You and I spoke in 2007 when you and Timbaland landed the cover of SCRATCH Magazine and you were talking about Before I Self Destruct, you said you had a dozen songs finished way back then.
When we did the SCRATCH interview, before that [is when] I started working on this album. But when you say a dozen songs it was about 12 two-verse records.
So they were works in progress; blueprints so to speak?
Right. Then what I did was, a lot of the material, I changed production. Conceptually I wrote the same song in a different way. It was the same concept of songs in a different way. I couldn’t put the two songs on one album because they are conveying the same message, so I had to pick which ones I wanted to present to the public.
But you’re not giving us 2007 material right?
No its not, but the concept of what’s being conveyed in the actual music is well thought about. When you buy music from Eminem and Dr. Dre the least amount of time you hearing was something that was worked on for months; 5-6 months at a minimum. They can spend that long. They don’t spend that long actually on each song. Em could make material a year ago and be putting it out right now and generate interest because he’s been gone two years. If you listen to Hip-hop right now, there isn’t a lot of interesting things goin’ on. I look at it and I don’t even see—like I could still see things from a fan’s perspective, or at least I’d like to think I could still see it from that perspective, but there is no music out that makes me feel like “Damn I wish I made that record.” “I Get Money,” was one of those records that every rapper wish they had.
I make those records that I think Hip-hop artist would generally wish that they would’ve made that or say, “If I had that [beat], I would’ve gotten busy on that.” It may not actually be what I’m sayin’, it may be the production.
So there isn’t another record since Curtis that you’ve heard and wished you had that?
Nah, I can pass. There was good music that came out, but not stuff that made me feel like “I wish I had that.”
Not even “A Milli”?
Nah. I mean it’s a good song. That “A Milli” song is a good record; but it didn’t feel like that to me. There wasn’t enough melody in the production of that record to make me feel like that, because the record was repetitive goin’, “A milli, a milli, a milli.” It wasn’t melodic enough for me to feel that way about it. I actually didn’t understand that record at first. I didn’t understand why people where excited about it. When an artist has momentum then the public will give anything that he presents to them a shot and the system will support it 100 percent. And if people are conditioned at the moment to feel like what he’s giving is good, they’ll go for it.
Have you ever put any thought into ghost writing hit records for other artists?
I won’t give my material away anymore.
It’s not exactly giving it away, I’m sure your services don’t come cheap.
Yeah, but even if I make a profit off of it, I won’t do it anymore. If it ain’t something that I’m passionate about and wanna be on it, I’ll leave it playin’ in my house. I’ve created people’s entire careers based on me doin’ that and they give me their ass to kiss.
You mean The Game?
That, Buck’s project. And Game’s not really a big problem, he’s not a person I have a big passion for, because I don’t even know him. I learned him after the fall out. I’ve only worked with Game six days, because I wrote everything that he used [on his album] before he got there. He was in the studio for a year with Dre before I got there. They had time to establish some type of relationship.
Kinda like you and Jam Master Jay?
People ask who was the most influential person in my career and I say Jam Master Jay was for being around in my infant stages. Of course he had his own personal gain in mind, I was an artist, I was an investment at that point. Without putting actual money into me, his time was the biggest investment. He was around me while I was developing my song structure. I could rhyme. The artist that you look at in Fight Klub they are some dope rappers. I look at them like their punch lines are crazy. Tell them to write a song and they can’t write a song to save their fuckin’ life.
Canibus was a talented writer; LL’s consistency destroyed him. Canibus is somewhere writing a really good verse right now.
Yeah a verse!
He’s always delivered those songs. If you look at Game, Game is a talented rapper; he’s not a good songwriter. If you throw him on a track like “One Blood” that got the chorus built-in, he’ll deliver. He just delivered with Lil Wayne on “My life.” But tell him to write that song himself, he’s gonna write “Strip Club,” when he used to be a stripper and it’s not gonna connect to the public.
The G-Unit roster was flooded at one point. Now it seems you’ve scaled back drastically. Why?
It’s just like every other company that you seen. You remember No Limit? You remember how many people were a part of No Limit? Remember Cash Money? Remember how many artists were there? Remember Bad Boy? Remember Death Row? It’s happened before; it’s not something that’s new. You get people that develop their own direction in life; they wanna go to different spaces and be in a different position.
So are you ever going to look to add new artists to G-Unit?
Yeah, I mean when you can identify with someone else’s talent and have earned enough credibility for another company to grant you a subsidiary position of course I’m gonna—ya know find the right thing. It’s interesting even [XXL’s 10 Freshman cover] is a reflection of the climate.
We’d like to think so. Is it true that you’re looking to sign Cory Gunz?
Well you know I’ve met with his father a while ago. But I haven’t actually considered signing Cory. Yayo decided to work with him and Ransom on “Shoot A Nigga’s Face Off.” I think he’s a talented writer. I’m not sure they’ll buy the real aggressive stuff from him if there is no Tony Yayo or Ransom; but he can write that as well if not better than a lot of artists. Think about this, you got a lot talented writers out there. You have people that won’t ever get a shot that got it right now. The problem with hip-hop music is they’ve seen it simplified to the point where everyone thinks that they can do it, so when people look at you they just don’t enjoy themselves. They’re watching from a critic’s perspective.
Because they feel like they deserve that spot.
Right. And there it goes. So you got the general public telling you how you should do it when you should actually be the expert. I sold over 36 million records, so who the fucking expert? Me I’m the expert. -Rob Markman