I heard you’re upset about the 50 Cent Rolling Stone article.
That upset me because I love Jam Master Jay. Why would 50, on the cover of Rolling Stone, in his feature article, have a sidebar that implicates me in the murder of Jay, when that couldn’t be further from the truth? Jay is a loved dude. I’m from Hollis, Queens. I don’t want my name near his in association with his death, because I love that guy. I’m from Hollis, this nigga influenced my life. Niggas is running they mouth and saying that I had something to do, or Murder Inc. had something to do, with that. That’s crazy. “Jay never wanted me around Murder Inc. He said leave them guys alone.” Who’s saying that, yo? It’s a dry snitch. And I’ma tell you, this is a guy that lost his mother. This is a guy that got shot. He’s a motherless child. “Fuck the world…” See what I’m saying? The mentality. Look at the songs, his whole image. I don’t give a fuck what the hood thinks, fuck them. Everyone trying to say he’s the new ’Pac. Nah. You not the new ’Pac, dog. ’Cause ’Pac had morals and honor. He was about something. This nigga ain’t about nothing. He’s stirring up bullshit beef. ’Pac was about something. He was about uplifting his people, about doing something for Black people. He was a Black hero. No one is ’Pac. Ja ain’t ’Pac. 50 ain’t ’Pac. Nobody will ever be ’Pac.
Many people believe Ja wants to be 2Pac.
Listen, Ja ain’t never want to be 2Pac. Ja cannot change his physical appearance. The guy doesn’t work out or nothing, yet he’s still cut up. Everybody wears bandanas, it’s a hip-hop thing. We love and respect ’Pac just like everyone else. I’ma openly say: I sampled ’Pac’s music because of my love for the nigga. And when I sample his shit, his mama gets paid. I love ’Pac. I love that nigga with a passion, ’cause his music ran through me. But the nigga wasn’t just about beef, the nigga was deep. That beef shit, that wasn’t what ’Pac was about. He was about Black people. His moms was a Panther. He was about Black people. Listen to his records, man!
What are your feelings on Eminem’s success? Do you subscribe to the Benzino theory that Eminem’s success—as a White person—is bad for hip-hop?
No. I think anytime that somebody is rhyming and sells that many records, it’s good for hip-hop because it exposes it to a wider, broader audience that may not have listened to hip-hop before. But because he sells so many records, there’s a lot of dick-riding of Eminem, in my opinion. I’ma pose a question: I didn’t see 8 Mile in the movies, because it was sold out everywhere. But I seen it when I flew overseas. They was talking “Oscar-worthy.” When I look at 8 Mile, I think it’s Krush Groove. It’s a story of a guy coming up and trying to get on in hip-hop music. That’s what Krush Groove was about. Why didn’t Run get “Oscar-worthy” nominations when he did Krush Groove? But Eminem does? It’s definitely a racist thing. The cracker got it good, because when I hear “Lose Yourself,” it sounds like backpack rap.
You really don’t see dude’s talent? He’s probably the best rapper in the game.
That’s bullshit! I can’t ride with that at all. I mean, he’s clever with his shit, but… Maybe it’s reverse racism that I’m doing right now. Maybe I can’t personally feel him, ’cause I’m a nigga. And the shit that I’m going through is because I’m a nigga. I may go to jail because I’m a nigga and I won’t turn my back on my niggas. So if you want to talk about Eminem, I don’t give a fuck about the little cracker, because he can’t feel my pain. And one word of advice I’ma give him is: Dog, this isn’t ’NSync. When you talking about the Inc., you talking about a lot of niggas that came home from jail, doing 10, 15 years that pledge Murder Inc. This ain’t ’NSync, dog. As I say that—and it’s a very serious thing—I don’t want no problems.
The kids on 106 & Park were hating on your new video. Did that surprise you?
The kids are naive. They don’t really understand. They’re caught up in the whole beef thing. And it’s kinda sad that people don’t give an artist a chance to elevate. As soon as Jay got to a certain point, they’re like, “He’s not like Reasonable Doubt anymore.” When I came out, X had just came out, so I got the whole “He’s trying to be like X” thing. I looked around at what else was going on in the industry. Jay—he’s doing the flossy thing. I can’t come out and be Mr. Flossy. They’re gonna say, “Oh, he’s trying to be Jay.” So I carved my own lane. I go and I made records that I feel were very much needed in the industry at the time. Records that nobody had the balls to make. Realistically. Nobody wanted to step up and talk about a relationship, or how much they could care for their woman or whatever. Nobody wanted to talk about that, because you wouldn’t be a “player” then. So while everybody’s doing the flossy player pimp shit, and everybody’s being too gangster to love their woman, I stood there and took a very daring, risky move and said, “Put It On Me.” And it worked. The women embraced it and the niggas couldn’t front on it.
But even back then people were getting at you for singing so much…
I didn’t care. I felt I was making good records. And not only was I making good records, but you have to look at the content of the records that I made. When you hear me on muthafuckin’ “Ain’t It Funny”—how many rappers do you know that would’ve gotten on a record with Jennifer Lopez—one of the biggest stars in the world—and said, “It must be the ass!” They wouldn’t have did it. A lot of niggas wouldn’t have did it. A lot of niggas wouldn’t have wrote the N-word for Jennifer Lopez to say on fuckin “I’m Real.” Niggas ain’t risk-takers in this game. The industry is full of followers. They curled up under this nigga 50 and rode his nuts. That’s what kills me about the backlash. Muthafuckas wasn’t even man enough—or woman enough, or whatever—to stand up and say, “You know what? I’m tired of Murder Inc. Fuck Ja.” They crawled up under 50 and said, “I’m with him.” There’s no loyalty. You see it all the time: a nigga come up with a nigga and then he leaves the nigga. Look at how long I’ve been with Gotti. That’s what the fuck I’m talking about. You think me and Gotti haven’t had our differences over the years? Yeah, but we real niggas. I love that nigga and he love me and we’ve been together for a conception of this shit. And nigga, we gonna die together with this shit—together.
You and Gotti have made millions together. And your wife’s about to have your third child. Why risk your life over some rap beef?
I mean, it’s life. I see things very different. I see life for what it is. God got a big plan for everybody on this Earth. Mines, I don’t know what it is. But I know he points me in the direction that I need to go. And it’s like, this is the field I have to walk through right now. This is the field of fire. So what. I’ve walked through a whole lot of other paths and I’ve been down this path before. I’m a nigga to the heart. And I’m gonna struggle ’til I die, no matter how much money I got. That’s the struggle of Black people. I got other businesses, I got artists. There’s a lot of other things I could do besides wanting to slap Eminem and punch 50 in the face. There’s a million other things I could do. But that’s not my path, my path is this. I have to walk down this path.