So you’re the million-selling man. Were you surprised at the fi rst-week success of Tha Carter III, or were you expecting numbers like that?
Oh no, never. No, we wasn’t expecting it. No way planning for it. It was a surprise to us just like it was to everyone else. [Yet,] I wasn’t too surprised, ’cause you know, I am the person we are talking about; so my confi dence and motivation and all that stuff should be up to par. I should expect nothing less than great, because that’s how hard I work and that’s what I put into it. It wasn’t that surprising, but it was overwhelming nevertheless.
What do you mean by overwhelming?
Well, you know. It’s just like, saying you have a million dollars in the bank. But somebody putting that million dollars in front of you in all cash—it’s a big difference. That’s what it felt like.
It really shows you, and gives you a personal sense of your hardwork, when you see them checks and what the numbers say on that. That’s when you know, Yeah, I’ve been working hard and I deserve this… But to show you that real progress that you’ve done something is when you walk into that office and the name say “Carter” on the door.
Seems like you’ve stepped up the business side of your career lately. You’d always been the young prince of Cash Money; then you were named president; then you got your own label. Are you focusing more on that side of things lately, as opposed to just the music?
Of course. I’m growing. The money make you do it. That’s how you can tell a person that’s getting real money. ’Cause you just can’t be receiving no two, three, four, five million dollars every single time, and not acting and carrying yourself and showing that you are not into your business. That automatically puts you into your business side. ’Cause hey, my business is making three and four million a month. So I need to know what’s really going on. That’s the way that you spot somebody making some real money in this shit. They can say what they say on a song. That’s fine. And you do have enough money to buy you a nice house and nice car or take a woman out to where you want to. But do you have enough money for your future? Do you know where you stand in 10 years? Even if I die tomorrow, I do…
When the rest of the Hot Boys crew left Cash Money, they said it was for money reasons, that they were doing what they had to protect their future. Did you start to look at your own situation differently at that time?
Nah, I ain’t even gonna front, I never looked at anything different at that time. I actually had to bear a whole lot more responsibilities; so I had no time to fi gure, Okay, if they doing… You not rocking with them; stick to what you rocking with. My focus was on, Keep doing me.
What was that time like for you, as far as feeling pressure?
None. Not at all. I mean, I was still young. But at that time, I was younger, ambitious, ready—and felt like it been my turn. So there were no thoughts or emotions that went into it. It was basically what I been waiting to do. It was unfortunate that they left, but it was just my time.
Do you see that time as one when you advanced lyrically? Like, going beyond just “bling bling” stuff to really saying something. Where do you feel you took that turning point lyrically? Some
people mention the “Soldier” remix from 2005. Was it earlier?
I feel I took that turning point from the day that I started rhyming, ’cause when I got with Cash Money—and you can ask them—I rapped those songs ’cause they made me rap like that. They used to do interviews and say that Wayne is the most un–New Orleans, New Orleans nigga. Baby used to stay saying Wayne is better walking around in some Timbs and a backpack. ’Cause they favorite rappers was Soulja Slim, D.O.C.