I feel good, man. I’m great. I have nothing to complain about. I’m out here doing what I do.
The Hand of God, your latest mixtape, is just starting to get out. How’s it doing for you so far?
It’s doing well. It just came out. It’s selling. Niggas are fucking with it. It’s a good thing.
You have a lot more concept songs on this one than the mixtapes you’ve done in the past. Did you feel you had to step your game up on this one?
Definitely. The mixtape game is oversaturated and everybody is doing freestyles. I’m one of the only dudes who didn’t do a crazy amount of freestyles. I wanted to put a street album together to let dudes know what I’m really about so dudes could really listen to that to see where my head is at and where my mind is at. It’s not just me rapping over somebody else’s beat.
Did the mixtape crackdown change how you’ll promote the mixtape?
Yeah. It kind of shifted the game a little bit. We still have the stores. We still have the global marketing. It is what it is. You can’t stay away from the truth but for so long.
You called out a lot of names on “Take It Like A Man.” What kind of feedback did you get from that song?
From the streets, I got a lot of positive feedback. The streets told me I was saying things they felt and that they wanted to say. As far as the industry and labels, they didn’t really like it too much. You probably wouldn’t like it if I said your name. I had a conversation with Diddy about it.
What was that conversation like?
He just really wanted to see me and feel what kind of dude I was. He asked me if I felt Bad Boy was dead and I said, “Yeah.” I let him know it wasn’t personal and that I wasn’t singling out Bad Boy. I said a lot of labels like Ruff Ryders and Rocafella. By “dead” I mean they’re not the same as they were ten years ago. The game has changed. I didn’t want to disrespect anybody to the point where they didn’t want to fuck with me. It’s just me making a statement and I explained that to him.
On “My Life Is Like A Movie,” you said you were “too honest for the industry.” How does being honest in the hip-hop game hurt you?
It scares a lot of people. I’ve been honest and people can attribute my behavior to certain incidents. They can definitely me from certain things. The industry is not like the streets. If they think that you’re a problem or they think that you won’t benefit them, they’ll stay away from you. That’s how it can hurt you. On the other end, you get to have the love and respect from the streets because people feel that way. I’m not saying nothing that nobody else doesn’t feel.
Has your management or people in the industry ever tried to censor what you say?
People don’t always agree with the things I say, but there’s only one truth. You can throw it up and down, but it’s still going to be the truth, no matter what. Everybody on my team doesn’t always like what I say, but it is what it is. I’m a man and I’m going to do what I do. I do take advice from my team because I’m not selfish and I know they have my best interests at heart. I do take their advice.
After being in the industry and seeing the game for a few years, what do you have to do to succeed?
You have to stay consistent. You have to make good music and stay on these motherfuckers.
Is the game what you thought it would be when you took the field?
Nah. I didn’t think that this game was so fickle. I didn’t think that these niggas were so faggoty and fuckboyish. I didn’t know there were so many liars and I didn’t know the game was so fake. I knew it wasn’t like the streets, but it’s a whole ‘nother level of disrespect. I was in the streets and spent ten years in prison. I don’t know anything but that. Me making the transition into the industry, it was kind of hard for me.
What was your inspiration for “Yesterday”?
Wow. That’s just autobiographical. That’s just my life and about the niggas I grew up with who aren’t around no more because they’re either locked up or dead. It’s just real talk. It’s the real thing.
Akademiks just put up a billboard of you in Brooklyn. What do you think of that?
It’s great. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great feeling to come by Flatbush and see me 50 feet in the air. It’s a beautiful thing. All that is just a part of me growing as an artist and as a brand. I’m just doing what I have to do. That’s a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful thing.
You got the billboard and you don’t even have an album out. Why do you think you were chosen?
Because there’s an interest in Maino. Maino has a name that’s growing every day. You may not like Maino but you know who Maino is and you respect what Maino does. You see him and you know he’s not going anywhere. And I’m exciting to watch. I think the people at Stash House saw that. I thank them for putting that together for me and for making that happen. They see it. Sometimes it takes a person a year to recognize something and sometimes it takes another person ten years for them to recognize the same thing. They saw where I was going and they wanted to take a chance on me and it’s working.
You and Tragedy had some issues this past summer over an independent project. He gave us his side of the story already. What’s your side?
The dude gets on the computer and on the internet and says things. He tried to paint the picture that I’m a savage animal. It is what it is. We had a situation and he was supposed to come through. He didn’t. It’s not the fact that he didn’t come through. It’s that I couldn’t find him for three months. My number’s been the same for two years. There’s no way that anybody trying to get in contact with me couldn’t. He wasn’t answering his phone and there’s no way he couldn’t call me or email me or anything? I didn’t want to hear that. I knew what it was. He took that money and did what he wanted to do with it. This is the industry and I did what I wanted to do with it.
Can the way you handled it give you a negative reputation?
Yes, it can, but there was too much disrespect there. I didn’t feel it was too much of an industry thing. It was street business because it was a mixtape, which is also industry, but it’s not like I was dealing with an executive at Universal. We’re dealing with street music, street business and records that aren’t going on my album. We’re dealing with side distribution. He didn’t do what he was supposed to do and he got his ass beat. What can I say?
Do you see that situation resolving itself?
It’s resolved already. I don’t have a problem.
Has anything changed between you and Lil’ Cease and Gravy?
I don’t mingle with fuckboys. I’m not good with fuckboys and I don’t really want to talk about fuckboys. All those dudes are bitches. What more can I say? I don’t respect none of them.
How’s your album, Death Before Dishonor, coming?
Good. I’m off Universal. I’m in a greater situation. I want to thank 50 Cent for helping me with that situation and helping me work that situation out. I’m in a better place right now.
Why did you want to leave Universal?
They really weren’t equipped for a dude like me. I asked them to let me do what I do. I sat down with them and told them the best thing they could do for me was letting me go. When you’re dealing with a dude who’s rich and has his money already, they don’t have the same passion. I’m coming from the street and I don’t have no Plan B. This is my life.
How did 50 Cent help you?
All I can say is that he made a very important phone call for me and put some good words in for me to help me work out a better situation. I was working on the situation anyway, but he stepped in there and solidified everything.
Can you talk about your new situation?
The next step is putting out a hit record. The single and album are definitely coming out this year. We’re going to keep working and you’re going to keep seeing me. You’re going to see less controversy and more music, but you’re definitely going to be hearing about me.
Are you G-Unit affiliated?
Am I cool with them? Definitely. Am I a part of G-Unit as a rapper? Nah.
You’re not going to tell us where you’re going, are you?
When the time is right, I’ll let you know. I’m happy about it. Real niggas do real things. It’s all good.
What did it mean for you to have 50 Cent go to bat for you?
It feels good when you have people like that recognizing what you’re doing on a street level. He respected what I was doing and he didn’t mind making that call. That definitely feels good. I’m a real dude. Any hand that’s extended to me, I’m going to extend back. It’s just a good situation all the way around the board. He did that for me and it’s right. This is my life. This is not something I’m playing with. That man helped me with a situation that’s in turn helping my life.
Is Death Before Dishonor done?
With me switching labels, I’m still recording. I’m still doing new records. I’m still in the lab and I’m still banging them out. The album’s not going to be done until the album’s out.
What does the title, Death Before Dishonor, mean to you?
I live by certain codes and principles. A lot of these dudes don’t. A lot of these dudes think they can get in and do what they want to do and say what they want to say. If you shoot a nigga, there’s a chance that he may shoot back. If you shoot him and he shoots back, they want to go to the police. These niggas want to talk crazy and talk as much as they want to, but when they get caught in the street, “it’s just records.” It’s not just records with me. A nigga can’t tell me to suck his dick on the record and expect me to not see him on the street and knock his brain out of his head.
What impact will Death Before Dishonor have on the game when it finally drops?
You know when you get something and you can just ride with it? This is real music. I’m not going above your head. It’s not ignorant to the point where you have to take it and throw it out your car. It’s all real music. It’s not caked-up with gimmicks. It’s just real talk on there and reality is not a fad. When I’m expressing my life story, you get to feel me. It’s not a bunch of bullshit.
How important has Lil’ Kim been to helping you in the industry?
Maino is a runaway slave. I get out there and grind for myself. We don’t mix our business thing up. She supports everything I do. If she doesn’t agree with something, I still do it anyway. That’s just me. I have nothing but love for her and she has nothing but love for me. We get in there and we make records and we do what we do. That’s my baby sis.
What’s your focus going to be for the next couple of months?
Making these records. That’s going to be my focus. We have this tape out and we’re going to keep banging out. We’re going to keep making these records that are going to take me to another level.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Get money and live. Black Flags, Hustle Hard.