called Royal Flush for the interview, he was in a tattoo parlor inking
up his hand. Read on as he talks about his new shit and bringing CNN back
you getting a tattoo on your hand?
representing my crew, N.A.B. We Negotiate All Business. I'm just letting
everyone know where I'm from. But I got a couple of tattoos
want to just put a glove on with "N.A.B." on it?
I was seeing if they made a diamond mitten, but they haven't made it yet.
As soon as they make those I'll have them!
you been since you dropped "Ghetto Millionaire?"
rough. But it's also been fun. I never really used music as my everyday
life or as a money tool. It's been fun. There's been a lot of trials and
tribulations since that album dropped, but it's been fun overall.
your new album "All Cards on the Table" coming?
along crazy. Now, I want to do it the way I want to do it. Back then,
I didn't really want to be in the spotlight. When I came out with Mic
Geronimo, I didn't even know I could really rap. I went to a label and
they gave me a contract. I used to just play around. Then they gave me
a check for $40,000, so I took that and that's how I got into it. But
"All Cars in the Table," that's unbelievable. The work I'm putting
into it is crazy. I feel like when I came out with "Worldwide,"
it was because New York was in a crisis. L.A. was stepping on us and Biggie
wasn't saying nothing. I feel like it's time for me to come back out because
New York isn't doing what they're supposed to be doing again. I'm like
the mummy! Every seven years I have to come back to make sure things are
"All Cards on the Table" compare to "Ghetto Millionaire?"
it back to the "Ghetto Millionaire" element. I got Raekwon on
it, Buckwild, Pete Rock. I've also done songs with M.O.P and Juve. Big
L, Big Pun. There's nobody out there that I haven't done songs with. And
right now, things are in order.
up with the N.A.B. movement?
I felt like
the Dip Set did their thing. G-Unit did their thing. It's about business.
Negotiate All Business. If you're an artist, don't say "I'm the artist,
I'm going to let my lawyer handle it." No. Go negotiate your own
business. N.A.B means Negotiate All Business. I'm really telling people,
negotiate your own business.
been your craziest experience?
experience was being on tour. We had gotten into some problems. And the
tour van was wrapped with my pictures all over it, and I just caused a
problem. So a lot of bullet-holes was hitting the car. There was a lot
of us in the car, and a lot of bullet-holes in the car, but none of us
got hit. That was an experience I think God was by our side.
is definitely a Hip Hop classic, how do you feel about that song today?
favorite. I think that's what really made me who I am. And on the new
album "All Cards on the Table," I have about four or five "Wordwides"
because New York needs them now more than ever. When I came out, it was
about talent. And toady, Hip Hop is all about money. Talent is talent,
but that's the way it is now. If that's the way they want it, fuck it,
I'm a ghetto millionaire, I'll go spend $100,000 on jewelry and I'll still
rap better than them.
it working with M.O.P for "Worldwide Part 2?"
are my folks. I click with everybody. Everybody that knows Royal Flush
can say he's a cool dude, and he handles his business. M.O.P is the greatest,
they're the best.
it working with Big L?
Big L, he's
the greatest. He will sit there and joke so much, that you just sit there
and laugh and say "oh, he won't say nothing dope." And then
one the mic comes on, he's going to shut it down and the games stop. Once
it's time to rap, he will shut you down.
my man. He got mad at me one time when we were in the studio. You know
how big he was, I asked him if he was hungry. He looked at me "fuck
you think I am nigga! Don't I look like I eat?" I have fun with everybody.
back to "Iced Down Medallions," look what that started
Down Medallions," people were wearing chains with hollow pieces.
I was the first person to spend $100,000 on a piece. Can't nobody front
on me with that. And I'm still icy!
you feel about the Bling Bling Era?
It was out
of proportion. I like anything where everybody can't do it. When I did
it, I didn't see a bunch of people doing it so it was something new. I
guess now, the best MC is the one with the most money, which is terrible.
So the one with the biggest chain can get the most exposure, but he ain't
really the dopest MC or best lyricist around.
still rockin' ice today?
ever worry about getting robbed?
Oh nah. I
ain't like these other dudes that stand on the corner and sell drugs.
Most likely, wherever I go, my friend goes with me. If I go to the supermarket,
he's with me. If I'm going to church, I got that thing with me. I'm always
protected. Or I keep me a shooter. I don't have friends. I got family,
and I got shooters.
still rep Queens as hard as before?
Yeah. I love
Queens. I'm going to die here. I got that tattooed on me. I love Queens
to death. And remember when I came out, every MC that was dope was from
Queens! Me, Mobb, Nas, Nature, LL...and it's coming back to that right
now, which is a blessing.
cousins with Capone, I know you guys go way back
When me and
him first started, we were both DJ's. We used to live together in Queensbridge
when we was young, before his mother passed away. We were both DJ's, then
we said we were going to become rappers and we did that. I'm on tour with
him now for his album "Pain, Time, and Glory." Whatever help
he needs, whatever help I need, we're just there for each other.
ever consider being a group?
to do that, but he just came out of a group. I guess we could wait a year
or so, and then do it. I don't want people to think he left Nore and now
he's with Flush. I don't want the attention like that. People know Flush
had some joints with Nore back in the day, are you still working with
my man. I still speak to Nore all the time. Right now, he's doing that
reggaeton thing, and that's a new market. And any market you can overpower,
you do it. I'm proud of what he's doing.
get Capone or Nore on the new album?
I did some
bullshit that they both don't know about. I booked two different sessions.
I made Capone come through lay his verse. And then I made Nore come through
and I cut Capone's verse off so he never heard it. So I got a song with
both of them. (laughs)
they going to find out?
guess when we have the listening party somewhere! I didn't say nothing
to them yet. I was with Capone yesterday. When we listen to that song,
I just fast-forward that song all the time, or I let his verse play and
then I cut it off. He don't know yet, but they will!
to Royal Flush!
happened to The Wastelandz?
I guess a
lot of people just went off and did their own thing. Sometimes when you're
not always around, you feel like you're out of the loop. And some people
think that they're underground themselves. I don't limit myself to anything.
At the time, it was me, Mic Geronimo, Large Professor, Prince Po, we was
even going to throw OC into it. But everybody did their own thing.
Mic Geronimo doing now?
I got him
on my new album. From what I heard, I heard he's got a job. To each his
own, but I can't do that because I'm still here and I'm going to get better.
If you're in this game and it goes wrong, you've got to turn to something
else. A lot of the artists that came out when I did is fucked up now.
it working with ODB?
ODB was the
best. A lot of people that didn't know ODB, they couldn't control him.
But me, for some reason, he'd mess with his boy. A lot of people couldn't
get him in the studio and it would take him five days to do a verse. But
for me, we'd do it in ten minutes. Rocafella used to call me all the time.
"Can you get Dirt, he doesn't want to come to the studio." Everybody
I deal with, there's a lot of love there because I don't teach anyone
negativity. I would always show him something positive to do and how to
get money the right way.
consider yourself a vet in the game?
When I walk
in the streets, new artists that are coming out look at me like that.
But I'm still young! I'm 20-smething. I'm not 30! A lot of people look
at it like that, like "you was dope, you're my inspiration."
But I love to hear it though.
the game changed since '97?
'97 was so
different man. Even the radio stations was different man. You can be an
artist that just put something out, and the radio stations would accept
you and have you come up there and pay for your train ticket or flight.
Now, nobody does nothing. And everyone has their time to shine. Remember
when I came out, it was Dre, Snoop, Daz, and Kurupt. When I came out,
I had to bring it back to New York. And now, the South is really killing
them, so now I have to come back out and let New York know that we need
to hold it down. We originated Hip Hop, let's act like it. It is harder
now. When I go to some of these labels, they respect me, but they still
want more. Like you could give them a beautiful album and pay for your
video, but they want you to have helicopter-wings on your head or something.
They want you to be a crash-dummy. You can't just be a regular nice MC.
You have to have seven fingers or some shit. It's crazy.
the most fucked up thing you've seen over the years?
shirts. I think the button-up shirts was crazy.
I think that
was the fruitiest shit in the world! You're going to a Hip Hop club and
you have to wear a button-up shirt? We're not drinking tea, we're having
I like those
shirts with the faces on them. There's some graffiti on them. That's Hip
Hop to me. I like that. It's coming back to its element, but we need the
people at the top-level to get it together, but it's coming back around.
today need to be schooled on Hip Hop's history?
Yeah. I asked
some of the kids if they knew who Biggie was. "No, we heard of him."
Do you know who OC is? "No, we heard of him." What about Big
L? "No, we heard of him." So you're not really Hip Hop. I'm
not old, but I knew who a Melle Mel was or a Kurtis Blow, because this
is something that I wanted. Anything that you want, you have to learn
the history on it. These kids ain't learning the history on it. They're
just looking at who has the most money right now, or who has a thousand
du-rags or bandanas, that's the tough one. Or if he has a gun in his hand,
that makes him a hero. I never thought the person that gets shot should
be the tough one. I thought the person that does the shooting should be
the tough one. Whoever's shooting all these people, we need to give him
a record deal.
talking to labels right now?
I never really
went to a label with this yet. I'm going to make a masterpiece. I got
16 songs done, and I'm going to do four more, and I'm going to shop it
everywhere. I'll go to Sony, Epic, I'll sit down with Jay-Z. Somebody's
got to bite, because it's music. I'm not doing no Hip Hop gun rap. It's
you need for the new album?
looking for big distribution right now because we are free agents. I'm
done with my tattoo! What other questions do you got for me? TVT sucks.
I just did every DVD in America, I look like I'm Bin Laden's cousin!
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned so far?
your money. Save your money. When I first got signed, I blew $40,000 in
one day. That's what I thought I had to do. And nothing lasts forever.
When it's gone, then what are you going to do? Luckily, I had good people
around me to help me maintain the life that I was living. When it goes,
it goes, and it never lasts forever. They could love you today and hate
you tomorrow. Whatever money you got, invest. Invest on everything, real
estate, open a barbershop, if that don't go right, sell it for double
and invest it in something else. Keep your money invested.
you want to say to everyone out there?
I just want
to say if it wasn't for HipHopGame, my name would not be here. They helped
me to the fullest. Any song I ever put out, they put up and showed love.
And I love y'all for that. That's it. And everybody needs to go to HipHopGame.com
and listen to all the real music.