What makes a record a hit record?
It starts when the artist connects with the song that they’re singing. If the artist isn’t willing to do what they need to do in order to connect to the record, it doesn’t matter. Beyoncé is showing on “Single Ladies”—and Rihanna on “Umbrella,” too—what a hit record actually encompasses. They showed you. It’s real easy. Video: simple, beautiful, glamorous, focus on me, focus on what I’m doing. And they both delivered on those songs. They did the perfect video to the perfect song and created a smash record. That’s something I have to pass on to Electrik Red or Christina Milian.
Do you sell those hit songs to anyone who’s willing to pay?
No, no, no. I work with people because I have a supreme respect for them.
But what about somebody like J. Holiday?
That was a different relationship. Him getting that record had nothing to do with J. Holiday. You would know if me and J. Holiday really had a good relationship—you’d see us [together] more often. He’d probably be on my album. I would probably be on his album, which I didn’t do a song for.
With your latest album, Love vs Money, you’ve lost a couple of pounds and you’re putting yourself out there more. You trying to be a pop star?
Yeah, I’m gonna turn it on! You start out and people are like, “Aw, look at this chubby guy.” [Laughs
.] I get it, but I’ve been writing records for 10 years at four in the morning eating White Castle. Whatever it took to get my bills paid, that’s what it was. Now it’s more of a focus. My job is multi-faceted; it ain’t like I’m able to just get up and go to work out in the morning or have an interview and work out. After this, I have to go to the studio to record for Snoop Dogg. But I’m trying to sell 50,000 tickets. It will happen.