When the Crenshaw tape was coming out and people were criticizing the model, Dom went on Twitter to publicly back you. How does that feel to have a peer fuck with you unconditionally?

It’s like in the streets. If I fight you fight. I ain’t gonna watch you fight and not jump in it. What type of nigga does that make me? And I call myself “your nigga?” If you fighting, I’m fighting. That’s how we were raised. Ain’t nothing special. That’s how we was brought up.

 

I needed a marketing machine and I needed international distribution for my product. [Rick] Ross fought tooth and nail to make that happen for me. I respect him and salute him for that; but then we ran into the corporate structure of these companies.

 

This is sort of old news, but were you really close to joining Maybach Music?

Me and Rick Ross sat down and talked and he made it clear that he can make the deal that I need. And I told him that I don’t need money, I need a partnership. I needed a marketing machine and I needed international distribution for my product. Ross fought tooth and nail to make that happen for me. I respect him and salute him for that; but then we ran into the corporate structure of these companies. And again, it offended me, because here you have one of the most powerful, respected niggas in the game about to make a power move that’s going to incite the culture and they want us to be the ones that compromise. They should be the ones to compromise for the culture so this thing can happen. We’re not supposed to compromise and that’s what they said. They said, “Just be happy with the hood and happy with the fame of it and how it’s gonna make it look. It’s gonna be big. You’re gonna be the biggest nigga out of the West,” and all this other shit. Sell that to a ho, my nigga. I’m a man.

That’s why you’re doing it like guys like Dom, Curren$y, and Action Bronson and taking the indie route?

Now let me ask you this. Since the game has changed, when are the magazines gonna change? And stop rating niggas as “underachievers?” When they gonna react to what’s going on? Because they’re late. You look at major labels, even physical publications, they’re on their way out my nigga. Niggas ain’t buying magazines in the next 10 years. They’re gonna be on the iPad downloading magazines.

But we were one of the first print magazines to embrace digital.

Yeah, but my thing is, y’all still misrepresenting the culture. I know it’s not Marc Ecko, because I understand he’s the owner, his involvement is probably not all the way down to the core of the daily operation. But somewhere in between there’s a disconnect and I know Marc Ecko stand for ownership. I bought his book before he told me he was gonna send me one. I bought it because I respect dude. I bought his clothes when they was out. I understand his impact on culture. I know he did 50 Cent’s clothing line. I respect it.

So this is your new model? You’re staying independent?

You listen to my first shit—I said, “Fuck the middleman.” 2003. I’ve been campaigning this but the game wasn’t ready, and it wasn’t time. Niggas convinced me to take a major deal. I feel like now, since this new thing dropped, and real niggas like Jay Z stood up with the power of his influence, he influenced other businessmen to say, “You know what Nip? I’ma support you. Give me 200. I’m buying 200.” We gonna pay the IRS and we gonna power what we believe in. And niggas gonna be able to gauge my sincerity over the next year or two. You’ll have other artists popping up doing the same thing. And then what these labels gonna do? They gonna have to give niggas their fair share. I stood up to shit way tougher than the labels before. I’m not scared. I ain’t got no fear in my heart, trust me. I stood up to way more shit than a major label, than some pencil-pushing white boy, no disrespect. I’ma keep it 100. And that’s it, that’s how I feel.

RELATED: Our 2010 interview with Nipsey

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