We haven’t spoken since you went to Kenya on the NBA Cares mission. How was the trip?
Kenya was a good trip. It was good to see how people on another continent were living. I also went to Honduras too. It just gave me a broader perspective on life and made me want to care more and help people more. When I got home, I kind of thought about it and I was like, ‘I have to make sure I don’t forget about the people at home too.’ At the same time, I’m not trying to help the whole world, because that would be impossible.
Basically all of the NBA players pay union fees, which are pretty expensive. What the president did, Mr. Billy Hunter, is he used that to help bring rice to people in Nairobi, Kenya. I could be wrong, but I think it costs $2 million to ship all that rice to Kenya. I don’t know how much rice was sent, but it was tons of rice and it helped a lot of people in Kenya.
And then I went to Honduras on the same mission. I got the chance to see how a different culture lived. It was eye-opening. I went to three neighborhoods; one in Nairobi had about a million people, another had about 500,000-600,000 people and one in Honduras had about 10,000 people. They were all without water and electricity. They have minimal electricity in Honduras. There wasn’t enough water for the people to survive. I worked with feeding children and families. I would love to do it again. I’m about to do it again. Shaq did a couple trips. Chris Paul did a couple. It was just good to be a part of it. I was switching up from trying to make music and trying to make money. It was a nice little switch-up to give back and do some good.
What did you learn from going over to Kenya and Honduras this summer?
It’s hard. You have to know the ins and outs. You have to know about the government and you have to know the rules and everything. You can get a house out there for cheap and have it be beautiful. You could have a nice vacation house. There are some rappers out there who might want to invest in houses out there. I think that would be wise. I’m getting me a house out there in Kenya. There are some places in Africa where you would not want to live, like Sudan and Chad.
You’re playing in your first game of the season on Wednesday. How are you feeling?
My health is good, man. I’m feeling good. I was a little banged up earlier in the season, but now I’m pretty much back. I think I’m pretty much ready to go. It’s been a long wait for me and now that I have a chance to play, I’m going to be all right. I’m feeling good about the game. I was suspended for the first seven games and it gave my team that experience to play without me. That gave my teammates the chance to get some shine and get some experience. I think I can come in and just make them better.
Sacramento is off to a 2-4 start. Is it too early for you to worry about that?
We’ll turn it around. There are a lot of teams that are 0-5. We’ll turn it around. There are a lot of teams I feel we should have beaten. We have a stretch coming up against the top teams and we have to make sure we get them.
Are you looking forward to playing the Knicks on Friday night?
I’m looking first at the Minnesota game, which is my first game back. When the Knicks game comes, I’ll handle that at that time.
Kevin Martin is off to a big start. Are you guys looking to him to carry the scoring load this year?
Kevin’s off the hook. He’ll definitely be our leading scorer. He’s not going to have to carry the whole load, but knowing the type of player that he is, he’s probably going to be the leading scorer.
How do you like playing under new Sacramento coach Reggie Theus’ system?
We have a coach who has experience and went through all the stuff that a real coach goes through from the ground up. I guess it’s how anybody from the ground up comes and starts to shine. I think he’s going to do fine.
A lot of the experts have picked Phoenix to finish on top of the West. What do you think of that?
There’s only one champion and sometimes people, they just bow down to all the favorites. They’re like, ‘Since everybody’s picking these guys, we’ll just fall back and let them be champions.’ Sometimes people pick teams and they don’t win the championship. We’re not backing down and it’s not like we’re just going to put up a good fight to have good morale. It’s not like that. We’re coming in to destroy. We have a good start right now and we’re going to finish it off.
Does Sacramento have what it takes to win a championship this year?
Definitely. People like to say that it would be impossible for us and certain goals we could not reach. I can’t hear anything like that. That’s motivation and that makes me work that much harder. I’m already used to pushing myself to the limit and I don’t have no problem doing it. With that being said, I think we have a lot of potential. We’re not backing down and we’re not just trying to put up a good fight. We’re trying to actually win the fight.
In your opinion, how much longer do you think Kobe will be a Laker?
Kobe’s not going nowhere. Kobe’s not going nowhere right now. I told people that about Jermaine O’Neal in Indiana. They’re too good and they’re too talented. He’s not going anywhere. He’s a Laker. He has purple blood. He can’t go nowhere.
When you got in the fight at The Palace and were hit with the season-long suspension, you were absolutely killed by the media. Looking at the gambling scandal that happened over the summer, do you feel like Tim Donaghy got off easy for possibly fixing games?
Right now I’m not in a situation to comment on that type of stuff. The league doesn’t want anybody commenting on that. They asked us not to say anything.
What’s going on with your label Tru Warier right now?
The label is kicking back, taking a vacation on the beach. I’ve been up-and-running since 2000. I started my label in 2003, but I started making songs in 2000. Nature wrote my first 16 bars, man. I still remember that damn song. He wrote my first 16. Then I veered off and I started with Challice and later on with Braska. I worked with V 12 and all of them. None of that worked out the way I wish it worked out. I had my album and I worked with many producers and nothing really happened. I also didn’t make any money. I was putting a lot of my money into it. I spent almost $4 million already and I didn’t make no money back. So right now, I told Tru Warier, ‘Take a little vacation on the beach. We’re going to come back real smart.’
I’m working with a lot of people out there right now. I’m going to do a mixtape with DJ Drama. I’m back working on my project already. I’m learning the business. I’m not afraid of the business. I’m going to attack it again. It’s like fighting Mike Tyson in his prime. I was competing against all of these labels for shelf space, video play and radio time. It took a certain amount of amateur bouts for me to go through this and I feel like I’m ready to fight officially now. I have to pick a good time to drop. I’m working with Alchemist. I worked with Havoc a little bit. I worked with him on a couple of songs. I’m looking forward to working with DJ Drama on the mixtape. Big Kap is holding it down on the club scene. He’s my boy. I’m working with DJ Absolut. I know once I do the mixtape, it’s not going to be like a regular mixtape. It’s going to be one and done. I’m not going to put out a thousand mixtapes. It’s going to be one mixtape and then the album. The album that I’m working on now is definitely better than my last album. We didn’t sell what we wanted to on the last album. I sold maybe 5,000 records on the last one but I was happy. People in Indiana said they liked my music and people came up to me in Sacramento and asked me when I was dropping another album. I love making music.
What’s Foul Monday, who’s signed to Tru Warier, been up to?
He’s good. He’s still on the scene. I’m looking forward to people hearing him. I think maybe next summer or the following summer, it’s going to be a big year and a big time for us. I’m looking forward to people hearing Foul Monday. We’re not rushing it. Sometimes you can rush it but you’re not going to get the results you want. It’s best to take a slower approach and take your time and let things happen.
How much time do you spend today working on music?
Every other day I’m working on something. I’m doing at least 30-40 songs a year. I’m just getting in there and working. Right now, I got at least 200 songs and I got about 20 that are strong right now, that I like. Half of them are going to go on my mixtape. The other half are going to go on my album. I’m looking forward to people hearing them, man.
I heard a couple tracks on 50 Cent’s album. I liked Kanye’s whole album. 50’s my dog though. He’s done a lot of things for me as far as just showing love and inviting me to his crib. We did a video with Olivia. Sha Money has been talking about helping me. And the Kanye album, that really took my whole thought process to another level. I really liked the “Stronger” joint. That song had a lot of meaning to it even though the beat and some of the sounds made it sound commercial. His album had a lot of music to it. And then the Jay-Z album, American Gangster, that was crazy. I see more people are going back to being themselves and that gives me a lot of confidence to be myself and make my own type of music. My first album was hot. I did a lot of songs trying to please people and I think when people hear these other records, they’re going to understand what I’m talking about. My first album was easy to make. The first quarter in my career is over, man, and the second quarter is coming.
You’re featured on Cormega’s Who Am I DVD. What’s your relationship like with Cormega?
Cormega’s my man, yo. He embraced me a lot. He always wanted to work with me and he always gave me the confidence to do it. He likes some of my songs. Just seeing Cormega grow up in Queensbridge, he was like an idol to us and he has been very successful. ‘Mega has hardcore fans. He might not have millions of fans, but he has hardcore ‘Mega fans that understand him. ‘Mega’s got people that feel him and I respect that he’s still out there. He’s got a nice chunk of hip-hop fans. People respect ‘Mega for that real, thorough hip-hop, man. It’s raw. Anything raw, people like Cormega for. He’s on that same level as any of those universally-known hip-hop artists. The hardcore hip-hop fans know ‘Mega and they know that he’s hip-hop.
There’s a lot of albums coming out in the next month. What albums are you looking forward to checking out?
I’m looking forward to Lil’ Wayne’s album. I’m definitely looking forward to that. He’s off the hook and that verse on “Barry Bonds” is off the chain. That verse is kind of crazy. I’m looking forward to the Lil’ Wayne album and the next 50 album. I know Get Rich or Die Trying is probably his best album, but he was like a young Mike on The Power of the Dollar. He was off the chain on that. Jay-Z got me interested in him again and hearing his shit. I listened to his whole album and it’s off the chain. I’m also interested in hearing the concept of the Nas album and of course I want to hear all of my QB cats. I want to hear everybody from Queensbridge. And everybody out there, support Queensbridge. We get it. With the exception of a few tracks, we keep it hardcore every day. Go on iTunes and buy that music. It’s special music. That’s the music that you need to have. I’m also looking forward to hearing some new Scarface music and I’m starting to like Common a little bit more.
The NBA season is a very long season. What are your goals for the season?
It’s all about the team. I don’t have any personal goals. I think if you win, everything else will happen. God blessed me with the talent and once we start winning, everything else will follow. I really don’t have any personal goals. Everything just has to be about the team and that will take care of everything. If we win, everybody will be happy in Sacramento. My team is the most important.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Everything is good. To all the basketball fans, stay tuned. I just found that it’s hard to keep fighting all the critics, so to all the critics, get out what you want to say and comment on everything. I know you’re going to do a lot of hating on me. To all my music fans, I don’t care if it’s one fan or 10 fans or 1,000 fans. I got more music coming and definitely check it out. And look forward to this next album coming out. I put 110 into it and at the end of the day, I enjoyed making it. I was thinking about dropping three albums a year, but the way the business is, it probably won’t be possible.
Also, I’m no longer with k1x. I’m going by myself into the sneaker industry. k1x supported my street image, but when some real ‘hood stuff happens, they run away. If you don’t know that Ron Artest is the heart and soul of the streets, ask around. Queensbrige, baby! And to everybody out there, keep God first, no question.