“Whoa there big timer, big timer.”
If you instantly shouted out “I got money to the ceiling!” after reading the above then no introduction is needed for Fiend. For the uninformed, back in the late ‘90s the New Orleans native, who appropriated his emcee moniker from Eric B. & Rakim’s classic “Microphone Fiend,” was arguably “The Baddest Muthafucka Alive.” The rugged rhymer, and off-kilter-crooning hook provider for the then mighty No Limit Records, helped to legitimize a label littered with largely dismissible voices via his back-to-back #1 albums, There’s One in Every Family and Street Life. But before the dawn of the new millennium, internal strife at No Limit, reportedly due to bad business practices on the part of “The Colonel” Master P, forced Fiend and several of his label-mates (along with No Limit’s in-house sound squad, Beats By The Pound) to jump off of “The Tank.”
A string of modestly successful solo releases on his own Fiend Entertainment followed through the ‘00s (capped off in ’09 by his stellar street album The Bail Out). But it’s been International Jones’ work in the shadows of the music business that’s kept his creative fires lit for the better part of the past decade. The rapper/producer/songwriter has worked behind the scenes with several major labels as a creative consultant/“Street A&R,” penning hooks and helping arrange tracks for the likes of Lil Wayne (“DontGetIt”), Jadakiss (“What You Ride For?,” “Something Else” featuring Young Jeezy), and several other notable names.
While post-No Limit prospects for Fiend to resume his own major label recording career via Ruff Ryders and Roc Nation failed to fully materialize, Sleepy Eyes looks to be on the verge of a possible return to the majors thanks to a fellow former No Limit signee, Curren$y. The gruff-voiced verbalist recently chopped it up with HipHopDX about his current work with Spitta, and if his newly adopted Jets sound signals the demise of “Mr. Whomp Whomp.” Lastly, the Iron Gang leader disclosed some rather revealing information regarding Dr. Dre’s fondness for Fiend.
HipHopDX: I know it’s ancient history at this point, but when I spoke to you last, in late ’08, it seemed like you joining Jay-Z’s label was a done deal. So what happened with Fiend and Roc Nation?
Fiend: My lawyer never confirmed anything. And I haven’t received no calls from [Jay-Z] to confirm anything.
DX: Who were you dealing with?
Fiend: It was just reps [for Jay-Z]. I was hearing through people that was there at the time, at the Def Jam office. … It wasn’t like a Lyor Cohen, or a direct phone call from Shawn Carter himself, it was more [like] reps were calling me. … I don’t really wanna say the [rep's] name. [Me signing to Roc Nation] was something that they were rooting for ….
DX: You’re officially singed to Warner Brothers now?
Fiend: I’m putting out projects through Jet Life Recordings/Warner Brothers; I haven’t officially signed.
DX: Three mixtapes - [Tennis Shoes & Tuxedos, The Sweetest Hangover, and Life Behind Limo Glass] - from you just so far in 2011. So what is this building to?
Fiend: I’m just having fun, loving Hip Hop all over again. And I just wanna share it with the world. If I’m able to make a living off of this, that’d be a blessing. But until then I’m just gonna express myself, and try to do more [good] for Hip Hop than hurt it.
DX: You plan on keeping the mixtapes coming?
Fiend: Yes sir. Every 14th of every [other] month you can look forward to another mixtape – almost like a mix-album I guess you can call it, ‘cause I try to put one or two on there that are probably tracks people are familiar with, and then the rest of the album … I get with producers that share the same passion I have.
DX: I love that “Baby” joint, and its metaphor for kush. [Laughs]
Fiend: [Laughs] I appreciate that.
DX: But with this smoother, more soulful sound you’ve adopted from Spitta, you know I gotta ask if you’re ever going back to your rowdy O.G. sound? Has “Mr. Whomp Whomp” mellowed out for good?
Fiend: Nah, man. I’m just making music. And if cats do just a little research they’ll see I was on this vibe on my independents and also [during] the No Limit [Records] days, on songs like [Silkk the Shocker’s] “If I Don’t Gotta” …. I collaborate with my brother Spitta. Him and Mousa just kinda reinforced this thing. They like, “Homie, you gotta let his happen. You can’t fight this sound. You need to embrace this sound.” I make music, and I hate to put myself in a box and restrict myself, ‘cause I love making it all. [So] I’ma say that I make the music for the time. And I feel like right now this is the music, this is the sound, this is the perspective that’s needed from me.
DX: But if KLC drops off a “Talk It Like I Bring It 2011,” you gonna bang it out? [Laughs]
Fiend: [Laughs] If that’s what the people want, well by damn’t, that’s what the people gon’ get.
DX: I mentioned KL, you still fuckin’ with [The Medicine Men (f/k/a Beats By The Pound)]?
Fiend: Yes, my brother. Is water wet? [Laughs]
DX: [Laughs] I just didn’t know if your focus was completely Jets International right now, or you’re still keeping some ties to them.
Fiend: I don’t know how people still view cats that kinda like almost get along with everybody, but I fucks with everybody. My allegiance is to my friendships. It’s not just to labels, it’s to my friendships, because I don’t want things like that to divide friendships. … Me and Master P still cool, Silkk the Shocker, Mia X, KLC, C-Murder, Mac – my prayers for them to get an early release out of jail. We mess with everybody: Cash Money, Baby, Lil Wayne, we love everybody.
DX: Let’s take it back to the Jets movement real quick. How much of that has been your design, and how much has been Curren$y’s design?
Fiend: That’s officially Spitta. I just embraced our brotherhood. Spitta laid down the foundation, and he allowed me to come and put my perspective into place, along with Mousa’s, along with Smoke DZA’s, Trademark [Da Skydiver’s], Roddy’s, Street Wiz. He allowed me to be who I am under this umbrella that they created.
DX: [Starts singing] “I just wanna float, and never come down.” [Laughs]
Fiend: [Laughs and then starts singing] “And never come down. I just wanna float, float.”
DX: I stopped smoking years ago, but I love how I can still vibe with the music. It ain’t like you gotta be high to feel it.
Fiend: I’m so happy you mentioned that. You don’t necessarily have to indulge in everything I indulge in for you to have a good time. And that’s what the music is supposed to be about. It starts from one thing, but the rest of the world can get it. And that’s what I do appreciate about that genre of Hip Hop I’ve been doing lately …. I can unite color, I can unite race, I can unite genders. We about partying and enjoying ourselves. Nobody leaves injured, no problems, no fights, no negativity, no gunshots. I love it!
DX: Before we wrap up this quick Q&A, I wanted to see if Fiend4DaMoney is still on his Street A&R grizzly; are you exclusive to Jets International now or are you still producing and penning songs for Lil Wayne, Jadakiss, etc.?
Fiend: I’m open minded. My writing, producing isn’t exclusive, so anybody out there who wants to jam and put out some new music [can reach me via FiendDigital.com]. I’m just happy to be creating this new music and that I can still be able to do it.
You know what I can tell you though? I can tell you that – I don’t know if the world know about – we did get invited to Dr. Dre’s house when we were out there in L.A., to do something for Detox. But, it didn’t happen. It was a conflict of schedules, but we did get invited.
DX: Dr. Dre was up on There’s One in Every Family?
Fiend: Believe it or not, Snoop [Dogg] introduced me to Dre [during the Up in Smoke Tour in 2000], and I said who I was, and he looked at me and said, “I know who you are, man.” I was trippin’. To this day, I’m still overwhelmed. I’m a Hip Hop baby, so I’m a fan first, then I’m an artist.
DX: Well, this new music, like I said, it’s a change of pace, I’m adjusting, but The Sweetest Hangover stuff, I’m loving it. I’m getting used to laidback Fiend.
Fiend: Hey, but I got you. We got a There’s One in Every Family Pt. II album we just sitting on. So I don’t want you to think like … people that went to high school, middle school [when No Limit was at its peak], that they [have been] forgotten about. I have this project [done], it’s just that I was doing so much of die-hard Fiend, “Mr. Whomp Whomp,” that I don’t think that it was getting the recognition that it should’ve gotten. And then I was getting comparisons [to] this artist and this artist and that artist. And [deejays telling me], “If you want me to play your record, take it to the street.” And I felt like that ain’t the way it’s supposed to go if you genuinely dig my stuff.
I’m a Hip Hop kid first so I [decided] I’ma just go here. Mousa and Spitta and them was like, “Express yourself how you wanna express yourself on another spectrum, because you can do it all. The world may know you just for this, but you do it all.”