On the triumphant Mannie Fresh-produced lead single, “My Hood,” from B.G.’s eleventh album, Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood (due December 8th), Gizzle reminds of previous professional and personal setbacks: “I fell a few times, I never gave up.” Now after surviving another career fall, B.G. is back on his feet.
After signing a multiple-album solo deal with Atlantic Records on April 4, 2006 – just one week after B.G.’s fourth Koch Records [nka E1 Entertainment] sponsored solo offering, The Heart Of Tha Streetz Vol. 2, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart – Gizzle encountered label woes the likes he hadn’t endured since his financial struggles with Cash Money Records in the early ‘00s. Once a planned executive producer’s role for fellow southern star and Atlantic labelmate T.I. on B.G.’s return-to-the-majors release was apparently vacated after the King of the South’s much-publicized legal drama began unfolding, Gizzle’s Atlantic debut was subsequently left in limbo.
B.G. spoke openly to HipHopDX recently about his rocky tenure with Atlantic Records, as well as his currently in-the-news legal entanglements. Always one of the most brutally honest and fearlessly candid interviewees in all of Hip Hop, the 29-year-old veteran (with already almost 15 years worth of releases under his belt) also spoke freely about how the downturn in the music biz really affected him, why Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood is being released via an unorthodox union of his indie and major recording homes (as is the case with labelmate Juvenile’s new disc, Atlantic will handle the distribution of B.G.’s album, while E1 is handling marketing and promoting of the release), and maybe most notably B. Gizzle broke down the realistic game plan for the long-discussed Hot Boys reunion album now that two of the group’s four members will be incarcerated come February.
HipHopDX: On the first verse to the first [street] single, “Back To The Money,” from your new album you spit, “I can’t lie, I had started to feel the recession/I signed my deal but I really wasn’t feelin’ progression.”
B.G.: [Continues verse] “I’ma go getta / By all means I’ma get it.” Yeah, what the fuck I’ma lie about? I got a overhead like a muthafucka. I’m the center of my circle. I got house notes. I got my own studio. I pay child support. I got employees. [And] it’s a drought. The work slow. Everything slow so for niggas in the Rap game to see – I could count on my hands the few niggas that probably didn’t feel [the drought]. And I know one of ‘em is Lil Wayne. The other one is Baby…probably Puffy…Jay-Z. If you ain’t got something hot in the streets, and you [aren’t] consistent and you consistently working – But I was held up. I still was working. But I had to go back to my other work too. So, I felt the recession. I felt it, I can’t lie. I’ma keep it one hunnid. It ain’t bring me down to my knees to where I’m broke, [where] a nigga fucked up, but niggas gotta watch how they spend. ‘Cause I’m used to spending like money grow on trees.
DX: Baby did an interview with Eric B. recently and he said that the situation with Atlantic basically led you towards “heading to another life and another lifestyle” than the one he could help you get back to if Atlantic would just let you go.
B.G.: Baby know me. And Baby know that I ain’t gon’ sit around - After I realized that [Atlantic] was playing with me, and they was holding me up, Baby, he came to me and he was like, “Man, I’ll give them whatever they give you.” Pretty much, I’ll buy you out your contract. [Atlantic] didn’t wanna sell Baby my contract. I guess they knew what’ll happen if they did that. But at the same time, they wanted to shelf me. So, E1 got involved. And [E1 President] Alan Grunblatt stepped up to the plate, ‘cause me and him got years and years and years – I pretty much was the first rapper over here at Koch doing real numbers, for like three years strong. I sold like over 850,000 records over here independent, before Jim Jones, Dipset, before anybody came [to Koch]. Really I feel like I’m the reason a lot of people came over here. So, it’s like…I don’t know what Atlantic was on. And they had a lot invested in me. I think when T.I. went to jail they kinda froze up…because I’m not a new artist, and I’m not an old artist. So I don’t know if they couldn’t figure out how to market me, or if they couldn’t figure out how to – I don’t know if they got the picture, but all I told them to do was follow my lead. I know what the people want from me. I know where I left off at. I know, just follow my lead and I guarantee you I ain’t gon’ lead you in the wrong direction. Y’all ain’t sign me for nothing. Y’all ain’t give me this half-a-million dollar recording budget for nothing. So y’all gotta see something in me to feel like y’all gonna make y’all money back. But, I guess they felt like by T.I. executive producing the album with me that he was gon’ hold my hand, or I was gon’ be under his wing like Young Dro or Big Kuntry or something like that. But me and T.I. sat down together and told them – T.I. told them, “Man, I grew up in the trap listening to his music. He one of the reasons I rap. I know he could carry his own weight. He don’t need me. Let him do him.” But they ain’t listen. So, now they gon’ wish they woulda.
DX: And you were never officially Grand Hustle anyway, that’s what’s sorta weird that they would make you like…
B.G.: Yeah, I wasn’t never officially [signed to] Grand Hustle, but by T.I. – He came to me one day… And you know we had a friendship by the music, because I was on his Urban Legend album [on “What They Do”] and then he was on my Life After Cash Money album [on “Street Nigga”], and then he called me again to get on his [King album on “I’m Straight”]. And every time I’m in Atlanta we kickin’ it, holdin’ each other down… So he found out that my contract was up with Koch, and he asked me how I felt [about] being on Atlantic with him. And I was like, “Whazzup?” So he called [Atlantic CEO] Craig Kallman, and the next week Craig Kallman flew me to New York. We sat down, we went out to dinner, we talked. They played they games. He showed me pictures of his kids, and I showed him pictures of my kids. [He was] just selling me a bunch of dreams. But at the time, it was real. But like I [said], when T.I. went to jail I guess they just…I don’t know what happened. And I care less what happened with them. I’m more worried about what happen with my next [album], ‘cause [Alan Grunblatt] kept it real with me, 100%.
DX: Have you got a chance to speak with T.I. on the phone or write to him since he been locked down?
B.G.: Nah, I haven’t talked to him on the phone. I wrote him though. And he wrote me back.
DX: Now, you mentioned this – In the press release for Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood, Alan Grunblatt is quoted as saying, “B.G. is the artist that put E1 Music (Koch Records) on the map.” Like you said, you sold almost a million albums total with your four solo releases on the label, but I know you wanted to be back on a major to get that major look. So why is Atlantic sending you and Juvenile back thru E1?
B.G.: They not sending us nowhere. I mean, we grown men. They not doing what they supposed to do as a label. They not fulfilling they obligations. They breached everything that was on my contract. Before a nigga end up in the Feds, or a nigga end up somewhere they don’t wanna be or don’t belong, you gotta make other moves. But I’m happy with the situation, ‘cause I was signed for four albums. So after [Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood] I’m free to do what the fuck I want.
DX: And that means re-signing with Baby…
B.G.: I mean, Baby’s a option. Don’t get me wrong, Baby’s a option. And Baby’s a great option. But also, E1 is a great option. And honestly, I could put it out independently through Select-O-Hits or through a real, real, real independent or get me a P&D [pressing and distribution] deal with E1. The relationship that I built over the seven, eight years that I been dealing with E1, I’m quite sure that we could work something out that could be real, real, real beneficial for both sides.
DX: Speaking of the next step, because of the delay in releasing Too Hood it has quite a bit of older material on it. “I Hustle” with Young Jeezy leaked out summer ’07…
B.G.: [Interrupts] Yeah that’s bonus tracks. Like I say, I had a big budget, so by them songs costing so much it’s like why not put ‘em on the album? The song with me and T.I. [“4 A Minute,” that was the album’s original first single with accompanying video in January ‘08] was produced by Scott Storch. That was a $70,000 record. So why waste the record?
DX: But with most of the Too Hood album being a little bit older [material], have you been recording newer songs for a new album to drop…
B.G.: [Interrupts] Oh this a brand new album. A lot of people thought the album had already came out, not knowing that I’m a studio head and I be in the studio 24/7. Me and [Lil] Boosie just did 15 songs in like seven days. We got in the studio and we did this mixtape… I been doing it for so long to [where] it just come to me. And, Lil Boosie remind me of how I used to be when I had just got my feet wet. He really remind me of the B.G. or Soulja Slim of Baton Rouge. And I got a lot of love and respect for the little nigga, man. He asked me to hold him down while he gone, and I’ma stick by my word.
DX: Is “Ya Heard Me” – the joint with you, Juve and Wayne [that leaked June ‘08] – still on the album?
B.G.: Yeah that’s still on the album. C’mon man, you talking about expensive records.
DX: [Laughs] I’m just trying to clarify what’s old and what’s new on the album…
B.G.: I got the bonus records [“I Hustle” and “4 A Minute”] on the album. And “Ya Heard Me” might be like the only record that [was] leaked that’s on the [album]. And “Keep It 100,” that’s another record I put out [previously]. So them two the only records that you gon’ hear that you probably heard before on the Internet somewhere.
DX: Now when I spoke to Juvenile recently he seemed to be suggesting you, he and Lil Wayne hadn’t recorded much new material together after “Ya Heard Me,” but in that interview Baby did [with Eric B.] he said the Hot Boys reunion album is already finished and might be out by next summer. So did you, Wayne and Juve finish the reunion album or not?
B.G.: We wanna keep y’all in suspense.
DX: Aww good Lord [Laughs].
B.G.: Hmph, how ya love that?
DX: [Laughs] Can you say if y’all did more recording after “Ya Heard Me”?
B.G.: Yeah, we been recording [together] before “Ya Heard Me.”
DX: So let’s try to work it this way, is Mannie Fresh doing all the beats for the reunion album?
B.G.: I can’t – I’m not sure about that right now. I ain’t even lying. We haven’t even gotten that far in the logistics. But if it was up to me, Mannie Fresh probably would do the whole album. But right now, with all the hot producers they got out here and all the young producers that’s giving that fire, if we have 15 songs on the album my vote would be for Mannie Fresh to do eight of ‘em.
DX: And you don’t wanna tell me too much, but can you tell me if y’all are going to have everything done before Wayne has to go in to begin serving a jail sentence in February?
B.G.: Umm…when he go in in February how much time he gotta do?
DX: Eight months I think it is.
B.G.: Eight months? Shit, man, I done ten months standing on top of my head. So, it shouldn’t be hard for him. I wish he was in New Orleans, where it’da be better for him. New York got a lot of love for him. But you know how niggas try to test niggas who on top of the game or whatever. Me personally, they a have to put me in [general] population. ‘Cause I’ll fight. They couldn’t put me in no 23/1. I couldn’t live like that. So, I mean, what he rap about, the true him ‘bout to come out, whether he be in protective custody or whether he be in population.
DX: Have you spoke to him to like kinda hip him a little bit to what to expect?
B.G.: Every jail is different. I never been to Rikers Island. I been to jail in Atlanta. I been to jail in Texas. I been to jail in Detroit. I been to jail in New Orleans. I never been to jail in New York so – I done seen DVD’s on how they be slashing people and doing this, doing that. But, you know, I’m a man. And I could live anywhere. You could put me in the woods with the lions, tigers and bears [and] I’ma find a way to survive.
DX: Going back to the Hot Boys album, you’re saying that you and Juve [will] wait for Wayne to do those eight months before putting the album out…?
B.G.: Wayne so creative, and I’m so creative, and Juvenile so creative [that] if we was to do the album – which we already have material already done, and we probably gonna get some more material in before he leave… But when he come back, he might feel like that’s old. So we might go back in and do mo’. So you might get a double CD.
DX: And were y’all able to get any Turk verses included yet - any old stuff or anything over the phone…?
B.G.: Yep, we got some [Lil] Turk verses over the phone. But hopefully Turk be home by then. Hopefully Turk beat Wayne home… He should be going to the halfway house soon.
DX: So y’all all should be in place by the end of 2010.
B.G.: By the end of 2010, by the middle of 2010 it’s going down. If we have to do Turk over the phone – how G-Unit did Tony Yayo, [where] he wasn’t there for the second album but his face was on the cover – [or] if we have to replace Turk with Baby, we gon’ get it done. The world want it. And I think Hip Hop could appreciate it right now.
DX: Going back to your album “Rather Die,” that’s on the album, right?
B.G.: “I’d Rather Die” featuring Maino? Yeah. Me and Maino was in the studio last night. Me and Maino ‘bout to do this mixtape called New York To New Orleans. We just shot this video for this song I got on his album called [“Gangsta”]. We shot half of it in Brooklyn, and we shot half of it in New Orleans.
DX: On “Rather Die” you talk about that you ain’t going back to jail, and that you’d rather die than go back to the pen. So where is your mind at now; are you mentally prepared to do a bid if you have to?
B.G.: I’ma roll with the punches. I know before I do what I do the consequences that come behind it. I ain’t no crybaby. If I put my self in a situation and it don’t go the way that I expected it or planned it to go, then that mean my plan went sour. But if my plan don’t go sour and I lick, then you know, it is what it is. Jail ain’t nuttin’ I’m braggin’ on, but I ain’t never been scared of jail. I been going to jail since I was 15. But that ain’t no place that I wanna be, because my daddy got killed when I was 12-years-old – some niggas kicked his door in trying to jack him – and my son, he about to be 10-years-old in January, and I don’t want my son to go through what I went through. ‘Cause when my daddy got killed that’s when my mama lost control of me. And I don’t want history to repeat itself.
DX: And we don’t need another Louisiana rapper in prison. Lil Boosie, C-Murder, Lil Wayne, they ‘bout to lock up all the rappers in Louisiana.
B.G.: They know what we bring to the table. It’s a recession, man, [the authorities are] hurting. They want something to do. They want some fame. They wanna be able to say I locked C-Murder up, or I locked Lil Wayne up, or I locked B.G. up, or I locked Lil Boosie up. Instead of fighting the real crime out there they fighting [petty] crime against people who trying to make a better life for they family and they kids, and the people that’s around ‘em.