DJ Envy: We’re good.
How did you guys approach The Co-Op album?
DJ Envy: It was great. We used both of our energies and both of our past experiences and came up with a gameplan and started recording songs. Red’s been in this industry a long time and I’ve been in this industry a long time. We knew where we wanted to go with it.
Red Café, do you consider The Co-Op to be your debut album?
Red Café: It’s definitely not Red’s debut album. It’s The Co-Op’s debut album. We came together on this project and it’s the first of many. We want to do a few more volumes of The Co-Op. We’re just two different entities coming together to create a conglomerate. That’s what the name ‘The Co-Op’ means. It’s like how the crews on The Wire came together. This is The Co-Op’s debut album. Red Café’s debut album is coming soon.
What made you guys want to come together as The Co-Op?
Red Café: Just seeing Envy’s work ethic, seeing him in the clubs and hearing him tear the radio and mixtapes up. His drive and hustle was motivation for me. I’m the same way. People know my history through the four or five deals that I’ve had. I’m persistent with it. I just keep on pushing. And I have all of the other situations that I have outside of music. Just seeing those same qualities in Envy, I just wanted to do it and I wanted to do something that hasn’t been done in a long time, like Eric B and Rakim or Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. We wanted to let the people know that the DJ is just as important as the MC. I wanted to just bring something to the table and that happened. We said, “Let’s get together and make an album out of this, man.” I think it came out great. I’m really happy with it.
How did you guys pull off the “Dollar Bill (Remix)”, which featured Juelz Santana, Jermaine Dupri and Sean Kingston?
DJ Envy: The whole idea of “Dollar Bill” is basically what we’re about 24/7, what’s always on our minds and how we like to make money. We came up with a cast of people that is similar to our drive. We started out with Jermaine Dupri, which is both of our big homies. He has so many different things that he’s doing, from the producing to being an artist to the restaurants to the fragrances to being the president of Island Def Jam. Then you have Juelz Santana, who has every car that you can name, has real estate, has shops, has clothing stores and his own clothing line, so we definitely wanted him on there. Then you have Sean Kingston. He’s only 17 years-old and he sold over 2 million ringtones and he’s getting $50,000 a show. His hustle is like anybody who has never had a dime. And then you have Busta Rhymes. Busta Rhymes, I consider him the father of hustling. He stays with a hustle whether it’s a deal with Aftermath or a new this or a new clothing line or a new that. So that’s how we came up with The Concept for the remix. And all of these artists are feeling what me and Red are doing.
Are you happy with how “Things You Do” featuring Nina Sky is doing?
Red Café: “Things You Do” is just taking off. It’s moving at a great pace. Of course we represent the streets. We came from the mixtapes. We came from working on it when it was really still pure. A record like “Things You Do,” some people might look at it in awe like, ‘Look at DJ Envy and Red Café.’ We’re fashion-forward. We mess with the ladies. We like to party in the Hamptons and party in the Jersey Shore, party overseas and party in San Tropez. We like to do a lot of different things but we can still be in Club Avalon or Club Speed. We are diverse enough to put out a record like “Things You Do” with Nina Sky and produced by the Trackmasters. That was a great record for the summer. We just want to make great music.
Red Café, you’ve made a lot of mixtapes in the past. Where does The Co-Op project stand against your previous work?
Red Café: Usually when you do mixtapes, you get a chance to grab the best music out there. You get to grab the best tracks off of everybody’s albums and you get to perform those tracks. The difference between that and this is that now we have our own original tracks. Now you get to hear what we have to offer. These are all our ideas. This is all original music. Envy would have it no other way than to have me approach it from a street level but still show growth. There’s nothing that’s changed. It’s just growth.
How is your debut album The Shakedown coming?
Red Café: That’s something to look forward to. That album is a classic already. And I feel very confident in saying that. You’ve haven’t heard an album from a brand new artist like this in a long time since 50 Cent’s first album or Kanye’s first album. You haven’t heard this in a long time. This is a classic in the making.
What made you want to sign with Akon’s Konvict Music?
Red Café: Once I met him and I really got a chance to hang out with him. He was touring and his first project was moving slow and I saw him out there hustling. He sold 17,000 records his first week and now he’s selling almost 4 million records on that album. The label gave up. He went out there and he sold that album to the people himself. So to see that kind of hustle in someone and the loyalty that he expressed to me and he showed me and just his passion with the music and his passion for how he felt about Red Café’s music, it’s something that I’ve never had in a producer or mentor. I love what he’s doing and it makes perfect sense. I felt at home with him. The records that we make together are just amazing. The majority of that album is completed. We have features from Bone Thugs, Akon, T-Pain, Ray Lavender, Kardinal Offishall, Fabolous and Mack 10. The album is amazing.
You’ve been through a lot of different labels and never had an album come out. How frustrating has that been?
Red Café: It definitely frustrates you to work on the project and then have the fans not be able to hear the album. You’re building them up and getting them excited and looking forward to hearing something and then they never get it. You kind of feel a certain way about that because you can’t satisfy your fans fully even though it’s out of your hands. At the end of the day, the fans are going to look at you for that. I love the music and it’s bigger than going through the drama. I’m going to still do the music. The roars and the encores are enough for me. When they’re screaming my name on the stage, that’s enough payment for me. I’m going to continue to do it either way.
A lot of your critics have said that you can’t make an album. How do you respond?
Red Café: Pick up The Co-Op on October 9 and watch the movie. I’m going to be giving out popcorn to people around Christmastime because you’re going to be knee-deep in the movie.
DJ Envy, how’s your album coming?
DJ Envy: The album is coming out wonderful. Red Café is kind of like the executive-producer and the A&R for it. We’re coming up with ideas and it’s coming out great. You name it, they’re on the album, from T.I. to Ludacris to Jermaine Dupri to Jadakiss. It’s coming out great. It’s just a matter of making good records and making good songs and that’s what we’re doing.
You’re also still holding it down at Hot97. How do you make sure you stand out from other DJs on the show?
DJ Envy: I don’t jeopardize anything on my show. I don’t play a record because it’s somebody’s baby’s father. I basically play it because I like it. And I’m able to talk about what I want to talk about. I don’t care what the repercussions are. A lot of people are scared to say what they feel and it shows. As long as I have The Co-Op and my strong family behind me, nothing else really matters.
How far can The Co-Op go?
DJ Envy: Truthfully, I feel in the next couple of years that we’ll be that new Rocafella, that new Bad Boy, that new Ruff Ryders…It’s more than just me and Red as a group. It’s a record label. We have artists and we have producers. We’re starting clothing lines. The difference between what we have and what other people have is that we have our own income and we can finance things on our own. There are so many things me and Red financed for ourselves on The Co-Op album because we wanted it. With our mindstate and the way that our minds think, that’s the best way to go because we invest money in ourselves.
Are you still working with Blok Gang?
DJ Envy: I work with Coke, not Newz. Newz is signed to Murder Inc. and Irv Gotti.
What’s going on with Coke?
DJ Envy: Coke is an artist that I basically started with. He’s one of those dudes that’s always going to be with me whether he’s helping me produce records or do anything else. He’s a homie. He’s like family.
Will we see you developing more artists in the future?
DJ Envy: Of course. I think this album is basically proving that I can make records. I’m an A&R at So So Def, so I think people pretty much know that I can make records. It’s about making records that I feel. I’m working to do that with Section 8, which is a group Red and I signed. There’s also an R&B group Butterfly that Red and I signed. I’m sure you’ll hear a whole lot from them shortly.
What’s the next move for you guys?
DJ Envy: Promoting The Co-Op. After the Co-Op project, we’re going to work on Red’s solo album and my solo album and then we’re going to work on Section 8 and Butterfly. We’re working on getting our bread.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Red Café: Get that Co-Op album on October 9. Go to my MySpace page and do your homework on Red Café. And continue to be a fan of the music. People want to be competitors and they criticize the music before they hear it. Let’s get the fans back into the music.