Yesterday, HipHopDX spoke with Sha Money XL, newly-named Senior VP of A&R for Def Jam Records. With a rich history as a label executive, the former President of G-Unit and present CEO of Dream Big Ventures spoke about his day-to-day priority right now, none other than the Skull Gang honcho, Juelz Santana. "I'm very excited about Juelz Santana. He is my focus. We are working on the album, the mixtape and the whole big picture." Reportedly titled Born To Lose, Built To Win, Sha is speaking about the Harlem emcee's first solo studio album since 2005's What The Game's Been Missing.
Looking into that album, Sha Money spoke about the bigger picture within Juelz commercial return. "The direction is this: young, fly and flashy - Harlem. That's Harlem's voice. That's the look of a generation that is gonna take the streets. New York needs this prince, this young prince that's gonna be a king soon. You see what he did on his own, and you see what he's capable of doing. He's a star! We're gonna make some incredible records, followin' up records like 'Beamer, Benz or Bentley' from the clubs to the streets." With a decade in the game, Sha asserted that Santana has been a pioneer for a lot of the trends we are now seeing in new Rap stars. "He's a stylish dude. He sets trends with his fashion. A lot of emcees got they fashion from Juelz, straight up!"
Sha was asked about the momentum to Juelz after the blog-turned-radio hit "Beamer, Benz or Bentley" which the Diplomats alum assisted Sha's G-Unit family, Lloyd Banks. "Honestly, [Lloyd] Banks came with the right record. That just shows you that when an artist can come with that one record, that's all it takes. Him and Juelz, it's been long overdue [that] someone wanted to see those two crews - [Diplomats/Skull Gang] mash up with G-Unit. Them two dudes, the young, fly dudes in New York on one record, it's a movement." Sha also says that the song is anything but a fictional fashion statement. "When you see our crews combined, it's Queens and Harlem, so when we move out, you'll see like 20 cars. You'll see the ill four-door Porsches, to the [BMWs], to the Bentleys. It's not a video, these are real props. These are not toys. That's how we move out." As a Queens native, Sha Money added that the song and the union serves as a monument for New York Rap.
Beyond just New York, Sha was asked with Def Jam backing projects like Wu-Massacre, and the recent #1 debut by B.o.B., if ringtone Rap has given way to more artistry and creativity. "It's comin' back in a good way," he answered. "Companies are doing good things: they're cleanin' up house, gettin' new guys in, new energy in, and more people that's in touch [with Hip Hop]. I love all these new dudes that's comin' right now, and I'm real excited about what I got comin' over here. I think right now, it's all about timing. Everybody was off for the last year or two, and now everybody's back to the business, man."
With that outlook, was it Sha Money XL that brought Sheek Louch to Def Jam in his first 10 days there? "That wasn't my deal, but he's on the label, so I congratulate him," revealed Sha. "I'm a big fan and supporter of D-Block and The L.O.X. Jadakiss, his [The Champ Is Here Volume 3 ] mixtape is fire! I just spoke to Icepick J, I'm excited to be working with Lenny [S.] on that [next] Jada album. I'ma kill that shit, man. Jada is that dude! I'm really excited to be working with him."
With so much going on at Def Jam, Sha was also asked how he'll be juggling his Dream Big duties, which include albums coming by Stat Quo and DJ Whoo Kid. "Honestly, my Dream Big [Ventures] plate is not full," he said candidly. "It's really [about] the releases I had lined up prior to [taking this position at Def Jam]. Stat Quo is amazin', man. He's a dope emcee, and it's the year of the emcees. Drake opened that little portal where dope, talented dudes can get they shine. With Stat, we [finished Statlanta] in October, so we're just waiting on the timing. He's going in with [Dr.] Dre on HP commercials, we want to maximize his exposure and it's startin' to come full-circle. All these leaked records that's comin' out are crazy. He's got this Lauryn Hill song, ['The Hustle' ], aw man! He's got some shit goin' on. He's fuckin' killin' it, and I just think it's an organic growth. We can't force. Atlanta's different, as far as the market. Certain artists can't cut through, and we just have to pay attention to what his market is. That's focus."
With 50 Cent believed to be a free agent, and Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks officially off of Interscope, Sha Money XL was asked if his Def Jam home would reunite the former G-Unit President with its founder and star. "I work with 50 [Cent], Banks and [Tony] Yayo, they're my brothers. It's easy for me to do that, work with them," began Sha. "We're over here in talks. It's all about lawyer's numbers and makin' sense. He has other offers as well, 50, for G-Unit [Records]. I'm tryin' to secure it, I'll definitely tell you that right now. I would love that. I would love that whole shit over here. [There] is just a lot of internal things that gotta get done right for it to be a done deal. That's something I would love."
Like Juelz, Sha also stated that he feels Lloyd Banks may be in the right creative zone, and have the right market in 2010. "It'd be huge, and Banks is ready. If you could hear the records he got, man - I went to his house, yo, he got some shit!"