hex murda: Murda Incorporated
Manager of an elite band of brothers who dominate the underground, hex watches over the careers of Elzhi, Black Milk and former Almighty Dreadnaughtz associate Guilty Simpson as extended family. Guiding and directing obviously come easy as his boys truly reign not just on home turf but all over the world. So when they say behind every great artist is a great manager whoever they are aint lying.
Armed with an opinion and a "real" personality that many industries fail to boast in todays "yes man" environment, hex murda is the dude you want to have on side. That is of course if you can really rap, because if you cant, he will be the first to tell you to get back to wherever it was you came from.
Hex murda brings an interview laced with humour, common sense and a side of honesty thrown in for good measure. It might upset the legions of individuals looking to make themselves comfortable within the music game just as it might amuse those who deal with the industry on the daily. But whatever way you choose to interpret what he says, this manager isnt side stepping or sugar coating for nobody.
HipHopDX: How did you get your name, first of all?
Hex murda: First of all, rest in peace Big Proof and J Dilla because if it wasnt for those two, I wouldnt be talking to you now. Second of all, I dont know, niggas gave me my name. I dont know where it came from, I didnt name myself, I just been called this for 16-17 years.
DX: Your history in the game is quite deep, how did you get your start?
Hex murda: I got my start with the Almighty Dreadnaughtz in 1986-87. Niggas were rapping and shit, but still dabbling in the street stuff. I fucked around, went to school, went to college and then went to prison. When I came out of prison, I changed my focus from being with niggas that rapped to guiding niggas that rapped. There were niggas like Guilty Simpson [click to read] down with the Almighty Dreadnaughtz. Why would I not help him get into the game? That was how it all started.
DX: How did you go from handling Guilty Simpson to guiding the roster that you have now?
Hex murda: Shit, real respect real. With Black Milk [click to read], I was managing King Gordy and the Fat Killahz and we were on tour with Slum Village [click to read] and D12 [click to read]. Black Milk was a roadie for Slum, and we were in Texas and Dillas cousin, Que D gave me a CD before the show started and asked me to play it for walk in music. So I took the CD and gave it to the deejay; the CD was [B.R. Gunna's] Dirty District II. I hollered at Black and asked him what he was doing with it; we hit it off and I told him that when he was ready to get serious, we should get it popping. That was how that started.
DX: What is your role with Trick Trick?
Hex murda: I dont actually manage Trick Trick, I consult with him. He is a hard nigga to manage because hes been in the game for a long time. He has his own ideas, so I just consult with him on how to do things. I will advise him how to do things, he will sit on something for a couple of days and tell me I was right or I end up doing damage control. But Trick mainly manages his own shit. I am just there to point him in the right direction because when he gets off track, someone in going to get fucked up. I try to keep him from going to jail.
DX: What does it take to be a successful manager today?
Hex murda: A lot of motherfucking patience, thats what it takes. You have to know how to talk to people in any type of situation, you have to know when to dumb yourself down and when to dumb out on a nigga. You have to always try and play from a position of power.
DX: Was this something that came naturally to you?
Hex murda: I am built for this; I am a 280-pound nigga from Detroit. I am not going to have any problem getting my money. Some niggas have problems; I dont have any type of problems. Every now and again a promoter or someone will try to pull the wool over my eyes, but you always get your money. You put your money and your artists first. This isnt personal until someone makes it personal, and people have to keep that in mind too. There are some niggas I want to slap the shit out of because they be bullshitting, but in this business everyone is not like you so you have to carry yourself a certain kind of way.
DX: Your track record proves you are doing a decent job.
Hex murda: Well I am still watching and learning. You know when you get to that point where you dont have to worry about paying the rent that month you are doing alright. But you still have to look at other managers, like Paul Rosenberg, [Kyambo "Hip-Hop" Joshua"], Cortez Bryant; these guys are on a whole other level that I want to be on. But right now where we are at, me and my niggas, we are running this lane and really doing it. But there is always room for improvement.
DX: Why is it though that there is a shortage of bonafide managers out there, with a huge demand for them?
Hex murda: Sometimes a nigga may be managed by his cousin or his uncle or something or a lawyer who is 50 years old and doesnt understand the music but may understand the bizz may manage someone. You have to be able to .I am not a lawyer, but I can read a contract, but if there is a problem in the contract or I dont understand some one, then I ask another nigga; or I get on the phone and ask someone to read the contract. But some people are afraid to do that. I will call anyone if they can explain things to me about money. I am not going to fuck up my money, but a lot of them have problems because they aint on the same page. If you are a manager, you can go out and get another artist, but when you fuck up his career, then what? What is he going to do?
DX: Do you think in some cases artists expect too much from management?
Hex murda: First of all, you have to give a manager something to manage. Someone might have two songs and they looking to have someone manage them. "What do you have that people what to buy?" This is commerce at the end of the day. What type of product are you putting out that people want to buy? What do you have that makes me want to take it to another nigga so he can purchase your product? I think a lot of motherfuckers dont have that, nor do they have the understanding of that. They think that they got a manager who used to manage some dancers or some strip club, and he gonna get them on Def Jam. That aint reality. Niggas dont know how to follow steps to get on Duck Down, Fat Beats or Stones Throw. They think they got a hot record and they "popping" [laughing] and they gonna take their shit to their cousin who knows someone at Interscope; they dont know who they talking to. There are so many niggas out there lying and shit; his cousins friend probably mops floors at Interscope. The game is fucked up.
DX: So what do you think it will take to put it right?
Hex murda: We dont need to put shit right, we good. I dont have anything to do with that. First of all though, most of these rap niggas need to find jobs and leave this Rap shit alone. Thats the reality because niggas cant rap. There are too many rappers and not enough fans and I am sick of that shit. If I go the supermarket, and I got Black Milk or Elzhi or a Royce [Da 5'9"] [click to read] t-shirt on, the check out nigga is trying to give me a CD, telling me that his album is out. What kind of shit is that? Oh, and the nigga is a manager. All these niggas have managers.
DX: Has that situation ever arisen where you had to bounce?
Hex murda: No, but I was fired.
DX: Cant imagine that somehow.
Hex murda: Yeah, I got fired. King Gordy/Fat Killahz fired me off the D12 tour, and they are my niggas. They felt like they needed a "Jewish manager" at the time. Niggas was just feeling themselves and I wasnt forthcoming about how we got on the tour and the money that was spent by the label and types of other shit. So it ended up being a perfect storm and we parted ways in L.A. I finished the tour with them and that was it. I mean I still work with them, as they my niggas, but it happens to everyone. Nas fired Steve Stoute two or three times. Niggas get mad and then there are these emotions when you are out on the road all the time. Your life is in their hands and then theres some niggas that you have to manage their lives too and not just their career. You have to pay their bills.
DX: Full time babysitting job then?
Hex murda: Yeah, with the niggas that act like that. Like I am saying some of these dudes are brilliant; Black Milk is damned near a certified genius, so how am I going to bitch at this nigga because he forgot something? As long as people got their rhymes and do the beats, well work the rest of the shit out. Niggas missing flights and shit you dont get mad about that. You have to have a lot of patience. You are dealing with people that are really creative and who think in colors and shit. Thats what it is about, you have to keep it on the same page and keep the train moving.
DX: You predominantly deal with indie artists; do you have an aversion to major labels?
Hex murda: A major label is going to sell whatever the type of shit it is selling at that time. If kids like green shit, they gonna find whoever is poping out green shit; if they find yellow shit works, they are going to find whoever can give them that because they are in this to make money. These are million dollar companies; they dont give a shit about anything but making money. If they found out they could sell more boogers than records, they would do it. They dont give a fuck about music; they dont have to worry about paying their rent or paying their car note like everyone else. When your crib is bigger than the block, thats a whole load of money they need to make to maintain and retain it.
I understand where they are at with that ,and that is why you have so many niggas sounding alike right now on the radio. They cant tell their artists apart, they cant tell who is who and I dont want to be in that shit. For one my guys would sign a major deal they would instantly have to change their way of life the minute they sign that piece of paper plus their music might never come out. How many artists do you know that have a buzz and have been signed for three to four years and their shit never came out?
DX: Too many.
Hex murda: Right. Or he comes out and drop a single or video with T-Pain [click to read] or whoever and then you never see the nigga again. That is the reality of their business. If your shit dont pop, those niggas will forget you the very next day. Labels are scared of embarrassment, especially A&Rs, so they hold on to a motherfucker as long as they can in case they go and pop somewhere else. Thats fucked up. So when you sign that shit, thats your life and you better make sure you read that shit. Read the fine print, as it could stipulate that you have to give someone in radio a blowjob every Thursday or something. Niggas sign contracts and then say they got a fucked up contract, "Why the fuck did you sign it in the first place?" "I did read it." "Okay, so where is your lawyer?" "He does insurance law"what the fuck?
DX: If you were in a position to rewind the timeline of Hip-Hop where would you take it?
Hex murda: I would go back to '86-'87 when it was Rakim [click to read], N.W.A. [click to read] and when everyone who was rapping was new and original as there was no-one to bite off. Black Milk did a joint called "Long Story Short" and that gave me the same feeling I had when I heard "I Aint No Joke" or "My Melody." I dont get that no more from a lot of records. When I hear that record, it takes me back to when the Boom-Bap shit was for real. Now I dont want to compare the two eras like that because thats the golden era and that shit isnt coming back. All we can do is pay homage and make the best product we can and deal with true musicians. Kids are hearing the same bullshit over and over again. There needs to be an alternative.
If motherfuckers came back down from Mars right now, they would think Gucci Mane is the best rapper in the world right now. I like Gucci Mane; he does what he does, and when I put in a Gucci Mane CD, I want to get some good Gucci shit. I am not expecting Rakim, its trap music and I understand that. But do the kids know Rakim exists? I mean they think Rakim is old, which is cool, but it is the history people need to remember. We have seen this happen before. We saw it with Jazz, with Rock & Roll where people forgot who the originators were and things got cloudy and mixed up and then that new history was born. Shout out to Gucci Mane though, as he is doing his thing. Folks may say he is ignorant, but he aint as ignorant as the niggas buying his CDs. Ill tell you that. So he knows something.
DX: Have you ever gone head to head with labels over your artist and how do you deal with that if it happens?
Hex murda: Ive had problems with Black Milk selling beats and niggas not paying on time and acting like they dont want to pay him. But with it being independent, theres a smaller group of guys you deal with. With Guilty, I deal with Havana Joe, and if it gets tough I would go and talk to Egon or Peanutbutter Wolf, but the shit is straight, so Ive never had to go talk to them niggas in my life. At Fat Beats, my man Bill Sharp or Joe [Abajian], the nigga that owns the shit. So you can really talk to a motherfucker. I dont know how many niggas talk to L.A. Reid or Clive Davis or Lyor [Cohen]. Jay-Z [click to read] can, but how many other niggas can call them up and say they got a problem? When you are dealing with them niggas, you are also dealing with a whole lot of money. How much would 15 minutes of Puffs time cost him? It could cost him a million, just over some bullshit about your video or you wearing the wrong shoes in your photo shoot. Niggas dont deal with that type of shit, but if I have that kind of situation. I can call up on those dudes.
DX: What are your long term plans?
Hex murda: We been talking about this, as niggas cant rap forever, so we been talking about diversifying funds and buying all types of shit. But you gotta strike while the iron is hot, and I am not trying to get too far ahead of myself. What I would like to have is an indie label with my guys and find the niggas that can really rap and make money at it. I would really like to do that, but being in the recording industry, like the niggas in the majors. I am so focused with the releases we have right now it is too early in the game for me to start wondering what I am going to be doing when I am 50.
DX: Obviously the current recession climate bears relevance to a lot of decisions being made, but Detroit has always been dealing with its own internal recession. How are things there right now?
Hex murda: The reality is now the dudes in the club who pretended to sell dope but were really working at the plant, are now really back selling dope. Shit is fucked up, unemployment its ridiculous but it is all across the nation. But we did get hit pretty hard with GM going bankrupt, but then Detroit has always been fucked up, niggas just learn how to live through it. The older folks been through it and lived through it. Any nigga who live in Detroit before the recession know that you walk outside and you might not come home, and that is the truth; not me being melodramatic. You walk outside, you can go to prison or you can get killed, and that is everyday. Even the kids live with that shit. We gonna make it we always make it, what you gonna do, move to L.A.? It is what it is, Mel; you gotta keep your head up. Life is just fucked up; its a whole load of bullshit with some good parts thrown in.
DX: How do you balance your time?
Hex murda: My Blackberry, my e-mails, my text messages, my Twitter, all of it is on my phone. I just had a $5,000 bill from T-Mobile.
DX: Yeah your Twitter game is off the chain.
Hex murda: That is all work; networking and making people aware that you are your artists are here.
DX: Funny as some managers might not necessarily see the promotions side as being their job.
Hex murda: Well, some play in the back. They might be straight-laced cats that arent necessarily out in the streets with people. MeIm just a nigga talking shit who manages the best niggas in the world. I dont care if folks know; it is just what we do. A lot of people talk shark shit and it is easy to do that until you walk into a real shark. People need to know their positions and play them correctly. In this Rap shit, you are dealing with niggas who are talking about shooting all the time and how they will kill you. Some of them are for real, not all as 99% are bitches. But some of these dudes will turn around and kill you so you need to know who you are fucking with. This comes down to respecting people. Respect a motherfucker until he gives you are reason not to respect him.
Dont disrespect people; managers need to keep their artists in check. You dont see my artists dissing nobody, as they dont do that. You get dudes who just got in the game dissing niggas. Its like theres someone dissing a rapper and in the same rap, he is dissing someone else who dont even belong in the same song. Maybe he knows these dudes and maybe someone stood on his CD or flushed it down the toilet like Ludacris [click to read] did in Hustle & Flow, but these niggas trying to come up right now, just like you.
Niggas need to shut the fuck up and look in the mirror and see if it is worth it because not everyone is going to make a song about you.
DX: But the diss in Hip-Hop is almost as common as the mixtape with some seeing it as free PR.
Hex murda: Well yeah, some see it that way. They think "If I diss him, he gonna come back at me and my name is mentioned with his, but he aint really gonna do shit because he is pussy." Niggas put this shit on YouTube and on WordStarHipHop not thinking. We had a nigga do that, and we had a meeting on some real shit. I am not going to mention his name, but it was like "Who does he think he is talking to?" Because niggas didnt respond or make no records or videos, it was just a case of "Lets body that nigga."
People not respecting you when they dont even know you makes niggas want to body a nigga. The situation got dissolved, lets put it that way - and we aint the only niggas like that. You just dont know who you be calling a bitch. Its personal, it's not just about music and certain niggas deal with certain situations in certain types of ways, so people need to be careful with what they say.
The Internet too niggas be coming with all this shit about niggas being gay and faggots. Jay-Z laughed that shit off, but why would someone disrespect one of the greatest rappers like that? I dont get that shit; never understand why they do it. Is it just for publicity or attention because if it is I got attention for a nigga and they are not going to like it. I have the time and I have the energy.
DX: Now your boy Eminem, came back this year with an album, how did you find it?
Hex murda: Theres some cuts I really like, but I am not feeling the accent. That record "Beautiful" and "Underground," they are classic records for me. I like "Medicine Ball," but I am looking for Slim Shady. I want to get into Ems world when I listen to him. Proof was a huge influence on Marshall, and with him being gone, you feel that he might have lost a step. Without Proof, there would be no Eminem, and he knows that. Em been through a lot, he a soldier and that was his best friend in the world, so it affected him. The dude came back and is making dope records again.
He got that superstar shit for real. On his Twitter, he aint nobodys friend. Thats how he is for real. He aint even friends with Paul [on Twitter] and this is how it should be. In movies, it was always about wanting something unobtainable and it used to be like that in music too. Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin were like queens, you couldnt talk to them.
DX: Okay so obviously Random Axe is a highly anticipated project, when can we expect that?
Hex murda: I dont know, I am not the label. Probably sometime in the fall but thats Dru Ha and Buckshots [click to read] decision. The "Monster Babies" [click to listen] track leaked and it did really well but with Sean Price [click to read], Guilty Simpson and Black Milk how you gonna go wrong? It is that real Hip-Hop shit.
DX: How did these three connect?
Hex murda: I hit up Dan Green, who manages MoSS. I was on the road with Slum Village in 2005 and 2006 in New York, and while on the road, they kept playing this Monkey Barz shit, and we listened to it all the way. When I got home, I hit up Dan to get Ruck on a track with Guilty, who he wasnt that familiar with. So when he really checked Guilty out, it ended up being an album and I said I had the perfect producer, which was Black Milk.
It was supposed to be Black Milk and MoSS, but Black Milk likes the one album one producer thing, so he ended up doing the whole album. The shit is ridiculous. Random Axe and Slaughterhouse could catch the attention of the people that like the [Lady] Gaga music. They are really rhyming over hard beats. Niggas say this could be the year with all these projects but people have to listen to these projects. Niggas may have eaten chicken all their life, but now they need to try hamburger or steak. But it is what it is.
This interview was Executive Produced by J Dilla and Big Proof.
Photos by Kelly Connelly.