On Performing Old Material
I sing all my old classics like I just dropped them. ["Can’t Stop Won’t Stop"] was nominated for a Grammy right there. That’s me—that’s a part of me. When we perform, I like to go from the old to the new or the new to the old. If I’m out there by myself, I might have Neef as a guest and bring him out to play some old joints. You got your new fans and then you got your core fans that still want to hear that.
On The Different Mindsets of Recording
Tough Luv had 17 [songs], and on Brothers from Another we had 12. On Tough Luv, we was in the basement recording it with Chad ‘Wes’ [Hamilton]; he had nine records on there so I always make sure to mention him. We did the body work with Chad. Jay always said, “When you start, work with Chad. Do what you do and make that body and then you go for the hit records.” We was in the jungle on Tough Love.
Brothers from Another was recorded on the road. We were on tour with Jay and after every show we were going to the hotel to record our shit. We were partying, going to after parties and hanging with girls, so that explains the difference in the albums. It was just the space we were in while we were recording. The environment that surrounds you has a lot to do with not only your music, but you as an individual. I’m back in the jungle for Vital Signs. Street shit.
On Being In Label Limbo
I was at Division One/Universal, and then Rico left Universal and the way my deal was structured, I was a free agent immediately. I waited about 10 [or] 12 months before I made a move and came over to E1. And I actually had a heart to heart with Rico, and he was 500 percent behind it.
That’s why it took a little longer. I was ready to go. I got joints right now—had 14, 15 records. I was ready to bomb, but [Rico leaving Universal] put it dead. After that, it was like, if we’re dropping it, we’re just dropping it ourselves—it’s not really an official album. I was a free agent again, and we just had to wait for the best position. [My situation with E1] is a setup for another situation. As of right now, I’m just focused on this. E1 came up with the idea for an EP, and I agreed because I felt I had to create that awareness. It’s my first baby.
On “I’m Alive”
I was down in Miami working with Rico Love; this is one of the first records I recorded. I remember coming back in the studio and hearing for the first time, and it was just like, “Yo, this shit is so hip-hop. They need to hear it from me.” Everybody know I can make the female records, [and] they all know we can make the rap records. But I felt like it was important for me to deliver to my core fans before I jump out the window and go straight to the radio. That explains why “I’m Alive” was released first. It’s my life; it ain’t hard. When you’re telling your story, it’s authentic. [It’s about] being out of the game, left for dead, just surviving in the streets of Philly.