and working hard. I'm trying to keep my movement organized.
happy with how "Legacy" came out?
happy with how it came out. I think it's a good introduction for anyone
who hasn't heard about me or has only heard a couple of my songs. I think
it's definitely something to solidify my fan-base. We did a lot of new
things on this project that we never did in the past, like having live
musicians come in. We also worked on one concept throughout the whole
you learning about how to put together an album?
is definitely the key. The next time I do this, I definitely have to jot
down a checklist on what I have to do and try to knock it out one step
at a time. Unfortunately with this one, there were a lot of things that
I wasn't aware of and I ended up running up on a lot of my deadlines because
of it to prevent the album from getting pushed back. It's funny, until
you do everything yourself, you don't realize why albums continuously
get pushed back and have a lack of promotion. You may have an album dropping
in October and you see the ad saying October, then it never drops in October
and you go through your life wondering when this dude's album is going
to drop, and then it never does and you don't realize that it dropped
later on. It's kind of bugged out.
the significance of the title "Legacy" to you?
generation had a certain way of life. There was a lot more family and
community guidance. A lot of them were into doing things that entailed
safety and security. Then our parents came up in those homes and after
awhile became broken, whether through divorce or what have you. They were
trying to find success through corporation. They were getting more sophisticated
jobs that you may need a college degree for. There was a much more sturdy
foundation back then. When we came up, we had single-parent homes, independent
women, and a lot of us, although we may have had some sort of parenting,
had to find our own way and we're still trying to find our own way. Looking
at the generation behind us, I feel like they're stuck almost in limbo
because a lot of them deal with truly broken homes where they may not
even know their mothers or fathers, or their brothers may be locked down.
There's no one to provide guidance. They're looking to emulate us but
there are so many misguided directions for them that a lot of times it
just ends up coming out as reckless activity because they just don't know
what to do or what to focus on.
I feel that
our generation is responsible for finding some sort of direction and example
for that direction. No one sits down with them. I sat down with my man
the other day and we were just talking. There was always someone older
telling you how to do something or work the system. Now, kids are just
picking up whatever tools they can find and they don't know where to start,
which causes for a hectic-ass environment because you have a lot of motherfuckers
that are just wiling out. Where are the elders to sit down with shorty
and say, "This is how I did it, and this is how you can do it. You
take this, and do better than I did."? That's what a legacy is, and
I think that we lack from that.
your inspiration for "Apocalypse"?
today. When I'm sitting in front of my computer listening to beats, I
usually have the TV on and I catch glimpses here and there of what's going
on. I wouldn't see anything but terror and despair on TV, and I was like,
"What the fuck is this?" It's hard for me to focus on making
a party track when I see all of this garbage going on and no one discusses
it, or they discuss it as a gimmick to get people into their shit.
came about after the album was finished because Immortal Technique felt
that we needed one more banger. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going
to write for it, but I found a 16 I had written on my Sidekick. A lot
of thoughts that had been building up throughout the process of the album
came together and that's how "Apocalypse" came about.
Jean Grae have good chemistry on "Tropical Paradise."
like working with her. I really appreciate her style and her tenacity
in terms of making her way in this Hip Hop business. I think in a lot
of respects in the way her wordplay is, I thought it would be a good match
because I like to jumble a lot of things together as well. It was good
working with her. She told me to just throw her the beat and we would
get it popping. She came to the studio and we got it popping. I didn't
even know what we would do for the hook, but she just started singing
and I was like, "Word, let's keep that!"
happy with how your single "Politrix" did?
like how people responded to it, but as you already know, the vinyl market
is kind of dying. I would have liked to see it sell more, but I really
liked how people responded to it. I think in a different day, it would
have done a lot better, but there are just not a lot of people buying
vinyl. I got a lot of spins on radio and a lot of compliments on the beat,
which I produced. I'm proud of that.
production did you handle on "Legacy"?
A lot of
the joints on there I either produced, co-produced, or I helped with the
vision of the track. I spent a lot of time sitting with Southpaw working
on the tracks. He was a huge part in the making of "Legacy."
I would come to him with the tracks that I produced, and it would have
a nice feel to it, and he would put something over it to make it much
fuller and better.
it working with Southpaw?
working together since I started rapping. It's like clockwork. We have
our little brotherly feuds, well, not really feuds, but more like disagreements,
like all brothers do. For the majority, we're pretty much on the same
page. He's the dude that inspired me to rhyme. He knows what I'm going
for. He knows that if I have an idea in my head, then six times out of
ten, he could probably say my idea before I even say it. It's good to
have that type of working relationship. Anytime you work with somebody
for a six-month or year time period, there is definitely going to be a
sense of frustration here and there, but at the end of the day, we always
sit down and try to figure out how we can reach our common goal. I really
appreciate that. With someone that you don't know, when it gets to those
sticky areas, people either duck out on you or you end up beefing. But
when it's family, it's dope because you can always find a way to resolve
the issue, even if you have to agree to disagree. Overall, it was a great
experience and I'm happy with how the project came out.
did Immortal Technique do as executive-producer?
He was the
guiding force behind making the project come to fruition. Since Southpaw
and I own ONE Enterprises, a lot of the responsibility is on our shoulders,
but it's dope to be able to have a support structure and financial backing,
which is what Immortal Technique did. He was right there the whole time
giving his input on what he thought would be a commercially-viable product
or he was helping us get shows and publicity or he would be finding us
producers and cameos. He helped us with the tracklisting. We did damn
near thirty songs for the project and only nineteen made it. We sat down
and we thought about the ones that wouldn't be able to make it. We rearranged
the tracklisting eight times. He really made sure that the project was
a complete package. He brought "Apocalypse" to the project at
the final stages.
because he's done it before. Sometimes I would just say "fuck it,"
but he was there to add a lot of insight into the process of this shit.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like he was holding my hand the whole time,
but he was able to show me the steps and how he thought we should do it.
We would go back-and-forth on that. At the end of the day, he left the
decision to me. Usually the suggestions that he had were right because
he has done it before. I respect that.
Tech's growth and popularity helped you?
about six tours since I first met you a few years ago, and probably about
a couple hundred shows, which a lot of them I did with Tech. At first,
I thought people were going to box me in on some sidekick shit. Sometimes
they thought I was the DJ. After I was able to start gaining some accolades
on my own, people definitely started to pay attention a lot more. I was
telling my man this the other day, I have this thing called "the
buzz versus the buck." I want to make sure that each time, I am able
to gain more buzz that it brings other things to fruition. There are a
lot of cats that we saw in the past that we really thought would be the
next ones to do it. They were killing the mixtapes, DVD's, cameos, and
they were being seen at all the parties, and then two years later, you
never hear again from that person. That's frustrating. As an artist, I
never want to land in that predicament. I hope that buzz helps me get
my weight up and helps me to get a larger, more consistent fan-base.
A lot of
people don't understand that you can go out there and sell CD's all day
long, but at the end of the day, if the fan doesn't feel some sort of
attachment or bond to what you're doing, then that's not going to be a
consistent fan. Just because you meet a fly chick and bone her does not
mean that you'll be able to see her again. But if you look nice, smell
good, bring some roses, and tell her what she wants to hear, even if you
don't smash, you'll be able to see her again. At the very least, you have
right now, with all of their promotional involvement, I feel like they're
just fucking the fans. It's like a big-ass orgy. Someone new comes out,
then someone old comes out and tries to fit a current marketing scheme.
Then the CD only has two or three hot joints on it, so all the fans want
to do is download shit because they don't trust it anymore. I want to
be able to romance the fans and make them understand that this movement
is not a fucking gimmick. I want them to understand this so that they
can create their own movement. I want this album to be an encouraging
effort not only for me to succeed in life, but also to show everyone that
I can give you thought and dialogue to help you reach your own goals.
ever a drawback to being socially conscious in your raps?
My main goal
right now is for people not to box me in. A lot of the artists that were
really going to do it and take it there ended up getting boxed in. It's
human nature for people to do that. In the music industry, they're always
figuring out what demographic they can fit it in to. That, combined with
the mass audience, who is so used to being directed or pushed to something
through marketing, means that we have a climate where in order to not
be boxed in, you have to either box yourself in and get a consistent fan-base
so they don't get pissed off if you want to do something different, or
you have to show diversity.
A lot of
my music does have a lot of content, but I don't feel that that has to
box me in to being a "conscious" rapper or a "political"
rapper. I just want to show you the different aspects of my mind. I know
some OG niggas that I'm sure have shot a couple of people in their life.
But if I ever fall on hard times, I know they'll hold me down not on gangster
shit but on some love shit. They're the same people that would help an
old lady cross the street and kiss their moms. They'll still make sure
their daughter does their schoolwork, and that night they might go out
to the strip club. People look at artists and try to come up with an idea
of who that person is based on their music and box them into that. At
the same time, the fan that's boxing the people in, they have their own
spectrum of personality and ideas.
a lot of people who are Hip Hop fans will listen to an artist for the
first time. That artist might be talking about some gangster shit. That
person could be from the hood or what have you, and a lot of their elements
might be about their gangster surroundings. Then when they want to do
a party track on their next album, people turn their back to it. Gangsters
like to party too. I want to be able to provide a climate where people
can see me as a person and see enough diversity on the album where they
won't try to box me in. whenever I pick up a mic, I try to say something
with intelligence so people know that I haven't left. The fans, at this
point, have chosen me to have a platform to say what I want to say on
it. Everybody who's come before me and is responsible for making me who
I am today would only respect me if I use that platform as a positive
force, and that's what I plan to do. Don't get me wrong, hopefully one
day I'll have some party joints. Hopefully one day I'll have some grimy
joints. But from where I'm at right now, I'm just trying to make sure
that as a people, we have a better life and that I'm instilling positivity
in the youth and creating dialogue between people who might not necessarily
talk about certain issues. I definitely do not want to be boxed in as
a conscious or political rapper, but I do always want to be able to create
some sort of message.
asked Hasan Salaam this same question, but I'm curious to see how you
respond. How do you feel about BET not airing Coretta Scott King's funeral?
Wow. At this
point and time, I don't even have cable. It distracts me a little too
much, so I wasn't even aware of that. I feel like they should have definitely
aired the funeral or at least went back-and-forth between their programming
and the funeral to let people know what's going on in society and to honor
a woman who is very important to our history. At the same time, no one
should be surprised because as soon as Bob Johnson opened it up to Viacom,
they should have known that it would be used as a vessel for whatever
they wanted. The founders of BET had really good intentions, and there
is nothing wrong with doing business deals, but it's wrong when it becomes
a conflict of interest. You really have to think about it.
your goals with "Legacy"?
I want to
be able to solidify a fan-base world-wide. This album is more than trying
to hustle CD's in the area. Now that I have a vessel to reach out to places
where I can't be at, it's very special to me. I definitely want to solidify
a world-wide fan-base. I also hope that people identify with my music
and personality instead of hearing just a little of it and trying to compare
me to someone. I hope that people are able to find my identity in my music
and that they give me a chance to show what I can do and that I'm not
here to replace anybody in the rap game. I want to create an environment
where I can continue to put out music. I also want to tour like a motherfucker
and help other artists to succeed and bring their music to the forefront.
next for you?
I'm going to be touring my ass off. I'm basically trying to reach as many
people as possible and introduce them to Akir and ONE Enterprises. I've
already started, but I want to get more into my next project later on
in the year. My primary project right now is to promote this record, but
I'll be thinking of concepts and writing this whole time. Now that I'm
in here, I don't want to wait too long to start preparing this next project.
you want to say to everyone?
hope y'all enjoy the album. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into
it. It will hopefully be something that will help to change the climate
of what Hip Hop is today. With your support, I can continue to put out
music with positive messages and with a real reflection of what's going
on in today's society. I'm not here to be a spokesperson for all of the
world's injustices, but I definitely want to provoke thought and conversation
to y'all so that you can go out and make a difference. I'm just a messenger.
Hopefully my little pieces of music will help to inspire that.
information, check out oneenterprises.com