Q+A: Beanie Sigel

April 18, 2007


Mack Mittens is back and he's screaming "Roc-A-Fella motherfucker!"- something we weren't sure we'd ever hear from him again. Last time we sat with Beanie Sigel he told us he wasn't on the Roc, that he had a lot of feelings about Jay and that his old friends were getting hung every time he stepped in the booth. As you'll read, he's now back on the Roc (it turns out he still owes them two albums anyway) and has scrapped those songs, but his tune has only changed a little. All the industry yang yang aside, Sigel has always been one of our favorite MCs because when he gets over one of those dark-as-fuck soul beats, he puts his heart straight on his sleeve and gets wildly introspective. There is no such thing as too much information in Beanie Sigel's music, and he constantly lays bare the conflict at war in every corner of his world. That, and he's got a really sick flow (Fresh out the Federal, cases I got several...). After the jump, the first of two special Beanie features today on The FADER, a thorough Q+A with the man himself, and later, a full wrap of his new album The Solution. In the meantime, somebody get Beans his own MySpace or something!

Last time we talked you said you weren’t in the mood to be in the studio, in the booth. You said it wasn’t the same without the old crew around. But having heard a handful of songs it sounds like that’s changed at least to some degree.

Ha! Now that you’ve heard the music, right? But man I was bored. With the whole breakup and everything I just didn’t feel it, with the music. It wasn’t the same. But a couple times I tried to go in to the studio and I couldn’t really focus or come up with new music, and at first I thought it was just rust from not being in the studio, from me being away. But really I just wasn’t feelin it. After I took a whole timeout where I didn’t record nothing for a whole year after I been home. I didn’t record nothin. And listening to the music that was out, I couldn't really listen to nothin. There was nothin that put me in that mode, and I needed some music so I just went in the studio and was fuckin around and came up with like four records that was hot. Then after that it was dead when I’d go in the studio for another month, still can’t do nothin, I might get like two records out of there. Then I found a little niche for a minute then—here I go!

But all the music that I got is just like pot shots. I didn’t get in that comfort zone where I be recording two, three records a day. That’s how my work habits are—I’ll be in the studio 48, 72 hours and come out with three or four records complete. I ain’t find that zone yet. Maybe I don’t need to find that zone with the records I’ve been coming with but we’ll see. I been making some good music, at least I think so.

At the time you told me that the thing that was coming naturally to you in the booth was speaking on the situation with Jay and the breakup of the Roc and those feelings. Did you scrap all that?

I still got a lot of ill feelings towards a lot of things in that situation. But I just put it to the side. There are still a lot of questions that I feel need to be answered just for myself.

What kind of questions?

Just conversations. Clarity. Closure. As far as how we even let it get to this point! That’s why I had to fall back, because my whole album would’ve been that because that’s what was in me, that’s what I was feelin. The whole breakup and things that was being said and being done and me being bitter about a lot of things. I could’ve probably made a double CD about that shit. And I ain’t wanna do that. At the time that’s what I wanted to do, and I probably could’ve capitalized big off of that. Because a lot of people really ain’t know what the situation was and people weren’t speaking on it and I wanted to just give ’em my point of view. But at the end of the day I couldn’t do that.

What conversations happened that got it to the point where you and Jay could get a deal done and we could be sitting here listening to the album you’re making for the Roc?

It really wasn’t none! That’s why I said it’s still unresolved. This is what I do, this is my livelihood. I’m too far along in age to start looking for something else to do and this is what I do, music is what I love. So being real to myself it was like, What am I gonna do in this situation? How do I feel about it? Is it a bad thing to go over here [to Roc-A-Fella]? Or was I not gonna deal with this situation because of pride, ego, whatever? So it was just me flushing all that out. It was, Alright let me see what this is hittin for. Because at one point I ain’t like the results so when I came home I wasn’t on Roc-A-Fella, I wasn’t on Dame Dash Music Group, I wasn’t on no label. I went to Def Jam and Jay was still the President over there and I still owe two albums under contract and we came to the agreement that I’m gonna be on the Def Jam / Roc-A-Fella situation but I needed a co-venture. I need to do my thing because I think I came too far to just be another artist. But the situation ain’t pan out how I wanted it to. Then I came back, a couple conversations, and I came through with some music. I guess before it was just me talkin like, “This is what I want,” so I had to bring product. And everything has panned out at this point. I got a good situation right now so I’m gonna put this music out.

Have you ever decided not to go with a song or line in a verse because it was too personal?

NEVER too personal. I never take no personal stuff off. That’s music to me, man. That’s what music is supposed to be. You expressing yourself. That’s the best music to me, when it come from here? From the heart? Then it’s natural, it’s something you can relate to. Everybody gotta go through the same trials and tribulations all over so if you got something that’s coming from your heart, there’s somebody somewhere that knows what you're talking about. That’s music to me. That’s relevant. Right now? Ain’t no substance to the music. It’s basically a beat and somebody goin in the booth, just playing around. And ain’t real music where you can sit down and vibe off it, or say “I been through that,” or quote something out of it.

If it was up to me I would make records like “Feel It In The Air,” “Bravery,” “Nothing Like It,” I would make them records all day. But everybody ain’t gonna get it, so I gotta make the “Roc Tha Mic”s and the “Mac Bitches” to draw ’em in. And then when they get the album they can catch them real songs. Because them other songs? They be cool but there ain’t no relevance to them for real for real. For real! Most people won’t even say that! “Roc Tha Mic” was a big record, but where’s the relevance to it? Where’s the substance? There ain’t no relevance to it but going in the club and partying. I got other records that I want you to catch, and if I gotta use that as bait to bring you in so that you hear some real music, then I gotta do that. Yeah.

What’s your day to day been like in Philly recently? What’s the environment like? Are you still living outside of Philly just staying away from all the drama?

No man I’m everywhere! I been going to the club more than I ever did. Besides performing, just seeing what’s popping, seeing what’s what, doing my homework.

I always think about that line where you talk about doing a turn around the block first before you park.

I’m always doin that! That’s just cautious! “Circle the block before I’m parkin now/ I ain’t bitchin I’m just cautious now.”

Ha, that’s not paranoid that’s just cautious?

Yeah that’s just cautious.

So what’s next, you’re goin to Miami to go see Storch?

Yeah we goin to Miami to see Scott, see what we can pull out of him, then one more week in the studio, dig in hard for a week after Miami, then I’m gonna wrap up. See where I’m at, see if I’m comfortable closing out the album. If I’m comfortable, then I’mma close it out, if not I’mma keep on going.

There are two rumors that I wanna settle. One is you getting State Prop back together, the second is you going out with a live band.

Yeah all the production on this album is, I might only got three records with samples out of the 16, 17 records I recorded. So a band, that’d be the best thing. Especially with the music I got. I can just imagine the show with the live band, you can be spontaneous.

Do you have access to the players? I know there’s mad musicians in Philly but there are people you’re good with?

Yeah, I’m at a point now where, when I go back, I’m gonna start putting together a band.

What about State Prop?

Everybody just doin they own music. If it could be productive for everybody and it’s the right timing, I’m all for it. State Prop, the whole Roc-A-Fella thing getting back together period. If not, I’m just gonna keep moving, doing what I’m doing.

So it’s not really actively on the table, but you’d be open to it.

Yeah I’m open to it, I’m open to it. It gotta be right though. It can’t be "Let’s do it just to do it." I can’t do that man. If it’s the right situation and it’s a sincere situation and not just doin it because it will be better for this one or that one, if it’s right and it’s gonna be lucrative for me, then I’m with it. And if not… Everybody grown, everybody doing they own thing, keep it moving.

Are you looking forward to bringing this record to Jay and getting his response?

Jay? The whole world’s reaction, man. The Solution. I wanna see the world’s reaction. All the little magazine write-ups. The how many mics. All that.

Posted: April 18, 2007
Q+A: Beanie Sigel