In today's world of music, you never know what the future may hold. An artist may need to switch labels or go independent several times in his/her career. Then you have an artist like Lil Scrappy, who has had success since the beginning of this career, with his involvment in Trillville and a very prosperous solo career while being affiliated with Lil Jon and G-Unit. Despite all of his early success, he has still had to switch labels twice and release one album independently.
Which brings us to the Lil Scrappy of 2009. He is under a new label and a new family (DTP/Def Jam) and has a new outlook on his future. It only makes sense that the album is called Grustle because his whole career, he's had to hustle and grind to get what he wants. In this interview with HipHopDX, he talks about what he had to do to get noticed initially by Lil Jon, being caught up in the Young Buck/G-Unit beef and just the overall shadyness of the music industry of today.
HipHopDX: What is the significance of the title for the album, The Grustle, and how hard you have worked to get it out?
Lil Scrappy: The Grustle is actually the grind and the hustle. When I say the grind, it's what your doing right now. That’s what pays the bills. I may like it or I may not like it, but either way I got to do it to get that money coming in. Your hustle is something that's around and that you really like to do or its easy for you to do. You got to do both of them to be comfortable today in this day and time. So that’s why I’m calling this album The Grustle.
DX: You’ve switched labels twice in the span of your career. What have you learned about the industry after switching labels twice already in your career?
Lil Scrappy: Ain't nothing green on the other side of the field. You can be the smallest artist or you can be the biggest artist, but the only person that is going to make it happen is you. With the street stuff, they tell you not to put out records, but you got to follow suit and do what you can do. The owner of the label can be your best friend, but if you're not hot, you ain't going to be put out. I learned there aint no friends in the industry and you got to be business before anything else. I’ve learned to be a businessman.
Lil Scrappy: I was doing a whole bunch of clubs and stuff, and we all from Atlanta, so he heard about my buzz or whatever. Lil Jon came to check me out and saw me tear the whole club down. He had me come down and do an interview or meeting, if it was a nine-to-five, it would be considered an interview, and it went down cool. I signed [the subsequent contract to BME], and it was on and poppin'. He ended up taking me on the road with him. When I went to one show with him on a tour bus, I’ve never been on a tour bus before that, so I told him I will stay on this bitch. I will sell me some weed, bra, I'll sleep on the bus, man, I don’t give a fuck. So Lil Jon said, "C'mon." We started getting out there doing shows. I would do “Headbussa” and we would just get it crunk. I ended up doing an album [The King of Crunk & BME Recordings Present: Lil Scrappy & Trillville] with Trillville that went platinum. After that, it kind of went downhill with me and Jon because I was coming into my own but I still gave him props because he was the man that put me out and made everybody see who I was. I don’t know if he couldn’t stand the shine that I was getting or whatever and I didn’t really get to talk to him that much anymore. He would just send me beat CDs and stuf,f and not really do it right there in front of me. So I just started doing my own thing and getting beats from everybody else. I ended up getting hurt one day and 50 [Cent] hollered at me because we had the same management. I wanted to put that together because I knew 50 was in the position to make me a very successfull person. So I said, "Damn, well I don’t want to leave Jon." So I tried bringing both of them into the picture. That didn’t work out because there were to many ideas and hands in the pot. So everyone walked away from it and left me on Warner Brothers, which is a Rock & Roll label, and they didn’t know what to do with me. So after that, I got a good manager named Kevin Clark, who was able to get me off Warner Brothers. So I get released, everyone that knew me and could get me a deal showed up a white contract in my face but they were all shitty contracts. Everyone wanted to give me a shitty contract. So I ended up hookin' up with Chaka [Zulu] and Ludacris. Chaka said he thought my energy was missing. He wanted to be the one to bring me back in and see me become successful.
DX: You were involved with G-unit at some point and they seem to have played a big role in your career, I mean you had a beat from Eminem on the Bred 2 Die Born 2 Live album and not a lot of people get a beat from Eminem. In the end, how did the Young Buck and 50 cent beef affect your relationship with them?
DX: G-Unit seems to have a problem with loyalty……
Lil Scrappy: Right. Everyone wants to help 50 load up his guns and shoot the bullets, but nobody wants to be there when the bullets come back. That’s the kind of loyalty going on with that. The world is small so everybody that you talk about, you're going to have to run into them one way or another and people got to be ready for shit to go down.
DX: How strong is the Disturbing Tha Peace family your at…..
Lil Scrappy: I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t really know everybody too much, because they were all friends before they got signed. So they were all cool. But me, I'm cool with everybody. Me and Playaz Circle are from Southside [of Atlanta] and so is Luda. We stay out of each other's hair. As long as you don’t overcrowd a nigga, you good. As long as everybody can come up on one stage and do their shit its all good.
DX: In March, T.I. is supposed to get out of jail, but unfortunately, it looks like Lil Wayne is going to go in. So we are trading one southern Hip Hop icon for another. What do you think of the whole situation with Wayne and where its headed?
Lil Scrappy: I think it’s the most craziest shit ever. There havent been this many rappers that have been locked up before. It will be like one or two niggas acting crazy out there, but it was never like, "Oh, he’s going in, then I’m going in." If it was, you would never hear about it like that. Now they are catching the top dogs. They are taking them away because we listen to their music and the kids listen to their music. We don’t want to hear the shit they are talking about. Why would we want to hear about all this shit going on in the world, when there is way more crazy shit going on? We got Taliban in the hood. We got Black Taliban. Niggas are going around blowing peoples' heads off for no reason. Why would you go after the person that is talking about getting money and stuff like that and isn’t going around blowing peoples heads off? Why would you go after somebody that makes your kids smile? I think it goes back to that CB4 movement man, for real. The politicians and the police are dumbfounded by Rap.
Lil Scrappy: I put it like this: you got to make music for everybody. You can't just make music for the south. So that will probably teach him a bit. Some artists are just comfortable making music for people who like them. But you're supposed to make music for yourself, and what makes you feel good. So when you are in music, and if you are a creative person, your mind will go everywhere. He probably just needed that to get him back in and figure out more ways to do his shit. I mean I’ve gotten booed, everybody gets booed. I ain't never been in New York and got booed because when I come, I know how to rap. I got the verses, the hook, the look I come with it all, the whole thing. People can be walking away from what you're saying but they can still hear you.
DX: Talk about your new album and what we can expect from it...
Lil Scrappy: I got production from LT Moe, who is an in-house producer of DTP. J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, who got my first single with Ludacris called “Addicted to Money." I got Kane Beatz, who made “Thuggin' To The Bone”, which is my next single with Trey Songz. That was a great collabo. That’s going back to that G-Unit style. You got to stay down all the way, not halfway. When you are down halfway, that’s when the problem comes, it ain't got nothing to do with money, that’s just the halfway point. When the other person is going the whole mile and you are doing half of that, bitch, it ain't going to come.
DX: The labels aren’t making as much money as they used to and record sales are going down everyday, but at the same time, producers are keeping their costs the same, if not higher. Do you think its fair or is it just business?. If the labels can't figure out a good business plan then why should the producers lower their fare?
Lil Scrappy: It's the fact that producers think they are famous. Producers spend their money like us and they are double dippin'. They get money up front and then they get the publishing. It's crazy. What I think is fucked up also is that there are a lot of mixtapes out and producers feel like that they don’t have to do what we do. Everybody has to do free shit, you just have to. We have to go into the studio and make a mixtape that no one may ever hear. Producers feel they shouldn’t give their shit out for free because there are so many people that want beats but there are so many people that make them bitches. But when that money stops coming, they are going to start to think like us. They are losing that. They are not coming from that humble flag and blaming all the people that shitted on them who are actually trying to do something with them.
DX: You have a really public relationship with Diamond. Are you going to do anything with her musically?
Lil Scrappy: Yeah, she’s on my album on a song called “Phone Tag,” and it's about how if you want to play the role of a cheater, you don’t have to do all that, you can just send a pic out like your bitch is right in front of me, dude, really choppin' it up. She spit harder than me. I’m embarrassed about that shit.