The announcement that you signed to Aftermath and were co-signed by Dr. Dre and Timbaland just happened. What have these last few weeks been like for you?
Everything’s been pretty cool. I’m working hard. I’m about ready to head out on tour with Timbaland.
How did this deal even come about in the first place?
You know what? I’ve known Dre. Dr. Dre is like a good friend of mine and we were thinking of a way to make my album big. Me and him was at Diddy’s club one night and Timbaland came in the club and was asking what me and Dre was doing and we told him we were doing an album and he wanted to do it together.
How did you link up with Dre in the first place?
Shit, I’ve known him from years ago. Dre was the reason I got signed to Interscope in the first place.
What were you thinking when Timbaland said he wanted to get down on your album?
Timbaland is my dawg! It’s all family so it’s a beautiful situation. I was like, ‘Hell yeah!’
How do you see Dre and Timb working together?
It’s crazy. Me and Timbaland are working on the album and it’s been going great.
Do you see any creative problems arising with so many hands in the pot?
Hell no. Everybody’s down to earth. We’re going to ball until the wheels fall off.
A lot of artists have been signed to either Timbaland or Dre, like D.O.E. and Bishop Lamont, respectively, and have never come out. How are you going to make sure that doesn’t happen to you?
You know what? There’s a lot of things that go on and a lot of things that don’t go on and I hope that I’m one of the things that do go on. But I feel like with the magnitude of this situation, there’s no way to stop it. There’s too much momentum. I’m going to leave my mark out there. I’m just going to keep the momentum going and never let it stop.
Is not coming out a real concern of yours?
I haven’t questioned either one of them yet. Everything’s been perfect. The momentum and the energy have been great. Everybody’s excited and there’s progress every day.
Dre and TImbaland both have very different styles. What kind of music are you looking for?
What I’ma do, is I realize that I’m in a privileged position. I can take in a lot of wisdom and guidance from people who have done great things in the music industry. I’m going to take their guidance and add my little one-two here and there. But if we’re in a car, I’m going to let them drive.
What beats showcase your talent the most?
You know what? It doesn’t really matter to me, I don’t have one style. You can’t classify me as any kind of rapper. I can do it all and I love music. As far as hip-hop goes, there’s no style that I can’t do. I can’t say i love this kind of beat more than I love this kind of beat because I rock ‘em all. Even on The First 48, there’s a variety of songs and styles. You can’t even bite my style because I don’t have one. I have a million styles.
Was that one of your goals when you put The First 48 together?
No, it just happened naturally.
The First 48 is really your main introduction to the public, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. You don’t want to put out your best songs, because you want that for the album, but you also can’t put out 48 duds. How did you put The First 48 together?
You know what? I just took songs that I liked and put them on there and hopefully everybody else likes it. I just put some of my favorite joints on there. I got a lot more coming soon.
You didn’t take the conventional route of posting a ton of videos and songs online and then getting signed. You’ve really been behind the scenes. Does it add more pressure coming into the game this way because fans see you as more new than someone without a deal in the public’s eye?
I feel I do. Once they get hold of my music and they really sit down and get to know me, they’ll like it. If you just listen once, I got you.
You were signed to Interscope once before signing with them recently. What happened with Interscope the first time?
The first time, I was just signed straight to Jimmy and everybody that knows the Interscope system knows that if you’re not with someone at Interscope, then you don’t really make it out the gate. I didn’t have nobody backing me like a Pharrell or Timbaland or 50. After it was over, Dre brought me back and then Timbaland came on and cosigned it as well and now people are saying I’m the next biggest thing.
I’m guessing this time feels better.
Yeah, because there’s al to more support and it makes a lot more sense and people are a lot more interested being that Dr. Dre and Timbaland are involved.
What’s the plan for Hayes now?
I don’t know. Right now Dr. Dre is supposed to do half and Timbaland is supposed to do half. Right now me and Timbaland are going on tour and we’re working in the studio every day. We got a road bus with a studio on it so we’re going to be working every day on the road to try to get my album done and then we’re going to do the half with Dre when I get back.
Do Timbaland or Dre make you work out with them?
(laughs) Nah, they don’t make me work out with them. But I work out myself a lot.
What are you learning working with Dr. Dre?
The greatest thing about working with Dre is the learning process, because it’s two totally different classes and they’re both great classes. If you could come out of either one of these schools, you’ll be great. I’m with two great teachers and I’m learning a lot and I would say the best part about this process is studying under Dre and Timb because they teach you how to make good music.
What's the biggest difference between Dre and Timbo?
I can’t say there’s a difference because they’re both great. What’s the difference between amazing and amazing? How can there be a difference? I don’t think there is a difference. To me, they’re both great.
Is Dre as meticulous as other people say he is?
Dre is not that meticulous. He’s really a hard worker. Dre works hard. He works. But nah, he’s not crazy. I’ve been working with Dre for years and I ain’t see nothing weird. He’s just a great person. He gets a lot of shit done too.
Are you still looking to work with other producers as well?
If I do something with another producer that’s outta here, of course. but the initial vibe of the album is supposed to be Dr. Dre an Timbaland and it’s supposed to be produced by them but I’m sure there’s some room for some other producers.
You were born in Detroit but have been in California since you were 16. What are influences you the most?
And you were living on your own when you left, right?
Yeah. I had my own crib since I was, like, 14. My mom kicked me out when I was 12 so I basically raised myself.
Has that independence helped you survive in the music industry?
I think it has. It helps how I’m built and how I write my songs and how I’m built as a person. I was able to go through the harsh realities of life at an early age and have responsibilities.
It sounds like you take it as a blessing in disguise.
Yeah. I look at everything as a blessing. It’s all about how you see things.
Ron Artest has been a big supporter of yours. What kind of a relationship do you have with Ron?
That’s one of my best friends. He just wants to see me make it. We’re running a parallel campaign. He’s one of my close friends and he said whatever he can do to help me he’ll do. he’s one of the dopest people I ever met.
Have you ever played him one-on-one?
No. I’m not stupid. I’m not going to play him one-on-one. That’s like getting in the ring with Mike.
Have you guys collaborated on any songs yet?
What do you need to do to really be a success in the game?
Right now, I plan to get The First 48 out there as big as possible. That’s what I’m focused on right now during the daytime and at night I’m in the studio with Timbaland working on half of the album and then I’ll be working with Dre on the other half of the album and I’ll see you at the finish line.
Do you have an album title yet?
Not yet. I like the name Walking with Giants. I don’t know.
Do you feel any pressure working with such legendary producers?
No. These niggas is so cool. Really, it’s very natural. Everything is feeling very natural. Nothing is feeling forced. The vibe, it’s like mad easy. It’s natural.
Have other rappers in southern Cal embraced you or have I you felt jealousy because of your situation?
Oh, nah. I’m only getting positive things from everybody I’ve come in contact with on the West Coast. I get a lot of love and support from people out here. I don’t have no enemies. I’ve only felt support.
Do you think the Lakers can win another title this year?