Consequence - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman
Consequence has seen it all. He was once one of the hottest young emcees in the game during the mid 90's, but after years of setbacks and record label politics, Consequence soon became another forgotten emcee. But through it all, Consequence never stopped believing in himself. Even through all the drama and turmoil, Consequence knew that one day his time would come. And while it took longer than expected, that time for Consequence is now. The comeback kid has finally made his way back into the game, and with the help of Kanye West, is looking to finally live up to the hype set upon him eight years ago. In the interview below, Consequence speaks about his journey throughout the hip hop game, as well as his new album "Take 'Em To The Cleaners".
MVRemix: I just wanted to start at the beginning of your career, so tell us how you first got into Hip Hop and how you hooked up with A Tribe Called Quest.
I did a joint with them (ATCQ) when they were doing the Midnight Marauders album, it was called "The Chase Pt. 2", and they gave me my pick to put to put it the album or on the first single. I opted to put it on the first single because I thought it would be a better look, but I should have put it on the album, because I would still be getting money from that butÖ(laughter). But I opted to put it on the fucking single, because I had a whole b-side to myself, which I did. So my first wax, my first piece of vinyl was the "Award Tour" single, which I had to the b-side to it. Basically, after that I thought I was gonna get signed immediately. I thought my cousin (Q-Tip) was gonna get me a deal immediately, which he didn't, cause he was on the road and he had to take care of his own business. Which I didn't understand at the time, so I got mad and went into the studio and did my own shit. So I hooked up with Dino D, who at the time worked at Payday, I think now he is the head of Sony's urban department. He's the guy who gave Baby and them (Cash Money) the deal at Universal. So he was managing me for a minute and we tried to get a deal, but basically everybody was saying, "well, if Q-Tip's his cousin and woo woo woo, why ain't he bring him in here"? And I was like, cause I donít want Q-Tip to bring me in here! I want you to sign me for me, all right! So, that didn't work (laughter).
So I had to go talk to my cousin like, "yo whatever, whatever, woo, woo, woo. I'm trying to do what I do". So he stepped in and we started recording a couple of songs. And he actually talked to Puff, and Puff was like "Yeah, I'll sign that nigga, what up? Let me get that". So this is before he had Mase and the Lox, he just had Biggie and Craig Mack. So Tip comes home and shit, we link up, he picked me up or something. But whatever, I know we were in his car talking and shit and he was like, "Yo". This is my Q-Tip voice (laughter)Ö."Yo, listen ummm, I went to Puff and shit today and uhhh. Yeah, he felt your shit, he wants to sign you". I was like "word?", "oh yeah thatís what's up son!" (Laughter). But Tip was like (once again in his hilarious Q-Tip voice), "But, na, listen, listen, listen. We not gonna do that. This is what I wanna do with you, I wanna make you a member of Tribe". So I was like, "oh shit, thatís what's up, so fuck it I'll do both". But Tip was like "Na, we ain't gonna do both, we just gonna put you in Tribe". (Consequence once again breaks into an empathic laughter). So I ended up on the "Beats, Rhymes and Life" album, cause he just put me in it. So initially, there really wasn't any static, but Phife really didnít understand why I was in the group.
Yeah, we kind of got off on a bad foot. They were already having their creative differences (Phife & Tip), so after the "Beats, Rhymes & Life" album and the "Love Movement" they broke up. They tried to stick together, but basically when I came into the group it kind of started as a barrier between them two. Me and Tip was family, and me and Phife had started to get super cool once we started to hang out together. We started doing songs together, and we were even thinking about doing an album together called "One On Two". But we ain't really do it because I really wanted to do my own solo album on Electra. The one thing about "Beats, Rhymes And Life" isÖI can't change it because it is what it is. To some people itís a classic, to some people its one of their not so good albums. I just feel like my debut then, would have been a lot stronger if their relationship was stronger. Because if they were Tip and Phife of even a little less, slightly a little less of the "Midnight" album, then I would have been really good. A lot of people received me well, but people were saying "oh, he's eating Phife up". I ain't get on there to eat Phife up, that ain't serve no purpose to me. That was defeating the purpose, because if you ain't fucking with Phife, cause you know Phife, you don't really know me. Ya know what I'm saying? And Tip was going through his spiritual evolution, which is cool, cause he's a human being. But with all those things into play with the creative process, its not going to be the "thing".
When people are buying something from you, they want the product that they expect. They donít really care about what you are going through, or what is going on, or this that and the third. Bottom line, they know what they got from you before and they know what they want, and if its different they are going to be upset about it. That's just business. Whenever you sell somethingÖif you go to the restaurant and you say "damn, they got some bangin' ass cheesecake up in here", and the first couple of times its crazy for you. But then you go back and they switch the recipe and they got a new chef, that's going to make you heated, and it's going to irritate you. Even if it is good, its still not the same. And a lot of people, when you buy something, you buy something that you feel comfortable with. That's why a lot of people buy Polo now, cause they know itís a reliable brand, you are gonna look good in that. It ain't really change over the years, its still fresh. As opposed to buying RL, which is still Polo, but it ain't the same thing. That's how it was with the "Beats, Rhymes & Life" album. Every time I look back at the album, its like yeah, people fucked with itÖ.but coming off of "Midnight"? And my whole shit was like, coming off of "Midnight" how can I loose? I'm not going to say I necessarily lost, but we didn't win like we could have won.
So then my album ain't come out on Electra, because they wanted me to wait another 2 or 3 quarters from the time I had already turned the album in. So I just got to the point where I didn't feel comfortable with everything, so I asked to be release. But me knowing the business now, I would have just let that album drop. I know I would have at least done a hundred and fifty thousand then. So it still would have been check. But my whole thing was, "I did all this, I rhymed on the Tribe album and it went platinum", so I wanted to at least go gold, I didnít want to come out and brick and then it would be all over. But I didn't have the foresight to know that now it would be like it is now. I was still young, I was 19. It was like three years in since I did "The Chase", so I was still relatively young. I didn't get jerked, but I was still young. I didnít know I would be able to reinvent myself in 2004. But back then I didn't want to release an album and have everybody say, "oh you bricked", so I asked to be released. So before you drop me and before you make me brick, just let me go.
But I still knew I was sick with mines and I had relationships with others, so I just moved on from there. I started dealing with Rashard Smith for a little while, I would go to studio with him. This was around when Yo Yo was doing her album and Lil Shawn was doing his album. After that, I had eventually linked up with Ty Fyffe and me and his manager, some kid named McGuire, we linked up and did a couple of songs. Eventually I got into a situation with Relativity Records, but the thing with them was, they weren't the kind of people I fucked with. They wanted to change my style and force me to make shit like this.
They wanted you to make commercial shit?
Yeah, basically. There is nothing wrong with that, I ain't opposed to no commercial shit, butÖ"All Falls Down" is a commercial singleÖ
But you gotta have taste though.
Exactly! There is a way to do it, you can't force it. You trying to put a motherfucking zebra in the mountains. Zebra's don't belong in the mountains. You trying to put a motherfucking flamingo in the North Pole. Na, dawg! Or you trying to make a penguin walk in the Sahara desert. No, its not going to work! But Relativity eventually folded and Loud picked up some of the artists, but they didn't pick me up. So I had to go back to work.
I had caught another situation after that, I had started a group called Guilty. So I was just going to work, going to the studio, going to work, going to the studio. I did a couple of over sea's projects with the guy I was partners with. And eventually we got a real good singles deal with Rawkus. But unfortunately, my partner doesn't want to work anymore.
Why was that?
I don't know, maybe its because it was the first big change he ever had? But, when I turned the single in, the majority of it was Consequence. It was like my record. So the problem was, we signed on as a group. So they were asking (Rawkus), where is this other guy at? It eventually got to the point where we had a singles deal but we never turned the records in until months after. We got the deal in July of 2000 and didn't turn the single in (laughter), until September or October. I just couldn't get my partner to write, I actually had to write for him. But, depending on the single, they were so anxious to hear what we were doing, they wanted to give us an album for under half a mill. And for 2000 that was pretty good, for now thatís still pretty good. It was good for what it was, a new group that was built on the strength of me and the fact that we had a record with Tip on there. So it was decent. Even still, once we turned the single in, they were like "if you give us more songs, we will reconsider, whatever, whatever". But we just couldn't get dude to write.
So we parted ways and in turn I tried to holla back at them (Rawkus), but they wouldn't answer my two-ways. (laughter) Then I was really like, damn! I mean, with the Tribe situation I was young. With the Relativity situation, I knew I shouldn't have been fucking with them in the first place. But then with this shit, I was like "yo, I really worked hard. How the fuck am I back to fucking starving! I am back to zero!" That shit bugged me! That really bugged me! I couldn't understand how I was back to square one. I did everything I was supposed to do! But actually, after that I almost got Rawkus to sign off on another singles deal, cause I started to bring them records. They were actually going to sign off on it but then 9/11 happened and shut everything down. So I am in the fucking crib eating ice cubes for dinner. (laughter) Na, for real. I was just like, what can I do? This is my skill, this is my trade, this is my craft, this is my college degree. I got accepted to St. John's, and then I got accepted to Tribe Called Quest, so what was I supposed to do? Which one was I really supposed to enroll in? I had no problem getting in college, I got into St. John's, one of the best schools in New York. But, I got into A Tribe Called Quest, one of the best rap groups that ever did this shit!
They just had three classic albums in a row.
Exactly! So what was I supposed to do, say no? "Na, I'm gonna go ahead and go to school". Man, fuck that, I'm going on the road as soon as possible. So this is like my college degree, this is what I know how to do. So it was like I got laid off. I was still writing because thatís all I had. But once this is gone, you don't have anything else. I wasn't married, I didn't have any children, so the woman in my life of course said "I'll see you when I see you". (laughter) Ain't nobody running with you hard when you ain't where you supposed to be. So I just went through a regrouping process. So at the end of that year, as I was so happy to get out of 2001, I get a phone call. It was my man 88 Keys, and he was like "yo, I'm working with my man Kanye West". But actually, I was still in the process of getting a single deal with the songs I had, when I met this guy named Han Solo. He was D-Dot's cousin, and he told me at a barbecue about this kid named Kanye West. He was like, "you may want to get at son". But I was like, "I don't even know him, who is this dude"? That was the first time I heard the name Kanye West though.
But I really wanted to get back into the game because I really felt like I got played last time. So, fast forward to the 88 Keys conversation, he called me and was like "I'm over here working with my guy Kanye West, he did H To The Izzo". So I was like, "Yeah, I heard of dude". So I backtracked to the barbecue conversation. But 88 Keys was like "I'm over here doing a joint with him for his album and I told him if he wants to have somebody featured on there that you should do it". So I was like, "oh word, good looking out! Just tell him to holla at me". But Keys was like "Yo, he wants to do it right now".
So I told him, "I'm just gonna keep it real with you, I could get out there but I'm broke, I donít know if I can get back". So then Kanye gets on the phone and he was like "Hey, man what's up, I want you to come out". So I told him I could shoot out there but you gonna have to spot me a couple dollars to get back. But Kanye was cool with it, he gave me his address and I took the path train over there. So we hooked up, kicked it for a second and then just got to work. I spent the night at his house actually. And we were just up kicking it and he asked me, "man, what you been up to?" I told him I just been recording, trying to get my joints up and trying to get into another situation. Kanye told me, "man, you have always had one of the illest voices and I feel you can make a classic album, depending on what the situation was". And I was like, yeah I feel like that too. (laughter)
But Kanye was like, "I'm working on my Roc-A-Fella album now, but if you want, you can call my cousin and get yourself some beats and get this right. I'll let you write whatever you want, just come through and record". At first I was just taking it easy, I would call him every now and then, and we would hang out. So we going to party's, messing with chicks together, and then we started working together, and a year and a half later I'm on the phone with you.
MVRemix: That's a crazy journey. But let's talk about your new mixtape "Take 'Em To The Cleaners". So is this the official jump off before the real LP?
Yeah, I'm working on a DVD as well, called "The Comeback Kid". But yeah, this is the launch pad right here. This is my third mixtape, I dropped "The Cons Vol. 1" when Kanye dropped "Get Well Soon". For that, I got MTV mixtape Monday pick of the month. I got off the radar, show and prove from XXL and Source. So my thing for doing mixtapes is not to be competitive, but so people can understand what I'm doing. People who just wanna listen to the music, you can buy my CD. If you wanna hear something thatís hot, you can buy my CD. You gonna hear what you gonna hear, people are gonna say what people are gonna say, but I just do this for people that generally care for hip hop. That's who I make my albums for. Thatís why I put out "Take Em To The Cleaners", so people can hear the music and see the step by step process from now until the album comes out. Its important for me that people hear the album so they can feel what's going on. So that they can make their own judgment on it, from everybody to the writers and the fans.
MVRemix: Let's talk about some of the tracks on there. The biggest one that everybody has been listening to is the Little Brother track "I See Now". So how did you hook up with them?
Man, everybody likes that song! We did that last year, but who's album its officially going on I donít know. But I wanted to put that on my mixtape. (laughter) We just got in the lab while we were at this convention in North Carolina, and actually I had just put out "Turn Yourself In", the 12 inch single on ABB, so we all had met and just did it.
MVRemix: A lot of people are calling Little Brother the next Tribe, so what do you think about that?
I want Little Brother to be the next Little Brother. Tribe was Tribe and De La was Da La. So Little Brother needs their own individuality. I just hope they can be as big as they wanna be.
MVRemix: So what's going on with the solo LP, when's that going to drop?
Depending on scheduling, realistically I'm looking at the first quarter of next year. Maybe sooner, but it's depending on how hot ya boy gets. But most likely, first quarter of next year.
MVRemix: Now thatís' going to be on Kanye's label right?
MVRemix: So what about guest appearances, producers, that sort of thing. Are you gonna stick with 88 Keys and Kanye for the most part?
Me and Tip have talked, so we may do something with Tip and Scott Storch. I worked with my man Baby Paul, as well as Kanye's cousin, who did two or three joints. Hopefully, I'll do something with my man Geology as well. There are a few dudes I worked with. My man Vern from American producer collation, thatís with D.R. Period in it. There are a few dudes I hope to work with. I wanna work with the Neptune's, but the bulk of it is going to be with Kanye and 88.
MVRemix: Now obviously you are around Kanye a lot, and lately a lot of people are starting to hate on him because he comes off arrogant at times. So in your opinion is Kanye arrogant or does he get an unfair wrap?
Na, he's arrogant. (laughter) But, na, on the real thatís my man. A lot of people don't even know him and they say shit about him. But you gotta think about it, everybody said son was wack, everybody. Everybody, said son was wack!
I ain't gonna front, I said the same thing in the beginning.
I went to one of these magazines, and I ain't gonna say which one, but when I turned in my first mixtape they told me, "yo, you killing it, but your man Kanye is wack!" I was like, na son, my man ain't wack, cause regardless I wouldn't have been rocking with him if he was wack. I mean, I know good lines from bad lines and nigga had good lines. We come up with good lines together, so I know. But I'm like what you want from him? Cause everybody, well I ain't gonna say everybody because eventually people started to see it, but initially people didn't believe in him.
I just think he had to show and prove first.
Yeah, but its like this. What if someone came up to you and they didn't know you, didn't know but a little bit about you, and they said you was wack just because you do what you do, just because you are a writer. They ain't know you, didn't know how long you been trying to do what you do, but just because doing what you doing they saying you wack. And then they saying you wack, but you turn around and win the Pulitzer Prize. Now what you gonna say, "now what nigga, and I'm holdin' mine". Ya know, itís the same thing. People never put themselves in the position that they put people in. So they can't never see, so thatís why they make the statements that they make. Cause what if somebody said you sucked at what you do? And then you turn around and become the best at what you do, and you been telling people I'm pretty good at least. You ain't said youíre the best, you said your pretty good. But niggas thought you sucked and you turned out to be the best. Then it would make you sound a little arrogant if you came out and said "I told y'all motherfuckers, now I'm the best, and I have the proof". I'm not just talking, nigga look!
I got the best album of the year.
Exactly, and I got the sales to back it up, It just ain't cause somebody said so. So what you saying now? Now I'm arrogant, now I'm an asshole.
MVRemix: I just think people always want you to be humble. For example, a person like Rakim will never come out and say he's the greatest, but when LL did it, everybody hated on him for it.
I just think that you can't please everybody. I heard in the Village Voice that they said I was an underachiever. So aight, you can say that, but I swear, I'll make you choke on that one. You will choke on that one June 22nd, when this drops and I do the most impressive numbers for a mixtape in a long time. The only thing you can take to the bank from negativity is to turn it into a positive. Yeah, you maybe right, I maybe an underachiever cause I should be a millionaire right now, but I'm gonna make sure I get that money. I'm not even gonna argue with you cause I know I should be a millionaire now, so I'm just gonna go get that paper. That don't do nothing but put batteries in my back. Just like with them saying Kanye's arrogant, it only makes him wanna be arrogant. "Yeah, you know what, I can be arrogant because I did what I did and y'all niggas know what I did, it ain't no secret. So why shouldn't I be arrogant? Cause you wanna talk like that, then you gonna make me say bullshit". Because I donít think people instinctively do shit to offend people until its brought to their attention. "Well, since you feel like that and I wasn't even doing that, well I am going to do it now. Since you want to make light of it, since you want to make it an issue. I wasn't even thinking about it, I was just being who I am. But if you want me to be arrogant and you want me to overachieve, then thatís what I'm going to do. Just for the mere fact to shut somebody up". You see how this game works? You really have to shut people up. "You said he was wack, now he shut you up and he's two million". It's the same thing.
MVRemix: Ok, true or false time. Consequence is the most underrated emcee in the game?
There is truth to it, it just depends on who you ask. A lot of people may feel like that.
MVRemix: A Tribe Called Quest is the great group ever?
But it's true or false man (laughter)
I mean, I can't sayÖin my opinion?
Yeah, its all you.
Ahhhh, I can't really say without thinking about it. And it depends on what aspect you are talking about. So I can say one of the greatest groups ever.
MVRemix: Aight, next one. Hip Hop is dead.
MVRemix: Kanye West saved Hip Hop.
Cause that's been something he has been saying.
I would rather not answer that. (laughter) Cause Hip Hop has been here, thatís like a question I would rather not answer
MVRemix: Aight, last one. Rakim is the greatest emcee ever.
See, Rakim ain't my favorite rapper.
Aight, then it would be false.
I ain't saying that, cause people will be like "how you gonna disrespect that man like that". I would have to sayÖ.cause he's still rappingÖ.man I donít wanna answer that either. (laughter)
Aight, fuck this true and false then (laughter).
(laughter) Na, cause shit like that I'm gonna get people saying "yo man, he said he ain't the greatest rapper of all time, how dare he, blah blah". I don't want to hear that shit man, cause I ain't gonna be arguing with someone about that after awhile.
MVRemix: So what's going on in the immediate future for you, such as tours, guest appearances, things of that nature.
I'm on the State Property 2 Soundtrack , I'm on Rell's first single, I'm in the State Property movie. Ummm, I'm just working hard. I got "Take 'Em To The Cleaners" coming out June 22nd, and this summer I'm working.
MVRemix: Any last words?
Ya know, I'm here baby. The new album is in stores now, go get it.