I’m feeling good.
Your Big East Concert took place last week. How did it go?
It was crazy. The club holds 3,000 people and there were over 5,000 people outside. So many people couldn’t even get in. It was bananas.
Did it go as smoothly as you wanted it to?
Well, the club owner and the hip-hop police basically opened the front door without me even opening the front door for the cashiers. They closed the side entrance for the press and artists to come through. They wouldn’t let anyone to go in through the side. What they did is they forced the artists and press to get in the same line as the general admission. I guess that was only to ruin the event.
I saw it happening right in front of my eyes. I rented the club and the security was supposed to be working with me. The club owner was working with the hip-hop police. I think the crowd scared him. The rally for Sean Bell had just taken place at 1 Police Plaza and I guess the police just shifted to our event. I’ve never seen a club where the press, from BET to MTV, had to stand in the same line as the general admission people who were paying to see the event. It just basically spelled out to me that they had it in their mind of closing this event down before it even started.
What could you have done to prevent that from happening?
I tried to do what I could do. Some of the artists performing couldn’t even get in, like Saigon and Jae Millz. Marley Marl couldn’t even get in. When you own a club and you have hip-hop police in your club telling you what you can and can not do, I guess you go with them. They let Red Café in with one person. How do you let an artist who’s coming in with his entourage only come in with his DJ? You can’t go against the cops. That’s why we’re taking action now.
Were the police respectful?
There was a lot of disrespect going on. There was someone here from BET. She had just finished taking pictures of Vivica Fox. The police said to her, “I don’t give a fuck who you are. If Michael Jackson comes to the club tonight, he has to get his ass in line with the rest of you.” They were very disrespectful. They were telling people to walk two blocks down and then they would give them a signal when they could come down. How do you do that? How do you tell someone to walk two blocks down and then you can give them a signal of when to come back? And still, after everything that was said and done and how they took over the event, there were still no fights, nobody got arrested and 5,000 people showed up. Only about 2,500 people were able to get in the event and they shut the club down at 1:30. I had the club rented until 4am. They cut the lights on after Maino performed. They cut the lights on on us.
Are you looking at the poor handling of the crowd as a hip-hop issue or a race issue?
I think it was a mixture of both. The crowd that I drew was a young, urban crowd. These looked like guys who don’t come to clubs. There were hardly any girls. We’re talking about thousands of young men. I think it had something to do with race. Maybe the cops are nervous. I know there’s a lot of tension in the air. But I know everybody came to this event in peace. There are no headlines of anything bad happening. The Urban DVD Awards went off fine. Even with the cops, we pushed forward and we had to set an example. My team still pushed forward while we were in the mix of trying to untangle things.
It was worth all the trouble seeing the looks on the faces of the Urban DVD Awards winners. I’ve been getting voicemails from some of the winners. Some of them were almost crying. We gave out plaques. Seriously, it was really well put-together.
Why is it important to have DVD awards?
The DVD’s are my passion. I’m noted as the first person ever to do a DVD. This has been a part of my legacy since 1998. There have been a lot of DVD guys who came up and blossomed. I just wanted to show some of the pioneers who have been around like All Access and The Come Up and Riderz that stuff they were putting out wasn’t going unnoticed. I wanted them to know that the quality of the work they had been doing wasn’t going unseen. Sometimes when you award someone, you make people step their game up. It raises the playing field because the losers want to win and the winners want to keep winning. The level of excellence and the playing field steps up. It’ll be a bigger awards show next year. The mixtapes are dying right now. There is no money in mixtapes anymore. The DVD’s, I created and I want them to be around for a long time. The only way they’ll be around is if we preserve it. In my awards, if you’re nominated, you made it. Some people slipped through the cracks, but I had 90% of the people in the who’s-who of the DVD world at the awards. It’s our own community. I wanted to give back to my DVD community and show them that their work wasn’t going unnoticed.
What do you have to do to get the Urban DVD Awards to carry the same weight as Justo’s Mixtape Awards?
What we have to do is do the same thing that we did this year. The venue that we did it in, I was sort of surprised at the turn-out. When I say there were thousands of people trying to get in, I really mean that. That means there is something real that people want to be a part of. I was able to put the people who are doing the DVD’s with the fans that are buying them. The people on stage received roars and claps and cheers from the fans, the same people that view their DVD’s. I know it was special. Some of the speeches I was hearing from DJ Kay Slay and DJ Enuff, basically they were saying that if they couldn’t spin their records because of the demographics, the DVD was a way to get your music out. I’m going to keep this and we’re going to be bigger and bigger each year. I strive to be bigger than everything else out.
You put a lot of rappers together for the New Big East Concert. Were there any problems between anyone?
It was all peace that night. Everybody got along. There were thugs in there and if you bumped into anybody, they would say, “Excuse me.” I’ve never seen so much peace in my life. There were thousands of guys and a few hundred girls and there were no problems at all. Everybody came out to support what hip-hop is missing. I brought hip-hop back to the streets of New York. My crowd that I brought out was 18-30 year-old street guys who hug the corners. Sometimes you see guys in big coats and street clothes and they could be college graduates, so looks can be deceiving. But I brought the urban community out and they came in peace. It was a beautiful thing to see that happen.
I felt like I was in The Tunnel again. That used to be a club in New York. Funkmaster Flex was in there. Biggie used to be there. I felt like I was in The Tunnel for this event.
The big misconception in mainstream media is that rappers coming together for a concert can’t work. You proved that wrong.
That’s exactly what happened. Every event doesn’t have to have bloodshed. At every event, you don’t need problems and drama to occur. Every time people go out, they don’t always go out in harmony, but I’m glad it went down like that. I’m glad there’s a place for the Urban DVD Awards in New York City and Littles has created that place. We’re going to do this every year. Next year is going to be humongous. I’ve already gotten calls from people who want to be involved next year. We can’t do it in a place for 3,000 people next year if 5,000 people want to show up.
Overall, would you consider the night a success?
I would consider it a success despite the fact that certain people couldn’t get in. They’re upset and they’re bitter and it was totally out of my control. The people that were inside of the event and to see their smiling faces and how much they were enjoying themselves, hands down I would say this was a tremendous success.
How’s your Artists to Watch radio campaign going?
Our next date is probably going to be in Boston in the beginning of February. We’re going to be doing it every two months. We’ll be in Richmond, Virginia and we’ll be in Philly. There’s a bunch of dates and each date is probably going to be spaced out two months from each other. This is to show radio programmers that there’s an audience for these artists. When hip-hop started out, it wasn’t about BDS. Everybody knew who was hot from word-of-mouth. You would know who was hot. Radio is needed in order for you to get yourself in a good situation. Your marketing and promotions campaign is going to be based around the radio. I’ve been talking to people about this for a long time. You have rock groups who tour places for years from venue to venue and they acquire all these fans, and then they sell 15 million records as a result from touring and radio. As hip-hop artists, we put out mixtapes and they get bootlegged around the world.
From me touring with a group I used to work with, I got a lot of connections from radio to club venues. I told everyone if we can stick together, we can be stronger. If we try to move individually, it’s going to be harder. Jay-Z just had a party at the Avalon and he had a couple thousand people outside. We could have packed the club two times over if we did one show, cleared everybody out and brought everybody else in and repack the club with brand new people. That’s how many people were there.
How hard is it for artists like yourself, Stack Bundles and Jae Millz to get songs on the radio?
A lot of the artists on the bill, we do get radio, somewhat. We get mixshow spins every now and then. We don’t get adds, but we get mixshow radio where a record will get spun here and there and then we have to move on to a new record. New York is a fast market. New York will spin your songs three or four times and then they want a new record. This is quick. Everything is fast here. This is one of the biggest markets from radio to everything else. It’s like the Mecca of hip-hop. It’s hard to bloom here in New York. It’s hard to come out with just one record and say you’re going to push the record for six months to a year until it blows up. It’s hard to do that here. The only way to do that is to take your records through the clubs. Then take your songs to radio after you have the club scene locked. All the artists I’m working with, we all started on the mixtapes and we get love on the mixtapes and the mixshows, but we’re trying to open the floodgates to where it’s more love.
How are you gauging the success of the Artists to Watch campaign?
Each show we go to, as long as it’s packed and the programmers and DJ’s see that we have the intensity and we’re capable of drawing these crowds, that’s one form of success right there. As long as the magazines and television follows us, that’s going to tell us if we’re successful. If radio focuses on who has a tremendous buzz, it’s going to turn the music around. A lot of radio is looking for recycled artists that sound like Biggie and Jay-Z. That’s not going to happen. You have to look for the roses that are coming up through the cement. We’re forcing them to see that there are many roses that are growing through cement floors.
The world may call these artists “B-artists.” We’re hot in our own ways. I may bring everyone through Richmond, Virginia and if the club is filled and there are cars around the corner, you’re going to see these guys have an audience and these guys have a following. Sometimes seeing is better than hearing. You can hear some of these things and not know if it’s true, but when you see it, you know it’s real.
Was it a hard thing to get all the artists on the same page for the New Big East and Artists to Watch campaign?
Yeah, it was definitely hard because everybody on this bill is a self-made person. Everybody on this bill is the leader of their own crews. These are all self-contained men. Sometimes people don’t want to mingle with others. It took a minute, but at the end of the day, everyone agreed to come together and we did it. That’s what I think it is hot, that it got done.
How was it putting the New Big East mixtape together?
It was hot. Each artist sent two songs apiece. When we sat down and said we would do it, they were with it. Kay Slay and Superstar Jay are putting it together. It will be out in another week. My CD and DVD will be out sometime in January. You’ll actually be able to see me going in on my DVD.
You also have an upcoming jail term. What exactly happened?
About seventeen months ago, when I had the beef with Prodigy, I went through a bitter separation with my kid’s mother, whose sister is Roxanne Shonte. I went through a whole bitter separation with her months before the Prodigy thing and when I had the Prodigy beef, I was on top of the world at that moment. It wasn’t even beef. That was a friend that I grew up with. It was just huge disagreements that I just aired out. I felt that was the best way to do that other than the way I was taught when I was raised. When I put myself in that situation, my phone wouldn’t stop ringing.
What my kid’s mother did is she had Roxanne Shonte call the police and send the police to my house, where her sister didn’t live, and said that I had a gun and that her sister might need an ambulance. It was none of the above. The police entered my house and forced their way in. I told them that the female didn’t live there and there were no problems and I just wanted her to leave. Then she took them downstairs and she gave them a gun. I’ve been fighting quietly all these months.
Since February 13, 2005, I’ve been fighting a gun case quietly. They offered me eight years. I tape recorded my kid’s mother six months ago about how she set me up and how she was sorry and how she wanted to fix it. The DA had no other choice but to throw the case out or go to trial. She threw the gun charge out and said I had to plead guilty to twisting my kid’s mother’s wrist, which never happened. I couldn’t get an A-list demeanor with a gun. I had to pick something. I copped out to something that never even happened in order to save my life. It was either go to trial. Of course I was going to win the gun charge, but I was nervous about being in jail for the next 12 and a half to 25 years. I took the common sense decision. I have to go away for eight months and then I’ll be back.
That has to be frustrating.
Yeah. It’s frustrating. I’m going to have the audio of my kid’s mother talking about how she set me up on my MySpace. It’s going to be up on December 18. That’s when I go in. The page will go down on August 18, when I come home. I’ve accomplished so much in the music industry. I have a situation with Eric Nix at Universal where I was doing every artist’s DVD and I work with Memphis, the VP at Jive. He’s the youngest VP in the game. He’s the one who found T-Pain and J-Kwon and a bunch of other people. He saw the DVD’s that I was doing and gave me a shot. I did two or three DVD’s up there for them. I turned Best of the Block into a DVD business. I did the Jae Millz DVD for Universal that’s coming out. I got a whole crew and I signed the cameramen. Here’s a kid from Queensbridge who had nothing. I had nothing. There were days that we didn’t even have food and here I am, flourishing in a game left and right, hitting home runs and accomplishing my dreams. To have it taken from me from a woman who was scorned and bitter is crazy.
50 Cent was dropped from Columbia when he got shot. Is this bid scaring away any potential clients?
No. Actually, my business has increased. I had people from MTV, Comedy Central, Jive, Universal and all my stores like Fat Beats send character letters to the judges. I had millionaires to thousandaires send letters. The guy who runs the Recreation Center in Queens wrote a letter to judge and got signatures from 300 elderly people about how I’m active in the community. Every Thanksgiving I bring a truck of turkeys in. I get basketball uniforms and all that. The letters showed me the support of the people I do business with and they’re saddened by what’s going on and they feel my pain. People have actually bridged the gap with me tighter than moved away from me.
Things happen, man. It’s not like Littles is on the corner with a blunt in his mouth and a gun on my waist shooting at people. This woman was raised in Queensbridge and she knew all she needed to do to get rid of me was call 911. It didn’t work. It’s taking me for eight months, but now, when I come home, that chapter of my life I can just “x” out. She’s “x-ed” out of my life.
What are you doing from now until December 18?
I’m setting up dates for the New Big East tour. There is going to be a new show every few months. I’ll probably be home for the show in August. What I’m doing now is just setting up other dates. Their managers are going to take over from there. I’m also just relaxing. Once that’s secure for the next three dates, I can go in and know that I started something historical and it’s going to move on while I’m inside, doing what I have to do to get home.
This isn’t your first time in jail. How do you approach a bid?
I’m looking at it as my moment of clarity. I think this is going to be my moment of clarity. I think this is going to put me back. I always used to say Nas would have to come back to Queensbridge, sit on a park bench and smoke a blunt to get back in that Illmatic state-of-mind. Is that true? No, probably not. I’m not saying he fell off, but Illmatic is No. 1 in my tapedeck. What I’m trying to explain is that maybe this has to put me back in an aggressive mind-state and make me hungry and focused like I was in 1998. I’m looking at it as one big vacation. I’m popular, so I’m sure when I get inside that my popularity is going to be huge inside of there. I know how to handle myself. It’s just unfortunate that I’m getting taken away from what I created. I just want to get this over with and get my life back together.
It seems as though you have a good team around you to help keep the momentum you started.
Yeah, I do. I’m not just by myself. They’re my support system. I’m told them I’m going on vacation and I’m going to leave them here to work. I told them, “Don’t hate on me. You’re going to be running around in the cold and I’m going to be warm!” They laughed when I told them that. I got a good support system. That’s why I’m not worried about it. I got into the game from my credentials and where I came from. The only beautiful thing about this industry is that they don’t hate on you for things like that or getting shot nine times like 50 Cent. People don’t hate on you for things like this or gun charges. It actually increases your popularity. Rappers caught with guns get a boost in popularity. They’re all over the websites and everybody’s talking about it. The most beautiful thing about this music industry is that the music industry doesn’t judge you for your mistakes and mishaps. That’s why I’m happy. I can come home and still be Littles. That’s who I am.
Do you have a lot of music ready to go for the next eight months?
I got a new CD and DVD coming out. I’m not sure what it’s going to be called yet. I’m putting it out right before I leave. It’s hard. I have a video of how the situation played out in my house with the police finding the gun. You’ll see it happening. I’m going to press a few thousand up and just dump it in the streets. I also have a Jae Millz DVD dropping. The New Big East is going to keep my name out there too. Eight months is nothing. Being away, even for a day, I wouldn’t want that for anyone, but I’m in a position where I have to do what I have to do so I’m prepared to do what I have to do.
Your track, “QB2BK” with Poison Pen, was finally released on the Molemen’s Killing Fields compilation. How do you feel about that song?
I thought that sounded good. I thought it was hot. We both sound good on a joint together. I thought it was fire.
You and Pen also did a song for one of my mixtapes. What is it about you and Pen that makes you work well together?
I like Pen. I like his grind. That’s the reason why I did the songs with him. His grind is similar to mind. We both came from the bottom. I wanted to knock the joint out with him and they both came out hot. I’m definitely a supporter of Poison Pen and his movement.
Your last project, Reloaded, was released two summers ago. Would you consider that project a success?
Hell yeah. That was a success. I had a line on a new song “Some Day” where I said, “I dropped Reloaded and the press considered this shit a drug/I never had a major release but they showed me love.” Reloaded was fire. That was one of my biggest-selling DVD’s. It’s still on the shelf. They still order those. If I go that long without dropping a project, eight months is nothing.
What’s your relationship with Havoc today?
I’m cool with everybody, but I don’t make any phone calls to them, nor do I receive them.
Have things gotten better between you and Prodigy?
I don’t even know who that is.
Blood Money was the first Mobb Deep record done without the same formula that made Mobb great. How did you feel about Blood Money?
I felt like a lot of the music was the same. I wouldn’t have put it out. Fans didn’t want to hear Mobb Deep with G-Unit. They wanted to hear Noyd, Infamous Mobb and Chinky. If fans wanted G-Unit, they would have gotten a G-Unit CD. That’s my take on it.
What do you think of the QB scene today?
I’m the unity. I’m in Queensbridge right now. If I get out of the phone, I could have a lot of people say, “Whaddup?” I’m bridging the unity. This is where I come. This is my outlet. I stick my thumb in this socket to get charged up. Nas came and went. Mobb Deep came and never went back. This is a fucked up place. I wouldn’t want to wish anybody to come back. We fight to get out of this jungle. I come back and I recruit and I pull out people who want to get out and want a difference. Maybe Nas and Mobb Deep didn’t know how to do it. I’m not saying they didn’t want to do it, but maybe they didn’t know how to do it. I’m bridging the community. The new generation of Queensbridge comes through me. Everybody knows that.
What’s Bandana up to?
Bandana’s chilling. He’s in one of those Southern towns. He has a CD store that he owns. He sells CD’s and t-shirts. He’s comfortable where he’s at. Everybody knew the situation I was going through, so when they found out, everybody went to their own corners to find their own means of living. That’s what Bandana did. He went down South and got something for himself.
Do you like Nas’ new material?
I haven’t heard too much new material. I like the song “Hip-Hop Is Dead.” I like that song. I think Nas is still the King of Queensbridge, lyrically. I can’t take that from him. When Nas blows out his torch, I’m taking it. I want all the fans to know that it doesn’t even have to be given to me. Best of the Block will take the torch. Queensbridge is the biggest block in the world. There are thirty rappers on every block. If we were to ever put together a record label, there is so much talent here and we would have hundreds of artists being pushed out on these mixtapes every day.
Do you ever see all the talent really seeing the light?
It’s going to take somebody in a serious position. I’m in a good position where I can plug things, but it’s going to take somebody who has the torch. See, when you have the torch, you’re able to light the way for yourself and others. I don’t have the torch, yet light still shines my way and I’m able to see where I’m going. When I physically have the torch, I’m going to be able to sign who I want and do what I want. No one’s trying to push this talent to the next level. I come back and I give inspiration. I tell them to keep writing and to come to the studio. You can’t let everybody come to the studio. Then you’ll have a hundred people in line. I come here and I stay abreast with who’s who. I stay abreast. That’s how you stay in the community. When you leave the community for ten years, when you come back, the 10 year-olds are now 20 and they’re doing big things. I come back every year to watch these same people grow, physically and mentally.
How important is it to you to stay involved in the community?
It’s very important. This project is the blood that runs through my veins. Without Queensbridge, I wouldn’t have the stories I have to tell and I wouldn’t have gone through the dilemmas I’ve gone through. It’s important for me to stay in touch with my community. Some people might not have the type of smarts to make it out, but they may have the talent. I can help with that. That’s what I can say about myself.
Ron Artest is a very big contributor to Queensbridge and that’s hot. It makes the kids look at you and think they can do what you’re doing. One of those kids might look at me and think they can follow the same path. If I can reach one person, that’s good for me.
Has the police presence in QB changed since the Sean Bell shooting?
Nothing has changed in Queensbridge since the Sean Bell shooting. You have guys in the community who I know that went to the marches. The police don’t harass us out here. There are one or two cops that know everybody and if you give them respect, they give you respect. The police don’t really put their hammer down. This project would go up into an uproar if something like that were to happen. They put cameras on every building in Queensbridge and they can watch you make your dumb mistakes and then they come and get you. They don’t drive through here and harass you anymore, so things are always going to remain quiet. Even though Sean Bell was killed, no police are going to be here for the community to act on. They have cameras.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming artists?
Just work hard. Anything that you’re trying to accomplish in life is doable through hard work. As long as you strive for the stars, you’re liable to hit through the clouds. I’m on my grind all year-round. It’s about staying on your grind. Don’t stop moving. The game is never too far from your embrace. Just keep aiming for the stars.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I just want to say whaddup to all my fans and the people who support the Littles and Queensbridge movement. Dress warm. It’s going to be a cold winter. I’ll see y’all in eight months when we’ll rock and roll. I’d like to also shout out HipHopGame for always supporting real hip-hop and always supporting the truth in the community. You guys are always behind what’s hot now and what’s coming up and I respect that. Big shout out to HipHopGame.