I’m doing good, man. I’m happy to be here.
Your new album is B.A.R.S (The Barry Adrian Reese Story). You put your government name in the album title. Is this more of a personal album for you?
Yeah, definitely. For the last two years, I’ve been missing in action because I’ve been going through some things that had nothing to do with me being a rap star but had everything to do with me being Barry Adrian Reese. That’s why I called my album The Barry Adrian Reese Story – B.A.R.S. It is a personal album. It’s more personal than any other music that I’ve ever put together.
Was it a challenge to get personal on B.A.R.S?
I’ve always been that type of dude, man. I always did things that people were scared to do. That’s what separates me and that’s what makes me the guy that I am. I say what’s on my mind and I say what the streets are talking about. I do whatever it is that I want to do and people just expect that from me. They already know.
Did you do anything differently on B.A.R.S. than your previous albums?
Of course. I always try to do things differently and grow and mature. The topics and stories and the things that I’m talking about would have been impossible for me to talk about before. I couldn’t talk about beating a murder before because I never did that. I couldn’t talk about going into a coma and almost being brain-dead because I never went through that before. So of course I’m talking about new things this time around.
Has everything you’ve been through in the past two years affected your music?
Not the music. No. I think it made me appreciate having an opportunity to be able to do music. I appreciate all of the things I’m blessed with. I’m humble. It calmed me down a little bit more. It made me change the lifestyle I was in but I don’t think it changed my approach with music. I always wanted to make history with music and I always touched on plenty of topics, even before these incidents happened. I’m more mature and I’m growing in my music, but I don’t believe that the accident or the prison situation is why my music is improving. It’s improving because I’ve been doing it for so long and I’ve been in the studio for so long and I’ve been in the deal so long. I just expanded so much. I think that's why I have grown so much and gotten better. I don’t think it has to do with the accident or the murder charge.
How has your approach on life changed with everything that you’ve been through recently?
I just appreciate life, man. I know that life can be taken away from you at any given time. It’s never promised. Some people get so comfortable and think that life is just guaranteed, like they’re definitely going to wake up tomorrow. That ain’t guaranteed. I just appreciate life more, man. I’m more comfortable with it and I’m just happier.
Are you happy with how “My Drink N My 2-Step” is doing?
When I go up to my record label and I ask them about the song, everybody has a good report. Everybody says the song is doing real good right about now. I just want to thank everybody for adding the song into rotation. I’ve been through this process before, working other records and I know how hard it could be to get a song added to a radio station. It’s already getting added to a bunch of stations. It’s definitely a good look. When I go to the club and the song comes on, it definitely gets a good response, so I’m not mad.
Swizz Beatz seems to be very busy. Did he have enough time to work with you on B.A.R.S?
Yeah. Swizz mostly put together his album when I was locked up in jail and when I really first came back. He finished it up when I was missing in action. It was pretty much done. He has a lot of responsibilities, but he’s always had a lot of responsibility. We got a chance to get in the studio and work and make history again.
What kind of features did you want for B.A.R.S?
Eve, Bone Thugs, John Legend, Angie Stone, Rell, my whole Larceny family and Swizz Beatz. I did over 50 songs and I have a lot of features, but I’m not sure what songs are actually going to make the record because I still have a couple of days before I have to narrow it down.
You dropped your latest mixtape, 7-7-07, on your birthday. What does that mixtape mean to you?
It’s just something that I put out for the streets. I know the streets are thirsty for some good music. It was my birthday. My birthday’s on 7-7-07. So I put out seven songs for the streets and just gave it away. I didn’t make them buy the mixtape or make them download the songs like everyone else does. I just gave away some songs and you can listen to it and download it for free whenever you want to. So hopefully, Lord willing, when I do release the music that I’m trying to sell, they support me because they feel that I supported them when I had the chance. This mixtape is my gift to the fans.
On “I Run Philly,” you talk about Lil’ Wayne kissing his father. Are you taking a shot at Wayne?
I mean, if you take it as a diss, I can’t tell you how to take it. But it is what it is. I said, “I barely kiss my main jawn/So why would I kiss my dad?/I don’t get my Lil’ Wayne on.” He kissed his dad. If you feel that me saying something about him kissing his dad is a diss, then it is what is. But I don’t feel as though saying somebody did something is a diss. It’s like if you see somebody go in McDonald’s and buy a large fry and you say, “Well, I don’t go into McDonald’s to buy a large fry. I go to Burger King,” that’s not dissing them. You’re just saying what they did and you’re just saying what you do. If he kissed his father and he doesn’t have a problem with it, then it’s not a diss.
Were you taking shots at anyone else on “I Run Philly” or were you just being cocky?
I am cocky, but I got the music to back it up, so it’s not like I’m cocky for nothing, although I wouldn’t mind going at somebody if I needed to. I’m just saying what’s on my mind and how I feel. I wasn’t going at anybody. I just wrote down what came to my head and put it out. It is what it is.
How did you feel about 50 Cent using the same beat as “Hustler” on “I Get Money”?
I feel flattered, man. It’s a compliment.
Is that why you used the beat for “I Get Money” for the “I Run Philly” freestyle?
I liked the song. When it comes on in the club, I like how it feels. I just decided to do a freestyle to it. That’s it.
Your charity work is rarely talked about, but you recorded “The Message” for the Millions More Movement among other work that you’ve done. How important is doing charity work and giving back to you?
Charity is important, but I don’t believe that you have to do it the way that everybody else does it. “Oh, I’m going to take a $50,000 check and give it to this charity” when it’s really just a tax write-off and it’s really beneficial to you and you’re trying to make it seem like you’re so caring. That’s bullshit charity. I really give charity to the niggas in my ‘hood that are struggling. All the niggas in my circle, if they ever have problems or if they ever need something, I’m willing to give it to them at any given time. That’s real charity.
Does it bother you when artists plan a charity event and then call the local newspapers to come out and take their picture?
That’s the point I’m trying to make. They’re trying to make it a big situation and they’re trying to make everybody see that they’re giving away money. The Bible says that you’re not supposed to make charity a big event and let everybody know that you’re giving it away. Why even do it then?
DJ Thoro has been with you for a long time. How important has he been to your career?
He’s definitely an important person in my career. He’s one of the first DJs to put me on a mixtape. He definitely rides around with me. He’s on the road with me. He makes my shows a lot better. He’s definitely an important person. He’s a good dude.
Philadelphia is the murder capital of the U.S. right now. How do you feel about that and what needs to change?
Different cities at different times become the murder capital. Different places have their little spurts when people are wilding out at times. Right now Philly is the murder capital. I think it’s a bad thing for any place to be the murder capital. I just know Philly cats’ mentality and how it is. I know that when struggling times come, there’s no way to get money for Philly cats and they’re hungry. That’s how these problems get started. That’s the reason why it’s not going too good in Philly. But what can you do, man? You can just support the people in the ‘hood that you can support. Hopefully they support more people and then they in turn support more people and you can make a difference. Eventually you will start to make a difference, but you have to have more than one plan. If you only needed one plan, we would have never gotten to this point.
What’s going on with your group Larceny?
I’ve been working with them since before I went solo. They’ve been waiting in the cut for me to get it popping. They’ve been waiting for so many years and I’ve just been creating an opportunity for them to do their thing. They’re real hungry and I feel they’re the best cats out. We’re about to put together the Larceny Family album and just give the streets what they need.
When can we expect that album?
I don’t even want to put a timeline on that. We’re working on that but I’m focusing on my solo album right now. We’re just recording a bunch of records and we’re going to wait until I finalize the label situation to see what label wants to take it there. Until we get everything right, I don’t even want to speak on it.
What are your goals for B.A.R.S?
My goals are for me to make a difference and to sell a bunch of records and to put an end to people falling off and flopping. I believe that people still want to buy records. You just have to give them a reason to buy your record, and it’s not just by having a hot song. They have to get into you. They have to like you outside of the music that you make. There aren’t too many artists out there like that aside from Jay-Z and 50 Cent. You don’t really know too much about a lot of these artists and that’s why they’re not winning too much. But I believe a difference is going to come, man. I believe that a lot of things are going to change. Plus, people look at record sales but the game is changing with ringtones and people are downloading songs and there’s iPods. It’s like there are so many other ways to get music now that people are not just going to stores to buy CDs and that’s all that they’re calculating is the people that are going to buy the CDs. But there are other ways that the record label, the artist and the people working around them can still hold it down and make money. If nobody was making money, you wouldn’t see anybody getting released and they’d be going out of business. But there’s still ways to make money. It’s a billion dollar industry. There are still ways to get at it. You just have to come with the right type of material.
What advice would you offer to others going through their own struggles?
Keep God first, man. Always pray. Just work on your patience, man. In order to survive in this game, you have to have patience and be able to adjust and just be able to overcome frustrating moments and still be the star at all times. People don’t care if you had a bad day or if you’re hungry when you’re on an interview or on TV. They just want you to answer the question the way they want you to. They don’t care if you just had an argument with your girlfriend or if your son just got sick. They don’t care. You have to have patience be able to adjust to deal with this lifestyle. To be able to do that, you just have to keep God first. That’s my advice.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Keep God first and buy my album B.A.R.S. Keep holding me down, man.