How does it feel to be out on tour in Europe without having an album out?
It feels good. Just to see that the material I put out, mixtapes and so forth, reached people so far to places I’ve never been before. Word, even just to come out here and see that they appreciate my music so much; I’m grateful.
How was the performance yesterday out here in Amsterdam?
Incredible, people was going wild. I did a festival before that – Splash. I been doing a lot of things out here so far I did about 7 gigs. Stockholm, Norway, London, Germany and a couple of places I cant even pronounce
So what’s the response from people to the album?
Only songs I did of the album are Victory and Bang It Out (the song featuring Snoop) and the response was crazy. I don’t think people in the States know how powerful hiphop is over here. I don’t think people know much my music is appreciated over here; I didn’t even know until I came out here.
So definitely it was a good experience.
There were several track lists online with crazy credits. How many of them are actually correct?
Uhm…most of ‘em. On the production side I got Jazzy Pha, Scott Storch, Premier, I got a Kanye West joint…
I saw Dre.
Yeah, we got a Dre joint but I leaked out. I don’t know if that is going to be cleared for the album. That might not make the album. Holla at Busta, he’s supposed be getting it cleared..holla at him about that. The list goes on, I got a lot of heavy hitters on the album.
I’ve seen a couple of tight featurings on there too.
Yeah, I got Jadakiss, I got Jim Jones, I got Erykah Badu, I got Chammilionaire and that’s about it..
What’s it like doing tracks with these artists who’ve been dropping albums for years and you don’t even have an album out?
It’s a privilege for me and an honor to be able to work with these people. They appreciate what I’ve been doing on the mixtapes and the streets period. For them to come to the table and reach out, get it done; its an honor.
You’ve been working on the album for a while and had all these mixtapes out. Why didn’t you put an album out?
I had my album ready from day one. After we generated the buzz and signed the deal with Jive for 1.5 million we were ready to go. But when you got producers like Jazzy Pha, Scott Storch, Premier eaching out saying “I want to work with you, I got this beat for you”, you’ll kind of be an idiot to say “well, Im done already”. So we had to stop for a minute and say “ok, hold up. Let’s go back in” that was the holdup along with a couple of clearance issues. It’s been a while, but we’re ready now. The album is coming in September, we’ve got the single featuring Snoop Dogg, produced by Scott Storch, called ‘Bang It Out’. That’s to let you know we’re coming…next we’re gonna come with the next single after that we’re dropping.
I’ve got some classic material on my album and I think people are going to enjoy it. I’m touching a lot of topics that’s untouched in hiphop. People should definitely pick it up!
I’m assuming that being on a major label opens up a lot of doors for you. How much extra pressure does that put on your shoulders?
I mean, I always tell people that if I was playing something like golf or tennis or some shit I wasn’t good at that there would’ve been pressure. Hiphop music, I grew up doing that shit and I love doing music from the hearth so there is no pressure at all. I enjoy doing this, I had fun doing it.
E ven if the album is a total flop then the experience and fun is enough for you?
That’s not going to happen! Not with Papoose on it! Just me by myself I can hold it down.
Nah, NO PRESSURE AT ALL! It’s impossible for the album not to reach people around the globe and touch the population of the world. I do it from the hearth, there is no pressure! I’m sure of myself, its called confidence.
Still it’s different from the mixtapes. I read that you said that mixtapes are like high school and the album is the college or the graduation.
Without a doubt, that’s how I look at it! Everything is a different level and I came from the bottom. I didn’t have a brother, sister or an uncle that worked at the label that said “Oh, we’re going to sign you”. Nah, a lot of these dudes are brought into the game like that. So I came from the bottom so I got to look at it like that! You come from level A and you elevate
But that’s my point! Because the mixtapes were a success that doesn’t automatically mean the album is going to be a success.
It does, you know why!? You know why?! Cause you said It yourself when we first said down. You said ‘ How does it feel to have all these people who have albums out to work with you when you don’t even have an album out?’ If you analyze, most of the people I worked with on the album I already worked with on the mixtapes. So they work with me for free!!
So there is no difference than making an album?
It’s a big difference! When you’re making mixtapes you’re more or less freelancing. Everything is more organized and scheduled and on a business level when you’re doing the album. It’s being distributed around the world and mixtapes you just throw them out there and let them land where they land it.
..and as far as rapping skills ?
Oh man, concepts and angles I’m coming from on my album and the shit that I say on the mixtapes. I was like; nah, they can’t get that. I touched a lot of people on the mixtapes and even most of the living legends will tell you that my mixtapes are like albums. So I more or less took mixtapes to another level. And it wasn’t about the quantity, I put out 18 mixtapes, but it’s about the quality.
Since we’re talking about the mixtapes. The RIAA is trying to shut down the mixtape game. What kind of effect will that have on the mixtape game?
I’m not worried of the RIAA, because all my mixtapes are for promotional use only. It’s going to have a lot of effect on a lot of different people and I feel like a lot of different people are responsible for that. A lot of artists put out their albums and they are afraid not to sell so they’re calling the police on the mixtape dudes and the bootleggers. That’s one of the reasons why and the other reason is that everytime we find a way out they try to keep us down.
Over here in Europe we can’ t buy the mixtapes in stores. We have to download them. How do you feel about the internet and downloading?
I’d be a fool to sit here and complain about that! Because how the hell do people know me over here? I’ve never been here in the flesh. You say you don’t get mixtapes and I only been on a couple of albums and do features. For me to be performing out here and people knowing all the words, I’ve got to appreciate the internet. It helped me expand myself so it’s the gift and the curse like a double edged sword. It might hurt you when you’re album comes out, because people might download it and at the same time it helps you come up.
People who think it’s good will go out and buy it anyway…
Exactly!! So stop complaining and calling the cops on the mixtape dudes! It is what it is!
You’re from New York and some of the big influences you had were Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap, how do you feel growing up on that and being in the game now?
It’s like a dream come true! I worked with G Rap, I’ve never worked with Kane but I met him before and I let him know I came up listening to him. It feels good and it’s a dream come true! A lot of people dreams don’t come true. A lot of people that believed in me from day one and wanted to see me make it are not alive no more. So for me to even be here is a blessing!
Don’t let it get to your head though!
Nah, but I got to be confident in what I do! This is a doggy dog business and they kick you down and try to take everything away from you, so you got to believe in yourself!!
How important is this for New York and hiphop in general ?
I think its real important because I was bread by New York and by hiphop so they see one of their own child come up. I’m a student of the game so for me finally have an album coming out is real important. Everybody who followed me they know what I’m bringing to the table; pure authentic hiphop culture!
Seeing the whole state of hiphop right now. People are saying ‘hiphop is dead’ and the south is coming up and pushing New York away…
Yeah. ’Hiphop is dead’ is just a concept. And the south, being ahead is a beautiful thing. Like when I come to the UK and see hiphop strong and see people over here rapping in y’all language then I go to the south and see how they doing it…it only shows how powerful New York is, because it started in New York City and that is the foundation! So it only shows we can influence the world so people should be happy and proud about that!!
Anything else you’d like to say to your fans?!
I wanna say thanks a lot for all the support! To everybody who supported me from day one..
The Nacirema Dream is a promised album, make sure you buy it!
Are you already planning a new European tour for when the album come out? It was a small venue last night.
Definitely, this one here was a blessing. We did 2 festivals with a lot of people there, we’ll put out the footage soon for you to see that, and we’ll do two more. We’re touching the small venues and the big ones also. I always been the type of artists that will perform for anybody! As soon as the album is coming we’ll be back.