Does this really bother you, because you’ve talked about this before.
It’s a misconception. Especially someone who’s been brought up like me. I’ve been brought up to work hard for mine and never take nothing from nobody. And to always try and help people. But people don’t understand this game that we’re in. You have a short life expectancy. It’s rare to be a me, to be a Jay-Z, an LL, a Nas. That shit is a rarity. That’s not even one percent of the rappers. If you look at any artists that were on Ruff Ryders, where they at? If you look at any artist that was on Def Jam at the time that we started, where they at? If you look at any artist that was on Roc-A-Fella, Jive, where they at? It’s not like anything was wrong with them. It’s just that you have a four, five-year average in this game. That’s just something I wanted to address.
I think you’ve been tagged with that for so long that it’s hard to reeducate people.
I agree, but I don’t have to settle for something that I can address. And if they feel like I’m being defensive, then, yeah, I’m being defensive, because that ain’t the truth. People at the end of the day, they gonna have to respect this legacy for what it is. How many lives I’ve inspired and changed, and changed the game. Gave birth to a whole generation of cats that believe they can do it.
You’ve been quiet about your deal structure with Cîroc vodka. How do you get paid for all your promotion? How does it contribute to your empire?
I think the years of me worrying about what number I come in on Forbes [are over]. To be honest, when Forbes calls, I have someone go off the record and lie to them. ‘Cause those lists get you in trouble. It’s to a point where people know that I’m well off. The less money that they know about, it’s almost better right now. I’m good and that’s all I care that people know. I definitely don’t need people thinking I’m the richest rapper. And I’m happy where the calculations are right now. It’s less stress on me.
What’s going on with you and 50 Cent. . .?
I’m not even gonna give that no ink, Jack. Can’t even get no ink. We’re in two different places. I don’t really have no energy for it.
It doesn’t bother you that—
We in two different places in life.
You don’t want to address it?
We’re just two different people in two different places in life. That’s the best way to sum it up.
You really enjoyed your time on Inside the Actors Studio, with James Lipton. Why?
I just felt like it was about Sean. It was about me as a person. It wasn’t about the money or Puff Daddy. I just felt like it was about what makes up Sean.
Do interviewers forget about that at this stage?
Most interviews are very surface. I don’t feel like people have figured out how to go deep.
So what makes you who you are?
Like this ain’t really regular. There was no belief. This shit was like walking on water. I had to show that it could be done.
You don’t think you get credit deserved?
Nah, I don’t think they realize the overall impact [I’ve had] on the game.
Maybe you’re a little too close to it. Many people do realize.
I definitely think that I could be too close to it.
But there is something in you that is making you feel like you’re not getting credit.
Nah, it’s not like I’m bitter or mad. To me, I think we’re all too close to it. But I don’t think people realize how much of a drastic change that was. None of us was even close to these numbers. You understand I was the first one on the [Forbes] list ever? I was on the cover of the shit from our community. Now we have like six or seven on the list like matter of factly. I’m not saying I need any praise, but [recognize] the overall change. Like we would be shocked if we looked at the Forbes list and we didn’t see a bunch of us on there. There would be an upheaval. We’re shocked if LeBron didn’t get $120 million; we’re shocked if Jay-Z doesn’t sell out Yankee stadium. Cats wasn’t thinking like this . . . so when a ballplayer comes in the league, he’s trying to get his Diddy on. “Yo, I need my endorsements, I need this, that,” so I just take a lot of pride in people getting their Diddy on.
So you want to be known for that change in mindset?
Yeah. It was drastic. Quick. Compared to slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. This was quick. Our level of sophistication has changed. You see artists in Europe like that’s the way it was. It’s not something that’s light. It’s something that can change the world.