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When Kanye West’s album, Jesus Is King didn’t hit streaming platforms at the expected time of 12 a.m. on October 25, fans were concerned. Some were beginning to think the LP would suffer the same fate as Yandhi and never see the light of day. But, just as they were losing hope, Consequence provided the only update on the project’s whereabouts.
“#JIK was turned in at 4 AM. I had @kanyewest approval to oversee final mixes and mastering,” he wrote. “It takes 8 hours for the LP to ingest into the Digital Streaming Platforms. I didn’t eat dinner so you guys could have this by lunchtime.”
A little over a month after the album dropped, Consequence confirms he really didn’t eat dinner that night.
“I didn't eat dinner, so you guys could get it by lunchtime,” he explains. “Not that I was starving or I couldn’t order or nothing. I was just so consumed with what was going on. I was approving mixes, going back with Kanye, turning things up, making sure everything we did was ringing right.” He adds, “I couldn’t really take a break. It was initially supposed to be delivered that night at midnight, but sonically, we needed a couple more hours. That’s why I said I didn’t go to bed until five, six in the morning. It got delivered at 4:30 a.m.”
Now, Consequence is focused on what’s coming next. When he spoke with us over the phone, he was in Wyoming, presumably working on more music with Kanye. He also has a solo album of his own on the way called Make Up for Lost Time. In the lead-up to the release of the project, which is primarily produced by himself, he has released songs like “No Place Like Home” and “ComplexCon” featuring Conway the Machine, the latter of which Complex is premiering the music video for today (you can hear it on Spotify here). Consequence says fans can also expect collaborations with YNW Melly and Chance the Rapper.
“The driving force behind all my creativity has always been rap,” he says. “It's been a good minute since Don't Quit Your Day Job, but I’ve always been involved in rap in some way, shape or form, even if it wasn't a full project for myself. There’s been mixtapes, there’s been singles, collabs, songwriting, but I purposely took this time in my life to really make what I would enjoy.”
We spoke with Consequence about his newly-released music video for “ComplexCon,” Make Up for Lost Time, the making of Jesus Is King, and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
You recently released “No Place Like Home,” featuring a posthumous verse from Phife Dawg. Can you talk about that?
Well, today [November 20] is his actual birthday, and I thought it just made a lot of sense. In the last couple of years since he passed away, I have done some things with Tribe. Up until last year, I was actually running their merchandise and apparel division. So, we figured out some cool things to do revolving around his birthday. At ComplexCon, I put together a Phife Dawg capsule collection for his birthday. Since then, I have been heavily back into music. I had this record as part of my upcoming album, Make Up For Lost Time. So I thought with all the music things that I’ve got going on, I want to incorporate my friend in that, too. Phife was my friend, and there’s a lot of things that I always felt a way about with the last Phife record. Our friendship meant something to me. And so I want to just to keep his torch lit.
When was that track created?
It was recorded a little earlier than the actual recording of [A Tribe Called Quest’s album] We Got It From Here. See, the thing is, me and Phife, we spoke frequently. We would throw around ideas. But this one always stuck out to me, just because it felt like we were talking about Queens. That was always a real important thing for us. One story that a lot of people don’t know, is that once upon a time, me and Phife tossed around the idea of doing our own subgroup, which was going to be called 192, because that’s the block we’re from. We had a few records that haven’t seen the light of day. That was in the ’90s, so we always had a musical camaraderie. When I joined G.O.O.D. Music, he would come out. I was out with Kanye for the Glow in the Dark Tour, and he would pull up. I have footage of me, him, Tony Williams, Pharrell, all recording backstage at the Glow in the Dark Tour. So whether it was the band, as far as ATCQ goes, or just me and him, we retained a camaraderie through the years.
You mentioned your upcoming album, Make Up For Lost Time. What can you share about that?
My shit fire. The good thing is the project is off to a really good start. “ComplexCon” got the video coming for that. It just got added to XM radio, daytime rotation. I love how gully that shit is. The one thing about my music is it’s really some improv shit. There’s always records that have crossover potential. It’s always about the art factor of it. I guess that’s from my roots being a part of Tribe, and everything that I have been involved with as an artist. I’m really excited about it. In addition to “ComplexCon” and “No Place Like Home,” people would be surprised that I have a record with YNW Melly. That shit is amazing. Amazing. Me and Chance [the Rapper] have a record on there. I have Chris Rock on the album, and of course, I have my son Caiden on the album.
What do you hope to achieve with this album?
I have been a part of a lot of successful things as of late. And, for a rapper, there’s nothing like your own project. I rap. The driving force behind all my creativity has always been rap. Being a rapper and thinking of rap lines, that’s how the ideas manifest. Working with Kanye on his album is obviously rooted in rap, even if we incorporate melody and gospel. It comes from rap. And so for me, it’s been a good minute since Don't Quit Your Day Job, but I’ve always been involved in rap in some way, shape or form, even if it wasn’t a full project for myself. There’s been mixtapes, there’s been singles, collabs, songwriters, but I purposely took this time in my life to really make what I would enjoy, and what I think people who like me would enjoy from me where I am in my life. So, obviously you want every success threshold that you can possibly reach. But also, rap has always been about being lit, being fresh. That’s just some rap shit; you want to feel awesome. I feel awesome about the records. I listen to “ComplexCon,” and the beat is awesome. Another thing about this album is that it’s, for the most part, entirely produced by me. If it was not me as the head, I’m co-producing, which is a thrill for me, because I have always been like a superproducer. Now I’m finally in that space all these years later where I understand how to produce a record from beginning to end.
What is the inspiration behind the video for “ComplexCon?”
The video is some real New York shit and obviously we have Conway in it. I wanted it to have an aesthetic, so it’s reminiscent of a lot of the good videos from yesteryear. But it’s obviously set in today’s dynamic. I shot it in Queens, in Manhattan, New Jersey. It really shows we wanted it to be authentic to who we were. And even when I see Conway’s part, it really reminds me of “Glaciers of Ice” for some reason, which is my favorite Raekwon video, just because the energy that it’s giving off. I think people are going to respond very well to it.
ComplexCon showcases streetwear brands, and your video is a reflection of that.
On Twitter, they call me “No Cap Cons,” ever since I delivered the accurate update about Kanye's album. So, I’m not going to do the video without authentic everything. I got on the honey brown BAPE bomber that just got released. I finagled my way into getting it. “ComplexCon” was born off of the aesthetic of “Glaciers of Ice.” When we did the Tribe piece at ComplexCon, it was like, hip-hop is always hip. ComplexCon as an event is where brands showcase what’s coming and what’s exclusive. So with the video, I wanted to carry that same aesthetic, where it's pieces that you got to be in a certain ballpark or threshold or had a taste on an artistic level to where it's like, "Oh wow, he pulled that out.” That's just hip-hop. For young people, that’s the sauce. That’s the drip. I’m very excited about the video.
You mentioned the “No Cap Cons” nickname, so let’s get into Kanye and Jesus Is King. What was your role during the whole process of Jesus Is King?
My role through the whole process of Kanye’s new album? We obviously collab. I have a credit on “Selah.” With the delivering of the album—without divulging too much into our personal, private business—he gave me the green light to make sure that the sound quality delivered for the record would ensure that it would come in at No. 1 on the chart.
That's a huge responsibility.
I mean, yeah. I came in with the Ye album. I wasn’t as involved, because we were just reconnecting. I did write all four records on there, including “All Mine.” I gave him the Stormy Daniels line or whatever the case is. But with [Jesus Is King], we had a little bit more time, because obviously there was Yandhi. And at the top of the year, he initiated Sunday Service, and it just grew and grew. Then, in all of that, we kind of hit reset and refresh on our relationship and just got it in. With all the cancel verbiage that had been running around, trying to put him in a different spot than he’s accustomed to, I think Kanye is great when he has hurdles that he has to overcome. I think that’s what happened with this project.
How would you compare Jesus Is King to the other Kanye albums?
I liken this record creatively to 808s & Heartbreak. I was really involved with 808s. I wrote the verses to “Paranoid,” wrote the chorus to “Amazing” and “Robocop.” It’s the challenge. When you step out into a different genre, when you step into the realm of melody and harmony, it becomes a challenge. Like I said, rap is easy for us, because we are rappers. That’s our comfort zone. There hasn’t been too many people in the last year that can outrap us. Especially me and Kanye, when we are together, we are solidified. We have songs that prove that we can rap. Listen to “Gone.” Obviously me, Kanye, and Cam’ron can really rap. But the challenge is when you are making something that Kirk Franklin had dominated for the last 10 or 20 years—and Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin and Fred Hammond, who happens to be on the record. You have to approach it with familiarity because of the fact that you’re in uncharted territory for yourself.
Going back to your tweet, you mentioned that you didn’t eat dinner.
I didn’t eat dinner.
What was going on in the hours leading up to the album dropping?
I didn’t eat dinner, so you guys could get it by lunchtime—not that I was starving or I couldn’t order or nothing. I was just so consumed with what was going on. I was approving mixes, going back with Kanye, turning things up, and making sure everything we did was ringing right. Making sure the drums on “Selah” was feeling like there was a surround sound, which is what people got. Those things take total concentration. The thing is, I stepped in and said, “Look, I’m going to put my position in this corporation on the line, because this got to go like this.” It needed to be what it needed to be. First and foremost, I would have to ask Kanye that. Then he was like, “All right, go ahead. You got it.” So, with that said, I couldn’t really take a break. It was initially supposed to be delivered that night at midnight, but sonically, we needed a couple more hours. That’s why I said I didn’t go to bed until five, six in the morning. It got delivered at 4:30 a.m. When he and I spoke, I had to let them know: Yo, it’s going to take eight hours, so we won’t get it until lunchtime and it will hit exactly at noon. So, that’s what that was.
Why do you think Kanye trusted you more than anyone else?
I don’t lie. I am No Cap Cons. I tried my best not to assert my ego over what I know to be true when it comes to my ear. I don’t play favorites with people. I go for the best product. So, dealing with five engineers or three engineers, I don’t need a kickback from anybody to show favoritism for a mix or a master. I want the best product. “Follow God,” for instance, the version that’s on the album is a dirty version that got cleaned up. In this day and age, Kanye and I both decided, “No, let's just do the dirty one.” It’s not like it’s on a two-inch tape where everything has to go in unison. Just put the dirty one on it. That’s the one. It doesn’t matter who does it for me, it matters what feels authentic, and what feels like the people are going to gravitate to it. “Follow God” is such an important record, because when you have had as many songs as Kanye has, he’s up against the ghost of “Otis.” He’s up against the ghost of “Good Morning.” He’s up against the ghost of “Champion” and “Heard ’Em Say.” These new records got to go somewhere new. They got to be mechanically in tune with the people. We not looking back. We only moving forward. That’s what happened with this project.
Do you have a favorite memory from working on Jesus Is King?
Kanye brought Sunday Service to Queens, a couple of weeks before the record came out. This was a full-circle moment, because I watched Sunday Service start at his office and me and Caiden flew out in February to spend time with Kanye and Kim and the kids. It was the first one I attended. And to actually have it [happen] in less than a year in Queens—in my hometown—was amazing. Caiden was with me, and the kids got to spend time together. Then we had the listening session later that night uptown. Kanye made the mistake of telling the audience to come vibe with him and it was like a dam broke. The police kind of cleared it up, but it was dope to be home, because we have been traveling. We work in Wyoming and L.A., and we have been in Atlanta. We went to Jamaica. We’ve just been bouncing around. To be home and just really see how much people have taken to what he’s doing—because Sunday Service honestly was therapy for him. There were so many different things going on the year prior with the cancel verbiage. It was his way of decompressing. It also was like, you see an idea become a flower and become a forest. It's really amazing to watch.
Have you received a call to work on Kanye’s next album yet? He just announced Jesus Is King Part II with Dr. Dre.
I'm in Wyoming right now.
Can we talk more about this?
All I can say is that I’m in Wyoming right now. It’s actually snowing out here. The road’s a little crazy.
You don't ever sleep. You got so much going on right now.
Yeah, it’s a blessing. At the end of the day, this game is about how much you put into it, and it’s definitely about staying active. This is not for the benchwarmers. I have been blessed enough to play at a championship level for a good minute now. I recently fell ill. I had to go on bed rest. After we turned the record in, I guess, I experience what an NBA player goes through. Doctors had to give me muscle relaxers and all that. I twisted my neck up from sleeping on planes.
I have so much gratitude. I’m always in complete gratitude to God for being blessed. I always try to take whatever opportunities are presented to me and not squander it. I have been in a situation where the phone hasn’t rung... That’s why, with this last Kanye record, I didn’t take for granted that it could be number one. I knew it needed to sound incredible. I was like, “Yo... This record can’t just be for the weekend.”
With 808s and Heartbreak, it wound up not just being for that time period. People go back now, and they still listen to “Streetlights” and “Amazing,” and “Paranoid.” That’s based on craftsmanship, and I can always rest my laurels, saying that even with the last Tribe album, I was heavily involved with the mix aspects. That's a Tribe vibe that nobody could duplicate. So, I will continue to base musicianship on those aesthetics.
Your son Caiden is also working on music. What does he have coming up?
He’s got a record called “All The Drip” that’s about to come out. He’s got a record that Kanye really loves called “Learn to Fly” that we are going to release as well. He will have a project very soon. He is just about to shoot these videos as soon as Thanksgiving kicks in. He’s moving. His album is called Just Being A Kid, and we're going to follow that with a mixtape. He has a lot of mixtape material. He did the “So Brooklyn Challenge,” so he has built up a nice catalog for himself. I'm really looking forward to putting out his own records. I'm really excited about going into next year, and he has a great work ethic, so expect to hear a lot from him in the next few weeks.
Do you have any final thoughts about your new music or Jesus Is King?
I got a video for “No Place Like Home” coming. Then, like I said, Caiden has two records, “All The Drip” and “Speak For The Youth,” about to drop. We already shot the video for “Speak For The Youth.” We got to shoot “All The Drip” right after Thanksgiving. And Kanye has his opera this weekend [November 24]. I actually got to sit in on some of that. Shout out to my man Jay Straight, he’s involved in that. We got a bunch of creative stuff in the pipeline. That’s the thing that we have been trying to focus on, just delivering. We are artists, and it’s our job to deliver.