MVRemix: Your debut album is called "Self-Explanatory", why the title?
I-20: I called it Self-explanatory a) cause I feel it speaks for itself, but most of all cause I feel like it's an explanation of myself. I feel like on previous [Ludacris & DTP] albums I got an opportunity to do minor things so people got a chance to hear me. They may have been more interested. So for my first full length release, my first full length album ,I want you to be able to get a better idea of who I am. My perception of hip-hop and my role in it.
MVRemix: You've been a vital part of Ludacris success appearing all over his albums.... why did it take you until 2004 to release your debut?
I-20: A lot of things that had to do with Ludacris being signed to Def Jam South and we had a label deal with Def Jam South that still is in the works, but has never quite came about. Not to mention we were on planning on releasing Shawna's album so a lot of things were goin' on. Then Chingy came along and he had the right song at the right time so they decided to come out with it, which was the right move. Plus I wasn't in any rush. I've been blessed enough that people have been interested in me after everything that I've done and I wanted to make an album that complimented all the interest and curiosity. I'm satisfied with the product that I came [with].
MVRemix: So being from the South, how do you feel about everyone jumping on the Southern "crunk" bandwagon?
I-20: I love it! I can't lie and say I hate it... I love it because I think we've been making quality music for a long time and I remember the days when people weren't trying to hear anything from us, so to hear it coming out now and see how successful it is, even hearing people from other cities, states and coasts imitating it, I love it man. I just wanna have a role in it and have a part.
MVRemix: If you could work with anyone dead or alive who would that be?
I-20: Sade. I would love to do a track with Sade. She's my all-time favorite artist, her voice is hypnotic. The Roots produce the beat and the Roots produce the track.
MVRemix: What producers did you enlist for your album?
I-20: I got Salaam Remi who's Nas' exclusive producer, who also did a lot of work with the Fugees. I got with Heatmakerz, I got the Trak Starz who are Chingy's producers and some up and coming producers. I also got David Banner to do a couple of tracks. So it wasn't a situation where I sat down and said I'm gonna spend four or five hundred thousand dollars for beats, and throw together the best possible album with recycled singles. I wanted to work with people who wanted to work with me and make the best possible product.
MVRemix: At a recent show I attended most of DTP were wearing "Meet the Dealer" t-shirts, is that self-explanatory?
I-20: That's me! I am the dealer cause I feel like whatever product or form of hip-hop you want, I got it, I can supply it. So the dealer is just kinda my nickname. One of my a.k.a.'s and the slogan we're tellin' everybody is "Meet the dealer." Get to know me, see what I'm about and what it is I'm tryin to do.
MVRemix: What do you think of the decriminalization of marijuana here in Canada, but an increased 'war on drugs' in the U.S.?
I-20: Great question...I think it is the government just being people themselves. I think we prioritize things due to how we feel they are important. The thing about America is, we got real control issues. We're a state full of control freaks. The reality is, it's like the bully on the block that's like, "If I can't get my hands on it then you can't have it." I think Canada is one of those places with a lot more freedom, a lot more liberties. More about helping its people than the United States, but everywhere there is different advantages and disadvantages. I'm not gonna bad-mouth my own country, but again I think it goes back to people prioritizing what they think is important. Which issues they should tackle and which issues they shouldn't. You gotta understand that the U.S. has much higher of a crime rate than Canada, so our "War on drugs" is attempting to have a ripple effect on crime. 'Cause if your harder on drugs then maybe we'll see less crime here in the United States.
MVRemix: Do you support anyone or if not who do you want to win the 2004 U.S. election? Why?
I-20: I'm not particularly into any party but with my parents being African-American, you know, they with the Democrats. Most of the time I'm not following a particular candidate. Personally I'm not leaning towards any candidate. I think that the United States has a lot of issues they need to tackle and I haven't heard anyone in particular addressing the things I feel important and if I did I don't feel convinced they'd actually accomplish those tasks. I guess I have the unfortunate persona of that 'I don't really vote', I pay attention to politics, but maybe I'm not involved as I should be.
MVRemix: What do you eat on tour?
I-20: Man, anything I can get my hands on, that's the problem. When I come off tour, I'm gettin' fat cause all you can get is fast food. Truck stops, bus stops, McDonalds, KFC, it's about grabbing and going. Potato chips, man whatever you can get on your fork. It's usually a pretty bad diet.
MVRemix: What attracted you to rap? The money, the fame, the girls or the art form?
I-20: It's definitely none of those things - the art form for sure. I mean I've been emceeing since I was eleven years old. I tried it and every since the first time I heard it, I loved it. I actually went away to college on a football scholarship. I just woke up one day and quit school cause I asked myself "What's the one thing that if I couldn't do it, I'd rather be dead?" And that's rap, the only thing that satisfied me. I had decided even if I didn't make one dollar, I'd rather die trying to do hip-hop than live doing anything else.
MVRemix: So then, who inspired you to rap?
I-20: EPMD period. Point blank. It was the first group I fell in love with. Me and my cousin wanted to imitate, doing everything they did. Wearing Kangols, dress alike all of that. We even started calling ourselves "Cash Money" cause they were Erick and Parrish Making Dollars. They definitely were the biggest influence. Once I started going solo, it was Nas and Kool G Rap. They're my two favorite lyricists. These are the people who motivated me, inspired me to step it up or they taught me to catch a beat, ride a beat. Very influential, teaching me to put something into your lyrics to motivate people.
MVRemix: How about we play some word association where I say something like "Cracker" and you'd say the first thing to come into your head, for example "Ja Rule"...
I-20: Yeah, OK...
I-20: "Paid In Full."
I-20: Haha... I'm not allowed in. Not allowed into Canada
I-20: A good friend.
MVRemix: Do you classify yourself as a "gangsta" rapper?
I-20: No way! I don't even know what "Gangsta rap' is. I consider myself just "rap." I don't like the titles "rap positive," "rap non-positive," "political rap," "gangsta rap," "commercial rap". It's all rap! Categorizing comes from the media. It's the media that feel like it's gotta be in a box so they can interpret what it actually is. I just rap, I'm an emcee, that's what I do!
MVRemix: Your first single is "Figtin in the Club", so a la "Fight Club", if you could fight any celebrity who would it be?
I-20: [Emphatic laughter] Man that's the best question I think I've ever been asked in my whole life. For real! If I could fight any celebrity who would it be. [I-20 ponders] I'd fight George Bush, that's who I'd fight. I don't agree with anything he's done since coming into presidency so that's who I'd give a good old fashioned down south ass kickin'.
MVRemix: What's your opinion on 50 Cent boycotting the Grammy's because he didn't win?
I-20: I think 50's a good dude, I don't really know a lot about this to be speakin' on it. He definitely made a lot of quality music this [past] year, but I don't really know the logistics of what happened, I have respect for him and I don't really feel I'm qualified to comment on that.
MVRemix: Do you have any guest appearances or collaborations that are coming out soon that are yet to be heard?
I-20: Well I'm on the Neptunes album "Clones". Me and 'cris did something on that, I'm on DTP and this is my debut album which I'm hoping a lot of other opportunities springboard from that.
MVRemix: Any last words to fans or potential fans out there?
I-20: I just want to tell 'em that I appreciate anybody who is my fan, and if your considering being my fan. If your not a fan, I hope you give me the opportunity to change your mind.
Lâ€™Orange and Stik Figa â€“ The City Under The City album review
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MVRemix Urban | Online Hip Hop Magazine | US and
Canadian Underground Hip Hop - exclusive interviews, reviews, articles
MVRemix Urban | Online Hip Hop Magazine | US and Canadian Underground Hip Hop - exclusive interviews, reviews, articles