I’m feeling good, man. It’s been a good day. It’s nice outside. It’s about 3 p.m. over here. I’m normally getting up around 1 to get some work done since I’m usually in the studio all night.
How’s your solo album coming?
We’re in the beginning phases of it. I was supposed to blog about it on my MySpace page a couple of days ago. I had originally started the record back in the summertime after we got off tour. I went in the studio and started recording, but then we decided to go back and do another Little Brother record faster than we had planned. Then I scrapped the idea for my project. That’s why some of the songs on the Hall of Justus compilation were solo songs of me because they were from my solo album. I had nine or ten joints done before we started working on the new Little Brother project, but I scrapped those because I wanted to start from the ground up.
I developed a lot between doing those songs and working on Getback (the next Little Brother album). I like when people record and you can tell everything is from the same time period. It’s not when you go and one song sounds like it could have been on one album and other songs could have been on another album. I don’t like when people do that. There’s a time period to record and then you take what you recorded in that time period and you put it together as one project.
Are you doing anything differently as an MC now that you weren’t doing on your older projects?
Not necessarily. I want to clarify that now so people don’t go into my next record expecting to hear some astronomical shit or expecting to hear some shit that they’ve never heard before. I don’t think you’re ever going to hear anything that you haven’t heard before. You’re going to hear a more professional Pooh with better song-writing and better verses. It’s a better Pooh, artistically. A lot of people get that confused when they hear an old artist come out again. It’s like, He’s not doing anything new! He never said he was doing anything new. I said, “I have new material.” It doesn’t have to be some next level shit for you to like it.
Do you consider your music “next level”?
No. I consider my music just real dope music. It’s rare nowadays to hear some next level shit. If you’re really an avid listener of music, then you hear a lot of things all the time. I’m not chasing the next level shit, personally. I’m not searching or chasing anybody doing next level shit, whatever “next level shit” is. I’m just interested in people making good music. If you’re making good music, whether it’s deemed “next level” or not, as long as it’s good, then I’m fucking with it. It makes no difference to me.
Why did you start recording Getback sooner than expected?
It was a combination of things. The Minstrel Show didn’t do as well as we had hoped or liked. You have that and the label had wanted us to go back and record earlier than we planned on. It was a combination of things. Me and Phonte had wanted to do our own projects. He wanted to do another Foreign Exchange record. We said, “All right, let’s go back and make another Little Brother album and then we’ll go off and do our own thing before we make another Little Brother album.” It was just a combination of things. We didn’t want to take a two year hiatus between The Minstrel Show and Getback. All those factors went into us getting back in the studio early.
How is Getback coming?
It’s almost complete. We have a couple more things we’re trying to do and a couple more people we’re trying to get in with. For the most part, it’s about 90% complete as far as the music goes. This has actually been the quickest that we’ve ever recorded an album. We started it in September and we were primarily done in early November for the most part.
It’s a different process for us. Normally we get all our production from 9th so we can get it, get it, get it. There were other things leading to us taking different terms. When we recorded The Listening, we were all working and going to school. For The Minstrel Show, we were working on our contract with Atlantic and ABB, so that slowed us down. For Getback, contractually, everything was together. The only thing that slowed us down this time was having to find other beats. That was a whole different thing. I was used to finding beats from recording Sleepers since that wasn’t produced by one person. We had to take trips to see people and sometimes we came away with something but a lot of times we came away with nothing. The only reason this project isn’t done is because we’re waiting on a few producers.
How much outside production is on Getback?
About 90%. Khrysis did a couple joints. That’s the home team. 9th still has one on the record. Illmind did a couple joints. We consider him on the home team too because we’ve been working with him for years. Then we have the outside production. Outside of 9th, Khrysis and Illmind, the outside producers have about 40% of the tracks.
Why is 9th only on one track on Getback?
It’s a couple different things. You’ve got a group that grew apart musically. Me and ‘Te, we do everything together. We tour together and we do interviews together for the most part. Everything with the group, we do together. 9th has his own schedule. He’s DJ’ing, working on his own projects and teaching. We all knew there was going to come a point and time when he would relinquish some of the production duties. We knew he wasn’t always going to do every album. But we didn’t know it would reach this point until we got there.
For this album, me and ‘Te had a particular sound we were looking for, and what he had just wasn’t it. We got the album we want to make in our head and I know 9th is in the group, but if he can’t meet us here, then the only thing left for us to do is to go outside and find somebody to get us where we need to be. We just opened up the producer floodgates and whoever comes with it is going to be the ones on the album, whether you’re superproducer of the year or you’re beating buckets on the corner. I don’t care who you are. If you’ve got what we’re looking for, we’re going to work with you. For the most part, 9th didn’t have what we were looking for.
How did not working with 9th on Getback change the chemistry of the group?
The chemistry hasn’t changed. That’s the thing that people don’t realize. When you’re on the outside, you don’t know. The only album that 9th was there to see all the way through from conception to recording to post-production to whatever was The Listening. On The Minstrel Show, he didn’t hear stuff until it was done. The recording team is me, ‘Te and Khrysis. The process is he gives us a beat-CD, he lets us choose what we do, we record it and it’s done.
The chemistry is going to be there because the chemistry is me and ‘Te. When you got me and ‘Te, you get the chemistry. A lot of people don’t realize that. A lot of people think this isn’t going to be as good because he’s not there. He didn’t hear Separate but Equal until it was done and he didn’t hear the Chitlin Circuit 1.5 or The Minstrel Show for the most part until it was done. The chemistry is with me, ‘Te and Khrysis and that chemistry hasn’t changed. In the essence of a true producer, ‘Te has been the producer behind Little Brother. 9th was the beat-maker for Little Brother, except for The Listening, where they both were. In the true sense of the producer, ‘Te did The Minstrel Show and Chitlin Circuit 1.5. As long as me and ‘Te are rocking, the chemistry is always going to be there.
Does 9th get more involved in his outside projects than Little Brother’s projects?
I can’t speak on his other projects. I know he was very involved in the last two Murs projects. As far as his other projects, you would have to ask those particular artists. It’s just that with me and ‘Te, we know what we want to do, we know where we want to go and we know how we want to sound. When Khrysis ended up recording most of The Minstrel Show, we developed a rapport in the studio and that’s how it’s been. 9th recorded the first couple tracks for The Minstrel Show. He did “Beautiful Morning” and “Lovin’ It.” Then Khrysis came in and did the rest. Khrysis did my album and Getback. We build a rapport with Khrysis and that’s how it’s been. 9th lets us pick the beats we want.
Is it possible for Khrysis to be a new member of Little Brother?
Nah. We’re not going to add any new members to Little Brother. But when you think of Little Brother, you have to think of Little Brother as an entity. We’re not just a group anymore. Little Brother Studio is me, ‘Te and Khrysis. Little Brother Stage is me, ‘Te and Flash. For the business you have to add Dho. The constant is always me and ‘Te.
What did you learn working with Buckwild and Nottz on the Hall of Justus compilation Soldiers of Fortune?
Both of those tracks were recorded in North Carolina. We didn’t really work with them on those particular songs. I did get a chance to go up to VA to record with Nottz for my solo record. One thing I learned about Nottz is he’s an anything-goes type of guy. He’s not a man of many words. I was recording a joint and I had a hook already and I asked him what he thought and he didn’t say too much. He tells me what I need to know. He’s crazy on the beats. That’s the only guy that I know that lets me sit at his computer and go through all his beat folders. I sat there for hours going through his beat folders.
We haven’t technically recorded with Buckwild either, but every time we go to New York, we end up going to his studio and kicking it. He provides a lot of insight whenever we talk to him. He gives me a lot of knowledge on how to keep your head up. Making the kind of music we make is not the popular music right now. He just gives us a lot of insight on that and a lot of knowledge on when he was coming up. Whoever we talk to or work with is a learning experience because nine times out of ten, those people were in the game way before me and ‘Te were in the game. Being able to communicate with a Nottz or Buckwild is crazy because they’ve worked with some of the biggest stars of today.
Are you reaching the audience that you want to be reaching today?
I don’t know if we’re reaching everybody that we want to reach. I want to have a chance to reach everybody, no matter what background you come from, what you do, whether you’re a doctor or a b-boy. It doesn’t matter to me. I think our music has and can touch everybody. I just want the music to have its chance to reach everybody and I don’t think we’ve gotten that chance yet. At the end of the day, if they don’t like Little Brother, that’s their personal opinion. It’s not likely. I just want the chance for people to like me or not like me. When we get that chance, then I think I’ll be satisfied.
Do the criticisms of you being the “weakest link” of Little Brother ever get to you?
It used to. When I first started rhyming, it used to get to me all the time. You just sit there and wonder ‘what the fuck did I do? Did I fuck somebody’s girl?’ After awhile I was just like, Fuck it. People are going to say what they want to say and a lot of times it’s people that are mad because they’re in the position they’re in and I’m in the position I’m in. Fuck it at the end of the day. I can’t dwell on every negative comment. Fuck it. You don’t have to listen to it, download it or read it. They’re just haters at the end of the day. If I don’t like a movie, I don’t watch it. If I don’t like a magazine or an article, I’m not going to read. I’m not going to waste my energy on something I don’t like just to be negative about it. That’s not me. At the end of the day, all I can do is just be me and the people that fuck with me fuck with me and the people who don’t, don’t.
Does Atlantic believe in Little Brother?
That’s a good question. You’ll have to ask Atlantic. I know there are people in Atlantic who support Little Brother and hold us down heavy, but as an overall company, I don’t think they do. You can tell by some of the things that go on at the label. It’s just like, Huh? Are we even on this motherfucker? We’ll see with this record. I think this will be the one. This record will really be the one that will give us that real insight on if they believe in us or if they don’t. There were a lot of fumbles on the first record. We walked away from that experience like, They don’t believe in niggas. It’s obvious they don’t.
They’re giving us another shot and we’re giving them another shot. Once this record plays out, we’ll see if it’s really there. There are artists over there that they give the world to and they’re still not selling shit. They’re not giving us anything and we went on word of mouth and fans we already had and we sold about 85-90,000. It ain’t shit in the world of selling music, but when the label hasn’t supported you worth a damn, that’s a whole lot of motherfucking records. That’s like we came out independent again. We’ll see with this record. Getback is going to tell us a whole lot of things. The Minstrel Show told us a whole lot of shit about a whole lot of people. Getback is going to really make everything clear.
Do you have to make more commercial music to have Atlantic believe in you?
No, because we weren’t making commercial music when they signed us. We’ve come a long way in terms of making music from when they signed us. I don’t know if their intent was to sign us and then turn us into another group. That’s not going to happen. I don’t know what their initial intent was. I can only make music that’s me. I’m not going to force shit or try to make other people happy because no one else has to wake up in my skin in the morning. Other people aren’t going to feel what I feel in the booth.
If our music has to be commercial, then fuck it. I just want to have the chance to reach everybody. Little Brother may never go platinum. If that’s the case, that’s the case. I know me and ‘Te are still going to be able to get out on the road and make money doing these shows. I refuse to change what I’m doing just to make other people happy when I’m not going to be happy at the end of the day. It’s about me and Phonte being happy with the project we make at the end of the day.
Are you happy with how the Hall of Justus compilation Soldiers of Fortune did?
No, I’m not. I’m happy that a lot of artists we have got a chance to be heard. I think that was the most important thing with the compilation, to allow the other voices to be heard. In that aspect, I was very, very happy with it. In a whole lot of other ways, I wasn’t and if we had to do it again, I think we would do it differently. It’s too late to go back on that now. All we can do from here on out is to make sure all the other projects on the Hall of Justus come out how we want them to come out.
Are you helping other artists in the Justus League right now?
Honestly I’m not. We’re working on the Little Brother record and I’m starting the production on my next record. We have Jozee Mo, Joe Scudda and Chaundon coming out next. I’m not really hands-on with the projects. I just kind of step in when I need to step in and do things when I need to. I’m just overseeing those projects and make sure they get their fair time to do their thing.
Jozee Mo is an up-and-coming Justus League member. Why should we watch for Jozee Mo?
Jozee Mo is a different voice. He’s not what you’re used to hearing coming out of my camp. He’s a different voice and I think it’s a voice that needs to be heard. He’s a real talented brother and I think once people get a chance to hear his music, they’ll love it. People are going to question his realness and some of the stories he tells because of his affiliation with us. They’re going to wonder if he’s really as authentic as he says he is. Everything that he’s saying is fucking real. Don’t get it twisted because you’ve never heard anybody talking about busting guns or selling drugs in the Justus League. Don’t believe that some of us don’t have those stories or that he doesn’t have those stories. He just chooses to talk about that part of his life and he does it dope.
What potential does Skyzoo have?
I think he’s making moves. Lyrically, he’s a real, real, real talented brother. We got a chance to work together on the compilation and some other things. I’ve gotten to work with him awhile ago and to see him go from there to having the success he’s having now, I’m happy for him.
How’s Joe Scudda’s project coming?
It’s coming. He started it a little while ago and was going in a different direction and now I think he wants to change the direction a little bit. He has a gang of songs over here and he’s just trying to work it out.
How is the And Justus for All mixtape with Mick Boogie coming?
We’re wrapping it up. It was originally supposed to come out in October but we’re trying to cement a few features and go and push it on out. We’re trying to make another big statement like we made with DJ Drama and Separate but Equal.
Ideally, when would Getback drop?
Hopefully Getback can maybe come out around springtime of ’07. Hopefully it will see the light of day by then. I don’t really have a timetable on my album but it will come out after the Getback record. Phonte has started his next Foreign Exchange album. I’ll have to find a new home for the record. It’s still Hall of Justus, but we’re trying to take it bigger like to a Koch or Asylum. We’re trying to do it bigger than we did the last one. A whole lot of stuff on my album is to be determined. I’m just trying to keep everyone tuned in through MySpace and YouTube. I’m going to put up some studio footage and a couple of snippets of records when I’m ready just to keep people interested.
You’ve had a lot of different label experiences going from an independent to a major. What advice would you offer to artists trying to find the best deal for themselves?
Just know that it’s a constant grind. If you get that major deal, it still doesn’t mean shit. It still doesn’t mean that you’re going to come out. Nobody may ever hear from your ass, ever. You have to know it’s a continuous grind and keep hustling. You have to hustle. Even if you get that major deal, you have to hustle like you don’t have it. You have to hustle like you were hustling before you had the deal. Just know that rapping isn’t for everybody. You may think it’s for you when you’re hustling dolo, but you may realize it’s not for you when you get in the game. If it’s not for you, then you have to gracefully bow out. The real work starts when you sign your deal. That’s when the real work starts.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Thanks for supporting me, Little Brother and the Hall of Justus. We have a lot of projects coming out. Stay supporting the movement.