The Solution is coming in a couple of weeks. Are you comfortable with where everything is right now?
Yeah. I’m feeling good with the album. I think it’s a real good album, man.
In our last interview, you talked about how important the “All of the Above” video was going to be for the project. Are you happy with how that’s doing right now?
I think after the video, people really felt it. People really felt it with the video. I really wanted the streets and the people to see that. I also got a lot of attention from the people that have never heard a Beanie Sigel record.
“You Ain’t Ready” with Styles P recently leaked. How did that song come together?
We just went in the studio. Styles called me. He was like, ‘I got this record and it’s crazy.’ The beat was crazy and he said we should go back and forth on the joint and just go crazy on it. We sat down and came up with the concept of the hook and just went at it.
It sounds like you and SP have natural chemistry.
Yeah, man. Him and Jadakiss, they just have those flows that are real hard. They have that hard style. It was good going in and working with somebody who’s just as sharp as you are and on the same page.
On the song, you say you’re in the best shape of your life. Are you making the best music of your career right now?
Definitely. I’m in the best shape of my career. I’m focused and I’m on top of my business. I’m being firm with my choices in music and I’m in control. I think I’m in the best shape right now. I think I’m making real good, classic music. On my previous albums, I had good records on there, but The B.Coming and The Solution are real complete albums from front to back, production-wise and everything. I really do think I’m in the best shape now.
A lot of artists say they make their best music early in their careers when they’re more focused on the quality of their music and not as busy on the road traveling and promoting. How do you stay inspired and stay on top of your game today?
I just stay connected with my roots and stay connected to where I came from. I stay connected with my homies and I bring it to the ‘hood first. I go to the studio first and I make the music and I get their responses first. People used to go to the arcade or play ball. Instead of playing ball, you see the schoolyard filled up and they’re in the cipher and they’re rhyming. I’m in the mix of that and I just keep sharp.
You collaborated again with Scarface on “Rain”. Why do you and Scarface have such good chemistry together?
I mean, you’re dealing with two people who put a lot of conviction into their music, who say what they mean and mean what they say. When we get on a track together, we’re talking to you. If you listen to most of the records we do, there’s a lesson in it. We’re bringing it across in a way where we’re talking some real street, ‘hood, gangster shit and we’re giving you both sides of the story. We do that in every song that we do. It’s just heartfelt music, man. Scarface is a real spiritual person. He can do a song about the drug game and turn around and give you a song that will make you cry. We just make sure we put our all into it, man.
Are songs like “You Ain’t Ready” and “Rain” your favorite types of tracks to make?
It all depends what mood I’m in. That soulful music is inside of me. With the beats, I become one with it. That allows me to get real intricate with the flow and basically talk over it. I love doing those records
What was it like recording “Gutted” with Jay-Z?
That was a record I had. I didn’t have a song with Jay on the album. When I was recording and I had did it, that was a song that I was just sitting on. It wasn’t finished or nothing. I was searching for that track that me and Jay could get on and go to the studio and do it. Time was winding down. I had actually done the first two verses on the record and I had sent it to Jay. He knocked it out. We didn’t get to go to the studio together, but I can’t wait for that.
What was your writing process like for The Solution?
I was able to write it without any distractions. That’s why I feel it’s my best body of work to date. I didn’t have any timelines hanging over my head. I just recorded at my own pace and I recorded it when I felt like it. There’s not a song that was rushed or is out of place. Everything was done purposefully.
Where do you do your best writing?
I don’t know, man. I guess sometimes in the car, when I’m driving. It just comes. I don’t have a specific time. I’ll be in the car and I’ll be driving somewhere for a nice little distance. A lot of quotes come into my mind and that’s where most of the ideas come from for certain songs. I guess it’s whenever I feel it, man. There’s not a specific time. It’s just whenever I feel the music. It just comes out.
How did “Ignorant Shit” off Jay-Z’s American Gangster come about?
That was a song that Jay sent down to me in the studio. He said, “I need you to come in and do 8 bars and that’s going to set me up for my last verse.” I was like, ‘All right, bet.’ I got the track and I was listening to it like, ‘Damn, he wants me to do 8 bars? How am I going to get my thing off in 8 bars?’ It was good though.
Why was your verse only 8 bars?
It’s the way the song was structured and the length of the song. It was good. I think Jay cut one of his verses short for me to be able to do the 8 bars on it.
Because your verse was so short, did you take a different approach to it?
Nah, not really. It’s just like I knew it had to be real quick. I had to make it quick and strong at the same time.
On “Ignorant Shit”, you called yourself “The ’07 Ice Cube”. What kind of influence does Ice Cube have on your music?
Ice Cube was the man! When N.W.A. was hard, I always loved Ice Cube out of everybody because he was the hardest to me and the most lyrical. And the things he used to say, it used to be so simple and so complicated. It was like, ‘How the fuck did he just say that?’ Amerikaz Most Wanted is on my top list of albums.
What would a Beanie Sigel and Ice Cube collaboration sound like?
Oh, God, that would probably be ridiculous! You might go back and rock the jheri curl again!
Can you make that happen for the fans out there?
Yeah, I would love to make that happen. To get in the studio with Cube and go back to the jheri curl and the all-black Raiders jacket and the black sunglasses, that would be crazy!
What was the American Gangster tour like for you?
It was cool. It was fun just to be back out there with Bleek and Free and the Young Gunz came out on a couple dates with Jay. It was cool. It was good.
When I spoke to Bleek a couple of weeks ago, he said you and him were talking all the time now. Do you have a better relationship with Bleek today than when you were both coming up?
We have the same relationship. Me and Bleek were always cool. We were always tight.
Is the Roc making a comeback today or did the Roc never go anywhere?
I don’t think the Roc ever went anywhere. There was a time when there was a change in hip-hop. Houston had their run and now Atlanta and the Down South are doing their thing. Now it’s coming right back around.
There are a lot of critics who said they didn’t like the American Gangster album. Why does Jay get so much criticism?
I think Jay, at this point in his career and being on top, he’s done everything. I think they want to see Jay float. They’re looking for him to do something next that’s so…He’s accomplished everything. They’re looking for Jay to make himself disappear and turn physical and come back. What else do they want? When you keep elevating yourself and elevating and elevating, you can only get but so high and then you’ll be at a standstill. You’re at your pinnacle and you’re there. After awhile, they diss you and they’re looking for more and more. Jay’s like crack. Jay’s like good weed. You smoke some and you can’t get but so high. After awhile you smoke so much killer weed and you get used to it and you’re looking for something slamming.
Freeway released his sophomore album Free At Last two weeks ago and it didn’t do great numbers. Are fans sleeping on Freeway?
You have to look at hip-hop now. Look at the Playaz Circle. They had one of the biggest songs out and look at their numbers. They only did 26,000 in their first week and they had the record that was huge. They had Lil’ Wayne on the record and that was a real big record. I think it’s just where hip-hop is at right now. People are looking for that State Property movement to get back together. They’re looking for that.
Has everyone been working together as State Property recently?
Me and Free are putting things together. We’re putting things aside and some song concepts for the State Property album. Me, Free and Chris have really been riding together. We’re trying to put this State Property thing together after Chris does his solo project. With Peedi too, it’s going to be real good. You’ll have another State Property album in a second.
Billy Danze of M.O.P. recently called you an “incredible MC” on HipHopGame. What does that mean to you?
I take that as a compliment because he’s hard. That’s what’s missing from hip-hop right now, I think, that street, that energy. It’s a different kind of energy with M.O.P., period, with him and Fame. They bring it to you. You believe them. You know what they’re about.
Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins was shot and killed last week. Whenever something like this happens, the media talks about how hard it is for athletes to sever ties with childhood friends who may bring them down. What is an artist’s responsibility to look back for your friends once you get paid and are living a different kind of life?
I don’t know. I couldn’t answer that. I think an artist’s responsibility is to bring the music to the fans. I don’t know nothing about that. That all comes in with what your relationships were with people before you were an artist. That plays an effect. You can’t look out for everybody. You can’t do that just because you got it and because you made it big. I think that’s good if people reach out to their people and put them in a position to do something for themselves. I read in a book one day where it said, “It’s not what you do for your children but what you teach your children to do for themselves is what counts.” It’s not what you can do for your sons, but what can you teach your sons to do for themselves.
If you’re in the football business or the basketball business and your friends are going to be around you, there are things they should learn. If you’re going to have them on the road, they should learn how to do things and maybe they can land a job. That’s what I tell my people. Be patient. And if you’re not into sports or doing that, there’s something else. If you have an opportunity to extend a hand to a friend in need, I think that’s the way of life.
Did you ever have to tell a friend that you just couldn’t do anything for them?
Yeah, definitely, man. Especially with the music and stuff. There are a lot of friends that I wouldn’t bring with me to the studio or around the business or whatever, because I just know there’s no point. I can’t do that with everybody. Everybody’s not into the music. I can’t give jobs just to say that I gave my friend a job. But if I can help you out and you feel that you can help yourself, then yeah, I’ll do that.
What are your goals for The Solution?
My goals for the project are for people to hear it and understand it.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Just look out for that album, man. It’s a classic. The Solution!