When you did manage to get reviews, it stirred up a plagiarism controversy over on HipHopDX. What happened?
Poor, poor Navani. How's that phrase go, "you'll never work in this town again"? That chick shot herself in the foot, the face, everything. I've been fortunate up until a certain point that all of the reviews for Payback that have been published so far have been written by actual Danny! fans, but I understand you can't request that as an artist.

Eventually you're gonna run into people who just don't give a shit about you. Case in point, SPIN reviewed it but the writer has had a personal vendetta against me for a while so even though I got the standard we-reviewed-your-album-are-you-happy "7" score, his piece was very backhanded.

So I'm cool if someone doesn't like me, but it's something totally different when someone doesn't even like writing at all. One of HipHopDX's hired "writers" was assigned Payback and straight plagiarized two different reviews that had already been posted because, according to an apology she later posted, she got tired of the pressures to write. The fuck? In the words of one of the victims, "what unmitigated gall."

First off, one of the sites she stole from is one of the oldest and most reputable sites for hip-hop album reviews of all time. I used to read that shit in high school in the 90s! That's like robbing Bank of America and cheesing at the security camera on the way out. If your intent is to not get caught, that's pretty stupid.

Not only does she plagiarize reviews for her own monetary benefit and cheat me out of legitimate publicity for Payback, but the victims happen to be two people in the journalism world that I've become close with. So I'm like "hell naw!" [Laughs.]

I rally up the Team Danny troop, most of which post on KanyeToThe.com, and other supporters and everyone pretty much flamed the hell out of Navani Otero on Twitter. I appreciate when people aren't afraid to call someone out on their bullshit 'cause I do it all the time. It was overwhelming to see much support, even from people that hadn't heard of me up 'til that point.

In the aftermath of that big debacle Byron Crawford caught wind of it and blogged about it, HipHopDX retracted the text and issued an apology to its readers, Navani got fired from her post there and started working in real estate, and one of the victims of the plagiarism wound up being offered a position there. Where's my restitution though? [Laughs.]

I assumed that I had a decent rapport with HipHopDX built up over the years but I guess that goes to show you how fake people can be. I'm thrilled that there was a silver lining for some people, but I don't know...they could at least have someone do a new review, or post the songs I've been sending them. They haven't posted shit since it happened.

They're probably salty that I called them out but I think it's petty to hold a grudge. I fault only Navani for the plagiarism, but now they're on my bad side for not trying to make it up to me outside of an apology that a label rep coerced them into doing. I'll probably put them in a song or something. [Laughs.]

What was it like seeing that tweet from Questlove? What's it been like since then?
Before the tweet, the closest I had to a relationship with Questlove was by way of Femi & Dan over at Okayplayer, who've been featuring me and my music for over six years now. Questo joked to me that if someone is featured on Okayplayer.com, people think that he co-signs it by default. [Laughs.]

But anyway, until then I was under no impression that he was aware of who I was, or that I was even on his radar, whatever. But I actually got an introductory email from him a few hours before the tweet, so it wasn't like seeing his shout-out on Twitter took me by surprise or anything. I mean, I was surprised that he put it out there for the world to see, but the news about Hov was already a few hours old to me. I was ecstatic then and I'm ecstatic now.

 

[Questlove]'s looked out for me within two months more than some people have in eight years, and it means a lot to me.

 

Since being e-introduced we'll text each other every now and then or e-mail back and forth. As the liaison between me and Hov he'll hit me if there's anything new to report, and I'll hit him if it's been a while since I've heard any news. [Laughs.]

But Ahmir is a real cool dude, like you don't understand. First off he's a music nerd, which I am too, so we click. Second, he's looked out for me within two months more than some people have in eight years, and it means a lot to me. He even helped get one of my songs placed in an upcoming TV commercial that he's in.

You've gotta figure: this guy has a million and one different things he's involved in right now but is still willing to help me out. I've even flown up to New York to meet him backstage on the Jimmy Fallon set. I also ran into Black Thought, dude is real chill. He dapped me up and asked me to send him beats; I'm waiting to hear if he likes anything I've sent. [Laughs.]

Whatever happens with Jay, or Questo, whomever...like, he's already done so much off the strength. I can't thank him enough, no matter what direction things go in.

I heard you, Jay and Questlove were working on something together? Anything you can reveal about that or is it still under wraps?
Man I already gave you the exclusive scoop with the Okayplayer Records thing, you want more? [Laughs.] I'm afraid I can't divulge too much at the moment. I'd love to, really, but rather than jinx the situation or spill the beans too soon, I'll let the world leave Questlove's sporadic tweets to their imagination. It's definitely gonna be huge though, believe me.

What else are you working on?
I got into 'mad scientist' mode and detoured into Payback roughly 40 percent into working on PeaSwain, my collaboration album with Von Pea [of Tanya Morgan]. Now that Payback is over and done with I'm knocking out the rest of PeaSwain so that we can have it out by the summer. It's gonna be a double EP where I produce his whole side and he produces mine.

It's a very fun record and as an artist, I'm thankful for it at a time where I'm struggling with remembering why it is I rap in the first place. I enjoy Payback and it's a personal favorite for a slew of reasons, but admittedly it was a chore to put together. PeaSwain will let me have some fun again, which I honestly haven't had since putting Where Is Danny? together.

Other than that and this indie-pop project I'm producing for this band from Sweden, that's about it.

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