As of now you’ve officially received your release from Streetsweepers. Why did you want to leave?
Kay Slay is like a really, really busy person and he has a lot to juggle and we’re both entrepreneurs. I just think it wasn’t good timing. That’s what I would say. We were kind of going in different directions and that was really it. It was just a time to really part ways.
It sounds like you guys parted ways on good terms.
Yeah. Kay Slay, regardless of anything he did, he did a lot for me and I really appreciate it and I couldn’t thank him enough for even recognizing my talent and even giving me the opportunity to shine like he did. There’s definitely no bad blood on my end and I wish him all the success in the world. I’m sure in the future when shit starts popping, we’ll probably do something together.
Even if you’re not the main priority at Streetsweepers, there’s still a lot of visibility being signed to Kay Slay. Was asking for your release a tough decision to make?
It was a tough decision to make, especially with me being a young artist trying to come up, but I felt like it was the right decision and I still feel like it’s the right decision. But it was definitely not an easy one at all. But I think that I can do anything.
How have things been moving for you since receiving your release?
Well, it’s kind of weird because he announced it awhile ago, so in between, I’ve been recording and recording and not really putting anything out. I didn’t want to put anything out until I was officially off Streetsweepers. But in between times, I haven’t gotten anything but people asking me what’s going on. They’re telling me they need Vein music and they’re asking me for an interview. I think that it’s a lot of love and I have a few meetings with some people. I haven’t gotten nothing but love. I built relationships when I was under Streetsweepers and I think that’s going to help me out in the long run.
When I interviewed Kay Slay last summer, he said, “Female artists are so much harder to work with” and “She’s talented as fuck but she’s hard-headed.” Were you and Kay Slay butting heads at all?
Honestly, I’m a girl from Virginia. I came to New York to make it. I don’t feel that any part of me is hard to work with. When he called me to come to the studio, I was there. When he called me to do anything, I was there. I was with whatever. But if anybody knows Kay Slay, personally or has worked with him, they know it’s kind of weird for him to call somebody “hard-headed”. That’s kind of backwards. But I kind of feel what he said. I feel like there was just a lack of communication, but it definitely wasn’t on my end.
Do you think Kay Slay was spending too much time on Papoose and Big Lou?
Nah, because obviously Papoose was there before me and he’s super-talented and that’s what he was supposed to do. Big Lou is super-talented. Kay Slay, obviously, he’s a smart man and he obviously had a plan for whatever. That really wasn’t my issue. My big issue as far as getting enough shine and all of that, it was definitely a lot of other things going on to kind of top that off. I understand where he was going with pushing Papoose first and then Big Lou with a different angle.
Hedonis was brought into the picture with Kay Slay over the summer. What kind of a relationship did you have with her?
Hedonis, from my understanding, he was executive-producing her album. I don’t believe that she was officially signed to Streetsweepers like me, Pap and Big Lou. But I met Hedonis once in Philly and she was showing me so much love. She was cool. But I’ve really only been around her one time. She hits me on the computer sometimes. From what I saw of her, she’s talented and she’s cool and I’m sure I’m going to see her around a lot in the future.
What kind of situation are you looking for next?
First of all, I got my company Hall of Fame Entertainment. I’m a co-owner. So when people hear me saying, “Hall of Fame!”, I’m not just saying that because they manage me. We’re partners and I co-own that company. Basically we’re going to be out there dropping singles and doing a lot of things independently. We’re going to be raising the bar and doing a lot of digital work and doing a lot of stuff on the internet and making noise that way. To really be aiming straight for a label deal right now, I don’t think a label can offer me what I can offer myself right now as far as the freedom to do what I want to do. Right now we’re just going to grind it out and get some exposure.
What do you have to do to get your buzz up in the next few months?
We were grinding and just doing whatever it was that we had to do. My partners and I have a record store in Jamaica, Queens. We have a lot of relationships with DJ’s and so forth. We’re just going to go back to the basics. We’re going to hit the mixtapes and hit the DVD’s and create our own DVD’s.
Marketing-wise, I don’t want to put everything out there, but marketing-wise, there’s a lot of things that we’re going to do. We’re going to do what we were doing before we got signed to Streetsweepers and take it 10 steps further. We’re going to be keeping relationships and networking and traveling and showing and proving. I have to back up everything I’m saying. I’m backing up everything that we’re putting forth.
Can you make more moves in New York today or are you looking to go back to your old stomping grounds in Virginia?
I have a lot of people in Virginia wanting me to spend more time grinding there. I am going to spend a lot more time at home because I have a lot of support. I’m going to do both. I’m going to really be focusing on Virginia and be focusing on New York. Those are my priorities because my business is in New York and my home is in Virginia. I’m going to basically be focusing on both. But definitely I get a lot of love at home and I’m going to definitely be doing my thing in VA.
I know you stay active on the business tip as well. What kind of ventures have you been getting into?
We have a record store and we also have Jam Master Jay’s old studio. It’s now called Hall of Fame Studios. It’s like a movement. It’s not just one thing. It’s the whole package. I can record and do everything myself. I got graphics and I have labels. A lot of artists come through the store.
And also, Jam Master Jay’s studio hasn’t been opened in five years. MTV came by and a lot of people came by. They want to see the inside of it. It is already a historic landmark, but we’re going to turn it into a more positive thing like a hip-hop museum.
What’s it like being in the studio now knowing how much tragedy and history took place in there?
Honestly, when I first stepped into it, the chills never went away because literally, the bloodstains and everything was still on the floor. There were old Run-D.M.C. posters and records and sneakers and home videos. That could put a chill through anybody’s body. And as a fan of hip-hop and as a fan of music, that’s something that you will never forget. We did the floors over. We did everything over. I still feel a good vibe. I get chills. I’m excited. I’m happy.
The posters we found in the studio, we put them on the walls so everybody who comes in here will never forget and we kept the sticker on the door to the studio. So anybody that walks in here is going to see the “JMJ” sticker, so anybody that comes in here has to recognize the strength and the power that he had and that he still has over hip-hop.
How did you purchase the studio?
With the store, we don’t have an office in the store. And with the music side, with me, we have to have a lot of meetings and we were meeting at restaurants and we were meeting in cars and we were meeting at our houses and stuff. We needed an office space. The studio is right around the corner from the store. One of my partner’s mans, Jewel, knew a guy whose grandmother owned a lot of buildings around there. He said that if we needed an office space, he had one. He didn’t say whose studio it was. He just walked us up there and it was like, ‘Oh, shit!’ We were the first people to be offered the office space. We just so happened to run into the guy. It really wasn’t that hard to acquire.
You graduated with a business degree from Howard University. How much is that degree coming in handy today?
I put together the business plans and help get things organized. I actually wrote a marketing plan for myself. I’m key when it comes to shit like that, as far as our business. I definitely use the knowledge that I’ve learned. I’m definitely going to put it to use now that we have a lot more going on than before. And I’ve been talking to a lot of people who have been giving me advice. A lot of ideas that are helping me came from Howard and I learned how to set up a business and the right people I should talk to. It’s definitely helping me out a lot.
What do you enjoy more, making moves on the business side of things or being an MC?
I love both, but it’s definitely the music. I get so stressed out and I don’t want to do it and I’m like, ‘Oh, God, I don’t want to do this and I want to be an executive,’ but then as soon as I hear a beat that I like, then it just comes out and it comes from I don’t know where. I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t even hang around rappers like that. It just comes to me. I know that I have a gift and there’s no better feeling than that. There’s no better feeling than spitting and rapping. I really enjoy it and performing. I don’t think I enjoy anything else more in the world than that.
Speaking of being around other rappers, do you find that it’s harder for you to get along with other female rappers?
Honestly, I don’t really have a problem getting along with anybody. It’s just naturally like a competitive kind of thing. I believe a lot of females should come together more than fighting as much as they do and everybody’s fighting for this one spot, but they forget that when Queen Latifah and Monie Love and Bahamadia were out, they were out around the same thing and they were doing their thing. Before Kim and Foxy started beefing, they were doing their thing at the same time and Da Brat was out around that time too. There’s room for more than one, but I guess because there’s been such a gap and a space in between, no female has been able to get their due respect in the game, I feel like that’s why everyone has been fighting so much. But naturally it’s competitive. But when people say certain things, you think they’re getting at you and you want to personally get back at them. But I ain’t on it like that. I rep VA and there are a lot of girls that get at me. Instead of getting at me, let’s do something together and let’s do something bigger. Let’s think bigger than beefing over the silliness because at the end of the day, that’s not going to help you or me.
What’s your next project that you’ll be releasing?
The next project is The Cosign mixtape. It’s songs I did with Remy, Papoose, Uncle Murder, Chamillionaire, Busta and all of the people that I ever did features with, pretty much, since I’ve been grinding up here. I put them on here. That’s coming out in two weeks and that’s going to be the warm-up for my next mixtape, The Free Agent. That shit is fire. That’s just me being able to be Vein with nothing holding me back. I don’t have to worry about what I can say and what I can’t say. I’m just going to really be going in. Forget Vein as a female. Niggas can’t fuck with this shit and the words that are going to be coming out of my mouth. The flows are going to be crazy. You’re really going to get to know Vein and hear where I’m coming from.
Have you started thinking about your debut album?
I always think about it. When I come up with a crazy song, I keep it to the side. I know the name of it already and the name of the album is going to be a part of Vein’s movement. The name of the album is called Her Story. And everything that Vein does from here on out is going to revolve around the title of the album.
Do you think staying independent would be the best look for you?
We’ve been talking to a couple of labels. I just want us to get in the position where we’re offered the best situation and not necessarily for Vein but for the whole company Hall of Fame Entertainment.
What’s your main focus for the next month?
The main focus is to be in that studio and be doing what I do but also thinking about ways that I could always stay 10 steps ahead of my so-called competition.
What do you want to say to everyone?
Look out for The Cosign mixtape and the Free Agent mixtape. Vein is definitely a free agent! Shout out to everybody in Virginia and everybody everywhere that showed me love. Shout out to all the DJ’s holding me down and everybody in New York that supports me. I will not let you down. Vein is a problem!