You’ve had a low profile ever since you and Ransom split up from your group A-Team. What have you been doing?
I’ve just been staying in the cut, working, trying to build up everything. I helped put together the whole Presidential Beats movement. That’s the cats I used to run with. That’s Orlando Wharton and Miz. I built that with them as partners and I’m doing the same thing now with something else. It’s called Sky High Music/Money Gang. It’s a group of three producers and I’m going to be the first artist coming out the gate and I also have the Jersey Devils. That’s a three man group with H.B., Hitch and Hollywood. He’s also an actor. You might have seen him in Gridiron Gang. It’s a family thing. They’re all my cousins. H.B. did a few verses with Budden and he’s been popping up online. You know, everybody’s making their moves.
What exactly happened between you and Orlando, who currently manages Ransom, and Ransom, that made you go your own way?
You know, a lot of stuff goes sour. In the beginning, everything was peace and everything was love and it still is love because there’s really no kind of street beef. I guess it has to do with the industry and when the industry gets involved, a lot of crazy shit happens. You see it all the time with the little boy bands and all the groups. It happens all the time, yo. This ain’t nothing new that the people haven’t seen before. It really was no personal issue that we had with each other. It was just politics, I guess.
This is what I’m guessing because to this day, I’m still confused and I don’t know what happened. I just know that I have to get it back on and popping. But definitely politics get involved and you have different cats getting in different guys’ ears and one guy is telling Ran something and another is telling me something and we’re not on the same page. Everything, I guess, turned sour and we were just going to do our own thing and see where our careers left from there. And thus far, Ran has been successful from what I have seen. He doesn’t have that major, major deal yet, which is what we are all ultimately looking for, but his buzz is definitely up there and it also helps me out because I know every interview he has they ask him about me and every interview I have they ask me the same. I guess it works out at the end of the day. But we’ll see what happens. There’s always the A-Team though, definitely.
“Family Reunion” was a song off Joe Budden’s Mood Muzik that you and Ransom were both featured on along with Fabolous. Ransom had no idea that you were going to be on the song and when he found out, he was so angry over it that it started his beef with Joe Budden. What did you know about how “Family Reunion” was being put together?
I knew I was going to be on the song. How it happened was Joe reached out to me and I have a lot of respect for him for doing that. Me and Ran is grown men. That’s something that I can honestly say that’s something that Ran has never done for me. When I was getting it popping before it was the A-Team it was Hitch. Back when A-Team was popping and I had all the limelight in my ‘hood in Jersey City, all I did was share that with my producers and Orlando and Miz and Ransom. I knew how hot he was. I heard him from the gate. When everyone else doubted him, I cosigned him and said he was official and let’s rock with him. When he got that fame it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth like, ‘Damn, you can’t reach out to the kid?’ We have each others’ numbers. I see his boys more than I see him. I haven’t seen him in the last two or three years. How can that be?
Of course I had a lot of respect for Budden. He had a lot on his plate and he had a lot going on and he was trying to review his career and do his numbers but he took the time to reach out to me and be on his mixtape. We recorded it in Englewood and Ran had a verse on there but at the time I was not aware that Ran was going to be on the track. But I didn’t have any personal kind of beef with him. It was an opportunity and it was “Family Reunion” but when he went and put the beat on, he told me he hoped I didn’t have no problem with it and he played the first verse for me and it was Ransom. As soon as he started rapping I started putting my verse together and my bars and that’s what we did and that’s how it popped off. But I had no idea that Ransom was on it until I actually got to the studio and got on the track.
Were you bothered by Ransom being on the track?
I felt crazy about it. I could never understand why Ransom would be upset about me being on the track. What are you trying to do? What do you want to do? The only way I could see it is maybe he wants his own identity and he don’t want any involvement. I don’t understand. He was telling me it was all love and he don’t got nothing against Hitch. I’m watching all the interviews and I’m reading everything and he always bounces around that question and I don’t understand because I don’t have no personal beef with him.
Why would you be mad at Budden for putting me on the track? Because you’re not the only one of the track? The only thing I can see is that maybe he wants his own life and his own identity and he doesn’t want anything to do with the A-Team. This is what I’m guessing. I’m not saying this is how I feel. In my mind this is what made us. We built something up from the ground and we made something for ourselves. We made believers out of the city and the world.
Whatever he does from this point forward, he’s never going to be able to hide from that. People will always know who the A-Team was. A lot of people know who the A-Team is and don’t know who Hitchcock or who Ran is but you say A-Team and they know because it was that big. And a lot of our music is getting out there and the people think that we’re still a group. They don’t realize that it’s four or five years old at this point. But that’s why I still embrace it. I don’t understand why he wouldn’t embrace something like that, something that helped his career and created him.
Do you have any idea why the A-Team had to split up? I’m still confused as to the actual reason.
I don’t know. I don’t know if it was money. I don’t know if it was fame. I don’t know. There’s no “I” in “team” though. It was never just about me. The A-Team got created by not just me alone but Budden and Clue. Clue helped us get the music out and Nitty had the idea. We created the A-Team in a matter of a week and all the material that Cutmaster C and everybody was playing in a week. We had Skane come into the office and all that. That’s how gravy it was at the time. It still took a lot of grind.
We were trying to get that deal and before Jay took over at Def Jam we had a meeting with L.A. Reid and we basically canned it and got it popping but a few weeks later we learned that Jay was talking over and everybody that Reid had connections with was getting fired and he wasn’t controlling the hip-hop aspect of things anymore. It was almost like starting over from square one and it was disheartening. We had so many bottles in the studio celebrating. It was just too early. It’s kind of heartbreaking but you just have to try to make it stronger. I don’t really know, man. I don’t really understand.
Why would you do something that’s working for you, why would you break that apart? Why would you feel like you have a better chance? I ask cats to this day because I still have meetings with different labels and cats are telling me that they’re still interested. They say if we were still back together they would give us a deal, like Green Lantern. They ask where we’ve been and if we’re back together. I don’t understand the business point of view. I don’t understand. I really can’t answer that question for you, yo.
But I know that this interview, once it’s posted and the world gets to see it and everybody gets to read it, there’s going to be questions that people are going to have to answer. Why? Why is it like that? Why did you have to break it apart? Why did you get upset that Hitch was on the “Family Reunion” track? That’s how the whole Budden beef started! Think about how the whole beef started. I don’t know. It’s like, damn, it sparked everything. But why? Why did it get you upset? Every time someone asks Ran he just leaves it alone.
Have you spoken to Ransom the phone at all?
I haven’t spoken to homie. On everything I love, I see everybody. I see his baby moms. I’ll ask her how she’s doing. I might see her taking her daughter to school. I don’t know. It’s not like before. All the homies are good. They tell me to holla at Ran and tell me, “You know how he be.” I got different numbers from his peoples, not from him.
But the time I really tried to reach out to him, it wasn’t even on no rap shit, it was when Bundles died. It was early in the morning and I was ironing my clothes and getting dressed and I heard somebody from Byrd Gang got killed. This was crazy. I’m hearing it on my radio. They say Stack Bundles and my jaw just dropped, son. I didn’t know where I was for a second. It was shocking to me. And the first thing I did was call Ran because we had a relationship with Stack. I wasn’t Stack’s best friend but we were mutual friend and he was my homie.
There were times when I went to Queens to poli with him and Ran wouldn’t want to do the record with me but Stack would tell me to bring it over and he would jump on it. I got tracks with Bundles and Budden that Ran isn’t even on.
And this is the time when everything was starting to get a little shaky. I didn’t understand how everything was moving. He aids he wasn’t trying to do anything for free anymore and we had to get this money. It was like a standstill for him. When everything started happening and we were about to break up, I was in the studio going hard and he would never come to the studio and finish up the records.
I guess he just wasn’t interested in making anything at that point. He was just trying to get his situation and life in order. That’s the only thing I can gather from it since he never really communicated clearly. I tried to call his phone and I left him messages and I told him I didn’t know why he was avoiding me but it was important because I heard about Stacks. Maybe he was that hurt that he didn’t want to respond but it was just a gesture. Anybody that’s real would have called back just to talk about it and just to make sure that you’re okay because when that happened to Stacks it just made me want to call everybody that I cared about and make sure that they’re okay.
But I tried to talk to Ran and call him but when he didn’t answer the phone call or answer the message that I know went through, why should I keep trying? I’ve always been humble. You can ask anybody that met me. I always humble myself but it comes to a point where it’s like, ‘Why are you being this way?’ When cats aren’t showing no gratitude back they do them and act like I don’t even exist. I can’t be like that. We came a long way from nothing and there’s a lot of stuff that we both made and I still see growth. But that’s the last time I really reached out to Ran.
How did Stack Bundles’ untimely death change how you moved and the music you made?
It makes me watch my circle. It makes me not want to be around cats. It makes me want to be on the low. I was raised in my ‘hood and I went to a bunch of different schools because me and my moms had to move around a lot. I got a year here and a year in this school. I know the majority of my ‘hood. I’ve been to two high schools. I know a lot of people. I used to be out there and rub shoulders with the ‘hood, even when I was doing the A-Team thing. Everybody knew me. I was in the club and in the ‘hood and I had CDs coming out and I would jump out and give CDs to cats, not even charging them, just blessing the ‘hood.
But that made me slow down because this happened right in Stack’s hallway. He was going home thinking everything was all good and cats was there waiting for him. It makes you think twice about who you can trust and who you can let into your circle. Stack was out there making it and he still had songs on the radio, but he was a ‘hood star. When you’re that there’s a target on you because everybody knows you but you don’t know everybody like that and it’s dangerous because you’re out there grinding just like them. Just because you’re making music doesn’t mean you have 10 stacks in your pocket. Just because you saw me on a DVD with Clue doesn’t mean I’m walking around caked up. You gotta try and help the ‘hood out and some cats in the ‘hood are ignorant of that where they think you got it and makes them jealous and they want to lay you down. They be high and it can be dangerous in the ‘hood because the young’uns are wilding out.
It ain’t even the OG’s no more. The 14 and 16 year-olds are popping off. They ain’t even got a conscience yet. You know how you were younger and you would do shit back in the day and you wouldn’t do that now because you know better? These cats are 14 and 16 running up in houses. It’s crazy. Read the Jersey Journal. It’s crazy out here and it makes you want to disassociate with cats. I think that happened with Ran as well. Really, when that happened, I saw a big change in him as well. Cats that used to mess with him told me he wasn’t getting back to them either. I guess it changed him too and it made him not want to deal with anybody anymore. There was a lot with it.
How do you remember Stack Bundles today?
Yo, Stacks was fresh and fly! The first time I ever met Stack Bundles, all right, we were in the studio. This is probably maybe a week or so after we did the A-Team and Cutmaster C Holiday Stick-Up. We were all downtown in Jersey City with Skane and everybody. We were going to make a track with everybody on it. They bring through Maino and Stack Bundles and Paul Cain. It was popping that night. We basically met each other that night. We recorded and we toasted up and we just had a ball, son. When I met him he was just a wild cat, real witty with it and a real jokester. He blended in. It was like we knew each other already but we didn’t know each other.
This was around the time when Budden shot something downtown in Jersey City. He was doing a Busta Rhymes video and we were up in a vacant house and cats didn’t even know who Bundles was. He had the Akademiks. Akademiks was popping at the time and he had the tags hanging from the hat, shirts and pants. That just showed you his style. He always stood out from the other cats.
He had his swag already and his bars was nuts. He didn’t have a pen or paper. He might go in and spit a few bars, come out and listen to the 4 or 8 bars, go back in, punch in. He used to do it just like that or he used to let it build up to that point and then just spit the whole bars together. But I never saw him use a pen or paper anytime I did a joint with him. He used to just rap to himself and walk around. He was amazing, yo. He was gifted and talented and he was definitely the truth with it, son. He was the truth. And I’m glad I got an opportunity to work with him as an artist before the bullshit happened.
Where could A-Team have gone if you had stayed together?
It’s not about where we could have gone because there still may be an opportunity. That’s how I be leaving it in interviews. But if you ask me, I think we would have been the hottest thing popping right now. There’s no groups! That niche that we had, our lane, it’s still heavy. It’s yet to be filled. That lane is not filled yet and that’s the problem. That’s the problem with Jersey City. Everybody thinks about themselves and we have to start thinking about each other.
I’m not saying Ran is but two heads are better than one, no homo. Let’s blackout. You bring your connects and I’ll bring my connects. Cats are placing beats on cats’ albums and I just think that if we had stayed together we would have been very successful and we would have probably had an album out and we would be working on our second album and there would have been a lot of opportunities for us. I try to make moves and try to deal with reality, not what could have been, but where I’m trying to go and where I’m trying to be. That’s the best way I could put it.
What advantages do you have today being a solo artist that you didn’t have as a member of the A-Team?
A lot more decision making. I make my own decisions. I made my own decisions before but now I could be very creative. I’m in my own zone. I’m not sharing any bars. I’m going all in by myself. It’s completely different from writing a verse and a half or writing a hook or waiting for the verses to come together. Everything is myself. I can make the music on my own time. I can sit down and make whatever type of song I want to. It just feels more independent. It feels like I have more of a choice for what I’m aiming for. I don’t have to aim for just the streets. Anybody that’s heard my music knows I don’t just aim for the gutter. I still got love for it but I’m more versatile and I think it’s going to show on my new mixtape and when the album drops.
What projects have you been working on?
I’ve been working on the mixtapes. I have two mixtape dropping and I have an album coming out. I’m working with some people that I’m not allowed to say who it is yet, but I think after this first mixtape drops, you’re going to see who I’m working with and you’ll see their symbol on the front of the CD and you’ll hear a few crazy drops. Just let the anticipation rise and you’ll know about it when the CD drops.
Has it been hard laying in the cut the last couple of years?
It has definitely been hard. It’s been crazy hard. It was hard before and it’s hard now. All the people I met and all the connects I built, I had to do it over again. I had to start everything over brand new again. It wasn’t like before. It was a hard process and it’s still a little tough but I got that backing behind me now. I have a strong base now, music-wise and fan-wise.
The fans are out there, yo, and I definitely want to thank them for sticking around because I would have gave up on my by now but the fans have not even given up, music-wise and I love music and I’m going to continue to make it but just seeing the fans’ comments after not putting anything out in three years, they’re still looking for it and they’re still asking for it just from the “Family Reunion” verse. They’re still mentioning it. And the response from me mentioning the mixtape in that verse, it just drove me to go really, really crazy and I just want to thank the fans for it. But the fans gave me that energy to go hard and everybody’s out here suffering. It’s not all gravy. Everybody’s suffering and everybody’s struggling a little. It ain’t nothing that we ain’t never deal with before as kids. It’s the same shit, different toilet.
Are you confident that you can reestablish yourself in the game?
Very confident. I’m happy. I’m very happy, dude. I know what I have already. I have a treasure chest in the studio. I spent a year recording crazy joints. The people I’m working with, they basically picked out what they like already. Everything is in order and the chips are in place. I’m very happy and I’m really confident on this mixtape and the album.
What’s next from you?
This H2O Volume 1: Embalming Fluid and Volume 2 is called Global Warming. I have an album coming out and we’re going to be shooting a few videos. I’m going to be putting a casting call out for some shorties. I’m going to be going on the websites and I’m definitely going to put a post up to let you know where it’s going to be. That’s what we’re going to be doing. We got the videos coming out and the CD dropping in three weeks. Get ready.