What are your expectations with this new album?

I don’t know, man. The streets are into the street, and the songs on this record are not all street. Again, we talked about the fantagers, who want to see you do it a certain way—and if not, it’s to hell with you. So that’s up to them to decide. I just hope that people just remember that it’s music. Enjoy the music. I’m always going to push myself to do stuff that’s honest. That’s what I do. So I hope that it gets the appreciation. That’ll be cool. That’s it.

Do you like the state of hip-hop now? Do you get a good feeling from the new records, the new artists, the new approach to hip-hop?

I’m just happy that hip-hop has embraced the new artists in such a way that they can see all their dreams come true, because this is not something that I want to go to the grave with—just me, in a selfish way, to experience.

 

I wish that for everyone, to really be embraced by hip-hop the way that Drake is being embraced and to have that, because you can take that experience and give so much back. It’s just a beautiful thing to see your dreams come true. That’s what it’s about.

 

Being, “Oh, he’s the best. His show was amazing. He uplifted people. He inspired people.” I wish that for everyone, to really be embraced by hip-hop the way that Drake is being embraced and to have that, because you can take that experience and give so much back. It’s just a beautiful thing to see your dreams come true. That’s what it’s about.

Do you know how many artists died angry or disgruntled? Do you know how many older artists walk around disgruntled now, because they didn’t achieve what they... Athletes who didn’t achieve the money or the fame or the credit that they deserved. So when I see someone become successful, I’m like, “Yeah. That’s another one that made it.” I love it.

What do you listen to in your private time? Are you a soul head? Do you listen to hip-hop?

I listen to it, when I get in the zone. I listen to it. It gets me in the zone. But yeah, I’m listening to Frank Sinatra. I’m listening to Isaac Hayes. But then, I just bought Let The Rhythm Hit Em, and I called Eric B. and just asked him questions about it, the recording process and things like that. It’s whatever I feel during that day.

Who, from other genres, do you like right now?

I like Gotye. He’s got this electronic sound, but it sounds like Herbie Hancock. It’s something that’s refreshing to hear again. I like...

Do you fuck with The-Dream?

I like The-Dream. The-Dream is serious.

Tell me about working with No I.D.

We did a block of work. I don’t know how much of it will be on this album, because we did a lot of stuff. Maybe it can be on The Lost Tapes 2, or I can tweak it, and it’ll be good for the next album. But it was dope, because No I.D. is an artist himself. He’s a producer, but he’s an artist. He thinks like an artist.

 

No I.D. is an artist himself. He’s a producer, but he’s an artist. He thinks like an artist. He thinks ahead. He thinks about what’s good for music, and he’s true to what he believes in.

 

He thinks ahead. He thinks about what’s good for music, and he’s true to what he believes in. You want to talk about conversations? You should interview him one day, man, on any topic, and he’s right there, sharp. So it was dope working with him, because he gets it. He gets what I want to do, and he’s right there with me.

And Salaam—your musical brother—some of your greatest records, I think, have come from that collaboration.

Salaam’s easy to work with, and he’s not in any competition with the current thing that’s happening. He’s not trying to do the current thing. He’s always has his sound to whatever he’s doing. And he’s in my age group, so we’re both Queens dudes who grew up on Rap Attack, Red Alert, Chuck Chillout, snorkel coats, Green Acres Mall, coliseum, Jamaica, Queensbridge. All of that shit is our relationship and that’s what makes it so much fun to work.

I always thought, like, you don’t need more than a break beat, generally. That sound—like late ‘80s, early ‘90s—that’s your sweet spot.

Yeah, and I would hate to see that era go away. I want to always keep my foot in that. Not both feet, but it’s important for me to keep that going, just for myself and the people that enjoy that.

That was the “Made You Look” lineage. There’s a couple of records that are in that line. “Ghetto Prisoners” too.

Yeah.

Tell me what different about that era and this era for you? I always wonder, was the music better, or were we younger?

The music was definitely better. Let’s not even have that as an argument, because if you compare just a third of the music from that era to half of what’s going on now, there’s no competition. That music wins, hands down. When you’re in the club, and that era shit comes on, you feel like, “Okay, this DJ is well-rounded. He could take me in any direction. I’m safe. I’m going to have a good time, right now, if he goes into that little section of his spinning.”

You know he’s informed.

He’s informed, and he’s got that feeling. I think today, the conversation starts...We’ve heard people talk about Benz’s before, but I like to hear it when Ross talks about it, because his experience in the Benz or in the Maybach is different from my experience in the Maybach. He makes me relive riding around the city in the Maybach. He reminds me of what’s so fly about it, because it’s his first time experiencing it, and he’s doing it to you. He makes it cinematic. So I love hearing dudes today, who just got their first chain or just bought their first house.

Because it’s still realness.

It’s still realness, and their explaining the experience, and you could never get used to that.

Yeah. It’s always going to be fresh, when it’s coming from a fresh perspective.

Yeah. My conversation is going to be different than theirs. So I need to go hear what they’re saying. Our conversation can’t be the same. On the album, every song is going to be what I’m living today. And I’m sure, at some point, those dudes will take a listen, to check out what I’m talking about, what’s going on over here.

I think that’s what makes hip-hop eternal. It resurrects itself, and it corrects itself.

Yeah. I don’t have the energy for the women that Wayne fucks in his songs. So I need to hear his songs, so I can reminisce like, “Yeah. I was a bad boy back then.” I can listen to Wayne and reminisce on that [Laughs]. I don’t have that energy no more.

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