Young Buck, “Look At Me” (Originally Published May 2007)

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With G-Unit sales gone south, the NYC crew turns to its Southern representative to bring the numbers back up. cutting through industry to focus on his powerful new album, Young Buck says it’s his time to shine.

Interview: Sean A. Malcolm
Images: Jonathan Mannion

It’s a cold, rainy February night in New York, and David “Young Buck” Brown is seeking attention. Outside the NYC hotspot Club Stereo, leaving a listening session that was more like a party, Buck leans his entire torso out the window of a jet-black Suburban as it skates off on the slick concrete. Apparently, he has something important to get off his chest.

“Buy my album! March 27!” He shouts. “And always remember: Fuck the police!” Buck’s in a good mood. Boasting bombastic tracks like “Say It to My Face” and “Buss Yo’ Head” and the tuba-driven thwomp of first single “Get Buck,” his sophomore G-Unit album, Buck the World, just had a club full of industry heads, DJs, bloggers and leggy models roaring approval. A common response to Buck these days—and one that has the 26-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native amped about his chances selling records.

There’s a lot riding on it. Buck’s known as the “Clean-Up Man” around the G-Unit camp, and there’s something of a mess for him at the moment. The once mighty crew hasn’t cracked the platinum plateau since 2005. Last year’s releases from Mobb Deep and Lloyd Banks caught bricks (267,000 and 322,000 units sold, respectively), and even the 512,000 Tony Yayo sold two years ago was seen as a stumble. Following up on the cool million Buck’s debut, 2004’s Straight Outta Cashville, sold, this album looks like a test: Does anyone at the label, other than founder 50 Cent himself, have legitimate commercial staying power?

You know there are many men hoping not. The exiled G-Unit soldier The Game, with whom Buck shared a tense, chaotic encounter in Las Vegas amid the NBA All-Star Game festivities. Dipset chief Cam’ron, whose beef with 50 recently spilled into a video for Buck’s song “Hold On.” Jimmy James Johnson, who Buck famously stabbed with a dinner knife during a fracas at the 2004 Vibe Awards in Los Angeles.(James had punched Dr. Dre, who was instrumental in bringing G-Unit into the Interscope Records family. Buck pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to three years’ probation in December ’05.)

But Buck’s trying to get past all the “bullshit,” as he calls it, and concern himself solely with “real life.” This summer, actually, you’ll be able to watch that life on MTV2, as he’s slated to do a reality show called, like his album, Buck the World. He’s expanding into the business world, too, having started a label, Cashville Records, and signed his Tennessee homies the rap trio 615 and West Coast vet C-BO to recording contracts.

An hour after the listening party, the man who’s calling himself the “CEO of G-Unit right now” settles into his chair in a room at the Dream Hotel in Midtown Manhattan and tells us what’s on his mind. Watch him do his thing.

Can you speak on what happened at All-Star Weekend when you ran into The Game?
Any day, bruh. You know, if any real nigga—any individual, period—has a problem with anybody and they have a chance to see that individual they have a problem with, instead of leaving that place without any kind of moment of, you know, words or any kind of confrontation or anything, then I think you’re not really representing yourself, or not representing your situation. So for me, that was the first time me and Game had ever been in the same domain, in the same building, in the same eyesight of each other, since all of this bullshit that you getting from G-Unit and from them with the bullshit beef. So for me, it was pretty much like, we doing all this eye-contact shit across the club, let me go ’head and see if it’s a problem. And what I did was, I went to the stage, and I told the DJ to play one of Game’s records. And what I did, I didn’t diss Game or jump on the mic and start rappin’ and sayin’, “Fuck you, Game,” or disrespect Game in no kind of way. I just pretty much told Game and everybody in the building, “Look, if there’s a problem for anybody with me or my crew, then right now is the time to handle that. You know, straight up. If not, let’s get to the money. But if it’s a problem, let’s get it on…” After two, three minutes, Game started making his way down the stairs with his entourage, and the security at the club interfered and kinda like pushed him out the club and shit. So I don’t know if he was coming to get it on or give love. All I’m saying is I made room for whatever it was going to be. Being the fact that we in the same building and it’s been a lot of tension with this bullshit. So you know, if there ain’t a problem, we gon’ show it ain’t a problem in front of these people. If it is a problem, we gon’ show it’s a problem in front of these people, too…

I just want the fans to understand what’s real and what’s not… And you know, I can’t act like I’ve always been in the mode that I’m in. In the beginning of this shit, you know, you get your diss records. You done got some of your strongest diss records that I done said about some of these niggas, you know. I played the game with that, but I played the game with me not knowing the situations, if they real or not. So I’ve been able to get hands-on with these niggas, being the street nigga that I am, to see if it’s real or not. And when, if I see it ain’t real, I’m not fuckin’ wit’ it. Jadakiss, we just smoked a blunt together, bruh, and did it big at the All-Star Game in Vegas together.

You were on the radio, on Ed Lover’s morning show, a few weeks later saying that you were willing to squash the beef with The Game.
Yeah, I’m willing to. If it ain’t a problem, we don’t have to act like it’s a problem, period. So if you gon’ call that squashing the beef or whatever, I’m with whatever way you put it. We don’t have to shake hands or none of that. If you want to shake hands, let’s do it. All I’m saying is, there’s room for whatever… Whatever it is, let’s just do it and get to it and get it over with, ’cause I ain’t with the bullshit.

Personally, do you wish that the situation between The Game and 50 did not happen?
Yeah, I honestly wish it didn’t happen, because what that did was make Dr. Dre and Eminem, muthafuckas I look up to, have to analyze a situation and choose sides… That’s bullshit. You know, niggas have differences. But if you ain’t no bitch nigga, then you shouldn’t feel lesser than a man for stretching out about your problems you had with somebody else and trying to get to them. That’s only a manly thing. You not less a man for trying to handle your business in a way to get to the end of a problem. You more of a man, in my eyes, straight up and down. I think you less of a man by carrying out shit that you know ain’t real. Then, you know that you’re fighting and doing something you know in your heart ain’t right. So you’re not being yourself, man.