Streets On Lock
On this April day Beanie Sigel is eating soul food while relaxing on a leather sofa in Times Square Studios, playing early tracks off his upcoming LP, The Solution, the fourth and he claims final album of his career. While revered for his dark, introspective music, The Broadstreet Bully is surprisingly happy today and he has reason to be. He’s just gotten through a rough couple of years. In October 2004, Beans was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to a federal gun charge. During his incarceration his third album, The B. Coming, was released as a joint venture between Dame Dash’s Music Group and Roc-A-Fella Records. Even though he was unable to promote the LP, it opened at No. 3 on the Billboard chart and scanned over 400,000 copies. In August 2005, the South Philly native was released from prison after serving 10 months of his sentence. While still under contract with Roc-A-Fella Records for two more albums, Beans announced he wouldn’t take sides in the feud between Jay-Z and Dame Dash. But somewhere along the line, that changed. Earlier this year, Sigel resigned with The Roc after reaching a deal with Jay-Z and Def Jam for his own label, State Property Records. The Roc-A-Fella enforcer sits with XXLMag.com to discuss his new album, label deal and relationship with Dame and Jay.
What direction are you going in with The Solution?
I’m an emotional guy, in a good sense. A lot of people say [my music is] depressing, but I say its reality. At that time it was cool because I was at a depressing stage in my life with my legal issues and everything. I had a lot of songs that I felt needed to be out there. It was more conscious than depressing. But this album is just me listening to what’s out there and trying to go far left, away from what’s going on. It’s me making that hard music. This is just life experiences and things that I go through. I just try to put out good, relevant music. Not to knock what anybody else is doing, but a lot of that music don’t be relevant to any type of situation.
Is opening up on records easy for you to do because a lot of MCs are guarded?
Yeah, it’s etched in stone. I believe that’s what real music is—the stuff that comes from the soul and the heart. I just give the people a part of me. There are people like me all over the world. Certain songs I do might be me or they might be a conversation I had with someone else and they’re telling me their situations and what they been through in their life. I just put it in my music. That’s easy to do. That’s the best music. That way you’re not locked into the same music. Right now, there ain’t no heartfelt music, that’s why everything sounds the same. You don’t want to be tunneled into the same thing. Every day your life is different. You might feel a different way tomorrow than do you today. That’s what my music is like. None of the songs I do are the same because it’s different everyday.
What led to you resigning with The Roc?
When I first came home, it was the whole Roc spilt up [situation]. I didn’t want to choose whether to go with Jay or Dame. I couldn’t make that choice between friends. So I fell back and looked to see what direction I was going to go in for my own situation. I was gonna do my own label at one point. I had a couple conversations with Jay. I had talks with Dame ['cause] he had the Dame Dash Music Group. He was gonna give me a label, but he had lost his label. His deal fell through. So I was talking to Jay and there was a couple of things we were supposed to do. Since he was the President of Def Jam, I was supposed to go that route, but I wanted my own situation. I felt as if the things I contributed to the game and to Roc-A-Fella made me bigger than just being an artist on Roc-A-Fella Records. I brought 80 percent of the roster to Roc-A-Fella Records. At one point it was just me, Jay and Bleek. Then it was the whole State Property Movement. It was bigger than that with the films and everything. I just couldn’t be an artist and I wanted my own label situation. He [Jay] was trying to get that through Def Jam. We had conversations and things weren’t going right. And within those conversations, there were promises being made that never fell through. And I was still technically under contract. I owed two albums to Roc-A-Fella. So I was like, “Since you’re the President of Def Jam, I’m gonna fulfill my commitment.” But the things that I wanted weren’t coming, so I had to get out of there. So I just fell back. I didn’t’ make any music for a year after that. Then I started recording songs again. I came up and played some music [for Jay] and I was like, “You sure you don’t wanna give me what I want? Listen to this.” And then it came through. We had another conversation and I got what I wanted.
What’s your relationship like with Dame Dash now?
I don’t have no ill feelings towards Dame. That’s still my man. There’s just a lot of little business stuff that me, being away, I was finding out little things. It got kind of crazy. So to save our friendship, I had to break off with the business.
What little things did you find out?
I ain’t gonna air it out, just some little things. I just started finding some things out that weren’t cool. I blame myself for leaving my business in other peoples hands. At that time, I thought I could do that and something like that wouldn’t happen. Like, certain people would do certain things. But when I found out that it was real like that, it was like, “Yo, man. Nah, we can’t do this.” It is what it is.
There’s been rumors State Property is getting back together. Is that true?
I still don’t’ know about that right now. That would be good for a lot of people. But do I need that for myself? I don’t think so. It would be a good thing, though. It wouldn’t hurt. Right now, everybody is doing their own thing. But I’m here, if that’s what they wanna do.
A lot of people are waiting for you to jump into The Roc’s beef with Dipset.
If I’m gonna be on Roc-A-Fella Records, and you’re making songs and coming at Jay or The Roc, then I’m gonna have to respond. That’s my house. That’s where my bread and butter is coming from. So yeah, I’m definitely gonna get in that. That will be fun. I ain’t have to show off in a minute, so that’s gonna be good. Good exercise. I’m with all of that. That’s what I’m here… If I’m on that label and that’s what I’m representing, I’ll welcome all challenges. I welcome that. Please! That’s how it seems it goes right now in the music business. If you got beef with somebody, you sell records and all of that. It ain’t cool, but hey, so be it. I ain’t scared. I can do that in my sleep.
How’s the feeling or vibe with Roc-A-Fella now, compared to the glory days?
Yeah, it’s a different vibe. In the studio, you used to see Freeway, Bleek and them over there. Jay’s poppin’ in and out. But all the music I’ve been recording [now] has been on my own, without that around. I’m making good music, but I think it could be on another level when you in the studio [with everybody else]. When we had Baseline Studio, there was two rooms. Bleek or Jay is in this room making a song, and I’m in the next one. It’s like that in-house competition. You know, steel sharpen steel. So you gon’ always try to outshine the next man or you ain’t gonna let nobody go past you. You gonna come with your “A” game. I ain’t really have no one around to rub shoulders with [now]. But I’m pretty sharp already, so you can only get better with that competition around. I think [it's like] that for a lot of people when you’re used to being around your family and everybody’s together writing songs and collaborating. He might be working on a song over there, you come in and hear something and tell him, “You should say it like this.” When you get input and feedback from everybody, that puts you on your “A” game. It’s like if you’re playing basketball by yourself. You might make a thousand jump shots straight, but you need somebody there to put their hand in your face to know if you’re really on your game. I think it would be a good thing if everybody got back together.
What else do you have planned for this year?
I’m about to re-launch my State Property clothing line and put that back on track. I’m working on a couple movie scripts. Hopefully, after the album, I’m gonna go see about the films. Maybe August or September for the album [The Solution]. This album has to be right. The music is gonna be there, it’s all about the setup. I need that right setup. So after we wrap it up, we gotta go in there, put together the plan, see what singles we gonna push….’cause there’s a lot of joints on there. Just put the strategy together and do the numbers I wanna do.