I’m doing real good. Real good.
Your debut solo album The Kush is about to drop. How does that feel?
It feels real good. I’m waiting for September 18 to come so that people can pick it up and I can get their opinion on it, which I know is going to be a good one. I’m really looking forward to that.
What do you have to do make The Kush successful?
I just have to be me. It’s about being me. I have to come out with the project. I put my best foot forward with the songs and I think the fans are going to like it, especially the hardcore fans. I’m coming out and I’m not wearing no shiny suits and I’m not trying to get on the radio or nothing like that. I’m just coming with straight product that’s going to be considered a classic.
Why do you consider The Kush to be a street album?
They were just tracks that I had up in the hard drive. I was just like, ‘Here, take it.’
How would this compare to a project you would consider to be your album?
Not far. It’s not far from it. At the end of the day, nevertheless, it’s my music so I’m proud of it. I’m going to continue to keep on making more music.
A lot of times when fans hear the term “street album,” they translate that to mean that the artist is giving them material that’s a sub-par quality. How are you guaranteeing the quality of The Kush?
That’s why I’m saying that nevertheless, this is Havoc music. Nevertheless, it’s my music. So no matter if I call it a “mixtape” or you call it an “album,” nevertheless it’s my music and I made it. I put all of the effort in there that I would put in anything that I’m making. So whatever it’s called, it’s my music, so look forward to hearing good music.
What kind of production did you want to make for yourself on The Kush?
Basically I took the same shit that I always take. I don’t really try to make it for any specific reason other than my love for the music and my fans. I just made it. I went in there and I made it and I just took some shots in the dark like, ‘Yo, look, this is what it is.’ And that’s what you’re going to get out of it. You’re going to love it. You’re going to keep playing it over and over again.
How important was it for you to handle all of the production on The Kush?
You know what? It wasn’t even a thought. I just did it. It’s my album. That’s it. It’s my music and I’m a producer, so why shouldn’t I do all of it?
Are you happy with the response you’ve received for your single “I’m the Boss”?
Yeah, but you have to work it. You really have to work it. Nowadays you really have to get out there and you really have to promote your songs. All of the reaction that I’m getting for it, I’m feeling it.
You talk a lot about trust on “Be There.” How many people do you actually trust in this game?
(laughs) Not too many, man. Not too many. You have to watch yourself out here in this entertainment industry and on a personal level, but not to the point where you’re crazy with it, but to the point where you have to watch yourself. That’s what it is. It’s a world full of a lot of people that don’t want to do you well, so you have to watch yourself.
Is a solo project overdue for you?
It depends on who you’re talking to. Maybe it is overdue to the fans, but to me, I take my time with a lot of things and the one thing that I can say is that music is timeless and that’s what I make. I make timeless music.
How important is it for you and Prodigy to be able to release solo projects in between doing the group thing?
For me, I can say that it’s not that important and I can say that it’s the same thing for Prodigy. We always know that Mobb Deep albums are the most important. We always do these solo things like they’re hobbies and to get some kind of response. But we know that Mobb Deep albums are always, definitely the most important.
You produced “Fully Loaded Clip” for 50 Cent. What was that like for you?
Working with somebody like him is always a good session. Not only is it just a session. It’s always like a learning experience. You get to sit there and you get to vibe with your constituents and counterparts. It’s always good. We always learn something. I always love those sessions.
Will Curtis be a great album?
I think it’s going to be better than a great album. It’s going to be a classic. I know from what I saw that he worked on it really hard. The songs that you’re going to hear on there are definitely going to be songs that are going to be listened to for awhile.
You’ve also got an ear for young talent as you’re working with up-and-coming artists like Nyce, who’s featured on The Kush. What do you listen for when you listen to new artists?
I listen for the hunger. I want to hear how much hunger they have in their heart. I don’t want to work with the artist that wants to make millions. I’m checking for the artist that wants to perfect his skills.
What kind of potential does Nyce have?
He has a lot of potential. He has the potential to become a Mobb Deep, but a solo Mobb Deep. He has the potential to do that. He just has to make the right decisions.
You have a lot of young talent on Infamous/G-Unit. What’s the most challenging aspect of developing artists like Nyce and 40 Glocc?
They just have to listen to you. They have to listen to you. They have to have faith in you. They have to know what you’re saying is coming from experience. And if they don’t realize that and you recognize that they’re not thinking like that, you have to kind of leave them alone. You have to stay away from those artists.
From looking at Cormega performing with Nas, would you say that unity is coming back to QB?
QB never really had their unity diminished. We might have had problems like how brothers have problems, but I spoke to Nas a month ago. He called me and I called him. I speak to Cormega. We all are in touch.
Will we ever see another all-star QB compilation like Lake’s The 41st Side?
I definitely would like to. And actually, a QB album is in the makings right now. Cormega knows what it is. I think he’s in charge of it. It’s definitely in the mix.
Steve Rifkind and Loud Records are making a comeback. What’s your first thought when you hear “Loud Records”?
Love. I love them for what they did for us back then because they gave us a second shot. I’m still in touch with Steve to this day. It’s not that Steve is making a comeback. He’s just doing what he already did. He’s always done this. He knows how to pick talent.
Are you still working with Big Noyd today?
Yeah. People were asking us why he wasn’t on the Blood Money album. Sometimes you have to make a little change, but I’m on Noyd’s new album that’s about to come out now.
Looking back on Blood Money, do you wish Noyd was on the album?
It was a good decision at the time. It was just a mutual decision. Sometimes you have to change things up and that’s what we did. I’ve never been on a Noyd album and then I appeared on his album.
Have you and P started the next Mobb Deep album?
We’re always working on the next album.
How’s that coming?
The album’s coming fine. I already started working on new songs. Prodigy is actually on one of them. It’s coming along real good. I wish I could let you hear it right now, but that’s probably something that you’ll have to wait for.
How’s your next solo album coming?
Yo, when that one comes, whew! I’m telling you, it’s going to be crazy. I’m actually going to release a single from it at the top of ’08. I’m going to release the single at the top of ’08.
Will you be handling all of the production on that album?
This time I think I’m going to switch it up and put a couple of different producers on there. I really want to work with Swizz Beatz, so look out for a track with him.
Will the album come out on G-Unit Records?
I’m not sure where I’m going to put it out yet or what outlet I’m going to use. All I can tell you is that the single is going to come out at the top of ’08 and the single is going to be retarded.
Looking at your production techniques, is it ever a challenge for you to reproduce the grimy Mobb Deep sound that fans know and love you for?
Not at all. I did it then and I do it now. It’s in my heart.
You’ve never branched out into the commercial realm of production like DJ Premier and other producers have done. Could you do that and be successful?
(laughs) Of course I could, as long as they can write a check.
Is that something we’re going to see Hollywood Hav do?
You know what? I could honestly say this – I’m always going to be a producer. Whatever kind of music is out there, if they ask for me, I’m going to do it. I’m going to produce for it.
There are a ton of songs that sample Mobb Deep lines in choruses. Is it ever hard for you to keep up with the royalties?
Nah. That’s why we have a close staff to do that. They make sure we get our just due.
Would you consider yourself a perfectionist in the studio?
(laughs) Yeah, for sure. I am. I hate it sometimes.
Does that ever bother artists that work with you?
Nah, not really because I don’t even let them really see that side because when I work with other artists, I let them steer the kind of direction they want to go in but I give them a little direction. I kind of change things a little bit just to get them in the right direction.
Can you take us through the making of a Havoc beat?
It’s kind of easy. All you have to do is just go to the studio, go through the dusty records that I go through all the time, collect records from where we’re collecting them from and put yourself in whatever kind of mood you’re in that day and just make a track. Then play it for your peoples and see if they like it.
How have your production techniques changed over the years?
My sound comes through the speakers…I like that sound to come through the speakers real hard. Each time I’m making a beat I’m trying to see how I can make that beat come through the speaker without blowing the speakers.
How do you know when you’ve made a great beat?
I don’t know. I’m a bad judge of beats when it comes to me making them.
Some producers brag about making a thousand beats a week, but not all of them can be hot. How many beats that you make do you actually keep?
About 50%. I’ll make a beat and I actually probably won’t even fucking like it, but I’ll let my peoples hear it and they’ll tell me that the beat is crazy and I’ll look at them like they’re crazy, but it will make it to wax.
What you’re saying is that you can never tell when you have a hit.
To be honest, nah. I never know. I really never know until I get the response and people say, “Yo, this shit is crazy!” or when I go to the club and I hear my beat playing.
What beat that you’ve done has surprised you the most by how far it has gone?
I don’t like surprises. I really can’t say, but I can honestly tell you that going to the clubs and just hearing the “Shook Ones (Remix)” was a real shock to me because when I made that beat, I didn’t even like that.
What have you learned from all of your different experiences in the hip-hop game?
What I learned is that you always have to stick to your guns and keep making good music. Without good music, you won’t be here. Believe me. Every album, I learn from it and try to outdo myself on the next one.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming producers?
Whatever you do, just make the beats with your heart. That’s all I can really say. Stick in there. If people don’t like your beats, keep on making them until you come up with that hit.
What do you want fans to take away from The Kush?
I just want them to get that classic feel that I put my heart into it and that’s how I want you to look at it. This is Havoc’s first solo effort. They’ll listen to it and what I want is for them to always keep it in the car. That’s it.
What’s the next move for Havoc?
The next move for Havoc is the Mobb Deep album and the G-Unit album that’s coming up. That’s what I’m working on.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Thanks for the support. Go pick up Havoc’s solo effort production album. You won’t be disappointed. It’s a classic and I don’t even have to tell you that.