I’m feeling good. I got a chance to see another day. I just thank God that I’m feeling like the champ back in the title fight.
How did first link up with Fabolous and get down with Street Fam?
Back in the day, even before I started rapping, I met them through Foxy Brown’s brother Young Gavin. Young Gavin used to come down to Philly and he’d mess with us and then we’d go up to Brooklyn and party with Gav up in the city. He’d tell us to go up there. That’s where I first met Fabolous. Gavin introduced us to Fab. My cousin used to rap and he met us like that. I was living in Philly and unfortunately I had gotten locked up. That’s where I started writing rhymes. Once I got back in the game, I linked back up with Fab. We just started kicking it with each other and he started hearing my music and he wanted me to be a part of what he was doing. It was a real blessing. He’s one of the best, bar for bar, of the last decade. For me to be even considered for his team was an honor. I just took a chance and made the most of it.
What was it about Street Fam that made you want to be down with them?
Basically because I’m a fan of hip-hop and I’m a fan of good music and Fab is one of the best. He has his movement and he doesn’t have a big team. It was just him and a few other people and he was the main act. Even though he was a superstar in his own right, he’s a humble dude and he doesn’t mind other dudes shining and giving his opinion on things. If you’re a real nigga, you just feel where realness is coming from. Nobody’s trying to sell you a dream at Street Fam. You just have to let it happen naturally. I felt it was the right thing to do.
What was it like for you growing up in Philly?
It’s definitely hard coming up in Philly because a lot of artists from here get stereotyped. You only hear about Cassidy, Beans, Freeway and maybe Eve and the people down with State Property. A lot of people think that artists from Philly can rap but they can’t make songs but I’m proving them wrong. I’ve had meetings where people expected me to play something and I would play something else. A lot of people are basing what they think they’re going to hear from me on what they’ve heard from other artists. Nothing in life is going to be easy and I like it when people underestimate me because it’s more of a surprise when they really hear what I have to offer.
You were arrested 19 times growing up. That’s a lot of times.
Definitely. That’s nothing that I’m proud of. I was in a lot of situations and I was in the streets. I’m a real risk-taker and a lot of times when you put yourself on the line, it’s going to be hit or miss. A lot of times I hit but a lot of times I missed. We could talk about the 19 times I missed or the 119 times I hit. Just to be here today, it was just like a lot of lessons. Now I try to focus and do the right thing. It was just me being in the environment and it was destined to happen. No matter what you’re doing, you have to know that karma is going to come back and kick you in the ass. There are two twins, Sooner and Later, and sooner or later, they’re going to catch up to you. But I don’t regret my past because I believe that’s what made me into who I am today and that’s a strong person.
How hard are you working to make sure you don’t go back to that life?
I’m focused like Lens Crafters. I don’t want to sleep until I can make money in my dreams. I’m just focused and I’m doing anything I can do to show the world what I have to offer. I’m just giving it all that I can give it because I know that at the end of the day, hard work pays off and you only get out what you put in.
You were signed to Arista before linking up with Fab. What exactly happened there?
I was signed with them for a few months. I got signed by L.A. Reid. I rapped for L.A. Reid and I got signed on the spot. When I was three or four songs deep into my project, they fired L.A. Reid. If you know anything about the industry, you know that the only people that care about you are the ones that signed you. I was signed to Trackmasters and when L.A. Reid lost his situation, it’s kind of like everything else was out the door.
Now that L.A. Reid and Fabolous are both over at Def Jam, is it possible that you will be coming out on Def Jam?
Oh, there’s definitely a lovely chance. I’m under the Street Fam imprint and we’re making our rounds right now. There’s a lovely chance and there’s a lot of love over there from Jay to L.A. to Jay Brown…Just the whole organization. They’re familiar with me. I’m going to show them. I’m going to get myself hot in the street so that it doesn’t look like we’re asking for handouts. We’re going to make them want to come aboard. Def Jam is definitely a good place to be. I got a lot of respect for everybody over there, from L.A. Reid to everybody else.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from the Arista situation?
The most important lesson I learned was that being signed means a lot less than what people think it means. It’s just a piece of paper. Before Arista, you sign a deal and you think that your life is going to change and that everything is going to be fine and dandy, but if you don’t lay your groundwork down in the streets, then everything is going to crumble. Hard work is better. Being signed is just a piece of paper and it means that you belong to that company at that time. Now I know what you have to do to make yourself hot and you have to put time and effort into your project before you see what a label is going to do for you. It taught me to do more things for myself instead of waiting for somebody else to make me hot or tell me I’m hot.
You also wrote for Tommy Hilfiger’s son, Young Rich Hilfiger. What was that experience like for you?
It was an experience. I was working with the Trackmasters and Steve Stoute is a good friend of Tommy Hilgfiger’s and they wanted to get a demo done. The Trackmasters did the beats and I did the rhymes. It was a good situation. I can say that Tommy Hilfiger was real and he wasn’t on no fake shit. A lot of people can say what they want to say about him, but I have nothing bad to say about him. A lot of people told me about him but I could see that even though we were coming from different places, we had a lot of similarities. It also allowed me to put myself in other people’s shoes and write for them. That was a great thing because that’s something that I know I’m going to have to be doing a lot of in the future.
Your first big project was your mixtape Fistful of Dollars. How did that project do for you?
That was my foundation. I wanted to make sure that I came with a lot of original songs. A lot of times when you hear mixtapes, they’re rapping on instrumentals and it’s easy because that song is already a hit. I brought all my own original beats that producers made for me and I proved that I was nice lyrically. It was a blessing from God that people received it the way that they received it because it was a mixtape/album. I know how rare it is for people to like you straight out the gate like that.
If I didn’t make Fistful of Dollars, then we wouldn’t be on the phone right now. We wouldn't be having this conversation right now. We might be having this conversation two years from now. It let people know that I could make songs instead of just spit bars. It let a lot of people know that I could make an album and that I had a lot of different styles. It opened up a lot of people's ears. It got me an ear from people and that’s all you can ever ask for. All you can do is get an ear from people and get their opinions. Now I’m just trying to burn their ears off.
How valuable is DJ Clue’s cosign to you?
It’s very valuable. He’s one of the most famous DJs in the world and of all-time. He broke a lot of music. Jay fucks with him. Clue doesn’t just do mixtapes unless you’re signed to him like a Ransom or a Fabolous. So for me to not be signed to him and for him to feel it and for me to do a mixtape with all original beats, that was a big cosign because he’s known for fucking with the best.
You were on “This Is Family” off Fab’s last album From Nothin’ To Somethin’. What was it like recording that song?
Basically one night Fab told me that we were going to do a crew joint. I’m thinking that it was just going to be me and him. He had some cats pick me up. Joe Budden was there with Ransom, Red Café and Paul Cain. The way I try to approach a record, to go back to my Fistful of Dollars mixtape, is that I remember that a lot of people like me for who I am. In the room there were a lot of good spitters but I was the only one that wasn’t really known like that. I knew I had to bring my A-game and just stay in my lane because everybody there does their own thing. It was just important for me to do my own thing. I’m bar-for-bar the best and I was swimming with sharks there, so I had to do my thing.
What have you learned about the game from being around Fabolous?
I look at the progress. I was there from day one on his last album. I learned that when you’re consistent, it means everything. Fabolous has always been consistent. And when you do that, nobody can deny you. The haters can’t deny you. I learned to give it all you got. That’s what I learned from him. I learned how to switch it up and how to stay consistent and to keep striking them. That’s how I want to be remembered. If you don’t go down like a legend, then you don’t want to go down. It’s either first place or last place.
You’ve also worked with Just Blaze. What was that like?
Oh, Just is a legend. He’s one of the best producers in the game, if not the best. Just working with him in Baseline in the same room that Jay-Z worked in and just getting his honest opinion and having him tell me how other people felt about it, it just took my confidence to another level. But I try to leave the opinions to the fans because everybody is going to feel good about themselves. He gave me free beats. For him to take his time out and give me free beats, it was just a blessing and it just took my confidence to another level. It was just a blessing for me.
What’s the next move for Freck Billionaire right now?
I got my street single “Peanut Butter.” I got it bubbling right now. It’s bubbling in my own town. Shout out to the DJs playing that. I got DJ Clue playing it. Absolut is spinning it. Shout out to him. DJ Khaled and Greg Street are spinning it. I did a big email blast with that and I got a good response from that. Fab’s got a Gangsta Grillz mixtape coming out. We’re putting out these songs because when we attack these labels, I’m already coming with a product ready. I’m not looking for them to put me in the room with Pharrell, even though I would love to do that in a perfect world. I’m opening up for Fab and doing shows and doing freestyles, constantly sending shit to HipHopGame. I’m just trying to warm everybody up for when it’s coming because when it’s hot, you know it’s coming.
What do you have to do to be a successful artist in the game today?
You have to stay hot. You have to stay relevant. And you have to not follow a trend, but especially as a new artist, you have to compare yourself to what’s playing on the radio. When you hear big records, you can’t make songs like that, but you have to make sure that DJs like Funkmaster Flex can play your single right after songs like that. You have to make sure that the guys want to be like you and the ladies love you and you can’t slack off. And hip-hop sales, I think it’s about the example I just made. Look at T.I. He sold 500,000 in the first week. People are still buying music. They just need a reason to get it. If people feel you and if they fuck with you, they’re going to get your CD. I think it all depends on the artist.
How much longer do you think you’ll be unsigned for?
Probably until tomorrow. That’s the way I look at it, actually, man. While I’m talking on the phone now, I’m waiting for the other line to ring. I know what I have to bring to the table. It’s about what people get together. Not to put anybody on blast, but I already have things on the table. Nobody can give me what I already got. It totally depends on me and how I’m making it hot and where I’m comfortable at and where I choose to go. I know they’re totally interested, so I look at it like it might happen tomorrow.
When’s your next project dropping?
About a month from now. We really collaborated on the Gangsta Grillz. I like for things to make sense. I want that when I drop the next mixtape, I want to have more ears than I have now. I want to have the Gangsta Grillz mixtape drop and then I’m going to have a lot more listeners than I had, then it makes sense for me to drop the next mixtape. I have most of the songs done and I have features from Fab and Fat Joe. I want to have a reason to drop it. I want to have people listen to it. I don’t want to just have people breaking weed up on my CD.
How’s your debut album coming?
It’s coming along lovely. It’s executive-produced by Fab. I’ve been getting a good response and he’s a big hitmaker. You can see it in his face. I’m just giving them me on beats. It’s like Fistful of Dollars turned up times ten. That’s the story they’re getting. But I’ve grown a lot as an artist and it’s different flows. But I’m about to work with producers like Pharrell, Just Blaze and Jermaine. Hopefully a lot other people will reach out and it’s definitely headed in the right direction.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Thank you to anybody that’s my fans. Thank you anybody that hates me. Thank you anybody that generates any type of energy about Freck Billionaire or Street Fam Records. Anything that they’re about, I would just like to say thank you. I’m the best, bar-for-bar, and I’m not going to stop. I’m going to keep doing my thing. Just look out for me, man. Just look out for me because I’m coming.