Congrats on selling over 50,000 copies of your latest album The 3rd World. Did you expect it to sell that many?
It’s a blessing to be able to move so many, I did about 9,500 the first week world wide so it was good I had hoped to break 10,000 but I wasn’t ungrateful for the amount of support. People were waiting for The Middle Passage I gave them a mixtape with DJ Green Lantern instead, and yet still here I was getting all sorts of appreciation and support from not only the Hip-Hop crowd in the States but across the world. In a better economy I would have probably broke 10, and maybe been up to 65 by now but you can’t spend your life speculating on hypothetical scenarios. It did well for the project that it is and in this underground climate is a mark of great accomplishment.
Why do you think The 3rd World did as well as it did independently?
It had a wide range of topics. I toured really heavy for about four months and then did spot dates, came back to the lab worked on a bunch of other things, I probably could have done a lot more press and put it to radio more but I tried to keep the marketing budget as low as possible.
You’re going to Afghanistan to work on the orphanage you wanted to build. What’s the status of that today?
By the time this is on HHG I should be out there in Kabul myself working on it. It’s what I promised I would do and I am man of my word. You can disagree with my political views, and have questions about my lyrics. But you can’t deny my heart or my resolve. When I say I’m going to do something it gets done, whether here in New York, Mecca of Hip-Hop or 7,000 miles away.
How were you able to finance an orphanage?
I took a percentage of the profits I made from The 3rd World and invested it in the project myself to encourage people to do the same. It wasn’t much compared to what these “ballers” brag about having but for me and for most people reading this, $10,000 is a lot of money. I wanted to prove this organization wasn’t a sham or just be all talk. I’m not a flashy dude and I don’t like to talk reckless and overzealously about what I’m going to do. I’d rather get it done and have a conversation from there.
The rest came through a series of fundraising shows I did in the Bay Area. Shout out to the whole Bay who come through on some soldier shit to everything that I ever do. That place has become a great beacon of support for all of my operations. There are many people that are so down with the cause, no attitude, no ego, just people willing to work as hard as I am on missions. Sometimes we have to get our hands dirty but we all know what our objective is. When I release The Middle Passage I will probably stay out there for a couple of months to conduct the operations of promotion myself.
Why was building an orphanage in Afghanistan so important to you?
Many reasons besides the obvious. I know people have questions, like why there? Why not here in America? How is that revolutionary when other people have done it before? These are questions all sorts of the typical cynicism people who don’t do anything themselves. Or, people who are searching for their role and really want to participate themselves in something real and maybe create their own programs. I welcome both types of people to the table, even those that have doubts. I think this institute that will serve as an orphanage, a school, and a medical center that will benefit the people of Afghanistan and also the Hip-Hop world by example of what we can do.
Have you felt any effects of the recession that a lot of other people have?
Family and friends alike have been laid off, had their pensions chopped down, hours cut, business’s fail. I didn’t have too much money in the stock market at all I actually put my assets into land and bonds. The bulk of my assets avoided being ripped apart by the trillion dollars shakedown that the banksters of America played on us. Their getting a bail out but the people who lost all of their life savings aren’t being bailed out.
Have you had to kick Poison Pen off your tour bus lately?
No need to kick him off, we just announce that we are stopping for food, open the doors, close them when he exists the vehicle and peel out…(laughs) Nah, seriously, we are very organized and disciplined on the road. It’s not some drunken orgy, this is a business, not some sort of game.
How is The Middle Passage coming?
It’s a process, but it’s coming along. It’s a much different album than The 3rd World, more in the vein of Revolutionary Vol.2 but a very updated version. It’s lyrically heavy and full of concepts.
Can we expect Revolutionary Volume 3 anytime soon?
Right after The Middle Passage.