So you’re measuring yourself against other crews?
PILL: Everybody ain’t as solid as us. Not to say any names, but niggas ain’t as solid as Maybach Music. Us three alone, not to mention Rozay—add all that in the pot. Gunplay murders shit, Torch, even our R&B side, Teedra Moses and Masspike Miles!
MEEK: We all doing what we gotta do: making money. Niggas just don’t make up reasons to fall out with nobody or shit like that. ’Cause nine times out of 10, you doing you. Every time we run across each other, it’s about something good, not negative shit.
WALE: And, to me, when I hear “Ima Boss” in the club, that’s my song then, too. When he hear “That Way,” that’s his. When I hear “Pacman”—nigga, I thought I was Pill in Atlanta! We did a show out there. I couldn’t fight it. I almost bumped this nigga out the way to perform the song!
What were you each missing individually that joining MMG resolved?
PILL: Me, personally, being able to get a mainstream look. Like, I never got 106 & Park. Although I had MTV and magazines, I never had 106 & Park.
WALE: That’s hood rich.
PILL: I was in The New York Times and Creative Loafing, and it still wasn’t, like, 106. That was, like, the stamp. And to be a part of a project that was in stores, that felt great. That gave me a boost, because I didn’t know when I would be able to get something to retail. That was the one thing I was missing: Could I sell some records? I know I can drop these mixtapes, and I’m working on my project. But there’s always that question in the back of your mind: Can I actually sell? I know my shit is over a million downloads. And I’m like, Damn, I wish that amount of people would actually support. But there’s been projects where I’m on just one song and that did well. I want to know how it would do with me on a bunch of shit. A project with all of us combined [Self Made, Vol. 1], we had a No. 1 album.
I never been on a No. 1 album before. I never imagined I could be on a No. 1 album. I hoped and I wished and I prayed that one day
I could. But we about to have some plaques in a minute.
Meek, a lot of talented Philly rappers make noise but never break out, but now you’re getting the look.
MEEK: Ross gave me the opportunity. You know how when you’re underground, you say, “I know if people in the world hear me, they gonna fuck with my shit.” And Ross gave me a chance to take it to the next level, and put me in that space. And people are actually fuckin’ with it. Ross put me in the space where I can get the listeners I need. The light he got us in, if you fumble this, you dropped the rock.
Wale, you put out an album before, in 2009, on Interscope Records. You’re a part of Warner Music Group. Is it any different for you?
WALE: I try to share with these niggas all the time. Like I told J. Cole—that’s a great friend of mine—I don’t want you to go through what I went through. If I smell something that don’t seem right, I’m gonna tell you. Like, “My nigga, this is what it is, and this is what’s about to happen.”
I don’t give a fuck. I want Meek to do a gazillion times more than what I did my first album. I don’t want him to go through that shit. I don’t want Pill to go through that shit. Rozay don’t want them to go through that shit. Do you know Rozay’s story, for real? He was signed here, here, there, there and couldn’t get it right. It’s almost identical to me. I was fortunate to be so young coming in. I got my first record deal when I was 22. I don’t want them to go through that. And furthermore, Pucci [Gucci Pucci, Ross’s manager and the general manager of MMG] and them know the game so well, they tell us. And I love that about our crew.
There’s an added dimension to your camaraderie, since you three are all former XXL Freshman picks. Do you talk about that?
WALE: I actually thought about it today, for real. I kind of thought about it, because we here doing this roundtable.
MEEK: Wale always would tell me, “Out of that cover, you know there’s only gonna be two, three people that make it.”
WALE: It’s true! That 28K first week, I had to crawl back. I almost didn’t make it. I’m fighting. And that’s what I see with these niggas every day.
MEEK: I told them at the [Freshmen] interview, I said, “We all cool, but I’m about to murder you all.”
WALE: And they probably thought you were crazy. But that’s passion. Not to say everyone isn’t grinding. But it’s like natural selection. That comes from hustle. It’s not even how good your music is sometimes. There’s a lot of niggas that, if they had the opportunity, they might be in this conversation. A lot of it has to do with timing. I say this in every interview: Meek is someone that got a shot and fuckin’ took that bitch to the moon.
PILL: We all trying to do that.
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