. I was really trying to fuck with people’s heads on that shit. And my management had a relationship with his management. I didn’t know him before we did the record but he was actually mad cool. What happened was Silkk did his research on me and he checked me out and saw that I was working hard and coming up. He wanted to do a record and honestly, a lot of people may feel a certain way about it but when I was in school, my record collection was so fucking thick. I would have mixtapes that would have Company Flow and then Mystikal on it and then have The Juggaknots and fucking Ice Cube all on the same fucking shit. My hip-hop taste is mad fucking diverse. That’s why I don’t like it when people sit there and put me in a bucket. I could quote No Limit songs word-for-word, verbatim.
When we completed the track, it threw me for a loop. Regardless of what people think about him, I realize that it’s similar with me. For whatever reason, people either love me or hate me and people feel the same way, that he’s either crazy or garbage. I told him we should really do something together and the fact that he was mad humble, I mean, this dude is platinum and every record he’s been on has sold at least gold and he’s got a good Soundscan history and he wants to work with a dude that has hardly any Soundscan history.
He didn’t have to be humble towards me. As a man he was humble even though he was part of an empire. I appreciated that aspect of it and we just decided to do the fucking record and I think that came out pretty hot. His verse knocks and he says at the beginning of his verse that he didn’t do it for the money, he did it for the hood. He held me down on some real fucking G shit. He doesn’t need a fucking check. He did that on the strength and to have some fun. He’s coming back out and wanted to make that fun. And the fact that he did one of his comeback verses on one of my songs, that’s even better for me. And I get to expand my fanbase. If I do a record with M.O.P, it’s obvious that I want his fans to check my record. It’s the same with Silkk. So that’s how that shit came about and I appreciate him and I hope he’s doing good.
We were in L.A. the other day and I was trying to bring Silkk out to do the song and surprise the crowd and do the song with Silkk at the House of Blues, but unfortunately his brother got sentenced. I think son got life without parole so I left him alone. I know he’s going through his family thing so I didn’t even bother to hit him up because that’s the same day C-Murder got sentenced. That would have been wack on the same day his brother pretty much got his life thrown away. But shout out to Silkk Tha Shocker.
How many people do you think you surprised with The Money Shot?
I really don’t know. I never really thought about it. I just tried to have fun with it and make it a fun record. I don’t know who I caught off-guard. People who know me shouldn’t have been caught off-guard. I just came back from L.A. and all the people out there, they expressed how they felt and how they enjoyed it. The people that really fuck with Pen, they should get it. The people who don’t like it, they’re not going to come up to me and tell me about it.
Was the promotion and publicity handled right for The Money Shot?
Nope. Not at all. Nah. Gold Dust Media sucks, man. I thought when we went to do this that things were going to go another way but you know, they stayed true to form and at the end of the day, I got paid but it’s not all about just making money. Obviously making money is a big part of it because I’m an adult and I gotta pay rent but they didn’t handle it at all. The promo was shitty. I executive produce my own records anyway so with that being said, I take responsibility. But when people say they’re going to help you and then at the same time they’re tying your hands behind your back and they cut off your resources, it’s like what the fuck do you do? You go into survival mode.
That’s what I’m in now. You see all this viral shit that’s been popping up in the last couple of months? I didn’t have an internet presence like that before except for your site. That let people know that the album was coming. If it wasn’t for that, the album probably would have just sat there. I’m happy that the record is out and I have distribution but nah, these dudes, it wasn’t worth it. The bread that I made, I really could have just put the record out myself because I actually had another deal on the table but they weren’t offering me as much bread for the marketing. If these dudes had a marketing budget, where did it go? I’m not happy with it at all.
Gold Dust Media needs to step their game up times ten. They’re really not doing much for us but luckily I’m not signed to them. I just licensed the record to them. I agreed to do two records with them because I thought it would be a better situation but I’m going to continue to put out records because I’m blessed that I’m actually getting paid. A lot of people put records out. Most indie dudes dont get paid. At the same time you want to make it right. Why are you going to make the effort to partner up with somebody if you’re not going to make it work? What the fuck? You should have never even spoke to me to begin with and you should have left me alone from the jump. So with that being said, I got another record that I’m finishing quick.
How’s that coming?
I’m trying to finish it. The thing is, I’m touring. I got two more tours coming up so I’m going to do it in between the tours and shit. I already have about seven or eight songs for the new shit. I’m trying to get the new one out. The only thing that can hold this shit up is the road but we sell more records on the road. I’m just trying to stay on the road and build up my discography so I have more on my resume. We’re just completed The Recession Tour. It’s me, Diabolic and Immortal Technique. Diabolic has an album coming out so we’re going on the road for my album and his album. And then I’m going on the road. This one is not with Immortal Technique. It’s actually with CunninLynguists. We have to solidify that. As long as I’m on the road it’s good. I’m on the road now. We’re in California. We rolled out with Chino XL. He’s part of the Rebel Armz family. We rolled out with Chino and we had a lot of fun. We’re just having fun. That’s the only reason that people are going to support me. We really enjoy and live this.