You and Joe Budden have been trading diss tracks. Just to be clear, this started when you found out he put you on a song with Hitchcock without telling you, right?
It wasn’t just for the simple fact that he put me on a song with Hitchcock, because I don’t have problems with Hitchcock like that. It’s that he didn’t inform me about that. I’m trying to further my career as a solo artist and that was like a step back for me because people thought I was back with the A-Team. No. It kind of affected my career. He didn’t inform me about that.
Did you try to call Joe before recording your first diss track to him, “Big Brother”?
Actually, we had a mutual friend that was in the studio while it was going on and he came back and told me that everything was cool and Joe was going to call me and let me hear the record before he put it out. I was like, ‘That’s cool. Whatever.’ The next day, I never got the call and he just put the record out. That’s how that happened.
Why did you release the second diss record “Die 2Night”?
I’m not trying to stop him from eating or whatever. After I heard “Heart of the City,” I was like, ‘That was kind of strong.’ I had to get back in there and respond to that. I came back with “Die 2Night” and he came back with the “Takeover.” I wasn’t feeling that one. I didn’t even respond to that. But the “Heart of the City,” that one made me respond.
What I’m having a tough time with is that you guys are going back and forth with each other where it doesn’t seem like you respect each other. If you guys really feel that way about each other, why did you ever work together in the first place?
I can’t say that I don’t respect him. I mean, I respect every man. It’s certain stuff that he do. I don’t know. He has certain ways that he’s got about him where he snakes people. At the end of the day, he’s still a good dude or whatever, but he’s still a snake and he does snake shit. I can’t be around people like that. When he first came around, he came to our studio like, ‘Let’s do some joints and get y’all hot.’ Who’s going to turn that down? I was like, ‘All right, let’s do it.’ That’s how that came about. But as far as the respect thing, he has to respect me because I’m still here and I’m not going nowhere. He has no choice but to respect me.
Will there be any more diss records between you guys?
I’m done [with diss songs]. I’m not going to waste no more bars on that guy. He put his 230 bars on me. That’s a lot of bars for somebody who’s not supposed to be known. I put my 140 down. It ain’t nothing. I’m done. I’m not going to respond to anything he says. If I do an interview, I’m going to tell the truth. If you hear all the diss tracks, if you hear me, I’m telling the truth. He’s telling jokes in his, telling me I look like this. That’s cool. But I’m telling the truth. That’s all opinion that you’re talking about. I’m speaking facts. Everything that happened in my raps happened. I’m asking why he let the shit with Game go down like that. This is the truth.
Were you telling the truth about what happened between Game and Joe Budden and on “Big Brother”?
Yeah, it’s a true story. It happened just like I said it. He was on the studio floor sleeping. He left his niggas in the hood, stinking with no money. He didn’t even put them on no tracks and these niggas were hungry. I deal with these dudes too and I’m cool with them. They were like his old rap group. They saw him on the floor and they were just like, ‘Yo, let’s just fuck this nigga up right now.’ I was like, ‘Nah, nah. Chill. Not here. If you catch him somewhere else, you catch him somewhere else. But respect me here. Don’t do it in my studio.’ They were like, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ You can call that saving or you can call it whatever you want, but that’s how it went down.
You mentioned Joe sleeping on the floor in both songs, but there’s plenty of times when a dude can go out, get a few drinks and crash on his boy’s couch. Is there really anything wrong with sleeping at someone’s crib?
There’s nothing wrong with it. I didn’t say anything was wrong with it. That’s what happened. But don’t try to say that you’re a boss. He was trying to come across like he was a boss. If you were a boss, you would have had your own studio and I would have been sleeping on your floor. I had my studio and he was sleeping on the floor. We were doing records together. There wasn’t nothing wrong with you sleeping on the floor, but don’t act like you’re a boss. You can’t even come here. We’re still here.
Will you and Joe eventually work this situation out?
It’s not beef. There’s not a problem with me and him. If you want to get technical, we talked on the phone. He called me. If we can talk on the phone…It was never no real street beef or no shit like that. He knows how I get it. I get it quick. My emotions are quick and I just roll with it. If I hear something I don’t like, I just run with it. It ain’t nothing like that. He didn’t affect me to that point.
Did this whole situation with Joe Budden take away too much attention from your Ransom Note mixtape?
Yeah. Yeah, a little bit. Yeah. I didn’t look at it like that, but it did take attention away from my mixtape. I didn’t need it to happen like that. Usually I don’t think about that. I just react. If I would have had a second chance to think about it., I probably wouldn’t have done it like this. I probably would have just let my mixtape drop. But I react quick and that’s how that shit happened.
Would you say Ransom Note is your best mixtape to date?
I think so. If you listen to it, I think it is. I don’t know how my fans are going to take it. I’m trying out different shit and not just saying, “I’m from the streets.” If you really listen to my shit, I have messages. I’m not glorifying the streets. If you’re a real Ran fan, you can tell that I’m not glorifying anything. I want to get out of here as much as the next man. I’m just telling you what’s going on.
You mentioned how Joe got on and left people in the ‘hood. What is an artist’s responsibility when he gets signed but doesn’t have his spot or situation solidified?
At least give somebody an opportunity. I feel like he gave us an opportunity, but at the end of the day, he just left us high and dry. He jumped on a couple of freestyles, but he left us high and dry when “Pump It Up” got popping. He left us back here. Even the dudes he was rapping with before, he left them right where they was at. Look, I’m on Fab’s album. Why wasn’t I on your album? We’re from the same city. I don’t get it. Why would you do that? Why wouldn’t you put somebody from your own city on it? I’m not a novice. I can rap. Other motherfuckers fuck with me, so why wouldn’t you fuck with me? I don’t get it.
You feel like you should have been on Joe Budden’s debut album.
Why not? We were the A-Team. He got his buzz up and he was trying to bring us out as his artists, which is what he’s trying to say. He said I was signed to Clue, but I’m not signed to anybody. I don’t know. We should have been on that first one. I wasn’t totally upset that we wasn’t because I thought he was going to be dropping more albums, but he disappeared. Even his mixtapes, I mean, I might be on one or two, but where’s the love? I don’t get it, man. You saw when Beans got on, a lot of Philly cats got on after Beans. After Jay got on…You see how many Brooklyn motherfuckers are on now. I thought it was going to be the same way if he would have represented us the right way. It didn’t happen like that.
What will you do differently when you get on?
Somebody’s always going to have something to say. I found that out the hard way. Somebody’s always going to have something to say. But knowing me, if I feel I helped enough people, I don’t care what anybody says. If you listen to my mixtape, there are a lot of Jersey cats on it. If you listen to my next one, I’ll have more Jersey dudes on it. Anybody that’s got talent, I’m going to mess with them. I hope they don’t say the same thing about me, but you can’t stop people from saying what they’re going to say. I’m definitely, definitely going to have some Jersey people with me when I get on.
Looking at people’s opinions and knowing that fans are going to have positive and negative things to say about you, are you at all surprised by the reactions to you and Joe going back and forth?
Nah. Nah. I’m not surprised. I knew what I was getting into. I know Joe has a lot of fans. It wasn’t about creating a buzz or trying to get people to like me. It was just me telling the truth. If I wanted to get a buzz, I wouldn’t have dissed Joe Budden. I would have dissed 50 or Lil’ Wayne. It wasn’t about getting a buzz or caring what people think about me. I know my shit is hot.
I interviewed you back when you and Hitchcock split up [Click here to read the Feb. 2006 interview], but you never really said why you guys broke up. Why did you both go your separate ways?
It wasn’t nothing personal. It was like the communication was kind of twisted. He was going one way and he didn’t want to tell me about it and I guess I was going another way and I thought he was cool with it. We weren’t communicating. At the end of the day, we were just two solo artists put together. He wanted to do one thing and I wanted to do another thing. And if I want to do something, I’m not going to ask somebody if I can do it and he’s the same way. He’s just going to go do it. It just turned out like that. And then after awhile, it was more like he should go his way and I should go my way.
Are you making better music now as a solo artist?
I think so. It’s no knock on him, but when you’re with a partner that you don’t really know like that and everybody knew we were making street music, we were just stuck doing street music, talking about the same thing – guns, crack and shit like that, which is cool, but I think when we were with the A-Team, we were just glorifying that shit,. Now that I’m solo, I can put my own imprint and my own stamp on what I’m doing musically. This is me right here that you’re hearing. This is nobody else’s input. I think I’m making better music right now.
Are you having more fun as a solo artist?
Definitely. It’s no knock on Hitch, but I’m definitely having a better time doing it. I’m a solo artist at heart and he’s a solo artist at heart. We’re both having more fun, I guess. I hope he’s having as much fun as I am.
What do you want fans to take away from Ransom Note?
I want them to get back to the fact that I make good music and that I can spit. The whole Joe thing was not planned. It just happened like that. I want people to listen to my CD and see that this guy can rap and this guy knows how to put words together, records together, hooks and he’s creative. If you listen to any of my other CDs, you’ll find that I’m creative and I don’t talk about the same things on every track and I don’t make the same songs. I can do East Coast shit, down South shit, West Coast shit, it doesn’t matter. I don’t mind. I just want people to recognize.
You’re down with a lot of big names but you’re still unsigned. How close are you to signing a deal?
I definitely have some things set up, but I definitely don’t want to jinx them because every time I end up talking about it, it ends up being jinxed. I definitely have some things set up. If you listen to the music, I definitely have some hints in there, but I don’t want to talk about what I have on the table because I don’t want to jinx it. But I definitely have some things on the table and people are definitely hollering at me.
What does a label need to have to sign you?
It’s been so long, I’m going to need a little bit of money and I’m going to need their full, unadulterated attention. I’m not going to need all their attention, but I’m going to need their attention on my project. I’m an artist who doesn’t need much. I go to the studio, find my own producers, record my own joints and write my own joints. The label doesn’t need to do much. When the project is done, I just need their attention because if you don’t have that, it’s not going to work.
Have you started working on your major label debut album?
I definitely have half an album done. I have more than half an album done. I have joints that I know are going to be on the album once the album comes out. I definitely have eight or nine joints that I know are going to be on my album. I’m definitely going to be good with that. I’m ready to rock with that.
Some critics say you can’t make songs, but have you ever had that opportunity to make songs?
Exactly. I’ve never had a budget or big-name features. I get my own beats and I get my own studio time. I’m doing everything myself. Whatever you hear, good or bad, it’s coming from me. The records you hear now are not garbage records. Just imagine hearing me with a budget. I don’t have no budget. I am the budget.
What’s the next move for Ransom?
I’m just going to blow these streets up. I’m going to pull a 50 on them. I’m just going to blow these streets up. If you go to every stand that sells CDs, I’m there. I come with two or three boxes. I always ask those dudes who’s selling. They say, “You, Ransom. You.” And maybe Uncle Murder and that’s it. Nobody’s really doing nothing. The streets can only take you but so far, but I’m killing them. I need my just due. When I get ‘em, I’ll know what to do with it.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Just go get that Ransom Note and find out what it really is. And while you’re at it, go get Pain and Glory, Best of the City and Best of the City 2. Go get every mixtape I’m on just to see what it is. If you never heard of me, go listen to me and then come with your comments after that. But I’m going to guarantee you that if you hear my mixtapes, you’re going to say, “Okay, this guy’s an artist. He’s about something.” I just want a chance. That’s what I’m about. All this “dissing Joe” stuff, just put that shit aside. That’s between me and him. Go get the mixtape Ransom Note. That shit is out now. That shit is the best thing rocking right now.