Four years. That’s how long it’s been since Harlem spitter Vado first emerged on the scene alongside fellow Uptown mainstay Cam’Ron for the twosome’s Boss of All Bosses tag-team mixtape in 2009. It was from there that the rapper, under Cam’s guidance, transformed from the latter’s trusty mixtape sidekick to a leader of New York’s new wave—performing on Summer Jam’s mainstage, releasing a respectable offering in Slime Flu and signing a deal with Interscope—all in the span of a year and a half. The young Slime was quickly championed as the next to blow out of the city. However, after 2011’s lukewarm Slime Flu 2, things stalled, leaving many wondering if V-Don would ever recapture the momentum he fostered following joints like “Speakin’ Tungs,” “Hey Muma” and more.

Now off hiatus and back on his grizzly, Vado is ready for his proper re-introduction, and plans to deliver that with the threequel to his Slime Flu series, Slime Flu 3.  This time riding for dolo, V-12 proves that he’s “back and coming hard, like I never left.” Speaking to XXL, Vado touches on his Interscope deal, his relationship with Cam’Ron, Slime Flu 3 and more.—Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)

XXL: Last we heard from you, you signed that Interscope deal. Soon after things got quiet.

The Interscope deal, if you want me to be honest with you, I feel like I shouldn’t have even went all the way to the West Coast. I feel I should’ve stayed grounded with the New York labels. They understand and know me so they know how to handle me, they know what to do. You go all the way over there; they don’t know what’s going on. So now, I gotta fix everything up and I gotta work with their music. It was just a whole big difference to the point that I had to ask for my walking papers.

Just like that, you were able to leave Interscope?

Yeah. They were really under construction over there anyway so, they were like, Aight well here you go; you’re welcome to leave. I’d rather leave on that note than getting dropped or something.

So contrary to the rumors, you weren’t dropped from the label.

Never. I was never dropped. They gave me too much money. I walked off. They gave me the opportunity to leave so I left. They [weren’t] helping me in no shape or form. For example, with Chief Keef, they just threw his album out there without even building it or nothing. Interscope is the type where you just got to do it on your own. So you know like, TDE is helping Kendrick, Game is doing everything on his own, from getting the features and beats and putting it out on his own, so it’s sort of like play at your own risk over there. So I had to get back over here. I’m not over there on the West, I’m over here with people that’s seen me grow up at these labels. This is where I wanna be and they want me here.

So at the end of the day, did the whole Interscope situation become a learning experience for you?

Yeah, most definitely. As far as for the haters, good talents like me can’t be off the market for too long. You’ll hear eventually, trust me.

After your emergence on the scene, new talent started coming out of Harlem left and right. Most notably, A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob.

I respect A$AP honestly because, he came under us, and when I say “under us,” I mean Most Hated, he’s from Harlem. A$AP Ferg, he’s from Harlem. So they seen how we came up, the same way we seen Children of the Corn came up—when they were just doing talent shows and just doing stuff in Harlem, but we knew about them so they knew about us as far as me, Jae Millz, Charlie Clips and etc. When I finally got on, I’m sure it was definitely a motivation but they always was doing what they had to do.

Now on this hiatus of yours, many began counting you out as far as your position as one of NY’s rising talents. Did that affect you in any way?

They just wanted to know what was going on with me. At the end of the day this life comes with a lot, it’s not just music. You gotta have your business right, your family tight, and to be honest, everything wasn’t right but the music. Only thing [that] was right was the music. So I had to handle other things and went through that process of getting everything else situated. Everything is tight now so now it’s just back to work.

It seems you’ve still got a lot of fan support even after your break, which is often unlikely for new artists.

It’s real; they can’t leave what’s real. Real never gets sold. If I don’t come out for a minute and I come back with something, you’re gonna wanna hear it ’cause you know what he kickin’ gonna be some real shit. You know it’s gonna give you goosebumps ’cause its gonna be something that you probably go through day-to-day in the hood. So, you want to hear that anyway. It’s kind of like, every time you hear ’Kiss or Jeezy—they gonna give you goose bumps because its day-to-day stuff that they talking about.