For better or worse, Chopper (a.k.a Young City) bites his tongue for no one. Co-starring in Diddy’s reality series Making the Band 2, which debuted on MTV in 2002, the New Orleans native’s outspokenness earned him plenty of camera time and a spot as one of the six artists chosen out of 40,000 contestants to form Da Band. Comprised of Chopper, Babs, Ness, Dylan, Freddy P and Sarah Stokes, the group released their first and only disc, Too Hot for T.V., on Bad Boy Records in 2003. Despite debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard chart and moving over 500,000 units, the album was panned by critics and Diddy disbanded the group in 2004. A year later, Chopper signed with Bad Boy South as a solo artist for his debut release, New Jack City. The relationship quickly went sour after the label shot a video for the unreleased album’s lead single, “Lil’ Daddy.” According to Chopper, the song didn’t represent the type of music he wanted to make. Displeased over his lack of creative control, as well as the money the label was offering, Young City decided last year that he wanted out of his contract. Once fellow N’awlins boy Bryan “Baby” Williams stepped in to negotiate the deal, Chopper got off Bad Boy South and recently signed with Cash Money Records. Now, with a new home, Chopper is gearing for the fall release of his official debut Cash M.O.E. (Money Over Everything). XXLMag.com talks with the fiery MC about his beef with Diddy, his loyalty to Cash Money and why he’s working hard to change his image.
Are you officially signed with Cash Money Records now?
The papers ain’t finalized until [June] 20th. [But] I talked to the man [Baby] and he was all gravy with the situation. So I’m on my way down to Miami.
Over the years, a lot of artists have left Cash Money due to alleged money disputes. Are you worried about that at all?
It’s different strokes with different folks. I learn from other people’s fuck ups. Shout out to Juve and Mannie, but I learned from their situations. I was always a Cash Money fanatic before I was a rapper. I always wanted to be down with Cash Money in the first place. They’re the reason why I wanted to rap—period. I really don’t think about all that. I just think about what I can bring to the table and what they can do for my career. Bad Boy was straight. It was a great stepping-stone for me [but] I didn’t like the Diddy vibe. No offense to him, but I don’t like selfish people. Your mission as CEO is to make your artists big and then you profit off the situation. But you gotta make the artist be the best person they can be instead of you trying to be the CEO/rapper. [You can’t] look at situations [like], what can you do for yourself and treat your artists like table scraps. I don’t give a fuck how rich you are, because at the end of the day, anybody can be in your shoes if they understand and learn the game like you did. You wasn’t the smartest nigga in the world, you just had a little more common sense than others.
What did Cash Money offer you that Bad Boy couldn’t?
More control. When I was over there with Puff, [he made me] rap over whatever beat he wanted me to, which was corny as fuck. He [was] trying to tell me to do it like this and do it like that. I’m like, “Man, fuck naw!” He put out the “Lil’ Daddy” video, but it wasn’t me. I shoulda came out hard ass fuck. But he wasn’t tryin’ to hear that. Don’t get me wrong. Harve Pierre was a good nigga to me. It was just that Puff cat. They don’t let you be creative over there. They want you to be [like] everybody else. Man, fuck you! I do it how I wanna do it. That only person who was themselves over there was Biggie. I [even] had an altercation with Yung Joc because my album was called New Jack City first. But since I left, Joc comes with New Joc City. Ain’t that a bitch! That’s a copycat ass label.
So you don’t have any more obligations to Bad Boy South?
None. Never! What happened was, a good friend of mine at Cash Money [Baby] paid for me to get out of it. He helped me get out [of] the contract. Shout out to Cash Money, them real niggas right there. That boy Baby—real nigga! Weezy cool, but Baby the one. He a real nigga.
Was lack of creative your only gripe with Bad Boy South?
What ended up happening was, Puff dismantled Da Band. [So] I was like, “Fuck Bad Boy,” and I went out there and grinded. I started doing my thang—Chingy and [Lil] Wayne let me open [their shows] and I kept my name out there. That’s when Puff called me back and told me about the Bad Boy South situation. But you know what’s funny? I told Puff, “You should try and do something called Bad Boy South.” I swear to God on my kids. That nigga took my idea. That nigga is known for taking people’s ideas. It ain’t nothin’ personal with me and Puff. I got love for Puff. He’s the No. 1 hustler in the world. But [when] Puff came at me with the Bad Boy South situation [and] the contract, I looked at [it] and I saw how much it was and I said, “No! I’m not signing for that much. That ain’t enough money for me.” [So] they were telling me I don’t appreciate shit and all this. But I said, “No. I appreciate everything, but I know what I’m worth. I don’t want the world. I just want to be comfortable. Meet [me] in the middle.” So I said fuck it, I ain’t signing with y’all anyway and [Diddy] was like, “If you don’t sign these papers, we’re taking ‘Lil’ Daddy’ off BET.” But I was like, “Do what you gotta do.”
You must have learned a lot going through all of that. What’s the biggest misconception you think people have about Chopper?
My immaturity. A lot of people get me twisted and don’t understand me. They don’t know that the kid is really talented. I be in the studio with the top dogs eatin’ they ass up. Niggas can’t fuck with me. Weezy always gives me props ’cause [he] know what it do. Weezy be tellin’ me, “You a dope rapper, but the world don’t know that if you’re not out there showing it.” A lot of people don’t know that ’cause they watching MTV Making The Band 2 and think I’m some ol’ band ass nigga. I run New Orleans. I’m the prince of that city. People know Chopper from Da Band. They don’t really know Chopper off the music. I don’t really like to be looked at as the bad guy no more ’cause that was years ago. Don’t see me as Da Band. Don’t judge [me] by that. Judge me when you talk to me or see me.
So what should fans expect from the Cash M.O.E. album?
Aww, man, I got [producer] Kochease on there, he did “Patron” and “I Know You See It” for Yung Joc. I got a Mannie Fresh track, and I got Chingy and Jody Breeze on there. Been talkin’ to Jeezy ’cause we got a song called “Rock N’ Roll” and hopefully he gon’ fuck with it ’cause that nigga be busy than a muthafucka! I got a song with T.I. too, so I got some shit. I’m not gon’ try and put too many features on there ’cause I got some hot [solo] songs.
When can we expect that to drop?
Later this year and it’s gone be real, real, real, real, major! I’m real proud of this album, so when I say real major, I mean it has to be the best work I’ve every done in my whole 22 years.