I’m doing better than usual.
You recently released a freestyle “Us and the Gunz” where a lot of people think you’re dissing BET. Can you clarify that?
That’s not true at all. I’m not going at BET at all. It’s funny that everybody is trying to make rap into the WWF. That shows you that people don’t listen to music. I did a scenario. I said, “What if I turn Rap City into Clap City?” Come on, dude. Why is everybody trying to make black people be such dramatized (sic), dude? We can’t do nothing or say nothing without somebody turning it into a beef because that’s what they want to see and then somebody gets killed like ‘Pac or Biggie. If I got something to say about somebody, I’m going to say it. People are not listening. They’re hearing what I’m saying and they’re trying to make it be something else. I just did that verse in The Booth. That was just a freestyle song. That wasn’t no big deal.
How are you going to get fans to listen?
That’s not my job. If they ask me about it, I tell them. If somebody wants to come up to me on the street and they want to handle it, then we’ll handle it. But I don’t have time for that. I’m grown. People are acting like bitches. I don’t have time for that. I’m a grown-ass man. That’s really, really childish, dude. Man, fuck them. Fuck whoever says that. That’s so childish to me. It’s sickening to me. That’s one reason why I’m just so tired of rap niggas and people in rap. They act like little bitches and they’re trying to turn this shit into the WWF until somebody gets killed. Niggas want to do street shit until the streets come to them. I really think that people should be careful. People are trying to make beef and ruin people’s careers so that can sit back and laugh about it on their website or in their little magazine. They need to realize that these are people’s lives.
You recently spoke out against Al Sharpton and the issues he attacks. What motivated that?
It was just them attacking hip-hop. I’m tired of them attacking hip-hop. Come on, dude. We already have enough people trying to crucify us and for it to come from them…I’m really tired of it and I’m really embarrassed.
What did you make of Al Sharpton’s response to your “suck my dick” comment where he twisted your words into a homosexual remark?
I thought Al Sharpton was a preacher. I thought he was a man of the cloth, and that’s the first thing that he thinks about? That just shows what’s really inside of him. Out of all the stuff I accused him of, that’s the only thing that he can respond to. That’s childish.
Why does Al Sharpton have the position he has today?
Once again, we don’t pay attention to the right things. We spend our time wondering who’s beefing here and who’s beefing there. For me, I just said, “Fuck it. If nobody else is going to stand up and be a man, I will.”
Why do you think other rappers haven’t come out against Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson?
It’s not really their responsibility and I can’t speak on what another man does. Me, personally, I feel like if God laid it on me to take responsibility, I can’t lay it on them. I don’t think a rapper has any other responsibilities than to make hit records. I just look at it from the standpoint that I do what I can do and hopefully I can influence other people and be an example.
In “Us and the Gunz” you also question whether you’re a prophet or thug. What do you think you are right now?
I don’t really care. As long as I’m making money, they can view me however the fuck they want to. I’m not a politician. I’m just a man that speaks my mind. And if a person has a problem with it, talk to me. And I tell people I don’t consider myself a leader. If the general public or youth deems me that or God feels that it’s time for me to do that, I would be glad to, but for me, dog, I don’t really care. I’m probably both.
Are you happy with how your new album The Greatest Story Ever Told came out?
Oh, yeah, I’m very happy. And we’re still working on it right now.
How close are you to being done with it?
I’m going to work on it until the day that they press it up.
What’s your state of mind on The Greatest Story Ever Told?
Hit records. That’s all. Even if I do a gospel song, it’s going to be a hit gospel song. I’m really not focusing on trying to change the world and politics and all that kind of shit. That don’t matter to me. I just want to make hot songs. That’s it.
Do you have a formula for making hit songs?
I go in every time and try to do something different. Some people start like this or start like that. If you do the same thing every time, you’re usually going to get the same results and that can be good. If Timbaland is doing the same thing every time, he should continue. If Pharrell is doing the same thing every time, then he should continue. Until I find that formula that everybody wants, I’m going to try to be influenced in different ways in different times.
What’s inspiring you to make music today?
Nothing, really. I make my money in different places. The music is all right. I do it because I want to now, not because I have to.
Have you lost your hunger for making music?
No. I’m just smarter now. I don’t allow my desires to control my thinking part or my business part of my brain. There’s a time and there’s a place for everything and sometimes there’s not a time and you just have to sit back and be quiet. I just sit back and handle the things as they come to me.
How important is it for an artist today to have other business?
Diversifying your portfolio is the best thing that you can ever do. Rap is not my god so it can not control me. I think it’s smart for people to do other things.
How will The Greatest Story Ever Told compare to your older albums?
It won’t compare. This is one of the best rap albums in history, ever. It’s better than my old ones.
What made you choose the title The Greatest Story Ever Told when Saigon had titled his album The Greatest Story Never Told?
Well, which one did you hear about first?
I remember hearing about Saigon’s around 2003.
Well, I had never heard of Saigon’s album and I know Saigon. That didn’t have no influence. I didn’t know nothing about that. My friend actually named my album. My thing is, why would I intentionally do some shit like that? That shows you again how people try to push things to be something that it’s not. Niggas had similar thoughts at similar times, so fuck it. You and I both know that somebody’s not going to run in the record store and be like, ‘I wanted to get David Banner but I got Saigon.’ What are the odds of that happening? Slim and none.
My shit ain’t gonna change. Like, I don’t care about what nobody else does. I don’t care if he changes his name David Banner and names his album The Greatest Story Ever Told. I would not care. It’s not my business. People know who I am and people know who he is. It’s not that big of a deal. But they want me and Saigon to get into it and it’s all childish. If we would stop and listen to the questions and the things that we are so concerned about, look at Paris Hilton and Michael Vick. Is that all that Americans can talk about? We’re so shallow and we’re so ignorant. Who gives a fuck what the name of that dude’s album is? I don’t give a shit. What he eats don’t make me shit.
There have been protests to Nas performing at the Virginia Tech Memorial Concert. What’s your opinion on that?
I didn’t know nothing about it, but I think that Nas should do whatever is dear to his heart. The kids are the ones that are affected by this tragedy the most so they should get whoever they want. It shouldn’t be a question what nobody else thinks. As long as Nas is cool with it and he wants to do it, then make it happen.
Should hip-hop fans be concerned with what the mainstream media thinks about hip-hop?
It shouldn’t matter. That’s the best thing. Bill O’Reilly is driven by sponsors. As intelligent as he is, some of the stuff that he says is so ignorant, dude. That’s a very smart and well-spoken man. He should concentrate on what he does. But we have to understand that people like Bill O’Reilly and people like Al Sharpton and people like Jesse Jackson, they get paid off of focusing on other people’s pain but they don’t do shit. What does he do? He has no solution. What’s the solution to the problem, Bill O’Reilly? So we have to understand that he has to stir up stuff or he’s not relevant.
How did you feel when Al Sharpton spearheaded the movement to get Don Imus fired from CBS?
I think the thing that we should concentrate on more is not the fact that he got fired but the fact that he said what he said and because he’s white, he can turn around and get a million dollar deal somewhere else. We’ll see if they will be as generous to Michael Vick because he’s young and he’s black.
Has Michael Vick been treated unfairly?
Very. Very unfairly. I’m not saying that his involvement isn’t wrong, but his punishment and America’s hunger for blood just really shows you where we’re at as a people.
How much of the “hunger for blood” is because Americans love dogs versus Michael Vick being black?
Michael Vick being black. You know, there’s so many other cases. People want to make an example. They say, “We got to keep us an O.J. Simpson. We got to keep us a Michael Vick. We got to keep us a Barry Bonds.” News ain’t nothing but entertainment, dude. Sometimes people think the news is run by the government. The news is a money-generating business just like rap, so they got to keep some drama. And that’s some bullshit.
You know and I know that when it comes to young, black men, you’re guilty until you’re proven innocent. Going back to that, we can go back to Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth was an alcoholic during Prohibition and he’s so high and mighty. There’s talk that he was drunk when he was on the field, but nobody talks about that because that’s not important.
I got an email today about all the credit card fraud that goes on amongst our congressmen. But people don’t talk about that. Young, black men don’t have anybody to come to their rescue so it’s easy to blame all of the problems of the world on young, black men when truly, we don’t have the power to make nothing. We don’t make steroids. Where do the steroids come from? We don’t make the guns. Where do the guns come from? We don’t have the power to bring crack to the United States and manufacture it. The truth is, there are so many problems that are big and if we really looked at it, they point to how sick America is and they will probably point back to some of our most powerful white leaders, but don’t nobody want to talk about that.
Where would you start trying to fix things?
You have to start with yourself. I definitely started cleaning me up, physically, mentally and spiritually. And then you start in your community and you build your way up. There are a lot of problems in our community. We can’t go to the war. We have to deal with the problems ourselves. We can’t go to racism here because we have problems inside of our own community. Those were the things that I was trying to tell Al Sharpton and Oprah Winfrey. Why don’t you come talk to us before you go out and ruin our names? The truth is they don’t want to come talk to us because they don’t want to solve the problem because they’re making money off of us.
Getting back to The Greatest Story Ever Told, what do you have to do from here on out to make sure the album is successful?
With the point I’m at in my career, dog, it matters, but then it doesn’t matter. I’m going to make my records and do what I’m supposed to do. I’m not going to turn my album in until it’s promoted and it gets what it’s supposed to get. If it’s a good enough album, I feel it will permeate to the people. I did what I’m supposed to do as a person and I’m going to leave it at that. If the company decides to fuck this one up, that’s their loss. I’m going to go do a movie or something. Fuck it.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming artists?
Start your own company. Get your own businesses started so that you can’t blame nothing on nobody else. If you’re not getting the right kind of beats, start doing your own kind of music.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I love them and thank them for drinking Coke.