man. I just got off stage trying to de-charge a little bit. I'm pretty
amped. I'm having a good tour right now. Feeling Spectacular!
up with your situation at Atlantic?
ago, I got signed to Atlantic. I've been signed to Atlantic for a minute.
It's not big news to me anymore. It's actually bad news. Atlantic is dope
man. They've done so much. They've helped me out a lot to teach me about
the business. On the other hand, it's taxing because I figured after I
got signed, everything was going to be hot and people were going to come
whisk you away, help you write the hooks, and not even just that, but
also give you direction. Things aren't the same anymore. People have this
misconception that once you're in the game that automatically you're given
this preferential treatment, that your whole name is on blast and you
walk up in the building, cats are like, "Yo, there's Apathy."
told, when you go up into that Atlantic building, even after you've proven
yourself sales-wise in another market, most people in that office still
don't know you. So you still have to be on your grind. You have to still
make songs and be hungry. Up until the point you make a few smash hits,
you're still in demo-mode.
I'm so envious
of Little Brother man, they have the perfect situation. They came in and
did their record the way they wanted to and it's hot. It came out. For
me, they tried to push me in several different directions. I worked with
my A&R on tons of different stuff and trying so many different angles
to the point where I've created songs where they were like, "This
is it, this is a hit right here." We played it for Craig Carowin,
President of Atlantic, Julie Greenwall, basically everyone on board, and
everyone loves it. And they tell you, "Call me up next week and we'll
talk about opening up your budget". Ok, cool. When you call next
week it's, "Uh, before we fly you out here to record and start the
album, we need you to record five new songs to start it off so we have
good progress going. Just keep making songs."
To make a
long story short, getting on page with Atlantic and my A&R is a difficult
thing to do. It's to the point right now where I don't know what's going
to happen. I just talked to him the other day. This is the raw shit you
don't hear a lot of artist speak on because they all want to be politically
correct and play it off, but personally, I don't give a fuck. I'm at the
point right now where I don't care. I have nothing to lose. I'm 26 about
to be 27, so I'm either going to make it pop or not. Either way I gave
it my best shot. I'm at a point right now where they're telling me, "You're
not on the shelf, you can stay with us and try to grind it out, or you
can explore your options." So I have to figure out what I want my
options are because I have interests from other labels. I'm not sure what
I'm going to do.
you want to put "Eastern Philosophy" out on Babygrande?
on Babygrande is an indie album that I wanted to put out for years. I
stepped to my A&R saying, "I can't wait anymore. Can I just put
this out on the side, independently?" He was cool. He told me to
do that they'd even help a bit. So I stepped to a lot of different labels
and Babygrande expressed the most interest in me. They told me what they
wanted to do for me. They wanted to license the album. Atlantic ultimately
owns the album, but Babygrande wanted to license it so they can have the
exclusivity to put it out. Babygrande gave a great offer. The contract
process took about nine months from the first time we started talking
about it until now because we had to go through the bullshit of being
a signed artist. Having to go through the lawyers and the proper channels
was a nightmare. Back and forth between Babygrande's lawyers, my lawyers,
and Atlantic's lawyers was a nightmare. It was just crazy and stressful.
We finally knocked it out and just got it finished around December and
it's just now coming out.
not slowing down. I'm not even jaded. I'm so appreciative, I made it to
a level where so many people haven't. If I quit rap tomorrow, I'll never
regret what I've experienced. All I can try to do is work as hard as I
you come up with the title "Eastern Philosophy"?
Philosophy" was like everything I felt about growing up on the East
Coast. It really came to me after I traveled on tour. I love everywhere.
I love LA. Half of my crew is from LA, but nothing gives me a better feeling
than when I come home. I know my man Reks know what I'm talking about,
even if it means coming home to the shitty, nasty snow. "Eastern
Philosophy" is basically what I'm feeling and what I would want to
hear as a fan.
you describe the term "philosophical gangster"?
thing about the term "gangster" that it has transcended its
original meaning. "Gangster" is not gangster anymore. 99% of
the people who claim "gangster" aren't gangster. If someone's
mother yelled outside of the window, people say, "That's gangster."
No, it's not gangster. It might be ballsy, but not gangster. When Nas
said that in "Thief's Theme" that being gangster represents
that struggle and grind and to be down for anything, and still being that
intelligent intellectual. It represents the perfect duality.
influences on me were Nas. "Illmatic" is my favorite album.
It's my Bible. Definitely Jay-Z, Organized Konfusion, Souls of Mishief,
Big L, and of course Wu Tang.
you want to get Blue Raspberry on your single?
Raspberry on a track was a big deal to me. We hunted for her for a long
time. When we were brainstorming on the song, we actually had her in mind.
In our minds we were like we'll never find her, this will never happen.
I had a friend who knew RZA and she called him, and RZA gave her the number.
I called Blue. It was a shot in the dark, but Blue agreed to do it. That
was a huge deal to me. Other than that, I really wanted to keep the album
personal. There were a few emcees that I could have gotten on the album,
but I voted against it because it would go against what I was trying to
do with "Eastern Philosophy". I wanted to save that for the
major label release if anything.
is the major label album coming along?
To tell you
the truth, it's intangible. I have so many songs recorded, millions of
songs. I'm so prolific. Then it's like, "What is my album?"
The songs are all over the place. The biggest problem is deciding what
to use for the album. But my A&R has to say what's for the album.
I have everything from classic, crazy, real old school Hip Hop, all the
way to Outkast shit.
One of my
biggest joints that I did that was "supposed" to be a hit was
a track that I did was rapping over Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful
People" beat. I destroyed it. Everyone at the label went bananas
over it. Everyone said this is going to be a hit. They were ready to move.
That was about seven months ago. Look at it now. What happened?
production for "Eastern Philosophy"?
Most of it was handled by Chum aka the Skrilla Gorilla. Chum is my DJ,
engineer, and producer. Chum recorded, mixed, and engineered the album.
I wanted it all to sound the same. Other producer's asked me to send them
the vocal so they could mix it. I wand had Chum do it all. Chum did like
80% percent of the album and I also had DJ Cheapshot from Styles of Beyond.
I did a track, Celph Titled did one, two dudes from Europe did tracks
as well. One of them did that "Philosophical Gangsta" track.
And Quincy Tones did two tracks.
We've been talking about the overall attitudes and themes in your life
rap life, but inside and outside of everything is family. Speak on family
in and out of the game for a little bit.
Family is very important to me. When I was growing up, I was an only child.
I had tons of cousins, aunts, and uncles. My parents were young when they
had me. In that house we would all help each other. Family has always
been important. When I formed the Demigodz they were good friends and
ultimately became like brothers to me. There is nothing in the world I
wouldn't do for them. There isn't anything they don't know about me or
that I don't know about them. That's fam right there! It's real cliché
to say that we've been through everything together. We can almost come
to fist fights, I can be mad at Chum but, but all of a sudden if someone
is messing with Chum I switch up like, "What? You messing with Chum!"
Chum, Celph, Motive, Eso
those are brothers and family.
of the 'Godz, what's good with the album? Why hasn't there been one?
is the crew. When we started the crew we wanted to have an all-star cast.
It started with folks that people may not know about. It was me, Eso,
Rize, Louis Logic, El Fudge, Celph, Spin 4th, and Motive. After a while,
I lost contact with certain people that we were real cool with. I haven't
heard from El Fudge in years. It's hard to say that's my man and he's
crew when I haven't seen him in years. When I see him again it'll start
back up where it left off, its all love. But it got to a point where it
needed to be more focused and a little more real. So we decided to focus
on the group aspect. It was Me, Celph, Eso, Tak and Ryu of Styles of Beyond,
and Motive. We wanted that to be the group, the definitive group. The
DJ's were going to be Chum, 7L & Cheapshot. We wanted to be a tight-knit
unit. Then it jumped off immediately. We started getting shit done. So
after that we made a Demigodz group which was the focus and the Demigodz
We had an
EP. It was supposed to be Apathy and Celph Titled thing, but the thing
was, I was signed at the time. The label didn't want me to do a Celph
Titled album. So we flipped it and made Apathy self titled present the
Demigodz. We didn't intend for it to be a Demigodz EP, but it kind of
ended up that way. We're now a group and we're focused on the album. We
don't want to put this out like its whatever. We want to maximize its
potential. I really don't care what the fans think. If you're a real Demigodz
fan you know we put a lot of work into this we've killed ourselves for
this. We've paid our dues for free. We're going to do the Demigodz thing
and we plan on doing it real major. We have a lot of interest for a lot
of labels major and indie for the Demigodz project. We're going to try
to secure a distribution deal with someone like Koch if not we'll try
the major label thing.
But it all
gets so tiring now. And I know this is off topic, but I have to say this.
When I was 17, and I know the emcees can relate, you would pay out of
pocket to drive up to Wisconsin to do a show for free. Now some of us
have kids and cell phone bills I can't afford to do shows for free. Its
like, yeah, he's a good chef but I'm not going to ask dudes to come to
my house and cook me a meal for free. At a certain point if it doesn't
make money it doesn't make sense. You can't just do it for free. You have
to find that common ground where you're doing it for the love and the
to be compensated for your work. Hip Hop is a bitch. It's a fucking bitch.
It will break your heart because you will give it everything you have
and no matter what, people will still hate, labels will still hate, and
people will start to sleep. All this game is like is a bitch cheating
on you. At least that's what it feels like.
I was 17
once watching Jay-Z and thought that shit wasn't real. I said, "I
love Hip Hop. I'm going to rap and do music forever. You'll understand,
mark my words." You'll understand when you get a kid and bills pile
up, or when they turn off your power. Once your power goes off, its real.
next for you?
I want to
get into things other than music. Music is way too inconsistent. One day
you can be hot another day you could be wack. You can be in favor with
the people or you can be out of favor. Look at MF Doom. He's probably
making more money than he ever did back in the day just by putting a mask
on. You just never know. I want to make as much money off of rap as I
can. I'm going to invest, I'm thinking large. If I make a hit record on
the major label stage I'm going to invest most of it and do something
big. Even if I make a little dough I'll invest that as well. Maybe do
some real estate. I speak to my father about this all the time, he's like
my best friend. Its important for me to get into something that generates
more money for me. But no matter what I do its important for me to stay
humble because I came from nothing. I have to take advantage of this.
People ask me why do I take this so seriously and my answer is, "This
just might be the only chance I have."
are you with your current situation?
I was a kid, I loved Hip Hop and I never thought that could be me. I remember
being 13 years-old and getting good but never thinking that could be me.
Now being signed to Atlantic, although it's been three years and nothing
has come out, I'm still happy. I got signed to a major record deal. Even
if nothing comes out I still got here. It's like if I was an NBA ball
player sitting on the bench, I still got there. No one can take that away
from me. If I had to quit tomorrow, I wouldn't regret it because I'd be
happy that I did what I did.
think Atlantic is using you to bridge the gap between the major and the
I don't think
so, because they have nothing to gain by it. I've heard that theory also,
but they don't get any brownie points for it. It doesn't help sell records.
At the end of the day, they're a crew of ruthless people who are out to
sell and they saw me as a commercially viable product. We just can't read
into it too much.
what it is. Motive, Demigodz, Dough Rakers, AME
we're here. "Eastern
Philosophy" is real serious. The album is fire.