I interviewed Mack Maine the other day and he told me he has a spot for you at Young Money if you want it. What do you think of that offer?
Young Money is family. The whole issue with that record is that it was a whole miscommunication thing. Wayne has been 150% busy and people ask me why he didn’t put me on the album. There’s politics and I know that man is busy. He was supposed to be on a track for my first album The Commencement and he didn’t charge me a coin so regardless of what anybody says, that’s my dude. He didn’t charge me. Tha Carter II was doing good and he took time out of his itinerary to come and record the song with me. He left 106 and Park and came and did my session with me. That shit is unheard of and that’s real hip-hop. That’s one MC respecting another MC’s craft.
As far as Mack Maine, he knows he’s fam and we can definitely sit down and work something out. I’m signed to After Platinum right now and we’re working on a project and then we’re taking the project to somewhere where we’re comfortable with. We’re doing the project on our own and whoever doesn’t take the project is going to be stupid. It is what it is. I’m not asking for nothing. People are reaching out. We’ve been family though so it ain’t even an issue with them.
It doesn’t sound like you’re desperate for a deal.
Definitely. There’s no sense in rushing into a situation and flopping. A lot of dudes are flopping. I’m trying to sit back and capitalize off a lot of the mistakes these dudes are making. These labels don’t give a fuck about you. They want you to be your own business. They want you to do your own marketing. They want you to sell you own shit out the trunk. That’s not what music was about in my era. I’m used to seeing labels put money up to develop artists to help them do things like that. Now you have to do your own YouTube’s and all of that. If I have to do that what the fuck do I need you for? Distribution? I could get that easily. I’ll go burn some CDs off my computer and do my own shit if that’s what’s needed. I’m looking for a label where we’re going to keep each other focused because the music is going to speak for itself and it’s going to make them want to push me.
What would it take for you to sign with Young Money?
I gotta be priority. Lil’ Wayne is priority at Young Money right now. I have to be prioritized. I gotta be prioritized. If I’m not prioritized where I am then there’s no reason for me to sign over there. I gotta be priority. All focus has to be on what are we going to do to make this project be what it can potentially be to be the next greatest hit. I come from the era of fire. I can say that. I come from the era of Jay-Z and Biggie and Nas and Eminem. I come from all of these dudes. ‘Pac…I was probably one of the only kids on my block in the Bronx bumping ‘Pac. Everybody’s got their own sounds and I can’t shoot a man down for his style. That’s like trying to compare Andre 3000 to a person like Plies or something. They come from two different backgrounds and they’re unique. Andre 3000 is unique an Plies can spit shit for people in his ‘hood but at the end of the day they have two different stories and people can ride to them. At the end of the day I’m going to be different. I’m trying to work with artists and whenever I do a feature with them I’m trying to bring them into my world.
There are also rumors that you’re signing to G-Unit. How did those get started?
That’s another thing. Shout out to Yayo, 50 and Banks and the whole G-Unit. I did a track with Tony Yayo on his S.O.D. mixtape. It’s a crazy joint called “Face Off.” I did a joint with them and I’m up-and-coming. It could have been anybody saying that. I heard Ransom was going to G-Unit. But me and Yayo talked. (laughs) I’m laughing because it’s crazy. Me and Yayo talked about a situation but he’s busy too and 50’s got a project coming out. Everybody’s working on their own thing. I’m just trying to keep my shit moving so my shit don’t sink. I’m not stopping.
That’s my whole key to everything now. I’m on some, not to compare my self to the man because he’s a legend, but as far as his work ethic, that’s what I’m trying to do – 2Pac. If I die right now you could hear me for years. I got thousands of records recorded. People haven’t heard me in awhile and I’ve been on kind of a hiatus for awhile but never from the music. I’ve been grinding, doing different things and writing for people and just keeping myself busy and it’s happening. I just stuck with it. I’m not going to front like I wasn’t discouraged but it happened for a reason. God blessed me.
You’ve been on the scene for a long time and haven’t blown up yet. How have you managed to stay motivated?
I’m not going to lie. I was really discouraged. I couldn’t sit back and just watch shit go the way that it was going. If I feel that I have the potential…The game is changing and things happen. It’s not like a trend. The South thing is not a trend and the West thing is not a trend and the East is not a trend. Everybody gets their turn to me and it comes around full circle. The South started their own movement in hip-hop and it’s their sound. People don’t take heed to that. Everybody has their own sounds in hip-hop. Bone Thugs have their sound. People know them for their flows and their harmonies and different stuff like that.
The South has a sound. The West Coast has a sound. The East Coast has a sound. I’ve never been a region hater. I don’t even know why dudes are. A dude said I was hating on the South when I was on Shade 45 and I felt like punching his teeth out through the phone. I got family all over the South from Virginia to Atlanta to New Orleans to the boondocks. So for anybody to ever even think of that…My flow is southern. I could do the southern dude and I can triple it up but I’m a New York dude at heart. I can rap with any flow and I can do anything. I don’t care what flow it is. I’m just trying to bring enjoyment and entertainment back. Have fun. Just chill. Be real though. I want people to feel me.
How’s your album God Forgives I Don’t coming?
Crazy. It’s coming out crazy. It’s going to be one of those memorable projects. I don’t want to brag and boast but I’m making one of those classic albums. I’m going to let the people decide that. But I’m working on it and I’m going hard. I’m trying to go off of all the classic albums like what Game did with The Documentary. It’s one of those classic joints.
How overdue is your album at this point?
I really think I’ve been overdue for a long time. I’ve been thinking I’ve been overdue for a long time. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been thinking I’ve been overdue for a long time but everything happens for a reason and every dog has a day and I’ve been rolling with the punches and just waiting my turn. 50 had been rapping for years before people really got to see him and then he came out and he just smashed it. If it’s anything with me, I think it’s a blessing in disguise because it’s giving me more experience on the ins and outs of the industry. I’ve been through a lot of things in this business at a young age and a prime example is that I used to do radio drops and I would do raps where they sound stale as hell. Now it’s about feeling comfortable and having a personality. People want to buy you and your personality. I’m more comfortable with it and having fun with it instead of trying to be something I’m not. The dudes who do that, it’s not working for them.
From looking at our first interviews to now, it seems as though each interview gets better where you’re giving the fans a lot more of your personality and situation.
Definitely. I definitely think that. I’m not going to lie. Still to this day I’m shy. Anybody that knows me will tell you I’m shy but when that mic is on I’m a whole different guy. I’m not shy like I won’t say nothing and stand up for myself. I’m happy to be in the position I’m in and I’m humbled by a lot of things. I’m happy to be in the position that I’m in. A lot of dudes don’t get the chance that I’ve gotten in the game. I feel like I made history. I made the cover of XXL and I can name 10 artists offhand that didn’t get that cover and they’ve been rapping for 10 years. It’s like everything happens for a reason. I’m just happy, man.
What caused you and former Militia partner Rain to part ways?
I think patience is key. Everybody has those days but you can’t rush. There’s a difference between people not working and rushing. Rain had it confused. He thought dudes weren’t trying to work and they didn’t want it but there have been dudes working for years that didn’t come out. Artists like Ne-Yo and Sean Garrett and The-Dream, who just had debut albums in the last four or five years, they’ve been making hits and people had known them for years. They needed their time and their turn. It doesn’t start out fresh for everybody. You gotta wait your turn.
I just thank God because I got to really sit back and see things for what they were and now I see things for what they are right now. Nobody can hide anything from me anymore. I’m going full force with mine and if I fail it’s because I fail.
Will you still work with Rain in the future?
I don’t think I have a reason to talk to Rain anymore. Guys jumped ship and they’re drowning. I don’t want to say he’s drowning. I don’t shoot down anybody trying to get money and do what they do. I just want to leave it at that. It is what it is and I’m rolling.
There was some confusion over a song released with you featuring T-Pain..,
(interrupts) Oh God. That record there. I got a record in my email. This is exactly how it went down. A record in my email that I was practically begged to do that T-Pain was on. It wasn’t even by his camp. I really should have done my research on that because I think people are thinking I’m trying to ride off of dude’s coattails. Especially after the “A Milli” thing people are probably thinking that this kid is trying to ride off the new wave and that’s not even it at all.
The record wasn’t even supposed to leak. In all actuality, we did the record and referenced it. Then we heard some shit on YouTube with some other kid singing it and I stopped it. I didn’t know about it. Somebody sent me that record and I don’t want to put their name out there even though I should. J.R. Rotem produced it and why wouldn’t it be T-Pain? They’ve cut mad records together and why wouldn’t it be official? I did the record and I get a phone call that it’s not him. I trust the dudes around me to do the right thing and basically to do their jobs and at the end of the day they’re not on point. That’s a critical mistake that could make or break a dude. I just hope that everybody knows that that’s not my M.O. I don’t ride off of anybody’s coattails and I do everything because of how I feel. T-Pain is an artist I could put in the bracket with Ne-Yo and them. He’s made a lot of hit records and he knows how the snakes in the industry move.
Whoever sent me the record slipped up. It was really stupid. I just want to reach out to T-Pain and let him know that’s not me at all. Hopefully we can work together in the future. Dudes weren’t even telling me. It was some email shit. That shit is real wack. It kind of turned my stomach to the people in my camp and my surroundings because I’m trusting y’all to be on point with your shit. It’s a long story behind that and the truth is I don’t want to burn nobody because I’m not like them. I want everybody to eat and I don’t want to take any food out of anybody’s mouth but dude’s gotta be on point with their shit. That’s it.
Do you think fans will forget about this song pretty quickly?
Oh, definitely. I want to get it in the air. I hope this interview really clears this up for me. I’ve been doing this for years on my own. I was 15 when I did the Smack footage. I left school that day to go do it. I appreciate music and I appreciate artists. Shout out to Barry Weiss and everybody up there at Jive. They should genuinely know how I get down. It made me look kind of stupid because I thought that was actually T-Pain on there. It’s my management’s fault at the time.
You recently did a video over Kanye’s “Heartless” using Auto Tune. What made you do that?
Honestly, just freestyling and having fun. I was just re-versing that shit. I said I don’t normally do this. I was just having fun re-versing. It’s all about expansion. I think it’s about the dudes who really know how to use that shit should use it. I really try not to use that shit. I did that on that freestyle just to show people that I could go wherever I want on it. I got a ‘90s mixtape where I’m rhyming over all the beats that were hot in the ‘90s and just giving it that recent, that new twist. That’s it. The “Heartless” shit was Auto Tune and just me having fun in the studio. I was really playing with the technology. Not with the lyrics. I was just having fun.
What do you think Auto Tune adds to artists that make it so popular and appealing for them to use?
It just helps dudes who can’t hold a note sing. That’s all Auto Tune is. If you can’t hit a note you use Auto Tune and that shit helps you. I used Auto Tune awhile ago. My dad did a record called “Straight Fronting” and I don’t know if that was Auto Tune or Vocoder but it had that voice box kind of-robot sound. It’s all on how you use it. If you make a fire Auto Tune record the public can’t deny it. Everybody’s doing it and stereotyping the shit but it is what it is.
Do your hardcore fans ride with you through anything or do you think they don’t want to hear you working with T-Pain and messing with Auto Tune?
That’s a good question. I personally think some fans are going to allow it because they know what kind of an artist I am and they’re going to appreciate my versatility but then there is going to be another group that just loves the flow and wants me to keep bodying the freestyles. That’s dope but it’s fun to be different and it’s fun to show people that you can be different. A lot of dudes have one tone on every record and they never switch up nothing and those dudes are stuck in a category. They’re stuck in a box. They’re in a freestyle-rapper box .I’m not trying to be on that box. My pops plays instruments and I’ve been raised around music my entire life. Most of my friends are musicians. I can’t just sit back and be a freestyle nigga. I write songs. I write R&B-type records. I write different records for different people and I’m an artist but my heart goes into hip-hop so that’s what I stick to.
Will your album God Forgives I Don’t showcase the different styles you want fans to see?
You’re going to see the versatility. I’ve been on a hiatus. Anybody who says that I haven’t been on a hiatus is crazy. It doesn’t take anybody to not see that but it’s for a reason. Different things happened in my life. I started when I was 15 and I’m 21 now. I’ve been through a lot of things that’s changed me and changed my outlook on the game. I just think they’re going to appreciate it more when they hear it and they’re going to know it’s coming from the heart. Dudes are talking about their albums and then it’s disappointing. I’m just trying to bring that breath of fresh air back like, ‘What the fuck was that? Did you hear that?’ That’s what I’m trying to do.
Will we see another Cory Gunz flood of music soon?
Definitely. I got a tape coming out. I got a Gangsta Grillz coming out. The title is not tentative yet. I got a Whoo Kid tape coming out. It’s supposed to be Sun of a Gun and we don’t have a release date yet. The Gangsta Grillz is definitely going to be coming out in January, definitely. I don’t know the exact date but HipHopGame will have that Drama joint and Son of a Gun will be coming out. I think that ‘90s joint is my priority and the album because the mixtape is really going to open their ears. I’m a young dude and people don’t know if they can really trust all of the shit that I’m rapping about. It’s the kids that are committing the crimes. Jails and juvenile detention centers wouldn’t exist. Most of the kids are committing the crimes. It’s not the case that you can’t trust young kids. They’re turning it up on the old niggas. That’s the case with my ‘90s tape. You have to trust my era. You have a choice – either you butt out or you get with it.
The new mixtape is going to most likely be two discs. Y’all are going to get tired of me. The last couple of interviews I’ve been doing, I’m really putting my money on my mouth this time. I’m not trying to play .When I say that y’all are going to be tired of me, y’all are going to be tired of me but I’m not going to over-saturate it. I’m going to make niggas drive themselves mad with my shit.
Looking back on your Def Jam days, do you have any regrets from that experience?
Definitely no regrets. Things could have been better but there’s definitely no regrets. It was definitely a musical experience. Jay-Z signed me. Dudes can’t say that. Jay-Z signed me in person, face to face. I was in a room with Jay-Z, Tommy Motolla and L.A. Reid and he hadn’t heard any of my records before that. It was all off of buzz. Not to be cocky, but niggas are really gun-shy. Everybody’s gun-shy. Whether it be marketing or what, they don’t know what to do with me and I’m going to have to show them what it is.
Have you stayed in touch with Tommy Motolla over the years?
I keep in touch with Tommy. We go through the message thing. We keep in contact and see what’s up with each other. But Tommy’s chilling. I haven’t spoken to him in a long time, I’m not going to lie, like a few months. But I ask them how they’re doing.
That’s another thing. I signed to Tommy Motolla. He messed with Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey. I think I accomplished a fair share of things in my young age and dudes don’t give me credit for it and now I’m going to have to show them what it is and I’m sick of it, not in a frustrated way, but “are you serious?” Let me do me now.
Do you ever listen to records you did a long time ago and cringe?
Oh, definitely. That’s always the case. It’s like the T-Pain record. That shit probably never would have come out. I don’t want there to be no excuse or pointing fingers at me. I don’t take CDs of my music out of the studio no more. That’s something I learned from my dad. If I have a joint that I’m going to listen to, somebody’s gotta play it for me. I don’t want it ‘til it’s out.
Where has your pops Peter Gunz been?
He’s been behind the scenes. He’s executive-producing the album and he’s got his band and he’s got a couple of artists. He’s keeping himself busy but he’s on the quiet. He’s not trying to overshadow shit.
Have you guys ever talked about who the better rapper is?
Me and my dad are still going at it. It’s always out of respect but it’s always out of fun. My dad is slick. He’s good with concepts and stuff. We make such a good team as far as records go. He just needs a skeleton for some shit. He’ll give me his input or whatever and what he thinks about different situations and what I should write about. I used to memorize his rhymes when I was 10. That was the last time he wrote for me. He just lets me be me and that’s what I appreciate about him the most. He’s a musician. He plays instruments. A lot of these rappers just rap and ad-lib. They can’t pick up a guitar. They can’t play the keys. They can’t pick up drumsticks. My pops could tear all of their asses up. I just hope they never forget that. He’s really big on executive-producing these projects and a lot of dudes are gun-shy. A lot of dudes are scared of me. Niggas are scared and it took me awhile to see it because I was a young dude trying to come into the game and make my own mark but now I have to transform into that beast and into that monster and tear niggas’ heads off.
Pound for pound, who’s a better MC, you or your pops?
Oh, I can’t even call that. My dad is big on music and he’s been doing it for years and he can come out of the bag where he’s like, ‘Nigga if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be here so I’m still better.’ (laughs) I can’t call it. And it’s all real! So it’s not nothing we could fabricate. I love my pops. He’s executive-producing the project. Of course I’m going to say my dad is the better artist.
That’s a safe answer.
What do you think about the praise that you’ve gotten from Soulja Boy?
That shit bugged me out, I’m not even gonna lie. A dude like Soulja Boy is doing his own thing. He’s on tour actually and when he shouted me out, it kind of caught me off guard because I wasn’t even thinking, not to stereotype him, but that he was keeping his ear to the street and that just opened my eyes. He’s popping and he has his own following and his own fanbase so he didn’t have to shout me out. That kind of humbled me like, ‘Thank you.’ Soulja Boy, that’s another artist that has his own sound. Dudes try to compare him and he’s just young and trying to make his money. He’s not trying to fake or perpetrate or be something he’s not. Why hate on the dude? Now with me, I almost kind of want to holla at him now and collab and do some shit with him. Not to sound funny or on some coattail shit, but just to see what we can come up with and to make some crazy shit. Hopefully we can come together on some future ventures.
Do you think Soulja Boy gets an unfair amount of hate in the game?
Definitely he does because he’s rich. Because he’s rich. I could see if dudes were mad at him because he was getting money perpetrating. He didn’t change. He’s getting money and they’re mad. They’re trying to say he’s popping it out and he’s doing him. He’s doing him. You can’t be mad at that. Everybody’s got their own lane and everybody’s doing them. He’s got his own lane. He called it on World Star. He’s got swag music. He’s not saying he’s better than Jay and Wayne and me. He’s doing him and he’s capitalizing and he’s winning and niggas are upset. I’m glad for him. He’s Black and he’s getting money. Shout out to Soulja Boy. Hopefully we can come out with some shit together. That would be dope.
You gained a lot of new fans and respect for your verse on “A Milli.” How did that verse come together?
Honestly. The “Milli” record, shout out to Cortez Bryant over at Young Money. He sent me that record and I spoke to Wayne about what Mack Maine talked to you about, a potential situation. Wayne was running around and he was busy. He told me he had something for me that he might need me on. He told me to give him some time and he might have something for me. I didn’t know what that meant but the last couple of weeks or months later I get a record from Cortez and he asked me if I would be interested in doing the record. I was like, ‘Are you serious? Do you have to ask me? Send it now.’ When I heard the record I was just flipping and I was bugging out. I was on the hiatus and he reached out and I did my thing and he appreciated it basically. It got a lot of recognition or whatever and there’s gotta be something there that he fucks with. That’s how that whole thing came about.
How did you feel about not being on Tha Carter III?
I’m not going to lie, I was supposed to be on Tha Carter III. There was supposed to be a song with me, Tyga, Lil’ Mama, Brisco and Hurricane Chris. It was supposed to be an all-stars remix and I can’t be mad. Tyga’s his own artist on the joint and he didn’t make the cut. It happens. Me and Wayne are probably going to make a smash later. It’s coming.
What artists are you featuring on God Forgives I Don’t?
I have to have Bone Thugs N Harmony. They would expect it but they wouldn’t expect it. They’ve been a major inspiration and influence as far as my writing and the whole triple style and their harmonies and their ability to make their own records and stick to their own sound and their own craft. I definitely admire them and want to get them on my project. There’s a slew of artists that I want to get on my album. I want to get Nas. And Soulja Boy. My crew is going to be on there.
As far as producers, I have the Militia production team. And Vinny Idol. There’s a lot of producers and I can’t even remember all of them. There’s a lot of dudes on there. I feel bad not even mentioning everybody. I cut so many records. I got that work ethic, that ‘Pac work ethic like I just came home. I’m grinding and I’m working.
You were featured on XXL’s list of 10 top newcomers. Do you still feel like you’re new to the game?
Definitely. There’s still a lot to learn. If I sold 10 million records I would still feel that way. I’m saying that like this – if I sold 10 million records at one time, could I keep doing it? I want to be consistent with it. That’s why I look at everything I do as a learning experience and a stepping stone for how I can do better. You can never learn too much. 50 sold millions of records and has real big checks he’s cashing so he ventured off on some other investments so there’s still other stuff that I want to learn. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t want to do movies and then show up in other things, I just want to capitalize on music. I love music. I love rap. Anything with music, I love it. I’m just trying to get people on the same page with my project.