When Cyhi The Prynce let “Elephant In The Room” onto the world, no one could have guessed the emotions running through the Atlanta emcee’s head. Was he serious, joking or somewhere in-between? It was relatively easy to take Cyhi’s rhymes word-for-word considering his label situation with Def Jam and Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music. Despite several high-profile appearances on Ye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Cruel Summer compilation, an album had yet to materialize. And, this is coming off the back of how well Cyhi’s Black Hystori Project projects were received. In fact, DX gave both projects a 4-out-of-5. While ATL focuses on its 808 heavy drug infused trap taste, the G.O.O.D. Music artist always managed to spit with a specific level of conscious whether it was “Get Money” or “Be Great.” However, the scenario of running up on Def Jam with Yeezus in the trunk of his car sounded too comical for literal interpretation. The line between actual feelings and reality is something he’s played along with for a while. This is the same guy who jokes about Hip Hop’s fascination with the Illuminati on his “The Morning” verse from Cruel Summer.
Speaking with DX, Cyhi The Prynce explains what happened to his relationship with Def Jam and G.O.O.D. Music, Atlanta’s trap movement and his future.
“Elephant In The Room” Was Slated To Be The Lead Single For Cyhi’s Debut Album Before Def Jam Reneged
DX: Outside of releasing both Black History Project projects, you’ve been sort-of silent over the past couple of years. That was until you dropped “Elephant In The Room” this year. How did that track fit into your plan of attack in 2015?
Cyhi The Prynce: Nothing was really premeditated. I was actually working on an album. And, a lot of people don’t know but, “Elephant In The Room” was suppose to come out as the first single promoting my album. But, Def Jam told me I could do an album and then reneged in the middle of my process. I just felt like I didn’t want to pull what I had spent two or three months doing; being stagnant. I still came out with the record I wanted to come out with and “Elephant In The Room” was the one. I didn’t think it would be that big but, I guess it is. I have three projects I’m going to release. I was trying to get some samples cleared for this one project but, I’m just going to put it out and just do it. It’s cool.
DX: You were signed to G.O.O.D. Music and Def Jam for a while. What was going through your head while you were in limbo fighting to get your album out? Especially with the fairly positive reception of Black History Project and Black History Project: N.A.A.C.P.
Cyhi The Prynce: It’s crazy but, it’s the journey. I mean it’s about learning. A lot of people don’t know that I was offered over 25 deals from Aftermath and Cash Money to T.I. and Jeezy. You name it. By me being from Atlanta and it being so prevalent with trap artists and the movement, labels expected me to deliver a track that fit into this Atlanta thing but, that’s not what they signed me for. You signed me for the word of God. You signed me for these bars. I didn’t know what else to do. I feel like once it cut through, it’s going to rain forever. So, I’m just staying the course.
DX: I thought “Elephant In The Room” was pretty comical and playful. But in the industry, things get twisted. Was that anything you were expecting?
Cyhi The Prynce: It was artistic. That’s why I didn’t understand why people took it the way they did. Then I thought about it like yo Cyhi, this is how real the song sounds. If you listen to the sound effects, it’s almost like different characters in the music. Almost as if you were listening to a different song. If you were a Hip Hop head, you were listening to an Eminem style shit. If you listen to music as a casual person, you never heard a murder scene put together like that. It’s like what’s going on. Then we’re coming out of the Drake and Meek Mill thing so I understood.
Cyhi Explains Work With Kanye West’s
DX: However, the reality is that you never released an album. I remember hearing Ye doing an interview with The Breakfast Club where he mentioned slacking on his G.O.O.D. Music roster. Did you feel as if you were being let down by Kanye or was this more of a Def Jam issue?
Cyhi The Prynce: I’ll tell it to you like this. It’s politics to music. It wasn’t more so Kanye, it was more so Def Jam. The thing is, Def Jam knows I’m a valuable part to Kanye’s creativity in terms of sessions. It’s like, we want Kanye to give us an album. We’re really not trippin’ on your album. They were like, why do you want a Cyhi album when we’ve given you all the money and whatever they’ve done for him. They wanted a Kanye album. And, I energized Kanye West’s albums. I’d go in there and started rapping and freestyling, then Ye would get excited and be like let’s go to Hawaii for a month and finish the album. The fact that I wasn’t doing that and he was doing clothes and I’m trying to work on my shit, the label was looking at it like nah, we’re not going to do Cyhi’s shit. That’s where the whole backlash and conflict of interest comes in. Kanye was ready to do my album but Def Jam wanted a Kanye album. It was at the point to where I was thinking why don’t they just try to make another Kanye? Let Kanye ready to get his album out, he’ll get his album out. That’s where it was with me mentally and strategically.
DX: It seems like Ye is having issues musically especially coming off of Yeezus. You look at the situation going on with Swish where there’s no clear release date. Do you think that further contributed to you being pushed back?
Cyhi The Prynce: I really don’t know. I really don’t give a shit anymore since I’m off the label. I’m free to do what I want. I don’t have to worry about the shit anymore.
DX: Good to know your relationship with Kanye survived the label drama.
Cyhi The Prynce: That’s my guy. It’s so funny because when I dropped the record, so many people were scared. And it’s sad that the man that did “Jesus Walks,” everybody is scared of. Kanye West is the musically talented and artistic guy I know. I don’t know what it is. People think we have a rift but, we talk all the time. I was with him twice after the song came out. It’s funny.
DX: I know Kanye has to have a good sense of humor anyway.
Cyhi The Prynce: You look at it, people don’t like to give me the credit I deserve. People be like, “The reason why the record was dope is because he talked about Kanye.” That’s part of it but the other part is that I was rapping in a way that you haven’t heard since Eminem. I know I’ve compared it to that and he’s influenced my career but, the concept came from finding some outlandish shit to do to get my album out. Like man, we should go and just blow the building up. I just took the concept and just ran with.
DX: You mentioned how Def Jam had a vision of what they saw in an Atlanta artist and how you didn’t fit that mold. How difficult is it being an artist from Atlanta who doesn’t do trap or anywhere near that particular lane?
Cyhi The Prynce: It’s like this man. People don’t like to say it but, we sell a lot of paraphernalia out here in Georgia. A lot of these guys are risking their lives to come out with budgets to put out their song that a label sitting there. Labels say get yourself popping. Then you have to ask yourself, what does that entail? They think it was so easy for Jeezy to pop the way he did. Jeezy had to go through shoot outs and almost getting killed to put his music out. The label don’t give a shit. If you’re going to sign me before I’ve already done that to get myself popping, why would you tell me to go back and do that. I feel like they’re playing on our culture. They’re being culture vultures at this point. You make us do all this other stuff to get our own check and put money into our own music, then you just come in and say I got it. I’ve already spent half a million already. Let’s keep it focus. It’s incriminating myself. I come out the hood, then you tell me to go back to the hood, run up a stack and then promote myself. It’s so stupid to me.
DX: Do you think that’s the “whatever sells” nature the music business has found itself at?
Cyhi The Prynce: You got artist like Kendrick or J Cole who are great. You look at R&B artist, R&B artists don’t have buzz in the streets. The label likes them, signs them, puts them out and let the people decide. If they sell good, put out another album. If not, do whatever they want. With rappers, they want you to make yourself hot. That’s why most rappers don’t know how to rap and they can be hot in Atlanta because all they need is the money. Everybody in Atlanta has the money. That’s the difference between another state like Pittsburgh or someone from Texas. In Atlanta, everybody got a check. It is what it is.
DX: Is it because of competition?
Cyhi The Prynce: Like I said, I look at Kendrick, J Cole or even Drake as the hottest rappers in the game right now. None of them are from the trap. I don’t understand. But labels always asking for trap shit.
“You Don’t Have To Do Any Work When It Comes To Trap Artists”
DX: Is it about playing the ignorance of consumers or even artists themselves?
Cyhi The Prynce: It’s because if there’s no buzz, labels aren’t going to take a chance. They feel like because I don’t have a street buzz in Atlanta, they weren’t going to take that chance on me.
DX: Crazy considering the alternative movement that’s been building in Atlanta for quite some time.
Cyhi The Prynce: You don’t have to do any work when it comes to trap artists. They done sold all the dope to pay the radio, pay the DJs, promotional teams and the videos. When you just coming up without that, it’s real work. When you have money, you don’t have to do anything.
DX: Then there’s the probability of ending up dead or in jail.
Cyhi The Prynce: Exactly, the jail is full of good rappers in Atlanta. The ones you hear are the ones who make it. They didn’t get locked up for a dope charge or anything. People don’t know but, Young Thug is really Young Thug. Talk about him in a dress all you want but, you’re not going to play with him. What you going to say to him? Talk something to him in his face and see what’s going to happen. Jeezy was really Jeezy. Gucci Mane is really Gucci Mane. These guys are upstanding citizens but they’re not choir boys. These are hustlers who got it from the mud. There are a lot of guys in jail, dead or doing other things just trying to get into the music industry. The ones who make it are the blessed ones.
DX: Do you see a powershift away from that eventually? As much as people hate it, people are still buying into it.
Cyhi The Prynce: I think they’re buying it but, I don’t think they’re buying into it. We have dope artists that we know are the premier artists of the music industry. There are artists who win BET Awards and stuff but are we up for American Music Awards or Grammys? The only ones from Atlanta winning awards at The Grammys are people like me, The Dream and Janelle Mone. Who else from Atlanta? OutKast was a legendary group in Atlanta, the South, The United States and the world. Even T.I. and Jeezy are legendary on a high level. These guys aren’t at The Grammys or the American Music Awards. I look at it like that. Is it really what they say it is and we’re buying off the rest?
DX: The balance of the art and the hustle seems to be skewed to one side then?
Cyhi The Prynce: The word trap is where you get your money. I don’t see J Cole doing music for money. I don’t see Kendrick, Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T., Action Bronson and the others whose sole purpose isn’t about making money. It’s on a different level. There are people who just want to make money. That’s why you have new artists like Raury and Earth Gang whose is making music organically. They’re dope artist who should be major artist but they don’t have the check or cache or check to put up behind that shit. They can’t be in the strip club every night throwing around $10,000 or $15,000 to pay strippers and DJs.