How have things been going for you lately?
I got my own shit popping off right now. I ain’t playing with they ass. Shit been good. I mean, I’ve been hustling and hustling. My record Buck the World is getting as much as I’m going to get out of that record. I’m doing a lot of shows and I’m so focused on my label, Cashville Records, and preparing for this April 1 release for The Product of the South. It’s an album. It’s almost like a compilation, I would say, because it’s me and my artists, which are C-Bo, The Outlawz and my new cat Sosa. He’s like my Lil’ Wayne. I’m just preparing and getting them together and getting ready to show the world what Buck can do.
Has it been difficult making the transition from MC to executive?
Not really. A lot of people that I thought was gonna be there for me and help me with the situation have pretty much turned their back on me due to their own situation. It’s about manning up and handling your own business. I think a lot of people and fans in general respect Buck for just being my own man and being my own individual and just for standing out. Everybody wants to be a part of something new as long as it’s good and fresh. It hasn’t really been that hard of a transition. I think the hardest part is separating the records and seeing what I’ll use for this album or my album or use for the G-Unit album. That’s the biggest problem that I have.
When you say people are turning their back on you, are you talking about label heads or the G-Unit family?
Label heads and just, you know, period. Not just the G-Unit family, but just motherfuckers in general. A lot of motherfuckers will tell you, “I’ma do this and I’ma do that and I’ma be there for this and I’ma be there for that.” That’s when everything is not in motion and then when everything is in motion, you look for motherfuckers to back up their words and they’re not there.
I’m not going to say that it’s the G-Unit family or label heads. It’s motherfuckers that have nothing to do with either one but they can bring something to my label. At the end of the day, I depend more on myself than anything. I just focus on keeping my team together and it’s easy when I got a group of soldiers that’s around me that have already been bred. The Outlawz were bred through 2Pac Shakur and C-Bo is one of the biggest independent rappers from the West Coast that we have in rap today. And my new breed of rappers have been around be my whole career, as far as Sosa and the 615. It’s just about me making smart business moves and keeping everyone together.
What kind of an influence did 2Pac have over you as an MC?
I dealt with The Outlawz as a family more or less. It didn’t just jump straight to the music. There were a lot of different things that were connecting me and The Outlawz. I had a lot of family members come up to me when I was a child and say certain things. When I got older and became successful in the rap game and with the tragedy of 2Pac Shakur, it was only right that I would say for The Outlawz to pay attention to what I was doing being that I was already breeded amongst that lane. At the end of the day, it just worked out.
As far as C-Bo, we got down in the streets before we had success with each other. It was me having success and I was already surrounded by these dudes who have been working in the rap game.
I feel like a lot of my artists as far as The Outlawz and C-Bo go, they haven’t gotten their just due. The Outlawz got their chance to do what they did when ‘Pac was around, but I feel those dudes have a lot of talent to bring to the world and they have a lot of music to bring for the world to listen to.
I bring that upon myself to reach back and bring that into 2008 because honestly, rap done got so watered down with a lot of the cornball shit. That’s not a diss to none of the Soulja Boy’s and none of the cats who have that dance music because to me, hip-hop needs a balance of everything. That’s what hip-hop is – a balance of all of that. But I think when you have too much of one thing, you can overshadow something else. You can overshadow the real when you have so much of that. We call it the Ghetto Gospel over here and the world will always need the type of music that we bring to the table. We make those party records too, but I think that 90% of the lives that are lived out here in this world live the reality of the world with the ups and downs. We focus on that and we still get our party on, but we really focus on the Ghetto Gospel.
You said in “New York City” that you’re able to make “reality rap and shit for the club”. Is reality rap your favorite type of rap song to make?
Yeah, yeah, because I’m actually still in the ghetto. I’m still in the cars and riding past the streets to go and pick up my Bentley. My point is that I’m actually still right here with the people who are not as fortunate as I am. I’m still in the ghetto with the people who don’t have the heaters and it’s freezing in their house. That makes me accessible in my music and my music is up-to-date with what’s going on in those atmospheres. I speak from that end because that’s what breeded me, it was the ghetto. A lot of people that were as successful as I am or are as nearly successful as I am, their first thought is to get away from it. That’s not what I did. Hey, I’m still here and that’s enough for my people who are less fortunate. They can realize that this motherfucker still cares.
It’s not about just being there either. I’m actually trying to pull motherfuckers out of this world and better other lives with what I’m doing. That’s what Cashville Records is. It’s a label that was built from me actually wanting to have an extended southern version to G-Unit. In the beginning, it was a G-Unit South thing and as times went on, I knew that it would be difficult for me to take my label anywhere else other than Interscope, especially with having that G-Unit brand. Jimmy Iovine wasn’t going to allow that. I guess it was too much having me and the brand. I really wasn’t getting a full response as far as numbers or interest from Interscope in wanting to sign my label.
That made me focus on finding another brand and at the end of the day, Cashville, I branded that. It’s fresh and it’s new and I just think that it was a better move for me to maintain and for me to name my label “Cashville Records”. It’s fresh and it’s something new and it’s already branded, man.
Getting back to how you haven’t forgotten about where you came from, can there ever be a negative side to going back to your ‘hood, where you might have to deal with jealousy and hate along with the love?
I don’t live in the ghetto. I think for the most part, a lot of people are staying in the ghetto not by choice but by force. A lot of individuals want to get out whether it’s financially or whatever other situation they’re going through. I don’t actually live in the projects anymore. I lived in the projects pretty much until my first project was released. When I got off of the tour bus, I was going right back to the projects. I’m far away from the projects, but it’s hard to not be affiliated with something that made you who you are. So disconnecting myself from the people who played the biggest part in making Buck would not only be wrong to them but it would be wrong to myself. So I don’t live in the projects but I’m still affiliated with everything that goes on in the ghetto in my city, straight up and down.
Do you see a lot of artists distancing themselves from people who helped them get to where they are?
I don’t be around a lot of artists like that outside of my own crew, G-Unit. I would say my closest homeboy outside of my own family would probably be Young Jeezy. I can relate to him in so many different ways just on the strength of seeing his life and how it relates to music. We’re in different lanes, but with a lot of different things, I see eye-to-eye with homeboy.
Anytime you become successful and you come from this environment, you’re going to have the ones who like to see what you’re doing and you’re going to have the ones who don’t like it. I think it’s about separating who your friends are and who your distant friends are and the ones that are down with you, you keep them close. The ones that’s not, you take it upon yourself and you choose to do what you do and how you want to disconnect yourself from those individuals. With those, it’s about those who don’t have the mind frame like me and who’s not on my page.
At this point, I’m trying to establish Young Buck as an artist, as an executive and as a C.E.O. and I’m trying to establish my label Cashville Records to compete with all of these other labels. At the end of the day, I’m going to do it regardless, period, point blank, whether there was nobody there to help me make the moves or not. And I think that’s what the people enjoy the most about me, period, is that Buck’s going to make it happen regardless. I’m going to stay active. There’s not going to come a time when you don’t see Buck or hear Buck. As long as there’s a mixtape avenue or the internet, I’m going to stay here, period, because my heart is in the music. You can take the money out of it and I’m still going to do this shit. It’s just that I’m going to find my way to make my money elsewhere, but this shit is instilled in me. That’s what I’m letting you know. It’s a passion. It has to be borne in you for you to be good at it and for you to be a Jay-Z or a 50 Cent or an Eminem or a Dr. Dre. It’s just about dealing with what I’m dealing with to get to the point where those cats are already at. And I realize that I have to work to get to it.
In “New York City”, you say, “Dudes want to build you up just to see you fall.” Do a lot of fans want to see you and G-Unit fall off?
Yeah, yeah, you’re damn right. I think at the end of the day, we won so quick and so fast and we won so much that honestly, I think a lot of individuals outside of what’s already happened with individual beef situations with certain individuals or certain crews, yeah, man, a lot of motherfuckers want to see us fall. Those are the same motherfuckers that were at our concert and they’re the same motherfuckers that were buying our albums and they’re the same motherfuckers that were asking us for our autographs for their kids. That’s what I meant by that line. A lot of times people build you up just to watch you fall.
You also said you still have your mack and your switchblade, which I took to mean that you’re still the same dude you were before you made it as a rapper. Have you been able to stay the same person you are throughout everything you’ve been through with G-Unit?
You don’t get no younger as human beings. You only get older. And the older I get, the wiser I become. There comes a time in your life when you just have to be smart about the way that you handle things than more or less being the young buck that I said I was. I react quick. I put myself in a thinking man’s position because there’s a difference – it’s cool to ride when you’re riding for those who want to ride for you. When I wasn’t getting that same feeling, I started to get smart. So my whole bottom line is that I have other people’s lives in my hands now as far as my artists go. I don’t want to bring no situations to them that really don’t have to be no situations for them. The way for me to do that is just for me to focus on me and mine and what I’m doing.
In “New York City” you also said that you have to make up for lost time. What did you mean by that?
A lot of people just feel like I ain’t got what I really deserved, whether it’s from Interscope or from G-Unit, period. I feel like I haven’t gotten what I deserve from Interscope. I’m knowing that that’s a big machine over there and I’m knowing that they can get behind my music and me as an individual and make what I’m saying come clear to the fans better than it’s been done. I’m not mad at Interscope. I take my punches as long as it’s nothing that don’t kill me. I’ll take that shit and walk it off and keep going.
My meaning for saying that was pretty much like there’s been lost time. A lot of people feel like I should have already been successful as far as having my own label and having my own endorsement deals and things of that nature but me being a part of the crew and things of that nature, there’s an order to it and I understand that. I’m a part of a crew with Banks, Yayo and 50 Cent. And I’m not the boss of that crew. 50 Cent is the boss and he gets the last word.
It’s time for me to go out there and show people that I’m my own individual boss and show that I can carry myself and my own company and be as successful as anyone else. There’s nobody that writes my own raps. I can have as much success as I want to if I put my mind to it and I stay down with those that’s down with me, period, so there’s no room for a motherfucker to say, “Well, he didn’t do this and he didn’t do that.” A lot of times I don’t understand why a lot of motherfuckers don’t give me 100% like I give them.
Fuck all that. It’s time for me to make up for lost time. I accept the wrong that’s been done to me. Y’all niggas have to deal with the wrath of a menace right now. I’ll deal with the consequences after. As far as humbleness on the business end, that’s no longer there. Humbleness on the business end didn’t get me too far. All that got me is the fans saying, “They should have done this with Buck.”
It’s just about getting more focused on my career and taking a little bit of the humbleness part of it out. It’s hard to be humble to the ones who aren’t humble back. I’m going to bring out the gorilla in Buck. I have no time to play. I got kids as well as a lot of these motherfuckers who make key decisions on my career and they decide how much money should be put into my project. I got kids to take care of just like them, but a lot of times people just don’t pay attention. It’s about making them understand me. I’m just as much of a man as you and I can get out here and make things happen on my own. And I think they’ll respect me more for that. How can you not?
Why do you think Interscope isn’t giving you the support you expected?
Honestly, man, if I had to just answer that question, I would say that Interscope previously has not sold as many records as I thought we would sell. I would say that in judging Buck, they’re almost judging “Buck from G-Unit”. That’s the biggest representation for me from Interscope’s eyes and everybody’s eyes. To get them to brand me as a solo artist and to get them to brand me as well as any solo artist that would sign to Interscope directly, that’s what I’m trying to get out of them. Put a little money in my videos and make my visuals look just as good as some of your top artists and I guarantee you the comeback will be just as much, if not more, as the artists that you put your all in. I’m in the streets. My whole thing to Jimmy is that if you want to find out what the streets want, send them out here and let them see what the streets are saying. I’m out here. I’m on my job and I’m not working for nothing because I’m signed to these motherfuckers.
I got an understanding with 50 that is out of this world. 50 is the type of individual where he wants to see me and all of us, Banks and Yayo too, go out and handle their business. 50 ain’t no bitch. He ain’t going to hold nobody’s hands. He ain’t going to hold my hand or Banks’ and Yayo’s hands. He done did that, I should say, as far as molding us to make us the men that we are to the industry. Now it’s up to us to go out and create a lot of lanes. I think that I make 50 happy where he sees me pushing. There’s no negative towards me and 50, if that’s what you’re leaning to get. I have no beef with 50. It’s hard for me to ever even feel negative towards him where he created the success that I do got.
To me, it’s just about staying down with 50 and showing 50 what type of individual and man that I am. It’s hard for a motherfucker to get behind something that they can’t see. If I can get it in his face, then I can get his attention, I think. So that’s what I’m doing. Fuck with me and make me make this shit happen because I’m here to do it.
G-Unit was supposed to drop a group album in December. What happened to the album?
That’s all 50. 50 is the boss of the Unit and he says what goes and what doesn’t go. I think in the beginning he was planning on making it an early release and then he decided to hold onto it and stop playing. When it comes to anything with G-Unit, I got a boss to answer to which is 50 Cent. So until he tells me the direction of it and when it’s coming out, then I’ll let y’all know.
Is the G-Unit brand getting stale or is it as fresh as it ever was?
Well, I think that at the end of the day, it’s not just the G-Unit brand but a lot of brands done got stale due to where we are heading as far as the economy goes. There’s not a lot of people going and buying records as there was. A lot of those things aren’t dealing with us. It’s coming from the pressures from Bush and the higher gas prices and the internet and all these other situations that we deal with as far as keeping fans from being able to go and spend their money on the records that we love. I wouldn’t just say it’s our brand. You can look around and see that there’s a lot of brands that just aren’t out there as much as they was.
But I think when you have a brand that’s as big as G-Unit and that’s as strong as G-Unit, you don’t ever have to look forward to the brand ever leaving. The brand will be here for the rest of your life and your kids’ lives and then some. It’s just everybody has their ups and downs. I do. You do. 50 Cent do and so do Jay-Z and Eminem. Now it’s about who can make it the best out of their ups and downs. You can’t stay down forever.
I wouldn’t sit here and just act like our brand has just been the poppingest brand when in reality it hasn’t, but never count us out. You would be a fool to. 50’s got too much money for you to ever count him out in anything. And all of us got way too much talent. At the end of the day, we got our ups and downs. This year is just about getting more focused and getting the Unit to where it has to go and establishing me as a solo artist. I’ll be in a competition of selling records against my own damn crew! That’s where I’m trying to get at. I’m trying to be in competition with selling records with G-Unit. If they outsell me and I’m No. 2, then we both win, right?
Getting back to “New York City”, what kind of love do you get in New York City?
I get more love from New York City, man, then I think a lot of New York artists get, straight up and down. I think New York connects with real individuals, period. And from a hip-hop perspective, your lyrical game has to be up to par before any consumer will pay attention. They put lyricists on a pedestal in New York City. Your lyrical game counts. Me being a southern artists and being born and raised in the South, I can make music that’s lyrical enough to make the East Coast pay attention to what I’m saying and the music just speaks for itself. There’s a ghetto in every America, period. The things that I’m speaking on, it’s no different than what’s happening in New York. They relate to it. When I’m in New York, it’s almost like the feeling I get when I’m in Cashville. In Cashville they love me to the bone gristle. And it’s like, New York is like my second home and it translates all the way around the world.
If I had to pick my top-4 cities, No. 1 would be Cashville. And then I would definitely say that No. 2 would be L.A., without a question. And No. 3 would be New York and then I would give it to Atlanta, definitely. Atlanta is the South and everything of that nature, but there’s so much talent in Atlanta and Atlanta develops their own sound in music. It’s just about me working in that atmosphere. With my music, I think the association is a little bit stronger in New York because of my connection to G-Unit and being connected to a New York-based group.
Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” was used in “New York City”, which has also been used in a ton of hip-hop records including Nas’ “One Mic”. Was there any significance in you using that sample?
When I got the track, I was told that it was a mixtape beat. As soon as I heard that sample, I pretty much knew that that was it. Phil Collins was singing that shit and I don’t even know about them getting that shit cleared. That record is one of my favorites. That song, “In the Air Tonight”, is one of my favorite records. I listen to him. I listen to Phil Collins as an artist. It was like, ‘Damn, God, did you just send me that record because I listen to Phil Collins a lot.’
Phil Collins once said that he doesn’t understand why he’s so popular in hip-hop circles.
Man, Phil Collins gotta understand that if you listen to the lyrics and some of the things that Phil Collins is saying, he’s actually speaking from a perspective that a lot of the hip-hop community can relate to because we go through the same things that he’s speaking about on certain records. I had a chance to meet Phil Collins when I was overseas a minute ago, a long time ago, a few years back, and if I would have known that I would have been on that record, I would have told him, “Look, man, I need you to remake this.”
That’d be crazy. What’s going on with your group 615?
615 is actually Hi-C and Lil’ Murda. Those are two kids that come from Cashville. They’re kicking off my label through their DJ Drama Gangsta Grillz mixtapes and through their DJ Whoo Kid mixtapes. They’re working. That’s all I can say about them cats. They want to be good at what they do and they feel like they can be better with their project so they asked me to give them a little bit of time with their music and their project. Every day they’re in the studio. Shout out to Hi-C and Lil’ Murda. My artists are on point! They’re all on point, from The Outlawz to C-Bo to 615 to Sosa. Sosa is on point. I just want to say “Beware” to all these artists. He’s in a lane where he can actually deal with me. I know right now that the world is about to deal with the wrath of a motherfucking menace.
How’s C-Bo’s album coming?
C-Bo’s album is coming crazy. I’m actually going to release a mixtape in a few weeks with DJ Whoo Kid. That’s going to be a preview of the album. C-Bo speaks for himself. I grew up listening to C-Bo. That’s what’s exciting for me. I was actually a fan of the artists that are signed to my label before I was dealing with them from a business standpoint. I got a chance to do things with them that I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve been able to get music from them that I needed.
And as far as the mixtape, it’s coming out in two weeks through DJ Whoo Kid. The title of that mixtape is, damn, I forgot what they called it. Damn. I forgot, man, but just look for it. That’s all I can say. Honestly, to be real, we had to just name the mixtape and I don’t want to throw out a fake-ass name and throw you off. Just look out for a mixtape coming in the next two weeks from DJ Whoo Kid and the whole Cashville family.
How’s your new album coming?
It’s coming good. I’m actually focused on the single which you’ll hear soon. I dropped the first single for my compilation Product of the South. That’s coming out on Sony Red. The first single that I dropped, I actually ended up licensing the record to Greg Street. DJ Greg Street from ATL has an album coming out this year. The single is “Driving Down the Freeway” with me and The Outlawz and it’s produced by Hi-Tek. That’s the first record we released and then it ended up going to Greg Street. That’s a good look. He’s one of the biggest DJ’s in the South and in the world, period. I knew that record would get its just due. Now I don’t know what record to put out. Every record sounds like a single in my world. You can expect to hear a fresh single in at least a couple of weeks. Right now the process has slowed up because of me. I’m trying to make sure that I pick the right record. I don’t want to put out the wrong record and push the wrong record. It’s a critical time.
What about your solo album?
Even with my solo record, you can expect to hear another solo record from me no later than October of ’08. That’s the biggest problem, choosing a single. Every record is like a hit record. Am I going to keep this record for the G-Unit album and give it to 50? “Hey, 50, what do you think of this?” Or am I going to keep it for my own album and things of that nature? It’s a collective nature with me. I always take everybody’s surrounding opinions. I’m not a boss that just makes his own decisions. When it’s not just me that creates the whole energy of the hit record, I want to hear everybody’s opinions and I want everybody to feel good about what we’re putting out there. Even though opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one, everybody’s opinion counts.
Did your sophomore album Buck the World go as far as your wanted it to?
Hell no. I think that was one of the most underrated albums of ’07 and I think everyone can agree with that. That’s when I say I didn’t get everything I needed from Interscope. That was a platinum album and it didn’t get the promotion due to a variety of reasons. 50 Cent’s album was coming out in a month and I think that threw that off. As far as Interscope, there are better ways of marketing Young Buck and we’re going to make it. We’ll be all right. I got this shit.
Can Buck the World still go further today?
You’re damn right! Any project that I ever released, I feel like it’s going to be able to succeed. I think you should never count out a project as good as Buck the World. I think all my albums are classic albums so they’ll continue to sell from here to whenever, until after I’m gone. I don’t make albums that have one or two good records. I make an album that you can put in from top to bottom and listen to.
I think that even with Buck the World, there’s still an area that it hasn’t went to. That’s what happened with Straight Outta Cashville. With Straight Outta Cashville, a lot of people feel like they slept on that album and they went back and got the album. That’s what pushed the album to platinum. Buck the World is near gold now if it ain’t already past gold. I can’t complain. It’s just about staying focused and staying down and letting the world know that Buck the World and Straight Outta Cashville is in stores and the G-Unit albums are in stores. Just get ready for Cashville Records and Product of the South, coming out on April 1. And I am not bullshitting.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Stay focused, man. Young Buck, Cashville Records. Make sure you go and pick up the album, Product of the South, on April 1. There’s a lot of features on that record. There’s Young Jeezy, you got Plies, you got Devin the Dude on the record, who else? Yo Gotti. I got another dude from Cashville that’s down with Yo Gotti. His name is All Star and he’s probably one of the hottest artists in the game right now. I got a lot of features on the album and it will be a good album. When have I ever let you down?