What percentage of MCs in hip-hop do you think are actually intelligent?
You have different kinds of people. You have people that are extremely book smart that lack common sense so they don’t know what’s going to affect their audience. They have more information than me based on reading. For instance, Nas is a really smart guy. He reads books constantly. We were around him on the Nastradamus tour. He was almost weirder than me ’cause we would go to breakfast and he’d be there reading a book. Conceptually, I think that’s what made him drift away from what his initial audience enjoys from him and why he’s not hot right now.
Because he reads too much?
Yes. He’s feeding you too much information in the music and they don’t actually want it. He’s like a teacher. I was in love with KRS-One when he came with “Criminal Minded” and “The Bridge Is Over.” That was theme music to what was going on at that time. And when he started teaching, he lost them. ’Cause it was like, “What is he talkin’ about?”
But you’re obviously really intelligent.
Absolutely. Smart enough not to overwhelm people with information.
But they’re still getting information from you.
Right, but in different ways and in pieces. Anything [that] changes too fast is no good—[the audience] isn’t sure what’s going on. It’s like you watching an actor portray a character in a film that you really enjoy. Then afterwards, he sits on the couch on a talk show and this guy is so artistic that you’re not sure if you [really] fuckin’ like him.
Why, ’cause they’re acting?
Yeah. They’re doing something that’s totally… That may not even be a small portion of their actual character. And then when you see them after the fact, they give you something that’s so artsy.
But the same can be said about you. Do I think if 50 Cent was in a situation where he had to protect himself or he had to hurt somebody, would he blast someone? I might think that. But also…
Under them circumstances…
I would think 50 is too smart to do something like that.
Now listen, I’ll explain this to you. Under certain circumstances when my back is against the wall, yes. But then you have a choice. To my knowledge, when your back is against the wall, either you can be victimized or you find a way out of that situation the best way you know how. I don’t say, “When I see you I’ma pop you” or “I’m gonna make it hot this summer.” I don’t say those types of things. That’s what [people] say to me. So now my antennas go up when they come around because you said that. I don’t believe you like that [but] I’ma give you the benefit of the doubt. When you do something that ain’t right, if you get hurt, you get hurt.
Cam’ron said he’s gonna make it hot this summer, right?
Yeah. I don’t know who he’s talkin’ to, like on what level? And I’m not responsible for the actions of others after you say that ’cause he doesn’t even know what heat is. ’Cause his track record and the lil’ thing that happened in D.C., that’s not heat. That’s a random incident. Heat is when you can’t come outside ’cause it’s gonna go down.
So even in this corporate environment that you’re dealing with, you’re saying you have to consider something like what Cam’ron says seriously?
You have to consider everything Cam says seriously on some level. You can brush it off, [but] then you’re not on point. You’re not paying attention. Ask me why I don’t drink. Is it because I don’t enjoy drinking? Or is it because I know drinking affects my judgment and I’ll start seeing things differently? I’ll start seeing a guy that’s staring at me because he’s intrigued by the success I’m having and he sees himself similar to me ’cause he grew up under the same circumstances [or he’s] looking at me like he might want a problem. You feel what I’m saying? There is no significance of success. The significance is coming from where I came from. I’m from the bottom.
When Cam called Hot 97 to talk to you about your Koch Records comments, you were being articulate, smart and you backed your argument up. But then he engaged you in a way that was a bit more belligerent.
My initial intention when we started that conversation wasn’t to cause an altercation. But after an altercation is caused, I have no intentions of resolving it. I don’t believe you can resolve a situation with someone you didn’t initiate. If they caused it, there’s nothing you can do on your end. You didn’t actually ask for it so it’s there. And you make it—you pound away at him with the consistency of releasing quality material ’til his ass is dust. He’s gone and everybody that surrounds him gets it in the end, too. This is why I tell him Jim Jones should be the boss of Dipset and now you see Jim Jones say he’s not fuckin’ with Cam.
Yeah, but you knew they weren’t really getting along.
I already knew the circumstances behind that ’cause I do my research. At the end of the day, [Jim Jones] is a more credible artist than Cam’ron is. You’re as hot as your last hit record. His last hit was fuckin’ “Horse & Carriage.” He’ll make comparisons to Lloyd Banks’ sales with Jimmy Jones’ sales. So what? Is my worst your best? Why are you not comparing yourself to me? Considering he’s supposed to be Dipset’s boss, while I’m supposed to be the headman for G-Unit. Maybe it’s because he sold 200,000 his last album and I sold 9.8 million.
Are you cool with Jim Jones?
I don’t have a problem with him. I think they got an idiot in the lead position. You gotta make the changes he’s making right now. I think they got some talent over there. Why would I want to destroy [Dipset] considering we have nothing going on from New York City? If it was up to me, Dipset would be hot. You just got an idiot in your frontline. You call him your leader? He just got punched in his eye. To be honest, that’s their responsibility to fix that—all of them.
Did you see Cam’s YouTube video while he was on vacation?
Yeah, he’s a fool. Why would you shoot a video from poolside [in] your little polka dot underwear? Doesn’t make sense.
What about him showing his eye to the camera?
I think he’s a fool for even showing me his eye. What are you proving? You’re showing me your eye two weeks after [you allegedly got punched]? We haven’t seen you for two weeks. You had ice on it for two weeks. [Laughs] Yo! He’s incredible, man!
Is Cam’s career over?
He’s been over. Cam had Columbia [Records] spend marketing dollars on him when he was with Untertainment. He had Def Jam spend marketing dollars when he was on Roc-A-Fella. Now he’s in a graveyard. The majors have no interest in spending money on him because they know the marketing dollars that’s spent is going to be in vain. [But] Jimmy’s done something that’s significant—he came out of the graveyard. His career started on Koch, which means he can go do his deal with the majors [and] he can go do a publishing deal. The kinda money he gon’ receive in those positions based on the success of his last project is gonna make, when he says, “ballin’,” real.
Talk about your next album after Curtis.
Before I Self Destruct. It’ll be out February 4 [and] I’m about three songs away from completing it. I’ll be done with that record and that really is my last studio requirement under my Shady/Aftermath/Interscope deal. ’Cause after that is a greatest hits record.
Will you stop rapping after that?
If I make music, it’ll be organically. It’ll be zero pressure towards releasing it in a time span. I’ll make sure everything that’s on there… I feel like this record is incredible but I’ll take [my] time. It’ll probably be like 60 or 70 records before I decide to pick 10 and then just put those 10 records out.
With so much revenue coming in from other ventures, does rapping even make sense at this point?
Well, it makes great… the energy changes when you got good music out. That’s all it’s really for. I’m in a great financial space in [my] life. I’m proud of my decisions. While people were trying to make their own alcoholic beverage and do different things, I went towards Vitamin Water. I’m health conscious. I work out. I’m actually physically training now for a boxing film, so they’ll see the difference in my physical because I’m working harder. They asked a question on 106 & Park if I took any…
Steroids or something like that?
I guess that’s a question they see when you make a physical change on any level.
Who are you training with?
With a personal trainer. He just brought me a diet supplementary card and I have a regiment. They probably can’t afford to do what I’m doing right now.
Who are they?
Other artists. I couldn’t afford to do it prior to the success, like nobody in my camp is doing what I’m doing. Nobody else in my camp has a nutritionist and a trainer and has them follow you around. You pick up a cookie, “Okay, put it down.” You see what I’m saying? Like everything possible he’s watching you like you’re doing something wrong when you’re ready to go the refrigerator.
Weren’t you trying to hook M.O.P. with something like that?
Yeah, I had M.O.P. live at my house for six months.
Is it true you were offering them a G for every pound they lost?
Yeah, M.O.P., they just ain’t after the same thing. They are a great group. They got music I’d love to put out. I’m just not going to bet on a horse that got three legs in this climate. It won’t win a race.
Did your beef with Game cause any weirdness between you and Dr. Dre?
It always did, just in my head. I’m not even sure he knows. He might read this and be surprised that I said it. But Dre didn’t voice his opinion knowing I gave Game everything that made him what he is. And that didn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter that [Dre] gave me “In Da Club.” He brought something creatively to the table that helped spawn my entire career and I respect him for it. On a higher level, Em for me is like next to my grandmother. He did things for me when I couldn’t do them myself. I needed him at that point and he actually came through for me.