Man, I’m feeling good. I had a crazy-ass weekend with Memorial Day. I did a couple of performances with me and my crew. I’m just getting ready for this album to drop. I feel good.
Your new single is “Back On My Grizzy.” First things first, where have you been?
Shit, man, there’s been a lot of drama and a lot of crazy shit these past few years. I got indicted by the feds and I took it to trial in Massachusetts and I ended up winning that. I got sued by Kim Osorio, the former editor of the Source. We were exonerated of sexual harassment and she was still talking on the radio that she was getting $15 million. Our lawyers have been going back and forth. The other day she just came back to try to settle for $1.5 million and we turned that down because the appeal’s going to be coming up soon. We won that too.
The Source Magazine is still in bankruptcy court. I just saw that the other day and it looks terrible. We have Hip-Hop Weekly popping off and I’m feeling good.
Why did you go with “Back On My Grizzy” as your single?
I’ve been working on a lot of music these past couple of years and that’s what’s kept my head in it. I’ve been in Miami and I wanted to work with my crew. I just kept getting up in the studio and thought about the people who didn’t believe in me. I made a lot of songs and this is the one that came up to me when I was choosing the single. This one was just so crazy. I said, “Shit, I might as well just put this one out there because it represents how I’m back out on my grind.” I felt this was the one to put out.
How did the video shoot go for “Back On My Grizzy”?
Bananas. It was a two-day shoot. There were thousands of people there and it was crazy. It was deep in Little Haiti. Big up to all the Haitian people that were out there showing love. I was all over Miami shooting. I just copped this all-chrome bike and I did some scenes on that because I ride heavy. The video’s going to be hot.
Are you happy with the feedback you’ve gotten from “Back On My Grizzy”?
I looked at the feedback and I understand a lot of cats out there are saying what they’re saying probably because of the situation between me and Em. It’s hard for them to judge music without them really thinking about the beef. At some point I would just like to keep it with the music because all of that beef shit is behind me.
I also have a new crew that I’m trying to come out with, the 1st 48. I’m just trying to keep it moving. There was good and bad feedback. I’m wondering if people are even listening to the song. I saw some people said they weren’t even going to listen to the song and they gave it a ‘1’ when they commented on HipHopGame. I hope eventually that I will just be judged for my music.
Do you feel like fans don’t take you seriously as an MC or are you still experiencing fallout from the Eminem beef?
A lot of it is from the Eminem beef. Nobody has a reason to not take me seriously. I’ve been doing it fro awhile. I’ve had a hit record with “Rock the Party.” I toured all over the world with that. I’ve had some real underground joints out there, some bangers. I’ve been rocking this gangster shit coming from Boston. I’ve made some great accomplishments as a producer with Jeff 2X and Jonny. We got a track on Nas’ Stillmatic and we did a track on Prodigy’s H.N.I.C. solo album. We’ve done work with Wyclef, Master P and Raekwon. The whole beef shit sort of overshadowed everything else. I’ve been rhyming for a minute, I write my own material and I love collaborating. I definitely feel that I’ve stepped it up. I do it for the love and if people don’t take that seriously, I don’t know what else I can do to make them take me seriously.
How was it recording “Game Face” with Ja Rule?
I hooked up with Gorilla Tek. He gave me the track and Rule was down. He was going to do the second verse. We had never done anything together. He was out of town so I recorded my part. I’m an engineer too. I recorded and mixed it. I’m official Hangman 3. A lot of people don’t understand that I’ve been mixing and producing for a long time. Rule’s my brother and he’s been through a lot and I’ve been through a lot. When I heard the song, I was sitting there, just trying to think of something. I think “Game Face” just came to mind. I heard someone say that you have to have your game face on. No matter what people say, I’ve been through a lot of shit and I’ve come out of it. I’m not Superman of anything, but you have to believe in yourself and you can’t let anybody psychologically take you down the road of not believing in yourself. “Game Face” came out hot.
How’s your new album The Antidote coming?
The album is done. It’s coming out June 26. I might push mine back to come out on the same day as 50 Cent’s because I know 50 brings a lot of people to the stores. I want to have my shit in there also. I may push it back, but not on anything controversial. I want mine in the stores when people are going out and it’ll also give me more time to keep promoting.
The album is dope. I have a Scott Storch beat and some Ty Fyffe shit. I have some local Miami producers too. Ja is the only feature on the album. I did that on purpose because I really wanted to feature the 1st 48. Young Lo and Young Hardy of the Untouchables are in the 1st 48.
Is The Antidote your best work to date?
Yeah, definitely. It’s definitely my best work to date. I’ve actually made a couple of albums. I have my album and the 1st 48 album. That has features with Scarface, B.G., Juvie and others. The 1st 48 album is going to be coming out soon.
What are your goals for The Antidote?
You know what? I’m coming out independently and I want to do it the old school Master P/J.Prince way. I want to be able to put four or five records in the system a year and keep watching these new cats shine. LO and Hardy are coming. They’re getting a lot of love. There’s One Monzta, that’s Trina’s little brother, Lil Dev, Picalo, Ballgrum, Cognito, Young LO and Young Hardy. I’ve been working with everyone in the 1st 48 as well as niggas in the ‘hood. I can work with anybody. No matter where I am, I’m going to find the ‘hood and work with it. I’m going to keep doing that. I just want to keep music in the system. If I can do 100,000 independently, then life is good.
What’s the story behind the 1st 48?
The whole concept on the TV show is about homicide and what goes on in the ‘hood in the first 48 hours of a crime. The name came up and it just stuck the same way Monzta named my album The Antidote. When you think of the 1st 48, you just think of the ‘hood. People think very negatively of the ‘hood, but I’m thinking exactly the opposite. I’ve been working with these brothers for the past few years and this just happened naturally, where the chemistry just started working naturally with everybody. The camaraderie is great. It’s a hot situation. I’m really happy about that. I think niggas are really going to make an impact.
I want The Antidote to be compared to The Chronic where you have a lot of different sounds and artists who sound different. There’s a lot of 808s and bass. I still have that gangster shit on there. Scott Storch is on there. There’s also stuff for the ‘hood. It’s all Zno, so it’s all ‘hood.
Are The Untouchables still together?
They’ll be coming out on the 1st 48 album. We’re dropping a video featuring B.G. for the album. LO’s down here and Hardy’s up in New York. We’re just going to keep this crew moving. We’re going to keep what we got moving. We have a nice group of guys. Everybody’s from the ‘hood and from the streets and everybody brings something different to the table. LO and Hardy already had a buzz with their videos on BET and they were on the And 1 tour. I also took them on tour with me. The game is so saturated now that it’s best to just sit back and let everybody take their best shot. These niggas are hungry and they’re ready.
Do you feel like your experience at listening to demos when up at the Source helps you decide what young artists you want to work with?
It’s just my experience in hip-hop in general. It’s about knowing the music. I’m also a humble guy and I listen to other people, other producers and other music. I don’t just stick to one sound. I’m not like that. I’m a producer. I’m a universal type of person when it comes to music. I have a good ear for beats and a good ear for what’s out there. I’ve heard everybody from here to South Africa and back. There’s a lot of talent out there. There’s a lot of young talent out there and talent, period.
And I really don’t put an age on music. I believe hip-hop has really closed the generation gap. That’s a good thing. At the end of the day, music has no age. Music is what comes out of the speaker and what you groove to. When you put an age on music, you really start to make music difficult to listen to for yourself. Music is supposed to be a vibe. I think people put too much into it with how they want to listen to it.
Master P is urging artists to use clean lyrics in their songs. How do you feel about that?
If this isn’t the biggest subject of hypocrisy, then I don’t know what is. I don’t want my kids to curse, but we do have “Parental Advisory” stickers on all our material. P made millions off of cursing. Although curse words are still being used, you can still get the clean versions. Sure, the kids would still know what word should be there, but that’s why it’s up to the parent or someone close to the kid to tell him what’s right and what’s wrong. You have the radio. The internet is filled with all types of crazy stuff. You just have to basically watch your child. That’s all I can say.
Master P has done a great job as a parent because Romeo has turned out incredible. I think P should focus more on telling parents that we have to guide these youngsters better. I don’t think censoring hip-hop is the answer. I think the reason hip-hop is big is because as a people, we were being censored when hip-hop came out and hip-hop was about not being censored. I don’t want to see it go back to censorship.
How’s your new magazine Hip-Hop Weekly doing?
Hip-Hop Weekly is doing incredible. We’re shipping out 150,000 copies and selling 40% of that. That, in a magazine world, is amazing, especially in our first months. Hip-Hop Weekly is the new thing and people are loving it. With the internet, people are getting their information and news much quicker than the monthlies and we’re pushing it out each week. God has been good and I can’t take anything for granted. The Source Magazine, I mean, shit, the way I look at it, Hip-Hop Weekly can be doing much better than The Source Magazine.
Are you surprised at how quickly the magazine has grown?
Not really, only because I knew there was a void there that the Us Weekly’s and the People’s are filling for entertainment. I came with the idea awhile ago after we went through the Source situation. We said we could really test it out. We did a couple of mock covers and we still had the same distribution as The Source Magazine had.
Come on, we’ve been doing the magazine thing for awhile and we had and have our finger on the pulse of hip-hop. Everybody knows that what me and Dave do comes from the heart. We’ve taken a lot of hits from a lot of different directions, but we had each other. It was dark and hell was hot, but we had each other. Since 1988, The Source Magazine was an institution. We were behind that. We have the sixth most-watched show in BET history, even the BET Awards didn’t do that. In 25 years of BET programming, that's a hell of an accomplishment. We did The Source Latino, we got a ringtone deal and we did Source clothing. Those were all my ideas.
It was a situation where people didn’t take me seriously as a magazine editor because I was an artist and they didn’t take me seriously as an artist because I was with the magazine. One feeds the other. In a world where everything feeds off of everything else, everything just got blown out of proportion.
At the end of the day, people can say what they want to say about me but they can’t take away what’s inside of me. I’m cut from a different cloth and there’s no bowing down for me. We got another chance. God is good and we’re taking advantage of our opportunities. We’re in Borders, Barnes and Noble and airport bookstores. Soon we’ll probably be dropping Hip-Hop Monthly.
All the other magazines basically copied from us. People don’t understand. Giant Magazine was a $14 million investment and it was edited by Smokey Fontaine, who came from The Source. They just sold it for $300,000. Not to put a slight on Dame Dash, but look at his America magazine. Look at Russell’s One World Magazine. Even Diddy tried to do a magazine. Look at Vibe Magazine. There were hundreds of millions of dollars in Vibe and they just sold that for $30 million. XXL is owned by a company that does other magazines like hunting magazines. The Source was independently owned and XXL is just a carbon copy of The Source Magazine.
But it is sad watching what’s happening to The Source Magazine right now. It’s like having a kid on drugs or having a girl that you’re not with anymore and seeing her years later and she’s fucked up in the game. It’s crazy when I see that magazine and see the condition it’s in.
One thing that fucked me up is they say they’re “100% Benzino Free,” but they can’t be as long as they’re advertising all that stuff in there that I started and I made money off of. I actually edited The Best of the Source Awards myself. A lot of motherfuckers don’t know that I edit, produce, rap…Hip-hop and the streets are my life. I’ve been fortunate to live this long, have a career and have my ups and downs. I’m a human and I make mistakes, but I learn from them and I use it to fuel my future.
Seeing The Source say they’re “100% Benzino Free” had to upset you.
Of course I was upset, especially at that time. That right there was some crazy shit to see. But you know what? Again, I kind of understood the whole psychological thing on that. If I played into that, then I wouldn’t have been able to focus on what I have to do. I really didn’t even play into it. I didn’t listen to anything and I didn’t play into none of it. I just moved on to what I had. I wasn’t going to worry about retaliating. I was just going to take all the knowledge I’ve gained through the years from everything and keep my finger on what’s hot. Obviously there’s a big culture and a big world out there, so I’m going to keep my finger on the pulse and move forward.
Cllick here for part 2