XXLMag: What’s good with the label situation ? Have you decided who’s gonna release the project?
Royce Da 5’9″: We’re not really at that point yet. We wanna record a lot more of the joint and then start shopping. There’s been a lot of people calling and asking questions, but I think they all wanna see can we take it further than just one record with us all rhyming verses in a row. There’s a lot of excitement and everybody’s talking, but I think they wanna see can we make this shit materialize because so many other people have cried wolf with this type of situation. But it’s definitely gonna be on a major.
XXL: Musically, will this just be an album of everybody spitting their dopest lines bar for bar or will there be concepts behind the songs and more of a balanced offering?
Joe Budden: Oh there’s gonna be balance. Because automatically, when you put us together, a lot of people are going to think it’s just going to be a bunch of rambling and braggadocio, metaphors, similes, slick talking…fuck that. That’s where the challenge comes in for the four of us. We already know that we’re dope individually, and on paper it says we should be dope together. But the goal is to do something different, something people don’t expect. I don’t think people are expecting us to get in there and just do some crazy conceptual stories. There’s just so many things you can do.
Joell Ortiz: You can expect a rap record. Not just four dudes on a CD rhyming, definitely not. I would not have agreed to this if I thought it would be anything like that. This is definitely four collective minds coming together to try to stop the questions like ‘How do you feel about hip-hop?’ This album, in my opinion, should stop all of those questions. This album will sound like what hip-hop could be if niggas stop gearing records at clubs and gearing records at radio. This shit should be fucking astounding.
XXL: With so much talent in one group, is there an atmosphere of friendly competition in the group, like are you always trying to one-up each other on joints?
Ortiz: Of course when you’re dealing with real MCs there’s competitiveness. No matter how much we do these interviews as a group, niggas [individually] still feel like they the best. We don’t have any yes men. But it [ain't] nothing that hinders the work, it only makes the songs better.
Royce: That’s exactly what it is. We stay at each other. The type of comments that get made [amongst each other] are like ‘Wait, hold on, don’t write too fast now. You know I’m gonna put my foot in yo ass.’ That’s Joey all day. ‘I’m tearing all three of you niggas a new asshole.’ That’s him. Then Ortiz is snapping right back at him. I’m not as competitive with those guys as they are each other, cause whoever’s gonna like me is gonna like me. But Joe’s always trying to spank everybody but at the end of the day, he ain’t spank nobody yet [laughs]. Then the beauty if it is you get all of these different styles on one beat. That’s what makes it powerful.
Budden: It may appear that way, but I don’t go the hardest [laughs]. I definitely do try to keep the competitive spirit up. When you’re dealing with MCs of this caliber, it’s very easy to fall back and rely on strictly talent and not really apply yourself. So, I like to talk shit…A lot of times it might appear like I’m being an asshole but all I’m doing is making sure everybody’s going to go in as hard as I’m gonna go. But I don’t know if I’m the asshole [laughs]. But as much shit as I talk, I’m really trying to learn from these guys.
Crooked I: I’m a perfectionist, man. I compete with myself. There’s nothing worst than coming out of the booth and being like ‘Yo, that shit was garbage.’ I’m not really thinking that Royce has a hotter 16 on this song than I do. I’m more mad that this song doesn’t sound better than the last.
XXL: With this being such a big project, the beats have to be just as big and just as hard. How are you guys going about developing a sound for the album from a production standpoint ?
Ortiz: Well, Red Spyda has been recruited to do a lot of the beats. But I really don’t wanna trip over who. The word who really bugs me when it comes to beats. That’s part of our M.O. We don’t care about the names of any producers. I want regular ass 19 or 20-year-old kids to submit beats on the internet. If it’s nice, let’s go. We don’t want this to be about a name. Don’t get me wrong, if one of these bigger producers submit something that’s heat, we’ll run with it. But I don’t want people to hear the CD and turn it over to see who [produced the song], I want them to be like ‘did you just hear that shit?’ I wanna give opportunities to anybody, any underdog, who’s making beats in the basement that they know is crack, send them in. We giving everybody a fair shot. This is a misfit project. This is a rebel project, something totally to the left. It’s about the music and nothing else. No industry shit.-Anthony Roberts