You’ve been working with Flame Killah a lot with your group Blaq Mobb for a few years. How did the group come together?
Flame Killah comes from Brooklyn. He’s my stepbrother. He came in my life when we was young. He felt the spirit and what we were doing with the Mobb Deep thing and all that. He felt his talent and he started rhyming. He had a group called New Balance out there and it didn’t work out the way it was supposed to work out. He was just left hanging. I figured we could make a group out of me and my brother since Infamous Mobb was working on different things. Ty Nitty was doing his down south thing and Twins was working with P and Sid Roams. I figured who better to work with than my brother?
When you first came together you were doing a lot of work with producer Liveson. What happened to Liveson?
From my understanding I don’t think Liveson is doing the music anymore. I heard he had a kid and moved out to Texas. We still have the music and we’re about to put it out on the next mixtape, The Q-Boro. We have, like, four or five Liveson joints. He’s still in my memory and still in my heart. I was just listening to “Hustlaz” with my homie and shit. We’re trying to figure out what joints to put on the new mixtape because we got a lot of joints.
Flame Killah has improved ten-fold from when I first heard him. Do you see that growth too?
I feel like he grew extremely. It’s like seeing a flower blossom from a seed to a full-grown plant. It’s incredible. But there’s still more growth we can accomplish. We bring it to the table as it is, kicking that reality rap. QB 2 Southside is the first mixtape and we’re trying to get it out as many places as possible and I think Flame is doing a helluva job. Word. (loud noise) That’s the grinder right there. We’re grinding up that sour! (laughs) Word.
And we’re in the studio with Erick Sermon right now. He’s the executive producer for us right now. He gave me 30 beats and told me to go in. It’s crazy.
Erick Sermon also did a lot for the last IM3 album Reality Rap. How did you get down with him like that?
That’s my brother. He’s from out there on Long Island. We bumped into him and he was feeling our songs and feeling my music. We respect each other and he said he was going to give me some beats and we needed to go in because we were ill. I was bugging like, ‘This is Erick Sermon right here. I grew up off this kid.’ That was like a blessing.
What do Erick Sermon’s beats bring out of you as an MC?
Oh, man, it just gives me that inspiration to keep going. I never would have thought in a million years that I would be doing songs with Erick Sermon and that he would be my top producer. We were running around the ‘hood as little kids with the fisherman hats and the chains ruining around and listening to his shit. Now that it’s 2009 he’s at the crib and we’re laying down tracks together. It’s crazy. It’s incredible, man.
And also, I accomplished another task that I was trying to do in my career. I did a song with Kool G. Rap. That just gave me inspiration like crazy, just to keep putting the mustard on it. You know what, man? I always wanted to believe that anything was possible but what would have been nice for me is for my people that are dead to see this happen, like my man Screwball Louie, my man Killa Black, Scarface…All my niggas that passed away. I want them to see it in person. That would have been the best, man, because we grew up together and nobody would have ever expected it. I never knew I would be rapping in the first place. This shit just came about.
How did you and Flame Killah put QB 2 Southside together?
It was just work at its best. I met a new engineer, my assistant, Vinny Thunn. He had his equipment and everything and he wanted to go in. He seen something. I had my producers like King Benny and Sid Roams. We were doing some Alchemist stuff here and there. And then we fucked with Liveson. That was history right there.
Infamous Mobb released Reality Rap last December CHECK and it was said to be the last IM3 album. Was that true?
That was just rumors and shit. We got our next album coming called Internationally Known. We’re putting that together now. I spoke to Nitty a couple days ago. It’s all family. We’re about to start working on that ASAP, in the next month or two.
Was there ever any truth behind that rumor?
Nah. Hell no! Never that. Infamous going to be together forever. It’s like we all fuck with Mobb Deep and Big Noyd and all that. We family before this music shit. This music shit is secondary. We birthed each other. We taught each other. We raised each other. That’s more important than anything.
Even when you guys are going through your arguments and creative differences, has it never been enough to make you not want to work together?
Nah. Hell no. We did the Infamous Files and Nitty put out Untold Stories. He was holding back and he felt he had to get it off his chest and explain the situation with Mobb Deep and explain however he felt about it. That ain’t hurt nothing. We’re grown men. We have to express our feelings or we’ll blow up.
Did you ever speak to Ty Nitty about Untold Stories?
Niggas listened to it and we talked about it and we spoke about it. It was just something that he felt he had to do. I’m going to stand behind my brother 120% regardless of what he do. If he felt he had to do that and let it be known and express his feelings, he did it in the right way. He didn’t go at anybody’s head and he didn’t shit on nobody. He just put it on the table.
How far along are you on the new album Internationally Known?
Oh, this album is just about done. I’m trying to get my features and get a couple guest appearances on the album and make it a classic.
What I always loved about Infamous Mobb albums and your individual mixtapes is the QB sound you bring to the light. How do you do that?
Because I’m in the ‘hood right now. That’s how we bring it out! (laughs) I stay in the ‘hood. I’m a block nigga. I’m in the ‘hood 24-7. Niggas know where to find me at. Nigga tries to keep it 120. I keep it real in the streets and keep it real with my peoples.
Some guys can sound grimy on grimy tracks but they can bring a different style out on more happy records. I think you guys can make the happiest song sound dirty and grimy.
(laughs) That’s what I tell people! We can rhyme on anything! Nothing is safe. We’ll jump on anything. Word. I got a thing for this shit, though, as far as picking beats. Word. Havoc and them taught me real good. They taught me real well as far as what beats to choose and what to look for in the production. Word.
What do you listen for when you listen to beats?
I’m looking for the snare, the kick and the bassline. The beat gotta be telling its own story before you can rhyme on the beat. It gotta jump out and grab you before you can even put lyrics on it. I be looking for shit like that. Word. It’s funny. It’s hard to explain but being around Havoc and Alchemist and Muggs and all these dope producers like Clark Kent and Buckwild, you learn.
What producer has taught you the most about the game so far?
Havoc. I guess it would be Havoc. We used to live together in Long Island. He had a studio in the basement. Every morning we would wake up and get it in. Word. He doesn’t just settle for anything. “Spit it over! Do it over!” (laughs) He’ll have you do it over 10 times before he’ll say that shit is hot. He’s going to tell you when that shit is hot and when it’s not. You can’t have them yes-niggas around you because you’ll be putting out some weak shit in all reality. You have to be real about it because the whole world is going to hear it and the fans are going to hear it. You want to keep it 120 and you don’t want to be putting out weak shit like an asshole. You don’t’ want to be putting out anything that’s weak, man.
You released your solo mixtape G.O.D.’s Advocate two years ago. Would you consider that solo project a success today?
That project, it’s one of a kind. That’s why we’re going to re-release it in a couple of months. (laughs) Word.
How come you don’t do more solo projects?
I got my Mobb Life album coming out. I’m working on that right now. It’ll be out in the third quarter this year. That’s when I’ll put it out. With my Mobb Life album I’m going to do something different. I don’t want all the known producers. I want independent producers to send me beats to my Gmail. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m taking all independent producers’ beats. I’m using my independent niggas right now because the mainstream niggas are going to shine regardless. It’s the underdogs that don’t shine so I’m going to look out for my independent ones on this one. But it’s gotta be that heat rock. It can’t be no bullshit.
Do you prefer working on group songs as opposed to solo songs?
It really doesn’t matter because I was writing for everybody in the beginning anyway. I have a knack for it. I had a jump on it. I was in the studio with Havoc and P 24-7. It was crazy. It peeled off on me. I don’t know, man. It was like an airborne disease. Word. I caught it.
At what point did you stop writing for everybody in IM3?
It was shortly after the first album. I was writing on the first album and on the second album everybody started writing their own stuff. It was a process. Didn’t nobody know how to rhyme! I came home with the idea that we were going to be rappers. They said they didn’t know how to rhyme and I said I was going to write everybody’s rhymes. I was writing rhymes and writing rhymes. I was just following my leaders.
How did you first pick up your writing skills?
I was in jail, man. I caught it in jail. As a matter of fact, it had to be way before that because we been in the crib with the turntables and shit, mixing. We was in the crib with the turntables and all that shit in Monte’s crib. That had to be ’87 or ’86. Word. We were in the crib with the turntables and mixing it down and acting like we were rhyming with the microphone but we were saying other people’s rhymes. But, you know, we had a knack for it.
What memory stands out the most from recording the first IM3 album Special Edition?
The Virgin deal. The Virgin deal stood out from that because we got dropped from Virgin. They picked us up and we got a deal from them. They signed us for $650,000. That was in 2000. We brought the album back to the table and they asked why we were so hard. We were like, ‘What do you mean why are we so hard? We’re from Queens. We’re from the ‘hood. This is what we do. We spit what we know. I’m not going to come out rhyming about big houses and cars and diamonds and all that. I don’t got it.’
They wanted us to change our style and water it down a little bit. We couldn’t do that. We moved on. They let us go. We moved on and we got with Landspeed and all I could think about was that $650,000 budget that we just lost. That was like a five album deal so the budget was escalating every deal. We knew at the end of the situation we would have a $1.2 million budget for that album. I wanted to prove something to these motherfuckers like, ‘Let’s go and make some history for real.’
Do you ever regret not watering down your sound today?
Nah because in a way, yeah, you think about the stardom and you think about the fame that you would have had and touring across the whole world, but then you think about who you are as a person. If that’s not you as a person then why would you do it? I couldn’t look myself in the mirror.
What’s your favorite Infamous Mobb album?
I love them all, man. I don’t even have a favorite. Word. I don’t even got a favorite. I love them all. It’s creativity. Niggas are trying to stay out of trouble and not do the wrong thing. We’re trying to not be a motherfucking menace to society. We’re trying to do the right thing and get it out to the fans the best that we can.
Infamous Mobb made their debut on Hell on Earth. How did you approach working on your first big break?
Man, it was like, just, being at home. Word. It was so comfortable. We were growing as kids and we were in our prime. We were comfortable and it was crazy. Shit was just automatic. It was just automatic. I don’t know, man. It was just like going to Havoc’s crib every day, going to P’s crib, kicking 40 bottles on the floor and shit, P making beats and showing Havoc how to make beats and Hav showing P how to rhyme iller. It was just like the come up. Word.
How do you think you’ve grown since those days?
I’m just a lot smarter. I’m a lot more as far as health-wise. I feel like I can run around the world three times. Niggas are smarter. We learned a lot more. We’ve been through a lot. Niggas know the industry now as far as what type of music our fans are interested in and what they want to hear coming from us. I’m not here to please everybody, man. Fuck that. I’m here to please my fans. They fuck with me. All that other shit goes out the window. Word.
Have you spoken to Prodigy since his incarceration?
Yeah. I went to see P. I went up north to see P. Free P, the movement. I went up there to see my nigga. We kicked it a little bit. He’s holding his head. He’s doing good. He’s looking healthy. At one time they was shamming on him with his medicine. I think he had his people from the outside, like his wife, call Russell Simmons and Russell Simmons called the jail and addressed the situation about his medicine and they got on the ball with it. But he’s all right, man. That’s my G. He’ll be home soon. Keep your head up. Shout out to P. Word up. That’s my nigga.
How’s the new Blaq Mobb mixtape Q Boro coming?
It’s done already. We got shit done. We got everything done. My solo album is 90% done and the Blaq Mobb album is 90% done and the next mixtape Q Boro, that shit is done. Mobb Life is going to be crazy, son. Word. That’s my solo shit. I gotta make it ill. I’m going to put my all into that one right there.
You have a very distinct and easily recognizable voice. How would you describe it?
Oh, man, how would I describe my fucking voice, man? Seductive-like. When you hear my shit you’re going to be interested in what I got to say. It reaches out and it just grabs you and shit. Word. (laughs)
How does G.O.D. Part III put a song together?
It’s like water falling from a faucet, man. Word up. The beat comes on and I know I’m going in on that shit right there. Word. The E Double joints are crazy! “Just When You Thought It was Safe” was the first song we put on and that was crazy. Erick Sermon was on the hook and he was whispering on it. I didn’t know what the fuck he was saying and when I heard it, I went home and I did it exactly how he told me to do it. I didn’t write nothing down or anything. I just did it exactly how he said and brought it to the table like it was.
How would you say the QB hip-hop scene is doing today?
It’s good. It does what it do. Every artist that comes from out here is going to have QB music. They’re going to have that QB sound because QB gives off a certain energy. There’s nowhere in the world that there’s rappers that come out of one project as many as have come out of here. You go back to Roxanne Shante and Marley Marl and Craig G and Juice Crew and fucking MC Shan and Tragedy Khadafi and Craig G. It’s crazy. Word. There were times where when I was growing up Big Daddy Kane would be sitting at the card table with Biz. I would be sitting right there with them and Biz Markie would be doing his crazy beatbox. We would sit there and be like, ‘What the fuck is he doing?’
I guess that was a big inspiration in my life too because Marley used to live right on 14 on the block. That was right there, you know.
What was 41st side like in the ‘80s?
You would just go to the window. Marley lived on the second floor. You would just go there and just listen like, ‘You hear that shit? You hear that?’ Word. There was one time when my mans was just rhyming and they called me Trip back then. He was like, ‘Yo, Trip, you know Marley. Go give him my tape for me, man. Give him my tape.’ I brought him the tape like, ‘Yo, Marley, this is my man. He rhymes Check him out. Word.’
Did anything happen from that?
No. It was just point of the matter. Word.
What’s next for you?
Look forward to the ’09. Look forward to it. I hope you enjoy what we’re bringing to the table. We’re doing this for our block niggas. We got our Blaq Mobb shit and the Mobb Life thing going on and Nitty’s got the Infamous South thing going on. There’s a whole bunch of good music that’s about to come out and that’s not even including what Havoc and Steve Sola are working on. They got a whole lot of mixtapes and music that they’re working on. There’s all types of music with Big Noyd and all that.
How much do you think the game needs some new QB music?
I don’t know. I guess we’ll see when we put it out! (laughs) Word, man. I keep it 100. We’re blowing sour and sipping on Beck’s right now.