It’s been awhile since we talked. What have you been up to since leaving J Records?
Right now I’m actually in L.A. signing this deal with Universal. It feels good to be at this point in my career where I can really show the world what I have to offer as a lyricist. I was grinding in the studio in Houston for a few months. I’ve been back and forth and now I’m locking down the deal in L.A. and I should be done with that by Wednesday and then it’s back to Miami. And there’s a lot of growth with this label and I feel like I’m in the best position because I was in a system at J Records where I was getting taken advantage of and I wasn’t taking advantage of it. I feel good, man.
What are you going to do differently at Universal that you didn’t do at J Records?
I’m going to keep doing the things that I’ve been doing, it’s more or less having a better relationship with the label. They have to understand my plight and what I have to offer as an artist and what I have to offer to the game and not overlook it. They really have to delve into who I am as an artist. I pretty much showed the world who I am as an artist.
Why didn’t things work out at J Records?
Just a lot of politics. I don’t even like to get into it because they put a lot of money into me and I appreciate everybody over there from Clive Davis on down. But what a lot of people don’t understand is that it’s a label that hasn’t been in existence for that long. It’s a relatively new label. They’re relatively new when it comes to hip-hop so they didn’t do everything right and they don’t do everything right. There were a lot of things that they were trying to figure out and they were experimenting on my behalf. When I had “Diamonds on my Neck”, that record was huge. They were used to Busta Rhymes and Erick Sermon but I brought them a whole new market to market to and I was like a guinea pig. I don’t blame them, but I know that some things could have been done differently. I don’t blame them because I don’t think they were prepared for an artist of my nature, and I don’t mean talent-wise. I don’t think they knew how to use all of the resources that they had available like Def Jam did for Rick Ross. They understood where he was coming from and it made sense. J Records will get it together and it’s all good. It’s no problem.
Miami blew up after you signed to J Records. Were you ahead of your time in terms of when you signed your deal?
Pretty much. I was ahead of my time, definitely. It came down to J Records not knowing what to do with me. I was on a major scale and I was like a big fish in a small pond. It was like the pond hadn’t even developed yet. No disrespect to the Miami movement, but I’m definitely one of the pioneers of the movement. I was writing for certain people and I would talk to them about Miami artists and the look on their face would be, ‘Oh, that’s not real hip-hop.’ And I would have to defined it on my own because there was no Miami scene. I think it was ahead of its time and I look at myself as a pioneer and one of the artists who does represent Miami to the fullest.
I know some people don’t give me the credit I deserve but I know I work hard. At the end of the day, it takes me dropping a record so that recognition can be given to me and I don’t have to ask for it. That’s it takes for people to realize that I am a pioneer in Miami hip-hop.
What do you have to do to get the buzz back around Smitty?
For me, it’s way easier than it was because I already have a name, so you know, wherever I go people are already familiar with who I am and my plight. I appreciate J Records for that and for putting money behind that. The game is the game. All you need is to put a video on YouTube and you could be popping. These days, the people who are the most famous are not the most talented. I’m going out of my way to prove to people that I’m not a one-hit guy. I have an unbelievable album and I’m a critically-acclaimed artist. I don’t need one big record to be outta here. Obviously everybody needs one big record to get outta here, but what happens after that one song? Come on.
My independent album already sold more than most people sell albums. I’m still cracking. I’m still good. I’m still developing as an artist. When it comes to my records, it’s up to me to come with that No. 1 record. I have “Keep It 100” produced by Oddz N Endz and that’s going to take off. I want people to understand that when this record does pop off, Smitty has been making and creating hot records and I was with a label that didn’t know what to do with it. There’s people requesting my songs on a daily basis. Any instrumental artist in the game, I’ve pretty much worked with. It wasn’t me losing a buzz, it was me losing the hype. I’ll agree that the hype stopped, but the buzz never stopped because I never stopped working. I make good music and if the record comes, the record comes. Trust me, that’s a beautiful thing, but that’s not my focus.
You used to be managed by Jimmy Henchman and Czar Entertainment. What happened there?
Shout out to Czar and what they did and accomplished for me. Jimmy was very influential for me and he did a lot, but you get to a point where you can’t do anything. Czar is a great management company and they needed a hit record. Because of the situation I was in, that wasn’t my focus. My focus wasn’t on coming up with a hit record. My focus was on making real music and people understanding that I could make real music. I knew that the J Records system was incapable of showing me to the world in the right way but the world didn’t know that. And Jimmy doesn’t have time to stand behind Smitty’s plight if it’s not making him money. We went our different ways because we had different directions that we were going in. I was trying to establish myself as an artist and he was trying to make money. We had our separate views and we clashed and now we separated. I saw him the other day. We’re cool. It’s not a problem.
Are you still ghostwriting for Diddy?
The last time I talked to him was when he was working on his album. He’s working on some R&B stuff now. There’s no work in the pipeline for me at this particular point, but when he calls me, I’m ready. Hip-hop is my love and I’m always writing and he knows that. That’s my dude. There’s no hard feelings. That’s my dude.
Have you been doing a lot of ghostwriting recently?
Yeah. I stay doing that. That’s just my thing. That’s my passion and that never stops, even when I’m working on my own shit, I’ll write a song for another dude or write an R&B song and that’s where I come from with it. My whole goal is to be an acclaimed songwriter as well as an acclaimed hip-hop artists and an acclaimed businessman. I’m working on that every day and when people meet me, you’ll hear me tell them that I’m a songwriter. I rap on beats for fun. I rap on freestyles but I write songs.
How is your album coming?
The album is done. I’m sitting on 400-500 songs. You gotta understand, in my frustration with J Records, I was going in every day. We’re our own unit. We have our own studios. This is what I do. I’m in the studio every day. When I’m in Houston or Atlanta, I’m in the studio every day. J Records can keep the records they have. I don’t need them. And that’s why I do interviews, for the whole world to understand. I’m not a one-hit dude. That’s not the case. I got caught in the pipeline of a faulty system and it was up to me to keep working and to keep grinding and that’s what I did. I’m sitting on all these songs. I have independent records in stores now. You can Google me or go to Best Buy. I know artists with No. 1 records that sell 10,000, which is what my mixtapes do. I want the people to know that I go hard. I go hard.
Does your music have more of a frustrated edge since a lot of it was recorded when you were going through your troubles with J Records?
I mean, it’s not on my album. I’ll save that for the mixtapes. The people, they want to hear good music and honesty in the music. They want to hear great music. That’s what the mixtapes are for. That’s why HipHopGame is for. It’s to let you spaz out when it’s time to spaz out. I’ve never been a fan of people using their albums for battle records unless it’s a classic. But my new battles and my new frustration, I wouldn’t use it on my album unless it’s a major deal that the world needs to know.
When will your debut album drop?
We’re aiming for this summer basically, so you already know how that goes. I’ve seen the greatest artists fluctuate when they drop. You can’t always pick the date and if you don’t get it, you can’t get the maximum potential that you want. You want the timing to be impeccable. I won’t sit here and promise you a date because that’s ignorant. If I could promise you a date, that might not be the right one. I have to wait until I am at my height. Why would I not drop the album when I’m at my height?
Are you frustrated that it’s taken you so long to get an album out?
Nah. I used to be frustrated but now I’m not because I’ve developed so much as an artist. I think it was a godsend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hard-pressed for the world to like it and for the world to hear it. The only thing I’m pissed at J Records is they didn’t give the world a chance to hear me. The people haven’t heard enough. I just want the opportunity for people to tell me if I’m wack or not. I could be wack and you’ll never hear from me again. I could also be great. I just want the opportunity to be there and all of these trials and tribulations have made me a better man and a better businessman and a better family man and a better friend. All of this has made me admire myself and I think if I can admire myself, think of how the world feels.
Throughout your trials and tribulations, have you found that you have a loyal fanbase?
Oh, yeah, definitely, man. I have so many people that have love for me and ask me why my album hasn’t dropped. The people are mad. I dropped so many quality music and they want to know why my album hasn’t dropped. That’s why I did so many records. The fans have to know what’s going on. I don’t want the fans to think that I’m just sitting on my ass and not doing nothing. I was just in a situation where I couldn’t flourish. The fans will love you when you’re hot and they’ll hate you when you’re not. I don’t look at it like the fans have to come and support me. If the label does it right and puts the album out right, then I’ll have just as many fans as Wayne. And if not, I won’t. I understand what it is and it’s a reality. I understand that the fans come when you’re hot and the fans don’t come when you’re not. It’s a reality.
When you first got signed, Miami was not as big as it is today. Has Miami’s success as a whole helped you at all?
Nah, not really. It hasn’t really done what it could have done for me. I think the success of Miami has allowed for people to listen to me from a lyrical standpoint. When I first came out, there were a lot of mixed feelings about me because I didn’t sound like a typical Miami artist. Now you look at the lyrical ability of Rick Ross and the records that DJ Khaled puts together, I think that’s just allowed me to have more of a run on my own. It’s allowed me to be more lyrical and it’s allowed me to be more musical and it’s allowed me to win. I don’t think it benefited me from a celebrity standpoint but it’s helped me from a music standpoint.
I was already doing what I was doing, but I was on a soapbox by myself. There was “Diamonds on my Neck” and that was it. There was Pitbull but that was a different sounding music. Trick Daddy was the sound of Miami at the time. People would almost compare my style to a Scarface or Jay-Z type of vibe. It was a universal sound but the people couldn’t define it. If you go back and listen to a lot of my records, you can hear how I was doing it back then. Where Miami music is now, I was doing that back then. “Luxury Tax”, the song on Rick Ross’ album, I had already used that record four years ago on a Gangsta Grillz. I’m not saying I did it better than him, but back when I did it, the people couldn’t understand it. I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing and keep making it hotter. I thank the other artists. I appreciate it.
Are you going to focus a lot of your marketing in Miami or in other cities?
I don’t have to focus on getting out in Miami at all. All you have to do is have a record and go to Memorial Day. It’s not hard to get out in Miami. That’s easy. My job is to let the people know that I’m not that dude with the one record. When people speak my name with the Jeezy’s and Lil’ Wayne’s, it’s because I have more than one record. These are the people that I want to be mentioned with and that’s what my aim is. I just have to get that straight, like, ‘I hope I get hot in Miami.’ Getting hot in Miami means nothing when you go to Atlanta and nobody knows who they are. You may not hear me in Miami but I can go to Houston and shut the club down. Miami is too small for me to focus on just getting Miami, so my expectations are to the stars.
What’s the next move for Smitty?
Basically for the world to hear my album. That’s it. Listen to my album. My album is coming out and then we can go from there.