I’ve been good. I’ve been real good.
Where have you been the past couple of years?
I’ve been being a mother. That’s basically it, along with recording. I’ve been recording in between time. I just bought a brand new house. That’s basically it. Now I’m wrapping up my album.
Has the time away from the spotlight been good for you?
Oh yeah. It’s been excellent. I’m not really one for the spotlight all the time.
What’s going on with your album?
The album will consist of songs that I’ve been doing throughout the years. The majority of the songs are new songs, but it’s going to be an Amil Az Iz album.
What are you doing differently now from your days at Rocafella?
The lyrical content will be pretty much the same. This album is very personal. I will be talking about the issues I’ve dealt with over the years, and that has nothing to do with Rocafella. It’s more talking about issues that a lot of women go through on a daily basis.
Are you making the best music of your career right now?
Definitely. I think the things you go through when you go through a little bit more than the average person gives you the incentive to write better. This is definitely going to be my best album when compared to my last one.
Who are you working with on your album?
I’m wrapping it up now, so whatever features come on board, that will be a complete last-minute addition. Baby Paul has handled the majority of the production. I’m signed to his label, Divine Order. Baby Paul is an excellent, excellent producer. Whoever wants to jump on board and if I’m feeling the tracks, it’s all good, but right now, Baby Paul is holding that down.
How will the album be coming out?
We already have a deal for it. I know that majors are more of a headache and dealing with indies is a better situation for myself, especially for the way I plan to go about this project as far as control and all that. I’m fine with that.
Can you or any other women go platinum in the game today?
I really wish that we could, but I just don’t see it. It’s hard for a man to go platinum. I don’t see it. I’m not saying that it can’t happen, because you do have your female artists that have gone platinum. I don’t know. It’s just really, really hard. I don’t think they take the woman rapper as seriously as they do the male rapper. It’s like what a woman says goes in one ear and out the other. You don’t even necessarily have to rap these days. I don’t know. It doesn’t really make too much sense. If a female rapper goes platinum, that’s a beautiful thing. But right now, in 2006 and going into 2007, I see it very hard for a female rapper to go platinum.
In “Don’t Worry,” you have a line talking about how you hate the game. What’s keeping you in the game?
I hate the politics. I hate the industry. I don’t hate rap. Right now, it’s still something that I do. It’s something that I’ve always done. It’s something that has always been in me. Until I put the pen down and say, “That’s it,” I don’t know when I will stop writing. I’m a writer, whether it’s rap or books. It’s not that I hate rap. I have matured a lot, so the rap content nowadays, I can’t really tolerate a lot of it. Me as a writer, I don’t hate rap, but I hate the rap game.
You also said on “Don’t Worry” that you’re not trying to be No. 1 in the game. What are your goals in music?
Just to put good music out there. In history, regardless of what amount of records I sell, people can relate to the songs and say, “That was a good album.” It’s not about being No. 1 or taking over or trying to degrade another artist to put myself on top to gain attention. That’s not a route I would ever take. It’s just about putting out good music. Once your album is out, that’s history. People will always find a way to hear a good song.
How much of an inspiration was 2Pac’s “Brenda’s Got A Baby” to your song “Tears of a Teenage Mother”?
It was a lot. A lot of 2Pac’s songs, like “Dear Mama” and “Keep Ya Head Up,” along with “Brenda’s Got A Baby,” were inspirations for “Tears of a Teenage Mother.” With that song, I wanted to inspire young women who have children and the fathers might not be around. Keep going. Life goes on and it’s not the end of the world. ‘Pac has made some songs, to this day, that bring tears to my eyes.
Would you be the same MC today if you had never heard a 2Pac song?
I’m sure I would. I like reality songs. I like songs that are real. I love to reach out to young people that are going through things so they know they’re not alone. ‘Pac was one of the few that did it really, really well.
If you weren’t a mother yourself, would you have been able to write “Tears of a Teenage Mother”?
I don’t know. I probably would have been able to go in depth with it. I probably would have been able to come up with something similar, but not as personal. It does have a strong effect of me having children of my own to write a song like that.
How has being a mother changed your music and your perspective on music?
Being that I have a teenage son, I try to just stay focused on what is real and what isn’t. I try to lean more towards the positive side of things. When you’re talking about your life, you just want to basically touch on everything, and there may have been some things that you’ve done that aren’t that positive. There is definitely a limit I want to take the things to so my son can look back and say, “Wow, she nailed a lot of points on the head. She said a lot of things that just needed to be said in rap.” A lot of people aren’t doing that these days. Rap is a big influence in general and it’s a big influence on children these days.
How did it feel when Jay-Z had criticized your weight gain?
I had just gained a couple of pounds, but the rumor was that I was pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant until the very end of 2001 and I had my son in 2002. He must have talked it up or whoever was saying it must have talked it up. It happened. I can’t really get into all the images and everything that’s out there. It’s human to gain a couple of pounds. It happens. The one thing I am grateful for is my sons, so it turned out all good anyway. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Are criticisms about weight something a female MC has to endure? It’s not likely that Jay would have criticized Beanie Sigel for gaining weight.
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Definitely. You have to be picture-perfect and you have to meet the standards of the perfect woman. That’s unreal to me. Real women do not have plastic-looking bodies. The average woman is not a size 0. You can do what you have to do to keep yourself looking like that or you could just be you. Me, I choose just to be me.
When you look back to your Rocafella days today, what’s your perspective on it all?
I don’t regret it. Everything that happened made me the person I am today. It made me stronger. I just learned a lot from the whole experience and that’s the only way I’ll look at it.
Do you have a relationship with Jay-Z or Dame Dash today?
No. There’s no communication. I kind of isolated myself from everybody. I’m not saying that it couldn’t happen or it wouldn’t happen, but I kind of isolated myself from everybody so I could get back to me and be focused on other things in life like my family.
Do you have any regrets?
On the Fade to Black DVD, Jay, Beans and Bleek were saying “Amilion gone!” after they performed their verses on “You, Me, Him and Her.” Did that hurt when you saw that?
It didn’t really bother me. It was expected. They were doing it for awhile before they actually put it on the DVD. Nah, it didn’t surprise me because they were doing it for awhile and it was expected. What can you do?
A lot of people might assume that you have bad feelings towards Rocafella, but it really doesn’t seem like you feel that way.
Yeah. There is absolutely no grudge whatsoever. What happened, happened, and that’s really it. I don’t walk around bitter at this situation or hold a grudge. I don’t talk bad about them. I’ve never, to this day, done anything or talked bad about them. It’s not in my nature. People do what they do for their reasons. Karma is something I take seriously and I don’t like to talk bad about anybody. Not at all. It’s not my place to do any of it.
Was Killah Priest an influence in your decision to leave the Roc?
No. He had nothing at all to do with that.
Do you still talk to Priest today?
Once in awhile I communicate with him. Not too often, but once in awhile.
Do you ever get tired of talking about being a female rapper?
It’s definitely harder. It’s like a completely different game for a woman. Women, to me, they don’t get the same respect as a man does. There’s just not that many female rappers, for one. There’s never been any kind of respect for the women. There’s never been anything to put us where the men have been. It seems like the men in the game have dominated for so many years and that’s what makes it hard. It’s like a woman has to come out these days with a male clique to even be noticed. I think it’s definitely harder for a woman. Definitely.
Is there any chance of a Major Coins reunion?
Now that’s my company. It was a group, but now it’s my company, Major Coins Incorporated.
When is the album scheduled to drop?
The album will be released in 2007 and there will be numerous mixtapes. There will be Best of Amil’s. That’s already in the workings now.
What advice do you have for females trying to make it in the hip-hop game?
Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it or that you’re not good enough for it or that you have to do something that’s completely degrading. You can do it. Talent speaks for itself and there are good people out there. Just keep going. Don’t let nobody discourage you from doing what you want to do.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Amil is good. I’ve been good through the years and now I’m back. I’m coming out with my album, which will be released in 2007 through Divine Order, and my music will speak for itself.