Who knows what Stat Quo’s music career might look like had he never cut his hair? The Atlanta, Georgian is one of only two artists ever signed to Dr. Dre and Eminem’s vaulted Shady/Aftermath imprint (along with 50 Cent), yet the only one who never released an album under the multi-diamond umbrella. His reputation was never as zany as any of the Shady artists, nor as gangster as anyone on G-Unit. He didn’t rhyme about pills. He hadn’t been shot. For Shady/Aftermath circa 2000s, image dominated and rappers without an easily marketable identity sat the sidelines.

“For instance when Eminem came in he had brown hair,” Stat Quo says in this exclusive conversation with HipHopDX. He continues:

“They finished [The Slim Shady LP], he went home and Dre said he had blonde hair the next time he saw him. Dre was like “He’s out of here, we done.” That little transformation turned him into Eminem. It was Marshall when he met him but he lost a shit load of weight and got that blonde hair and now he’s Eminem. So for me, Stat Quo, they signed me when I had a bunch of hair. I cut my shit off and then I looked like I look like now—like I work in the music industry. Whereas with the hair and shit, it’s an image thing. There’s little different things like that that I wish I would have known.”

There are a number of compelling what-ifs in The Story Of Stat Quo. He details firing his manager-slash-mother (who was integral in landing pivotal opportunities with Jermaine Dupri and Mark Pitts) for booking a show in a barn then describes how he had difficulty distinguishing between friendships and business while globetrotting with the globes most popular rappers. What if he hadn’t fired his mom? What if 50 Cent never took back “Outta Control” and given it to Mobb Deep? Could that have been Stat’s monster break through track? From excitement in the way he talks about his version, he certainly believes so. What if the Aftermath-half of his contract agreed with the Shady-half and Statlanta was released at the peak of the imprint’s commercial dominance? What would this interview cover then?    

What-if games are played everyday. The lessons learned are what push through the next check point. Stat Quo’s taken all of the knowledge gained after years of working side-by-side with Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Scarface, Sha Money XL, Jermaine Dupri, Mark Pitts, Game, TDE, Kendrick Lamar—et al, et al, et al—and crafted his own set of #NewRules. In 2011, he partnered with Game on BlazeTrak.com—management and consulting firm with an artist-first approach. He mentors rising stars on the intricacies of the music industry, sharing every tidbit picked up after traveling, as he describes, “a road to success littered with carcasses and dead bodies,” and delivers it all in this interview. There’s also some funny anecdotes about accidentally dissing Foxy Brown, suggestions for Slaughterhouse, and G-Unit’s corny tank tops. Call this convo “Free Game From Stat Quo.”   

Stat Quo Details Friendship With Dr. Dre, Experience At Shady/Aftermath

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HipHopDX: What does the term status quotient mean to you? 

Stat Quo: What it is is the way things are. That was the whole thing, that’s what it meant to me. I was in college and my rap name was Bean. And then Beanie Sigel dropped and I was scrambling. I did a freestyle and I was just like, “I’m the Stat Quo…” and I was just like, “Yo that’s kinda ill. That shit kinda dope.” And I switched it up. When I switched it, I didn’t figure out what it was but then I’m a smart dude so I was like, “Ok. If status quotient is the way things are, then Stat Quo is the way things are going to be.” That was the whole thing that I came up with. That was the whole reason behind it, because if it was up to me it would have never switched up from Bean. But when Beanie Sigel came, he was one of my favorite rappers—still is—of all time. That’s why I had to switch it. I really fuck with his music. Coming up in Rap it was Redman, Beanie Sigel, Scarface, of course OutKast, the Jay Zs, the [Notorious B.I.G.’s], the [Tupac Shakurs]. These dudes were on an upper level so anything they did—if I’m doing anything remotely close to what they had going on—I would of switched it because I had that much respect for them. 

DX: Describe what Hip Hop looked like to you in the year 2000. You were at the University of Florida. What did it feel like to you?

Stat Quo: I was really on some underground Rap shit. I was in this group called Network Reps and we just loved all the underground shit. I was into that shit. I was in that world. Tru Persona was a guy who was down with our crew Network Reps and this dude named Dash and we was all into that. I was a fuckin’ huge Roots fan. Black Thought is still to me one of the illest. So that was my thing and I would just go to the shows, dancing around, deejay’s playing Black Moon. I was a Hip Hop head. At the same time being from [Atlanta, Georgia] and growing up on Kilo and all that local Atlanta shit, you just was infused with all the other Hip Hop stuff. So it kind of meshed all that shit together. 

I used to just be in dorm rooms freestyling over [Wu-Tang Clan] beats and shit and just going crazy. My boy was like, “Yo, you should do this shit for real, man. You should rap, dawg,” I’m just like, “Yeah right, fuck this. I ain’t gonna rap.” That’s what it was for me. I was just having fuckin’ fun. Rap was like sports, like playing ball with your boy. I was freestyling, battling, spitting in somebody face, freestyling and shit—real freestyling. No disrespect to what the guys do now because it’s entertaining—like Loaded Lux and all that shit. But I think [battling] is better when you just come off the dome. I think that’s just an iller thing. I mean for you to sit back and plot and write some shit, it’s cool. But I like the real battle. I want to see what you gonna come up with off the top of your head, because for me as a rapper, that impresses me more. If you have time to sit and write some shit, it should be no excuses. Everything you write should be ill because, if you a real emcee, you should be able to really come up with some crazy shit. But on the spur-of-the-moment, just to come up with something off the top of your head is incredible. So, that’s freestyling for me.

Of course when they say bust a rhyme when you go to the radio station or something, I’m gonna kick a rhyme I already wrote, but I could sit there and hit you with the ones. I can do that. Me and [Snoop Dogg] used to freestyle all the time because he one of the illest on the low with just coming off the head. He’ll sit here and just be like, “The shoe / The blue / The S-N-Double-O-P crew.” He’ll kill that. That’s freestyling for me. 

DX: You were signed to Shady/Aftermath/Interscope for most of last decade, but were rather under the radar. I don’t think people ever really got a chance to get to know you as a person through your music. I think things would have been very different if Facebook was around [when you first signed].

Stat Quo: Definitely, I agree. I’ve heard that a lot of times. A lot of the music I was doing back when I was with Shady/Aftermath was very dark. A lot of music I do sometimes is dark because of obviously where I had been in my life and what I had been through, but I think I was making music to fit the mold of where I was at instead of just making music that might of fit who I was. I was just trying to fit in because they was on such a roll. I was just trying to impress [Dr. Dre] and I was trying to impress [Eminem] and impress [Paul Rosenberg]. I kind of lost myself and my personality. I’m a funny dude—on some damn near comedian shit—but you could never tell that by the music. My voice when I rap is so aggressive. And then you add the aggressive content in there, you lose the comedic factor in it, and that’s where it got kind of misconstrued on who I was as a person. I was just trying to fit in, man. I had been poor. I just wanted to make some fuckin’ money—let’s keep it real. And I’m around the best people that did it and it was like, “This shit gonna blow up so it don’t matter what the fuck I can do. I could come out and be Fartman. It’s like, “Fuck it. I’m rolling in it.” It was a cool scene. The whole shit was dope as fuck. I’m watching [50 Cent], this muthafucker just rich as fuck. I’m watching these dudes making millions of dollars off of Rap, some shit I used to just freestyle and shit. That shit was crazy.

DX: That’s such a time capsule for so many millions of people. From 2002, when 50 first signed, then Obie Trice, then G-Unit and everything else, Shady, Dre was still around. D12. How many combined records would you say were sold?

Stat Quo: I don’t know. It was a lot. That shit was phenomenal, just being in that machine at the time. Me and 50 talked about this back in the day. He was like, “We could sell blank CDs right now.” It was just a whole movement, dawg. It was so crazy. I remember them G-Unit tank tops and shit. Everybody was wearing all them—the shoes, everything was huge. It was fuckin’ phenomenal. The Shady clothes—I always thought the Shady clothes was wack but fuck it, they was buying them shits. I used to wear the fuck out of them. I was Team Shady. I didn’t like the G-Unit tank tops either. I thought those was lame. Them shits was corny. What fucked me up one day is I was shooting a video and this dude Brian Pumper came out and had the tank top on. That tank top was weak and I knew it was weak. When he was rocking it I was like, “It’s official. That’s a bullshit tank top.” But the G-Unit shoes, I fucked with the shoes. The shoes was hot. They was dope. When they did the little commercial with the S. Carters—the S. Carters was the old Gucci’s. Shady had a couple of cool pieces. But I think the emblem was just too big. I don’t like no clothing design that have so much shit all over it. But anyway, like I said, it was a huge movement. Those muthafuckers was selling everything. It was crazy.

DX: You were an outlier from most of the Shady/Aftermath/G-Unit artists. You and 50 were the only two signed to Shady/Aftermath.

Stat Quo: Yeah, but you know, I didn’t even look at it like I was different or whatever. I didn’t never try to be a part of what was going on. I felt like me, [Young Buck], Lloyd Banks, Game—all of us—D12, Obie, it was like a family for me. Then all the guys that Dre had at Aftermath—the Bishop Lamonts—it just felt like we were all family. It was love. I think my problem that I had was that, in my standpoint, I really thought muthafuckers was my friends. I took it like that. I saw certain people at the label as my friends and at the time they weren’t my friends. These are the people that I work for. It’s difficult in this business. You go in the studio with muthafuckers, you on tour with people and you around them all the time and you laughing and you joking and you get lost that this is a business. You get caught up that this is my friend. They weren’t my friends.

Eventually me and Dre became really good friends but at the time these guys weren’t my friends. A lot of the things that went on in business at the time, I took them personally because I didn’t have an understanding of the music industry. It was me and a friend of mine that was pretty much handling my career. I didn’t come in the game and hire high-powered managers that knew what the fuck they was doing. I hired my friend because my friend believed in me from the beginning and where I’m from you try to bring up those that were with us—i.e. like LeBron did with his boys. Some say that was to the detriment of my career, but at the time I thought it was a good move. Everybody that I was around and the shit that was going on with my album not coming out, I started being hurt because I felt that my friends started fuckin’ me over. But it had nothing to do with friendship it had everything to do with business. And that’s where it gets lost. If you go to work and you got a suit on and you go to work and at five o’clock you go home and you don’t see your manager no more you know that’s your manger. But if you go to work and you hanging with your manager and you going to places all around the world with your manger, and you laughing and kicking and joking, a lot of things get lost in translation. So when business comes in they have to make a tough decision and you find yourself somewhere mad as fuck.

DX: This whole thing sounds like your first job. You went from college to pro-rapper.

Stat Quo: That’s exactly what it was. I wasn’t prepared for what it was. My whole Rap shit started out from getting ready to sign with Pimp C and his moms and then doing the shit with Scarface and then leaving Face and then going there. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. I didn’t know anything about the Rap business or none of that shit. I just knew that I wanted to rap. I think if I knew what I know now back then, I would have been the illest. I can remember I had long ass hair when Jermaine Dupri signed me. I cut my hair off and Jermaine was like, “Yo, why did you cut your hair?” I said, “I’ll cut my hair if I want to.” But at the time I’m just thinking, “Fuck it. I’ll cut my hair,” but I should have kept my hair because the hair is more interesting.

The shit you do with your hair is like an image thing. For instance when Eminem came in he had brown hair. They finished the album, he went home and Dre said he had blonde hair the next time he saw him. Dre was like “He’s out of here, we done.” That little transformation turned him into Eminem. It was Marshall when he met him but he lost a shit load of weight and got that blonde hair and now he’s Eminem. So for me, Stat Quo, they signed me when I had a bunch of hair. I cut my shit off and then I looked like I look like now—like I work in the music industry. Whereas with the hair and shit, it’s an image thing. There’s little different things like that that I wish I would have known.

I remember I used to get mad because 50 wouldn’t do a song directly with me. I was like, “Why won’t he do a song with me? He don’t like me.” It was not that 50 didn’t like me but 50 knew that if he did a song with me, since he’s hot, that’s helping Shady/Aftermath. That has nothing to do with his brand of G-Unit. But I didn’t get that at the time, I didn’t understand that. I didn’t know that. I just felt like the dude didn’t like me. But it had nothing to do with him not liking me. He was just looking out for his team, which he supposed to do. Just little shit like that. Or, I had a song—what’s that song that 50 had with Mobb Deep?

DX: “Outta Control.”

Stat Quo: 50 did the song but it didn’t make the album. Paul Rosenberg then gave me the song because I needed a single. So I did it and I’m like, “Oh shit, I’m finna blow.” I was playing my friends the song. Then Paul called me like, “Yo, 50 took the song,” I’m like, “What the fuck?” He gave it to Mobb Deep. I’m thinking he don’t like me. But it has nothing to do with not liking me. Mobb Deep was signed to 50. He trying to blow his own acts up. Fuck Stat Quo. He’s signed to Dre and Eminem. Now if I saw I wanna be a part of G-Unit, kinda like how Game did, then that’s a totally different thing. But I wasn’t. It had nothing to do with personal. So just little shit like that I think if I knew how to navigate through the industry better, I would of had a better experience as far as helping me put my music out.

I think when you dealing with Dr. Dre especially, you have to have some form of experience. For instance, when I first met Top Dawg and talked to him, I knew [Kendrick Lamar] would come out with an album because they had the prior experience from being on [Warner Music] and knowing how to deal with this industry and how to navigate through it. So Top took his experiences that he had from there, brought them over to Aftermath. Now not only was Kendrick supremely talented, but at the same time he had the know-how to navigate through this industry and to move and what not to do because they had learned from their experience over at Warner when [Joie Manda] and Todd Moscowitz was fuckin’ them over. So that’s pretty much how it is.

DX: Did you ever ask 50 about any of this?

Stat Quo: He one of the smartest muthafuckers out here. So you ask him something, and it’s a direct question, but he knows how to answer it to where you’re satisfied with the answer but you still don’t truly know what the fuck he said [laughs]. So I probably asked him but I have no clue what the fuck he said because he just that smooth with it. He just knows how to get his shit on. But some people are like that, he’s just one of them guys. And plus at the same time I was a fan of his. I was a fan of his music and what he was doing. I had a lot of respect for what he had going on.

DX: Where did you guys record “Spend Some Time” [off of Eminem’s album, Encore]?

Stat Quo: In Orlando, Florida I recorded “Spend Some Time.” They emailed it to me and I wrote it. I flew down to Orlando and I laid my verse. That’s where we did it. And then 50 came in after I left. I remember Jimmy was down there. We was in that dude’s studio that ran the New Kids On The Block and all that shit. What’s his name? He got locked up. 

DX: [Lou Pearlman]

Stat Quo: We was in his studio and shit. I remember Em started writing the song and he was getting in the zone. This dude was lying in the doorway in front of where you got to walk to get out. And people was just stepping over him and he’s just oblivious to everything that is going on. He didn’t even see you. He just be into the song. This dude writes his rhymes in a circle and shit. It look like artwork on the page. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it but dude writes around in spiral circles and shit. It’s crazy shit. He don’t just write it regular. That dude is an ill dude.

DX: How long did it take you to write the verse?

Stat Quo: Ah man, it wasn’t that much time. It was eight bars.

DX: It was a dope verse.

Stat Quo: I hadn’t heard that shit in years. This dude Kendrick calls me and leaves that fuckin’ verse on my answering machine which is crazy. He just did that shit about a month ago. I was just laughing. I text him back like, “Goddamn I haven’t heard that shit in forever.”

Stat Quo Recalls Fighting With Foxy Brown In Madison Square Garden

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DX: In 2005, you performed in Madison Square Garden during Eminem’s Encore tour. What do you remember about that show? 

Stat Quo: I had a set. Eminem would rock, and then Obie Trice would come out and him and Em did a joint. Then I would come out and me and Obie did a joint and then I did my own joint. That shit was cool as fuck. The most vivid memory I have of that night was the first night that we [performed at Madison Square Garden]. Showtime was filming it and when I came off stage and shit, this dude Proof had a big ass bucket full of water, man. He dumped it on my head like I had won the championship and shit. That’s the most vivid memory, because obviously he got killed, but he was such a dope dude and that was like my Super Bowl at the time. It’s just a memory that sticks out in my head every time I think about that night. I remember before I went on stage, limping to the stage acting like I was Willis Reed when he came out [for the New York Knicks during the 1970 NBA Finals]. It was a dope night. It was dope, man.

I think Jay Z was in the audience. I got into it with Foxy Brown backstage. Shit was crazy. Bitch was in my fuckin’ dressing room. She’s in the mirror or something. I’m like, “Ok, that’s cool.” I love Foxy Brown—dope ass rapper. I’m trying to talk to her but she’s ignoring me. She didn’t see me, though. I’m talking to her but she’s not saying anything to me. So I talk to her girl. I’m like, “Yo what’s up with this bitch?” This is after me trying to talk to her a bunch of times. She did [something arrogant] and I’m like, “Bitch get the fuck out! This my room, bitch!” I start going off.

Then after that I did Obie’s “Cry Now Remix” and I said, “I’m the shit / The only one who ain’t heard is Foxy.” And I remember Em was like, “That’s a cold ass line. You know she’s deaf.” And I’m like, “Really? I didn’t know she was deaf.” He was like, “Yeah dawg. She’s deaf,” I’m like, “That’s why she wasn’t talking to me in the fuckin’ dressing room! The bitch couldn’t hear me!” I feel so bad I was like, “Ah fuck.” So Foxy listen, I’m a fan. I apologize. I didn’t know you had some shit wrong with your ears. I just thought you was ignoring a nigga. If I could turn back time I would of never called you a bitch and tried to kick you out of our shit. I apologize. [Laughs]

DX: Describe your relationship with Scarface.

Stat Quo: He’s like an Uncle—Uncle Face. Like Bun B is Uncle Bun. Pimp C is Uncle Pimp, God rest his soul. These dudes, every time you with them, they got something to tell you that helps you navigate and get through whatever situations you got going on. So Face is just like, to me, the quintessential [emcee]. He’s what I always wanted to be in this industry as far as respected. He might not be like as rich as probably Jay Z and shit like that, but as far as a respect level, there’s no question that he’s always looked at as one of the greatest. Everything he says is just real when he rap. He ain’t fabricating no shit. It’s really who he is. He just the dopest. I fuck with Face. I gotta tell him when he came with The Product album, [One Hunid] I loved that shit. I gotta call him and tell him that If he do another Product album, I will come do whatever for free. I don’t even want to make no money. I just want to be on it.

His voice is the illest. That shit is haunting. It’s like a scary movie and shit. He get in that zone and it’s incredible. Nobody paints a picture like him, as far as just painting that picture where you can literally sit back, close your eyes and listen to this muthafucker and he will put you in that place. There’s only a few people that can do that. Biggie was one of them guys. Face is a God that can do that. For me, technically there are rappers that are better than him technically like Eminem, the technical side of it; that might be wittier. Jay Z got the wit. When Jay Z rap it feel like he just looking down on you which is kind of dope. Andre 3000 was just technical and the wordplay. But Face had this voice where it’s like that shit hits you in your chest. When you hear it, it’s like, “What’s that?” It’s like being in the jungle and it’s black dark and you hear a lion for the first time. That’s what that is when you first hear Scarface. That’s exactly what that shit is for me. That’s what he mean to me. 

Stat Quo Remembers Firing Mother For Booking Show In A Barn

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DX: Your story is such an outlier. The touch points: Jermaine Dupri, Pimp C, Scarface, Eminem, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, at that time, for a guy from Atlanta who was in college in Florida. What was the moment when you transitioned from student to sitting in a room with nine or ten people’s favorite rappers?

Stat Quo: [Jermaine Dupri] knew about me because my mother used to be my manager. And my mom got me a meeting with Elektra Records. But then, from that meeting I got to know Memphitz. Memphitz plugged me with my guy that runs Jive, Mark Pitts. Mark Pitts flew me up to meet with L.A. Reid because I was gonna sign with Mark Pitts. In that meeting with L.A. Reid, Jermaine Dupri was there. Guess who else was on that label at the time? Lupe Fiasco [when he was a] gangsta rapper. L.A. Reid was saying, “I wanna put him in a shiny suit and shit.” L.A. didn’t know what to do with rappers, ever. Even though OutKast blew, but that was more KP. KP was kind of quarterback of a lot of that shit that L.A. had with the Atlanta Rap scene because that’s not really his thing. R&B? He’s the King of that.

So in that meeting, I’m performing on L.A.’s desk. I had the big ass Atlanta Braves Starter jacket. I had this song “GA State.” Face used to love that record. I’m performing it and it became a battle between Mark Pitts and Jermaine Dupri. Mark Pitts wanted to sign me to Bystorm Entertainment and Jermaine wanted to sign me to So So Def. They battled, and eventually no one signed me anywhere. I’m still sitting there. Memphitz is talking to my mom every now and again talking the whole industry shit. No one ends up signing me. So a friend of mine at the time, Camron and my other friend Zeek was like, “Yo, you should put out a mixtape.” This was when 50 had the mixtape shit hot. I’m like, “Man, you know, whatever.” So one day I woke up and said, “I’m gonna do a mixtape.” So I did a mix CD and I start handing them out. And that’s when my buzz started getting back up. Jermaine got it.

Basically, on the mixtape I was just venting about my frustrations with not having a record deal like, “Fuck getting signed.” That’s why when I hear new artists say “Fuck getting signed,” that’s when I know they’re gonna get signed. Because whenever you say “Fuck getting signed” then they throw that check in your face and it’s over. That’s how this shit goes. Now there are a lot of guys these days that are not taking the deals, i.e. Chance The Rapper. For the most part, they see that check and it gets them, you know what I mean? [Laughs]

DX: Do you remember the rhyme that you kicked for Mark Pitts?

Stat Quo: B. Cox, which is an R&B producer, did this song called “In The Place,” and Mark Pitts loved that record. So I rocked that shit cause they had the whole East Coast—it just sound like some Bad Boy shit and Mark Pitts was out of that zone from working with Puff Daddy all those years and managing Biggie. Pitts used to manage Biggie. So that’s how that started.

DX: It’s dope to hear that your family was fully behind you.

Stat Quo: Yeah, my mom. I had to fire my moms dawg! Shit got too real. Moms be saying this, “A nigga gotta do what a nigga gotta do.” Moms on that fuck shit [laughs]. I remember the day I realized I had to fire that muthafucker. It was me and my partner. We driving to this show in Alabama so we hype or whatever. We get to the show, dawg, and it’s a barn with a pool table in the middle of the barn. And a bunch of hay and there’s a bunch of people in there. And my mom’s like, “You got to go out there and perform.” I’m like, “Yo, I’m not performing in there. Fuck that.” That’s when I knew she had to get fired, man. That’s when I cut moms loose, you know what I mean? [Laughs]. Moms had to go. Fuck that.

DX: What did she say? 

Stat Quo: She was hot, super hot. My Mom was helping me financially through the situation, and when she got fired it was like, “Fuck you, you gotta do it on your own.” So that’s when I started selling shit, doing whatever I had to do. Selling watches, selling whatever. Not to incriminate myself, but doing whatever I had to do so I had to pay for my CDs. That’s why when I would hand my CD out and I’d walk away and the muthafucker would Frisbee it over my head, I’d chase after the CD. That’s a dollar dawg! But moms I love you, but management of rappers is not your thing.

Stat Quo Explains Why Shady/Aftermath Shelved Statlanta

DX: How many times did you make Statlanta?

Stat Quo: The first one was on some super crunk shit and that didn’t work out. The second was the Eminem/Dre version. And then the third was me like, “Fuck ya’ll, I’m going to do it the way I want to.” The fourth one was the one I actually put out in 2010, which was that one I put out through Sha Money XL. I fuck with Sha that’s my nigga and I love him for it, but my mind wasn’t in the right place. I shouldn’t even have called that project Statlanta because the music wasn’t comparable to what I had created with Dre and Em at the time. But it was just a stigma or a name that had been marketed so much. I just wanted to get it behind me. I didn’t even want to hear it anymore. Because everywhere I would fuckin’ go people would be like, “Oh when is Statlanta coming out?” That’s one of the toughest things, when people ask you a question that you really can’t answer, or you don’t really know why. That’s why I said, “Fuck it” and just put it out in 2010 and called it Statlanta.

DX: In retrospect why do you think it never came out in the first place?

Stat Quo: First of all, there was too many cooks in the kitchen. Me and my team, we weren’t aggressive in doing some of the things that I needed to do. I went hard in putting out mixtapes, but I didn’t go out and perform as much as I should have. I didn’t go out and touch the people through my shows as much as I should have. I didn’t put out enough video content so that people could really get to know me and fall in love with who I am. That’s one of things with Kendrick. People fell in love with this guy. They did such a great job at making you fall in love with Kendrick and the TDE movement to where you feel like you’re a part of it. Like Wiz Khalifa and Taylor Gang—people feel like they a part of Taylor Gang. So with me we just was like, “We gonna wait,” and kept waiting and then, “Fuck waiting.”

If you got some shine and people fuckin’ with you, go out and get in front of these people because they don’t buy the music, they buy the people. People don’t buy music. They fall in love with the person. When you fall out of love with that person, you just watch how the music goes down. It’s not selling as much. Lil Wayne is just as ill right now as he was when people was saying he’s the most incredible rapper, ever. But some people don’t like Wayne anymore. And why? Because Rap fans are fickle, they’ve moved on to somebody else. Wayne is still one of the illest muthafuckers ever. What’s changed? Young Thug—the way he doing it—that’s Lil Wayne shit. And Young Thug will probably say, “Yeah” because Wayne was his idol, right? But what’s the difference? We like Young Thug now, he the new hip shit. Rap fans is fickle as fuck that’s why it’s hard to make a living with these muthafuckers, they just hop around. That’s why my rappers that I love, I fuck with them for life. Scarface could be [90-years old], but I’d still go buy his shit every time. Jay Z, I don’t give a fuck what they say, I’m still buying Jay Z shit. Andre 3000—fuck with him for life. That’s just what it is.

DX: Was there a lot of pressure on you at that time? Again, I’m looking around I’m looking at all the people you’re interacting with, you’re working with, you’re working for and you’re one of the youngest in the cypher.

Stat Quo: It wasn’t no pressure it was just for me, when I look at a lot of my friends and what they were doing for money, I was feeling happy about what I had going on. It’s no pressure to rap. It’s pressure when you selling drugs and you taking penitentiary chances and shit like that. But I didn’t feel like it was pressure for me because, if it didn’t work, I was intelligent enough to go off and do something else. It wasn’t like the end of the world for me. I didn’t grow up and say, “I’m gonna be a rapper when I get old.” Like I said, the music that I was making before I got signed, I was saying, “Fuck getting signed.” So I’m putting my shit out in the streets. I was eating. I was making money doing my little hustling, doing whatever I was doing or whatever the fuck, but I didn’t give a fuck about getting signed. So when I got signed, there wasn’t no pressure.

What happened was, it became a situation where I started being frustrated with the process and not understanding why my shit wasn’t out. Because, like I said, they could of put out whatever. If they would of signed me and put me out six months after I signed, I would of sold 400,000 records the first week. That’s how this shit was going back then. I would have went platinum. Obie went platinum twice! D12 sold three to four million records. It didn’t matter what was coming out. Not to say Obie wasn’t ill or those projects weren’t good, but the shit I did was good. I know it was ill. It would of sold 400,000 to 500,000 first week and I would of ended up going platinum. But it was just other people in line and in front of me that were there. It’s like a fear also when you are that hot, that you don’t want to do anything that’s going to take away from that heat. So if I wasn’t crazy buzzing, they was afraid to just come with my shit. But they could of just threw it out and made the money, but whatever.

DX: Were you afraid of anything at the time?

Stat Quo: Hell nah, I was ready to come out. But I never had the identity, so that was another thing. 50 was a gangsta. Game was a gangsta. [Lloyd Banks], [Young Buck] they gangstas. Eminem was the White trash rapper, then you got all his underlings. I never had an identity in what I was to stand on my own. And the position that I was in was similar to 50’s because I was with Shady/Aftermath so I needed that identity. But when I cut my hair there wasn’t a distinct thing about me that you could say, “Ok, that’s what Stat is.” What is he? Is he a gansta rapper? Is he a conscious rapper? What is he really about? Is he a thug? Is he carrying guns? That wasn’t it. Is he just a Southern player? I didn’t dress like that. I wore Adidas and fuckin’ Shell Toes. But what stood out? And that was really one of the main things? I think you got to have some kind of identity trying to come out and be what they signed me to be. That was one of the issues that I had because I can’t put it all on them. It was some things with me. If I had that distinct identity, I probably would have been more successful. But even without it, I could of came out with fuckin’ anything and they would of sold, because the brand was so strong at the time. 

Stat Quo Says Jimmy Iovine Added Game To G-Unit Because He Had Been Shot

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DX: Was there a point where Game might have been Shady/Aftermath Instead of just G-Unit?

Stat Quo: The whole Game thing—he was initially with Aftermath and then Jimmy had me with 50. As crazy as it sounds, Jimmy was like, “So you been shot. Lloyd Banks been shot. Yayo been shot. Young Buck’s been shot. Guess what? Game’s been shot, too. You should put him in G-Unit and he’s from the West Cost.” That’s how that shit went down. That’s exactly how it went down [laughs]. Game was just sitting there. Game has always been ill and I think Jimmy had got to a point where—with Dre just signing acts and not putting them out—he was like “Ok, we got Shady/Aftermath. Let’s do Aftermath/G-Unit.” And it just worked. Game started getting on those mixtapes on those G-Unit joints. I think he got on that Anthony Hamilton shit. He’s another one that’s got one of them voices. Like Face, he got one of those voices. New York wasn’t ready for that because Game really was from the West Coast but sounded like an East Cost dude. He just took it and was gone at that point. It was a wrap. Forget about it. 

DX: On our site, Game always catches a lot of flack in the comments section for the name-dropping. That was one of the big critiques about him when he first came out. I look back when [The Documentary] came out in 2005, nine years ago, and two things stand out to me about Game. One, he’s an incredible emcee from the standpoint of there isn’t a style that exists that he can’t do. He’s got all the rap styles. Whatever new style comes out, he adapts to it really quickly. His mixtape [OKE] has Kendrick flows on it, and it’s incredible that way. And two, I’m seeing a lot of name-dropping from every other new artist that comes out now. Everyone is telling their story about where they were when Illmatic dropped, for example.

Stat Quo: It was a style. What I’m learning is, the more people talk about you the better it is anyway. So he was doing that in order for them to talk about him. That’s his formula and it worked for him. He had a formula. Like you just said, that’s what he does. Well a lot of these rappers you can’t break down what they do. Like me, what do I do? You can’t break it down. That’s what separates the super-superstars from the guys that are just nice. I’m nice. You put me in a room full of rappers and they sit around, “Yo that dude Stat Quo is ill.” But as far as a character, I ain’t that. There’s a lot of guys like me, like Joell Ortiz. Nice! Joe Budden, nice! Royce Da 5’9, nice! There’s a bunch of us that is just nice but their character is not a distinct character. Crooked I, nice! Them muthafuckers be spittin’ dope as fuck. Elzhi some underground rapper, but the character of what you are and who you are is not as distinct as it should be. You can’t pick us out in a line-up. Snoop doesn’t rap better than any of the people I just named, including myself, but the character! Snoop got so much character. Jeezy doesn’t rap better than us, but the character! Rick Ross, been nice, but he grew that beard and there’s a character. You fall in love with the character. If Lil Wayne had a fuckin’ fade and just looked regular it wouldn’t work, but you look at him and he just look like a star. So that’s what’s important in this shit. Me, I’m just an ill nigga. I will rap your ass under the table. And so Game with the name-dropping, it became one of his styles, on top of the Compton, Blood, gangbanging, hanging with Dre and all that shit. It’s just a story that is so compelling that you get caught up in it.

DX: It seems like you’re going more conceptual now with the new joints you’ve been putting out. “Michael,” for example. Is this part of you defining your character?

Stat Quo: Exactly. I’m not making music to sell it and make a lot of money. I’m making music now because some of my favorite rappers ain’t putting out music so I know how it feels. Like Andre 3000 ain’t putting shit out. Beanie Sigel is in jail. I mean Scarface working on his album but it’s not out. These are some of my favorite guys that I enjoy listening to and as a fan I miss hearing their music. So I think about, is somebody out there that like my shit and fuck with me, that enjoyed my music and the mixtapes I was putting out consistently and all that shit? So I said, “You know what? I need to put some music out.” And it’s not about selling it. So at that point they’re conceptual because I’m just doing music just to do it and to have fun. It doesn’t matter if I make a quadrillion dollars because that’s not really how I make my living just rapping, as far as my own personal Stat Quo shit.

Stat Quo Weighs In On Dr. Dre’s Approach To Crafting Songs

DX: I think about Obie Trice. The way you described how everyone else had a character and he never really had a character other than drinking. I think he was presented as a guy who liked to go to the bar, but he was a very good rapper. Is it because of the fact that he was on Shady that made him a priority in your opinion, in retrospect? Cheers is a very good album.

Stat Quo: Well, it was no blocking from Dre. There was no “Dre gotta go do this and approve it.” They didn’t have to get approval for Obie. They just put it out because Paul was ready to go. If it was up to Paul and Em my albums would have been out. But it was a Dre thing also. Shady/Aftermath as a collective only put out 50 Cent and made it seem the same as everybody else but it’s different. So we needed Dre to approve shit and Dre move how Dre move. No one gonna make Dre move when he doesn’t wanna move. As you can tell there’s no Detox. He does what the fuck he wants to do when he wants to do it. And that’s one thing I respect about him. He don’t make it about money. He don’t make it about whatever. It’s just about what he wants to do. That’s one thing about Dre. So that’s pretty much why Obie’s shit was going and coming out and D12, because they just was on Shady so they just had to convince Paul and Em for their shit to come out.

DX: What about Rakim?

Stat Quo: He was with Dre. A lot of them 50 records was Rakim songs. That first album, Rakim did songs on all those beats, man.

DX: Get Rich or Die Tryin’?

Stat Quo: Yes, all them shits was Rakim songs. Rakim problem is he couldn’t do the hooks. The choruses were never strong. He a dope ass rapper but in your mind right now can you remember a Rakim hook? I mean maybe cause you young or whatever…

DX: “Don’t sweat the technique…” 

Stat Quo: But you never hear—I got nine 50 hooks in my head right now. The choruses. Dre is about songs. You could be a dope ass rapper but them hooks. That’s why “You can find me in the club…” [was successful]. It’s the chorus. So that was a problem. That’s why Rakim never came out with an album, because he couldn’t come up with the hooks.

DX: You mentioned Joell Ortiz earlier…

Stat Quo: Dope as fuck. That’s why it didn’t work with Dre. But if you bring Shady into the equation and then you put them into a room, [Slaughterhouse] came out. But I think as a collective—individually the muthafuckers is dope—but as a collective, I think they get into a situation where they try to out rap each other and who got the illest verse and it gets lost with the actual songs. That’s my thing with them. And I know people will be like, “He just trying to hate on Shady because you ain’t on…” Nah, dawg. I fuckin’ love them individually. I remember when they first got together and I was like, “I wish I was in that group.” I would just sit and listen to the rhymes. The raps are so fuckin’ incredible. They so nice, just nice. That boy Royce, he just nice! Joe Budden is just ill. Crooked I and Joell, they just nice. The bars are stupid. But the songs are weak, because they get so caught up into their verses that the hooks get lost. So I think that’s why their albums have not been received globally, because people are into songs.

As dope as Kendrick is, his songs are strong. Eminem, his songs are just so strong. “Lose Yourself;” “Stan;” just countless strong songs. He’s just a strong songwriter. You can’t just rap and think that’s what it is. These guys get lost. For me, I’m a fan of it. But on some mass-appeal-selling-a-shit-load-of-records shit, people like songs. I remember back in the days, back way before I ever thought about being a rapper, girls used to be like, “Ma$e is the best rapper.” And I used to be like, “Ma$e?! Ma$e?!” And I thought Ma$e was dope but like, “Best rapper bitch? You crazy. The nigga can’t fuck with Jay Z. Are you kidding me? Ma$e?!” But Ma$e had them hooks, them songs. He talked them stories to the bitches. So that’s the thing. If I was A&R’ing a Slaughterhouse album, I would be like, “Yo, ok. In a sense let’s not dumb it down. But let’s take this focus that we have on these versus and let’s put them on the hooks. Let’s be simpler.”

As dope as Drake is, his shit is very simple. You know that “Muthafucka never loved us / Remember?” [“Worst Behaviour”] It’s just simple, real basic shit because most people are dumb. They are stupid. I remember when [Barack Obama] was running for President, there was some shit I saw on TV like, “Is he too smart for the American public?” People were like, “He just used all these big words,” because most muthafuckers, the average people, are not intelligent so they can’t even understand all that other shit and all that complex shit. They don’t even hear the verse. They go right to the hook. “It’s gettin’ hot in here / So take off all your clothes…” They not hearing all the shit in there, that take about 40 to 50 times for you to get to that. So the chorus and the beat, that’s what most people hear. They don’t hear [the verses]. If you trying to be selling a shit load of records, you got to have melody and some simplistic ass shit going on.

How Stat Quo, Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole Worked On Game’s “Drug Test”

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DX: You and Game announced your partnership in 2011. Game to me, is one of the most interesting artists of the past 10 years because of a number of things. Two of which being, one, he writes incredible songs but is still billed as a villain and yet still people feel him. Game’s fans are real fans. But two, he laid the blueprint for how not to get “Wanksta’d” by 50 Cent.

Stat Quo: Well, he dissed Jay Z. I remember we was at Dre’s house and we were just outside talking. This was a while back. Obviously I talk to him all the time. I think Peyton Manning, he played for the Colts still and they were playing the New Orleans Saints and we was at Dre’s house and we were outside at halftime talking. And I’m like, “Yo dawg. Do you realize you dissed Jay Z, dawg? Do you realize you told him to suck your dick? [Laughs] And you still putting out records, dawg. You went at G-Unit and you’re still putting out music. That’s some shit. I thought you were done. I thought your career was over. It’s over.” I remember saying, “This dude is finished.” And he survived it. That’s some fortitude right there. That shows that he got the strong fan base.

Me and dude was always cool. What happened was, I had been working with Dre and the monotony of what me and Dre had got going on [started to bother me]. I just felt like Detox was just not going to come out and I was writing so much music and doing so much shit. And my frustration with it not coming out began to effect me and Dre’s relationship because I became frustrated to the point to where I just became bitter about working. After I had left Shady/Aftermath I went to Atlanta. Dre called me back. Thank God he called me back because financially I was fucked up. He called me back. I went to Hawaii to work with him and we just working and doing all this music and it felt like I came back into the same shit I left when we just recording them songs everyday. It’s like, “Yo this shit is never going to come out.” And I just felt like, “Why am I doing this?” And then at the same time he was making so much money doing headphone things and me watching him and he telling me stuff about the business of the other side of it, I found myself losing my love for rapping. I didn’t want to rap anymore. That’s why that Statlanta album was kind of not good to me because I didn’t even really want to rap. I just was fulfilling my obligation because Sha had gave me that opportunity. But I didn’t even really want to rap because I’m watching Dre make all this money and we talking about, “You got to get into the business,” and I’m just losing my passion for music. Like, “I don’t want to fuckin’ rap.”

I remember Jimmy Iovine said, “This is like the greatest practice team of all time. Imagine a team that just practices and never plays the game. That’s what you guys do in here. All these great songs, nobody’s ever going to hear them.” It was true. It’s so much music. I started getting frustrated with it. The mental strain on me and not having my album come out, shit started hitting me. I just distanced myself and stopped coming around. It wasn’t until recently that I was talking to Top Dawg one day and he’s like, “Yo, you talked to Dre?” I’m like, “Nah.” He’s like, “Man, you need to call that man, dude. What you doing?” I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.” He said, “You need to call that man. He looked at you like a little brother. Y’all was close.” And we was.

I called [Dre] and I was like, “Yo, I just want to tell you I love you. I don’t know if you know it or not.” He was like, “What? Man, come to the studio, man!” I went to the studio and he’s playing the Jon Connor shit and we just caught up. But I left Dre and that’s when I started rocking with Game. I got it with Game. I wanted a verse from Game and I linked it and Game was like, “Yo come out to the studio,” and I went back to the studio and we just started working together and then it wasn’t even a question, it just clicked. We always had a good working relationship, because we would work together on Dre shit. We would do songs together and Dre used to call us the “20 Minute Twins,” because we would do songs in 20 minutes, fast. I remember J. Cole coming through. J. Cole put me on with Kendrick. I didn’t know nothing about Kendrick. J. Cole told me and Dre about Kendrick. Dre had heard about him from somebody else as well, but J. Cole was the one who told me. I remember J. Cole came in and me and Cole was working on the song “Drug Test.” And J. Cole was like, “Yo, this is ill man! I love doing music like this.” On that song “Drug Test,” the writers on there is me, Kendrick, Game, Snoop and Dre—if you look at the credits—DJ Khalil and the guy who is signed to Floyd Mayweather, Hayes.

DX: 50 Cent announced that he’s leaving Shady/Aftermath and going to Caroline/Capitol/UMG distribution. What’s your initial reaction?

Stat Quo: Smart as shit. You can put your own music on iTunes. iTunes takes 30 percent of it. That means essentially if they sell it for $9.99, you’re getting $7. Even if you go through an online distributor, they take 20 percent and you get 80 percent of it. You’re still winning. If I sell a CD, and lets say that I’m just putting it on iTunes, I’m getting $7 in my pocket for every CD that I sell. Whereas if you go through a label, what do they give you? A dollar? Some change? A label is only good at building your brand to where you can go all over the world and be who you are. 50 Cent is who he is, so what he’s doing is very intelligent because that brand is solidified.

DX: In 2007 he screamed on Cam’ron because he’s on Koch. He called it the artist graveyard label. He had a very antagonistic stance against independent music at the time. Is there something hypocritical here, or is this merely growth from that position?

Stat Quo: It’s probably growth. I mean when I was 11-years old, I pulled my dick out in class [laughs]. I wouldn’t pull my dick out in class now. You grow up [laughs].

Stat Quo Explains How Suge Knight Could’ve Changed The Industry

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DX: That’s a very good analogy right there [laughs].

Stat Quo: I used to think if I married a woman she would have to eat pussy. It was a part of life where I had to fuck two girls at one time. My dick wouldn’t get hard unless I was with two bitches. It’s just what it was. I did some dumb shit.

DX: What’s Stat Quo’s three step program for the average frustrated chump who is not banging two chicks at the same time?

Stat Quo: Man, you need to do it. It’s such a unique experience. It’s something I’m glad I had the opportunity to go through. It’s something really dope about being behind a woman and watching her eat out another woman as you’re inside of that other woman. Or sitting on the other side of the room and watching them do what they do. There’s something very unique about that. It’s something passionate about it. It’s pretty awesome. Two women. Four titties. Two pussies. Come on, man, like one on the dick, one on the balls. Awesome. Incredible. What do you want to do? What do you want? What more can you ask for?

It’s not love. As you do it more than a couple of times, you always connect more with one of them and you want to do it with that one more than the other one. It’s always one that stands out that you have better sexual chemistry with. So eventually, your natural inclination is to be with one woman. But for somebody that’s never done it, it’s something definitely something to experience before you leave this earth or before your dick don’t get hard. Whichever one happens first.

DX: They got pills for that though.

Stat Quo: They definitely do. That shit is like HGH for sex. They are performance-enhancing drugs. I don’t respect these dudes on Cialis banging these bitches for two days, I don’t respect that shit. I’m natural hitter. I’m Derek Jeter of this fuckin’ thing. No HGH. No Cialis. No Viagra. I can go into that thing natural. I’m from the old school. Bust a nut, go to sleep, wake up, eat something and fuck ya again. You feel me? [Laughs]

DX: Some people say baseball is better on steroids.

Stat Quo: That’s what I’m saying. But guess what? This the problem: You do that shit now, what you gonna do when you get old? It don’t work. You’re immune. What if it don’t work on your dick? I’m natural now, but the minute my shit don’t work though, I’m going in. No doubt. I’m going to take whatever it takes. I don’t want to be on the Earth if I can’t fuck. If I can’t bust a nut or see a woman. Getting excited about what I’m going to do to her. I just like it. It’s my thing. I like fucking.

DX: Describe a Stat Quo groupie.

Stat Quo: I don’t really got no groupies. I’m intelligent but at the same time I’m still in touch because of the environment I was raised in, with the streets and shit, so it’s a balance. I make smart decisions. A lot of the girls just like to be around me because I’m honest. They like the whole, “Damn, he really gonna tell me what’s on his mind,” because my mother’s like that. And I just really know how to get in a bitch head anyway. America has made our women so insecure, it’s so easy with them. Just tell them some shit that’s wrong with them. I don’t care how fine she is, I’ma go ahead and give a secret away. The baddest bitches are the most insecure. So whatever it is, let’s say she’s Halle Berry. If I was trying to holla at Halle Berry, I’d be like, “You cool but your elbows is fucked up.” She gonna be drawn to you because every other man is kissing her ass. But I’m focusing on your negatives. Then she gonna be like, “Damn, he different. He not like everybody else.” Next thing you know she on her back getting fucked [laughs]. That’s it. That’s how you get them [laughs].

DX: Macklemore won Grammys with a similar model to the one 50 Cent looks to be attempting. How big of a deal is it now that independent artists have access to winning Grammys which gets them closer to being a superstar?

Stat Quo: Macklemore’s shit was different. At the end of the day, he’s a White guy. The music that he made appealed to a wider range. That’s why people are so upset. “Kendrick, why didn’t he win the Grammy?” Yo, he can’t compete with that monster of a year that that dude had. But for long-term, Kendrick will be a more revered artist than him, probably, even though Macklemore is incredibly dope. But to say that the industry is shifting towards that—I think a lot of these kids is getting smarter. Really they don’t want to do record deals because they doing shows, they making money, they selling their T-shirts and then they go look at these contracts and they’re like, “Well, we’re gonna give you $500,000 but you gonna make this off an album.” And they’re like, “Yo, well, if I put an album out, I’ll make seven dollars an album. Yeah I might not sell 100,000 but if I sell 50,000 times seven dollars, that’s $350,000. Wow. Ok, I get to go on tour.”

These labels try to bamboozle an artist and say you’ve gotta do a 360 deal because they’re not making as much money, which is bullshit. They just making the money differently. These artists is like, “Why would I do that? You’re gonna take some of my show money. I’m only going to make 75 cents an album? Fuck that.” So it’s not like it was a big revolution like Jenga where everything is toppling over. I think it was just moving there anyway. I think the major corporations are going to have to restructure some of their necessity for artists to come in and do 360 deals. I think they have to hire people that are more in touch with the culture and the guys that make them feel comfortable enough to make them go and sign. Because going into a record label for the first time, for somebody that has never been there, that is straight off the streets, it’s a shocking thing. You see these middle age White men and Black dudes in there that ain’t from where you from and they supposed to promote your shit and you like, “Who the fuck is this? Nah I’m cool. I’m going to go back home with my boys. We know what we doing around here.”

The Internet has made it such an even playing field. Why the fuck would you do it? That’s why with me and Game’s label, that’s why we do stuff that’s out of the box. And our peoples is like, “Ya’ll been around so much longer and ya’ll haven’t signed no acts.” We got the whole Blazetrak, where people can come in and submit their music. And the reason that we do that is because when we was trying to get on, it was no way to have access to people like me. [People] are like, “Well you charging a $100.” I’m like, “You can’t pay $100 for somebody that’s a professional that could possibly give you a situation where you can put your shit out?” And the deals that we do, we want our artists to do whatever the fuck they want. We gonna eat with you. “You want to go put your shit on iTunes? Cool. We gonna split it like this.” And you gonna get a way better split with us. Whatever they doing, we gonna do shit way better than what the fuck [the industry is] doing. We don’t put you on a traditional record deal. Fuck them traditional record deals. Fuck that. You want to do a one-album deal? Let’s do it. Two-album deal? Let’s do that. You want to fuck with us for six months and see how it goes? Let’s do that. All that traditional shit, “six-album deal and with an option”—fuck that bullshit. That’s why these fuckin’ labels is losing out on some of the top talent because of that fuckin’ old school mindset. That shit is over. Let it go. What did Jay Z say? #NewRules, dawg. I’m not doing all that fuckin’ old school shit. So, all you artists that want to get down with some shit that’s hot, that’s dope and want to get on with the team that’s gonna allow you to be who you are, you go to BlazeTrak and submit your fuckin’ music and get down with the team. That’s how we doing it.

DX: You sound like Suge Knight during the 1995 Source Awards: “All up in the videos…”

Stat Quo: “All up in the videos.” I just seen Suge on Arsenio talking about fuckin’ artists deals and shit. In a sense he’s had something to say negatively about how these guys are signed, but he was a part of that. He was a part of that machine. So now that you on the outside of it, you criticizing it but you were a part of it. You corporate yourself. You made hundreds of millions of dollars on the backs of these people. It’s nothing against him. I have a lot of respect for the movement that he put together but it’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

DX: Of course Suge is reframing his own history. When I watched the Arsenio clips, it sounded like he was alluding to the results of consolidation in the industry. There are only truly three labels now.

Stat Quo: Yeah, that’s what he’s talking about. And from that standpoint, he’s correct but at the same time he was in a position. This is where I be having a problem. He was in a position to do something about it. Like Top Dawg, what he’s doing right now, he hasn’t signed a label deal with a major. He’s creating new rules. Typically, when you have a successful artist like Kendrick and what ScHoolboy’s [doing], the next thing for you to do is to sign a big label deal and get all the money. They are throwing all kind of money at him, but he doing something different. He’s trying to change the game. Suge was in a position to change the game and didn’t change the game. So that’s where I’m like, “Yo, you could of done something to make shit different. But you didn’t and now you wanna sit back and complain about it.” I wish we could go back in time for you but when you making so much money and shits moving so fast, I could never understand how he felt because I wasn’t there around that time. But I just know, when you in the positions that he was in and the shit that he had going on and being on top of the fuckin’ world, to have like Tupac and Snoop and Dre, you could change the game. You could create whole new shit. You could do whatever the fuck you want. Nobody was going to tell you anything. That’s why you got to respect Top and what they doing over at TDE with Punch and [Dave Free] and all that shit. They are changing the game, something new and something different because they haven’t done a label deal. If they put Ab-Soul out tomorrow it would be straight TDE. It’s all TDE, that’s some new shit. Guys aren’t doing that. That Isaiah Rashad project that they put that on iTunes and that’s straight TDE. There’s no Interscope, that shit just sold because it’s the shit they doing, they got their own infrastructure that’s changing the game.

DX: I think they learned a lot from Jay Rock and Strange Music

Stat Quo: That’s why I knew when I met them for the first time, I knew Kendrick was gonna come out and do what he did. They had that training, that initial training. You got to know what the fuck you doing and how to navigate through these offices and move around and know what to ask for because if you don’t, this shit will swallow you whole.

DX: Are you surprised by 50 leaving Shady/Aftermath?

Stat Quo: Hell no. I mean, why not? Eventually it’s just a natural progression. He’s as big as he’s going to get under that situation. At this time, it’s time to do something else with his career. It’s the thing that I say about Game—it’s the natural evolution. All these guys that are coming out that people love now, Game had the opportunity to sign a lot of these guys. He just wasn’t in that mindset at the time to be nurturing careers. But now he’s there. It’s about evolution. It’s about evolving as a man, as a human being. And 50 Cent, how long is he going to stay up under Eminem and Dre? At a certain point it’s, “I’m my own boss,” which he’s been his own boss for a long time. He’s looking at Jay Z and Diddy and is like, “Yo, I make just as much money as them. Why would I not put my own shit out?” Everybody knows 50 Cent.

DX: Would you be surprised if Eminem ever left Aftermath?

Stat Quo: I mean, no. But I think he would stop putting out music before he does that. But I wouldn’t be surprised. If there is no Aftermath to speak of where Dre is not at the helm, and he’s not the face behind it—what if Dre say, “I don’t want to fuck with Aftermath no more?” It’s just a brand controlled by Interscope. And then Jimmy in there doing [Beats headphones] and they not even at Interscope. Why would Em stay at Aftermath? Em only fucks with Aftermath, and Paul and them fuck with Aftermath, because it’s attached to Dre. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is no Dre involvement. Beats is the new Interscope. Beats is the new Aftermath. You see what I’m saying? That’s where it’s at. That’s the shit that’s going on.

DX: What’s the hardest part of the process you went through leading up to the release of your new mixtape?

Stat Quo: I’d call it an EP. The process is, I’m doing so many other things like managing producers and artists and doing the label thing with Game and working on other people’s music and doing sessions. The hardest part is to get back and concentrate on my own shit and that’s probably why it’s taking so long. That’s pretty much been the hardest thing. “Ok, this is a passion project and I need to do this because there is people that want to fuck with me and fuck with my shit and need to hear this and hear what I’ve been going through.” And that’s why it’s ATLA: All This Life Allows, because I’m taking people through the chronological order of my life. Like this first episode is 12 songs and is about Atlanta and leading up to the second episode which is the whole LA part—me being out here in LA. So that’s the whole ATLA concept. The most difficult part about it is settling down and doing it and then going through so many transitions with different people coming in and out of my life. A lot of my friends that were around with me when I was at Shady/Aftermath, I don’t even talk to anymore. A lot of my family I don’t communicate with. It’s like a lot of casualties, I would say. They say the road to success is paved with dead bodies and carcasses and shit on there. It’s like a lot of my friends at the time, I don’t even communicate with them anymore. It’s crazy. That’s probably one of the hardest things is getting in the mindset to do it and then writing the songs that have me reflecting on people that are not in my life anymore because it’s like, “Damn, that was my muthafucking dawg.” Or, “Damn, I miss her or I miss him,” you know what I mean? But it just is what it is.

DX: Who in your opinion does a good job of capturing that energy in their music?

Stat Quo: I could say that Drake does what he does. Drake will go out to eat with a muthafucker, right? And then come back and write the song and talk about what you talked about at dinner, you know what I’m saying? If you around Drake—anything that goes on around Drake you’re gonna hear back in the song. He really puts his life into the record. A lot of people do it but it kind of hit home with me from the times that I been around him and interacting with him like, “Yo, that’s ill.” One of the guys that works here at HipHopDX—a friend of mine—Soren Baker, he used to tell me all the time, “You know, you worked with Dr. Dre. You worked with all these different people. People want to know how that feels. They want access.” That’s why the Internet is so key. They want access. They want to see what’s going on behind the velvet rope—the curtains. They want to know the real shit. So with this album, I’m telling you the real shit. Yes, I got tax problems. Yes, I got some foreclosures on my house. Yes, I’ve been cheated on. Yes, I have cheated. Yes, me and my baby mama have problems. Yes, I don’t see my son enough. I’m going there. I’m opening up. The façade is over. It’s been lifted. I’m free. Because it’s important that kids know that this shit isn’t all bottles and bitches. This shit is pain and perseverance. That’s what this album is. I want you to see and watch my evolution. Watch me evolve as somebody that thought, “Ok, I’m gonna go to college and maybe I’ll get a job. Well ok, I can’t get a job. I’m selling drugs again. Ok, I’m gonna rap. I’m gonna be the biggest rapper. Oh, rapping ain’t working out. Oh fuck it, I’m gonna fuckin’ work behind the scenes in music.” See the evolution. It’s the evolution. It’s about going there. That’s what this album is.

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