After years of label mishaps and several critically acclaimed mixtapes, it’s finally time for Red Cafe to have his moment for life. Releasing his debut album Shakedown next February, Cafe took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with VIBE.com to discuss some of his musical inspirations, what sets him apart from some of Bad Boy’s fallen artists and what we should expect from his upcoming album.--Brittny Pierre
VIBE: Can you give VIBE readers some reasons why they should check out Shakedown?
Red Cafe: My music is honest. That’s the most important thing to me when it comes to making records, when it comes from life experiences or when I watch things my family members or close friends experienced. I make great music as well, timeless msuic. Those are the things I hope for when I go into the studio. If I want to go for a feel good record for Friday after you’ve had a long week and you want to go and let your hair down, I make those records as well. I would definitely say for the readers, I make timeless records you’ll be able to love it today and grow with it and still love it. You'll gain a lot of inspiration from it. I’m always inspired by a lot of different artists and I try to always remain a fan. I don’t only want to get caught up on myself so I get inspirations from other places. There are a lot of things that I have experienced and I put into the music.
Who are you a fan of today that’s inspiring your music?
I like Andre 3000, I like Drake. Drake’s music is the truth, he definitely speaks from experience whether it’s his or something one of his homies went through. His music is detailed as well on real life situations, which is really dope to me. There’s a lot of different guys out there that make great records
Your album is being released on Valentine’s Day, what gifts will you be buying for your girl on V-day? And it can’t be your album.
I’ll do like a trip or do something that’s engraved. You always want to do something spontaneous but not in the box something to make her feel that I put something in the thought process, that’s always better than actual gift that you buy someone.
What’s the worst gift you’ve received from a girl or even a family member during the holidays?
I don’t really get that many gifts, I can tell you the best gift; I got a gift from a fan this year at one of my concerts. It was a collage of a lot of magazine clippings and a cd or two cover on there. That just blew me away, it was just like what I just said, a lot of thought and your heart was put into it. That made me feel good that someone took the time to do that and I still have it at home, I put it up on the wall. So I really appreciated that.
Can you name 5 of your all-time favorite Bad Boy songs?
"Sky’s the Limit" by Biggies and "Suicidal Thoughts" by Biggie, “Flavor In Your Ear” by Craig Mack, Diddy’s "I’m Coming Out" ("Mo Money, Mo Problems"), Black Rob “Whoa” and I was just a big fan of Mase. He left too early; I’m actually upset with him.
Did you like his comeback?
It didn’t feel the same.
What turns you on?
I like a clever woman, I don’t like them slick it seems like you’re trying too hard. That’s a turn on to me, to be challenged and to be sexy at the same time and a nice smile.
T.I. and DMX are both doing reality shows, ever considered doing one yourself?
Sometimes it looks fun, I got a lot going on in my life, I’m not sure I’m ready to put that out there. Someone would have to talk to me about it because my shit is crazy.
What do you not want to be shown about your life on the reality show?
I just think I need to be more stable with things so when it’s out there I’m comfortable with it. I just have a lot of stuff going on, like personal things are cool I don’t have a problem with people knowing who I am but maybe I need to be more stable in my situation so it doesn’t look like I’m irrespirable, I don’t want to put that out there.
How did you get Ryan Leslie and Rick Ross on the latest song, “Fly Together”?
Ryan Leslie is just a great artist and I’ve been a fan of him for a while. I was very very excited to work with him and anxious to work with him. Ross is a homie, Ross is the street. I got in there with Ryan, I had him on my “I’m Ill” remix, he did a great job and was just effortless and we always said we would get together and make something from scratch. Just to tell you the studio of being in the studio with him: There’s artist that go into the studio with producers all the time and the biggest record company will put an artist in with a big producer and they’ll be in the studio for months and get nothing. We went into the studio once and got something so the chemistry was great, the energy was right and since we got the record done, I thought it would be perfect to put Ross on there, so I called Ross up and he heard it and loved it.
In “Fly Together” you’re rapping about wanting your girl to be on the same level as you, is that something you look for in a girl you want to date?
There’s a lot of independent women out in the world today and they should be acknowledged so I felt I needed to make a record to acknowledge the single parents that are holding down and raising a college grad, those should be acknowledge. I feel women can fly just as high as the guys.
In your last interview with VIBE.com, you mentioned people were worried about you signing with Bad Boy records and you stated the mistakes you believe other artists on the label, how will you stand apart from other Bad Boy artists?
I’m motivated by Puff and what he does and everything he has done in his career as far as music and being an entrepreneur. Red Café is his own artist before Bad Boy, that doesn’t change; I don’t come to Bad Boy and expect then to do everything for me. I think that’s where a lot of artists fell short. And there was a time where I was that guy as well, coming into the game young signing the deal and I’m thinking that’s the victory. Or we’re going to go on yachts and we’re going to St. Tropez and I was wrong. Those are the growing pains; I went through a lot of the growing pains a lot of those Bad Boy artists where their first stops were Bad Boy. When Puff is excited and he’s working on a project in the beginning and he gets you up and running and you get a platinum album, it’s time for you to work on your own. I think that’s where a lot of the artists fell short, always expecting him to do everything. I get it done and I called Puffy at the end, after it’s done, 'You wanna put the icing on this? It’s done.'
Your debut, Shakedown will be released early next year, what can we expect from the album and can you fill us in on who might be appearing on the album?
There’s a lot of collaborations on the album, I have a lot of friends and a lot of people who wanted to work on the album. They’re proud to be apart of it and I’ve been working on it for a long time. I don’t want to give away all the ingredients to the recipe but I worked with Fabolous closely, he’s a great friends and I worked with a lot of great people on there.
Can you let us know any producers you’re working with?
I like to be involved with the production, I’ve been around so long that I know how to make records and I had hopes that Swizz Beatz would produce me or Just Blaze or Timbaland or Pharrell – all the great producers and I didn’t get produced by them. At this point I just learned and kept going back into the studio. So I just worked with a lot of underground producers.