Back in 2003 hip-hop fans were introduced to a young New York City rapper by the name of Tru Life. Unlike most up-and-coming New York rhyme slingers, Tru’s introduction didn’t come by way of a mixtape or a guest appearance on a more seasoned MC’s album. Instead, we first met the Lower East Side rider on a straight to DVD documentary called Beef, where Tru was having problems with Queens duo Mobb Deep. The appearance on the DVD didn’t do much for Tru’s rap buzz so the aspiring MC spent the next two years in the New York underground rap scene before resurfacing with a vengeance in 2005 as the newest signee to Jay-Z’s Roc-La-Familia imprint.
Fast-forward to now, 2007, and the young gun is embroiled in a very public dispute with his former street associate Jim Jones of the Harlem Diplomats. Tru has also been busy preparing his solo album debut release and recently dropped Tru York, his latest mixtape with J-Love. The tape balances strong concept driven music mixed with scathing disses aimed at Jim Jones and company. XXLMag.com linked with Tru to get the scoop on his static with the Dips, his major label debut and why the hip-hop police aren’t a concern of his.
Your new mixtape, Tru York, has New York buzzing right now.
Yeah, I think people just wanted to hear the truth. A lot of people realized they were being lied to and they’re tired of that. They want the real. There’s only so long you can pull the wool over people’s eyes, you smell me?
So you have a history with Jim Jones, right?
Yeah, I know the broad very well. He’s a disrespectful little girl. He has no respect for hip-hop. He has no respect for himself. He’s not a humble individual and he’s just not a good person. It’s not even about being gangster, he’s just not a good nigga. He’s on TV all the time, with the ice grill, with the hairy face trying to portray this gangster-killer image. That’s not me. I run around smiling. I’m a righteous individual. I don’t run around with that whole aura of trying to be the biggest killer in the world. I think that’s the biggest misconception with me.
Niggas felt threatened by me and by my movement, the whole New New York movement. I felt it was time to step up and tell these niggas to stop being scared, be yourself. We’re not Bloods, that’s not what New York City does. We don’t get crunk, that’s not what New York City does. We can play their music and support the South with their crunk movement because that’s their shit. We can embrace it because they’re making moves in hip-hop right now and I like what they’re doing, but I don’t like when we gotta go and steal from the South and steal from the West and steal from everybody and stop being ourselves.
So that whole beef started after you started to speak out and Jimmy felt like you were talking to him?
The media started to tell Jenny Jones that I was dissing the broad. And the streets started to tell him that I was dissing him because he’s really the face of all that shit like going on TV and putting rags on rims and doing all the extra stupid shit and going out of his way to look gangsta. Niggas started to tell him. He started to see me have some success and we knew each other very well. I personally put bullet proof vests on the bitch nigga’s back. I protected him when he was in need of my services of needing a real nigga to stand by him and hold him down because he couldn’t go to Harlem. The nigga is a chameleon. He turns every muthafuckin’ color. He’s a fraud, he’s a bitch and he felt like I was dissing him.
So why not just ignore him?
I’m not that ignoring type of nigga, man. I’ve been sitting back here biting on my tongue and I’m the type of nigga that really wants to slap him in his face. He’s a hoe nigga. I know that it ain’t no beef. They know it’s not no beef. They was just trying to come up with some fake shit to sell records. They know that and we know that but the little fans who are 16 years old don’t know that. The fans out there are confused and sometimes these niggas be believing shit that they hear and sometimes a nigga gotta step up for what the fuck is right and not be scared and ride out. I’m a revolutionary nigga, man. I feel like this is what I was born to do. I’m gonna speak the truth and whoever don’t like it, fuck it. I know what I’m coming with is a righteous movement. I know I’m a godly person and I know there’s no evil shit in my body. I know I’m standing up for what’s right for the children and for our communities, so it’s whatever, man. I’m willing to die for that.
But you don’t exactly make church music yourself.
I don’t make church music. You know why? I done lived this life my nigga. I’m from the streets. So it’s like, they wanna be gangster, you can’t come at these kids in a preachy kinda way because then it just flies over their heads. So if you come at them in a way where they can relate to you, then you can feed them the meat and potatoes. It’s like I said in a record, “I’m the spook who sat by the door, holding my breath/drop knowledge and get overlooked like Mos Def.” You smell me? I also don’t make songs called “Crunk Movement.” I also don’t represent no fucking gang. I also got a name called Tru Life, which stands for The Righteous Uniting Everybody Living In a Fantasy Environment.
I came across a picture of you on the Internet holding some Dipset chains.
Did you? I don’t know, $19.99 will get you a wallet size with your favorite rapper’s chain on. I’m not an angel my nigga. I made plenty mistakes but I’m just man enough to admit when I’m wrong.
On one of those skits on the mixtape it kind of sounds like you were getting at Lil Wayne.
Who? Weezy Goldberg? Man, tell that little bitch to stick to hosting the Apollo. Don’t come over here with that, nigga. You’re trying to come up nigga, running with the pink banging bunnies, thinking them niggas got New York on smash or something. He got to be kidding me. Go work on Sister Act 3. Everything Jay do, he was trying to do. It’s a joke. Everybody can see that. The nigga is stupidly influenced by Jay-Z. He just wanted to sign to Jay-Z, and the next week you gonna dis the man? Come on man, you gotta be kidding me. If you wanna get your ass spanked, get in line, I’ll spank you and your daddy. Send him this way, man. Them boys kissing each other on the mouth…
This whole conflict with Dipset is pretty public. It’s on radio and everybody is talking about it. With recent events such as the murder of Busta’s bodyguard and the Fabolous shooting, are you worried about catching heat from the hip-hop police?
It is what it is. What am I supposed to be scared of? I don’t understand, like what kind of problem would they have with me? Like me getting locked up, them arresting me? For what? I’m not scared of too many things nowadays. I feel like I’ve been through worse. I’m a nigga who came from the bottom and has been stepped on and I’ve been through all the mud so it’s whatever man. I’m standing up for what’s right, and these niggas is standing up for what’s wrong. Niggas just thought that a nigga like me wouldn’t get heard. They think I’m at the bottom of the pole and, “Oh, Jay ain’t fucking with that nigga,” and that’s why niggas is bugging when they heard Jay on the intro [of the mixtape]. I don’t know what niggas thought. I guess they thought Jay had me on the shelf or something like that. Hell no, I was just dealing with my own little personal issues and taking time to make great music.
You mentioned Jay. With his new corporate family-friendly image, do you think that the escalation of this beef on the street is something Jay should be concerned about?
Awwh man, this is my thing: ya’ll been fooled. This is not a street thing. These niggas is not street niggas! You think we feel our life is threatened by them? I’m more worried about a fan getting misconstrued by their lives and the shit they put out then them. Them niggas don’t pose no muthafuckin’ threats! Jay is not worried them and I’m not worried about them.
So how’d you link up with Jay?
I met Jay through Green Lantern. Snoop Dogg had discovered me and I had like six or seven deals on the table and me and Green Lantern were working on a mixtape. So I told Green that I was getting ready to take one of these deals, man, but I felt like I really wanted to be on a New York label because I felt like the movement was so big for New York. So I was talking to him about Jay and he was like, “Would you really wanna be over there with Jay?” And I was like, “I won’t lie. I wouldn’t mind meeting the nigga and I think that I would really love to be on Def Jam. It’s a legendary place in itself.
So he was like, Man, before you sign one of these deals, let me go over there.” And he went over there and presented the shit to Jay. Jay flipped out and the next day we did the deal. I told him Snoop was the one that found me and was fucking with me and I owe it all to the big homey from the West Coast. So I brought the homey Snoop in to executive produce the album with my nigga Jay-Z.
When can we expect the album?
Probably like by June. I still need time to warm this shit all the way up. Get ready, man, Tru Life album on the way. It’s gonna be revolution. It’s gonna be gangsta. It’s gonna be a lot of shit. Tru Life, a bugged out individual who got his own identity and who is a little bit all over the place at times, I must admit. That’s just the nature of man. I don’t know one perfect man walking this earth. I’m even gonna contradict myself at times and if you point it out, I’ll be like, damn I did!