Exactly one month ago today, on May 3rd, Robert Ross, b/k/a Black Rob, was released from Fishkill Correctional Facility in upstate New York after serving four years for reportedly robbing a fellow hotel guest in November 2004.
The longtime street scribe for Bad Boy Records, (whose 2000 debut, Life Story, was certified platinum on the strength of the smash hit “Whoa”), has hit the ground running in the month since his release from Fishkill with a flurry of recording in preparation for his upcoming album, Losing’s Not An Option. As an appetizer to his first new studio album since 2005’s “Star In Da Hood/Ready”-anchored The Black Rob Report, B.R. is currently preparing to unleash an all original material mixtape, Game Tested & Street Approved, which is driven by its two lead leaks: the rugged displays of raw rhyming from Rob in “Delusional” (produced by Self Service) and “Ventilation” (produced by The A-Team.)
During a quick Q&A with HipHopDX late last week, Rob provided some details about the new music he’s working on (and some sly revelations about a possible new deal.) The Harlem native definitively revealed whether or not he will be returning to Bad Boy Records, (and if his accusations of money mismanagement on “Delusional” were aimed at Diddy.) Unapologetically criminal minded in his past, Rob also candidly spoke to DX about the crime that cost him four years of his freedom, noting, “I had money, [but] I just got beside myself and wanted to take more money.”
HipHopDX: I just gotta start off by saying that “Delusional” , that shit goes hard… Now, you know I gotta have you elaborate on that second verse… “How this dude got my publishing checks in a tight yoke…Wrote contracts up that’s designed to leave you broke…”
Black Rob: I don’t want nobody to get [any] misconceptions that I was talking about Puffy. I’m not talking about Puffy. See, when I signed to Bad Boy [Records] I was already [in a production] deal with [someone else.] We [had] already signed a contract that was designed to [basically] invest in him my whole career – a publishing check, a recording contract. So, it’s not Puffy. Puffy ain’t got my publishing checks in a tight yoke, Puff got the publishing that I gave him [from] the initial signing of the contract. [But], Puff ain’t got my publishing checks, it’s this Ray Roterio dude that we’re looking for, [but] we can’t find him…[In the song when I say] “the mirrors and the smoke was fooling the town’s folk,” that’s [about] Bad Boy. I just wanna make it clear.
DX: And I just gotta ask, did that whole [bad business] situation have any influence on what happened that led to you getting knocked?
Black Rob: Nah, that ain’t have nothing to do with that. That’s why I take full responsibility [for] my ways and actions… I ain’t holla at Puffy [about it], I ain’t holla at nobody at Bad Boy, ‘cause I felt like I did this to myself so I’ll handle it by myself.
DX: I noticed on “Ventilation” you said, “I ain’t shakin’ nobody hand, just hit the hammer / Next thing you know I’m gettin’ indicted, I’m on camera / I don’t know what dudes be doing when they ain’t wit’ me…” What was you trying to say specifically about the events that led to your incarceration…?
Black Rob: That wasn’t even about my incarceration. I just basically [was] talking about me. Like a lot of dudes they be like, “Yo, Black, he ain’t gonna – He a artist.” So they get the misconception that just cause I’m a artist I’m not gonna put that work in when it’s time to get that money, when it’s time to take that money. So that’s what that [verse] was for.
DX: I guess I just got a little confused ‘cause of that “I’m on camera” line, ‘cause I remember that was like part of the original report [about the hotel robbery], that they caught you on camera with like a lady’s purse…
Black Rob: They ain’t catch me with no lady’s purse, man. Let me tell you something, first of all, [that] hotel I was in, it cost $500-a-night to even be in the hotel, to even get to a room… So, I paid to be in the hotel. So I had money, [but] I just got beside myself and wanted to take more money. And you got some dudes out here that’s like that. I’m one of ‘em. But all that’s out the window, all that’s done. They got four years outta me. They straightened me up. I’m good. Y’all won.
DX: I understand that Puff wants you back on Bad Boy?
Black Rob: It was something spoke about it like that with the Vice President of Bad Boy, [Harve Pierre], myself and Puffy on the phone. But, Puffy’s doing what he’s doing right now with all these other artists. So, I’m not gonna try to take a backseat to none of these artists that ain’t selling no records. Ain’t none of them selling more records than me. None of ‘em sold more records than me, so I’m not gon’ take a backseat to none of them dudes. None of them niggas is better than me. I don’t care how many records you make my man.
DX: Since you don’t wanna wait, will Puff let you out of the contract though?
Black Rob: I’m out of the contract. I’m done with Bad Boy. I got the official decision letter two days ago. So I’m officially done with Bad Boy. As of now, I’m officially a free agent. I can go anywhere I wanna go.
DX: And, I just wanted to ask, any thoughts on The L.O.X. possibly going back to Bad Boy? They making the right move; you got any advice for them?
Black Rob: Nah man, because The L.O.X., they already know what it is, man. It’s better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don’t know… I would sign to Bad Boy again. I would sign to them again if push came to shove. I would sign a contract with Bad Boy again, ‘cause now I know the business side of everything. I can’t get jerked. Not saying that Puff jerked me, but now I know the business side so I can go at this a little bit different now. I can go in there with some knowledge, knowing that you can do this and I can do this, and you can’t do this…I want this, this what I’m supposed to have, where’s it at?
DX: I noticed Shyne made it abundantly clear when he got out that he ain’t fuckin’ with Puff no more.
Black Rob: Right.
DX: Just out of curiosity, did you [guys] ever cross paths anytime during the times Shyne came down [from Woodbourne Correctional Facility] to Rikers [Island for court appearances]?
Black Rob: Nah. When Shyne was fighting his case [in 2001], I was fighting a gun case. If you recall, I got caught with a burner downtown myself. So I was fighting my case. I beat my case in trial. [Puff] beat [his] case in trial. So that’s what brought about the whole “Let’s Get It” [remix with the] Harlem shake [dance being introduced to the world in the video]… But Shyne, I never seen Shyne up north. I just was hearing about him.
DX: So y’all haven’t been in contact in like years?
Black Rob: Yeah, I haven’t seen Shyne, man, like since before his trial, before they locked him up.
DX: Now, Fishkill is where you finally ended up?
Black Rob: Yeah.
DX: Tell our underage readers at HipHopDX what Fishkill is like, BR.
Black Rob: Fishkill ain’t no place to be, my man. They tell you what to do. They tell you when to do everything. You gonna move how they want you to move. If not, I guess you’ll be sitting in a box, man… You got a lot of guys up there with 10, 15 years in, 25 years, 30 years, so…you [gotta] handle yourself like a grown man [or] you gonna be in trouble all the time. So me personally, I don’t got 15 years in, but I’m a grown man, I know how to carry myself in that surrounding. So, it was real good when I went to Fishkill because when I was in Fishkill there was a bunch of dudes there from the era [when] I came up doing my crime: like the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, when I was doing heavy crime. A lot of dudes in there was still in there [since] when I was in jail in ’89! They never went home. So it was good for me to be around those type of dudes instead of being around the new breed…young dudes in there snitching, or [inaudible] people. Like me personally, I don’t need to rob black people, because black people ain’t got nothin’ for me. If I’m doing my thing you know I’m going Downtown to get some money, man, ‘cause that’s where it’s at. So, Fishkill was a good move for me. That was an excellent move. I shoulda been there my whole bid.
DX: The DOCS info that I saw, was that correct that [your] bid from 20 years ago you were in Fishkill then. or you were somewhere else?
Black Rob: I was in Fishkill in ’94. I did [time for] a [parole] violation, a nine-month [stint for] violation in Fishkill. I was [also] in Green Haven. And I was in Auburn.
DX: And I just gotta ask man, why has Black Rob made so many up north trips in his lifetime?
Black Rob: Because Black Rob grew up in poverty-stricken conditions, man. And what I do is always a means to an end. Nobody never reached they hand out to me [to help]. That’s why everyone so afraid of me, because I reached out to all these dudes that was with me on my last two runs [and] ain’t nobody do nothing for me! So [it took] for me to do the four years and to realize who I really am – ‘cause I used to think I was just a regular person that’s really not important. So if you see me…you would see me by myself…[not] with 30 dudes, F.B.I. agents… You’re not gonna see me like that. But that type of attitude [led] me to think that I was still the same type of person from the ‘80s or early ‘90s, [and] that I could just do anything I wanna do. But that wasn’t the case. I’m not average. I’m not a regular dude. I’m Black Rob. So, I gotta start treating myself [like a professional recording artist] and acting like I’m Black Rob. Once I realized that…’cause it’s a wrap now, man. A focused B.R. is the worst. Nobody wants any parts of that… Bad Boy know that, Puffy know that, [and] that’s why they wanted to re-sign me. They hear the focus in my voice.
DX: Plus, “it’s played out gettin’ layed out, livin’ your days out, in jail…”
Black Rob: Yeah, that shit is played out, man. If you go to jail in 2010, c’mon man, [people are] gonna say you belong in jail. I don’t belong in jail. It’s too much to do out here in New York. It’s too much money for me to scoop up…instead of sitting [in] somebody’s cell, with some big hillbilly white boy telling me what to do.
DX: When we getting that Game Tested & Street Approved?
Black Rob: We trying to put that out within the next two, three weeks. We already got the songs ready. The songs is done, we just waiting right now to see what’s going on with this deal, with this label. Once that falls [into place], we’re going in, man. It’s over.
DX: You’re saying you talking to a label right now about distribution?
Black Rob: Yeah, but I don’t wanna put nothing out there… But, we’re in talks with some major players right now.
DX: I can understand why people are hollering at you [after] “Delusional” and “Ventilation.” You’re spittin’ like it’s 10 years ago.
Black Rob: Yeah, exactly. Jail is a gift and a curse, man. Sometimes when you go in there, you come out of there a different person. You’re able to…bring yourself up, and turn that negative into a positive. I can honestly say that I turned my negative into a positive, because I no longer do the same things that I used to do. So right now for me, this is beautiful, man. Jail for me did more good than bad.