Do you think people have lost respect for Jay-Z?
[Laughs] Oh man, I mean, I canÕt relate to him because we are just so different. You know? Whatever he expected, however he expected people to react, seems like a fantasy. ItÕs like heÕs created his own false reality and expects everybody else to fall in line with the way he conceives life to be.
Do you think there is any MC that can touch you in a battle right now?
Absolutely not. Nobody.
Everybody's got a little Soprano in 'em.
If you had to battle a contender,who do you think is the most worthy opponent out there?
Lots of fans and critics have hailed Stillmatic as a return to your former glory. How does the success of your new album feel?
It makes me feel stupendous, like my man Biggie says, because I did the undoable, I did what niggers donÕt do, and canÕt do, and what you havenÕt seen in years. People were saying, Is he gonna bring it back to Illmatic, because [the new album] is called Stillmatic? And the hottest rapper currently in the game is callinÕ you out, because he donÕt see nobody else as competitionÑyouÕre the only one in his way. ItÕs incredible.
What do you think about the people who say The Sopranos is disrespectful to Italian-Americans, people who call out The Sopranos for ethnic stereotyping?
I hate when people protest against their own race for something thatÕs not even that serious. I mean, it doesnÕt stereotype anything. Actually it makes Italians look coolerÑand that means no disrespectÑbecause whether we like it or not, the gangster is a super- hero. And there is more to The Sopranos than just whackinÕ peo- ple; the shit is about family, trust, loyalty, and everything.
WhatÕs it like to meet Dominic?
A lot of actors have egos, but Dominic was very cultured and very into his heritage. And that type of thing is knowledge. He has so much wisdom to offer. And to watch him, you know that he is a man who has age and wisdom, and you see that come out in his character on the show. It was real cool that we would even be on a thing together. Because a part of me represents what he represents. I mean we are both artists, and a part of me represents the Soprano lifestyle. EverbodyÕs got a little Soprano in Õem.
Dominic on Respect
Dominic Chianese, better known as Junior on The Sopranos, is the lovable yet fierce elder statesman behind TVÕs most famous crime family. Fittingly, his role as the consummate Italian-American patriarch finds him doing what he knows best. ChianeseÕs upbringing in the predominantly Italian Parker Avenue section of the Bronx wasnÕt a far cry from many of the scenarios heÕs found himself portraying over the years. After earning his stripes doing stage work in the Õ50s and Õ60s, he landed movie roles opposite Al Pacino in The Godfather Part 2 and Dog Day Afternoon. He recently teamed up with Pacino again in an off-Broadway production of Oedipus, and is currently gearing up for the May release of Unfaithful in which he stars with Richard Gere. But Sopranos fans will be glad to note that heÕs also prepping for the showÕs fourth season, which premieres in September on HBO. Acting aside, thereÕs nothing ÒJuniorÓ likes more than to work on his music, which so far has yielded one album, 2001Õs Hits. Look for a new album featuring his favorite Italian love songs soon.
How do you define respect?
Respect has a lot to do with really listening to peopleÑreally looking into their eyes and listening to them. One of the first things I do when I meet people is to try and get their names straight, and if I have the opportunity to listen to their second name, I try to pronounce it well.