I know you said you got Kendrick on the album like no one has heard him before.
His verse is just so incredible. I think he tapped into what a fan of mine would want to hear from him on my album. I don’t believe that I’ve heard Kendrick talking like that on anything else. He’s just got this magic.
Who else did you create magic with?
I gave the people what they want to hear. Me and Ross’ record should be called “Honesty Hour” for what we’re saying on there. I gave you me and Jeezy. No compromise, all A-game Jeezy. They knew it was not for playing.
Because of Kanye being involved?
Yea, I would feel like that. Musically, we did the unorthodox. Lyrically, it’s top notch. I wanted to give you a car album. I haven’t heard an album since Teflon Don that made me want to play in my car and just drive by the club. Or like Jeezy’s Thug Motivation. Those records give you a certain feeling, you just want to front, go get some money or whatever. I done put in some good CDs. I listen to a lot of good music in my house, but for that feeling. No. I gave you that in play it in your car with the windows down music. This music makes you want to do something because it’s the right mixture of lyrics and perspective. It’s articulate street rap. This album is it. I don’t see that energy coming from anywhere else.
I noticed unlike a lot of rappers you aren’t very vocal about plans after rap. Is Pusha T going to be that 45-year-old rapper?
Pusha is going to be wherever he needs to be to provide for my family as long as they need me.
But do you aspire to be the best rapper of all time though and have that title. Some rappers are like ‘forget the money I just want to be the best.’
I’m never, never forgetting about the money. Ever. This is not good enough of a business to forget about the money. This is not nice enough of a business, so you can never forget about the money. I’m not into that. I’m not even into that person. I don’t even want that person talking to me. We don’t talk in the same conversation. You go do that shit and paint a picture with shit. Go be the best artist you can be and live on a corner. Be the best artist you want to be while living outside. Me? No, I need something with my art that allows myself and others to smile. I need to be able to do tangible things with mine, not just appreciate it.
I guess for you it has to make dollars to make sense.
Exactly. I’m not in love with the business of the music game. I do this because I love hip-hop, number 1. I do it because I still feel like I got to get some “get back.” We lost a lot with this whole thing. If you’re going to be in this life like I’m going to be life and this game, then I’m supposed to beat it and milk it because it’s not a nice game. I’m here to win this game and like I said “get back.” I still got calls coming in that when I pick up, I have to “press 5” to talk to them. It’s All-Star Weekend, and I have 2-3 parties a night, but Saturday morning I’m taking a car service to the prison in Houston. When everyone was ballin’, that’s my weekend. My friends in prison ain’t missing a beat, though. They just want to talk about the Hip-Hop Weekly. They want to hear about and everything that’s going on. That’s the least they can get from me.
You’re talking about your former manager Anthony “Geezy” Gonzales and a lot of your childhood friends who are serving time on drug related charges…
All my friends been my friends for over 20 years. Since we were kids. It’s not a whole bunch of newcomers.
So those convos aren’t really the “keep your head up” talks…
Nah, we don’t have those talks. Sometimes I cuss them and just spazz, but other times and ‘I’m like I’ve been waiting on you to call me.’ My boy called the other day and was like ‘When I come home this time! I got some new friends! And, these friends they my new best friends right now!’ So, some guys don’t even learn.
Still schemin’ ?
Yea, exactly. And he’s been down since like 16. A real career criminal. That’s all he kept saying ‘When I come home this time! My new friends rich in here , though.’ I feed off that energy sometimes. Ain’t a whole bunch of sulking between us.
I know it’s a tough question but looking back do you think any of them feel like it was all worth it?
Nah, in this position I don’t think anybody thinks it was worth it. No one is saying it’s worth it. There are kids, families, wives involved. It is what it is. It ain’t no new story, though. It happens to a lot of people in the world… it’s hard to put into words. But as long as no one is broken, I’m a just look at it as character building. Those that I do speak to, when I feel them talking to me in a shell shocked matter—where they are just stuck in time—I try to wake them up. We have real candid conversations; sometimes I have to be like ‘wake the fuck up.’ It’s inspiring when some of my friends aren’t talking like that and they recognize that there’s no glory in trying to relive the past.
Do you tell them you’ll have jobs for them when they come home?
None of this is promised, but they do come home I hope that I can provide another way. Lord Willing. That’s just what I plan to do. They understand everything, though, they been with me through my ups and down in the music industry.
Do you ever see yourself becoming that rapper turned label executive?
Yea, I could see that. I definitely see myself as an executive. I’m actually working towards that. See, my inspirations and the guys I look up to are different. I look up to Tony Draper, the founder of Suave House. I’m into those stories. I’m not trying to be an executive to just wear stiff collar shirts. I want to be in the know and in the mix. I feel like that could be my contribution to the game. I actually want to start a real boutique label. It doesn’t have to be a label where everyone is selling a ton of records. I look at Duck Down. I look at Rawkus. I see them as real brands that stand for something. Whether they sold a lot or a little, it really creates a lane for the artist. That’s what I’m about if we’re talking about me becoming an executive.
It’s setting your life up for when the cameras stop snapping…
That’s why it’s about different ventures: Play Cloths, Cream shops, and all that. Being so brash and not playing around with music. There’s no toying around. Your art is just your art. I got art too, but I just have to deal differently. I understand the love and passion but this business isn’t a nice business. I’m at a point now where it’s like ‘don’t inconvenience me.’ I know how nasty this business is. There’s where my attitude comes from. If you’re not business minded, this game will chew you up. Look at all the moguls, the Jays, the Diddys. You got to commend¬ it. I like what they do. I like it. I’m at Paris Fashion Week and I see Diddy there, and I’m just watching him. I’m just studying him in his Riccardo Tisci and Givenchy outfit. Then we go to the club and its black t-shirt and Ciroc bottles. I’m looking at Anna Wintour waiting in line with everyone else to just speak with him. He sees her but it doesn’t faze him. That’s what I’m talking about. He’s Black and powerful. He’s a mogul in his own right. It’s about the business for him, and I’m just admiring it. Other people would be so happy and so in a rush to just stop their conversation to speak to her. He didn’t move. I respect that.
Click here to read the Clipse talk about the current status and future of the group
Click here to read No Malice explain the direction of Hear Ye Him, his new path in life, and why he’s willing to die for the message