Ain’t shit, I’m just running around.
When exactly is Cuban Linx II dropping?
Cubin Linx II is coming out in ’07 for summertime action. We don’t really want to rush the album and drop a lot of shit in ’06. We just want to come fresh this year, for the new year. But the summertime action, we’re going to burn it up around June or July.
You just celebrated your ten year anniversary of the Cuban Linx album. How did that feel?
I’m just about trying to make good music and basically give niggas another collector’s edition of the first Cuban Linx album. I’m cooling. I’m just a soldier. I’m just trying to get ready for the hype of it. I just want to make sure that niggas are aware of what is going on with me and let all my fans know that I’m working real hard and that I’m guaranteeing niggas fire.
Are you going to do a limited edition run on purple cassette tape?
You know I want to do that, but I don’t even know if purple cassettes are still on the market like that. From what I’m hearing, all these major distributors don’t really fuck with the purple cassettes no more. I’m fighting hard for that though, but I’m definitely trying to get the CD purple though. They are going to see what they can do for us, but we got to have some type of purple in there. That’s the statement of royalty right there. That is letting niggas know my top is purple and they back on the block again. If we can make it, you know I’m down for it.
How is Cuban Linx II different than the original?
It’s just me putting it in and letting niggas know that I know how important the first one was to the hip-hop community and to the whole game itself. I don’t try to compete with the first one, I just more or less try to really step it up to a level where I’m complementing the first one with the second one now. You are not going to get the typical shit that you hear on niggas’ CD’s. I got an all-star team of niggas. I got RZA. He feels like he’s got something to prove on the production level. I got Dre right there. Dre is going to make sure that he reps, because he’s looking at RZA and they’re looking at each other. I got brothers like J-Dilla, God bless his soul. He just came with some crazy shit that you listen to sand say, “Yo, this is mean right here.”
I really feel that this is a classic album and I’m hyped about it like a fan myself because there is just so much good shit going there. I got a lot of support from other producers too, basically who love me for what I do and they looking at me like, Yo, you are the last man standing. New York is really considered to be washed up to a lot of niggas. They know that there are only a few niggas that niggas are really looking at. Everybody else is just really coming out to support me, I got an all star cast on this album as far as production is concerned, so I don’t see us losing on no level with that.
How are your collabos looking for the album?
I didn’t really want to do too many collabos. When you think of Cuban Linx, you can’t just put anybody on there and consider them one of the additions. I don’t want to come in it like that and just make the fans and make my war niggas feel like, Chef just wants to sell records. I just try to keep the formula as close as possible by keeping the family involved. I would never try to put a Cuban Linx album out and call it that and not have the family involved. Regardless of the turmoil that is around us, nothing’s personal, everything is business, and when I think of Cuban Linx II , them niggas have got to have their spin on it.
Can you explain how you came up with the title, Only Built for Cuban Linx?
Back in the early ‘90’s when we were coming up, me and Ghost, we sat down and we came up with it together. We felt like we was strong like that, like the whole crew made a oath that nothing could ever come between us. We are like family, like that chain could never be popped. Being back then, we was all wearing Cuban link chains and them chains are so hard to pop. It ain’t so much about you got a Cuban link chain, it’s more or less a mental thing that basically keeps the family tight and doesn’t allow no weak links to be on top of it. When we made the album, we just felt like it was only built for a few dudes, it wasn’t built for the world. It turns out to be that it wasn’t built for the other niggas, it was only built for the niggas that really know what we do. When you think of Cuban Linx, you think of something that really holds weight in the game and can’t be broken. It’s unbreakable. That’s how we came up with that though. Like I said, I’m looking at this album right here like a collector’s edition to the first one. I’m really working on a lot of things right now, but my mind is on top of this Cuban Linx II shit right now. We are going hard with that one right now. I’m really 200% into this one.
What made you sign with Aftermath?
Number one, that shit surprised me. At first I wasn’t even the protocol, but a good friend like Busta (Rhymes) came along and basically was telling Dre about what I was dealing with. Dre knew my situation with Universal and he knew I wasn‘t really happy over there and he was like, What’s up? I’m there for you. We are doing all this work together, I wouldn‘t mind having you involved with my circle. I really respected his work ethic and how he handled his business. I can respect Dre, he’s a good dude to me, and I’m a big fan of his. I trust his hand when it comes to hip-hop. He’s not getting caught up in all the shit that’s out today. That was just something that just happened overnight. It just allowed me to be around. I got a lot of love for Dre, even with business aside I know if I didn’t come with crack he wouldn’t get down with it like that.
Is there any reason why you didn’t go the indie route and instead signed with a major label this time around?
I mean, when I look at indie, it’s a good situation for cats that paved the way. I just didn’t like the fact that they are not reaching the masses. When you think of Cuban Linx, you think of an album that has to be everywhere. How I see it, it has to be on a major label. If you just look at America itself, like the 50 states, I know that there are like 20,000 real niggas in each town that are really waiting for this album. I’m just looking at it like, if there are 20,000 people waiting for the album, the albums got to be there. When you are playing with indies, they don’t get that many pre-orders. When you deal with a major label, they are smart enough to know that x amount have to go out. At the end of the day, I just feel like I don’t want to shortchange the people and have the record out and their store doesn’t have it. At least the majors are going to make sure the albums are there.
With the current climate in the industry, as far as illegal downloading, do you feel that you can go platinum on Aftermath?
Yeah, I think that this record right here, just from the quality of it, I think that it got major potential to go platinum. I’m really believing strong that if people get their hands on a good record they will want to go out and get the real shit. Overall you are going to have people trying to download shit and do their little thing, but overall, I think that people are going to want the certified shit. I am just really hoping that people go out and pick up the real thing.
What’s your favorite song that you and Ghost have done together?
I got some heaters. I got something real nice with me and Starks that I definitely want to launch. I don’t want to launch it early though, because I want it to be able to work for us, and set us up in a better situation. I want to throw it out and really highlight the next best thing that we are going to do. I got this one song that’s similar to “Rainy Dayz.” If you think of how me and him went in on “Rainy Dayz,” it’s just crazy. It’s just thundering and pouring on the track, so that’s one of my favorite joints, and on some real live narrating shit. Me and Ghost love doing storytelling fly shit. That’s our trade mark and I got him on that level right now. The lyrics are crispy and the production is real strong. I got a pretty good thing going on for me right now, just trying to stay grounded and militant and just continue to be the best I can be.
I spoke to Tragedy Khadafi recently and he said that you and him were doing an album together. Can you speak on that?
We talked about it. Tragedy is like a legend in my book. He paved the way for a lot of artists to come up. We were scheming on some things, but we fell out of reach. But anything is liable to happen in the future. Like I said, I represent all rap across the world. I’m still a fan too. No matter how much you have been in the game, I’m still a fan of certain dudes. Whether you go gold or you go wood, if you are a stand up artist and a real rap nigga to me, anything can happen in the future. We were just talking about it and whatever is going to happen, we are going to announce it when it is time. Right now it’s all about Cuban Linx II, but in the future you never know, like I said, Tragedy is a good-ass dude. He’s definitely a legend in my book. I would love to do something when it’s time.
What inspired you to do the whole Ice Water thing?
That’s my family, Ice H2O. Those are my brothers, they are really working hard to put me in the right position to feel good about myself. As far as the Ice Water artists, now they are working real hard. They’re getting their joints together. They know how hard it is to be a star in this game. It’s just about coming out with boom, boom, boom product. They’re working hard.
What’s it like not having Ol’ Dirty around anymore?
It’s just sad. We’re out here doing these shows and we just make sure we keep him involved. We just want him to know we miss him dearly. They say you never miss a nigga until he’s gone. I still think about the nigga everyday, I thought about him yesterday, I always have those flashbacks. Our crew is like a little dysfunctional or whatever, but I love them, I love all of them because we’re all we got at the end of the day. Everybody is making a living and we are just doing what we got to do. There’s nothing like seeing ODB’s face again. Niggas be asking me all the time and I just zone out thinking about him, like, Damn. He definitely was the Marvin Gaye of our time.
What was the last book that you read?
I haven’t been reading no books. I just been looking at a lot of old movies and shit. With this album, I’m just so much up on a veteran status right now that I’m basically just taking my time. A lot of niggas try to rush projects and throw them out on hype, just so they can. I just sat back and had fun with the shit again. Giving fans their money’s worth, I just want to try to give them their money’s worth and let them know that I’m not playing no games when it come to this album. I’m not trying to rhyme for myself. I’m more or less trying to rhyme for the people right now. Let them know that Chef is getting younger. He ain’t getting older. I’m more clever with my writing right now, so you are definitely going to hear a lot of shit. I’ve been hearing niggas records too, and I haven’t really been impressed. I’m not a hater, but overall, I haven’t been impressed with niggas. I’m just so anxious to release my first single, I can’t really do it yet because of the politics. It has to come out at the right time and all that.
What artists today remind you of yourself?
It’s hard to say, I can’t even comment on that. That’s honesty.
Ten years from now, what do you see yourself doing?
I’m going to be chilling by the pool with a fly watch on, just chilling. With limousine service. Overall, we’re going to get into a lot of businesses. I’m trying to open up a couple more restaurants. I’m trying to open a restaurant right now in Arizona. It’s at a secret location. It’s getting fixed up. My whole thing is just really I want to be doing films. I want y’all to look at me like a Ice Cube nigga like, Yo, have you seen Chef’s first movie? I’m a dreamer and I got a lot of goals that I want to accomplish, but it’s just about doing it right.
What do you want to say to everybody?
I just want to give a shout out to all the real niggas across the world and just niggas to just really go out and support a nigga. You got a lot of shit right now. This downloading is trying to take over the game. I want people to just go out and purchase the real shit. I want you to hear that it’s crack. We are not going light on this album. It’s going to be a boom, boom record. So, get ready and get your money together. If you can buy a bag of weed, I know you can go purchase a landmark album part two.