I’m feeling good, man. I’m hustling.
Trilla is coming out in a little over a month. What are you doing right now to get ready for the release?
We’re mixing it right now. The album is incredible. It’s going to be the biggest album of the year. Trilla’s in stores December 18. I got Jay on the album. Lil’ Wayne’s on the album. T-Pain’s on the album. Trick Daddy’s on the album. Akon and Carol City Cartel are on the album. I worked with everybody that I felt I could make electricity with.
You just said this was going to be the biggest album of the year. What did you do to make this the biggest album of the year?
It goes without saying in the streets that Rick Ross is a movie in the ‘hood when I release a joint. A lot of times, there may be bigger or more commercially-successful artists, but I get acceptance in places where a lot of artists would never be accepted. I released three singles off my first album. We’re certified platinum now and we’re coming back to do it again.
You got the cover of Fader last year and you’re liked in places that don’t necessarily like hip-hop. What is it about you that allows you to cross those boundaries?
A lot of times, I walk into parties and I walk into places and I just give them my energy. I’ll jump on a mic in a room full of white students, in a room full of Spanish people or in a room full of Irish people. By now, I feel like I’m here for a reason and me being the biggest hustler in the game, that’s what I’m going to be.
In “Speedin’”, you mention that you came up so fast as well as being scared that it won’t last. Are you surprised at how fast you’ve reached the level you’re at?
I’m going to keep it real, man. Growing up, man, where I grew up, a lot of times when I was young, I thought I had bad luck. I watched my mom go through what she went through and I watched my dad die. I watched my homeboys go to prison and I lost a football scholarship. I looked at it like I was either having bad luck or I was cursed. A lot of times I look at how blessed I am in the music. I made my acting debut in a film with Laurence Fishbourne. I got my Converse shoe and I got my own label deal on the table and the streets are embracing me, so a lot of times I’m looking at that and looking at where I came from like it can’t be real.
How much of your success do you attribute to hard work versus talent?
I’m going to keep it real. I like to put everything on top of everything. I worked hard enough so I could be the most talented. If I ain’t have it naturally, I feel I’m going to develop it. That’s just my hustler’s instincts. I’m the kind of dude who doesn’t go to sleep. I don’t like going to sleep. I don’t like being asleep. I’m losing money. That’s all I’m thinking about when I’m laying in the bed; there’s some dudes somewhere getting some real dollars right now while I’m laying up in the bed rubbing my fingers between my toes.
On “Success,” Jay-Z talks about now that he’s found success, he realizes how stressful it is and he reminisces back to when he didn’t have the success and stress that comes with success. Does success ever get too stressful for you?
Nah. Honestly speaking, I don’t think Jay means he would really want to give it all up. When you come form where I come from, if I wasn’t doing this right now, I would be taking penitentiary chances. I’ve lost a lot of my homeboys to the streets and that’s why I speak about it in my music in the fashion where I’m not glorifying it. There’s no way I would say I would rather be back in the trap flipping work instead of being out here on the road, on the phone with HipHopGame.com, the biggest spot for music and lifestyle. I would be lying.
Thank you. Does it ever bother you when your critics say you glorify drugs and that you’re not lyrical?
No. A lot of times, understand, people have totally different backgrounds. Where I grew up at and where I came from, if they were sleeping where I was and if they were living how I was living, they would be selling dope too. But because their moms and dads had annuities for them and stocks and all that, they may not be able to picture me doing what I had to do, but it is what it is. There’s millions of people and millions of brothers that are trapped in the system that come from my background and love and support the music and that’s who I be speaking to.
Do you feel like you get the response you want from the right people?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know how it go. They love you being a gangster but they hate the fact that you’re doing what you do. It’s something that you have to learn to accept being in the streets.
You worked with the Runners, who have given you some of your biggest hits, on “Speedin’”. What did you want to bring the fans this time around with “Speedin’”?
I just wanted to reach out and give them that uptempo feel. I wanted to touch the fans and let them know that we’re still “Speedin’”, we’re just going in the right direction.
“Hustlin’” really broke you into the mainstream hip-hop scene. Did you feel like you had to top “Hustlin’” with “Speedin’”?
You know, I just looked at it like I’ve been fortunate enough to be on big records like “I’m So Hood” and I’m seeing the reaction and I’m loving the reaction. On “Speedin’”, I just wanted to give them something fresh and that new sound of Rick Ross where everybody could see that we’re keeping that lifestyle going.
Did R. Kelly give you what you wanted for “Speedin’”?
Oh, most definitely. When I got it back from him, I was just blown away at his energy. He did his verse and he repped it like a true G from the Chi-Town. It is what it is. We’re shooting a video for that this week. We’re going to make this legendary.
You could have had almost any singer you wanted on “Speedin’”. What made you want R. Kelly?
Just because I’ve always felt like R. Kelly was the best at laying vocals on those heartfelt records. When I come in, my opening line is, “Every dollar that I count/Can’t go in my account/My accountant can’t count up all my money in an hour.” It’s just that same struggle from hustling and that same mentality. I’m just “Speedin’” with it.
How does Trilla sound in comparison to your major label debut Port of Miami?
Oh, man, the album is incredible, straight up. When “Hustlin’” took off, instead of me sitting down and finishing the album, I was on the road and I was doing shows and I was pretty much writing the rest of the songs for the album in the back of the promo bus. This one I got in the studio and I really got to sit down with DJ Toomp. He produced “White House” off the last album. We did an even bigger record or two on this one. Akon produced joints on the album. I just really got to sit down and collaborate versus just rapping on the beats.
It’s rare today for producers and artists to work together. Do you make better music when you work with producers?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s most definitely how I like to do it. I usually get the studio time and get the producer there so we can tell each other what we want from each other and then we go from there. But in R. Kelly’s situation, we had to send him the record just to get it done in the easiest way.
Besides working with producers in a more hands-on way, what else did you do differently on Trilla?
I just went in lyrically. I stepped the beats up. The features are bigger. Everything is just bigger and better, man.
Why did you title your album Trilla?
Just remembering the first piece of vinyl that I got my hands on was Thriller and what it meant to me when I looked at it. Now years later, I’m coming back with my project and that’s how I want to touch the streets. I’m keeping it trill and at the same time bringing that substance to the game.
Suave House released Rise to Power, an album comprised of your older material. How much older material do you have?
I’m going to be honest. I was in the game twelve years before I blew, so I did 3 or 4,000 records. My first deal I ever signed was with Suave House Records. I was young. I was 19 years-old and he (Tony Draper) gave me the opportunity and unfortunately, his company went under. Years later, he came back and we discussed it. That’s that real motivation for me, to just touch the streets with some of my early music. I let everybody know that Rise to Power was from ’97 and ’98. That hit the streets and the people are really appreciating that.
A lot of artists wouldn’t want their older material out, maybe because they feel it will confuse their fans or because they think it’s not as good as their newer material. You don’t seem to feel that way.
Nah. There’s a difference between a consumer and a fan. My fans, they understand. They’re checking the blogs and they’re checking the internet and when they hear the vocals, they know what it is. Everybody knows what my story is and I’m still friends with Tony Draper. That’s one of my partners and he invested a lot in me. I’m the boss of the South and we’re running the game.
G-Unit’s album is dropping the same day as Trilla. Do you think the media will turn that into a competition between you and G-Unit?
I didn’t even know it was coming out then. I wish 50 was coming out on that day too.
What’s going on with your group Triple C right now?
Triple C is coming next year after the Boss. Look out for it.
Are you dropping any new mixtapes before the album comes out?
We got Maybach Music with Papa Smirf and me and DJ Khaled are dropping Trilla – The Mixtape. We got Trilla – The DVD on the streets. Wherever you go, the mixtapes will be in the streets and the DVDs will be in the streets. It’s all coming at one time.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Make sure that y’all keep it gangster. Go get Trilla. I appreciate the love, homie. I appreciate the love from HipHopGame.com. HipHopGame is the biggest and best in this situation. Trilla’s in stores December 18. It’s going to be a wonderful Christmas. Trust me. Keep it G.