That was then. Nearly two years later, G. Malone, with some help, returned much of his stipend to Sony, walking away with his half-completed Beach Cruiser album. Now affiliated with Cash Money Records in a deal brokered by Mack 10, the Eastside emcee is already getting spins of his official first single ďCertified.Ē Here, DXNext gets opinion from Malone on underground love, the importance of unity, and how respect is just as good a commodity in the industry as money.
HipHopDX: Tell me how your career or the timeframe of releasing your album has been different since Cash Money Records has gotten involvedÖ
G. Malone: Itís a lot better. If you see somebody who understands what youíre doing and can bring to the table and match your energy. My records are getting really big out here, getting all day spins in L.A. and San Diego. I think in terms of breaking the record in the south, because itís a completely different look, it will make that step easier too.
DX: A year ago, your situation did not even include Mack 10. Walk us through the last year, since leaving Sony. Since youíre with Cash Money now, are you with Universal?
GM: Exactly. What happened [with Sony] was the people that signed me left. That was all the confirmation I needed.
DX: You had a blockbuster, seven-figure deal. Was it hard to get out of there?
GM: What happened, really, was thatís what took so long for me to get out of the situation, because of the deal I got, because of the size of the advance I got, because of the type of budget I had, because of all that. They werenít gonna let somebody go, who they had invested so much money in. I had half of my record paid for. There was so much money as a stipend that I had to pay it. It was hard to get out, once I knew the situation was going bad. We had to go through a lot. Shout out to Chilly, thatís the dude who runs Lupe [Fiascoís] whole [1st & 15th] camp, got locked up, Big Chuck of Drama Family and K.P., an executive over there at Sony. [With their help], I was able to maneuver my way out. It was a situation between Akon and Mack 10, and I just kept it west coast. Akon is my partner, so whatever he needsÖIíll kill a nigga for Akon, heís just that type of guy. Like I said, it took a minute, but as soon as I got out of the situation, I got a half-done [album] with Akon, Wyclef [Jean], all kind of people. It was never a problem. Mack 10 really brokered it. Once I got out, he made the situation really smooth for me as to whatever I was going to get in.
DX: You mentioned a huge budget at Sony. The half-done record, weíre never going to hear, correct?
GM: Nah. The thing about SonyÖa lot of people talk shit about Sony, but Iím not. Lil Flip got to leave with his material and I got to leave with mine. So Iíve got the same material, plus Cash Money has allowed me to do even more, which is stepping it up to a whole Ďnother level. Itís an awesome project. Youíre gonna hear everything that Iíve been working on. Youíll hear whatís taken me a year and a half for making great records, great music for everybody. You got the whole thing. Sony let me walk away with my whole masters. It was in exchange for a lot of the stipend, but Iím not in the hole with Ďem at all, so itís actually worked out really good for me.
DX: When people saw you associated with that budget, Iím sure it was no problem charging you heavy. But so much of Hip Hop, as Lil Wayne and Akon know all-too-well, is about favors for favors. Having been exposed to both ways of doing business, which do you prefer?
GM: Itís a little bit of both. When you can walk up to somebody and say, ďMoneyís not an issue,Ē of course, youíll get whatever you fuckiní want to get. Thatís the perk of having a situation where the money is that big. Secondly, when you sign to a label like Cash Money and people know Lil Wayne, and youíve got Baby, Slim and Mack 10 pushing you, everybody wants to just get down anyway. To be honest, from stepping to a have-money situation to more of a respect situation, Iíd go with the respect. Itís going from having all the money you need to people respecting what youíre a part of; itís the same thing, really. Some artists wanted money, some didnít. When I was with Sony, it was all good. And while Iím with Cash Money, itís been all good. Baby and them ainít strange with the change. Theyíre gonna get whatever I want them to get, and do whatever I want them to do. They love that shit.
DX: Mack 10 never said anything bad about Cash Money. But many critics looked at his only release with them, 2001ís Bang or Ball, as a flop, considering the publicity he received signing with them. Many know the story with Gillie or T.Q. too. How important do you think it is for Cash Money to successfully bring out an artist not from the south?
GM: I think itís important to them. Talking to Wayne, he emails, calls me constantly, he helped me with the ["Certified"] video, writing the treatment. Heís making it his business to make sure people know Iím affiliated, and that Iím as successful as I can be. Lord knows Slim and BabyÖI love these guys to death, and I barely know dudes, but they go so hard for me, like Iíve never had nobody do. Mack 10 sold 400,000-something records [with Bang or Ball], so youíre talking about a guy whoís been independent his whole career, and Cash Money is an independent label with major distribution; I look at it as a success. People have such high standards. Me, Iím just looking at a gold plaque. Iím not worried about too much other stuff. Donít nobody hold you down like you do. So I donít expect anything more out of Cash Money than what they supposed to do.
DX: In 2004, 2005, when you started buzzing, a lot of critics forecast a changing-of-the-guard in the west. To some extent, thatís happened, and to some extent, it hasnít happened. Three years later, do you think the urgency for somebody like you Ė and the ďnew classĒ is higher?
GM: I think itís inevitable. Music is going up. A lot of people from the [west] coast are a lot more lyrical, and weíre making good records, trying to bring back good stuff. I donít think itís a necessity, I just think itís inevitable. Thereís a difference, and I think thatís what people never understood. The future is cominí, no matter if you want it to or not. Itís inevitable, and thatís how it is with this rap shit. From Crooked I, to Bishop Lamont, to Jay Rock, to Roccett, itís inevitable that people see these faces. This is what people grew up off of Ė the rapper guys. [Young] Jeezy, T.I., you look at them dudes, at the [Vh1] Hip Hop Honors, these dudes are rapping exactly like Snoop [Dogg]. Not only are they rapping his song, but they have the same cadence, swag Ė even his tone. These guys have been listening to [Snoopís] records all their life, so of course theyíre gonna hear a G. Malone or a Jay Rock or a Roccett and say, ďDamn, these niggas sound like them niggas,Ē and see that weíre real gangsters. Itís inevitable that all you gotta do is be heard. Once youíre heard, it is what it is.
DX: A lot of writers have tried to fuel beef within that new class, based on labels or gang affiliations. One thing that interested me is, you appeared on Roc Cís album, who is an independent artist on Stones Throw Records. Not many would expect to hear a million-dollar rapper for the first time there.
GM: I be gettiní $4,000 or $5,000 a verse. But when I talk a nigga in the street, a nigga ainít got $5,000. Iím an eastside nigga, so I know how hard it is for niggas trying to do their thing. If a nigga comes to me and says, ďG, I got $300, dog, thatís all I got. Iím working at UPS, blah, blah, blah.Ē If theyíre putting out product, if theyíre doing their thing on the street, then Iím doing it; I probably donít even want the money, really. Thatís just this new way of thinking. It ainít like that old school shit, that old west. Weíve been separated so long, dog. As youths, me, Bishop, Crooked, we didnít get that same help from the fame. We didnít want that to happen to the niggas under us. We didnít want the 18 and 20 year-old niggas to think, ďOh, I canít talk to Crooked I or Glasses Malone.Ē We donít want that. Iíve really pushed that line. I donít do V.I.P.ís when I go to the club; I be right there on the floor with everybody chilling. Niggas can walk up to me, talk to me, try to get game from you, Iíll give it to Ďem. Roc C was just a nigga I knew who was on a Hip Hop tip at Stones Throw. He ran into me, fucked with Bishop, Iím an eastside nigga, so if a niggaís serious, come fuck with me, Iíma do whatever Iíma do for you, it ainít nothing. Itís worth it if youíre a real dude. It just makes sense.
DX: Snoop, Tha Dogg Pound, Jurassic 5 and The Pharcyde all shared venues like The Good Life back in the early Ď90s. Have there been steady performance opportunities for your class to rock it on a weekly basis?
GM: I was 18 with a lowrider. That was real popular at the time Ė being a young dude, haviní lowrider groupies. I was in the Ghetto Life Car Club with a lowrider. When we go to Crenshaw, I donít remember seeing Snoop and [Ice] Cube over there, compared to now, where when you pop on Broadway, youíll see Glasses, Jay Rock, Crooked and them. At my show youíve got Guerilla Black, Hot Dollar, all these niggas on the horizon. I donít remember seeing that when I was younger. That wasnít something that was done. Now we just pop up everywhere that we at. If a nigga doing something Ė if Crooked I got a show, me and my niggas come out and support. Thatís how we get down now. A lot of people knock the south, but we learned a lot from them niggas, dog. And thatís what they brought to the game.
DX: Do you see any correlation between lowrider culture and Hip Hop?
GM: Of course. Anything that urban youth [represents], thatís what Hip Hop is. It was built to go against what society thought was cool, for the urban youth. Itís not about black, brown, white Ė itís urban youth. Lowriding, of course it has to be part of Hip Hop. Thatís why all the rappers put lowriders in their videos. It says, ďOkay, these niggas are Ďbout the business.Ē
DX: I get the impression that thereís a lot of rappers who might own a lowrider or put a car in the video, but couldnít find the gas tank. As a real lowrider, doesnít that bother you?
GM: Itís not the movement to them. It ainít really the movement in L.A. like it used to be. Right now itís about Harley [Davidson's]. I just got a Harley, a Road Glide. Itís not about lowriders, not as much. People have Ďem. L.A. is Harley-central though. Every dude I knew who was a big factor in lowriding, like Big Punchy, these dudes are on Harleys Ė Road Kings, Road Glides, Electroglides, Soft Tails, thatís what it is now. L.A. niggas are naturally car niggas, because we spend most of our life in the car. Thatís why we make a lot of music that bumps, bangs, and woofers, all that. †