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With a monster of a street record in "I Do This" and the soul-soaring first single "I Love It" over a Toomp beat beginning to make the rounds, it's officially official - the Snowman's back. Read the interview that lead to our 40th issue cover story after the jump.
Thug Motivation 102, what were you going in there to do with the second album?
Thug Motivation 102 , to me, is what 101 was - I just see things a little different now, but I don’t want to let up off the movement. Me personally, I respect the movement and it’s really not music to me - it’s really about words that touch people. It wasn’t the biggest selling album in rap, but it was one of the most respected.
I don’t quite have my head around what the specifics of the movement are.
To me, when I say “Thug Motivation,” I don’t want to have it taken out of context like it’s only for one type of person. Thug Motivation is for anybody who’s a non-believer, and somebody comes along and makes you a believer. A lot of people make music that’s for the clubs and something you can dance to, but everybody’s life ain’t like that all the time. Sometimes people, they lives are different. And where I came from, our lives were different. I love club music and that’s what I grew up on, but at the same time, there was a lot of things going on around me that, if people knew more about them, they would understand me. So it’s not glorifying anything, but the shit I talk about really happens, and it happens to people everyday.
I just wanted to let the non-believers know that there’s still some shit out there for us. Because the world wouldn’t work right if everybody had a good job. Some people are supposed to do what we do. That’s life, I’m a realist, I don’t look at it like good or bad, it’s moreso surviving. Because you could be the best nigga in the world and walk outside and somebody could blow your brains out for $20 because he’s trynna get a hit. So it ain’t really about that, but these shits really happen. But you don’t wanna preach to nobody. You don’t wanna get all, “Everything’s fucked up, everything’s bad,” because motherfuckers are like, “What’s good about it then?” Well I got a few cars out of this shit, I will say that. I had some good times in the club, shit. That’s the shit you look back on. I’m sure you, if you a writer, you went to college, you look back on them days like, Boy they wouldn’t understand. I look back on my street days like, People wouldn’t understand what we’re goin through. But I make a point not to glorify it.
One of the things that’s interesting is that you’re not preaching and you’re not pointing fingers. But that’s a slippery slope because sometimes there’s some fingers to be pointed. Have you ever wanted to go into the booth and do a song where you’re saying, “Fuck this” and “Fuck that,” and “It shouldn’t be this way”?
I wouldn’t do that because, like I said, there’s a lot of opportunity in this world and some of the people that come from the most fucked up places make it the farthest. Who you gonna point fingers at? You can’t point fingers at the man upstairs. You can’t point fingers at the President because that’s too big a job for any one person to have. Everybody’s not gonna be happy. Nobody wins at life. So you can’t put yourself in a predicament to be upset and feel like you’re let down on some things. You gotta keep trying. It’s like a big ass game - it ain’t who wins, it’s who plays it the longest. Cause everyday you play, you got a chance to straighten some shit out. You can be fucked up on drugs and get yourself together. You can be overweight and get yourself together. But at the end of the day, it’s what you do - it’s the sacrifices you make to get the shit you want in life. You can’t really point fingers because who you gonna point at? If anything, you can point at yourself. I’ve felt fucked up a lot of times like, Damn man, what are you doin to you? If you gonna point fingers, you gotta point at yourself.
Would you say that you believe in the American dream and the American promise?
I wouldn’t say the American dream or the American promise. I would say if you believe you can achieve and you really put yourself in a position to do what you gotta do, there is hope. I heard niggas rap about, “I used to do this, I used to do that.” But I’m one of them finicky niggas. I don’t believe that shit. But it took up until now to see it - that a lot of hard work and me always being who I really am paid off. And that’s big to me because coming from nothing to this? That’s some whole other shit, and you gotta be mentally ready for it. Because at one point you’ve made it to where you can make it in the streets, but then when you get to this point you’re not ready for it - the games niggas gonna play because this ain’t the lane you’re used to. If you don’t do what you do to survive - you party and bullshit and don’t stay on top of your business - who you gonna be mad at, at the end of the day when your shit’s fucked up and some other nigga came and took over? You’re pointing the finger back at yourself again, you dig?
What were some of the adjustments that you had to make on a practical, day-to-day level when you changed over from hustling to music?
I had to learn that sometimes keeping it real becomes keeping it stupid. The niggas that love you coming into this ain’t always gonna love you once it goes down. Cause everybody wants that spot, you know? And it’s only given to so many people, special people every blue moon. A lot of niggas talk gangsta shit and I can dig that, I talk it when I think it needs to be said, but at the same time I really lived it. So to me, when motherfuckers meet me they say, “You kind of settled, you kind of mild tempered, you cool.” To me, it’s like, I done been through all that. That ain’t impressing me. So I had to learn to be a more sober businessman rather than on some guerilla shit, because that shit only works on the street. When you in the industry and you playin somebody else’s game, you kinna gotta be cool.
And I’m gonna be real – in this game, when you fall up in the club, you can’t just be the cool nigga in the back. You gotta go holla at the DJ. When you do interviews, you can’t be like, Fuck you I don’t need you, because people really want to hear what you wanna say, so you gotta do a real interview and tell niggas. When you on this shit, all eyes on you, especially when you on the top of your game. So you don’t wanna look like an ignorant person given a gift and you just go fuck it up because you on some ra ra ra shit. Because for real, you can be hot one minute and cold as fuck the next, and people don’t give a fuck what you say. When you hot everybody wanna hear what you got to say. But when motherfuckers figure out that you ain’t that nigga, nobody cares anymore. Like who cares? Oh you got shot? Oh you shot somebody? Okay.
You talk about real people vs fake people, but you sold like two million albums. So there’s no question that some of the people that you would say are fake – some people that you probably wouldn’t respect on a personal level - are feelin the shit out of your music and spending $20 on it at the store and $5 on mixtapes.
Yeah man. Cats were like, All we ridin to is Jeezy, and it kinna blew me, because I got in the studio and I was like, “Niggas ain’t really gonna respect my life, but imma give it a shot.” But I think more so people understood not even my pain, but understood my hustle. And really you can tell when somebody’s made for something. If I came out and tried to do some other type of music, you could’ve seen all the way through that. I got a ninth grade education. I’m not gonna front like I’m the smartest nigga in the world. But I know what makes sense to me, and now so many other people do too. It’s like, at the end of the day, to see the type of motherfuckers that appreciated me, all the shit I came through, my homeboys getting killed, niggas getting locked up - all that shit - it kinna dawned on me like, Damn they really respect it. And yeah it fucked me up. Ball players like, “Yeah I’m feelin that shit.” And I’m like, Damn nigga, I know you ain’t… You a different motherfucker than me…. Even right now, any city I’m in, niggas gonna come up to me and say, “I love what you doin, keep doin what you do. Fuck these hatin ass niggas. Do you.” That makes you feel good. They didn’t come up to me saying, “I loved ‘Soul Survivor.’ I loved ‘And Then What.’ I loved ‘Go Crazy.’” Instead it’s, “Keep doin what you doin because you really getting people through they day.” And when you sit down and listen to it and it’s not sugarcoated or watered down - when it’s the truth - who wouldn’t want to hear the truth? How much of the truth somebody wanna hear, that’s a different question.
You played me a song that started with a skit – a couple of dudes see you from their car, then the song starts with you telling the story of you getting shot.
It’s called “Bury Me a G.” Imma be real - I feel like that sometimes. When niggas see you’re on, they take it a different way. Some niggas wanna be where you’re at, and some niggas don’t want you to be where you at, and I feel like that. I roll like a real nigga supposed to roll - you see me in the streets I’m gonna handle mine every time. But what I meant by that record is, I was sitting back thinking about it like, What if a nigga did catch me slippin though? I really don’t get a chance to holler at my family a lot because I’m always movin, and when I get a chance, I holler at the homies in the hood. But it made me realize, What if a nigga caught me slippin on some dumb shit and took all that shit away from me? What about the people that I ain’t really been in contact with because my life is different now? What about all the people that I didn’t get a chance to kick it with because I’m on the road and they’re in the hood? What if a nigga just take all that away from me for jealousy or hate because that’s the only thing it could be - it couldn’t really be for nuthin else. It crosses my mind a lot. Like, “What if?”
It’s roll or get rolled over out in this motherfucker and ain’t nobody gonna do no rollin over over here. We rollin, movin. But what if? The game is on when you playing, but when they cut the lights off, it’s over. You can’t accomplish no more dreams or no more goals. So what you gonna do while you’re here? Funny thing about though is: if it does happen, bury me in my Evisu jeans for real. Straight the fuck up.
When you’re old and lookin back, what do you hope your music has accomplished?
I really want niggas to respect me. When you think of Pac, you think of a nigga that wasn’t scared to say what was really on his mind. And I wanna be remembered as a dude who wasn’t scared to tell you what was going on in the world—in his world. And just a dude who kinna clarified a lot of shit. Because a lot of people don’t know. And to go back to the Thug Motivation shit, it’s a movement because a lot of people really feel how I feel. They ain’t had nobody to speak up for em. There’s no spokesperson. When you have some really revolutionary shit, the Nas’s, he really speaks on it and he knows what he’s talking about. But you ain’t had a cat that talks to you as far as hustling and life in the streets and trials and trills and just hoping for a better day. And on the day that shit comes, it’s like, What you gonna do with it? You gonna turn into a whole ’nother nigga and be Hollywood? You gonna get on and let the people down because you straight? When cats hear my music, it just makes them feel good. I can’t save the motherfuckin world, but I can help a few motherfuckers out that know what I’m talking about. So I don’t understand why people point the finger at me. I ain’t pointed at yall. Little ole me, you know, and CNN trying to ride on a nigga. It’s like, What the fuck? Don’t y’all got wars and all kinds of embezzlement shit goin on? Why you worrying about the snowman shirt?
But that attention and controversy must’ve felt good in a way though, right?
Nah, because I’m one of them dudes that hates when people think bad about me. I hate bad publicity. I’m smarter than that, dude. I know I was put here for a reason, and when I say for a reason, I mean that, to have been through all the shit I’ve been through and to be standing here doin this interview to let you know, it could’ve been yesterday and I could’ve been outta here. But to still be here, and still able to be on the mission I’m on, it makes me feel that much better about life and the situations I’ve been through. I had to go through ’em to live and learn, but if I don’t learn from my mistakes, how can I teach somebody else?