You were really secretive about this project. Most artists love to share reasons you need to hear their album. It seems like you were just like, “Trust me, I got this.” What was the reasoning or strategy behind that? Some people operate on the idea of, “If I don’t tell people why it’s going to be great, they might not be interested.” Why did you go the opposite way?
I have a different theory on that, period. I just feel like, society is so microwaveable that everybody wants to see everything so bad. So that kinda spoiled music. I just try to bring it along and I also keep in mind what made me fall in love with hip-hop. And what made me fall in love with hip-hop was unpredictable features and surprises.

I remember when The Firm was put together. I just remember certain things that were dope about hip-hop. Today, everybody wanna know the songs, everybody wanna know who did it, and it just—you don’t get that feeling anymore. So I just try to claim that all back.

Everything I used to get geeked about when I was young, growing up, I'll try to get that feeling back again when I put my project out.

 

Everybody don’t get a second chance. I feel like I sort of rewrote my own story in the history books as somebody coming harder the next time. I hope I’m an inspiration to some. Not just in music, but in life. Never give up.

 

You knew it was coming, but to have the album leak after all that secrecy... How does it feel to see everyone online discussing it and analyzing every detail before you get to put it out in the manner that you wanted to?
Leaking could be a good and a bad thing. I’m definitely hurt by it. I know I grind a lot. I can’t let that get a hold of me. I was upset at first, naturally, but you know, it happens. I’ve been on another ship when people didn’t want to bootleg early albums. So I’ve been on both sides and I have to learn to appreciate both sides without getting emotionally tied to it. The main release is August 14th, so respect the grind. Support that.

Are you paying attention to what people are saying? Do you search song titles on Twitter and see how people are receiving them?
I won’t do that until the 14th, because to me, it’s still not out.

When it is out, do you really hit the Internet and check the response—whether it’s from journalists or random 16-year-olds? Are you really tuned in with the public response to your music?
Yes, I use social media a lot to help me create my fan base. Of course. I’ll retweet, I’ll thank people, put out some positive energy. I don’t mind negative stuff. I think you need people who are gonna tell you the truth. I just feel like when people do negative things out of spite, it seems like hating. But I’m my own individual. I’m confident in the things that I do. I can’t wait to read the comments.

If someone has a criticism of your music—like, some people think your rhyming style isn’t up to their standards—do you think that sometimes it isn’t hate, but that there’s something you could learn from that person’s perspective?
Everybody has their own opinion. Hating is a word I hate to use; it’s so over-saturated. I don’t feel like everybody is a hater. A person does have an opinion of their own. It’s just always cool to have a reason why. I think that’s what people look for: OK, if you don’t like it then why? You gon’ have to have a reason at the end of the day.

Are you fully satisfied with this album? Do you feel you had time to make the perfect project that you wanted to make? Or do you have those “Damn, I could’ve done this,” type of moments?
I have a studio everywhere I go. I wasn’t rushed. It wasn’t a time issue. It’s almost perfect because we have the No. 1 song with “No Lie,” another song up and running—”Birthday Song” featuring Kanye—and I couldn’t ask for a better set up. I mean, people actually want my album before it comes out. I remember when we did that with a couple of albums in the past. I remember the new Hov when he was retired. That Black Album. I wanted that. So I just feel that it’s cool to have that anticipation. People want to hear my music. It makes it more about the music, too.

Are you the type of dude who’s focused on being the most respected rapper, or are you like, “Yo, I want to set records. I want to have ten No. 1s in a row, the plaques, and the accolades.”
It’s always cool to have respect as an artist, but I definitely want people to respect my hustle, my grind, my work ethic. I try to be an inspiration to some who feel like it’s over. Everybody don’t get a second chance. I feel like I sort of rewrote my own story in the history books as somebody coming harder the next time. I hope I’m an inspiration to some. Not just in music, but in life. Never give up.

Is it a competition when you get on a record like “No Lie,” where people debate who had the better verse? Do you want to kill Drake if he’s on a song with you? That’s your mans obviously, and you made a great song together—but on that or a song like “Mercy,” do you want to make a statement about where you stand skill-wise?
Well, my goal is to have fun, but to be competitive at the same time. You never want to over-think anything. At the same time, with “Mercy"—I just remember the process with all these songs. So it’s different. When I do a verse, it’s done.

I remember me and Drake sent each other songs. I think what happened was I did a verse to “No Lie,” I sent it to him. Then he gave me a beat, I did the verse to that, and I sent it to him. So it was like, “What you gonna do?” I felt like I was winning and he’s like, “Oh shit.” He was working.

After having all that fun and going back and forth, do you feel like you got him on “No Lie,” or do you feel like Drake might’ve showed you up with that one verse?
I’m not into that. They'll make it look like I said, "He killed this! He killed Drake!" I don’t have time for that. I think dude’s a genius.

Definitely. I’m not even trying to bait you into that.
Somebody just said I want to be a running mate with Mitt Romney and I know fucking well I ain't said that.

That’s crazy. I saw that, too.
It messes it up for the good guys like you, man. For real.

When you’re doing an interview, do you feel like, “Oh shit, I’m gonna do a cover story,” or is it more, “What are these fuckers gonna try to turn me into after we talk for an hour?”
[Laughs]. I mean, I’m still into doing interviews, answering questions, and enlightening people. I think that’s how you become a superstar, a megastar. I feel like we know everyone in Eminem’s family. I feel like we know what happened in 50 Cent’s life. I feel like we know about Tunechi. I feel like this part of the process is connecting the dots with the fans.

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