You may know Drag-On from his Ruff Ryder days, and the body-shaking 1999 hit “Down Bottom” featuring Juvenile. But that was nearly two decades ago. And sincerely speaking, the human flame thrower is only concerned with present business.
“Before we get started, I want to let you know that I have my own thing going on now,” Drag-On said. “That’s why I’m here. The Ruff Ryders thing was great, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.”
These days, Drag, managed by Back in the Game Entertainment, has Hood Environment resting on his shoulders. With that, the Bronx veteran has been busy pushing his Barz on Fire mixtape series, and bundles face-screwing freestyles–he’s currently on No. 24. Having dropped single-ready bangers “He Ain’t Real” featuring Maino, “Wave Hoppers,” and “Run Off on the Plug,” among others, Fire Man Drag is just as lyrically adept as he was during his late-teens and early 20s. Being totally honest–bar-for-bar, Drag will bite the head off of your favorite rapper.
The Uptown rep came through VIBE’s office to discuss his new company Hood Environment, the Internet, and what he loves about the era of hip-hop.
VIBE: I’ve been listening to your new sh*t. And you saw the text I fired off, you do not sound dated at all. And the sh*t is fire. Not everyone can pull that off. Are you gaining new fans?
Drag-On: Thanks brother. I appreciate that. But yes, a lot of new fans, to the point where I had to take down a lot of my pictures. I had videos where I was smoking weed. And I’m noticing that I’m seeing kids 13-14 years old following me. So, I had to take a lot of that sh*t down. This is somebody’s child. But I’m defiantly getting new fans.
What was the process of climbing back to this point in your career?
I got to the point where I didn’t want to rely on WorldStarHipHop and stuff like that. One day, I decided that I was just going to give my fan page my actual videos. I gave them the whole joint and it was the “All the Way Up (Freestyle).” I went from a thousand, maybe 1,500 views to like 2 million within forty minutes. Me and DJ Clue was working. He was working my record on the radio everyday. He blasting my record everyday. I’m like: ‘damn, the buzz ain’t coming.’ One day, I’m in my boxers playing my game, Clue’s manager called me: ‘Yo Drag, you going viral. You seen it? Go to your Facebook page. That sh*t you just put up, you up the 500,000 right now.’
You’re from a different era. How was it using social media as opposed to the radio to make a return?
That’s when I fully respected the Internet. I never respected the Internet. I’m trying to do it the old-school way. Radio. People were telling me 10-15 years ago: ‘Drag, XM [Radio] is going to be the new joint. I’m like: “Oh yeah, I don’t know HOT 97…’ I did not respect how powerful Facebook, and Youtube, Worldstar, etc. But now I get it.”
You have years under your belt. What’s different about working and recording during this stage in your life?
You know what, I always felt as though you have to get the right features on your joints. But now, I’m like: ‘Fu*k all of that. Now, if I do a feature with you, I have to fu*k with you in a way where it doesn’t have anything to do with the music. We have to be on the same page.
What exactly is Hood Environment?
I don’t really call it a label. I call it a machine. You don’t have to have a certain number of views to be on Hood Environment. We can just see the potential in someone and move forward. That’s how I came into the game. I came into the game homeless. There was no Youtube, or none of that. We’re still going to do artist development. But right now, we’re just focused on the music. And soon as we get that how we want it, we are definitely getting into the film thing.
Are there artists on Hood Environment?
I dropped all artists. Right now, we’re focused on me. We’re not signing artist because I don’t want any artist over here upset, setting around, shelved. When I sign an artist, we working, probably the next day. I’m working around the clock. I’ve been in the game since 1997, but I’m working as if I’m a brand new artist.
There’s been a lot of changes in hip-hop since you dropped Opposite of H2O, what changes in the culture are you loving the most?
I’m loving the change in hip-hop right now. When I first came into the game, you had to have a major record company behind you. Not even an independent label, but a major. Now, I love the fact I’m in full control of my music, and how I’m touching my fanbase. This is part of the game that I love.
When I left I was like: ‘Well, at least I still have my name.’ So, I’m thinking that I can still just drop music. I drop this joint–get three hundred views. I’m like: ‘yo, I really got to start this sh*t over.’ My booking and everything stopped. I start from scratch.
That’s has to be a heavy blow to your confidence. How’d you fight through that?
I have to give full credit to God. Less playing. more praying. He was the one who actually got me through that. This lady, her name Coco, used to call me to just pray with me. And we barely knew each other. We met online. It wasn’t a sexual thing. She just felt what I was going through. She was like: ‘Yo, you are super talented and people don’t even know. But don’t worry, we’re get through this.’ And that’s what kept me going.