Black Rob signed with Bad Boy Records in the late '90s, adding his name to an impressive roster that included Ma$e, The Lox, and Puff Daddy. After the tragic death of the label’s signature star, the Notorious B.I.G., Rob and the rest of Bad Boy kept the label alive with a slew of hit records including Rob's smash “Woah.”

After BR’s debut album, Life Story, dropped in 2000, the spitter became sidetracked with legal problems which landed him a five-year sentence for a 2004 grand larceny charge.

Having been home for a year now and off parole, the former Bad Boy is ready to get back in the studio and record his junior effort, Game Tested, Street Approved, which drops on July 26 through Duck Down. caught up with the Harlem native to speak about his troubled past, the Bad Boy days and his return to music. Nicole LoPresti How does it feel getting back in the studio for Game Tested, Street Approved?

Black Rob: The process was a little different 'cause it's not on a major label but it took the same time. It was more like us putting a bunch of songs together. There’s not a lot of Bad Boy stuff on there. It’s something totally different.

When you say "different from the Bad Boy days," what do you mean?

This is just me and how I am feeling. I don’t have to answer to anyone. I just feel everything I’m saying right now is really relevant. And I can do whatever I want with my music. I address some real shit.

What are some of the things you talk about on the album?

I mean, I dib and dab in the Bad Boy subject but I’m not pin-pointing anyone. If the shoe fits wear it. I’m not trying to cause a war 'cause it’s not even worth it. I feel like at the end of the day I'ma be BR regardless of Puffy and Duck down.

So, is there a beef with Bad Boy?

There was never a beef. There was a misunderstanding. [If] they want it to be a beef, that’s for the critics to say. People that know Puff, know me. It’s never gonna be no beef cause we grown men and it would come to a head. I had to clear the air.

The air is cleared then? Things with you and Diddy are cool?

Yeah, everything is AG with me and Puff.

Do you have any appearances by your Bad Boy family on this album?

Buckwild. Pete Rock. Erick Sermon. People that followed my career and really help me make records. I’m not dealing with too many new guys. I can’t really say any [other] names right now but I got them on there.

Your lead single off Game Tested, Street Approved is “Make It in New York.” What does it mean to you to make it in New York?

To make it in New York means when you can get your family out of here. If you’re coming around the hood visiting then you made it.

Now that you’re on Duck Down, do you ever miss the Bad Boy days or are you over it?

I mean, you could never get over it. You can ask any artist that is 70 years old why they still do it and it’s because they love the fans and they love the hype. I could never feel over it but I do feel like it was time for a change. Who knows, there is still a card sitting for me on the table at Bad Boy. It’s a win-win situation. I’m a grown man, only kids sit down and think about hatred. I did the hatred thing back in the day. It’s time to rise up and that’s what I do.