I feel like you got a little personal on Aziatic, as well as affirming your stance as a legendary MC. For example, on the intro you rap, “How can I be torn from pages of history?” And on “Wanna Be There” you mention, “Open the lane up, so I can let these fuckers pay.”
Right. ‘Cause it was like, “Yo, this is a legacy we tryin’ to leave behind. Fans change and the game changes. And, the infrastructure of the business changes, but I was like, “You know what? I got to let people know I’m here to stay.” And, I think with that album, I solidified my presence. Regardless of whom or what, if I stop today, rappin’ they’ll know like, “Okay, he put his work in.”
One of the things I think that often gets unnoticed was your Grammy nod for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 45th Grammy Awards for “The Essence” with Nas. Let’s talk about how that track came about.
After Stillmatic we just locked in and do what we do all the time. That was like our eighth album we did together.
Were you two actually in the studio together recording that record?
All our songs in the studio together, as far as with me and him.
You can sort of tell because you guys share quite the chemistry on these records.
Yeah, we always in the studio together when we make our songs. I don’t think there’s no song that we ever did where we was like sendin’ it back and forth. We never did that.
What do you think it is about the two of you on a track together that just gets the critics and fans excited?
I mean we started out together. Me bein’ on his first album, like, we have that connection. We gave that feelin’; we gave that initial feelin’ to the game when we first came out. He repaid me with the same favor on my Doe or Die and then you know I was on his It Was Written, after that we did The Firm—we kept that one-two punch.
Now one of my favorite joints on Aziatic was “Fan Mail.” The record is deep, enlightening as well as introspective, but it fades out during the second verse. I know a lot of people that’s still waiting on that second verse to continue, so…
I know, right? And, that was my purpose because fan mail has never stopped; they still come. I wanted to do a part two, part three, part four, part five—
That’s like one of those sequels because I get so [much] mail from so many different perspectives and so many different people, young kids, older people, women, peers—like, you get so many different zones, I wanted to just reflect that on all my albums, but I haven’t gotten to part two; I might do that for a mixtape.
What are some of your favorite joints off the album?
Off the Aziatic album was the intro, “Once Again” that was like I expressed myself well. “Paradise (Life)”—that was crazy.
What was it about “Paradise (Life)” that made it your favorite?
I was in Cali when I recorded that. So, it was another zone. I was in another zone. I was just expressin’ my feelings. That whole album was really expressin’ myself to the 10th power to be honest. Even with “A-1 Performance,” I liked. “Wanna Be There” was definitely one of my favorite ones. Each joint was a different zone for me. Yeah.
The “I’m Back” video was dope. You took a page out of Training Day for that right?
Yeah. We did that Training Day. So that was good right there.
On a last note—one of my favorite lines on the album was, “I give niggas a reason to sweat, it’s not a test/verbally, it’s like I’m seen as the best…” So, what’s next for the Visualiza? Upcoming projects? What’s the update on Doe Or Die II?
Oh yeah. Right now, I’m puttin’ together that Doe or Die II album. I’m workin’ right now, and like I said, lyrically, I still feel I’m one of the best lyrically. I’m definitely in that conversation, my name got to be brought up and if not, I’m still gon’ make the people believers.