I'm just working hard, handling my business out here.
question right now is what label is going to win the Papoose sweepstakes?
We got to
the point where we had deals offered to us over a two-year period of time.
They were disrespectful numbers. We're at the point where now we have
record-breaking performances and the BET Awards. We can't take any less
than what we're supposed to get and we need a machine behind him that
fully understands his situation. We're down to two labels, and with one
label, our lawyers are with them now. The deal should be done no longer
than two weeks from now.
tell us the labels?
I don't want
to really jinx things, but one is a powerhouse and one hasn't had nobody
there in hip-hop from the east coast in awhile. One's a clear lane and
we might have to put more work in, and one's a big machine, but they have
a lot of superstars there. That's all I can really say.
in work doesn't seem to be a problem for you or Papoose. With all your
experience in the game, have you ever seen another artist with Papoose's
No. I really
haven't. I know there may be some that exist, but being that I'm not right
there with them, I don't know. From day one, the first time we went in
the studio, Papoose recorded five joints. It wasn't a twelve-hour session,
it was only four or five hours. I knew then he was going to be a problem.
I'm seeing this first-hand. Nobody else is seeing this. I know how intelligent
he is. The first time he did "Alphabetical Slaughter" and he
spit that non-stop and that was a five-and-a-half or six-minute joint
and he didn't skip a letter or a beat in each segment and the words he
was using, I knew he could do anything and flow anyway and he could adopt
to any style or concept.
I can give
you the four points of every rapper coming up. One is how much time I've
been in jail. The second is how much I bust my gun. The third is how much
drugs I sell. The fourth is how dangerous the hood I come from is. If
you tell a rapper, "Look, I'll give you $500,000 if you can rhyme
without using any of those elements," they'd be lost. If you can
do records without touching any of those elements, that's a gift from
have been grinding it out for the past couple of years together. Looking
back, did your plan work exactly how you wanted it to?
a little better, actually. There was a time when we were going to take
a certain deal, and it was only $600,000. The "Charades" record
had just hit the radio. That was just a freestyle. It was getting crazy
spins and Flex was bombing it, I'm hitting it, and other DJ's are hitting
it. I said, "We're not going to take this. It's going to get bigger
than this." We just kept grinding and grinding. The only thing that's
funny to me is when I signed the kid, I signed him because he was so dope,
and nobody saw the big picture. Not one person affiliated with me. They
were all like, "What are you doing? That's a baby Canibus or some
shit." Now they understand.
Papoose grown working with you the past two years?
about Papoose is he doesn't talk a lot. If he doesn't know you, he won't
talk to you. He'll just observe you. He's a real observant person. The
great thing about him is he put his trust in me. I told him there were
going to be things he didn't want to do. I told him all I needed him to
do was rap and he was going to make it. He didn't want to get on the "Hip-Hop
Police" record. I told him to just do it. He took a classic and flipped
it, and boom. He was rebelling against me, and I was telling him, "Don't
worry about it. Just do it." There are some artists who may not want
to do something and they do it just because and because they trust you
so much. It makes it so much easier than when you have some asshole who
thinks he knows the whole game. If they know the whole game, why do they
need you? Papoose is a good person to work with. The most amazing thing
about him that a lot of people don't know is that Papoose doesn't write
anything down. He does not write notes. Everything he does is straight
out of his mind. I just heard a story on the TV and they were talking
about some of the greatest writers. Papoose said, "I'm a writer in
my mind. If I have to write it on paper, then I have to memorize it. If
I write it in my mind, then it's always there." Where else do you
hear shit like that?
debut album The Nacirema Dream done?
We have so
much material. We're on mixtape number fifteen. That's about to come out
next week. That's called The 1.5 Million-Dollar Man. You're getting it
first right here. 1.5 is Supreme Mathematics. This is mixtape number-fifteen.
The number 15 is also Supreme Mathematics for Knowledge Power. We just
have so much material and we've worked so much, that even when we're doing
mixtapes, we do album cuts and we say, "We're holding this. This
is for the album." We've been recording records for over two years.
This is number fifteen. In that period of time, we've technically released
fifteen albums. That's how much material we've got. When you hear these
album cuts, wow. I listen to them every day. I wake up to them sometimes.
I believe people are really going to be impressed with the album.
ever worry Papoose is going to run out of material?
exactly what I'm talking about. He is so intelligent. He never stops.
He's been doing shows for a year and a half and getting paid for them.
All he had was mixtapes out, so all his shows were like a mixtape tour.
ever have a conflict between playing Papoose because he's dope but also
playing him because he's your artist and people will say he's only getting
play because of his affiliation with you?
No, I never
really had that conflict. There are always a couple of people looking
out for him. I never oversaturated it. I'd hit his joint and then seven
or eight other joints. You wouldn't hear me playing ten of his joints
back-to-back. I did it in a way where I wanted people to know why I was
playing him instead of force-feeding them. When I first started playing
him on my mixtapes, I put him at the bottom. Every tape, I would start
inching him up so people would respect him for who he is. I've never heard
that he's big because he's my artist. I let him show and prove. I never
really had those problems.
have you been in setting up his collaborations with MC's and producers?
been me politicking, just making sure that he gets to work with everybody.
After awhile, people said they like what we're doing and they want to
give us a beat or they want to jump on a joint with him. That's how it
happened with Busta Rhymes, Talib Kweli was like that...a lot of people
wanted to do things with him. Some of the top artists were feeling like
they needed to rap with him and he was on their level. Nas isn't going
to just rap with anybody. Busta's not just going to rap with anybody.
Lloyd Banks isn't going to just get on a track with anybody.
the ideal drop date for his debut album?
we don't have an ideal date, but we definitely want to have him out by
October. Right now, the album is done. We have a couple of Dr. Dre beats.
Premier gave us a track. We have five more records that we want to do.
Then we're going to start playing process of elimination because we have
so many records. We just have to pick the best ones, and that's going
to be hard.
"Get Right" do what you needed it to?
Let me be
totally honest with you. Those ain't our kinds of records. You have to
understand that with the audience, you have to satisfy every angle. That's
not his first single. His album isn't done and we haven't signed a deal
yet .That was his first club-type record where females can shake their
ass to him and have fun too. We make a lot of conscious records and talk
about what's going on in the world and we jump on other people's beats
too. We never had a record where girls could shake their ass to it and
it could play in the club. That's all it was to me. It was just a record.
Everybody seemed to have it out for me. I was looking at the comments
and they're saying it's not Papoose's style. Papoose has all styles. We're
not catering to an all-male audience. We're trying to rap to the ladies
too. That's all that's about, is being versatile.
an album coming with Greg Street. How was it working with him?
It was a piece of cake. He had his strings and I had mine. We have a lot
of genuinely good records. I just leaked a record the other day with Mike
Jones, Papoose, and Paul Wall so Papoose can show his talent and show
how he works with brothers from other regions. The first single has the
world champion Shaquille O'Neal with Papoose and Bun-B. There's Busta
Rhymes, Ghostface, Raekwon, Kool G. Rap, and Big Daddy Kane. There's a
huge variety on there from those guys to southern rappers to Dipset and
Lloyd Banks from G-Unit. We have Yung Joc on there, Remy Martin on there,
and that's the possible next single. It's something for the ladies. We
have nineteen records and two skits.
you're working on a mixtape with Saigon.
I had done
that for Saigon a minute ago, but I guess he's been working on his album
so he's probably just getting around to putting it together. From the
material I heard, it was hot. Now that he's in his situation with Just
Blaze, I know there's a lot of crazy joints I haven't heard.
you try to sign Saigon in the past?
it was was that he was in a situation with Mark Ronson and it was too
crazy of a situation. They wanted me to still do it, but there were too
many heads around. It was crazy. His situation was just too crazy. I had
done the first mixtape with him with Whoo Kid, then I hosted another one
for him. I said I would still support dude, but his situation was just
getting Saigon's first Yardfather tape. You knew about him before all
He had a
street image but he had the intelligence to go along with it. He can talk
street things, but be knowledgeable and have a good message about it.
It was really getting to a point where I wanted to get my own artist because
a lot of these artists were pissing me off with their bullshit. At first,
they're calling me trying to get on my tapes. They're calling me all day.
Then when you reach out back, they're saying they'll do something next
week. When they get to a certain level, they don't want to do shit anymore.
They just want to run around and front and floss. I knew I had to create
my own artist so I wouldn't have to deal with the bullshit. The first
person was going to be Saigon but he had too much going on with his other
situation. There was another cat I ran into but he ended up getting locked
up. Then there was Papoose. That's the gist of it.
artists are trying to get on your tapes now?
because now everybody wants to be the next Papoose. They see what I did
with him and they want it done for them. I'm not saying it's that easy
because everybody is different and everybody doesn't possess the same
qualities, but everyone can come off at their own angle. Papoose is a
different artist across the board. When it came to rapping, there were
no flaws, and I knew I had someone who could do what I needed to be done.
He executed it.
I have another
artist I'm working with. Her name is Vein and she's from VA but she resides
in New York. She's a real versatile artist as well. I just got a call
from XXL wanting to interview her. She's been around for a second. I observed
her grind and most importantly, her personality. You have to have somebody
calm who you're not going to be bailing out of jail. She's focused on
life in general. I have some heat coming from her as well, too. She's
on the album with Greg Street on the song "The Introduction."
She has a mixtape out. She collaborated with Remy Martin, Papoose, Busta
Rhymes, Jae Millz, Chamillionaire, and Stat Quo. I'm going to let her
handle herself and let people see how creative she is.
also one of the first DJ's to show Joell Ortiz love.
I tried to sign that dude too. Let me tell you, the world is lucky. If
I would have had Papoose and him, I don't think the world was ready for
that anyway. That's too much ammo. Joell Ortiz is a great rapper. All
he needs is the right structure behind him and someone to show him how
to format his records. He'll make some nice records. He's going to be
all right. I see it in him too.
also heard rumors you were going to work with Jojo Pellegrino.
Pellegrino, everything's cool and we go way back. I haven't spoken to
him in a minute. If he needed my assistance, I'm there. I think he just
caught a bad break, but he's good people. The key thing is I don't count
anybody out and I give everybody a fair shot. What you do with that shot
is entirely up to you. One thing you won't be able to say is, "Slay
never gave me that opportunity."
is that to you?
The key thing
is me being an OG in the game and being a part of hip-hop from day one
when it evolved from disco, I know what it takes to maintain and stay
around in the game. I've seen LL Cool J and how he adjusted to the sounds
and the times. Now he has to take his shirt off and do what the women
who buy records want him to do. The ones who are established are going
to the executive side, and the gentlemen coming up now will be the next
generation. Who do I work with? The brothers who are established or the
brothers who are next? I decided to work with the artists coming from
the ground up. Who are they going to say gave them their start five years
from now? "Kay Slay." My name will never die. I stay grounded.
Everybody's worried about Jay-Z and Cam'ron, but they're going to get
love regardless. I'm more concerned with the artists coming up.
recognize it or give credit, I can say I was strong in the south movement
getting to where it's at, not DJ Drama. If you want to be real with it,
TI, when he was Tip, when he first got his record deal with Arista. When
he first got that deal, Kevin Cooper was bringing him to my house so he
could create a buzz in New York City. That was in 1999-2000. He would
freestyle on my old mixtapes. When he had the record with Beenie Man that
was his first single, he asked me to go to BET with him to the basement
and DJ for him off my New York credibility. Ludacris used to come to my
house before he blew up. The first radio show Mike Jones was on was Hot97.
Paul Wall, Lil' Flip, and my first single on my last album was 3-6 Mafia.
The first time 3-6 Mafia ever got on MTV was from my single. That was
their first time. That's Kay Slay. 8Ball back in the day. I supported
these artists from day one when their whole movement was coming about.
Dem Franchize Boyz were on my show when they got no airplay and were getting
no love, I was giving them airtime. Lil' Jon before he blew up, I was
playing his records like crazy. Bryan Leach from TVT will tell you. I
was very influential in southern rap getting up; it was not a southern
DJ because in order for a region to pop, it has to pop in New York. Once
it pops in New York, that's when everyone else gravitates towards it.
I was the first DJ up here to support that. I had Cee-lo Green hosting
my tapes. Ask those artists. They're not going to say it's not true. They're
going to say Slay was the first person to do this or that. It is what
bother you that other DJ's like Drama get more credit?
This is in no disrespect to Drama. His name is partially from mine. It
partially comes from my name. Two, he comes from Philly. He's not from
the south. He's from up north. Three, he took the method I started down
south and that's how he blew up. I was the first person to put hosts on
mixtapes. I put street hustlers and gangsters on my tapes and I was doing
quadruple-CD's and triple-CD's. He took the method I was doing and started
blowing up. I think it was real smart for him to do that. If you can't
make it in the region you're at, sometimes you have to find another region.
It's all love whenever I see him, but they need to pay homage. I'm the
Drama King, his name is DJ Drama. Two, he took my method of hosting and
crated his own music. That's cool. Three, he was saying in an interview
that he's known for his hosting and talking shit on mixtapes. Who started
talking shit on mixtapes? Me! The Drama King. It's funny to me. I do a
lot of reading and I observe. As long as niggas know in their hearts that
they didn't master their situation by themselves, then they'll be all
right. I remember TI when he had his first big record with Beenie Man,
he didn't have DJ Drama to go in the basement with Big Tigger. He had
Kay Slay. I've done that and niggas need to recognize what it is.
recently said New York hip-hop is bad because of the DJ's. How did you
feel about that statement?
I think Ghostface
might have been a little frustrated when he said that. Ghostface is my
brother. When he said that, I'm going to let that one bounce off me. I'm
water-repellant. I know he was frustrated at the time. You can't blame
the DJ's. His "Back Like That" still plays on the radio. That
was on one of the biggest rotations. A lot of DJ's play songs off his
albums. He's one of the best rappers of all time. When he hasn't had a
record out, I've reached out to him for freestyles. He's been in my crib
before and we've been wyling out. We have fallen solders in common like
Chip Banks. He's my brother. I didn't take that in no way. He's not talking
about me. He was frustrated to even make that statement because his record
was in rotation. What else can you do from that? If anything, you need
to point the finger at the audience and your fans and say they're confused
about where they're from. You can't blame the DJ's who are playing your
been a lot of debate about the recent strength of New York hip-hop. What's
your take on that issue?
will never fall off. We're the makers and the owners. We started it and
we'll finish it. A lot of the artists in the south do money deals. A lot
of them have bullshit deals and all they needed was distribution and they
got it popping. A lot of them have gone gold, sold 800,000, or gone platinum.
You can take 50 Cent and sell five-million copies and take five big artists
from the south and they won't sell as much as 50 Cent. The biggest seller
in rap right now is 50 Cent and he's in New York. I don't understand.
The south is getting more airplay in the clubs and the radio, but how
can you say New York fell off? Jay-Z is a mogul in the industry and Rick
Ross and Young Jeezy are on Def Jam. He assists southern rap. How did
we fall off? Young Buck went platinum and he's signed to 50 Cent. When
they say New York fell off, it kind of confuses me. There aren't many
hip-hop artists in New York who have released albums. Busta Rhymes is
the only one to release an album recently and that's the biggest album
in the country right now. Maybe people are looking for too much from us.
come to New York, unless you're listening to a mixshow, you're not hearing
too many new artists because the A&R's are looking for the quick buck.
They want that hot hook. If you have a hot hook, you're getting signed.
They don't care about skills anymore. Are people looking for hip-hop where
it's something you live, or rap, which is something you do. Hip-hop is
something you live, rap is something you do. These niggas are fucking
with rap and that's something you can do or I can do. But can you really
write records that can change people's lives? Up north, we have records
that change peoples' lives. We're lyricists. Down south, you have Scarface,
TI, Ludacris, 8Ball and MJG, Bun-B, and most of the other brothers are
really entertainers. There's different angles to this music but what if
you gave a lot of these rappers a mic on Freestyle Friday. The truth will
come out. "Oh, you're not really a rapper, you're an entertainer."
And that's cool, I just don't want people to get it confused.
We have the
top lyricists in the world in New York. If I wanted to be disrespectful,
I could grab Kool G. Rap and Rakim and take on rappers from anywhere.
Let's not get into the Papoose's and the Saigon's and the Jae Millz' and
the Joell Ortiz'. Pardon me, Chamillionaire is a lyricist too. Mike Jones
is new. Yung Joc is new. Young Jeezy is a new artist. Rick Ross is a new
artist. They get 10,000 times more airplay than new artists from New York.
It looks like we're not there, but we're standing strong. Sooner or later,
they're going to see we didn't go nowhere and it's the way the industry
is pushing these artists that make it seem that way.
you feel about the mixtape game today?
many mixtape DJ's now. There's too many of them. We used to put the tapes
out where everything was exclusive and you didn't have records other DJ's
were using. Now you don't have that. There's no originality now. It's
fucked up. Shit is fucked up. Everybody wants to be a mixtape DJ. I don't
consider myself a mixtape DJ. I'm a businessman. If you really want the
truth, anybody who knows my history knows I've been DJ'ing for over thirty
years. Case in point, when I came back to the DJ'ing, I didn't want to
be the Mixtape Game. No disrespect, but they have this title called "intern"
which is really code for "flunky." If the boss needs coffee,
who goes to get it? The intern. I could not see myself getting down to
doing that when I wanted to get back into the mixshow. That's why I started
doing the tapes. I wanted to build a brand so I could do what I wanted
to do in the game. It just so happened that I was coming so strong and
coming so hard and having street cats hosting tapes and cats like Larry
Davis calling and doing drops, real gangsters in the street, that really
caught people's attention. I was putting people's personalities on tapes.
I had Shyne host a tape before he went to jail. Then I realized I needed
to do radio, get some sponsorships, and get an artist. It just so happened
that I did the mixtapes so well and it took me to the next level. 90%
of these guys making mixtapes have no plan. They're just saying, "This
is me and this is hot." They have no plans to try to take it to a
radio show, manage artists, or be an entrepreneur. They're doing one of
the things right. That's not what I got into it for, but I can see what
they're doing just by looking at their tracklisting. Seeing them emulating
people's styles is nothing new to me, but why are you doing it?
going to focus on producing more?
I'm just the type of person where I like to do things when I want to do
it and I do it to death. I do it to the fullest extent. There are only
so many hours in the day and if you're going to be the best at what you
do, you have to put the time in. Beat-making takes time like DJ'ing and
doing shows, so I can't really put all my focus into it right now so I'm
not into it like that.
have been happy seeing Shaq win the title.
work together with his label Deja34 Records. The first release from that
label was my album through Koch. It couldn't be better timing for this
new album, which is titled "The Champions," plus Shaq is on
the single. That worked beautifully.
you want to say to everyone?
a book by its cover. I know a lot of people say a lot of things about
me and they don't really know me. There's nothing I can do about that.
I'm not going out of my way to show them. I handle my business and I respect
people the way they respect me. If you have a passion to do something,
do it. Don't be what other people want you to be. You need to get what
you need to get and get there. Nobody can stop destiny. If somebody puts
a gun to your head and you're not supposed to die, that clip is going
to jam. Just take your time and do what you need to do. You see how you
just paged me and we're doing this interview. That's the type of person
I am. I'm a grinder. I ain't no procrastinator.