Like the customized bicycle it takes its name from Beach Cruiser promises to appeal to a mix of people. The five year studio brainchild of DXnext alum Glasses Malone divides his 2009 between popping bottles with his Cash Money Records brethren and tearing apart small venues on the road with Tech N9ne and Kottonmouth Kings. Whether you’ve got ink all over your arms or paint on your face, the California emcee says he has something you can feel.
Just on the basis of conversation, Malone defies preconceived notions of the prototypical rapper. Having stood in the wings of careers of The Game, Mack 10, Lil Wayne and Akon, the patient emcee counts his blessings, not curses, in a career that many left coast lovers swore could have jump-started years ago. Although he quickly admits that his Beach Cruiser debut is both excellent (yet far from his best work), Malone will use the LP to celebrate Cash Money‘s book-ending a decade at the top, while hold himself accountable in helping to revive the Hoo Bangin’ brand.
Speaking to HipHopDX, Glasses touches on the tucked away heartfelt gems on the album, a side of the reformed hustler that he promises more of for the future. (He also gave us an exclusive jump on his free album Nightmare On Seven Street [click to listen]) He explains why Cash Money Records is undeniably the greatest Rap label of all times, and provides supporting evidence. Then, the same emcee who spoke to DX while on the road with Tech N9ne, reveals that he’s been an active participant in Dr. Dre‘s Detox sessions. With so many pots on the stove, the restless emcee states, “I don’t think I could do it if it was easy.”
HipHopDX: Tell us a little bit about the beach cruiser bicycle giveaway, and how you’re orchestrating that
Glasses Malone: Well you know what? Somebody else is [giving them away]. Don’t let me lie. But I know my bikes is fly as hell, I can say that much. Them mothafuckas look crazy! They special. They’ll be the cleanest beach cruiser in history unless Puff Daddy decides to make a bike. I was just really responsible for just putting them together. I’m gonna give a lot of ’em away to schools. The contest, I didn’t really have to [supervise].
DX: Last week, “Muthafuckin’ Streets” leaked, which was produced by Dr. Dre. Tell me, is that a teaser, or is that a look from the album?
Glasses Malone: No, no, no. [“Muthafuckin’ Streets”] [click to listen] was just stuff I was doin’ with [Dr.] Dre and Slim [Tha Mobster]. I met Dre a while ago; he’s been a fan for a minute. So when it came down to it, that was just one of the records I did with him. I actually don’t know how it leaked to be totally honest. I didn’t leak it. [The Aftermath staff] didn’t know what happened. That’s just one of the records I did with him; I did a lot of ’em actually. That was just one of ’em that I did with Slimm that I like a lot. I hate to say it, but I actually am happy it came out. I wish Dre would have gotten to mix it more because I know he’s such a perfectionist about beats, so that’s the only thing I’m sad about.
DX: Over the last three years, you’ve worked with so many different producers, so many different artists, let’s start right there. As the album stands right now, are some of those sessions with Dre going to be on Beach Cruiser?
Glasses Malone: Nah, that’s more for [Detox]. The stuff I did with him is more for his album. I mean…right now, dog, Dre ain’t workin’ on nothin’ but a Dr. Dre album, besides 50 [Cent] [click to read] and [Eminem] shit, I’d imagine. He ain’t workin’ on nothin’ but Detox. I ain’t goin’ in [the studio with Dr. Dre] with the mindset of workin’ on my album. I’m pretty sure he’s got some stuff he wants to give me, but I ain’t puttin’ no pressure on nobody. I just want him to get his album out; that’s one of the most important…the biggest albums, ever – if not thee biggest Hip Hop album ever – as well as the most important album for the west coast. It’s important that he gets that album out.
DX: Is the album is right now, what would you say is your proudest track on there right now?
Glasses Malone: Let’s see… I think it’s two songs. I got a song called “Make Me Stronger” with Krys Ivory. I feel like it’s so easy to be me. It’s so easy to talk gangsta shit and talk sellin’ drugs and all that shit because I did it for so many years. It’s kind a real easy avenue for me to tackle. So when I make songs like “Make Me Stronger,” or even a song I made with Jay Rock [click to read] called “Don’t Feel Sorry For Me.” That’s song’s about…if something happens, I don’t want no one to feel sorry for me. I did it big. I tackle real life issues. That’s what I wanted to do. That Scarface [click to read] [influence] made me want to go and bring that shit out of me, that real life issue. Besides the song I did for my moms, those are the two songs that really mean something to me.
DX: People want to say it’s a waiting game, the label changes, and so on. But as you talk about making personal records like that, was that always the case with this album? Did you change the themes up much in the process of waiting?
Glasses Malone: No. Actually…Beach Cruiser got changed three times. The original Beach Cruiser was a lot more heartfelt, a lot…I guess it didn’t come across as street as it should have. It was more [based on] real life. It wasn’t just about the corner where I’m from, it was about any artist tryin’ to make it in the business. It was about the struggle. When I signed with Cash Money and I signed with Hoo Bangin’, I had to adjust per situation, and still had to be myself. It got a little less personal, to be honest. I hate to say it. I did a couple songs because of the labels I’m signed to and the type of records that everybody’s [making] as well. I was signed to Baby [click to read] and Mack 10 [click to read], so it got a little less personal than I would like it, I think. I would like it a lot more personal than it is. Nonetheless, it’s a great album, it’s just not my best one. I’m about two albums from that one.
DX: Not for nothing, you did just point out two personal tracks, so it is there…
Glasses Malone: It is there, just not…the whole album was that, originally. It was thought-out. It was more like me on an artistic level of what I do best – not so much on a level of gang-bangin’ Glasses. It was thought-out. It’s weird for artists to [criticize] their own art, to really [admit], “Man, I know I could have did this better. I know I could have did this more personal.” I don’t mind sayin’ it. If you’re signed to a major label, you’ve got to look at the situation for what it is. I wouldn’t have made records that catered a little bit more to them, and they love it, so the people spendin’ their money, they have to be a lot more happy with your records than just you.
DX: That doesn’t change the fact that I want to hear the album. I’m sure a lot of fans agree with me…
Glasses Malone: No, no, no. It’s a cold record, man. It’s tougher. I’ll tell ya that much. At first, it was personal, more my heart. Now it’s more of my strength, more of my force, my fortitude. It’s my will to win, compared to my heart to win, compared to my compassion to win. It’s me pushin’ now. Instead of me fallin’ into the business, it’s me pushin’ into the business with this album.
DX: I can remember in 1996, buying the Westside Connection Bow Down album and hearing the original “Hoo Bangin'” track for the first time. It was one of my favorite records on that album. That’s still a classic album in all circles. Tell me what it meant to you to make a sequel to that record on Soft White…
Glasses Malone: That was big. [That’s one of] everybody’s favorite records. “Hoo Bangin'” was the joint. That’s the flow: “Can’t get enough of that gangsta shit.” So we kept it even more gangsta. We got more gully, and about forceful. It’s just about pushing Mack into the forefront of everything that Hip Hop stands for and recognizes. [Soft White] [click to read], if you listen to it, it’s better than a lot of albums. I pushed this dude. I’m on the phone with him all day, pushin’ him. He’s already on it. See, he’s already 60-70% done with 2000-1-0. Just pushin’, that’s what it’s about.
DX: It’s interesting that he has guys like you and Red Cafe, who might be a little bit younger than him, but still mentor him on what’s hot right now, and ways to connect with the people.
Glasses Malone: You know what the weird thing about Mack is? Mack is a young nigga at heart. He ain’t really gotta do it like that. It’s more or less, about gettin’ him into the mood to want to work, ’cause he rich. [Laughs] If somebody rich…like Baby is special, ’cause he rich and he just wake up to do this shit like never before. Mothafuckas talk shit, but Baby do this shit everyday, and a lot of rappers that’s not even anywhere near a hungry emcee or call themselves a hungry emcee don’t do it as much as he do it. Mack is really filthy rich. Just gettin’ him back up to want to do it…now we got him, he’s in it now. He’s doin’ everyday. He’ll call me up and give me advice on something I’m doing with my raps, so he’s back in the zone of “You know what? I’m gonna do this.”
DX: We can remember these dynasties: Death Row, Bad Boy, Roc-A-Fella, even Hoo Bangin’ in its time. Talk to me, ’cause you are part of the Cash Money family —
Glasses Malone: — It’s the baddest, the baddest thing ever! This is me. A lot of people are gonna get offended by this. I’m a fan of Roc-A-Fella. I’m a fan of Rap-A-Lot. I’m a fan of Death Row; I’m a fan of everything about the music business. Unless we’re talkin’ about record labels the size of Def Jam, Interscope and Atlantic… if we’re talkin’ about anything shortcomin’, like the Bad Boys, the Ruff Ryders…Cash Money is the baddest movement ever.
In 1998 they had the #1 artist in the country: Juvenile [click to read]. In 2008, Lil Wayne [click to read] is the #1 artist in the country. [Pauses] It ain’t no other movement that you could even point out like that. Ten years in the mainstream they’ve been carrying this shit, against all odds. I’m a die-hard Juvenile fan. To see this shit for 10 years, these niggas for 10 years in the mainstream light, it’s to a successful ration. No other record label has been doin’ it, unless we talkin’ ’bout Def Jam, Interscope – labels of huge proportions.
Lil Wayne ain’t nowhere near slowin’ down. He’s a kid; the nigga’s 27 [years old]. You look at Drake. Look at all the shit they keep building. They on the verge of becomin’ Def Jam, Interscope. What they have? In the last 14 months, they’ve had four #1 hits: two from Lil Wayne (“Lollipop” [click to listen] and “A Millie” [click to listen]), one from Kevin Rudolf (“Let It Rock”), and one from Jay Sean (“Down” [click to listen]). These dudes is on some shit! Niggas gonna be offended, but put up the mothafuckin’ math: in 1998, Juvenile sold five million records. In 2008, Lil Wayne is [approaching] four million records. These are the two biggest artists [of their times]. Looking into 2009, just look, dog, there’s not a label badder. Not when we talkin’ ’bout money, not when we talkin’ ’bout longevity, and not when we talkin’ ’bout success ratio. It’s impossible to beat ’em.
Death Row was my favorite record label, but it was short. Roc-A-Fella was really Jay-Z [click to read], Beanie Sigel [click to read], [Cam’ron] [click to read], and Kanye [West]. That shit ain’t the same, like it was then. Jay-Z ain’t even Roc-A-Fella like he was before; he’s Roc-A-Fella [but now] he’s Roc Nation. Dame [Dash] ain’t there. Bryan and Ronald Williams are right there, together, still, 10 years later, with the #1 mothafucka in the country.
DX: You make an interesting point. Plus, Juvenile and B.G. are both in talks with the label again, even Mack 10. That’s a sense of loyalty there that’s rarely found in other labels…
Glasses Malone: Because at the end of the day, them dudes…I’m dyin’ to hear [The Hot Boys] get back together again! I know they got they little money [issues] or whatever. Money will get a nigga killed, but that’s crazy, man! That’s crazy, Jake. When I go to the studio, these niggas are workin’ like niggas who don’t have an album out. That’s how they work. That’s why they the baddest mothafuckas in the game, hands down! Cash Money Records is the baddest record label of all times.
DX: My final question is, as we talk about that kind of success and whatnot, I think it’s interesting that right now you’re touring with Tech N9ne. Despite being on, as you say, the baddest record label of all times, tell me about the experiences you’re having touring with a guy like Tech, who is known to be such a man of the people, and so intimate with his audiences. What’s this tour doing for you?
Glasses Malone: God has blessed me to be in the craziest positions. When I first put out White Lightnin’, I was fuckin’ with [The] Game [click to read], who was the #1 up-and-coming artist, period. He was the only artist comin’ out of the west coast, with Big Fase and Black Wall Street. I’ve always been blessed to be around the best of the best. That’s just the truth. Lil Wayne, The Game, Akon [click to read], I’ve always been blessed. Tech N9ne [click to read] is the biggest independent artist I’ve ever seen, if not the biggest independent artist of all times. Every show I’ve been on with this nigga has been sold out; this is the truth. Every one. There’s venues of 4,000 and 5,000 people, every time. His merchandise does $10,000 plus every night; I sit up there and watch it. His stage show is second-to-none. He probably has the best stage show I’ve seen in my life. When you talk about Busta Rhymes [click to read], this dude can rock with these dudes. I’ve never seen a Busta show, but I’ve heard about it. I’ve seen [Redman & Method Man], he got a little bit on [one of those shows], ’cause this nigga’s insane. I’m blessed to be getting into this underground following to niggas who don’t even listen to the type of [music I make]. [On tour], a lot of these people don’t know who the fuck I am; that’s how in-tuned with this underground shit they are. I’m blessed to be out here with the best independent artist of all times, and he’s giving me a chance to win over his fans on his stage. It’s making me a better showman, a better businessman and more in-tuned to not just the mainstream, but this whole other world of juggalos, juggalettes (Insane Clown Posse fans), kottonmouth kings and queens (Kottonmouth Kings fans) and technicians (Tech N9ne fans) that I never even thought existed. It’s a whole ‘nother world of shit, beyond Cash Money, beyond Hoo Bangin’, beyond the mainstream that we see everyday. This is a whole new game, and I love playin’. Tech’ll be the first to tell you that I’m taking in every last experience and I’m really learning.
After this, I go on tour with Mack 10. Then we got the Cash Money tour comin’ next year. I’m excited for that. No matter how hard I work, and I go through a lot, I love it. I love the fight. I wake up for it everyday. I don’t think I could do it if it was easy.