C-Rayz Walz On Prodigy: Real To Real
C-Rayz Walz and Prodigy are virtual polar opposites, as distinct as rappers can be: underground and commercial; G-Unit and independent. But at the Midstate Correctional Facility in Marcy, New York the two find the middle ground, discovering any differences between underground and mainstream rap can be reconciled.
When one focused on lyrics and wordplay to build a buzz, the other used gangsta imagery and slick production to make it to the top. And while some artistslike a 95 Jay-Z or a 99 Eminemcatapulted from underground fame to superstardom, the two genres (like the two rappers) never really interacted until nowand it took the permission of the New York State Department of Corrections to get it done.
So for the first time in rap history, a backpacker interviews a commercial rapperin jail.
C-Rayz Walz: You're still that same nigga I used to wild out with back in the days. With all of the shadiness in this industry, how do stay grounded without totally losing it and really doing some violent shit?
Prodigy: Really, its my partner [Havoc] you know what I mean. My name should be Havoc and his name should be Prodigy. Thats our character really. Ill be ready to really hurt somebody and Hav will be the one to tell me, "Yo chill. Dont do that. We gotta worry about our careers." We keep each other balanced. Hav will be the one that will chill me the fuck out. Sometimes its opposite. But most of the time, hell be the one to tell me to chill the fuck out.
C-Rayz Walz: I always want people to ask me this but they never do. What made you realize that you wanted to make music for a living instead of a full life of crime?
Prodigy: I was raised by good parents and a family that influenced me to do positive things in life. Instead of criminal things, you know what Im saying. I ended up doing music, and doing something good with myself.
C-Rayz Walz: Is/are there anyone out right now that you're feeling? Why/why not?
Prodigy: Thats a hard question, but there are a few people. Lil Wayne [click to read], he got fire right now. I like Juelz Santana [click to read]. He got fire. Theres not too many people Im feeling though, man. Of course, the love of my G-Unit [click to read] brothers is doing it. Tony Yayohe be killing it all the time; 50 [Cent] of course. People like to talk down on Mobb Deep and G-Unit for some strange reason. Like, "[Why they] thinking they hot?" or some shit. Like its wrong for me to think that 50s hot or Yayos hot. People would think thats the wrong kind of answer, but, those are my answers.
C-Rayz Walz: Of all the collabs you've done, what's been your favorite and why?
Prodigy: I dont even know. I cant even say, man. I dont even know man. Probablymaybe like, working with [Big] Pun on ["Tres Leches"]. He was just a fun dude to be around. That dude was mad funny, yo. I had a lot of fun with that nigga. Hanging out with Pun was crazy. The song we did was one of the illest songs in rap music. RZA [click to read] did the beat. It was me, Pun and Inspectah Deck [click to read] from Wu-Tang. It was an ill song.
C-Rayz Walz: True Mobb fans have been die hard from the beginning, why do you think they remain loyal after so long?
Prodigy: Because they were like raised on our music and we try to always give that same feeling when we do our beats and our lyrics. We try to make something that you gonna feel in your soul. Its like soul music. I think the fans, they identify with that. They know that Mobb Deep is gonna give you that shit. Its a certain fix. Its a certain high that you know youre not gonna get from no where else but listening to our music. Im gonna say things that no one else is gonna ever say and youre gonna have a style of production that no one else can really do.
C-Rayz Walz: So many groups fall apart and have beef after a while together. How have you and Hav managed to stay strong after so long?
Prodigy: Me and Hav are like brothers, man. The way we just came up together, our friendship was real close. We understand that the music that we make is real important. Our goal was to last longer than these other groups. We always strived to last longer than them, be better than them. That was our goal, and it still is.
C-Rayz Walz: What took place between Juvenile Hell and The Infamous to spark two different vibes on the albums?
Prodigy: Just [being] kids growing up and realizing that you gotta take music serious in order to last in this business. When we made Juvenile Hell we was little kids just happy to be on TV and have a record to have a little money to buy gold teeth. Then when the album aint do too well, we realized that if you want a real long lasting career in this business we had to take this music seriously, and thats the difference between those two albums.
C-Rayz Walz: Do you believe a lot of women are really strong enough to ride a bid with a man or will most of them get weak?
Prodigy: A few of them, yeah, they strong. A lot of women are weak. A lot of people are weak. Not just women. A lot of people who I thought was friendsniggasI dont see them. I dont hear from them. They dont visit me. I dont get no letters, no messages, nothing. It goes both sidesmen and women.
C-Rayz Walz: Have you been shot or stabbed famz?
Prodigy: Nah. Somebody tried to stab me in the face when I was a kid, but nah.
C-Rayz Walz: Who has been the most influential person in your life thus far?
Prodigy: I would have to say my grandmother.
C-Rayz Walz: What's the best piece of advice you ever received from him?
Prodigy: From my grandmotherabout money, about real estate, about business. She told me how to be the head nigga in charge. That was her name. Thats where I got [H.N.I.C.] from.
C-Rayz Walz: Out of all the places you've performed at, which was the livest?
Prodigy: Livest? Definitely I would have to say London. We was performing on stage and the crowd was going crazy. They came on stage with us like they was performing. We had to control them like we was security because security was scared to death.
C-Rayz Walz: What's your favorite Mobb album and why?
Prodigy: My favorite Mobb album gotta be The Infamous. All of them is crazy, but if I gotta pick one its gotta be The Infamous. That was the one that set the mark for us to let the world know that we wasnt playing with this shit. We were serious.
C-Rayz Walz: Who would you love to collab with on a track?
Prodigy: I want to do a song with Queen Latifah and Sista Souljah.
C-Rayz Walz: What do you feel are the most important things you can teach your seeds even if you're not around? Cause we don't live forever my ninja
Prodigy: The most important thing man is just being a kind, peaceful generous person. Be positive. Be a good personas best as you possibly can. Violence and hate is the last result.
C-Rayz Walz: What are the most essential qualities you look for in a queen to share yourself with? How do you determine she's really in it, or just for your name?
Prodigy: Experience. You gotta go through it in order to know. You gotta know the woman, know the girl. You really gotta be involved in order to find out whats really good. Otherwise, youll never know.
C-Rayz Walz: Tell me some non-musical things most people may not know about P.
Prodigy: That Im an author. I write books, I write moviesI got a whole lot of scripts Im working on. When Im done with music, thatll be the next step in the business. I try to eat real healthy. Im not into drinking and smoking no more. Im a very spiritual person. I dont have a religion. I dont believe in these religions out here but Im very spiritual. I believe in a Creator. A lot of people may not know that about me.
C-Rayz Walz: How do you feel about drug dealers and the drug game in 2008?
Prodigy: I mean, hey. People do what they gotta do but I feel like people need to get into other things. Theres a lot of other things that you could get into. Try music, try sports. Theres a whole world of things you could get into. Stop trying to follow what everybody else is doing. Stop looking at the next man and say how I could be there too. Create your own thing to do. Be an inventor. Most of the things in this world was invented by black people. Even if youre not black though, just strive to be innovative. Do something different with yourself. Everybody dont gotta sell drugs, everybody dont have to have a clothing company, a record label. Theres other things you could get into.
C-Rayz Walz: If you were to leave this Earth right now, what do you want to be remembered by?
Prodigy: Just remember us by our career and how we lasted so long. How we kept it consistent and how we kept coming with some good sounding music. [Pauses] And also, I guess that I wasnt scared to speak my mind about shit. A lot of people are scared to speak their mind. I feel like youre not really living life if youre biting your tongue. People are too scaredtheyre scared of dying, scared of getting beat up. You shouldnt be scared of anything. You should just say how you feel and thats it. You got freedom of speech [and] freedom of expression.
Prodigy has remained productive while behind bars, blogging frequently on HNIC2.com. The DVD collection of videos from the album hits stores July 8th.
C-Rayz Walz is a member of the Wu-Tang affiliated supergroup Almighty. Their debut album Original S.I.N. (Strength in Numbers) drops July 22nd on Babygrande Records. The finishing touches on his latest project, Original King The Mixtape Album comes out one week later (July 29th) on Kings Link Recordz.
Extra Special thanks goes to Prodigys wife Kiki and Jackie O. Asare.