With the backing of Geffen Records and The Neptunes for his major label debut album — Already Platinum — few imagined Paul Wall, Mike Jones and Chamillionaire outselling Slim Thug. But after numerous delays and rampant bootlegging, Already Platinum was released to critical acclaim, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard chats, but only went gold. An accomplishment for most, but for Slim Thug, it was a disappointment. While his Houston companions reaped the benefits of their SoundScan success, Slim quietly watched and regrouped. He didn’t dwell on his label’s mistakes. Instead, he decided to take his career in his own hands.
Long before his record deal, Slim was one of Houston’s most prolific underground artists. As one of the original members of Swishahouse, Slim released his own material through his independent label – Boss Hogg Outlawz – and stared on Mike Jones smash single, “Still Tippin’.” Now, Slim Thug is returning to his underground roots. On February 27, he released a new Boss Hogg Outlawz album — Serve & Collect — on Koch Records. Slim is also preparing for the June 5 release of his sophomore album on Geffen Records, Boss of All Bosses. Slim discusses his new album, as well as the mistakes of the past and his relationship with The Neptunes with XXLMag.com.
What direction are you going in for your new album, Boss of All Bosses?
I’m just doing me. With my last album — Already Platinum — I was coming into a world I didn’t know. I signed a major deal with Interscope/Geffen and Jimmy [Iovine] was like, “I wanna put you with Pharrell and do it like this.” So I started working with Pharrell and followed their trail. I ain’t really call a lot of the shots on the last album. I was doing what I thought it would take for me to go worldwide.
Already Platinum wasn’t only about candy paint; it had some diversity. Can we expect that again?
Yeah, I’m going to keep it the same on that end and have a lot of different subjects. I’m doing this record by myself, so there isn’t anybody telling me what to do. It ain’t going to be all about sippin’ syrup, candy paint and fo’s [laughs]. I recorded like 70 songs, so I did a lot of different things. I’m gonna balance it out and have some personal songs where people can be more in touch with me, because I feel that’s how you become a star. People want to feel like they know you.
As far as producers — I’m in Atlanta right now working with Jermaine Dupri and I was just in Cali working with Jonathan “J.R.” Rotem. I also got DJ Toomp, Mannie Fresh, Play-N-Skillz, Swizz Beatz and Jazze Pha. But Mr. Lee did the majority of the album. I also got guest appearances by Rick Ross, UGK, Young Jeezy and of course, the Boss Hogg Outlawz.
So you’re not working with The Neptunes anymore?
The last album was more of a production deal. The thing is, its either you do three songs with them and they logo bill your record, or you pay a 100 grand for one beat. So that’s the politics behind it. I wanna work with Pharrell. We had fun [last album] and I think he’s the shit. But a lot of people didn’t want to hear me on that shit. They felt like it wasn’t me, especially in my hometown. And that’s who I’m trying to please, because deal or no deal, they are gonna be down with me. But I would definitely love to do something with him [Pharrell], but we would have to work on that number a little bit.
So you were really never signed to Star Trak?
It was never a Star Trak deal, just a production deal. I did more than three songs with them, so they put their stamp on the back of my CD. That’s how it went. It was all apart of Jimmy Iovine’s plan to break a new artist. I ain’t mad at it. It could have worked, but it didn’t.
Was Already Platinum too diverse for Houston?
I think it was a great record, but the problem was the label and the decision-making. We would go with one record and then pull back. Then the date kept changing. I mean, I’ve never been on tour, I never did 106 & Park by myself. I never did a lot of that shit. But at the end of the day, its gonna be the music that’s going to be blamed if [the album] doesn’t do what its supposed to do. So at the same time, I do feel like I stepped out of my bracket more than I should have. Ain’t nothing wrong with doing that, but I think I did it a little more. I think I had too many Neptune records on the album.
It must be annoying when people ask you about Already Platinum not going platinum.
A lot of people didn’t understand it. I wasn’t saying that I was gonna come out and sell a million records. I was saying I did that in the streets already. I was letting you know that I’m living in a house bigger than the nigga you see on TV who went platinum. I got a better house than damn near half of the niggas that went platinum. That’s what I meant. It wasn’t me saying I was gonna sell a million. I always explained that but I guess nobody heard that part [laughs].
On “We Boss Hoggin,” off the new Boss Hogg Outlaws album, you say you want to make it for your mother. Is she your main motivation?
Yeah, she’s been a big motivation for me. She took care of me by herself. She worked like seven days a week, 12 hour shifts. So I do a lot of this for my mother. I’m a baby of seven [in my family] — four boys and three girls — so my mother couldn’t really control us. But I saw her go through a lot. All of my brothers were in and out of jail, getting shot at. I seen what it did to her. And I’m the youngest, so I always wanted to make her proud. She always tried to keep me away from trouble and out of jail. I saw how she felt when she would have to work all week and then send money to my brother in the pen. So I always told myself I would never put her in that position where she would be hurting. I didn’t want her to have to come visit me in jail. I always tried to stay out of trouble.
Money is always a prevalent theme in your music. Do you ever think the money will change you?
I think it can change people, but I don’t see it changing me. I rap about loving money, and I do love it, but not to the point where it affects me as a person. I think money changes the people around you more than it changes you. From my experience, if you take care of someone or give them something, the one time you tell them, ‘No,’ they are gonna be like, “Oh, he’s trippin’, he got caught up.’ So I think it’s a cop out for people. They are quick to say you change if you don’t support them. So I don’t give a fuck what people say. I ain’t gonna let the money rule me. I believe in God, so I put him over everything.
Lately, hip-hop has come under fire from media outlets like CNN and Fox News. Do you think its an artists’ responsibility to balance the violent talk with something more positive?
I don’t think its our responsibility. They are trying to come down on hip-hop but the [same] shit is in movies. They are really trying to give hip-hop a black eye. There are a lot of dudes coming from the streets and turning into powerful people, and I guess they don’t like that. Look at how they did DJ Drama. They are trying to make it like we selling dope or something. We ain’t selling drugs, we are entertainers. If you take away hip-hop then that’s going to take away more jobs and opportunities for people out here who feel like they can do something positive. A dude wanting to be a big rap star isn’t out there robbing people right now because he has dreams. But if you take away his dreams, then the shit is just gonna get worse. But I feel like you have to blame the parents. A kid who listens to a rap record and wants to go [shoot someone] couldn’t have been raised right. It ain’t our responsibility to raise kids. Our responsibility is to entertain.