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No need to say much in the way of introduction: Beanie Sigel unedited, as interviewed for our 40th issue spectacular. Beanie touches on a lot of different topics here, but we'll just say this: Hova might have all the money and power in the world, but if he's in the crosshairs of Mack Mittens in the booth, we don't envy him. Read the full interview after the jump.
Your manager mentioned that you are working on a mixtape for Def Jam and then an album, what’s the deal with those two projects?
Well actually, the deal with the mixtape is just me trying to build my brand up again. Because I am no longer under Def Jam, signed with Def Jam, or dealing with Def Jam or Rocafella at all. I got out of my contract.
Did you figure out a way to work it out so the contract would be deaded or did The B.Coming fulfill a contract that you already had?
Nah, The B.Coming didn’t fulfill it. When Jay-Z and Dame split up and went their separate ways, technically I was still under Rocafella records for The B. Coming album. Then, with me being in jail and nobody really getting in contact with me on Jay’s behalf—nobody coming to see me or anything, or just hearing from me and knowing what direction I was going—they were predominantly just hearing stuff from Damon and what he was saying, because he was coming to see me. I guess Damon was under the impression that I was going to be signing or moving with him to the Dame Dash Music Group but me, being a man, I’m not gonna chose between my friends, so I decided just to go my own way. Since I was dealing with Damon predominantly with the clothing thing, and at the time not knowing that they was gonna split completely even with the clothing line, I was like, “Me and Dame are still doing business with the State Property clothing.” I said I’d still do business with Jay with the music but not under Rocafella because it wouldn’t be the same, Jay was the president of Def Jam. So I would stay over there but not as an artist though. Because I felt like I came along too much, I brought too much to the table for Rocafella for me to just continue on being an artist. I wanted Jay, since he was the president—I had my own label, State Property Records and the set up of the deal was that I get some overhead. Just like they deal—Rocafella with Def Jam—I wanted the same thing. That was promised to me and it didn’t happen.
As far as The B.Coming album, I think because they thought I was gonna come out under Dame Dash Music group, Rocafella and Def Jam and Universal as a whole did nothing with that project. They did nothing with it. For it to sell the amount of records it sold for me being in jail, even in my first week. I think I probably sold more records than every artist that dropped that year under Rocafella combined. With the Young Gunz, Memphis Bleek, Teirra Mari, and Rhianna. You could combine all of them, I sold more records than them combined. I believe that if they would’ve backed that project and moved forward on it, because I was still a Rocafella artist at that time, that probably could have been the biggest album of my career so far.
People were really fucking with that album—those that have been longtime fans and went and got it.
Yeah, so I felt some type of way about that. I believe they did nothing with the project because it’s like, “Alright, well, what’s the use of us pushing this album and promoting it when he come out he gonna be on the Dame Dash Music Group?” But that wasn’t the case. If anyone would’ve came to see me or talked to me via letter or anything, they would’ve understood where I came from. I believe that’s what happened with that project—with The B.Coming.
So after going through all that are you still cool with Jay? Do you talk at all or what’s the relationship like?
I’m not even gonna speak on it, even with me and Jay’s relationship right now. I will be in the near future after I have another conversation with him, and I haven’t had that conversation with him yet.
I can respect that.
I’ll save that for the album, when the album drop. I’ll save those conversations and I promise you’ll have that interview when we decide where I’m gonna take my label through distribution and all that. I’m way too big to be just an artist on somebody’s label. I’m too big for Koch. Even with that situation, people like, “Well, Koch giving up that money.” Well, Koch’s not for me. Learning the workings of that—that’s good if you a new artist or you trying to develop a artist and you just wanna put him out there, but not for me. I need a machine that’s gonna push me to the level that I need to be.
So the mixtape is…
And—not to cut you off—that’s how the mixtape came about under Def Jam. That’s like a gift from me for leaving them. Because I had a deal on the table with Koch and they was giving me some money to put out this mixtape that I was doing. So I gave Def Jam that option—“I’m leaving here, but what I’ll do for y’all: I got a deal right here from Koch, and they gonna give me this amount of money. If you can match this or come better I’ll let y’all put the mixtape out and that’ll be my gift to y’all for leaving.”
A little parting gift.
Yeah a little parting gift. That’s how the mixtape came about—me dropping a mixtape with Def Jam.
So what makes it a mixtape, why are you calling it a mixtape?
I’m calling it a mixtape because it’s really not an album. When I dropped the last mixtape I did, Public Enemy #1 with Green Lantern, I should’ve held that off and went through Koch with that. I should’ve put a couple million dollars in my pocket off of that.
Do the same mixtape basically, but release it officially.
Yeah, it’s the same approach, but you just put it in an official release and put it in stores. So I’m gonna get an official release for that, because it’s really me just breaking all the new artists that I got, so I wouldn’t really call it an album. It’s just me, I’m gonna be giving them the songs—just something to keep them a little more thirsty for when the album drops. Im gonna give them a few solo songs and then its gonna be me featuring a lot of the outside artists that’s from Philadelphia where I predominantly go around and just looking for all the hottest talent in the city, same thing that I did with State Property. When I did the first State Property CD—the first state property album that we dropped with me, Freeway, and Young Gunz and everybody—they used that for the soundtrack for the movie State Property, and the movie was originally called Get Down or Lay Down. So when we formed the group State Property they changed the name of the movie to State Property and used the CD as a soundtrack.
So that wasn’t really what you were intending for that project?
Nah, that wasn’t what I was intending for that project because at that time nobody from State Property had a deal officially. So I was putting them together as a group and I was going to take that and shop that and get a deal from somewhere else because Rocafella—at the time they didn’t want to sign Freeway because they didn’t think Freeway could put out a whole album and people would want to listen to that album because of his voice. Oschino and Sparks at the time were signed to Black Friday Records and that label folded, they didn’t have no deal, and so was the Young Gunz. Then I got Peedi Crakk, and he came aboard the team, that was later after that first project though.
You said you were going to take the State Property Records around and try to get a proper label deal for it. Are any of those guys still—I guess most of them signed to the Roc. So it would be a whole new collection of artists?
It would never be a State Property again, I couldn’t do that. It could never be State Property. If there is ever another State Property album it would have to be with me, Freeway, the Young Gunz, Oschino and Sparks, and Peedi Crakk. I couldn’t just form a new group and then say this is the new State Property. Nah, there was never a new NWA. Or a new—you know what I’m saying? It wouldn’t be the same. “This is the new Wu-Tang.” You can’t do that. And that’s what I was telling some of the artists, they was thinking they would be the new State Property. Nah, y’all not gonna be State Property. State Property as a group is Beanie Siegel, Freeway, Chris and Neef under the Young Gunz, Peedi Crakk, and Oschino and Sparks. That’s State Property. And until we get together and decide that we gonna do another album or whatever we gonna do, there won’t be a State Property as a group. There will never be a new State Property.
So have you already started putting together the album or are you still working on the mixtape?
Oh yeah, because the mixtape is gonna be easy for me. That’s gonna be so easy, we can finish the mixtape within two or three weeks. That’s easy. The album, right now, I’m really concentrating on getting this album done.
Where are you at mentally as far as the stuff you are doing in the booth? The way you are feeling just getting in the studio every day—the way you are feeling in general and how that is coming out in the music?
In the beginning I didn’t even feel like going in the studio. Like there wasn’t no love there for it no more. Like, coming home, and the whole Rocafella thing—because we was like a family, that’s what was preached. You know what I mean? With Rocafella it was Roc La Familia, meaning the Roc Family. We was that family and for that to split up and break up and it’s no longer that…it’s like, Where’s the love at? It wasn’t the same, so I didn’t have that love of going in the studio. Like right now, I go in the studio and record records and I can’t—I get that feeling like, “Damn, I can’t wait until Jay come in and hear this.” You know what I’m saying? Just that competition—that very confrontational, “I want to see Jay’s face when he hears this.” Or, “I can’t wait till Biggs come through the studio and hear this.” Or wait until Freeway and them come out. That’s not there. I’m in the studio and I don’t have my family around me to give that input or whatever. That’s not there no more, so you gotta start all over again. And now it’s like—it was fun…but all the fun is gone, it’s just work now. It’s work. So, the love is like—I’m trying to find out—that’s what I’m in the transition of right now, finding where can I tunnel that feeling, that eagerness to go in the studio and record because now it’s like, “It’s whatever.”
So you are feeling like you have to drag ass in there every day and talk yourself into getting in there?
Nah, because I know where it’s at. To me, going in the studio right now is like—I go in and the stuff that comes out is my feelings and my problems and what’s going on with this Rocafella situation…but at the same time, when you love someone you don’t wanna air out their dirty laundry. So going in there, I know where it’s at, it’s just trying to stay away from that. It’s trying to stay away from having to answer these questions that people wanna ask me about certain individuals that I won’t answer in interviews, but it seems like that’s where it’s going to have to come out—in this music.
So you think you might have to go in that direction because that’s just like what you want to talk about when you get in the studio?
That’s what’s coming so easy for me. That’s where I get that feeling at. I don’t know if I can explain it to you because you not an artist or a rapper but when you go in the booth and you writing and you lace up something and you come out and listen to it and you get this feeling like an adrenaline rush like, “Yeah! Wait til these motherfuckers hear this shit.” That’s where I’m at with it right now, but then at the same time, when I listen to it, I be like, “Damn man, I can’t do this to them!” Or “I can’t do this to him.” So it’s like trying to like—I don’t know man, I might just have to go there with it.
Like you said, I’m not an artist, I’m not a rapper and I don’t know that feeling, but at the same time, just as listeners, we can hear that. That’s what your raps have always been about.
Anything I do, I go deep with it. I come from the heart with it. I know it’ll be ugly for a couple people, it’ll be ugly because I’m gonna go at it. I ain’t gonna play with it.
So where are you at with coming to terms with just your own feelings like, “I shouldn’t do this, but this is where I’m at”?
I’m at “Fuck it” right now. I’m at fuck it. That’s how I feel right now. That’s how I feel in my situation when certain things ain’t happen or certain people ain’t do certain things for me. It’s like a slap in the face, but I’m not gonna turn the cheek and let you slap me on the other side. You slap me once, I’m gonna knock you out.
What direction are you taking it in musically, just as far as the beats and where they are coming from?
Real music. If you listen to any of my albums, I always gave you that real music that soulful music, even when it’s hard. Right now, to me, the standard of hip-hop and the music today is no integrity and nothing, like as far as production, everything sounds the same. Quote me on this: I will never put out a song—everybody putting out songs that got dances to it, like that’s the hit. You either gotta lean with it, you gotta lean back, you gotta rock with it, make your shoulder do this and you gotta do that and that’s the stuff that’s winning and its like, Where the integrity at in the music? Where the thought process at? Where the real lyrics at?
Right now hip-hop is bubblegum and the standard is so low. I went back because I can’t even listen to rap music today. I gotta go back and go grab the best of Scarface and Cuban Linx. Right now I’m riding around to The Fix. Scarface, The Fix. That’s what’s in my tape deck. He got a joint on it—I think it’s number ten. That song should be re-released right now to be playing on the airwaves 24 hours. Number ten where he exposing people in the rap game for prostituting themselves trying to make hits. And he tell you right in the joint, “If real niggas respect it, then the squares gonna rep it.” So when you got real niggas respecting dumb shit, the squares gonna rep it. They gonna be like, “Alright, such and such—he roll like that, so then I’m gonna do it too.” If you wear your hat a certain way and you looked at as a real nigga, then the squares gonna wear their hat a certain way and it’s gonna spread because it’s more squares out there than it is real niggas.
That’s why you got people walking around with these tight jeans on their shit. That shit look gay, that aint hip-hop. There’s a standard. Things that we would clown niggas about three or four years ago, now it’s alright to do that shit. It’s the standard and that’s because real niggas is letting people get away with that shit. That’s not hip-hop. These dudes walking around with these tight ass little t-shirts on and these tight ass jeans and shit and that’s it. Oh that’s the new fashion, the European cut. Come on man! We in America, you talking about the European cut. This aint Europe over here, get that shit out of here. That’s some gay ass model shit. It’s so crazy to the point where you got real motherfuckers who you lookin at as real niggas like, “Damn, this nigga even doing that, like it’s alright?” Real niggas respect it, then a square is gonna rep it.
So with the song “Why Wouldn’t I,” was that you showing a little window into what you’re gonna be doing with it when you really come back in full?
I mean that’s just me giving people something that they missing right now. I just threw it out there. A situation happened—I got shot in my shoulder. It was allegedly—I gotta word this right because I’m still on federal parole, and when I get off federal parole then I’ll be able to elaborate on it a little bit better and people will understand how real I am. Allegedly I was supposed to have been shot and robbed or something. So me being who I am—and I was allegedly robbed in my neighborhood. The day that I allegedly got shot and robbed, I went in the studio that very night and I did that song. The same night, as soon as I got out of the hospital I went in the studio that night and I recorded that song and I MP3-ed it to every DJ in the country. And like, “Put that out there ASAP.” So it was in rotation the very next day. I got a good nine months, twelve months and people will know about the story behind the alleged incidents, but not right now.
I need Lil Kim on that song too. I only did two verses. I need Lil Kim on that.
Yeah, like, “Why Wouldn’t She.” That’s one of those stand up motherfuckers. She stood up tall. So it’s gonna be “Why Wouldn’t She”? She gonna get the third verse on that. I’m really fuckin with her. It’s so crazy, it gotta happen. She did what she did and we got the same exact sentence, the same exact sentence. She need to be on that.
What, ideally speaking, are you thinking time-wise for this mixtape and then just finishing up the album? I know you are still looking for a home for it, but where do you want to be with it?
I haven’t checked a calendar, and its too late because I think the new year falls on a Sunday or a Monday I believe, but I would love to drop this album on New Year’s Eve for people to go into a new year on some real shit. I would love for it to drop on New Year’s Eve.
Are Dre and Vidal producing the whole album or how’s that working?
Yeah, like right now I’m using Dre and Vidal to play the album because they don’t sample. Everything gets played live, and even if there’s something that I hear that I might want them to sample, they play it over. Just to give them all real like—on this album, it’s like, What’s missing from the game? The realness. So even with the beats and the music I want everything so real, to the point where I need all live instruments. I need real music. I’m on some music shit right now.
How do you link with them and end up clicking with them to the point where you might even do the whole album with them?
Well I’ve been with Dre and Vidal. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this years ago, fucking with them, with the music and stuff. I had to tell them, “Do what y’all do.” Cause they been doing the R&B thing forever and I told them, “Yo, if you listen to all the classic albums that was out: BIG’s Ready to Die had a groove to it. It had that groove to it. If you listen to all them albums, that was the shit. Even The Chronic. You go back and listen to that Chronic, it had that groove to it.” So I’m like, “Do what y’all do and let me worry about the hip-hop part.” On all Scarface albums, you listen to it, they all got that music, that groove to it. If I gotta go out and find the little old dudes that play the bass or play this or put this on that, that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna give them real music to their ears, so I can go out and do my tours and bring my band out and we would rock the whole spot.
That would be crazy. You doing a tour with a live band.…
With a live band, that’s what I’m doing. See I didn’t even want to give you that because I don’t want nobody to catch up on it, but you gotta think about it man, in Philadelphia, even with Philly International man, we was damn near 50 percent of the music that was popping in the world. If you think about it, there was only three majors out back when they was doing they thing in the ’60s and the ’70s. Philly International, Motown and Stax. Everything was real music back then. That’s what’s lacking right now. Even in the R&B game there ain’t too much real music out there. That’s my whole thing, real music. I’m stressing that.