It’s three weeks after the murder of Byrdgang member Stack Bundles and Hell Rell is returning home after a trip from Miami. “There was a lot of things going on in the city,” says the Bronx native. “I just needed to clear my head, get my thoughts together and be around some tropical weather.” Besides providing a relaxing time in the sun, the escape to Florida was productive as Ruger Rell was able to put the finishing touches on his debut album, For the Hell of It. Set to be released on Koch/Diplomat Records this September, the LP has been in the works ever since Rell made his first lyrical appearance on The Diplomat’s 2003 release, Diplomatic Immunity. Featured on several key tracks, the Dipset enforcer’s vocals were actually recorded over the phone while he was serving a two-year bid on drug related charges. Upon his release in August ’03, the self-proclaimed “hardest out” appeared on various Dipset albums before releasing his own batch of mixtapes, including Streets Wanna Know (2005), Hell On Earth (2006), New Gun In Town (2006) and Eat With Me or Eat a Box of Bullets (2007). Now, after four long years, For The Hell Of It is only two months away. The album, which is largely produced by Dame Grease, features guest appearances by the Dipset family, Styles P and Young Dro. XXLMag.com talks with Hell Rell about his long-awaited album, his criminal past and the alleged feud between Jim Jones and Cam’ron.
For the Hell of It is finally coming out in September. What’s been the holdup?
A lot of politics and bullshit [with] the labels and shit like that. But it’s just to buildup [the] anticipation. I could’ve came out anytime I wanted. I don’t want anybody to think somebody was holdin’ me up. It’s all about timing, man. I didn’t want to come out and do 20-30,000 my first week, as opposed to be coming out with a big single and doing a 100,000.
What can fans expect on the album?
If you’re familiar with my music, you know I keep it street [and] hood. I’m the poster child for the have-nots—the million people across America who grew up without shit. I’m just a voice for those people. Whatever bullshit you went through in your life, you can definitely relate to it on my album.
Do you feel like you’re brand of aggressive music will have a hard time crossing over?
White America is buying this gangsta shit. They love it! If you look at the history of record sales with gangsta music, it’s tremendous. Look at N.W.A, Death Row [and] G-Unit. 50 Cent puts out gangsta music and sells millions and millions of records. Even though the singles might not be gangsta, the rest of the album is shoot ’em up, bang, bang. It’s not just the singles selling these records. If you have a story to tell, whether you’re lying or not, people wanna hear it. This shit fascinates White America. So if y’all are feelin’ me just for doing For The Hell of It, then when I actually put my mind to this shit, and get on my artist shit, these niggas got a problem.
If people love a story, how come you don’t glorify your criminal record in your music?
‘Cause it’s real. I’m not trying to sell my story. You can look my story up on [the] department of corrections [website]. It’s public information. It’s not like I have to run around glorifying being in gangs or being in jail. You gonna hear it in the music, but I’m not gonna glorify it. I’m telling a story, I’m not selling it, and there’s a difference.
What drew you to the streets at a young age?
I always wanted to be a rapper ever since Big Daddy Kane. It’s something about that swag. I just never took it seriously, as far as trying to get a deal. But [in] my neighborhood, I had to go according to the rules and regulations my neighborhood laid down for me. It was either take a pack and hustle or don’t look fly. It was either rob this dude or you ain’t have school clothes for the next year. Those were the rules that were laid down for me in my hood.
At the time, did you understand that those “rules” could potentially lead to jail?
I knew I was on a one-way ticket to hell. I just didn’t have no guidance. It’s like when you know your doing something bad for you and you still do it anyway. I knew where I was heading; I just didn’t give a fuck at the time.
Do you regret any of it all?
Nah, hell no! I wouldn’t be the man that I am today. If I had to go down the road and do it all again, I’d do it the same. From experience comes knowledge.
Was it tough to watch Dipset blow up while you were locked up?
Honestly, I didn’t get a chance to see the effect of it because I was in prison. There was no face to the Hell Rell voice that was on Diplomatic Immunity. When dudes would come fresh off the street [to jail], I’d be like, “What’s the hottest music out there?” They’d be like, “Yo, the Diplomats just signed this new kid called Hell Rell. He’s spittin’ over the phone—he’s hot.” They don’t even know I’m Hell Rell. So I went through the identity crisis in jail ’cause there wasn’t no visual to the voice. So a lot of people was coming in telling me I’m the hottest dude in the streets and didn’t even know who I was. [Laughs] So that was kinda irking me like, “Damn, they don’t even know who I am.”
Was there ever any jealously in jail when people found out you were Hell Rell?
Of course there was jealousy! You got people in there doing 50 to life, who ain’t never coming home. So to know I’m going home to that type of situation created jealously and envy. But 90 percent of the rap game is dudes who ain’t really rappin’ about what they live. So when I got my deal, all the gangstas and the hustlers were like, “Yeah, finally somebody who’s really one of us made it.” I used to laugh at rappers. All of the rappers that’s from New York, I was in jail with all the real official gangstas from their neighborhood. If you from the realest projects, whoever was locked up from there, I did time with [them]. So when we see these dudes on TV, we would laugh at them. The murderers and drug dealers from their neighborhood would be like, “I know lil’ such-and-such, he ain’t no tough guy, he lyin’.” So I always had the inside scoop on all the rappers who thought they was tough. So that’s why I didn’t really like New York rap like that ’cause I felt like they were lying to me. I knew all the gangstas from their neighborhood.
With Jimmy and Cam feuding, what’s the status of Dipset right now?
At the end of the day, we’re all brothers, we’re all family [and] there’s no break ups. Cam and Jim are both bosses of Dipset and they’ve known each other since they were three years old. Anybody to get into the mix of that [is a] fool. I would never even fix my mouth to say anything wrong or attempt to say anything wrong pertaining to either one of them. Both of them had a tremendous impact on my life. I was drowning in the ocean and Cam came and threw me a lifesaver and Jim helped me on board. So I would never say anything to discredit both of them.
Check out some tracks from Rell’s new mixtape, Eat With Me or Eat a Box of Bullets, which is in stores now.
“Streets Keep Callin Me”
“I’m The Shit (Remix)”
“Send Some Shooters”
“I Ain’t Playin’ With ‘Em”