Irv Gotti: Turning Tables
Then enters 50 Cent.
With something that can be nothing short of awe-inspiring the 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule & Murder, Inc. filled headlines and made the public shift their focus away from the pop-oriented, chart dominating Murder, Inc. for the growing movement that was 50 Cent and G-Unit. Fast forward the clock and its 2007 Irving Lorenzo and Irv Gotti are, indeed, the same man and the duality of their trials and tribulations have made for hip-hop news. The challenge now for Gotti is to get his spot back and his company back to its former prominence.
Vh1 brings Irv Gotti into your living room and with him comes along his stable of Murder, Inc. artists. The pressure is on for Gotti to comeback in the microwave minds of the hip-hop buying public, but as he shows in this interview with HipHopDX his love, his loyalty and his determination will not stop his ascension back into the game.
HipHopDX: How do you think that the Vh1 show will revitalize your label?
Irv Gotti: Its just exposure. Its giving my artists and everything that Im doing some exposure. In these day and times, where, you know look [points to TV] were watching Hell Date, you know what Im saying? After that, itll be The Wayans Brothers, you know? With all of the video networks, its more about shows and less about music videos. Its harder for artists to get exposure. You dont see videos too much on TV anymore. They send you to the Internet to check out videos, now. I think it helps my artists Ja [Rule], Vanessa [Carlton], Lloyd because they get to be on the box, with me, every week. The people get to see them and relate to them in a more personal way.
DX: On the show, you and Deb have a very unconventional family arrangement that still seems to work out for everyone involved at most times. Now, that the cameras are rolling, has it put a strain on that relationship?
IG: Nah, there aint nothing that can put a strain on me and Deb. What people need to realize is that what people are seeing now is that Ive been with her for sixteen years; you know what Im saying? There isnt anything that her and I havent been through or seen or whatever. This show cant do anything to us [laughs]. Its crazy, but it cant. Like, I got kicked out of the house and we separated like six, seven years ago and after I got kicked out; that two years there was a lot of hatred between us. It was a lot of bullshit. So, what everyone is seeing now is years past the bullshit, where we just developed a coolness, a friendship that I dont think could ever be broken.
DX: Deb said that theres a huge difference between the Irv that she knows and the Irv Gotti that Hip Hop created. Do you feel like the pressures of the game have turned you into a monster?
IG: Yeah, yeah, man theres definitely two mes. I think that everyone has two of themselves, though T.I./T.I.P. everyone has that. When Im at work, Im more of an Irv Gotti mentality. But when Im home with the kids, Im just daddy. Im not yelling and screaming at everybody like Id do in the office. Im not the boss of an army at home Im just the boss of my family, its different.
DX: Do you think that success created the monster of Irv Gotti?
IG: Oh, yeah! The music business is definitely like the Devils playground. I said this on the show, usually the Devil wins in the music business. We know that we be doing wild foul shit, or whatever like that, but we still do it. Its a fucked up thing to say, because I am spiritual and Im into God, but its the realest thing. I take all of the good with the bad that comes with it. I love this business, I love music and so whatever comes with it I take it all. All of the bullshit that comes with it, Ill do it.
DX: With all of the changes that the Internet has made within the music business is there a way for anyone in the rap industry to have dominance anymore?
IG: Yeah, theres still room for a mafucka to come and dominate the game. I think Im going to do it, too. I got this new artist by the name of Newz [http://www.myspace.com/nedoubleuz] and he got me feeling real good. He got that raw energy that only a new, hungry rapper has. He has that same bullshit, that same determination. I think that the people are going to respond to it. He has this one rhyme where he spits: "You know back in the day, we had Big Daddy Kane/then we had Notorious B.I.G., but he gone/and my nigga Young Hovs on the throne/Unlike Jay, Im just like you/Im fucked up, aint no tellin what I just might do/I might rob a nigga /Ill kill a n**** like you." One of the lines he said: "I was even fucked up and got a job like you/I had quit it/Back on the block, I had to get it." From his words, he hit me. The majority of people are have-nots, you know? He took himself out of being a rapper and put himself in the crowd. If people respond to that, then hell be a problem.
DX: On the show, you met with Russell Simmons for guidance. What roles has he played, if any, in your career, as far as mentoring you?
IG: Russells my guy. Ever since I got to Def Jam, he was the dude from Hollis. He lived on 205th, I lived on 215th we were in the same neighborhood Jamaica Park. We immediately fucked with each other. When I started at Def Jam, I was the young guy coming up and everyone was saying that this dude gets busy. Ever since then, Russell would always take me to places with him and hed school me. Hed say, Nah, dont do that youre going to fuck up if you do that, do this! Me and him have been like this [crosses fingers] ever since I was working at Def Jam. It was the Hollis thing, definitely, but hes a good dude. Hes the Godfather of this shit [laughs].
DX: Youve seen Jay, DMX and Ja come up from the ground up have you ever taken yourself out of that New York state of mind and saw your accomplishments from the outside?
IG: I would hope that anyone sees us like we did some great shit. That run with X, Jay and Ja will go down in the history books. Theyll talk about the Hard Knock Life tour and I was a big part of that. It was way fun back then. It was so much fuckin fun. We would be running round doing shows with B.I.G., you know what Im saying?! I dont see the rappers of today I just dont feel like theyre having fun with this shit. Theres so much beef nowadays We were having fun [laughs]. We were selling out venues, selling major records, you know it was fun. The sales thing has a little bit of something to do with people not having fun anymore, but not really. Theres a case for both ways because when Jay first came out, Reasonable Doubt only went gold and we were having fun. We were having triple platinum fun on gold status [laughs]. I just think that the beefs are messing it up and it makes for a crazy climate. I understand that its all competitive and all, but everyone is taking it a little bit further than some competitive shit. You take a look at T.I.! Why would anyone go out there and buy all them guns for? Get right! Cause you never know and thats the mentality. Im not saying that thats not a good mentality to have, but I understand it.
DX: You seem like a pretty loyal dude, even if the chips are down. For the episode of American Gangster about Preme, you still remained loyal to the guy. Why? And howd you get involved with the show?
IG: Love Preme, man. How could you not? Im the youngest of eight kids, so everything about us is built from that. Anyone who has a big, loving family thats together and really loves each other, there isnt anything that you wont do for family. Thats how I feel with Preme. There isnt anything that Preme wouldnt do for me and vice versa. How could I turn my back on my brother? I did a radio show the other day and a caller called up and said, Yo! You stupid for that! You say family, but you risk not being around your family for this dude! And Im listening to him and Im like, You just dont know me and Preme Im Irv Gotti and they were doing a show on Preme for American Gangster. Everyone in the world knows that thats my man, I dont hide it! They wanted me to talk about our friendship and my court case, why I stood up the way that I did and what that meant for Preme. There were a few reasons why my brother and I stood up like that. One of the reasons was just because we didnt do it. Secondly, we didnt want anything to harm Preme. As crazy as that may sound, we were facing 20 years and I was worried about my mans. If I was to cop out or accept a plea because they offered us a plea for six months. We were facing 20 years! A lot of niggas looked at us like, Yall niggas is crazy! We were going up for 20 years against the United States government and they told us that we can get six months and go home, a lot of real niggas respected that. If we wouldve pleaded guilty, then they couldve used that in Premes case and he already was facing enough. People just have to understand me and when they do, youll understand that. Im not going to turn my back on none of my niggas!
DX: With your own show, now that its on air, do your kids watch it?
IG: Yeah, they watch it. They aint heard nothing new from watching it. Like when I got kicked out, I told my sons and I told Angie, Mommys not wrong. Id tell them that Im crazy. I wouldnt go into detail, but the funny thing that I told about Deb was that my boys, my sons they love their mother, so much! She [Deb] was crying a lot and Id tell them to go hug they mommy and give her a kiss and they got accustomed to showing that affection towards their mother. I love that. There aint nothing that my family hasnt heard or seen My moms she said something funny on the show, I was getting ready to leave after we had a conversation about relationships. She looks at me and says, Irv, just try to be normal!" [Laughs] She knows that Im crazy.
DX: Ja and yourself have been blasted ever since 50 came out trying to throw salt on yalls career
IG: Yeah, he did a good job, too. [Laughs]
DX: Ja even said to MTV that 50 wanted to be where you guys were at and that he didnt know how to go about it. He also says that 50 is a spectacle now and now he has to live up to that expectation. Do you think that the people are seeing similarities in 50 that he tried to blast yall about?
IG: Oh, 100%! When he first came out and was talking about how Ja was doing these songs and should be just a pop act, okay, well lets fast forward Three albums later, 50 sings on a lot of his songs and hooks, hes doing records with Justin Timberlake the biggest pop act in the world, you feel me? Hes doing songs with Robin Thicke, Mary J Blige His album is full of Akon! His album is full of features from pop acts! I mean you do the math, you know! When he came out, he was the hardest nigga in the world and he was saying, These niggas are pussy, these niggas is soft. He was talking about how Ja was doing songs with J. Lo and how he shouldve just crossed over into being a pop act. Okay, three albums later and look at all his features in his songs and videos. [Irv begins to sing "Ayo Technology"] with Justin Timberlake the biggest pop act in the fuckin world! The boy band nigga! [Laughs] Now come on, if everyone cant see that and be like, for one second, Yo, he  pulled the wool over everybodys eyes. He aint that nigga. He aint the tough guy nigga that hes portraying. We done whooped his ass. Weve had problems. Now, if youre the tough guy that you say you are and you get stabbed a little bit not extensively, but what are you going to do? You gon come back and smash them niggas. He didnt do that, ladies and gentlemen, he went to the precinct down the block! Rule and I paid him about a quarter of a million dollars for him and Yayo, man! He tried to sue me! Thats just the real. Now, everyone who doesnt experience that with him and just sees the steroid nigga who's juiced up and got shot up getting shot doesnt make you tough it means youre a stupid ass nigga fuckin round with the wrong niggas. He likes to say it in a rhyme, like, Good rhyme, nigga! But I know him and maybe me and my crew are the only ones who really know him, so it doesnt count. Ive been a part of waves in hip-hop, I was there with Roc-A-Fella, I was there with Ruff Ryders and Murder, Inc. thats my wave. When you come out and you captivate the people, you can tell the people, I dont like ice cream, no more! People will fuckin listen. When X had them, the sales of pitbulls skyrocketed. Every town we went to there was nigga out with pitbulls and ridin on motorbikes. The same is said for Biggie and whoever has their waves you have the minds of the people. I understand that he had his wave and when he did, he chose to say, Fuck Murder, Inc.! People went with that. Now after the wave is over, lets get to whats really real. Everything that he said about Ja, hes done, too. Hes did those same things.
DX: Ultimately, youve been around legends in the game during one of the most highly profitable times in Hip Hop. Why continue in a marketplace that seems to be a shell of its former self?
IG: Ive done seen so many things, Ive been involved in so many movements that [laughs] I know how to maneuver the marketplace. Once a spark has been caught, I know how to maneuver it to stop and crush someone elses flow; this brain is like too much information all I need to do is to catch that spark.
Additional reporting by Aliya Ewing.