You had a great run in 2011, where you dropped a lot of quality music and seemed to have your fanbase grow exponentially. Would you say it was a breakthrough year for you?
Yeah, I would say. The reason is I got the solo project out and made a lot of noise running around with Bronson and hosting the J-Love mixtape. I’ve been getting a lot of love from different angles.
Why do you think more fans started paying more attention to you?
Just consistency. I always had a certain group of people but now there’s more angles. You fan base gets you and more people talk to more people and it starts to form together.
Anyone who’s followed J-Love’s mixtapes and the Outdoorsman movement knows your music, which you’ve dropped consistently for years. Was it ever frustrating putting out so much music and not getting the recognition for it?
Nah. When you put out anything, people catch up at different times. Some people jump on it right away, others jump on it later. That’s what’s happening. Everything’s happening, actually, the way I saw it. People hit me every day about records from a year ago. It’s brand new to them. It’s all out there and let people absorb it on their own time. It’s all good. People might hear something tomorrow they like and with the internet, they’ll start doing some research and find all kinds of dope material out there.
Your solo album, Self-Induced Illness, was a great album. Were you happy with how that did?
Truthfully, it moved steadily. It moves well. Whatever it was doing when it first dropped, it’s still being consistent. It’s a reminder to me that new people keep finding out about me. A lot of independent artists, they tell me, when they put something out, the first month or two or first quarter, they get the most amount of sales but with me, it’s been steady. People are rocking with us, so that’s a good thing.
You made that a double disc too. Why go that route?
There were a whole lot of people that were checking for me from the start. Disc one is all new, fresh material and disc two was half new joints, half older joints that I put out that I figured I’d throw out to people who didn’t know. It was the first go-around where you let people really get to know me.
What’s been some of the better moments that’s happened for you since Self-Induced Illness dropped?
I’ve got a lot more shows since the album dropped. A lot more dates, doing a lot more shows, which is definitely a plus, and just more love in general. The response has been good. It’s put me on a different platform, for sure. I’d been doing this for awhile but I didn’t have an album of my own. I had songs on other people’s albums and mixtapes, but putting out an album, and a double-album, I feel like people kind of understood, like, ‘All right, this cat is for real.’
What’s your song-making process like?
It varies on the topic. I don’t do everything the same. Every song is not three 16s and two hooks. Sometimes I just want to go in and black out and sometimes I want to talk about a concept that takes more time and say things clearly. It varies.
You’re working on an album with Buckwild now. How’s that coming?
It’s in the real early stages. It’s dope. It’s what you’d expect. It’s real hip-hop, classic New York sound with the beats and rhymes. It’s coming along well.
How did the album even come about?
That actually came about through Dante, Dante Ross. Dante was actually managing me for a couple of months. I would come through and I would rock shows and Dante would ask me about my management situation so he was managing me and one of the first things he told me was that he was close friends with Buckwild and he thought I was dope. I grew up on Buckwild so for me to hear that was dope! I didn’t even know Buckwild knew who I was. Me and him made everything official with him managing me and Bronson. He wanted to set it up with me and Buck and just do it. That’s how it started.
Are you recording everything together or sending files back and forth?
Well, we started. He sent me one beat through email and I wrote something crazy to that. But we’re basically doing it the old school way, going to the lab together, writing joints, really doing this together. It’s not just like he’s emailing me a bunch of beats. We’re doing it in the flesh. That’s how it’s going down.
Will we hear this in 2012?
Early. That’s the first thing I plan on dropping, early this year. Hopefully in the next two or three months, it should be wrapped.
Are you working on a solo album?
The Buckwild project, that kind of came out of the blue with Dante. But I was already working on an album called Every Day is Thanksgiving. I’ve been working on that for awhile and that’s gonna be crazy. I got some of J-Love’s best production ever and it’s featuring Large Pro and Ayatollah. Just Blaze got me on something for that project. Me and Just have been really cool for a long time. We’ve been building for when the time is right for him to help me out with something. Earlier I didn’t even want to bother him with something but with this project, he’s got me. He’s been a man of his word since I’ve known him so you can definitely expect a Just Blaze joint on that album. It’s gonna be really, really, really crazy. I’m not gonna go in too much on the features. It’s just gonna be me and a couple members from the fam. But that should be coming out at the end of the year. Look for the Buckwild project relatively soon and then I’m gonna try and end the year with this Every Day is Thanksgiving LP.
You’ve worked with Large Pro through the J-Love projects. What’s it like having him on your album though?
Yeah. This is actually the first track he’s produced for me. I’ve been on his tracks, but this track is crazy. It’s going to be in the stash until the end of the year. Hopefully I hit them with some real good projects this year. I got some shows lined up for Europe and got a lot of shows in SXSW. We’re just going to keep the ball moving.
You’ve also got a project in the works with Action Bronson. How’s that coming?
That’s also in the early stages. Me and Action are finishing it. We’re just working on it as we find time to do it. It’s not really rushed. We find time to go to the lab and knock a couple of joints out. That probably won’t be done this year, probably more like next year. We’re hanging out and it’s fun. People think we just rhyme together or we met through music. That’s my man from 12 years-old. We’re childhood friends. We’re not even looking at it like it’s a project. We’re hanging out, knocking some rhymes out, and stack X amount and put the best joints out and hit ‘em in the head with a classic.
Action Bronson’s been a part of the movement for awhile and he had a breakout year last year. What do you think helped him get noticed?
The consistency, man. It’s quality and consistency. Those are the two words to describe how to really grind and get your presence know. You put out dope projects consistently. A lot of people think he hasn’t put out enough music yet but he put out four projects last year! He was just consistently dope. How could you front on that? It was dope and he worked hard.
What has J-Love meant to your career?
I started this with J-Love. It’s been extremely valuable having him. He’s the person who taught me how to write bars. Before he was even doing his MC thing, when I first hollered at him for beats, he was breaking down how to write songs and all that. He basically put me on to the whole game. He was a person I knew before music. We hung out with mutual friends and working with people like J and Action is cool because we had relationships before music.
What’s your favorite dish from Action Bronson?
I don’t know. He’s a champion, man. I never had anything bad that he cooked, to be honest. The lamb chops are real crazy. He makes different pastas and different sandwiches. It’s cool. Me and Action got close in junior high school. Me and him took cooking for two reasons. One, we liked to cook and two, all the girls were in cooking, so we already knew what time it was. That’s the class where we really became friends. We’ve been cooking together since we were kids. It’s funny.
Will you cater your own album release party?
Why would we call somebody else?
Makes sense. What are your specialties?
I do a lot of baking and sautés. I try not to fry things too much. I’m also heavy with the lamb chops and soups. My chicken soup is crazy. The beef stew. Things like that.
The ladies never get tired of that.
Not at all. It lets them know we don’t really need them because we cook better than them anyway. They love us a little more because they know that’s not gonna keep us!
Any new dishes you want to master?
Nah, not really. But you know, I’m might just buy a new cookbook or turn on the cooking channel. I just don’t have time for anything right now.
Who are your favorite chefs?
I like [Marco] Batali a lot. I was up on Emeril early, before he got all the hype. I remember when he was in a basement cooking. I really like Batali and Emeril the best. What’s the blond guy’s name?
Yeah, he gets it in too. I respect his chef game.
You’re also known for your Polo game. What’s your collection looking like today?
It’s not as crazy as it was. I still got a lot of pieces. At this point, it’s almost like I didn’t lose the enthusiasm. It’s a way of life and what I wear. 90% of what I have is Polo. I still have a lot of classics. I got rid of some of my pieces because I got big over the years and I don’t like to just hold onto them. I got so many friends and family that’s into the whole ‘Lo thing that I downsized. I traded or sold it and even gave mad pieces away. I got a lot of the new shit. The big and tall collection is real crazy. I still have 20-50 of the classic items in the stash and I pull them out here and there. It’s dope.
Who is the future of New York hip-hop?
Maffew Ragazino, Shaz Ill York, Spit Gemz…Honestly, right now, this is the best up-and-coming line-up I’ve seen in a minute. You’ve got the whole Outdoorsman team. You’ve got us. I like Smoke DZA. He’s got some heat. There’s a lot of up-and-coming dudes from New York coming up right now and I’m happy to be a part of it. Jay Steele is coming out and he’s really no joke. He’s working on a mixtape right now. He’s my brother, like my physical brother. He’s got a bunch of joints with me and Bronson on them and Coroner. J-Love’s on some. Coroner’s stepping up. He’s working on a mixtape and an album right now. He’s recording like a beast. People know him for his features. He’s been on me and Action’s joints and J-Love’s mixtapes. Look for Jay Steele and Coroner to step up this year.
What’s your role in New York hip-hop right now?
Really, I feel like it’s just playing the position I’ve been playing, being consistent with it, putting out dope things. If I come across another MC or producer that I’m on the same page as I am, I like to introduce people and let’s all build towards the bigger picture.