You’ve been working with Dr. Dre on Detox. Has he worked with you yet on your material?
Dre helped me a lot on this record. I went to Los Angeles, was working out there
for a little bit. I was working on the Detox records, right. I keep saying to Dre, I’m like, “Yo, you don’t have to invent nothing. All they want is a strong version of what you gave last time.” They need a new version of that. It’s like Sade. She goes away for six years, and then she comes back with a new disc. You go, I love this shit! It reminds you of the fuckin’ shit that she gave you before she left. There’s certain artists that have that luxury. You could go away and still be interesting enough to come for people to want to hear that effort. Dre is like that. As I’m busy telling him that, I go, “Wait, maybe I’m bugging for some of the shit that I’ve been doing.” You know what I mean?
So how do you balance that out, though? Giving people what they want, and allowing yourself to develop?
You mean “be creative.” ’Cause when it comes time… This is an even more interesting question: How do you write what reflects what you fell in love with within hip-hop culture while trying to send the right message to the audience?
Well, that’s a big question for you.
Well, for me, the music is an artistic choice. I’ll say, from the very beginning, that I can care less about a critic or how someone judges me for the actual music. You see, people understand within hip-hop culture that I’m passionate about actually trying to do something different. I want to make a change in a different way. This is about me personally feeling like I wanna mean more after I’m dead, when I’m gone.
You mean, from just being an artist?
Than just being an actual artist. I want to affect people’s lives in a positive way. When you look at entertainment for entertainment purposes, they may provide all the images we create through the music or in film, and I’ll explain it to you in a different way. All right, see, sexuality is necessary for entertainment purposes, so there’s a sex scene in films. Death is necessary in films, so you see people get killed a lot. In action films, being in life-threatening situations is entertaining, because death is our fate. If you look at the details that actually create scenarios that we identify with emotionally at different points, where you can feel emotion in actual films, we do the same thing through the music we create. Now, this actual project that I’m creating captures portions of my life from the past, portions of the new outlook that I have, after experiencing these different things. When you get a chance to step out of the bubble—that bubble would be my hood—and you see everything that goes on there doesn’t stop going on without you.
That’s a good feeling.
It feels amazing, because when I identified with that, I see that it’s the same shit. There’s always a new guy on the corner. Regardless what the police swept last week, there’s a new one to replace him. When your music doesn’t come out, there’s always 10 records on the Top 10 countdown. So I feel like I’m not necessary. Do you understand? I’m not necessary to my hood, as far as hustling or being down there, because there’s a replacement for me. I’m not necessary to music, because there’s always 10 in the Top 10 countdown. It’s not necessary for me to be there. Some people may miss me at different points, but I’m not necessary. So I feel like, when I involve myself in something, like the Street King project… It is very necessary that I’m involved there, ’cause nobody’s doing anything about it. And having the ability to partner with the World Food Programme is the presentation that I offer. They don’t take everybody who comes. You feel what I’m saying? But to them, my story’s a story of redemption.
And this all comes back to your music how?
’Cause you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. All of the real talented artists, the artists I respect, it’s the first CD. They’ll tell you Nas’s Illmatic, they’ll tell you Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, they’ll tell you 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’. You see what I’m saying? The giants play in New York, still, nah mean?
There’s also Lil Wayne.
He’s turning into 50 Cent. He’s going through that process of being successful, ’til people go, “You know what? Get the fuck outta here. We don’t want you here no more.” Because you’re successful.
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