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Southern Takeover

Block.jpgBelieve it or not, there’s a common denominator between 2Pac, 8Ball and MJG, Young Jeezy, T.I. and P. Diddy—his name is Russell “Block’ Spencer. Before he became known as the mastermind behind Bad Boys’ d-boy collective, Boyz N Da Hood, Block was grinding away in the industry for years, holding down top positions at Suave House and Noontime Records. After Block landed a multimillion-dollar label deal on Warner Bros. for his Block Entertainment imprint, became one-third owner of Sho Nuff Records and was named president of Bad Boy South, it seems that everything is falling perfectly into place. Taking a break from his daily hustle, Block speaks with XXLMAG.COM about the rumors surrounding the future of Boyz N Da Hood, getting Bruce Willis and Big Gee in the studio together and giving Diddy the key to the South. So, listen up, ’cause this boy’s got work and he’s about to get paid!

How’d you get into the music business?
I came into the music game through Tupac. I was really close to his family. ’Pac would take me with him and we would just grind together. I didn’t really take it seriously, like how I do now; it was just my homeboys in the crew. From ’95 to ’96 [I] started dealing with Suave House—8Ball & MJG, Tela, Crime Boss and all them.

Who did Boyz N Da Hood originally consist of?
I wanted an underground group—a real rap group. When I first came with Boyz N Da Hood, it was T.I., Sean Paul from Youngbloodz, Trick Daddy and Jody [Breeze]. This was in 2002. We made like nine records together, but T.I. went to jail, Trick Daddy had issues with his label Slip-N-Slide, and this was when Arista went over to Jive, and Sean Paul was in that mix with the Youngbloodz. So I had to come back down to the South and I had to make some cats. Jeezy was doing his thing in the ’hood. I’ve known Jeezy since he was like 11, 12 years old, so I knew he was official. I knew Duke from the hood through Suave House, through Noontime. Big Gee was signed to me through Block Entertainment and then Jody was signed to me through Sho Nuff. I put these cats together and everybody really repped what they were for.

Once you had that lineup, how did you go about getting them a deal?
By that time, Dr. Dre had heard like three records. I [was] going on the plane about to go to Dr. Dre to sign the group when Puff called me. Kim [Porter] heard the same three records and gave them to Puff, and Puff called me like, “Yo, let’s do this deal.” I’m on the runway about to go meet Dre, so he says, “When you land, a plane will be waiting on you to fly from LA to New York.” So while I was flying out there, I was thinking about all the possibilities of really taking Boyz N Da Hood to sign with Dre. Dre a hell of a producer, a hell of a guy, but Dre had 50 Cent, he had Eminem, he had the whole G-Unit crew. But you know what? Boyz N Da Hood need to be special. So Puff was just coming off doing the play, and he hadn’t done the music game for a couple of years. So I’m like, Okay cool, this could be his baby. This could be some shit he would go over budget for.

block2.jpgNow that Jeezy has left, what’s going to happen to the group?
When I first started Boyz N Da Hood, it was about the movement of taking cats without deals, and bringing them deals. Jeezy, he double platinum right now. Jeezy hot now so he coming and bringing us up, so I can continue to help. Rick Ross is in the group—he’s always been a part of my movement, he was one of my first artists. Lil Wayne is still a part of it. Wayne’s on 15 records already, the album’s done. But I’m getting calls—Paul Wall wanna be a part of it, Slim Thug wanna be a part of it, I talked to Beanie Sigel about it. What I might do next is an album called One Nation, Remember how ’Pac was gonna do an album with the best rappers from the East Side and the best rappers from the West Side? That’s what I may do with Boyz N Da Hood on this album because people want to be a part of the movement.

Why wasn’t Yung Joc put in BNDH?
Everybody asking that. Joc is an artist that I want to take from the hood and give him to the masses. With Boyz N Da Hood it’s strictly for the streets. They don’t have no crossover records, ’cause when you come with a street group like Boyz N Da Hood and you cross them over, then you ain’t real. You know how that go.

We hear Big Gee is coming out with a solo record. What’s going on with that?
Do not sleep on Big Gee, trust me. Big Gee is the new Scarface. He’s a new Down South bully. His album Live from the 13th Floor gonna come out after Boyz N Da Hood, so fourth quarter or first quarter [2007] on Block Entertainment/Bad Boy. I’m in the process of getting Bruce Willis to narrate the whole album. He a good friend of me and Puff’s. Oh man, it’s gonna be dope. Big Gee a beast man. Puff did a deal with him before my label deal.

With Bad Boy’s lack of sales lately, it seems like Puff needs you for Bad Boy South more than you need him.
He playing his cards right, and I can’t knock that. And I ain’t gonna lie—I’ma be real—he didn’t have a key to the South. Puff [was] trying to get South for the longest—he came with 8Ball & MJG and he thought it was a nutcracker. When he came down here and he got Block, he got a sledgehammer. I’m it, man. It’s Operation Block-down. I’m running the radio down here, man. I’m running the streets. I’m running the clubs. Anytime you come to Atlanta you hear about Block. I gave [Puff] the key. I had a lot of people mad at me ’cause I gave him that key. But it’s all good ’cause dude gave me a couple million to get that key. He paid for that key.

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