“When I was a kid, my mama gave me a dollar and told me to go buy whatever I wanted. So I went and bought candy. When I got back to the car, I was askin’ my mama, like, ‘How is this paper worth anything if it’s made out of what my school paper is made out of?’ You can take that situation and apply it to the music I make. It has to have more than one meaning to me. I write a lot of stories with a lot of narration in between characters. I don’t just rap; I actually make dialogue.
Going from my mixtape days to getting signed to Roc Nation is like a fairytale. But it was also relentless, nonstop grind. I wrote my first rhyme in ’95. I always say, when you’re doing the right things, the universe will take care of you. It just so happened that me having the skill level I have… I just wound up in the right place at the right time. I met Lawrence “Law” Parker [now A&R at Roc Nation] in 2003, when the only ones who were poppin’ in the city were me, Soulja Slim, BG, Young A, Shawt Fella and the Act Right Records crew. Once the storm hit, I grinded out and ended up having a connect at Def Jam and then Mannie Fresh signed me. Ironically, before Jay Electronica was who he was, he and Law were friends. I never knew that 10 years ago. Jay wound up getting signed by JAY-Z [to his Roc Nation label] and he pulled Law up with him. And then Law brought me.
My next project is produced by 9th Wonder and the Soul Council. I’m naming the album 96th Wonder. It’s a mix of 9th Wonder’s name and [the fact that] my favorite number is six. And, I’m born on December 6. The 96 ties into the whole team of Soul Council, too. I’m kind of branding [the album] off the ’96 [Chicago] Bulls. The team with [Dennis] Rodman, [Michael] Jordan, [Scottie] Pippen, Luc Longley. That’s the whole thesis behind it, ya dig?
9th just lets me do what I do. That’s dope to me, because he’s one of those guys who says ‘Don’t let nobody tell you what to do; whatever you feel comfortable with, that should be you.’ He’s one of the easiest producers I’ve ever worked with. He’ll make the beat and be, like, ‘Come up with whatever you come up with. If it’s dope, it’s dope.’ There are no features on the album so far. I don’t put people on my albums often. I like to give people 100 percent me.
When it comes to releasing music, I think dates are overrated. Like, how dope would it be if Jordan came back today with no announcement?”