I’m good, man. I’m in the city, making some moves and going to some meetings, getting to the money.
You have a new artist, Riz, that you’re trying to break. What made you want to work with him in the first place?
Well, me being from New York and it being about five years since I came in with 50 and G-Unit was a big factor. I’m one of those people that’s more focused into what I have and I’m happy with it and don’t try to have a whole a bunch of clutter. I never really opened my ears to anything else and nothing ever really caught me like that. I’ve been running around and shooting videos and I saw this kid at the last two videos. He was coming up to the videos with a big chain on and he looked like he had some bread. I was like, ‘Who’s this dude?’ My dude David Bling introduced me to him. He told me he was a Harlem cat trying to break into the rap game. When I listened to his music, I caught chills, man. I caught chills like I did when Jam Master Jay first played me Fif’s shit. It kind of gave me that feeling like, ‘Yo, this kid is crazy right here.’ You’re talking about a young kid with a voice, flow, some harmony, some melody and he had the image already. I’m looking at him like, ‘Who’s this nigga coming in here with the big ol’ chain and shit like that?’ He had it. He had the full package.
What kind of potential do you think Riz has?
I think he has the potential to be one of the greatest from New York City. He’s the future. You have Papoose, Maino and everybody else coming up like Uncle Murder, this guy is going to fit in, come and conquer. This is New York City rap we’re talking about. We can talk about the South all day. Those dudes are doing what they have to do. But who’s doing what for New York and what is New York really breeding? I’m going to breed another star and show motherfuckers that this ain’t no fluke.
What’s your plan for Riz right now?
I’m grinding with him in the streets. He’s shooting SMACK tomorrow. He’s in these clubs and partying. This kid is a hustler. He’s got the whole Harlem. He’s a real gangster and the kid is it. He’s coming with that Harlem swag. This nigga’s a star, bro. I got people already wanting him. Def Jam called in and 50’s asking about him. The buzz is going and this is the strongest I’ve been going at it. It’s only been two months. I just shot the video.
There’s another Riz on Black Wallstreet. What’s the story behind that?
I would like to state on paper, hey, Riz, umm, check the copyright. We own the copyright. We own the name. So come again with a new name. You can stay on Black Wallstreet. There’s no record label over there. We have the name. We own it. So he’s over there and saying, “Riz, Riz, Riz” and he is not even fucking trademarked or anything to that capacity.
How frustrating is that for you and how confusing is that for the casual fans?
I’m going hard. I’m going hard. I see he’s putting songs up on y’all’s site. And it’s all good. Go for it, bro, but give up. Kill yourself.
What’s the next step in this matter?
We’re going to have to take legal action. I really want to send something to them like, ‘Yo, bro, this is something that I own.’ There’s no way around it.
What’s the most effective way to break an artist like Riz today?
It’s a combination. With Fif, we did it ill with the mixtapes and the ill graphics and the whole movement that we did with the mixtapes and me running around Manhattan to the DJs like Doo Wop to Kay Slay to Clue, dropping music off. You have to get down with that still, but you have to get online too. That’s why I’m on the phone with you. Being online is more important than a damn mixtape at this point.
Do you think it’ll be easy to break Riz?
Yeah. It’s going to be. And I’m for the streets and I’m about getting him out there. I’m not just looking for us to get a label deal and then we’re on. It’s really about what you’re doing. We’re all about it, man, and we’re all over it, man.
How much have things changed in the game since you helped break 50 Cent?
A lot. A lot. Shit has changed a lot. Mixtape DJs are still important. DJs are still real important, but as far as the mixtape market, that shit is for promotion now. You do that shit to hand out. You do that shit to hand out with the DJs. You’re not going to make 20 stacks off of them anymore. Niggas are scared now. Niggas are scared to drop a mixtape. It’s really a marketing tool now. It’s now for promotional use. You might see people make a bootleg, but who’s making the money? It’s not the stores. That’s why the DJs are not as aggressive as they were.
You’re not the President of G-Unit anymore. How much do you deal with G-Unit today?
I manage Young Buck and Lloyd Banks and I still deliver music. We’re doing a G-Unit album. My management company did the production on half of 50’s album. I’m still there musically. It’s just not my day job. I just don’t have an office to report to.
What kind of tracks did you want to bring 50 for Curtis?
50 has own ear and his own fucking identity so there’s not a track where I can say I gave him that particular track. I made sure that all of my clients had their music and that it was the best of their shit. I didn’t give him no bullshit. He had a good collection and I consistently made sure that they were on the table and he picked the best music from them.
How has your relationship with 50 changed from when you guys started on the mixtape circuit to today?
Well, our relationship didn’t really…It’s not bad. We don’t speak every day. He’s out there doing what he has to do and I’m out here doing what I have to do. We still get together and we build. It’s like I never left. We got together last week. We’re all clear with where we need to be heading, so it’s a good thing.
50’s single “Follow My Lead” leaked prematurely. Do you have any idea how that happened?
Interscope. I have to put that on them. You know how when you shoot videos, you email a link to the artists, management and label for them to approve it? Somehow the link got into the wrong hands and then it got into the right hands, which is the media and they went nuts with it. It was just real premature. 50 is on top of his game. He got his videos out of the way. He shot his videos early so he wouldn’t have to worry about the schedules and somebody was real careless, man.
You can really see how the internet is a gift and a curse.
It is. It really is. You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars and a marketing plan that’s behind this. He had the shit set up. This is a real visual person. He sees the picture and he knows what he wants. You’re talking about a situation where people are careless and all of that is thrown out the window now. I mean, 50’s still the nigga. You give the people one stick of gum and he’ll give them five. His album is crazy and hopefully the leak doesn’t mess up anything and the kids know that the album is sick and they’re still running to get it. It could be a blessing in disguise at the end of the day. I know he’s getting in their ass and I know Lighty is too. They’re going to fix it.
Is 50 really done promoting Curtis like he said?
He’s still going to do it. This guy is a businessman. This guy has clothes to sell. This guy has movies to shoot. He’s a brand. He’s still going to work.
You’re the CEO of your company Money Management. How do you choose the producers you manage?
Actually, coming from where I was at in G-Unit, when I’m listening to music to give to Banks and Buck, I can say, “This CD is hot, this CD is doo doo.” You come across some special guys and I’ve been blessed to hear some guys that I’ve been hearing since early 2000. As soon as I heard their CD, I would be able to call them and tell them, “Yo! This beat right here is crazy. This beat is going to get sold!” Records like “In My Hood” and “Haters,” I got them from the producers first and gave to the artists like, ‘This shit right here is crazy!’ then they hear it and they jump on it and they make the records. These are guys that I’m finding by going through the music and then they will get a call from me and I ask them what they’re doing with their beats. They’ll say, “I’m just trying to get out there like that.” Then I look at their character and if they’re a good guy, a lot of times, there’s a link or a coincidence that draws me to them.
I have the best producers in Seattle, Washington. They’re called Tha Bizness. They did “Follow My Lead.” I have Dangerous, LLC who did “Amusement Park.” I have Jake One. He’s killing it. He did Young Buck’s “Buck the World.” And then there’s Vitamin D, who did “Haters.” I have that squad and I also have Hi-Tek and Black Jeruz. My squad is crazy. These are guys that I work with and when I heard their music, I was a fan of their music. I can’t sell every beat. I can’t make every beat that I make sell. So when it comes to guys like that, I fucking fuck with them, bring them in and we get to the business. And they’re talented and I display their music on a major format to everybody inside of G-Unit and outside of G-Unit. We’re on Snoop’s album, Droop-E’s album, Gorilla Zoe’s album and 2Pac’s album. We’re all over the place. I could keep going.
What kind of potential does Tha Bizness have?
I think they’re going to be the next shit because those guys are laying it down for real. Their R&B shit is crazy. They’re down in Atlanta right now and they’re going to link with T.I. and everybody. They’re going to be a problem, yo. A problem.
Hi-Tek was managed by Zach Katz. What happened there?
I guess when Zach got tied up with JR (Rotem), it didn’t balance out right for Hi-Tek. You have a person that was a brand before JR that was not getting the attention that was necessary. So Tek had to make a career decision that was best for himself.
Dangerous, LLC made their name by working with 50. Where do you see them going in the future?
I see Styles not only being a producer. He might end up being a manager and an executive at one of these labels. He’s smart.
You also have a lot of up-and-coming producers trying to work with you and obviously you can’t work with everybody. How do you work with the producers you can’t manage?
That’s what that One Stop Shop conference was about. I can’t manage everybody. But once a year, I’m going to give you every major A&R, manager and publicist into the industry. This year I’m even going to bring the video game industry into it. I’m going to have the place where they can come and do this. I’m providing and I’m giving an opportunity for the talented to win.
How did you go about making One Stop Shop a successful conference series?
I can give you about 30 producers now that I didn’t know from Adam. Whether they met me in a city when I was on tour or whether their friend reached out to me, I can name 30 of these guys that I didn’t know and they never placed a track and I got them a placement on a major record that changed their lives. This is a situation where they know that I’m really that. I’m not just a person putting together a gig to make some fucking money. I’m putting together gigs. I’m putting together conferences that are going to help them. Since meeting Jigalo, he got on 50’s album and Buck’s album. He didn’t even win the competition but he’s selling tracks like crazy. There are guys that you meet from nowhere and you turn them into something. That’s the opportunity you’re providing.
Is finding new talent and making them stars something everybody can do or is that a natural talent that not everyone can and should do?
Honestly, that is a special talent and it started with Fif. God gave me that. There are some that take but I’m a giver. I give more than I take.
What do you listen for when you get a demo from an MC?
Flow. I can get past the beat. If the flow is crazy and the voice is crazy, that’s what I’m here for. I’m here for melody, flow and voice. I want to hear a person that’s rapping that sonically sounds great. The voice is incredible, big and warm, whatever it is, the voice cuts through. I’m into voices and I’m into flows.
What do you listen for when you listen to a beat CD?
I’m a guy that when I was 16 years-old, I wanted to be a rapper. I couldn’t find anybody to make beats for me so I made my own. I still have that knack for listening to a beat and hearing what a person could do with it. It’s an instant feeling. I can’t explain it. But you’re going to know when a record is hot when you hear it.
Album sales are definitely slumping lately. It seems like it’s very hard for artists to make any money in albums sales today. Just how hard is it for producers to make money when they sell beats to rappers?
It’s real hard. It’s real hard. No lie to you, these days, that’s why you see me getting into video gaming and film scoring because there has to be other outlets. There are also independent albums and whatever. We just have to have more lanes. It’s tough, man. I can’t explain it, but all I know is that it’s all about the hustle, having good music and having good connections, man.
What sets you apart from other managers?
I would like to say what separates me is that I’m passionate about it and when my artist has a dream, I go after that like it was my own. It’s a passion.
How have you seen the beat-shopping business change in the past few years?
It’s changed where artists in the beginning were fucking excited to fucking want to get into sessions with producers. Now a lot of it is self-containment and who’s signed to who and it’s not really an open door as much as it used to be.
What’s going on with your new video game Traxxpad?
It’s a new video game that you can actually make beats with on the PSP. I did the deal with Definitive Studios and Videos. This is something where you’re making a real beat. It’s like having Reason in the palm of your hand and you’re making beats that you can actually sell. The drum kits are actually tight.
What has Lloyd Banks been up to lately?
Lloyd Banks is in the studio, working on his album. He’s got some shit, man. He’s got some real, serious shit.
Were you disappointed at all with how his last album did?
Yeah, because I think he got the entire backlash from all the bullshit that had been going on. Everyone loves you and then they hate you. And they caught him when they were hating some of our stuff. We had been winning for too many years so there was a lot of backlash that he caught the bitter end of.
How’s Young Buck’s new album coming?
His new project is going good. There are a lot of issues. Video’s looking for radio and radio is being fucking finicky. There are too many records coming at radio. It’s just cluttered, man. But he’s still touring. He has a clothing line coming this fall called David Brown. He’s got a DVD coming out this year. So he’s out and about. He’s getting it.
There are always rumors that Young Buck is going at 50. When I asked 50 about Young Buck, he said that Young Buck was like his younger brother and that he doesn’t always understand everything he does. Do you let Buck be Buck or do you ever try to censor him?
Buck is Buck. An artist is going to be an artist. You’re going to try to steer him in a direction that won’t hurt him, but at the same time, this is what makes everyone individuals. I can’t expect Buck to be me, but I can give him my advice. I can shoot it to him and hopefully he can soak it in and make it work for him. You have to give them their individuality.
It seems as though you spend a lot of time in Arizona, from having your One Stop Shop conference out there to finding Hot Rod. What kind of potential do you think Arizona has as a hip-hop state right now?
I think they have a lot of potential, man. Jigalo is a talent from Arizona. Production-wise, I’m finding beats from Arizona that are the equivalent to what Dre would fuck with. These guys are talented. They have a few good rappers out there. I’m going to go back out there and see what I can do. There’s a crew called Man Up that I’m feeling out there. There’s a movement out there. It’s like a scene. And the city is beautiful out there, man. It’s a beautiful city.
Speaking of Dre, are you involved in Detox at all?
Actually, I’m about to fucking call Dre today because I got a call that he was interested in one of my producers, Keykat, the one that did “Funeral Music.” So I’m going to call Dre. Most of my producers are musicians or dudes that can catch shit right there. Other motherfuckers would close their door, duck and hide. My producers are with it. I’m going to call Dre like, ‘Yo, let’s get my dudes with you. We’ll be on the next thing smoking. Let’s make it happen.’
Do you know that you have what Dre needs for Detox?
I do. I do. I promise you that I do. That’s why I’m happy that you asked me that, because that’s a good question. Yes, I do. And he’s calling and I know I do, so I’m going to be reaching out to him. Dre, I got it. Just tell me when to come. Tell me when to go!
You represent a lot of up-and-coming producers and at times that can probably be a challenge because a lot of people think that having a big-name producer behind a track guarantees that the song is going to be a hit, but that’s not always the case.
Nah, it’s not always a hit. I’ve sat with the fucking Neptunes and was like, ‘No! What the fuck?’ I sit with a lot of producers and it’s pleasant to meet them and you have a good conversation, but then you get to the music and it’s not that. But they have a huge studio and it’s like, ‘For what, man? The shit doesn’t even fall through right.’
Looking at that, how valuable is it for you to take up-and-coming producers under your wing and make a full album with them for the same price as one Just Blaze beat?
I’ll put it like this – by the end of next year, I’m going to prove to the whole industry that I’m a one-stop shop. You can come to me. I’ll make your album hot and I’ll even help to make your album hot. I’ll market your artist. I’m even working on my own record label. In two seconds, I’m finna be the best. They’ll see that I’m not the President of G-Unit, but he’s still making incredible albums and he’s still working with G-Unit. 50 still respects me enough to call me for music. It’s really my ear. Like, my ear is a fucking talenthouse.
Can you hear when big-name producers get lazy and start coasting?
Yeah, man. A lot of them are like that. Swizz kind of got stale and he really took two years off and then he came back with that energy and that passion again. If you get money, I don’t know, there’s something about money that makes you lose passion. You have to go through a denial stage when people aren’t fucking with you to come back to that hunger. Swizz is an example of someone whose sound got kind of saturated and he came back and killed it. And then you have other guys who are just a part of that time and they just can’t come back. Where are the Trackmasters? They were fucking talented as a motherfucker. They had a label and they had 50 and now you’re like, ‘Where the fuck are they at?’ Some of it is related to money and some of it is related to ambition, but they do lose it after some checks get cleared. It’s not the same.
With all of the success that you’ve had in the game so far, how do you make sure that you stay hungry?
Well, for me, it’s different because I’m more business-management driven. So creatively, I do my creations in phases. Like two quarters out of the year, in the summertime and in the wintertime, I make beats. Those are the ones that you hear about getting sold. And if they don’t get sold, those are the ones that go to the wayside or get used in DVDs. Creatively, my guys, that’s their job. Their job is to wake up and go to the studio from 9 to 5 to make beats.
You’ve done a lot of production in the past. How is your new production coming?
I just came back from a beat-making session on the West Coast. I made about ten beats and I probably have about four heaters. And the rest of the year I can gather samples, gather drums and then I can create in spurts. If Buck has one room booked, I can book the other room. I have to have energy and I need to be motivated. When I hear something that’s hot, it motivates me to get back in the lab and make a hot joint.
With all of the big producers that you manage, how do you make sure that you and your producers stay growing?
I just go in. I’m hit with so much different, good talent that I’m all hip-hop. I listen to Sirius and I listen to the radio. I listen to mixtapes and I listen to producers’ beats. I’m so wrapped up in it and it’s hard to lose it. I’m wrapped up in the future.
Do you ever have the producers you manage give you feedback on your beats?
Yeah. I got a guy named Kinai that I manage. He’s got some real good records coming forward. He’s a musician. I really work well with musicians. That’s how I got on the last two 2Pac albums. I get in there with the keyboarders and I come up with some melodies and they’ll play them out. Then I come in with my guitar player and a bass player. I love working with musicians because that’s endless for your creativity. When I work with musicians, sometimes there’s not even enough time to lay all of the beats because we move so fast. The creativity is endless. I love working with musicians. The creativity flows.
Is that where you see hip-hop production going in the future?
Yeah, because when you look at all of these producers that have sampled all of these records, unless you’re going to chop the records differently, they’re all going to be the same records. You haven’t heard one record out there that’s a loop that you haven't heard before. You’ll say, “Why is someone still using this?” They’ll have to chop it up differently to make it special. But you can name any top record right now and not one of those records have a loop in there.
Do you encourage your producers to not sample?
If they want to make a real publishing deal, then yeah. If they got problems with beat samples eating up their side of the pub, then I can’t get them a deal. So I encourage them to either replay or just flip it. Interpolate it. Don’t fucking loop. Only if you have to.
What production equipment do you use?
I’m using the MPC 3000. I have the 2000 but I prefer the 3. I’m using my Phantom. I love my Phantom. I’m using the 88 key one. And I sync my MP to Reason for all the sounds.
When you first started grinding with 50, did you ever think it would be possible to achieve the level of success that you have today?
Absolutely, because I’m a big dreamer, man. I knew that this music shit, I knew that I was going to make it. I knew that I was going to be a millionaire. I wasn’t giving up. I wasn’t crying. I knew that I would have a few other options to make money, but music was my thing. I knew that 50 was the real thing when I met him. I knew he was a star and I knew that he was a real street dude. He’s not with any of that fake-ass shit. I’m not with any of that shit. I go with the real. That’s what I stick with.
What’s the next move for Sha Money?
I just came from a Rockstar video game meeting. There’s going to be more video games. I’m trying to take Traxxpad to Xbox now. And I’m coming with a label where I’m going to be releasing records. Hi-Tek’s album is coming. The Outlawz are coming. DJ Whoo Kid is coming. I’m just going to give music. I’m about that, man. I’m just going to keep providing good music. I’m about that, man. I’m going to keep providing good music in outlets that people can enjoy, man. I’m diversifying in every format, man.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming producers?
I tell them to spread themselves out. You have to get out there and socialize instead of just sitting there and making beats with your little cousin. Fucking make sure that everyone is hearing it. Don’t be scared to send it out. Fuck a copyright. Niggas aren’t stealing your shit. If it’s blatant, then you’re going to know it. If you’re sampling, just know that you have nothing to sample. My thing is for producers to get themselves out there and do everything they possibly can. That’s how you have to do it, man.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Hip-hop ain’t dead. We just have to support each other, bro. We have to buy albums. I go buy albums. I went and bought Common’s album. I buy albums that I’m not even attached to. We have to support each other. That’s the only way that our shit ain’t going to die. Not all of us are ballplayers and not all of us are college graduates. We have to support hip-hop because that pays for a lot of motherfuckers in the game right now.
Photos by Loy Lamar Rashaw