You just released “Black President” featuring Skyzoo and Wyldfyer’s production. What do you think of the response to the song so far?
The response is brand fresh and new. I haven’t even gotten to check it yet. I just knew it was a hot record and I wanted to throw it out there and get it to y’all first. Wyldfyer also did “Black Republican” and I figured I would get another hot MC on it. It’s really just talking about what you would do if you were to get in that position or if you had something serious to say and the powers that be are trying to stop you from obtaining it. It’s about reaching that point that people thought would never occur, having a Black president. It’s possible right now in 2008. The song is talking in a political sense and also about MCs being able to say what they want on records. I’m happy people dig it.
What do you think of the presidential race so far?
I think it’s great that we’re even at a place where we can have a female candidate and an African-American candidate can even be considered. I think Barack represents a lot of change, man. This whole CD I’m doing, I’m not really that political, but I feel that I represent a good percentage of my community of people who are not political but pay attention when something big goes down and takes their head out of the sand when something happens that affects them. I could never debate politics and policies and social issues, but if you put a microphone in my face, I can talk about what I hear around me. I can talk about what affects me. I’m selfish.
In the song, you say, “I rap like a savage but I can’t get sales.” How frustrating is it when you have a dope pen game and you don’t see the money for those rhymes?
It’s part of the struggle. I can’t be mad at it because I decided that I’m going to get some money for this rap thing. I decided that I was going to pay my dues and not charge anybody for my records, but this year I’ve decided to eat off the game because I’ve put so much work in. It gets frustrating at times because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve been doing it for eight years and that’s all I’ve been doing. At the same time, I’m motivated by the love and the people that reach out to me and tell me that it changed their life and that my music changed their life. To me, that keeps me going. It could all change overnight with one record and if you’re in a position where you’re getting money real quick and the fame comes, then you really gotta remain grounded and remember the days when you were frustrated about it. It gives you that balance and it makes you remember when the other days existed. You can go through so much and if you don’t have the knowledge of the other side, like when I had a deal, it prepares you for the future.
I do get upset that I drop so many damn mixtapes and all my punchlines are wasted on freestyles and other people’s beats and stuff like that, but it’s still therapeutic for me. I still have to look at it like I could be doing something else that I probably wouldn’t love.
Has it ever been hard to stay focused?
It has been tough to stay focused at times because if your pockets don’t reflect your work ethic, you start to think about just getting bread and living a regular life. I sacrificed a lot. I don’t have no kids and I don’t have no family. I haven’t done the normal things that I would be doing at my old age. (laughs) But I think I’m redirecting my focus this year. Dropping a CD every month has changed my outlook on things. Now it feels like I have a song and I have a duty. People give me a concept and I’m running to the studio to put these things together and I have a totally new focus and now I have people talking about putting out Thee Emotion Picture album and getting major distribution and that’s like a dream come true for me. Every time that I’m starting to lose focus, something happens. I get an email from somebody telling me that I changed their life or I get a call from someone saying that they want to work with me and do something. It just keeps me going. And when I record new music, it’s like a burst. I’m getting an adrenaline rush, being able to say something on records. I can’t stop, man. I can’t.
In “Black President” you also talk about how radio is killing your self-esteem because you can’t get any play. Do you even shoot for the radio anymore?
Nah. You lose focus in the booth. When I’m recording, I can’t lose focus of what I’m doing by thinking of what radio is doing. I was talking with my man about how I want to change the format of radio where they play a hot record and it doesn’t have to sound a certain way. People tell me they like a record but it doesn’t sound “radio”. What the hell sounds like “radio”? I don’t want to be this old stick in the mud that says we have to go backwards, but I think there was time when we weren’t formatted to do radio songs and I think that was when the music was better. People say that hip-hop[ is dead and they complain about the music that is out there, but I think that’s because we’re getting the same thing over and over and they’re afraid to put new artists on because they feel like if they put new artists on, the people are going to change the station and you’re not going to listen to the commercials. It’s all about the money. If they put a Stimuli record on, they might not listen like they would to a Fat Joe or Lil’ Wayne song. I’m not making songs for the radio or standing outside of Hot 97. I might make a song and send it to a DJ to see the response, but it’s all about the bread. If you don’t have an album out in stores and if you don’t have anything commercial, they won’t play you. I can be patient enough to say that I have radio records and I have songs that can reach the masses, but it’ll come in time when it makes sense.
You also mention in “Black President” that you took the slow route. Could you have done it any other way and still been able to look yourself in the mirror?
I think so, but I don’t think it was meant to go that way. When I had the records that still exist, there were radio records and they were still me, but the timing was off for it. If you take a hot record with a label push, it changes everything. But for me, I think it was meant for me to go back and gather a fanbase and let the people really understand who I am and have that big record come at a better time, when people know who I am. And granted, I had to learn the game. I had to learn the industry a lot better because I could see myself, if something would have broken earlier and I would have been in a position where I had a hit record out, I don’t think I would have been able to handle it and I don’t think my team would have been able to handle it. I say I took the slow route because I had to learn the game. There was a whole bunch of us that got signed and they were waiting for the albums to come out. You remember that time. It was about who was going to blow. It was an exciting time for hip-hop. It was all about who was going to blow and I don’t think anybody came out! It was me, Saigon and Grafh and we all got deals and ain’t nothing happen. I think for me, I had to really learn the game, man, and I think when it happens, it’s going to be a beautiful thing because I have so many people to thank just for keeping me alive. A lot of people would have quit and a lot of people would have hung it up.
It doesn’t sound like you’re tired of the game yet.
Nah. The business part, if you focus on trying to get a deal and trying to get hot and trying to get a buzz, that stuff will have you going crazy. But for me, I’m still focusing on the music because, you gotta think about it at the end of the day, there are people sitting in their cribs and sitting in their cars who want to hear good shit. At the end of the day, they don’t care about buzz and getting shot and who you have beef with. Yeah, they care about popularity, but that’s not going to help me out. I’m not beefing with anybody. There’s days I’m tired, but I go through it. But people have really been responding and the music has just been coming out and I’m shocking a lot of people with these CDs. They don’t even think that I have this much music or that it’s possible. It doesn’t even make any sense. I drop a mixtape and then I drop a new one. The current one is dedicated to the ladies. I’m just going with it.
What made you want to drop 12 mixtapes in 12 months?
I don’t know. I was just thinking, ‘Why not?’ I have so many records that have never come out. I have all of these records that have different genres and different moods and I gave them to DJ Victorious because I wanted him to help me put out a mixtape. We were going to do one mixtape and when he heard the songs, he started making his own tapes with them and I was like, ‘You know what? All these people are talking about how they’re grinding and grinding.’ Wayne talks about how he does two songs a day and I saw how Crooked I was giving y’all a verse every week.
I was just thinking that I had a work ethic where I felt I could put out enough material and it could challenge me to do something big. It could be a CD with a concept or without a concept. Why not? I just thought that with the climate of the music, a mixtape itself is not even what it was. People aren’t even excited about mixtapes anymore. So I wanted to go left field and when you get the CD, you know what you’re getting. If you don’t want to hear stuff about The Wire or the ‘hood or songs about relationships, then you won’t download that particular CD. If you don’t want to hear about politics, then don’t download March on Washington. But if you do, download it. And it gives me a goal and it gives me something to do. I’m working on the April mixtape now.
How do you bring fresh material each time without running out of ideas or concepts?
I really don’t know. I don’t know how it happens. When I was done with the Love Jones joint, I had maybe two records for the March on Washington tape. I didn’t have a bunch of beats because a lot of producers don’t want you to use their beats for mixtapes. I recorded six joints in one day and did some more another day. I don’t even know how it happens. The artwork isn’t even done, but I have so much faith in my team that we’ll have it out by March 25. (laughs) I don’t even know how it happens. I challenge myself and I do it. Some songs I had before and some songs spark a whole CD. “The N-Word Song” sparked this whole CD because I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think I could come up with enough things to say about politics and social issues, but apparently I do.
Your album Thee Emotion Picture has been long-awaited. Are we going to see that in 2008?
I really hope so. A couple of labels have talked to me about it and they want to invest in it and put it out there. What I’m doing now is a warm-up. That stuff for Thee Emotion Picture is more emotional. It’s me and it’s one story from the beginning to the end. I would love to drop it in 2008, but understanding how this game works, you don’t wanna put something out there in the fourth quarter with all the heavyweights and you don’t want to put it out in the third quarter without a proper single and without enough buzz for the people to want to go out and pick it up. I think if it does drop this year, it will be a great blessing. I won’t be mad. The last time I spoke to you, I was still trying to knock on the Virgin/EMI door, but that door is finally closed. I had to make sure that that was officially a done deal. But we’re talking to some people and the music is still there. I probably have about six songs that I’m going to keep and then we’ll do a lot of other stuff. But it’s going to be totally different from what you’re going to hear. These are fully produced records. What I’m dropping now are just good records.
Would you go the independent route for Thee Emotion Picture?
If it comes to me. I would rather go the independent route for The Cinderella Man, the EP I’m doing with J. Cardim. I’m not approaching everything the way I did in the beginning. When I started, it was all about me and it was all about me living this rap dream. Now I feel that there are people out there that need music and need a voice and salvation, whatever they use it for. I feel like I’m one of those people that can help out with that. If the independent route is the route I have to go, I’m not opposed to it. I’m still the egotistical bastard that wants to rule the world, so the more people I can reach, the better, but I’m not opposed to dropping anything independently. You have to get your fanbase and at this point, mine’s is scattered about and they can’t find my music and they think I should be much further than I am at this point. I hear a lot of stuff, man, but trust me, I’m continuing working. A lot of people that are going through what I went through would have thrown in the towel. I hear people ask me all the time how the hell I’m still doing what I’m doing.
Will the music that you did with Just Blaze ever see the light of day?
Yeah. That’s actually on Thee Emotion Picture. I have to holler at him because we never mixed anything. I hope so. Yeah. It should. It should reach the masses. I performed those records a couple of times. I think it will. I definitely think it will.
How’s The Cinderella Man EP coming?
It’s coming good. We’re supposed to work on it more this week. I’m not going to lie, working on these albums is a little crazy. My mind has to be in one spot for me to give it my full energy. That’s why I left Thee Emotion Picture records alone and I stepped back from The Cinderella Man project. Now I just want to get the features and package it up and have it ready for somebody to put it out independently and use it to just get my name out there. Being that it’s one producer doing everything, it’s a uniform sound and it’s hard. I’m saying a lot of true stuff. I think people are going to dig it. I think people are really going to like that.
It seems like everyone in New York is beefing with each other right now. You’ve always made some very arrogant statements in your records, but you’ve never been in a beef. Why do you think that is?
I think I’m generally a good dude. I’m cocky and I talk shit on records, but everybody who meets me knows I’m cool as hell. I give people my email and my number and I do records with anybody. I don’t have problems with anybody. If people don’t like my music, that’s all right with me. I don’t have to go on records and diss anybody. Maybe 10 years ago and maybe even sooner than that, I think it was legit. Even if they didn’t like each other musically, they got on records and they said what they said. Nowadays it’s different, man. If I have a problem with a rapper, I can say something and then when I go to the club, I have to worry about him punching me and his cameraman putting it on YouTube and ending my career. That’s ridiculous to me. If it’s a street thing, we can definitely handle it.
Any issues that I’ve ever had have never related to the music. It’s like going to work everyday. You don’t beef with people that you have to see every day and I don’t try to get exposure off of that. People are still doing it now and I think it’s working, but I’m not going to do that.
You’re also working on a movie. What can you tell us about that?
It's called "Gotta Get Mine" and it stars myself, Pain in Da Ass and Rock from Heltah Skeltah. It's about some kids in the ‘hood trying to make it out and my character comes up with a plan to rob some drug dealers that they all know. It's my first lead role and I'm learning a lot on the set about the movie business. It's definitely a passion of mine that I want to take to the next level.
What’s the next move for Stimuli?
Right now I’m really just focusing on dropping these CDs every month and coming along with visuals for every single one. I’ve been slow on the visuals because I’m shooting stuff but I’m not getting to edit it. I also want to do a video blog for y’all so everybody can see what I’m doing right now. Every month it’s a lot of work. The music is done and I think people are really going to enjoy this CD, man, if you like rap. If you like rap and if it inspires you and if you live life and if you go through things, I try to touch on everything around that and I don’t know if a lot of MCs are trying to do that. That’s been my focus. We’re rappers but we’re also human and we go through that. I don’t even read the comments either. I don’t need something depressing my day.
My next mixtape is called The Secret and I can’t tell anybody what it’s about. And outside of doing the CDs, every month I’ve been in talks with a couple of labels about doing a digital EP and putting out Thee Emotion Picture. So instead of me sitting around and waiting on their every word, I’m putting out music and that’s my release. In the meantime, I’m doing shows and if anybody needs me for a feature, y’all know you can holler at me. I’m working on a lot of new things, man. The CDs every month have taken over. That and me shooting these videos. That has taken over my life and I’m not mad about that at all.