Burdened by issues at his label and a four year stint in prison, Black Rob has spent the last year of his life readjusting to life on the outside, reestablishing his presence in the music industry, and managing to remain well behaved in order to finish out his time on parole.
Now free of not only the legal system but of Bad Boy records as well, the rapper has taken a new path free of illegalities and full of new music, of which independent powerhouse Duck Down Records can now call its own. One of Harlem's biggest stars of the last decade released his third album this week, Game Tested, Streets Approved, which in title alone, speaks volumes of what's on B.R.'s mind.
Black Rob Reacts To Being Out Of Prison
HipHopDX: What do you feel was the biggest difficulty for you as far as readjusting to life on the outside once you got out of prison?
Black Rob: Parole. They were on me like cheap cologne.
DX: How much longer are you on parole?
Black Rob: I’m off parole, now! Yeah, I did a year of that thing and got off that. Good behavior, baby!
DX: So you had to go through the drug tests and all that?
Black Rob: Hell yeah. Hell yeah.
DX: The prison system in America is in obvious need of reform – what do you think is one way it should be improved and how can they go about doing that?
Black Rob: They should start screening these police, you know? A lot of police in there are the ones that really fucked that situation up, feel me? Yeah. It’s the police, not the inmates. They get tough and act the way they want to act when they run up in there. Nah man, dudes are doing a lot of time, you could get your head busted in there. Real talk. That’s what needs to be done. Start screening these dudes, 'cause some of these muthafuckas are crazy. Some of them have childhood problems. Some of them just don’t like gangstas. Prison reform? [Laughs] That’s the police, baby. The inmates are just doing time trying to get home.
Black Rob Dismisses "Whoa" A Decade Later
DX: When people hear your name, they think of that one single “Whoa"…
Black Rob: So what? Everybody always talks about that first single, but when I go to perform on stage, “Whoa” is not the first record I do. “Whoa” was just a record that [Diddy] liked, that Puffy pushed. I was on a major label [in Bad Boy Records] so…If you were to push “I Dare You” or you were to push “I Love You Baby,” you would have gotten the same results. That’s Puffy’s way of shaping and forming his own atmosphere.
DX: In that regard, do you feel that single, or even more so Puffy, was overshadowing your work as a whole?
Black Rob: Exactly. Of course. They still do. To this day it still does. But you know what? It’s cool. Because at the end of the day, I made that record. I’m not trying to be better than that record, I’m not trying to be that record, I’m trying to be something like that record. That’s something that you don’t try to top. That’s going to be hard. How many rappers have you heard trying to rap to that fucking beat? It don’t sound the same, they can’t do it. They’re not even scratching the surface.
DX: Then what do you feel people misconceive about you?
Black Rob: You know what’s the misconception? Dudes in this game got it twisted. If I came out and was talking about 100 keys of dope, Black Rob would have been a star right now. But being that Black Rob came out on some stick ‘em up, rob you, put your fuckin’ hands up in the air? Niggas looked at me like “Oh, that’s what he’s about?” I’m talking about my life, just like y’all niggas with the keys talking about your life! That’s my life. You can’t fault me for talking about my life. It’s not my fault I had to hustle and take money when I was a kid. That’s not my fault. A lot of dudes grow up selling drugs all their lives. They’ll tell you, “it wasn’t my fault. There were outside forces working against me.” I had to do something or I would have been starving. That’s me. The misconception about me is that I’m a bad guy just because I take money. Come on, I love a whole lot of people. That’s not the persona you’re going to see when you see me on stage, or when you meet me and shake my hand.
DX: And that goes beyond being a misconception about just you – that’s about people with a criminal record in general.
Black Rob: Yeah, okay, so? You know what? I see it like this. People with criminal records get a bad rap because everybody’s not capable of accepting what’s going on around them without doing something about it. I chose that road. That’s on me. People chose their road. I’m no different than a person that’s making movies that’s big that gets caught with 10 Oxycontins. But being I’m a rapper it holds more weight.
If you were put in a different situation than you are right now…you probably went to school or are still in school. What would you do if you didn’t have that opportunity? You don’t even know, right?
DX: No, I really don’t know.
Black Rob: Put yourself in my shoes. How would you feel? Would you go dance at somebody’s club? Would you go stand on a corner? You don’t know. I didn’t know I was going to be a robber. It just happened. I learned from my mistakes and I’m a different person today. I don’t rob nobody and I don’t take money, I’m just trying to get my shit popping so I can expand my career and the Black Rob brand so we can start getting some real money.
Black Rob Explains The Perks Of Duck Down Compared To Bad Boy
DX: So you left Bad Boy for Duck Down for the new project…is there lingering animosity between you and Bad Boy?
Black Rob: You know it was bad blood. But the bad blood was cleaned up because I retracted a couple statements that I made because I spoke to the people involved. I deaded it. I had animosity because I felt like I wasn’t part of a family over there but I did so much for them.
DX: Did Bad Boy hold you down at all while you were locked up? Calls, visits, letters, sending money, etc.?
Black Rob: Of course not. I mean [HipHopDX] probably showed me more love than Puffy did! You probably shouted me out more times than Puffy did. Wow, right? Can’t believe it, right? That’s how people are. You never know what a wolf in sheep’s clothing is. Devil in a red dress.
DX: What’s different about working at Duck Down than being at Bad Boy?
Black Rob: I got a lot more freedom with my music. I don’t have to have the fucking A&R over my fucking shoulder every fucking minute I’m making a fucking record. Come on, yo. You act like you’re writing the muthafucking record. That shit got on my nerves. I know they’re gonna write books in the future like, “Black Rob was lying” and this, that, and the third. But I’m going to write a book too, and say, “Y’all lied.” This gonna go on and on and on forever. They know what they did. I know what I did. But I’ll tell you what - I don’t flip on niggas that I love. If I love you, I love you. Real talk. They flipped.
DX: If you had to choose one song that best represents your new album Game Tested, Streets Approved, what would it be?
Black Rob: I would have to say “Showin Up.” That record right there is clean cut, and I’m saying what I need to say on it. The hook is mean. It’s like a perfect record. It’s a heartfelt record. It tells you who I am, what I’ve been through, what I’m going through, and what I’m getting ready to accomplish. The video for that will be out soon.