Edwina Findley and Kevin Hart in 'Get Hard'

Interview: ‘Get Hard’s’ Edwina Findley Talks Lessons Learned From Kevin Hart And Will Ferrell

'Get Hard' star Edwina Findley talks lessons learned from Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell.

You may have thought you’ve seen Edwina Findley for the first time when she slapped Kevin Hart upside the head in Get Hard, but think back a bit further. The NYU-trained thespian was also a gun-toting, ride-or-die chick for Omar Little on the HBO classic, The Wire. Fast-forward 13 years, and Findley has starred in another HBO series, Treme, as well as a Sundance-heralded, Ava DuVernay-directed film Middle Of Nowhere. She is also currently taking direction from Tyler Perry for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN series, If Loving You Is Wrong.

Here, Findley chops it up with VIBE about lessons learned from her big-named collaborators and what they’ve all taught her about her prospective ascension to the top of Hollywood. And of course, she has a few tips of her own for how to “get hard.” Take notes. – Iyana Robertson

VIBE: Tell me how the role came about, because this is your first big feature film, right?
Findley: Yeah, I’ve done a few independent features prior to that, was able to do Ava DuVernay’s Middle Of Nowhere, which won big at Sundance. Actually, a lot of people don’t know this, but I filmed Red Tails, George Lucas’ film about the Tuskegee Airmen. I was in Prague with everybody for almost a month, but at end of the day it was the three African-American female characters, myself, Jazmine Sullivan and another actor, who were taken out of the movie.

Wow. I did not know that.
Yeah it was funny because prior to that, it was such a huge movie and I was so excited. Then I’m  like ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m not in the movie.’ But you know it’s just funny how all things happen in time.

Very true.
So yeah, I’ve been pretty consistently working in television and doing different series for HBO. I started working on a comedy called Veep on HBO. The casting director from that is the same casting director from Get Hard, and she thought I would be great for this role. So I went in, met with the producers, auditioned for them and the creators and everything. Then finally, I think Will and Kevin had to sign off on it and they did and they thought I was great and here we are. So I’m definitely really excited and I feel very blessed.

We know being on set with Will and Kevin has to be fun, has to be full of jokes, but did you learn anything serious from them about the craft and about the business?
Absolutely. I actually have an organization called Abundant Life U, and we’re launching a school for artists in Hollywood right now. It actually opens on April 18. We’re launching with a boot camp called Artist CEO, and it’s really an business boot camp for artists and creators. I’m telling you, Will and Kevin modeled this so wonderfully. You know, Kevin was fully present during the scenes, and then between the takes, he was doing business. I mean, he has a production company, he has other TV shows going at the time, he was producing a pilot for ABC, and his assistant was there on set. So [I learned about] just being able to balance the artistic side of things by being a wonderful performer, as well as the business side. It’s also Will Ferrell’s company that’s producing this movie, Gary Sanchez Productions, who produces comedic films and television all over. So one thing I definitely learned from them is their enterprising prowess. It’s incredible.

Since you were in the movie Get Hard, I want your tips for women on how to man up, on how to “get hard.” Sometimes women want to be soft and demure, but sometimes women have to stand up and “get hard.” How do you do that?
I feel like it’s important for women to know their value. I feel it’s really, really  really important for women to know exactly what they’re worth and not compromise that. I think our tendency is to really wait for the man to make decisions. I would say to women that they have to assertive, they have to be articulate. With me, before I was married, I would kind of always allow the man to drive the relationship. I was dating this one guy and he was standing me up. And it was crazy, because he was upstanding in the community and a public figure. Everyone looked up to him, but it took other people to help me realize: that man is just not that into you, that man just does not have integrity and that man does not have character. It does not matter what the public perception of this person is, if privately they’re not consistent, then they’re not worthy of you. So it actually took my now-husband to teach me what I was worthy of and to model that before me.

SEE ALSO: Review: If 'Get Hard' Is A Comedic Competition, Will Ferrell Wins

During your interview with Dish Nation, you briefly alluded to a The Wire reunion. What is that about?
Oh my god, I had no idea I was giving a spoiler right then and then it made the headline. Well it’s still being planned now, but I think a lot of the people in front of the scenes and behind the scenes have all been working on different projects. I was definitely blessed to reunite with the creators, writers, producers and some of the actors on Treme, which we just finished doing. Everyone has been all over and so now is a time where everyone just feels The Wire love like, ‘Let’s get back together everyone.’ So they’re making it a big thing for the people behind the scenes and people in front of the camera and just inviting everyone to come back together and do a little rendezvous out of the country. But it should be very, very, very exciting.

You’ve done film and you’ve done TV work as well, what are some differences between film work and television work?
Speed. Speed is one of the main differences, meaning that in television you are moving very quickly. There have been times where I’ve shot upwards of 30 pages in one day in a TV show. Just to give you an idea, typically in television, you’re shooting around 50 pages. You normally have around 8 to 13 days to do that. In film, you could get through three pages or less in one day. You can get through a fraction of a page in one day. So you constantly have time to explore and to really flesh out different moments and fully inhabit a character or fully inhabit the nuances. And in TV, you have to do your homework in advance and be able to make strong and quick choices, because you just don’t have the luxury of time. But working on an independent film is often a lot like working in TV. When I was working on Ava Duvernay’s Middle of Nowhere, its beautiful scenes where there was only one take and that’s it. And you’re like ‘Hey, you’re moving on? What do you mean you’re moving on?’ As an artist, especially an actor, you’re always like, ‘Wait I need to do that again,’ but Ava had such a great eye. She was like ‘No that was it, that was perfect.’ And sure enough, when you see the movie cut together, that’s the scene that everyone’s talking about. I think a lot of people really look at the entertaining aspect of it, and don’t realize how much work, how much skill goes into filming both movies and television series.

You’re working with Tyler Perry now you’ve worked with Ava DuVernay, what is it like working under two very strong voices?
It’s great. I’m the type of artist, I’m very collaborative,  so when it comes to my characters, I tend to have a strong point of view also. Even for Get Hard, I was emailing the director, and asking questions about my character because I’m a researcher. I like to get beneath the surface, I like to really explore dynamics and explore the character’s background and history. And so its wonderful working with other artists who really value that, and directors and writers who really value that. Whether its Ava DuVernay, or Anthony Hemingway (Red Tails, The Wire, Treme),, whether it’s David Simon, Etan Cohen or Tyler Perry. I think when you’re working with strong artists and strong directors, it helps everyone because now there’s a clear focus, there’s a clear intention, and you can find your place within that. As well as. when you as an actor have a strong opinion, it gives you somewhere to go. It gives you substance, things to play with and it always ultimately makes for a better production.

On OWN’s If Loving You Is Wrong, how is your character Kelly similar to you?
Well Kelly is, or at least starts out as, an idealist. She’s an optimist. Now there’s some naivete in her that I don’t have to the degree that she does, but I definitely am naturally a dreamer; I tend to see the world through rose-colored glasses. I tend to believe people have positive intentions. I tend to believe people can change. And I believe those are all qualities I believe Kelly possesses. But the difference between me and her is that she makes some huge life decisions based off that. She decides to prematurely purchase a house for her and would-be fiancé, only to find out he was meant to marry someone else. Which ended up being devastating for her. I’m even talking to Oprah about it, and she’s like ‘Why did she buy this house,’ and I’m like ‘I’m thinking the same thing, Oprah. Why did she buy that house, girl?’ So as an actress, it was my job to figure it out why did she buy this house? Why did she buy this house? And the answer I came to and which I chose to play is that she in need of love. That she wants love so badly, and many women that relate to that. So there’s a void happening in her. She wants love so badly that she’s willing to extenuate and compromise herself by any means necessary to get to it, and hold on to it. And unfortunately it backfires. In this season and now Kelly is learning how to live on her own two feet, and trying to learn how to be that fully independent woman and understand what she deserves and what she doesn’t. And I think that’s what fans are really going to connect with this season. How do you pick up the pieces, after you kinda lived your life for someone else and or lived your life in hopes of someone reciprocating the love you have for them?

What are some of the biggest gems that Oprah has dropped on you that you can’t ever forget? Something she said to you that’s going to stick forever.
You know what? One of the things I get from learning from people, sometimes its what they say other times its what they do. And with Oprah, it’s really what she does. For instance, unfortunately my mother passed away in the middle of shooting and it was very, very hard. But to see how she and Tyler and the presidents and vice presidents of the company, how they cared for me during that time. People watching the show they would never know that I experienced this tragedy in the middle of it, you know.  And I recognize these people are truly busy. They are on top of the world, we already know that. I think it’s a beautiful thing – and I feel the same about Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart – its one thing to care about what people do for you, it’s another thing when you care about doing something for other people. And I have found that Oprah, Tyler, Kevin, Will, I can go down the list, that they are enormously generous people, they’re kind people, they are considerate people. They just affirm for me that the higher that you go, the more humble you should get. The higher you should go, the more grateful it should be. And I feel like each of them, including Oprah, has modeled that for me in a really beautiful way.

I’m sure you heard this news this week: the Deadline article saying that the upward movement of diversity on TV is basically making it hard for white actors to land roles. Have you heard about this?
I have not read the article and I’m definitely a person who wants to have read the source article in order to comment on it. One thing I can say is that I am enormously excited that there are more opportunities for African-Americans in television than there ever been before. It means those of us that paid good money to go to NYU, and Juilliard, and Yale and Harvard and Columbia and USC, now have a chance to show our craft, our skill, our purpose and we’ve been working equally as hard to get in the entertainment industry. And I think it’s about time that we have more opportunities to showcase the wonderful array of talent that we possess.

 

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Brent Faiyaz Channels International Life Into New Musical Gems

Finishing up his summer in Europe, Brent Faiyaz (born Christopher Brent Wood) indulges in spiked mimosas and enticing conversations with his team after handling business for the day. Jet-setting overseas to add more memories to his life’s reel, the singer-songwriter and producer just celebrated his 24th birthday days before. “I think anytime you go places internationally you get a different perspective," he says. "I felt like creatively, it would bring out some more shit.” Many doors have opened for the DMV crooner since he first appeared in front of the public’s eye with his single “Natural Release” in 2014. Pulling pages out what seems to be his journal entries, Faiyaz shares his autobiography through the dynamics of string ballads, haloed hymns, and tinder timbre.

The Columbia, Maryland R&B talent has shared his soothing vocals with fans ever since. Studiously making beats from the age of 12 or 13, it wasn’t until after graduating high school and moving to Charlotte with his parents that he began to invest in music full time. His rhythmic resonance and gut-punching lyrics turned into his first five-track EP speaking to women, relationships, and sex in A.M. Paradox in 2016 with his hit single “Poison.” He formed a group called Sonder with fellow musicians Dpat and Atu, and released a group EP with them called Into before dropping another solo project, Sonder Son. The 12-track project delved into his childhood: he brought his fans right into his living room in “Home,” gave them a seat at the table in his classrooms in “Gang Over Luv,” and walked his newfound Los Angeles streets with them in “L.A.” He then unleashed his tightly knit six-track EP Lost with standouts “Trust,” and “Around Me.”

“I come from a very real place. I think that I can give a lot of people around me a lot of real perspectives. I’ve been seeing a lot of people in certain avenues gravitate towards a nigga,” the LA-based artist said.

The indie artist truly received a standing ovation after organically co-creating the 2018 Grammy-nominated single “Crew” with GoldLink and Shy Glizzy. “I’m going to be real; I didn’t go into music with the intention of being an independent artist, especially not this long. But then [I] hopped onto “Crew” and we fucked around a got a hit record without even being signed to a label. After that I started getting paid so I was like ‘Fuck it, we really don’t need that,’” he said.

His first 2019 summer single “Fuck the World (Summer in London)” opened a perspective of contronyms that approached both the literal and lustful world. What he calls “the woes and the woes.” “Meaning the shit that I hate. [What] is terrible about life right now that’s fucked up, fuck the world on the negative end, middle finger fuck the world,” he says. “And then it’s ‘Fuck the World’ where it’s like the girls and the money and the clothes and the bullshit.”

He later dropped his latest track a month later. “Rehab (Winter In Paris)” mirrors a story when the singer was balancing his personal time while being addicted to a person who is addicted to a substance. With “Rehab” already penned, Faiyaz went to producing the track alongside No ID, known for his work with rap greats like Jay-Z, Common and Kanye West. “He’s an OG. I soaked up a lot of game from him. I locked in with him for a whole week and cut a bunch of ideas.” Observing the producer's process, Faiyaz implemented some of No ID’s ways into his own. “I would take certain shit he said and put that in my own shit. Real talk, he is one of those niggas that will put you on game.”

With a uniqueness to his voice that is charming yet elusive, the singer has raised eyebrows by not resembling the stereotypical genetic makeup of a rhythm and blues artist. “I don’t really know how a sound is supposed to look. If somebody tells me how a sound is supposed to look, I will understand,” Faiyaz chuckled. “I don’t really connect the two. I can’t change how I look; I can’t change how I sound. I’m going to keep doing me.”

During what one could consider a hiatus, the vocalist used that time to focus on his craft, give back to his mom, jump on A$AP Ferg’s album Floor Seats, and walk in Pyer Moss’s New York Fashion Week Show. As he has geared up for a musical return that will unveil a different side, Faiyaz is under renovation. “I [don’t] want to give people the same sh*t that I’ve been giving them this whole time. I’m not about to put out a new project and it sounds the exact same as the last project. I want to keep reinventing myself as this sh*t goes on.”

“Right now, I am probably the most creative that I’ve ever been.”

Brent has successfully left his fans longing for more all while remaining authentic, not purposefully trying to create any kind of enigma around himself. “It’s not a goal of mine to be on the tip of everybody’s tongue all the time.”

With the year wrapping up, the 24-year-old is “pushing boundaries” as he prepares to release more original melodies. While he experiments with the production elements of his music and strengthening his vocals, the artist is effortlessly surprising himself in the studio. “I’m kind of saying whatever the fuck I want to say on the track and somehow it’s coming out pretty good. I know how to put it in a way where it comes off ill.”

Plotting his next moves, the creative has become enthralled with art all across the board in his performances as it translates to visual art. “I’m really learning how a bunch of different avenues go aside from just music. I’m on my young renaissance man shit.”

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Robert Glasper performs at Blue Note in New York City on Saturday, Oct. 5 during his residency.
Dennis Manuel

Robert Glasper Talks 'F**k Yo Feelings,' Yasiin Bey, And Lessons From Herbie Hancock

“This second set, bro...”

Robert Glasper mischievously smiled and widened his eyes as I began to turn off my recorder. We’re wrapping up an interview and sitting side by side near a soundboard at the historic Blue Note jazz club in New York City, where fans are packed downstairs for the third night of Glasper’s month-long residency. He had a previous residency at the Blue Note last year, and it was a hot ticket: acts such as Black Star, Anderson .Paak, and Lupe Fiasco shared the stage with him, while celebrities like Chris Rock, Cornel West, and Chadwick Boseman came to enjoy from the audience.

For the start of this year’s residency, the elusive, expressive Yasiin Bey joined him for four nights in a row, with two shows each night. On Saturday (Oct. 5), the Brooklyn renaissance man wore a black hoodie over a solid black tee, wielded his signature bright red retro mic, and went through fan favorites like “The Boogie Man Song,” “Auditorium” and “Casa Bey,” all over fresh, warmly layered interpretations by Glasper and his bandmates Derrick Hodge, Chris Dave and DJ Jahi Sundance. Bey is visibly impressed by the band, and at one point, dances and spins in place for 10 minutes while vibing to the music. But with Glasper’s reputation and relationships, other artists are prone to just show up, and that’s why Glasper was so excited about the second show: god-level MC Black Thought and soul singer Bilal both made surprise appearances, leaving members of the crowd hyperventilating. Thought exhibited his otherworldly lyricism and breath control, dropping sets of what felt like 100 bars at a time and trading rhymes with Yasiin while the band played a rendition of Madvillain’s “Meat Grinder.” Bilal performed his timeless 2001 single “Reminisce,” with Yasiin spitting his verse from the song. Main Source cofounder Large Professor slipped in the door before the show as well, though he didn’t take the stage. For much of the show, Glasper goofily joked with the crowd, often prompting Yasiin to flash his own bashful, dimpled smile. It's just one night of more to come: the rest of the residency will continue through the beginning of November with Esperanza Spaulding, Luke James for a Stevie Wonder tribute, T3 of Slum Village for a J Dilla tribute, and the original Robert Glasper Experiment, with more guests sure to pop up unannounced.

That same spirit of spontaneity fueled Glasper’s new mixtape, Fuck Yo Feelings. Glasper arranged a two-day jam session with his band and invited artists and friends to keep company. What began as a good time with loved ones resulted with a mixtape that features YBN Cordae, Buddy, Rapsody, Herbie Hancock, Bey, Muhsinah, and many more. It's the latest release in a career that has seen Glasper simultaneously carry on jazz traditions and buck its conventions. As a pianist, bandleader and musical director, he’s excelled with making jazz records for the iconic Blue Note Records that traditionalists can love; but he’s also earned two Grammys for his two Black Radio albums, which employ raps and vocals by Yasiin Bey, Lalah Hathaway, Erykah Badu, and more. He's consistently lent his talents to other musicians’ albums as well – most notably Kendrick Lamar, for his game-shifting 2014 LP To Pimp A Butterfly. Regardless of the platform, Glasper is always making jazz cool, and adding victories to his own belt in the process.

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VIBE: You’re back at Blue Note for your second residency here. How was last year, and what made you come back?

Robert Glasper: Last year was amazing, with all the guests that came through and the turnout. We sold out 44 of 48 shows. The shows, the people, the guests following out that were in New York. It was just epic shit. And Blue Note was like, “we definitely need to do this next year.” So I was like “cool, let’s do it.” I get to be home for a month, and I’m never home for five weeks straight. Gives me a chance to be home, hang out with my son every week, and the money ain’t bad either. (laughs) It’s kind of like being on tour without being on tour.

Last time we spoke, you were telling me that even though you live in NYC, that most of the creative energy is in LA because that’s where everyone records.

There’s more recording in LA, because everybody moved there. But the creative energy is still here. From my experience, you learn how to play and create in New York, you get all those skills. And then you move to LA to make money with it. (laughs) New York’s the place to go when you’re dope, kind of for most things. The competition is so crazy. In other places, it’s slim pickings of who’s dope, so it’s not something that’s going to push you hardcore. But when you’re here, everywhere you go, muhfuckas is dope. I went to college here, there’s motherfuckas here who made me scared to play piano. They would call my name, and I’d sit at the drums because I’d rather sound bad on drums than piano in front of these people. It really chiseled my shit to be dope as fuck.

LA is the place with a plethora of everything you need to make money. All the studios, the producers, all the film stuff. The opportunities are in LA. Before you used to go back and forth from New York to LA for opportunities because there were still a lot of artists and producers here. But it’s so expensive, everybody moved out to LA. It’s more stuff out here, you get more bang for your buck, get some sun. You might die in an earthquake, but you know, see where it takes you. (laughs)

You’re very intentional with how you label records: you have ArtScience, you have Black Radio and Black Radio 2. Why is Fuck Yo Feelings a separate mixtape, and not in one of those other series?

All my records start off one way, and end up another way. I always say the universe produces half of my albums. Originally this was going to be a jam session with my band, and we were just recording it. I ended up being like, let’s bring people to listen to the recording. Not even artists, just tastemakers, friends, VIPs, to come hang out and put a bar in there, 15-20 pairs of headphones so they can be in the room and be part of the experience. It wasn’t an album; it was just, let’s record for two days and see how it sounds. But people started falling through the studio, and it just became a thing. As we kept recording –- we were only there for two days – I had the amazing singer/songwriter SiR come through. He’s a super-fast writer so I said, “while we’re jamming, if you have any ideas, just write them down, and maybe they can become songs later.” One of the songs he had an idea for was “Fuck Yo Feelings.” That was early on the first day. The singer YEBBA was there, and I’m like, “let her sing that.” And that became the premise of the whole shit.

I feel like that’s a great mantra for today’s times. Where I’m coming from, Fuck Yo Feelings can mean so many different things. This is a time where everybody’s fighting for their place in the world to be who they are, whether you’re LGBTQ, whether it’s the females trying to get equal pay and equal rights, black people trying to finally be equal and end racism. Fuck Yo Feelings is a mantra saying, respect someone else’s plight that’s not your own. Take your feelings out of it and just respect their fight, understand what it is, and hell, fight with them. Just because it’s not your fight, it doesn’t mean they don’t need allies. Or, just get out of the way. Also, feelings can lie to you. You get in your feelings about shit, and a lot of times, feelings aren’t going to be what propels you to the next chapter. Sometimes, feelings can hold you back and give you a false sense of reality. Sometimes, you have to say “fuck how I feel, I need to do this.” There’s so many angles you can go with it, and this is something that so many people feel like saying, or say in their mind.

I hear that, but I can’t front: the cover has you sitting on a throne with your shirt off. So I thought the title was basically saying “fuck these artists who think they’re fucking with me.”

(laughs) Well, humbly speaking, I don’t think there are dudes that think they’re fucking with me. (laughs louder) In a real way, I don’t know the pianist that’s arguably in the top five in the jazz world, top five in the hip-hop world, is arguably the top five in the R&B world in terms of playing my instrument. I don’t know that guy, but me. You can have your little argument, “I’m better than you at jazz,” sure. If you want. But all three? And I have the Grammys to back each one of them up? I put in work out here. So it wasn’t that. It’s more like fuck your feelings when it comes to all the stuff I just said. But also, people have an issue with how I’m crossing all these genres and doing what I do. The average jazz musician doesn’t look the way I look, talk the way I talk, or behave the way I behave. Most jazz musicians are in a box, and it’s a box that people are comfortable with and a box you’ve seen before. People got some shit to say about my shit all the time, and I’m definitely saying fuck your feelings to that, too. Because I’ve done the box you like, I’ve proven I can do that. So what’s next? I don’t need nobody’s approval because Herbie [Hancock] loves me, so I’m good. (laughs) If Herbie’s down with me, I don’t need one other person’s approval in the world.

This mixtape also has a lot of younger rappers: Denzel Curry, YBN Cordae, Buddy. Was that intentional?

Yeah. I want to keep my hand in the young pot, too. I’m not getting any younger. I wanted this record to be something that everybody could love and like, even different generations. I felt it was important to have younger cats on here, and to put younger cats in situations they wouldn’t normally be in. YBN Cordae wouldn’t normally be on a track with Herbie Hancock, but he’s so dope. YBN Cordae is an old soul, and he respects the people that came before him, while he’s making new things. Terrace Martin hooked me and YBN up, and Terrace is all about that too. People always associate me with the backpack rappers, and they should, because that’s what I’m dwelling in all the time. But I like other shit, too.

I want to talk about your relationship with Yasiin. I know he was on the first Black Radio, and you’ve worked together before that too, right?

Live, all the time. He basically used my band for his live stuff all the time. I was his music director, starting in like 2006. Whenever he would do things with a live band, they’d be with my band. At first, something happened and his piano player couldn’t make one gig. So when I sub a gig… (laughs) I went in there and put the kitchen sink in that mufucka.

He got fired on his day off?

It was a wrap. So I start putting my guys in his band. “I see what you’re going for. You need Chris Dave. You need Derrick Hodge.” But I’d met him before because he was around Bilal all the time. He was on Bilal’s first record, and I was his music director the whole time till 2007. But I started doing my own thing and we’ve been rocking ever since. We just have one of those connections on stage, bro – he’s like another instrument. He’s always comfortable to the fact that we play shit that most rappers would not rap over because they don’t know how. It’s not your average four-bar chopped beat. He’s like, “I love that. It’s got 32 different changes in it, and I want to rap over the whole thing.” Or odd time signature shit that’s not normal, he’s comfortable. He can go anywhere on stage, and that’s why every show we do is different. It allows me to still be free and not have to worry about, “we have to stay in this box for him.”

He seems to be a recluse in a lot of ways, especially in the past five or six years. But he’s on your new project, he’s doing four nights in a row with you with two shows per night, and he did shows at the Kennedy Center with you recently. How do you get a hold of him?

I got the bat phone, my nigga! (laughs) Nah, we have mutual respect for each other. He tells me this: this is the highest musical level, I feel, you can possibly be in when it comes to rocking with a band. It may be different, but it ain’t gon get no higher. He has such a love for jazz and hip-hop and other styles of music, he knows we can go anywhere. We’ve done pop songs together. I’ve done Cyndi Lauper stuff with him, Neil Young, Radiohead, we go all over the place because he loves to sing too. He has a respect for what I do and respect for the musicians I have. And he wants to do it. It’s different when it’s a gig, versus, I want to do this, because it feeds him musically, too. Some gigs are just gigs; you show up and you might not, because you’ve done this before. We could do the same songs and it’s going to be totally different than last night. I think he feeds off that.

But he’s definitely a recluse, and sometimes he won’t show up every now and then. (laughs) He’s never stood me up. It was never, “where’s Mos?” He can do that to people, but he’s never done that to me. He may say, “ah, missed a flight,” so we have time to figure shit out. It’s a respect thing.

What are the chances you two make an EP, or a full album together?

We’ve been talking about that for years, and that’s super, super duper most likely going to happen. Without a doubt. He wants to, every time we talk, we talk about that. All these shows are being recorded every night, by the way. So it could be shit from here, live.

He was supposed to drop multiple albums over the past few years. He had the album with Mannie Fresh, and another solo, Negus In Natural Person. He dropped the album with Ferrari Sheppard, December 99th, on TIDAL in 2016, but that wasn’t my speed.

I give him shit about that every day. (laughs) I give him shit about most of his last albums. “Fuck that shit, my nigga. What are you doing?” That’s my dude, I can talk to him like that. “What are you doing, my nigga? You know what this is. This is magic! That shit ain’t magic!” He looks at me like (curls top lip and lowers voice to impersonate Yasiin Bey) “nah you right, you’re right, Ron.”

His second album, The Ecstatic, isn’t on streaming services anymore.

He doesn’t believe in all that. We talked about that last night. He’s not necessarily in with the new times like that. “I gotta give away my shit for free, just because you’ve got Wifi? Nigga, you know how hard I worked on this shit?” He ain’t even got a cell phone, so getting him to understand the new wave of shit is different. (Ed. note: at the beginning of both shows, Yasiin Bey requests the crowd not use their cell phones during his performance, and promises to “enforce” if they don’t get with the program. ) He’s very much anti all that shit. It’s going to be something to gradually get him to understand. We put “Treal” (from Fuck Yo Feelings) out and he’s like, “yo. I just saw a video of our song on YouTube. For free?!” Mos, no one buys music. That’s just not what it is. These days and times we’re in, you get out there and try to be popular as you can, and when you do shows, that’s where your money comes from. But no one is baking cake off of music anymore. That's not the day we’re in. Unless somebody like Taylor Swift. I know at one point she was like “fuck that shit” and it wasn’t on Spotify. But her fan base is millions of people; she puts something out, and they’re going to pay for it. Our people, eh, not so much. (laughs)

You also said a few years ago that you’d be forming a group with Terrace Martin and James Fauntleroy. Is that still going on?

We did like one or two songs, fucked around. This is one of those things where everybody got busy. I’ve had a few groups go like that. But it takes a while for a group to do a project. You do a song this month and then three months later you do another song, so the album may not come out until two years later sometimes. But that’s still something we want to do. It was hard to do August Greene, with Common [and Karriem Riggins]. That was hard to get done, and it’s not easy to tour that. We all have our respective things happening, so we’re looking in the cracks like “let’s try to do a show here.” Rashid’s doing movies and that kind of stuff.

What would you say you’ve learned from Herbie Hancock, and do you think you’ve given him any gems that he didn’t have before?

There’s two things I learned from Herbie. You’re a person first, and you’re a musician second. No matter what you do in life, you have to remember that you’re a human being first, and what you do is secondary. What you do can always be taken away from you, and then you’re just left with who you are. I was at his house doing chants with him, because he’s a Buddhist, and I just listened to him talk and that’s one of the things he said. The music is connected to the person and the music, person and spirit are all combined. If you’re a good person, that can come through the music. You just have to remember you’re a person first, and a musician second. That’s how he is, how his aura is.

Second thing I’m learning from Herbie, you can learn from anybody. No matter how high or great you think you are, you can learn from younger people. That’s something that he saw firsthand with Miles (Davis). Miles got Herbie in his band when he was like 19. And Miles trusted the young cats. When he saw these young people got something to say. All Miles’ bands were young people. Miles was a genius at knowing what situation to be a part of because he saw they were on the brink of something. Miles put himself in that and could help grow that, but he knew he could learn from young people. That’s why Herbie hangs out with us. Where we be at, he be pulling up. So I learned that from him: always have your ears open. Even if you’re a master at something, masters can learn.

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Lil Kim performs onstage at the BET Hip Hop Awards 2019 at Cobb Energy Center on October 5, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

BET Hip Hop Awards 2019: Watch All The Performances Here

There were awards given out at the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards, but this year's festivities were all about the performances. Hip-hop's biggest up and comers (Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, YBN Cordae, Saweetie), more established names, (Rick Ross, Rapsody, Chance The Rapper), and flat out legends (Lil Kim) all blessed the stage.

This year also saw the return of the annual Cyphers and connected with URL to integrate battles into the show for the first time. Look below for the performances from the 2019 BET Hip Hop Awards.

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Lil Kim Performs Medley Of Hits with Junior M.A.F.I.A., O.T. Genasis, and Musiq Soulchild Megan Thee Stallion And DaBaby Perform "Hot Girl Summer" And "Cash Shit" Lil Duval, TOM. G, And KaMillion Team Up For City Boys Performance YBN Cordae And Anderson .Paak Perform "RPN" Saweetie Performs "My Type" With Lil Jon And Petey Pablo Rapsody Performs "Nina" And "Serena" Chance The Rapper Performs "Sun Come Down" DaBaby Performs "Intro" And "Baby Sitter" With Offset Rick Ross and T-Pain Perform Medley Lil Baby and DaBaby Perform "Baby" T-TOP Vs. Shotgun Suge – Battle DNA vs. Geechi Gotti – Battle
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