You just wrapped up a deal with Voxonic. What made you want to go with them as opposed to Koch for H.N.I.C. Part 2?
Basically because they offered me more. They offered me a part of the company and a job up there as an A&R, so I can sign artists. And just a lot more other things. It was just a better deal for me. I have more control as an artist.
Voxonic also has the technology to translate your album in many different languages. How important is that to you?
I mean, it’s very important because Mobb Deep is a global group. It’s definitely important when we go overseas and when we do our tours. That’s definitely important.
Do you think having your album in other languages will expand your fanbase?
Yeah, it’s definitely going to have us in places that we couldn’t reach before. Now it’s going to open up different doors and open up different markets.
Were you under pressure to finish your new album H.N.I.C. Part 2 before you start serving your time?
Luckily I had most of the album done because I had been working on it before the bid even came into play. I’ve been working on this album before a lot of the stuff even happened. I’ve just been working on it little by little and here and there. Then I just decided, ‘Aight, it’s time to wrap the album up and get it out there.’ It was already in motion and already in the process of getting done anyway. I didn’t really have to do much.
Did you record “Still Slaves” and “My World is Empty Without You” after you knew you would be going to jail?
Those songs are 2-3 years old. Those aren’t even on the album. Those are songs that I just put out there to whet their appreciative, to make them say, ‘Wow, why you ain’t put that on the album? You must have some crazy songs on the album!’ That’s what those are right there.
On “My World Is Empty without You”, you say you made that as a response to what you said about Jesus on “Pearly Gates”. Do you regret anything about “Pearly Gates” today?
Nah. I don’t never regret nothing about my lyrics. Everything that I do is well-planned and thought-out. That was a response to the fans who probably didn’t understand what “Pearly Gates” was about.
You got a lot of fans mad over your controversial verse on “Pearly Gates”. Did fans misinterpret your verse?
They probably did because I didn’t explain myself at all on that song. I just said something shocking and grabbed the attention and made you ask me later on, ‘What the hell are you talking about, P?’ I did that on purpose. I purposely didn’t explain myself on that song.
For those who never heard your explanation, can you briefly explain the verse?
Basically, the reason I did that was to grab the attention. I said something shocking to make you be like, ‘Yo, what the hell is he talking about’ and to make you listen closely to my lines. That’s what that was about. I said something shocking about religion basically because I don’t believe in religion, No. 1. I don’t believe in religion because to me, religion was forced on us when we was brought over here as slaves. They used religion to control us. There was no such thing as religion back in Africa before they took us over here. We had our own connection with the universe and with the Creator. We didn’t have books and shit. There was no such thing as a Bible or a Koran back then.
If you constantly say things for shock value, do you think there will come a time when no one listens because they know you don’t mean what you say?
Nah. It’s real easy to understand P. The bottom line is P don’t give a fuck. P’s a rebel. P’s going to speak his mind. It’s real easy to understand P. It’s not that complicated.
While you’ve always made socially-aware music, would you say you’re making more socially-aware music today?
I’ve been doing that since the beginning of my career. P’s been on it like that. P’s always been political. P’s been saying stuff about Illuminati and the secret government. P’s always been like that.
The only thing that’s going on now is that I’m putting it more out there because the time is now to get it out there. Back in the day, people really couldn’t understand what I was trying to say about certain things. But now, a lot more information is out there because of the internet. The internet didn’t exist in ’95. The internet didn’t exist in ’96. So now I’m putting this information in my rhymes because the information is out there. It’s time to go with this shit. It’s time for people to stop being quiet about this shit because they’re scared that their records are not going to get played or that they’re going to get blackballed and shit. Motherfuckers are scared that they’re not going to make money and that they’re not going to go platinum because they’re saying certain shit. This is what I bring to the table. This is what I do. From day one, this is really nothing new.
You just shot the video for “A.B.C.”. From watching it, it’s clear that it’s not going to be played on BET or MTV because of the graphic nature of it.
Nothing I do is for mainstream media, to tell you the truth. I do it for myself and I do it for my fans. I ain’t watering nothing down. Those days are over with. I’m already in. I’m already locked in the rap game. I don’t have to water myself down to get play and for people to know who I am. I can just be myself at this point.
When you feel comfortable with being yourself, do you make the best music you can possibly make?
You have to come to your own decision as an artist with where you want to be in life and where you’re trying to go. As far as me, I’m just happy that I came to the conclusion that I did. I’m happy with my position in life and I don’t need this, that and the third. I don’t need all these cars and all this flashy shit. I’m truly happy with my position in life. People tell me all the time that my shit is fire and that they can’t wait for me to drop an album. That’s happening to me everywhere, every day. I’m doing my job and I’m doing it right. I feel like I don’t have to chase nothing else. I’m comfortable with my position in life.
Me and Yayo had this conversation awhile ago and this is exactly how Yayo feels. He’s comfortable with his position in life and he don’t give a fuck if he goes gold or platinum. Yayo is comfortable and for the rest of his life, he’s good. We’re not chasing nothing. We’re good.
Did it take a long time for you to develop that perspective on life?
I mean, I reached that just from people everyday being, ‘Yo, P, they don’t give you the recognition you deserve.’ ‘Yo, P, you’re one of the top 5 lyricists.’ That comes from that. I realize that I’m good. Everywhere I go, people show me respect. People say, ‘You’re that nigga, son. Ever since I was little, I grew up listening to your music ever since I was 14 years-old. I was raised off of Mobb Deep.’ I hear that all the time. I’m satisfied. I don’t need all that other shit. I don’t need world tours and I don’t need go double-platinum. We’re good, permanently, forever. I could go on tour overseas right now and never come back for a year or two. I’m good.
When someone says they were raised off of Mobb Deep’s music, does that mean more to you than getting 5 Mics or a magazine cover?
Yes. I don’t need to be on your magazine cover. I don’t need certain shit. I really don’t need it. It’s irrelevant to me at this point in my career. It’s irrelevant to me. I’m already locked in. These other artists can’t even get a break and I’m already locked in. Every time I drop, it’s going to go gold, at least. I’m good. I don’t have to chase this other shit and I don’t have to conform and do all this other shit so I can get placements in certain areas. Like, I don’t need that placement, man. I’m good already. I’m good with my sales from the ‘hood. The ‘hood got me forever.
When you found out your bid was staring in January, did you start recording more songs than usual?
Well, I’ll tell you like this. The first month after I copped out, I was going hard, like, ‘All right, let me do some extra shit. If I got 10 songs, I need 30 songs. If I have five videos, I need 15 videos.’ The first month I was going extra-hard. Then I had to relax as they started mixing and I had to do other things to prepare business-wise. I already had a lot of shit done for the album so I really didn’t have to bust my brain cells about it. The album was pretty much done before I had to cop to the bullshit.
In that month that you went on a recording tear, did you find your music was different in any way?
It wasn’t so much a different perspective or a different mindstate. But the shit was just on my mind 24 hours a day as they tried to make me set 50 Cent up. With that being on my mind, yes, it’s going to affect the music and what I’m doing a little bit more than before they tried to do that. I was always aware that the cops were dirty beforehand and before that went down. I was already putting that information in my rhymes, but when it actually went down and I was in court and I saw the cops lying to the grand jury and I actually sat there in the precinct and I saw different sets of police try to get me to set 50 Cent up, it definitely affected my mind and what I’m saying.
When they asked you to set 50 Cent up, that must have been surreal.
It was just like, ‘Wow, it’s for real. I was right all this time and these are the facts. I’m being shown the facts right now.’ It just confirmed that everything that I was reading about, studying about and everything that Prodigy is about is just real. I wasn’t wasting my time. These niggas really is demons. These niggas is devils, straight like that.
Rappers are always talking about the hip-hop police, but sometimes fans are so far removed from the artists that they can’t directly see the hip-hop police in action.
Yeah. This shit ain’t no joke. These niggas is demons, straight up. It’s more than just hip-hop cops. I’m talking about foul, demon-ass cops that will set your ass up for years because they’re jealous that you’re black and their white women are in the front row of your show and losing their fucking mind to the music. These cops have actually told me this out of their mouths. They’re jealous because we’re black and their white women are chasing after us at our concerts and shit. The cop actually said that to me out of his mouth. How can a cop say that to a person? That means they’re on some real racial shit. That means they’re demons. That means this shit is real. I’m trying to tell you, it’s more than just the hip-hop cops that arrest rappers because these rappers are in the media. Nah. There’s some other shit going on. These niggas is racially profiling us and these niggas is illegally-searching us and these niggas are planting evidence. These niggas is jealous because they have to ride around in cop hoopties and we ride around in $200,000 bulletproof cars.
How did you respond to the policeman who said they didn’t like their “white wife” listening to your music and going to your shows?
I just laughed at it. When the cop told that to me, this is my response and I swear on my children. I said, “You know what’s funny, officer? The last month we did a show at Madison Square Garden. And what’s Tom Cruise’s ex-wife’s name? Oh yeah, Nicole Kidman. Yeah. She was in the front row going crazy. And that was just last month. So I understand what you’re talking about.” The cop was burnt after that. He was like, ‘Bring this nigga back to his cell.’
While no one doubts that there are racist cops out there, did you ever think the racism was that blatant?
Yes. These niggas is on some Klan shit. You can see it working in these hip-hop task forces. To tell you the truth, I didn’t have a problem with the black cops in the hip-hop task force. They were cool. They weren’t fucking with me. It was the white cops that illegally searched my car. They lied to the grand jury and they told me all this racial shit inside of the precinct and they tried to get me to set 50 Cent up.
Is this a problem that can ever be solved?
I mean, this shit has been going on since the beginning of time. It’s a conspiracy. It’s not a theory. It’s real.
When you get out, are you going to be much more careful with how you move?
Yeah, definitely, man. You have to be careful. You have to be real careful. It’s real. Word.
Do you plan on writing a lot when you’re locked down?
Yeah. I plan on definitely working out and reading a lot. I’m going to be writing a lot.
What kind of books do you want to read next?
Definitely. I’m going to the bookstore and anything I see that I’m interested in and feel like reading, I’ll get ahead of time and my wife will mail it to me while I’m in there.
You’re also working on your autobiography. How’s that coming?
That’ll get wrapped up while I’m in there. It’s coming good. I’ve been real quiet about it because every time I say my ideas out in the public, people with a lot of money like to bite my ideas, especially Prodigy’s ideas. I really didn’t want to talk about it too much because these dickhead niggas bite my ideas and roll with it. It’s all good if they want to bite my ideas. They’re on my dick all the time and I can’t get them off.
There’s a saying that imitation is the highest form of flattery. When you see others biting your ideas or music, can you take that as a compliment to some degree?
That shit is cool and a compliment to a certain point until they take what P is doing and do it now. It’s a compliment to a certain point until you just start taking my shit and running with it like a lot of people have been doing. A lot of these motherfuckers take everything. The list just goes on and on. For real, niggas be blatantly biting my ideas. It’s kind of crazy. I just learned how to really not talk about that shit because that shit is ready to come out and because somebody else is going to run with this shit because my ideas are very fucking good, like, for real.
Have you and Havoc started working on the new Mobb Deep album?
Yeah. We put the Mobb Deep shit on hold until I get home. Right now it’s all about H.N.I.C. Part 2. That’s what it’s all about, to tell you the truth. We’re putting another Mobb Deep album out on G-Unit. Mobb Deep is still on G-Unit.
You worked with Havoc, Alchemist and Sid Roams on H.N.I.C. Part 2. Did anything change working with them this time around?
Nah, it was pretty much the same routine and the same formula. I didn’t really get too many producers on the album. I just wanted to keep it all in-house so the album has the same feel to it.
How important is it to you that your music always has that gritty, grimy QB sound?
It’s always going to have that. It’s always going to have that QB sound to it because it’s really a sound that we created. We created that. That’s going to always be there every time we do an album.
Is H.N.I.C. Part 2 your best solo work to date?
Yo, I can say for sure, 100,000% that this shit is better than the first. H.N.I.C. as far as beats and lyrics. I definitely topped the last album.
What did you do on H.N.I.C. Part 2 to make it better than H.N.I.C. and Return of the Mac?
Hard work. Hard work. I took everything real serious. I took every song real serious, from the things I was talking about to how the beat sounded. I didn’t compromise nothing with this album. It was all, 100%, what I was feeling from the heart, for real. I didn’t change nothing and I wasn’t trying to do songs for the radio and do none of that shit. Everything was just real shit and when you hear the album, you’ll see that we put this shit together ill. When you hear the album, you won’t have to skip past one song.
How difficult is it waking up each day counting the days until you’re in jail?
Soon I’m going to be waking up and thinking I’m home. That’s the tough part, for, like, the first month when you’re in there, when you wake up in the morning and you don’t remember where you’re at. You’re like, ‘Where the fuck am I? Oh yeah, I’m in jail. I forgot.’
Will you be able to stay in touch with your fans while you’re locked down?
Yeah, definitely. That’s why I put HNIC2.com up, so I can stay in contact with the fans. I can stay putting up blogs while I’m locked up. So even if I don’t actually get to a computer, I’ll be able to put a blog up every day. All I have to do is send a message back home and they’ll type it for me.
You also typed your own biography on HNIC2.com. It’s unusual for an artist of your caliber to type their own bio.
A lot of people, they hate on Mobb Deep and they hate on Prodigy for some strange reason. I don’t know. I guess a lot of fans take Mobb Deep’s music personally. They really, really love Mobb Deep and they take it personally. They don’t get it when we do a G-Unit deal or when we do certain things. They just don’t get it because they’re so much of a hardcore Mobb Deep fan. It’s like certain things we do hurt their feelings. I really don’t understand it at times. They get mad when we make a deal with 50 Cent and that makes no sense to me. Why would you be mad we made a deal with 50 Cent? We’re making money in 2008. We still do tours and we can still do other business deals, so why would you be mad at that?
So when it comes to writing a bio, I don’t trust people to write my bio because they’re not going to say things that I really don’t agree with and it’s not going to make any sense to me because you’re just looking at it from a fan’s perspective. You’re not looking at it in reality. A lot of these fans aren’t really dealing with reality. There’s shit that just don’t make no sense to me. So when it comes down to writing a bio, I don’t trust nobody to write my bio. I just want to put the facts in there. I just took care of that myself. I like to handle a lot of shit like that because of that same reason.
How do you like blogging so far?
That shit is cool. I just get to speak my mind whenever I feel like it and leave my message up there for the fans. That’s what it is in 2008. It’s a new day, man. It’s technology and you have to move with it. That’s what it is in 2008. It’s been like that for a minute. I had a website up awhile ago, back in like 2001, 2000. I’m talking about when the internet first started getting popular. It is what it is now. It’s a new day. It’s technology, man. I’m moving with it, not against it.
What advice would you offer to other artists in relation to watching out for the police and how they carry themselves on a day-to-day basis?
Just be careful, man. For real, just be careful. If you’re in the same world that I’m in and you’re trying to do the same things that I’m doing, as far as the rap game and you’re living that same life, then you’ll understand when I say that you shouldn’t spend your money on dumb shit like cars and jewelry. Fuck all that dumb shit. Spend your money on protection like armored vehicles with cameras on the inside and out. Get you some fucking real estate. Don’t spend your money on dumb shit, yo.
It’s time to really wake up and start doing the right thing. We’ve been chasing the dumb shit for too long. We’ve been chasing that dumb shit for too long and it’s a new era now. I don’t need none of these outlets trying to water my music down so I can get on their TV show or the radio show. A lot of things changed for me. I don’t do certain things no more. I don’t wear no jewelry no more. I’m not on no flashy shit. I’m bringing something new to the table and that’s positive to the kids, man, because that’s some real shit that I’ve been telling you. You don’t have to go buy a chain, nigga. Go put some money down on a house. Go do some real shit with your money. Go buy a condo or whatever you can afford. Don’t buy fucking rims and systems and clothes. Chill out with that shit. We don’t do that no more. The gangstas that I fuck with, we don’t do that no more. That’s old school.
Do you think that trend will catch on?
That’s the new shit that Prodigy’s bringing to the table. I bring that trend to the table in 2008. That’s the trend that I’m bringing. Mobb Deep brought numerous trends to the rap game, like 40-inch chains, Timberlands, army-certified suits and Hennessey and E&J. We’ve started some ill trends in our career. What I’m trying to tell you is the new trend is me not wearing jewelry no more and not chasing the lifestyle of the beast right now. We’re on our rebel shit and hardbody shit in 2008. We’re on our rebel shit at this point and that’s what it is at this point. That’s the new trend that we started and watch it trickle down to the whole world. Watch.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Support real shit. This is real shit. A nigga’s telling you some real shit. Support real shit when you hear it. Get H.N.I.C. Part 2 because you know P is saying some real shit on there. For real, it’s a new day, man. We’re making it easy for these kids to follow our trend. Our trend ain’t hard. You don’t have to have a million dollars to follow my trend. My trend is really easy.
Ed. Note: After the interview was over, Prodigy wanted to add a little more.
I read somewhere that Saigon was like, ‘P’s not going to be able to come out of his cell when he’s in jail’ and that he’s the Yardfather and all this bullshit. What I’m trying to say is, “Dun, your album is never going to come out. You know what I’m saying? Don’t worry if I come out of my cell or not. Your album is never coming out.” The reason I said that is because like I said before is that I’m not really worried about problems in jail. The only thing I’m worried about is that I’m locked up and I can’t come out until they tell me I could come out. That’s how it is in jail. You can’t move in jail until they tell you to move. A lot of my niggas and a lot of my cousins are in jail right now doing way more time. I’ve been preparing for this all my life. My pops has been in jail. Half of my life my pops was locked up. I’ve basically been preparing for jail since I was a little kid. For a nigga to say, “P’s never going to come out of his cell,” nigga, your album is never coming out. Shut the fuck up. The Greatest Story Never Told, how about that?
Will you and Saigon ever be cool?
Oh, hell no! I’ll never be cool with that bum-ass nigga. He’s a clown. I don’t get cool with clowns. I get cool with real niggas. I got an army in the street in every borough. We all cool. Niggas like him, I don’t get cool with. We stomp niggas like him out.
Saigon said that the video from the fight at S.O.B.’s was doctored. How do you respond to that?
(laughs) It’s doctored so we’re making it look like he’s running? I don’t know how you do that. I don’t think there’s an editing program that can make it look like somebody is running. That program doesn’t exist yet.
How did things between you and Saigon get so bad?
Basically he said he was burning our album cover to Amerikaz Nightmare on a SMACK DVD. That’s how it started. It had nothing to do with nothing else but that. He started it. I finished it.
You’ll see how it started. Mobb Deep ain’t reckless. Prodigy’s not reckless. We don’t start trouble, ever. Never in the history of Mobb Deep did we start some trouble with somebody. It was always in some self-defense shit. It was like, ‘Oh, you’re fucking with us? Aight, watch how we defend ourselves.’