During the final 15 minutes of his recent interview with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds for their “Juan Epstein” podcast, 20-year-old upstart Mac Miller described in detail his version of the events that led up to the controversial copyright infringement lawsuit filed back in July by veteran producer/emcee/deejay Lord Finesse against Mac, his label, Rostrum Records, and mixtape hub DatPiff.com for $10 million.
In his complaint filed in federal court, Finesse alleges that Miller, Rostrum and DatPiff have ignored a cease and desist order demanding the parties stop profiting from Finesse’s 1995 “Hip 2 Da Game” beat during Miller’s performances and by continuing to sell Mac’s 2010 song “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza” without Finesse’s consent through digital retailers such as Amazon and iTunes via albums conspicuously labeled Face in the Crowd by the artist “Mac” and The World by the artist “Miller.”
Mac Miller revealed during his aforementioned discussion with Cipha and Rosenberg that he and Lord Finesse spoke back in 2010 after the release of his breakthrough mixtape K.I.D.S, whereupon Finesse gave his blessing to Mac to use his “Hip” track for “Kool Aid” and the two made plans to work together on original material – plans that never materialized in part due to Mac’s incessant touring schedule over the past two years. Miller subsequently explained that he spoke again to Finesse after his lawsuit was filed and according to Mac the following exchange took place: “I was like, ‘We don’t need to do it this way, bro. Like, let’s just work.’ And he was like, ‘We’re too deep into it. I can’t pull out. I have to do it.’”
Finesse’s fellow Diggin’ In The Crates crewmember Showbiz spoke with HipHopDX recently and was asked about the lawsuit that threatens to forever alter the mixtape method that new artists (and sometimes even established emcees) rely on for exposure and promotion, possibly preventing rappers from ever again rhyming over other artists’ instrumentals out of fear of being sued. Before concluding his conversation with DX by providing some rare insight into the personality of Mac Miller’s favorite rapper of all time, the man behind the boards for classic ‘90s joints from KRS-One (“Sound Of Da Police,” “A Friend” and “Represent The Real Hip Hop” featuring Das Efx), Artifacts (“The Ultimate Remix”), Nice & Smooth (“Blunts”) and Big Pun (“Parental Discretion” featuring Busta Rhymes) discussed his recent return to crafting intense boom bap beats in the buildup to the long-awaited new long-player from he and his longtime partner A.G., Mugshot Music. Show also spoke about the entirety of his finally fully reunited D.I.T.C. crew (who are currently constructing their long overdue sophomore album as a unit), before explaining why he has no problem letting ’90s-inspired newcomer Joey Bada$$ spit to as many Diggin’ beats as he likes without fear of reprisal.
HipHopDX: Will the October 9th official release of Mugshot Music contain more aggressive joints like “You In Trouble” from the Preloaded release? ‘Cause if so I’ll buy that album four times over.
Showbiz: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s more aggressive. It’s a mixture, ‘cause it has a couple of other tracks with really hard drums but there’s a couple of melodic joints on there. Overall there’s more of “You In Trouble” type shit but a little bit more uptempo.
DX: “South Bronx Shit” has that crazy energy too. Both tracks feature cuts from the legendary DJ Premier. What is it about working with Preemo that’s bringing that ’95 Goodfellas heat outta ya MPC?
Showbiz: Preem and I, we’re on basically the same page when it comes to music. ‘Cause we’re trying to keep the traditional [sound of] Hip Hop the way it was done. We still have to change with the times, don’t get me wrong, but we still like to keep the basic Hip Hop a part of what we do. So he keeps me grounded when it comes to that, ‘cause I like to experiment.
DX: You tried to do something a little too off the beaten path and Preem pulled you back?
Showbiz: He always do. [Laughs] ‘Cause I like to experiment. And like, I’m an artist, as far as I wanna try new things or whatever. But you know, he’ll just say “yes” or “no,” that’s all he’ll do.
DX: I mentioned my appreciation for these new tracks. Does it rub you the wrong way if someone says this is your best work since the ‘90s?
Showbiz: No way. That’s what I want; I want them to say this is my best work since the ‘90s, because I wasn’t focused on music since the early part of the ‘90s. Even with [Showbiz & A.G.'s] Goodfellas, I wasn’t really focused on music, at all. I’m only focused on music right now because I kinda like … I was disappointed once I got in the music industry, and it shows in my music. I didn’t have no love for it once I got in it and saw what it’s about. And, that took a lot away from me because we got into it for the fun and to have our peers look at us with respect. The people that we liked their music: we wanted them to respect us. That’s why we got in the game. But once we got into the business side, it was just totally different from what we expected. So I lost a lot of love for it over the years – it was less and less love – and it shows in my music. I listen to something now and I won’t even remember I did it. I’m like, “Damn, what was I thinking?”
I really got love for it now because I don’t have to deal with the things I had to deal with in the ‘90s. Now I can put music out myself, I can market it, I can promote it myself, I can do everything myself, and I can choose the team that works with me now. Instead of someone investing money in you and you kinda like have to have a joint venture with them and whatever they say is a part of your product. They trying to get you to make certain records or do certain things. I don’t have to go through that no more, so … Now I’m just being me; I can make the best music that I can make and get it out to the world. It’s just a one-on-one relationship with the people who support me.
DX: Now, can you clarify what the differences between the Preloaded and official version of Mugshot Music are going to be? How many carryovers from Preloaded are there on the official album?
Showbiz: None. It’s a totally different album.
DX: What was the mindset behind this roll-out? ‘Cause it’s kind of unique that you had this free mixtape, then you had a deluxe version of it you could buy, then you had a remix version of it you could buy.
Showbiz: It’s been a long time since we had music out. And throughout the years music changed and no one has heard me in the mindset that I’m in now as far as music. And also, we just wanted to give music out. It’s nothing to give it away. We just wanted to get our feet wet back in the game as far as just putting music out and letting people know where we’re at musically. That’s why we did that. Plus, I still was working on the main album so I needed a little bit more time so I could finish the album.
DX: On “The Bond” from Preloaded you and A.G. both seem to be talking about the demise of Diggin’ In The Crates. But at the end of the track you announce for folks to be on the lookout for a new D.I.T.C. album in 2012. So where exactly do things stand with the crew as of today?
Showbiz: The crew’s all love. We wasn’t saying the demise of the D.I.T.C. in there, what we were saying is that we got sidetracked by other things outside of the music. That’s what A.G. was saying in that part where he was talking about Diggin’. He was saying that we had other issues: money issues and third parties coming in our circle, and they got us sidetracked and we lost focus on what we were here for in the first place.
DX: Well you told me personally about a year-and-a-half ago, the last time we spoke for HipHopDX, that “It’s a wrap” in regards to Diggin’ In The Crates.
Showbiz: Yeah, it was; it really was a wrap. I’m the type of guy if I see it ain’t no future in it, then it ain’t no future in it. But, I pulled everybody together personally – I made the calls to everybody - to get everybody to be on the same page. But you know, different members have different views and I really believed that was beyond repair. But, everything eventually changed and people grew. Sometimes you can get people on the same page with time.
We have songs that we’re putting together now. We’re like nine songs deep in this Diggin’ In The Crates thing. And hopefully we can get to finish the album soon and give the people a nice D.I.T.C. reunion.
DX: Back in April, O.C. exclusively told HipHopDX about this most recent get together to air out grievances and attempt to begin recording again. O said what you said about Big L turning over in his grave at y’all leaving “the legacy lingering” is what finally got everybody motivated to give it another go. Is that true?
Showbiz: Yeah, I basically told them that. I was like, “Yo, we have a brand. L must be like, ‘What are y’all doing’?” And I kinda broke that down to them like, “Yo, we playin’ ourselves.”
DX: O.C. went on to note that Fat Joe is still not on board. Is that just scheduling or is Joe intentionally giving y’all the cold shoulder?
Showbiz: Well, I’ve been talking to [Fat] Joe lately, and Joe wanted to be on board from day one. So it ain’t like he didn’t wanna be on board, we just didn’t get him in a room with everybody else yet. But he always wanted to be on board. And I talked to him as recently as two days ago, so … Joe is on board if he want to but we still gotta put him in a room with the rest of the members. ‘Cause, it’s just little differences and points of view that people got about music, [so we have to] see if everybody can come together on the same page and then take it from there.
DX: So who all has recorded these new Diggin’ songs together, just you, O.C. and A.G.?
Showbiz: Yeah, basically. We started it and then Diamond [D] got on one track, [Lord] Finesse did – he brought like 10 beats. Apollo Brown brought some beats – he brought like 30 beats. So we gonna pick from that.
We have one song already where [Big L vocals were used for] the hook. We gonna just get certain lines from him and try to do some hooks with them so people can know he’s a part of it. Regardless if he’s only here in spirit, we trying to have something to where people know that L is a part of this.
DX: Now, you mentioned Finesse, and during you and A.G.’s feature interview for HipHopDX back in June commemorating the 20th anniversary of Runaway Slave, A.G. noted, “Show speaks to Finesse everyday.” So since you speak to him regularly, I gotta ask you if you can offer any insight into why Finesse is willing to possibly risk wiping out the mixtape game entirely with his Mac Miller lawsuit?
Showbiz: Everything ain’t what it seems to be. And it has nothing to do with a mixtape. That’s all I can say; I can’t really get into it because they going back and forth with they thing. But it ain’t what everybody thinks it is. It’s far from that.
Finesse wouldn’t do that [to the mixtape game] because that would hurt all of us, myself included.
DX: Would you personally care if say a ‘90s flavored new jack like Joey Bada$$ spit over the Show & A.G. classic “You Know Now” for a mixtape and shot a viral video for it? Would you go after him for the YouTube ad money?
Showbiz: Hell no! I would love it! I love Joey Bada$$; he’s dope.
Anybody like that, I would love for them to do it. I would love for somebody to do it and I wouldn’t be mad at them. But, like I said before, it’s not a mixtape thing with Finesse. That’s not what it is. That’s what it’s been brought to the masses as but that’s not what it is.
DX: I wish you could elaborate. [Laughs]
Showbiz: Yeah, there’s a big picture. And then once this is over, I guess one or both of them can talk about it. But right now, as far as what I know, concrete evidence and facts, it’s far from that.
Just now that you mentioned it, Joey Bada$$ did [“Funky Ho’$” and “Indubitable”] over Finesse’s joints too. So it ain’t that; it ain’t the fact that he did that. It’s a whole different ballgame [with Mac Miller].
DX: Yeah, I have to imagine Finesse didn’t mean to have everybody shook like now we can’t spit over such-and-such’s track.
Showbiz: Hell no, man. It’s so far from that. But people just read things and take it as law. I could put a rumor out right now and the whole industry will talk about it like its law. That’s just the way it is right now; nobody ever does any type of research.
DX: I just wish this issue between Finesse and Mac specifically coulda been worked out behind the scenes. Aside from a flashing shot of Big L’s mural in A$AP Rocky’s “Peso” video, Mac has been like the only younger cat in the game biggin’ up Big L – in all of his interviews, talking about how he’s his favorite rapper of all time. It just sucks that the one contemporary cat showing L that kind of love is being sued by Big L’s mentor.
Showbiz: Well, you know what? [Pauses] Aw, I wish I could tell you right now! Oh my God I wish I could tell you behind you saying this shit right here. Man, but – [Laughs] I just gotta fall back.
DX: I jammed you up. [Laughs]
Showbiz: Yeah, yo, that shit got me tight right now. … I don’t know Mac Miller; I never talked to him. And it’s not even about the music, it’s how people move. People move in certain ways that it just doesn’t agree with certain dudes. His people ain’t moving right. It ain’t Mac Miller [specifically], but he has to know his people and the people that run with him ain’t moving right. They’re moving foul.
There’s a lot of people that look at L as one of the greats, but … it is what it is. I can’t really get into it.
DX: Well, let’s end this interview the same way we concluded our last Q&A. At the conclusion of that convo you recalled for me the hilarious story of the time fellow Bronx, New York native Tupac Shakur helped to land you in the emergency room. [Laughs] So this time I was wondering if you could give me an equally hilarious recollection from your time with the aforementioned Big L? Is there any time L got you drunk and high and landed you in the emergency room? [Laughs]
Showbiz: Oh, nah, nah. [Laughs] L wasn’t a drinker; he wasn’t smoking. We just had really funny moments. But, you know, they’ve got a documentary that’s coming out, and I did some recording for that, so [those memories are] coming out on the DVD.
DX: Can you illuminate a little bit about his personality? ‘Cause I remember I did a retrospective with Finesse for the 15th anniversary of Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous and I think he referred to L as a “dark comedian,” but it seems like in his personal life off the mic he was kinda serious, he wasn’t like the jokey cat. Is that accurate?
Showbiz: Nah, he was a comedian. As soon as he came through the door to the time he’d leave he’d have everybody laughing, on the floor. That’s how L was. He used to come tell crazy stories about what just happened in his hood like an hour before he got down here. And we used to be like, “Nah, you lying.” And he was like, “I’m serious; I’m serious.” [Laughs] But the stories were so crazy so you were like, “He gotta be making this shit up. This shit just didn’t happen.” L was a comedian. He was a unique individual whose spirits were high all the time. Like, L was never the type that you would see him and he’d be quiet and in thought mode or none of that. He wasn’t that type of dude. He’d come in and he’d light the room up and he’d just be making jokes and things like that. That was L’s personality.