It’s been a while since we heard from you. Where have you been?
Pretty much my whole thing is I left the label I was signed to, which was The Union label. I started my own thing, which is G-State Entertainment. I’m pretty much starting ground up from an independent point of view. I’m just attacking. I got G-State and I got G-State Digital. That’s the angle I’m coming at now. It took awhile to get out of the contract because I was signed with them from ’99. They got me my first deal with MCA back in ’99 and I just figured it was time for me to step out on my own.
Did a specific incident make you want to leave?
I felt like it was time and I felt like me and the other people, staff-wise at the label, we didn’t share the same views on the game and where it was going and my direction, creativity-wise. It was pretty much time.
Were they trying to get you to do music you didn’t want to?
It was something like that. It was more or less, you know, sometimes as an artist, you can just feel misunderstood and then when it comes to the business that left out. I was focused on the music and I wasn’t really focused on my business the way I was supposed to be and then when I got on my business I wasn’t happy with some of the business practices so it was time to move on.
How has your gameplan changed today?
Well, the No. 1 thing is I’m in charge of everything. Everything that goes right and wrong, I’m responsible for myself. It’s a lot of responsibility and it’s a little bit harder but the gameplan and the end of the road is all about having whatever kind of major situation I can have. It’s not about a record deal anymore. It’s more focused on distribution because the money comes directly to me now. When you’re not signed through a third party you could take smaller deals and make them work. When you have a production company you have to be careful with the deals you take because everybody gotta eat. You need million dollar deals. With the game changing and with the internet and all, that’s become the main focus. I can be focused on my projects now. You can’t even sell mixtapes in the streets no more. The Feds actually shut it down. My gameplan changed with the game.
Do you mind covering every aspect of the independent grind today?
Yeah. I mean, it’s a little bit harder. It’s harder to balance. You lose a little bit of sleep trying to balance the music and the business at the same time without having anyone. That’s the one thing I miss about being on a major label. It does take a little bit of the workload off. They could sift through beats and you won’t even hear anything until it’s a whole CD of hot beats. Now you have to sit through 200 beats to get to one that’s hot or maybe okay and that takes away from the other stuff that you’re doing. The business can take away from the music and I’m wearing a lot of hats and it’s a little bit harder but it’s worth it at the end of the road.
Who have you been working with lately?
I’m working on a mixtape with J-Love and Blunt. I’m reaching out to the lyricists. I got a joint with Gillie Da Kid. I’m getting in the lab with him over the next couple of days. I’m working with Big Lou. Me and him just banged out three joints. I’m really keeping it Jersey. It’s all about the Jersey movement for me. I’m really trying to work with those artists, any artists from Jersey that are hot.
Producer-wise, I’m spreading it out. I hollered at D-Dot and a couple of other dudes.
What’s it like working with Blunt on your new mixtape?
It’s great. Blunt’s manager, a dude named Young Money, kept sending me beats from him and I would just knock those out the quickest. He was just capturing the lightning in the bottle. A lot of times when you don’t sit with the producer you don’t’ get the feeling you’re looking for unless you make the beat yourself like an Eminem. Blunt was just sending me everything that was right up the alley. We had eight or nine joints together and we figured we should start from scratch and just do the tape. Every morning he sends me five beats and I just knock them out. We’re doing five records a day. And J-Love had respect because he heard stuff I had done with Raekwon that he threw on Raekwon’s tape and from there he said he would love to do a tape with me and I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ It all hooked up and that’s how we’re going to do it. It’s for the hip-hop fans.
What kind of music are you coming up with with Blunt?
It could be put in a box and classified as real hip-hop. Subject matter-wise, that's how people are going to look at it. Everything is soulful. We use a lot of samples. For me, it touches on the one element people have been missing. A lot of people complain about the commercial rap, et cetera.
I think that when you really listen to what’s on the radio and what’s working, it kind of makes you put that element in. You might want to get an Auto Tune hook and you might want to get a lot of sing-songy stuff, but with me and Blunt, it’s just raw hip-hop. It’s really what the game’s been missing for awhile. Everything he sends to me reminds me of wintertime on the East Coast in like ’95. We don’t even listen to the radio. We’ve just been locking in and paying attention to nothing but what we’ve been doing. He just brings that real hip-hop feel to me where it’s not all about the negativity and it’s not all about guns going off and selling drugs. It’s about real things that are going on in the street. Everything sparks that kind of subject matter.
How far along are you on the mixtape?
We’re about 80% done. We’re looking at about two weeks to drop it, two weeks or less. It’s going to be out there.
How do you balance making the raw hip-hop that we all love but still giving new fans what they want to hear?
You know what I think it is? I think a lot of the younger fans in the game right now are brainwashed anyway so lingo-wise, we’re still speaking their language and whatever they get the most of, they end up liking. I feel like they’ve been brainwashed by this other stuff and I don’t feel like that’s classic material. That’s trendy material. We’re giving them classic material. And a lot of the kids nowadays is reverting back to it. You see the kids wearing Run-DMC t-shirts. They’re realizing that the style that they think is new is actually old. I think we’re still speaking their language but they can’t help but gravitate towards a sound they’re not hearing. It’s like the only red pair of sneakers, so to speak.
You had a nice buzz back in ’04 and ’05. Can you get that buzz back?
Definitely. I feel like I changed with the game. I’m innovative. I still got a bunch of records from that era that people have never even heard yet and every time I put it out the people are still gravitating. Plus out in the streets the mixtapes are still moving and I’m still reaching out to the same people. I had to take some time to get the business right. I had some buzz but it wasn’t worth it because the business side of the music wasn’t right so at the end of the day it wasn’t translating into anything. Sometimes you have to build and destroy.
Do you still get down with DJ Absolut today?
He doesn’t manage me anymore but we’re still good friends. I still consult with him on a daily basis as far as the music is concerned but he doesn’t manage me officially anymore.
I always liked your Welcome to Nucc Jersey mixtapes. Do you have a new one coming?
I actually have Welcome to Nucc Jersey Part 3 coming right now. I’m working on that right now and I’m trying to figure who I’m going to get to host that. I might get Absolut to host that one. But yeah, I’m working on Welcome to Nucc Jersey Part 3 right now. I’m about 50% done with that right now. That was the series that sold the most and I got the best reaction from that. I think I should be done with that one in less than a month too.
What is your place in New Jersey hip-hop today?
I feel like I’m one of the pioneers. The things I’ve done in Jersey, there’s only about five of us from Jersey that’s even been in the major music circuit as far as being on major mixtapes, on the radio, in the major magazines, having a major buzz, et cetera. You could name only a handful of the artists and we don’t sound alike. I don’t sound like Joe Budden and Joe Budden doesn’t sound like Ransom. I think I’m one of the pioneers and I think even they would agree. A lot of people could be seen as a pioneer and as old school. I’m trying to achieve legend status.
Can you promise no more hiatuses?
Definitely. Right now, my business is straight and I’m in a great place. I’m in a perfect place to keep banging them and I’m about to flood them with the music from my Welcome to Nucc Jersey campaign. I’m about to flood them with some whole new music. I have a whole new stash. Everything is looking great with G-State. Everything is running like a well-oiled machine. I could just focus on the music. I’m going to be hitting them with new records on the daily.