This is a work of creative non-fiction. All of the events in this memoir are true to the best of the author’s memory. Some names and identifying features have been changed to protect the identity of certain parties. The author in no way represents any company, corporation, or brand, mentioned herein. The views expressed in this memoir are solely those of the author.
This is a story that some might say is about someone you might know, who’s someone I used to know, but really it’s a story about me, Archibald Bonkers. Some names have been changed to protect the guilty and some of the innocent, and a few things might be a little abstract, but I think you’ll be able to follow along. I first met him in New York, in the lobby of a somewhat decent hotel across from The Garden. Extremely polite and well mannered, he said that they weren’t ready just yet and started laughing as he tried to explain to me that one of his friends unexpectedly joined the group. After waiting for a few minutes, the four of us hopped in a cab and headed to the studio to meet the others.
At the time I was working for somebody, let’s call him Young Helmsley, and we also had a producer in the crew. The three of us were pretty tight and had known each other for years. Helmsley worked with a label, but I was strictly his employee, and on his payroll. He can be a tough boss, but he means well and he made me a better person. It’s always difficult to describe all of my job duties and the complexities in issues that I would face on a regular basis, but when people would ask what I do, the easiest way to explain things is to say that I basically did everything you saw Jonah Hill do in Get Him To The Greek, except for putting drugs up my ass. I tucked those under my nuts.
I’m three years older than both of them, but I’ve always looked young, so everybody just assumed we’re all the same age. I originally met Young Helmsley at a house party he was spinning at, and he and the producer were already best friends. The two of us got close almost immediately. Both dj’s, and we practiced and talked shop. He was the better scratcher, but I was the better mixer and song selector. He was also a lot more active and I ended up carrying his crates for lots and lots of house parties. Almost every weekend. We did way too much to talk about it here, but we dj’d together, and then he started throwing shows. I helped promote and run the stage on the first one, and eventually helped book them completely, along with him. The two of us worked with a friend of ours who had a promotion company that worked out of a venue on Sunset and we put on shows all around Hollywood, with everybody. We were two small white boys throwing some of the best shows in the city, and also at every show. We were basically inseparable, but after having a successful run for a little bit, we had a harsh falling out and didn’t talk for a couple years. It was actually the producer that helped us reconcile, and Helmsley’s need to get weed for a Beanie Sigel session. He was now an a&r, and I was selling on the side, while at a regular 9 to 5 and dj’ing clubs somewhat regularly. We talked through any lingering issues, put them behind us, and he’d call me whenever he needed kush for any artist in town. These were the days when it was really hard to find that, so people loved seeing me show up.
Back in NY, a friend of Helmsley’s had moved out of their Manhattan apartment before the lease was up, so Young Helmsley was able to make that his first NY home. 27th & 6th, high 20-something floor, 24 hour doorman. It was niiiice. He took the bedroom, the producer slept on the couch, and I slept on the floor in front of the couch. The floor was incredibly uncomfortable, but it’s New York. I didn’t fully understand the whole allure of the city until I woke up almost 30 floors above everybody else and saw that view. It’s glorious. This is May ’05, so I just turned 26.
Along with the apartment, we also had a real estate friend who gave us studio space in one of his buildings in Tribeca. There was something going on where the space couldn’t be rented until a certain date, so we could use it for free until then. All I can say is that we had some really good friends. The producer brought his equipment out there, set up shop and was happy as hell. Once we arrived in the cab, we all say hi, talk for a couple minutes, but get right to work. The first song he rapped on was a beat that we grabbed from Ye’s beat cd. Second song, Fear No Evil. Holy shit. I was flipping on the inside, seeing this in person. That studio high is a rush. Day two he makes Keep It Pimpin’ and Give It To ‘Em. Yeah, this guy’s good.
But the last day is what sealed it for me.
Come Around My Way.
We had been talking about Ill Al Skratch while eating dinner at Edward’s, just talking about music, and we’re all singing “Where My Homiez?” Then, I hear him recording Come Around My Way and I start laughing. I had never seen somebody take something from a conversation and put it into a song right away. And as I’m listening to him record the second verse, I’m getting goose bumps. I could feel something special. I’ve only gotten chills like that in the studio a few times, and only during his sessions. Come Around My Way, Neverending Cycle, National Anthem, a couple others. I didn’t think he could top what he just did, and then he makes Get Sent Up. I’m sitting there flabbergasted. Every song is better than the one before it, and better in different ways. Everything that everybody is seeing now, I saw in May of 2005.
The next I saw him was in L.A. for some more studio sessions. Our producer had a studio in his basement that he recorded out of. The trip was going fine, but Helmsley could tell that he was nervous about something while we’re at lunch. It was then that person you know told us that some people had shot at him before his flight, the details of which are in the song, On The Creep. He was fine going home and dealing with it, but another route would be better. He didn’t ask for any help, but I offered him my couch right away and told him that he’s welcome to stay with me until things get good. I live alone. I also coincidentally had allowed another one of my friends to crash on my couch for almost a year, about a year or so prior, when he was having issues in his life and trying to find employment. So while it’s not the ideal set-up for my place, I was aware that it was possible. I also didn’t think it would be that long. Maybe six to eight weeks. I was sold, sold.
Lloyd Banks was my favorite rapper at the time, but he was my second. Helmsley and I actually got into a fake argument about it because he asked me who my favorite rapper is, I said Banks, and he was shocked. I tried giving him my reasoning, breaking down their merits, and he shot back that if that person you know isn’t my favorite rapper, why are we doing this? “I might as well send him home if he’s not your favorite,” is what he said to me. So that person you know was my favorite rapper from that evening in ‘05 until mid August ‘14.
Because I worked directly with Helmsley, I was only making 20k/year to start and still selling a little on the side to make ends meet. But it’s chill. I only had top notch product and clients who could afford it. Not that many, but enough to get by and they’re all ok with doing things at night. People in professional sports leagues, some rappers, actors, execs, those types of clients. No dubs. When he rapped about O’s that went for 800 in Smoke Away The Pain, he was talking about me. The price was actually 600, but the guy tipped me 200 just because he was a millionaire and I drove out to the Marina to deliver. He knew about it because he was living with me when it happened. For anybody who was on MySpace, if you remember that picture with the big bag of kush in the bathroom, that was my bag, and my bathroom. He was pretty ok with sleeping on my couch, when my ample supply of kush is right there, after all the mid he had seen his whole life. He and I got pretty close during this time, at least I thought we did. I remember one night when he was having really bad nightmares. I could hear him yelling in his sleep, and I came out to see him crying and shaking. This is new to me. I’ve never seen anybody like this. I didn’t know what to do, but he woke up startled the second I touched his shoulder. Still crying, he starts telling me about how he was dreaming about the time he was kidnapped and tied up in a dope house. This is the first time I’ve ever held another man while they cried, and it wasn’t the last time he cried in my arms. There’s a lot of demons roaming in his head and most everybody who’s been close to him has seen the evidence.
He’s at my place while I go off during the day, but our producer would come by to grab him every so often, and some of my other friends would come by and take him to lunch. I even asked girls I was seeing to come by and take him out. I made sure he was good. A lot of the time he would be on my computer going through instrumentals I downloaded off Napster. And a lot of them he later rapped on. I was also selling to a R&B artist at the time and after I introduced them, he ended up smashing his first “celebrity” on my couch. He talks about her in Sumthin’ U Should Know. This guy also brought a crack rock with him on his flight and sold it to one of the workers at the 7-11 right by my place. Every time I walked in there after that, the worker would always be scratching his neck and asking me where my friend at.
He ended up living with me for around six months. He’s not working, or bringing in any money, so I covered all of his meals. I didn’t even think to get reimbursed or anything for it, I just did it as a friend. That was probably my biggest fault in all of this. I was naïve with most everything. Helmsley asked me to work with him because he trusted me and he wanted to teach me to be able to run the business for him, but I never had thoughts of specifically what I wanted to do when I got older. Things just ended up happening. I was in a rap crew in high school, but I couldn’t rap, and somebody else in the crew was a lot better at scratching than me. I had just started at the time, but he was experienced. Even though I didn’t have talent, and wasn’t necessarily needed for the music, I was still a part of everything. I helped book shows and sold tickets, and got their cd’s made. I’ve been Archie since 9th grade, but my nickname amongst this crew was “Bivins,” from Michael Bivins, since I handled the business for them. I never wanted to be an industry exec, I never had dreams of being an a&r, I never thought about being a manager. I just love music and love working on it. And I happen to be really good at putting together rap albums.
Our producer friend was taking care of all of the music tasks rather well, but then out of nowhere, things with him went bad. Real bad. Everything in almost all of his relationships went sour, for a number of different reasons. We were greatly concerned about his mental health and so me and that person you know met with our friend’s parents. Just me, him, and the two parents. We told them that we think our friend needs help and why. It was one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had, but that’s how close we were at the time. Things didn’t go as planned and we ended up having to cut all ties with the producer. He and I didn’t speak for a number of years, but we’re good now. People go through what they go through, but holding grudges forever doesn’t help anything. Even if you don’t admit it, it’s hurting you as well. I’ve had my own issues with mental health, and know that it doesn’t make you who you are. I’m glad we’re both better, and that we’re able to look back on things, learn from it and not dwell.
However, with our producer not around anymore, I took over all of the music duties and became his person in the studio. Every session from beginning to end, I’m there giving direction. I had never done this, but he still listened to me because he didn’t know that. He doesn’t like to punch lyrics, so verses always need to be delivered in full. He had maybe been rapping a year, and only had one other person really help him in the studio. I didn’t know any of the technical aspects of song structure outside of a 16 bar verse, but I have good ears. If I don’t think something sounds right, or if I didn’t think he pronounced a word the best, I’d speak up and ask him to do the verse over. Sometimes he’d push back a little, but he’d always do it. He could hear how the verses sounded better when he re-recorded them. He’s not oblivious to it. He may have complained, but then he also saw it working. We used to get into some fun arguments in the studio as I’d find different ways to ask him to re-do his verse. He’d tell me that other rappers from GI would probably shoot me if I worked with them, and he’s probably right. I can be pretty firm in the studio, but it’s warranted. Songs are forever. We talked about his writing process and the melodies he hears. Most artists start from the beginning and go line by line, but he would think of the ending, and then work his way there. As he put it, he liked to know where the story would go, and then figure out the how. He would also seek out the melody in the music. Get that rhythm going in his head, the general pattern of his flow, and fill in words to the sounds. Mumbling noises to himself and finding the words that fit. It was interesting and refreshing, hearing him break down his process.
This was also when I started naming his songs. He never cared about that kind of thing and I’ve always loved those little things in music. Misspelled titles and deeper meanings. I don’t recall the first record I named, I just remember that we had finished the rough mix, but there wasn’t a title for the bounce. The engineer asked me what to call it, and I just looked at him and said, “How about …?” That person you know didn’t object and that’s that. He was whatever about it. I got in the habit of naming songs after the rough mix after that, and if he had any issues with a title, he’d speak up. And as we’re recording more and more, he’s getting better and better with every session. I’ve worked with a few artists and never seen the continual and constant growth like that. It’s a talent that every label couldn’t comprehend because it’s so foreign to 99% of the artists they’ve known.
Needless to say, I got into his music a whole lot at this time. He even got me wearing my hat in a different direction. I used to wear it to the right just because, but he and all his homies go to the left, and after awhile it just happened. I’ve been listening to gangsta rap since 1988 and he’s everything I ever wanted to hear in an artist. I couldn’t believe that I was lucky enough to be working on it. I pretty much listened to his music all the time. I also started to see a girl that I was pretty serious about. Originally from Mexico, but she was in L.A. on a student visa, and it was instant for both of us. Straight out a romance movie. Met at Club Privilege, which is funny in itself because I used to complain about that place to Helmsley. Meeting the love of my life at that club sums up why I appreciate him though. Sometimes he had me going places I didn’t really want to go, but him pushing to go there ended up being a great thing. It’s one of the things that helped me begin to realize that I could use to open up more and relax. His ways can be his own, but they can be effective.
We get in the club and see the homies with a table. Helmsley starts talking to one of them, and right away I notice this girl is just beautiful. By chance, we’re standing next to each other with drinks in hand and we’re talking. I can see Helmsley‘s conversation is getting a little heated, but we’re with fam, so I’m not worried. The person he’s arguing with is somebody we’re close with. Me and her start dancing together a little bit and I’m not the dancing type, so this is way outside the norm already. I just never really have been, but I’m all with it with her. Maybe one song goes by, and we’re kissing in the club. Everybody at the table turns around quick and looks at us. The argument kept getting more and more heated, but when they saw me and her kissing, that all stopped. Everybody was shocked at how quickly things unfolded between the two of us. She and I started laughing and they let us get back to us. Of course I got her number, I called, and things just got better and better. I never had any issues getting girls when I was younger, my problem was that I was more about the hunt and would lose interest rather quickly afterwards. She was the first woman I met where I wanted to see her more and more every time I saw her. I was enamored with everything about her physically, mentally and spiritually. I was at peace whenever I was with her. She had an apartment by the beach and I spent a lot of nights there. Close to where I needed to go, and close to her school. We’d wake up together, shower, and get ready. I’d drop her off at school and head off to do my thing. It wasn’t love at first sight, but the second I saw a painting she made in her apartment, I fell in love right there. It was something with a grey city landscape, and birds, but it had heart, soul and an innocence to it that stuck with me. Seeing her art hooked me.
Work is also going better. I’m making more money, I stopped selling on the side and changed my number to get rid of any random calls. Just turned 27 and I’m thinking that things in my life are finally moving forward and beginning to materialize. I did nothing but talk about my girl and that person you know all day long. There’s no other way to say it, that’s exactly what I did. To this day, if I bump into anybody that hasn’t seen me for a number of years, their first question is always, “How’s your Mexican girlfriend?”
We recorded primarily in LA, but also had some NY trips. Got to record at Malik Sealy’s studio and work directly with The Megatron Don, which was a dream come true for me. For that person you know, this was the session that would forever change how he records music. Up until this point, he always doubled his vocals because of Pac. Doubling is when you have two main vocal tracks stacked on top of each other for your verses. The Megatron Don heard him record and immediately told him that he should stop doubling. He said to only do one main vocal and a couple ad-lib tracks. That his voice is too good to hide it by doubling it. It’s one of his strongest qualities. He needs to let it breathe, to allow people to hear it. He stopped doubling his vocals in March ‘06 and hasn’t done it since.
That person you know and I got close when he was living with me, but we got even closer when I’m the one in the studio with him at all times, giving him feedback on songs, ok’ing verses and adjusting mixes. He has his own place now, but we’re usually in the studio for 12 hours at a time, and there’s a lot of sessions. We’d bounce ideas, talk about the album/mixtape, plans for the future and generally bitch about the people in the industry and different issues. I was not passive either. I believe in allowing artists to work, but I speak up when appropriate, and people are listening to me. Every producer we work with likes the music we’re making, and things just keep getting better.
Everybody around him believed in that person you know, but it was very clear that I was way more emotionally invested. This is my first real go-around, being this close to an artist, but I was around veterans that had done it for years. There were a couple conversations where I was warned about getting too close. That they’re artists, they’re replaceable, and you should always remember that. Lose one, you can find another. Don’t let things get personal. One time I told somebody after a convo, “I hear you, but y’all should’ve said something before he lived with me for six months.” I never liked that aspect of the industry. I don’t agree with it. I think you can do good business and not jerk people around. A lot of the reason why I worked with Young Helmsley is that he does the industry navigation so well. That guy can work a room like few I’ve ever seen and manifest brilliance out of thin air. He’s great at it. Things got harsh at times, but I always remembered that, and it would help me in those situations. He can handle all that stuff, and I can just focus on the work.
I put some plays in place and get things ready to shoot a video over Thanksgiving in his hometown, so that he can spend some time with his family for the holidays. This is my first time to GI. There’s no hotels, and he planned to just stay with his fam, so I told him that I’d join him there. He had slept on my couch for so many months, I said that I might as well sleep on his. We both stayed at his Mom’s house. He slept in his room, and I slept on the couch in the garage. I met his Mom, his Dad, his sister and his brother then.
He picked me up from the airport with the homie and the first thing he did was give me a gun as a joke. I started laughing, but whatever. Riding around Broadway, seeing streets and buildings in person that I had only heard about in his songs. With my cell, blackberry and his gun, all just chilling on my lap. We shot the video, went to some parties, nothing too crazy. A lot of people were surprised to see me out there, but it was all love everywhere.
GI’s an experience, but it helped me understand a lot about him. He always told me about how the air and atmosphere is different there, but you don’t really get it unless you see it for yourself. Everything with his music hit even harder for me after that. All of the complexities and textures got filled in. I always wanted to do everything I could to help him succeed, but I wanted to do it even more after seeing that place for myself.
Helmsley was close with Spyda and he liked working with that person you know from our previous session, so he agreed to help put the tape together, similar to what he had done for some Whoo Kid tapes. He provided a couple beats and we planned to sequence it at his studio in NY. I came up with the idea of having the cover solely focus on the person you know, with a back cover of chaos and anarchy. Nobody knew him, so I wanted him to be real clear and clean on the front, then get all crazy with the tracklisting. I chose the photos to use and Spyda sent it off to his designer with my direction.
The songs for the tape were mostly older recordings, but you can tell the newer songs from the absence of the double vocals. The Girls Love It, Drugs and Respect My G were all instrumentals he got off my Napster hard drive. Doin’ Dumb Shit was my idea. There’s only so many ways to do music, so I’ve always looked to do things just slightly different. Anybody can rap on a Cube beat. That’s easy. But I heard that loop at the beginning of Doin’ Dumb Shit, presented the idea of making it a beat, and we did it. Then, one day I’m listening to a Three 6 album, just smoking and chilling. And while very relaxed, I realize I’m hearing a beat without anybody rapping on it. I was a Three 6 fan before this, but more so certain songs, and not full albums, so this is the first time I’m listening to this album front to back. As soon as I saw that it was a full instrumental, I told that person you know that it’s all him, and that became I’m Back. I’m pretty sure Straight Ballin’ was his idea, but don’t recall for sure. The rest of the beats were from his guy back home, and beat tapes.
His homies recorded some drops and sent them to me, but there was no actual concept for the tape. Nothing beyond the title. From wherever ideas come from, I thought of using news reports and hit the web. Whatever I found, I downloaded, and cut out the pieces we needed. I put all of the songs and skits in order, and Spyda brought the gun noises. This mixtape didn’t really do anything when it came out, but it’s still dope. Hard Times and I’m Back. Played those a few thousand times. We made hard copies, uploaded it to DatPiff, and had a release party for it in GI around his birthday. That party was fun. That person you know had to stop a drug dealer from pulling a gun on one of his managers, I almost tried to fight a security guard for asking me to take off my hat, and we got bottle service in a bar that had never done bottle service before.
I’m 28 now. I had been with my girl over a year and it’s my longest relationship. My vision’s on the future, professionally and personally. I think I’m working with the people I’m going to work with for the rest of my career, and that I’m with the woman that I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. I was wrong on all counts.
Young Helmsley starts talking to me about leaving the label he’s with, but I always told him not to. He had his reasons, but I didn’t fully agree. In this industry you usually work your ass off on that first job for no pay, then you earn your real salary. I was in the working my ass off for no pay stage, and was expecting a real job and real salary whenever we made our next move. He signed a three year deal in ‘04, so it was either going to be renewed, or he’d go somewhere else. My choice was to renew because I knew I would be taken care of. I’m not making that much and I need more. Helmsley did end up deciding to leave, and after a little convincing, I went along with him. He promised me that wherever we go next, I’d have a job for sure 100%, and that’s all I needed to hear. I’m loyal.
But he didn’t fully follow through on what he promised me. He gets his contract all set, but he’s still working on mine, and while that’s going on, he continued paying me out of his own pocket. It was during this time that the person you know was released from his contract. Helmsley got the call first, because they hoped that he would want to take him to his new label, but that didn’t happen. It was purely a financial decision. A lot of money was spent, with a lot left to go, and they didn’t see it as a wise investment. I never knew the full extent of what was spent at the time because we left before they closed the books, but they sent a statement to us years later and it showed over $400k owed. They thought that Helmsley would want to hold on to the artist he found, and that’s why they called him.
The only problem was that Helmsley didn’t believe in him as his flagship artist. I can’t speak on his reasoning completely, but I’ll just say that the artist you see today is far from how he was then.
Helmsley gave him the news. His manager was also on the call, but I wasn’t. I didn’t know too much of what was going on because I was kept in the dark. I always assumed the plan was to bring him with us if he was dropped. I didn’t see why not, we weren’t going to find a better rapper.
He called me after he hung up with them in a very down mood, but it’s difficult for me to say much because I have no real authority in the matter. He wouldn’t stop going on about how it had all been a waste, all of the music recorded was for nothing. I told him that I have his hard drive and we should still put the album out. That even if Helmsley isn’t doing anything, I’ll still help him. I wasn’t just going to leave him. I didn’t care if I was still working with whoever, I didn’t want to just let the music go. These are his songs, but I worked on them too and I’m very proud of the work. I put thousands of hours into it. I even co-produced Talkin’ Bout You and did the scratches on It’s All Cognac. I wanted to release the music no matter what, but he wasn’t trying to hear anything and didn’t really want to talk. His mood got worse and worse and he eventually hung up. I felt horrible, but didn’t know what I could do.
AFTER THAT FIRST DEAL
I’m helping Helmsley get set up at his new office, but I’m still in limbo. He’s paying me, but I want a job. I want security. I want to do more with my girl. I’m really only able to live and operate because of my credit cards. It’s also a little frustrating because I was offered a job that I turned down to stay with him and what we’re doing. We had big plans, and were looking at multiple ventures outside of music. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that he’s insanely good at putting things together and socializing. I never wanted to do that, so having him able to handle it was incredibly valuable to me. It was probably the wrong decision, but it allowed me to stay in my comfort zone. Don’t do what I did. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.
I ended up bumping into that person you know shortly after, at a Knux show. I pushed to get him working with them, and while he and the group didn’t remain close for too long, he did meet their engineer, The Goon, and his life was forever changed. He’s been hanging out with them a lot since being dropped and I’m excited to see him. It had been maybe a couple weeks since we talked, but not too long. I went over to say hi, but he wouldn’t shake my hand. He just looked down at it hanging, and kept walking. Goon was right there with the homie and they apologized. They said that he’s really mad at Helmsley, and while he knows I didn’t do anything, I work for him, and he’s taking his anger out on me. I tried to say hi to him again, and again he ignored me. “You’re not going to shake my hand?” I asked. Nothing. I walked away and that was the last time I talked to him for almost two years.
I eventually got a consulting job where Helmsley was, but I didn’t do much. I had a great time there as a consultant, they’re a wonderful company, and that’s all I’ll say.
I wondered about that person you know a lot during this time. Helmsley never talked about him, but I didn’t know why. I was dumbfounded and powerless, but sarcastic as hell. When he would ask me about other artists, I’d say they’re good, but that person you know is better. It got to the point where he told me to stop comparing other artists to him. We were looking into signing multiple acts, but for some reason that person you know wasn’t good enough. Ultimately, this ended up being one of the main things that led me to cease wanting to work with Helmsley.
I’ve had some anger issues since youth. There were many times I would be upset at something and just punch a wall. Hurt my hand for no real reason. My mind also travels a lot when I shower. It always has. I started to do this thing where I would punch the tiles on my wall as I showered. 10, 20, 30 times. Not too hard, but not soft. Punching harder and harder. While I’m showering. It was during one of these times I’m hitting my tiles where my mind started to drift towards that person you know, and wondering what he might be up to. Helmsley would always tell me, “Don’t worry, his manager got him. He’s good.” But I never knew for sure, and I wasn’t talking to him. A friend of mine had helped him out with some clothes, money and food, but that was a little bit ago. And as I thought about this more and more, I started hitting the wall harder and harder. Then I started to think about what he’s doing to make money. He’s probably selling something or robbing people. I thought that he could be in jail. I hit the tile harder and harder. My mind kept racing and I thought he might be dead. I hit the tile so hard it cracked, and my hand was bloody. I really didn’t like Helmsley right then for making me have those kinds of thoughts. I still didn’t know why we hadn’t brought that person you know with us.
Completely outside of my consulting agreement, I was asked to join The Pink Panther’s management team with Helmsley. We were very familiar with them and it was an easy yes. They had already spent a lot of the recording budget when we came on board and the first thing we did was clean that up. They were doing 24 hour sessions while also paying rent, but I said that we need to get him a house and put a studio there. His other manager had set up something called, The Hamiltonization Process, but we brought The Minnesota Viking in. We had originally met him in ’07 and always wanted to do something. Pairing him with The Pink Panther was perfect.
Just like with that person you know, I was the guy in the studio as much as possible for all of these sessions. Start to finish. I maintained all files and kept Helmsley abreast of what was going on. I stayed on that artist about recording songs, and made sure he kept focus as he would often find distractions. I travelled with him for out of town sessions, and even stayed at his place sometimes. On the trip for the Brooklyn Girls video, I slept on the couch in his studio. We filmed the video the day after the election. We were walking around Harlem and it was a great mood all around. The newspaper covers all had Obama’s face on them, and everybody was smiling. Things were good. Btw, the conversation I had with Lacey to get her to agree to appear in the video for nothing but us providing car service should be studied for generations to come. It was one of the most brilliant negotiations of my life. I was in rare form. Homies were jumping in the background and laughing, listening to me lay game, not thinking it was real. I turned golden, like Leroy in The Last Dragon. I didn’t even believe the things I was saying.
For the tapes, that artist put all of the music together, and I handled the artwork. The Minnesota Viking introduced me to Toxic, and he made all the covers. He’s in Ireland, so the time difference was crazy, but we talked via email and g chat. The Pink Panther would give me an idea for the art, I’d execute. I did sequence the greatest hits mixtape though. Helmsley actually got a little upset at me for that because I didn’t run it by him first, I just did it. I also came up with the idea of making The Hamiltonization Process plaques, and designed them. Toxic did the actual work, but I told him how to format it. I emailed all of the bloggers to get their mailing address, and that’s how I got closer to them, so that I could later get on them about supporting that person you know. All of the contacts I made while working with that other artist are the people that ended up helping that person you know. It’s crazy how that worked.
I’m still with my girl, and we’re great, but she’s now back in Mexico since her student visa expired. She studied to be a hairstylist and I wouldn’t let her cut my hair until she graduated. My dumb graduation gift to her. The best haircuts of my life too. Creative, beautiful, and smart, but in Mexico. I’m maxing out my credit cards to visit her. All of them. My first trip was barely a day and a half, but we were feenin’ to see each other. I flew out of LAX Friday night, landed there Saturday am. We spent the rest of the day together and I slept on her friends couch while she slept at home. Her family was not incredibly strict, but they had rules and are Catholic. She came back as soon as she could in the morning, we spent a few more hours together, and I flew back to L.A. Sunday night. A single weekend round trip to Mexico, but it was worth it. We had something special and I wanted to keep that as long as I could. A lot of shared traits and viewpoints. It was hilarious and scary, how similar and perfect we were together.
Things with The Pink Panther are progressing nicely. We got his recording budget somewhat in order, and some of the newer songs are sounding really good. Helmsley had Skateboard completely wanting to sign him, and I was pushing that like crazy. Even though homie had always looked up to him and wanted to work with P more than anybody else, he was reluctant to move forward. He didn’t like P asking him to get a haircut and dress better. No more button ups under the polo. He was really childish in his issues. He’s a talented musician, but I wouldn’t say he has the strongest thought processes.
I don’t remember exactly how that person you know and I started talking again, but we did. I was in Miami with that artist, at one of the Skateboard sessions, and we talked on the phone for 30 minutes or so, after I went into a side room. He was telling me about how he got arrested with the homie after Obama got elected. Some racist cops messing with him, upset at the election. It was like nothing had changed. Popping shit like usual. We always had some very interesting conversations and I really loved being able to reconnect.
We continue to talk, but my work is pretty much all Pink Panther. I’m working in the studio on the music, while Helmsley and the others on the team are working to get him a rather large publishing deal. People thought he was going to be the next huge artist. He was all over everywhere and the suits in power are eating it up. I personally was going to make a good amount from this deal. Helmsley had felt bad that things hadn’t blown up like we had hoped. He had good signings at the first label, but it didn’t bring us riches. We signed Crank Dat, but left right after and didn’t get our money for it. Helmsley had his reasons for not pursuing things at the time, and I respected his decision, but we were both frustrated that it happened. For anything negative anybody may have ever said about him, he does care about his friends and he felt bad that I hadn’t been able to move my girl to L.A., or move into a new apartment, or get a new car. Because of those feelings, and as a way to make things up to me, he told me that he’d give me 25% of whatever he makes from the publishing deal. No matter the amount. I’m looking at a nice check and was very appreciative of him recognizing my frustrations.
That person you know has released a couple loosies on Smoking Section and is gearing things up to spark a return. He’s currently being managed by our old intern, the person who originally found his music and forwarded it to us. I first met that other guy at Helmsley’s house, if I remember correctly. He was the best friend of my best friend’s younger brother and was introduced to me as somebody who was going to come intern with us. We clicked immediately. Some years apart, but we grew up three blocks from another. Both played b-ball at the local parks, both deep into hip-hop, both redhead white boys. We thought we maybe had played against each other at some point, but couldn’t remember for sure. He was mostly a scout as our intern, as he was always good at finding music early. That person you know was one of twenty or so artists he sent us, but sending the music is all he did. He didn’t influence any decisions, and he didn’t do any studio work. They didn’t even meet until things were well in motion, sometime in ’06. I did all of the assistant work and coordination, so there wasn’t much left to do. The main thing he did do was give me breaks away from Helmsley, so that I could somewhat have a life and see my girl.
I was Helmsley’s assistant 24/7, and with him for most everything. He also liked to go out. A lot. I was his designated driver. The first couple years of us working somewhat professionally, every Friday and Saturday night was a given. I couldn’t make plans for myself because I’d be going somewhere with him. He always took Sundays off to rest, so those nights were safe, but then sometimes we’d also go out Thursday nights as well. Or there might be a week here and there where we’d go out Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Throw in the occasional Monday and Tuesday night excursion too. Going out is great. It’s a lot of fun, but I also had to be in an office the next day. And we’d usually be out until 3, 4am, maybe more. So yeah, I had some pretty ridiculous hours at times. But Helmsley was always aware of these things. He always said that it was temporary. That our intern would be doing this stuff for me soon, but it’s going to help me be more equipped in the industry and I’ll learn a lot. It was strenuous and demanding at times, but he was right. I had absolutely no social life for myself because any plans I made could be cancelled by him, but fuck it. I made a lot of priceless connections and had a lot of great experiences the have helped me throughout my life.
But I never made a lot of money as his assistant. My bills would get paid, but it’s tight every month. He always paid for my meals, and anything I needed while I was with him, so that helped a lot, but it also handicaps you over time. What’s looked at first as a benefit, quickly becomes a hindrance because you realize the freedom you don’t have. Helmsley and I can have a complicated relationship at times, mostly due to the fact that I’ve known him since he was 16 and we’re both a little nutty. We’ve both grown and matured a lot over the years, but at this time I was having some internal issues and no way to resolve them. It’s weird when you work for your best friend because you can’t complain to your best friend about your boss. I tried to grin and bear it, but sometimes I just didn’t feel like going. Those were the times he’d call our intern and he’d take him. And I looked at our intern as a saint because of this. I looked at him as my savior. He helped me have some breaks. He helped me see the woman I love. And I loved him for it. It’s crazy to me how highly I thought of him, next to how negatively he thought of me, when I never did anything adverse to him. I always thought he was my friend.
He’s managing him, Goon’s around, and they’ve been recording a lot at California Pudd’s studio. Pudd is another one of our interns, and somebody I hired specifically because I thought he would help that person you know. And as I expected, he came in very handy. He helped him out with little things here and there in L.A. and was quite essential in those days. I still remember that first session back with that person you know, after not being at any of them in a couple years. He walked out of the booth after doing a few takes, smiling at me, talking about how I don’t need to tell him to do his verses over anymore. How he hears it himself now. I started laughing because I wasn’t really sure how to act in that first session, and I got a kick out of the fact that me being hard on him in those early years worked. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person, who’s not a producer, that’s ever asked him to do a verse over. Goon also had a roommate Speakerbomb, who coincidentally I had known since he was in high school. He grew up a few houses down from Helmsley and we dj’d high school parties at his house. Small world.
It’s May, 2009. I’m 30. Life is moving. There’s a publishing deal for The Pink Panther on the horizon and I’m talking with that person you know again. My work relationship with Helmsley is a little strained, but it’s still good. I’m more so maturing and becoming wiser to things around me. Becoming more capable to run things as he wanted. I love my girl with all my heart, and we’re seriously talking about marriage. The second I get that pub money, I’m buying her a ring. No hesitation. My family is aware and are supportive. Her family’s amazing too. They don’t know about potential marriage plans, but they really like me. Her parents, her sisters, extended family. Everything is lining up.
BYE BYE PLANS
The week after my birthday, Helmsley is bought out of his contract and my consulting agreement is terminated. Victims of the downsizing economy. I’m still being paid as an employee of Helmsley’s while I was a consultant, but with his contract being bought out, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Turning 30 has you looking at things a little different, but deep breaths. The publishing deal should be closing soon, and things will be ok.
Then this guy goes and gets himself punched by his girlfriend. And when the cameraman told him that they wouldn’t release the tape out of respect, he pushes them to release it. He thought that people would look at him positively because he didn’t hit her back, since Breezy had just beat up RiRi. To make it even worse, she was only with him because he ditched the car service I ordered for him at LAX.
The publishing deal that was right around the corner, gone. That nice chunk of change I might be looking at, poof. That. Fucking. Hurt. All because he pushed to release the video instead of just letting it go. He did a bunch of other disrespectful shit to me that I haven’t talked about, but him purposely sabotaging his career and taking away the check that I was going to use to marry my girl, move her to L.A. and start a family, is why I’m forever on team fuck him.
Less than a month into my thirtieth year and my life is in turmoil. No job and the country is in a recession. My girl’s not the happiest about everything falling apart either. We went from marriage right around the corner to complete uncertainty. And I’m way past beyond up to my eye balls in credit card debt. Five or six cards all maxed out. My combined minimum payment every month is over $1k, almost the same as my rent.
I immediately started looking for a job. Resume out to as many places as possible. Assistant, receptionist, whatever. I needed money to pay bills, it didn’t need to be fancy. I talked to that person you know about being his manager and coming aboard officially. I asked him if he had any lingering issues with anything in the past, and said that we should talk about whatever to clear the air. He said it’s all good, there’s nothing to talk about, he’s with it, but he also had another manager at the time, besides that other guy. His other manager had an independent label that he tried to get him to sign to, but it was a horrible offer. He damn near signed it when he was really down and broke though. His other manager was helping out with stuff here and there, but he didn’t have a real plan of what to do.
Miseducation dropped, but I ain’t know. Nobody told me. I thought I had some of those songs to work with when putting together midwest, but that was not so. This happened right around the time I started helping again. I really wanted Neverending Cycle and Another Day (In My Hood), but oh well, things still worked out. I hit The Teflon Don at Smoking Section about it and he just said, “It was sent to me. I don’t know anything beyond that. If there’s any disagreements in your camp, please discuss amongst yourselves and leave me out of it. I’ll be here whenever you have more music.” He never wants to get into any kind of static. I love that guy. He helped open a lot of doors and is always reliable, to this day.
I called his other manager and tried to discuss strategy to get on the same page, but he flipped the convo on me. In my eyes, this conversation was me introducing myself, talking some shop and getting more comfortable since we’ll be working together, but in his eyes, it was more about him telling me to go away. “I know you have ideas and you want to help, but we got this. Just go ahead. Sit back, watch, and be a fan.” I was shocked when those words hit my eardrums.
In my head I’m thinking, “Motherfucker, what?? Do you know who I am and what I’ve done?” But I brushed it aside. I told him there may have been some miscommunication and hung up.
That person you know laughed his ass off when I told him. Then he called him and told him that his services weren’t needed. All love, but it wasn’t going to work. He came to one of our shows in Oakland years later and we shared some nice words together.
I’m also checking in with Helmsley, seeing what he’s doing. He always has something up his sleeve, so anything’s possible. I head out to see him to talk about the future, but the conversation didn’t go as I had hoped. That person you know had also been telling me more about what he had been going through while we were at that last place, and that really soured my feelings towards Helmsley. I didn’t know that he didn’t give him his new cell when he changed it shortly after starting there, and things of that nature were really getting to me. I was upset at things he had done to me, but more so about things he had done to others.
Helmsley and I were incredibly close at the time. We talked about everything, not just business. Life in general, family, all that. He has heart. He challenged me to mature. He didn’t want a yes man. He wanted somebody that added value and would help keep him sharp. We went on multiple vacations together, had many drunk nights hanging out, and the year before, my Christmas bonus was him paying for a week of my hotel in Mexico, so that I could spend New Year’s with my girl. We might fight at times, but I love him and cutting him out of my life wasn’t a small thing.
Then my girl and I broke up. It wasn’t like she needed me to be rich, she just needed somebody there, but I had no money for anything. I borrowed from a friend one month, probably borrowed money from my family another month, but I had no clue when we could actually do something. I had a Mexican domestic flight voucher, so I drove down to TJ and flew direct out of there to see her on a free flight. It was a last ditch effort to save things, but it wasn’t enough. The uncertainty is what hurt her the most. All she wanted was me next to her. I seriously contemplated moving to Mexico, but I thought I could get things going and get right back to her. I thought it would all work out in the end, but it hurt like no other in the meantime. I could hear the pain in her voice when I talked to her. And hearing that, hurt me even more. I let her go, but I never once thought it would be forever. I had the utmost confidence that things would get going. We broke up because we couldn’t see each other, but we still very much loved each other.
I’m falling apart emotionally, but working on his music is keeping me together. I can at least focus on that and look towards the promised land. I’m trying to find a job, but nothing is shaking. There were a couple jobs I almost got, but both times they went with the other candidate after the second interview because they didn’t have anything else going on. One of the companies flat out told me that was the reason. I couldn’t keep my work with that person you know a complete secret and companies wanted somebody doing nothing, with no other commitments. Everybody got laid off, so employers could be extremely picky with so many people applying. After having no real success finding anything, and things with that person you know are moving forward, I say fuck it. In my head, the three of us are going to change the world, and fuck anybody who don’t agree. There’s no way we’re going to fail. That ain’t happening. This working, I’m getting my girl back and that’s going to be that.
I signed up for unemployment and was able to get that for two years, but it wasn’t a lot. Around $153 a week. My mom is also aware of what’s going on. Her way of helping is giving me her credit card to use for gas. As she put it, she didn’t want me to ever say that I didn’t have the ability to get to a meeting, or anything work related. My mom also never wanted her children to think they weren’t supported in their dreams. It’s July of 2009, and I’m thinking we’ll be signed before the end of the year.
I told that person you know and that other guy that I’m just going to manage him and be on call 24/7. I’d “look for work” as far as my unemployment was concerned, but you can expect me to be available whenever you need anything. And there were a lot of needs then. I asked that other guy to keep an ear out if he hears anybody hiring, since he was working at an independent label, and out and about, but he never passed any leads on. In those 5+ years we managed him together, he didn’t help me on anything he said he would. I was with that person you know almost daily for a number of months after this. He had an old school that always broke down and was unreliable, so I was his transportation everywhere. And with my mom’s credit card for gas, I’m good to take him wherever. He did eventually get a new, reliable car a year or so later, but I was his primary transportation until then. I calculated that I needed $2k to cover my basic monthly bills, so I had the goal in mind of needing to bring in $20k profit every month to make that happen. And every month I didn’t make him 20k, I felt like shit. Every single month. We never really hit that goal until 2014, and I’m putting myself through hell until then.
I also decided to file for bankruptcy and stopped paying my cards. The main reason I was looking for a job was to pay them off, but if I’m not getting a job, goodbye credit cards. I messed up my credit for seven years so that I could be there for whatever he needed. I jumped off a cliff with no chute and let my nuts hang. I thought they’d always appreciate what I did and look out for me in the future. I also felt bad about everything with Helmsley and wanted to go above and beyond.
So while I’m “looking for a job,” I’m setting things up. I reached out to an engineer that we had worked with to see if he had a place we could record at cheap. The great thing about him is that he could always give us an above average mix that almost sounded like we actually mixed the record. He was also very quick and quiet. He and that person you know got along great and recording was a breeze. He said that he could help us, but we’d have to come out to him in San Bernardino. He has a home studio that we can record and mix at, we just need to get there. Easily done.
That other guy also reached out to our publishing company about setting up a session just to have a nice studio. That person you know had originally signed with them when he was under his recording contract, and they stuck around when that deal was terminated. When you’re signed to a pub deal, they’ll occasionally book studios for you to “demo” songs. They’ll also sometimes book flights and hotel rooms. His publisher did quite a lot of “demo” sessions for us over the years. That other guy told them that we’re going to work on some radio records for them, which we did, but we also recorded Higher Learning and had those guitars laid. From the pool of records already recorded that didn’t go to Miseducation, I chose: Boxframe Cadillac, Sumthin’ U Should Know, For My…, Womb 2 The Tomb, Talkin’ Bout You, Bussdown, Just Tryin’ Ta Make It and One Mo’ Time. Just Tryin’ has always been one of my favorites. I picked that beat and we recorded it at The Boom Boom Room in Burbank. When he first rapped on it, his verse was angry and aggressive, and it didn’t match the beat. We had been making so much of what we used to call that “murder, death, kill” music, that he needed something to switch the atmosphere up. I walked into the booth with some Henn, and told him that he needs to relax. He’s been hurting so many people on these songs, but this isn’t the time for all that. As I handed him the glass, I brought in a little two-step with me to lighten up the mood. Tried to dance with him, just joking around. He pushed my hand away after taking the glass, started laughing and told me to get the fuck out the booth, but it worked. He got that flow smooth in the pocket right after. Hennessy fueled so many sessions back in the day. We’d go through at least a bottle on every lockout.
While that other guy had been speaking with our publisher since becoming his manager, I started to engage conversations with them because I had to clean up all of his prior business. He moved around a lot, so reports and the like weren’t being sent anywhere good. I went about updating his address to mine, with anybody necessary. I handled Helmsley’s invoicing and all of his paperwork, and I coordinated album budgets at labels, so paperwork and keeping track of whatever wasn’t anything to me. That other guy had no interest in doing paperwork, so he didn’t have any issues with me doing it. I updated his address to mine and my address was used for everything else in the future. We never had to worry about him saying he didn’t receive something in the mail because everything came to me.
But back to the music. Womb was recorded years prior and we always knew we wanted a feature on it, so we made a version with an open verse then. Coincidentally, Snow was the artist we first envisioned on there, but now we needed to find somebody for real. Hayes and The Dude had recorded their features years prior and Pudd and Edge are both the homies. Pill was buzzing a little bit at the time, but what really impressed me were the emails they sent out, explaining the message behind the music. I found it thoughtful. He was also all over Nahright, and they had yet to pay any attention to us. Miseducation and some loosies dropped, but no Nahright love.
The blogs took a second to go, but once it went, we golden. We made a concerted effort to attack each blog audience. With Nahright sleeping, I reached out to Pill about doing a verse swap. He get on a song for us, we get on a song for them. 2DopeBoyz wasn’t really posting our music right away, so when XV reached out about getting on one of his records, I pushed that person you know to do it, to break into the 2DBz audience. Our strategy was always to get on other people’s songs and murder them. Just absolutely annihilate whoever is on there. Make it so undeniable that their fans become your fans. Scottie Pippen is a prime example of this being executed to a T. We didn’t just do any feature presented to us, we had a plan for obtaining new fans from different audiences. We knew we had the best crack, people just had to try it.
They’re with the swap. He got the verse for his album and we got ours. Now it was only a matter of recording the rest of the songs and mixing. We had rough versions for a few of the songs, but need to re-record the vocals. Our engineer is with whatever we need. I know he didn’t do everything for free, but it basically was. Maybe $100 total for a few sessions, I’m not sure. That person you know would give him a little money here and there every so often, but never anything crazy. We didn’t have it to give.
We did two or three trips for this album. Midwest Malcolm, Murda On My Mind, County Bounce, Playa, Still Standing and Iodine Poison. Pretty sure all of those were recorded there. We were making fun of his singing vocals in County Bounce. None of us thought he could hit them high notes. That other guy didn’t come out to a lot of the San Bernardino sessions, but he did come to one or two, and he’s the one who got the new beats. Thug Psalms, I remember we did that there. A few features too. A little bit after these initial sessions, we also brought Smokey out there and he got into it with the engineer’s dogs. He had just gotten Smokey from Pudd, after his dog had given birth. Like I said, Pudd was extremely essential.
I named every song on this album except for How I Feel, I’m The Man and Iodine Poison. I also named Thug Psalms and brought in that instrumental. That song would’ve just been “DJ Booth Freestyle,” if I hadn’t stepped in. All of the writing styles, the different ways of spelling in the titles, having “Inhale” and “Exhale,” all of that was me. Midwest Malcolm was just going to be “Intro” at first. I would tell him my reasoning as to why I wanted to name songs a certain way and he would just nod and hit his blunt. Good enough for me. After I heard the “Malcolm of the Mid line,” I told him that we should title it Midwest Malcolm to give more depth to the song and our music overall. I’ve been a fan of Malcolm and his teachings since 5th or 6th grade. I remember asking my mom as a kid, “Who’s this guy with the glasses that I see painted in murals in all of these music videos?” She must have been so confused by me, but she responded that it’s probably Malcolm X. Once I knew who it was, I read the autobiography, and when the movie came out, I walked to the theater by myself and watched it alone. I always liked how he grew as a person in his thoughts and practices, and hated how his life was cut short before he could fully be himself. The genre on all of our mp3s in the early days being “Gangsta” was also me. I uploaded all of our mp3s and handled all of the mixing, mastering and distribution, so everything public facing was me. And I was thinking about branding a dynasty from day less than one.
With the music done, I moved to get The Viking on board. I had told him about that person you know before, so it wasn’t difficult to convince him, but things weren’t set just yet. We didn’t need any help with the music, but we needed help with the visuals and promotion. I told him that we could do with him what we had wanted to do with The Pink Panther, but couldn’t. This was the chance to grow an artist from scratch and really guide things. We didn’t have anything going right now. Smoking Section was supporting, along with a couple other blogs, but there’s a long way to go.
One of my friends had an entertainment company he wanted to get off the ground, and a photographer friend. He asked if he could pay for his photographer to take photos, and later I got him to pay for getting 1,000 cds made by putting his company’s logo on the artwork. We shot the photos where that person you know was staying at the time, over by Broadway and 51st. We also drove down the train tracks for exterior shots, just about the city. He was selling herb at the time, but not a lot. No job, he was barely getting by. The place was a dump that he was sharing with another person. A lot of the time he would get help from women he was sleeping with.
We got tons of photos that day. I selected around 20 to get touched up, but we had no idea what to do for the actual artwork. I reach out to Toxic and he’s down. I thought he had been getting paid for the other covers, but no, he had just done them. So when I started asking him about our covers, he did the same. I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say that I love him. I’ve never met him, no clue what he looks like. He made over twenty pieces of art for me and never asked for a dollar. He did once ask me for tickets to a Game concert in Ireland, and I hooked that up for him VIP. I never wanted to inquire about it because I never wanted to ruin a good thing, but I always tried to make things as easy on him as possible since we weren’t paying. I gradually learned how to use Photoshop more and more so that I could handle touch-ups without bothering him. He started sending me the psd file instead of just the finalized image, and would give me tips here and there. Toxic is a true saint, no other way to say it.
His first drafts for the midwest cover weren’t the best, but that’s what happens when you don’t give an artist any real direction. I did just send him 10 photos and say, “Make me a cover,” so it really was my fault. I was still incredibly rough around the edges in my art direction career. After talking with The Viking and crew, I told Toxic that he needed to regroup and come back with something epic. He was throwing mixtape covers our way, but we’re thinking more album art, and want something that will stand out. That person you know wanted to have all original beats on this project. The only one that isn’t is Smoke Away The Pain, and that’s why it’s an unlisted bonus track. There was another freestyle I wanted to put on there, but he vetoed it because it wasn’t an original beat. We needed the artwork to reflect that same theme. Toxic came with it and the next email I got from him is the cover you’ve seen. With the front cover set, I selected the photo for the back cover and sent him the tracklisting and other info.
Every piece of artwork from 2007-2014, excluding anything for The Bad Kid, the Playa 12” and Live From GI Part 2, went through me. That other guy didn’t look at copy, he didn’t approve anything, he didn’t do any touch-ups, nothing. I asked for his help on artwork at times, help getting single leak artwork made, but nothing. I even asked if he could make something original since he’s always making art on his own, but he never wanted to, and I never pushed him after he said no. I also selected every photo that was used for anything. Press, artwork, posters. That person you know set up a couple photo shoots himself, and I set up all of the others. Everything on the art has my fingerprints all over it. The first piece of art that that other guy had anything to do with was the Thuggin’ 12” with the misspelling. He never confirmed the design with the artist and the artist assumed that was the correct spelling. Simple mistake, but that’s how we got the misprint.
We dropped midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik with Smoking Section and things are moving. Teflon Don put his foot in the blog promotion and really went out of his way to get others to post. When I sent The Viking the midwest tape, he wanted to change the order to make it mix better, but I vetoed that. I sequenced that album quite perfectly. It’s one long story with each song going into the next. He was fine with my order, he just wanted to ask, and I always liked working with him because of things like that. He’ll voice his opinion, but if you don’t go with it, he won’t hold it against you. He also trusted my judgment from working with me previously.
Pill flew out to L.A., we shot the Womb 2 The Tomb video, and recorded some more. That was at Pudd’s studio and the first time we all met. Everybody hit it off, between us, Pill and his manager. It was interesting how the gangsta rappers both had white managers. I first proposed the idea of them doing a tape when we met. I had a title for it, Return Of The Gangsta, and talked about rapping on the Return Of The G instrumental, but they never wanted to do it. We were all with it, but Pill had other plans on how he wanted to do his projects, and once he was signed, it had no chance of happening. I tried though.
But I did get to do what would become, The Labels Tryin’ Ta Kill Me. I knew we needed new music and more releases, but I also knew that it would be a minute before we could deliver. We had tons of music we were sitting on from the label days, but we didn’t want to go about doing a full album of it because it wasn’t strong enough after how good midwest is. I also didn’t like the idea of putting a few songs out here and there on the next couple releases. I personally wanted to fully shut that door, get rid of all the music and start anew. We’re thinking that we’ll get signed and record new material. I also didn’t appreciate some of the comments I saw on the music saying that he wasn’t lyrical. I remembered seeing “Best of Jadakiss” cds in NY with tons of songs, so I thought to create a “Best of” album with mostly select verses, but also some of the unreleased full songs that I really liked, that hadn’t seen the light of day. You get a hint as to which records I really like by looking at the tracklisting and seeing which ones are front and center.
Things Can Only Get Better was a continuation of what I did on Live From GI with the news clips. I forget where I got the singing intro from, but that could have been him or a random YouTube search. I always searched for things and downloaded anything I thought might be useful. I took a Three 6 beat off one of their beat cd’s that I had gotten Just Tryin’ Ta Make It from, and laced it under the news clips. All the drops, that’s just how the beat is. I laid the news clips on top and added the radio dial clicks.
The Public Enemy freestyle was all my idea. Some writers were hounding on his usage of that word, while overlooking all of the messages and actual content. His language was always very violent and grotesque, but it was with a conscience. There are emotions and vast layers. It wasn’t ignorant jargon spewed to exploit criminal circumstances. I’m fine with people not liking music and expressing their opinion, but I didn’t like the tone in their writing. He noticed it too and we talked about it. Writers that have no clue, but can use eloquent words, so they write about gangsta rap to feel special. I was randomly listening to Public Enemy and heard a beat loop for awhile with nothing behind it. I listened to PE a lot as a kid. I was even removed from a class photo for wearing a PE shirt, but I hadn’t listened to this album in a minute and forgot that this instrumental was just sitting there. Realizing it’s a Public Enemy beat that Chuck D himself hadn’t rapped on, I jumped at telling him about it. He laughed at the idea and recorded the freestyle.
Empire Strikes Back was one of my favorite freestyles of his since he recorded it. That was one of the first songs he recorded when he first came out to L.A., way back when. I did have to edit the diss in that song out of there, but no need to say who he’s talking about. It is somewhat funny because they’re cool now, but he dissed him there to try to impress somebody and nobody ever caught it.
Never Forget Me is one of my favorite verses from him and it should’ve been on Bone’s album. We always joked that somebody took him off the song because he murdered all of them on it. When we met Krayzie years later, he said that he never knew about it, and had never heard his verse on that song before. Bone didn’t take him off, but we did that verse and submitted it for their album. Not that it really matters.
Murdergame was a song that he made during the early years. He recorded to a few different ALC beats and this was one of them. Al is a producer we always wanted him to work with, we knew that match would be perfect. Helmsley was close with him and his brother and that was one of the first things he did.
4 Da Streets is another one of my favorites. It was on Miseducation, and the beat is just slightly different from Game’s version. We worked with Buck a couple times in NY and had a great relationship with him. I cherish having the privilege of working with him. I’m a huge D.I.T.C. fan and spent lots of time in high school listening to many records he produced. The first time we worked with him was at his place in Brooklyn, where he had a home studio set up in the back. He loved that person you know right away, and that happened a lot with producers. He’s a great artist to work with. He’s got a very strong voice, and he’s talented. Buck said that he had the best voice he had heard since B.I.G. He also told me that he appreciated how I was in the studio. He said that most managers/a&r’s annoy him, but he liked how I operated. I didn’t intrude and wasn’t overbearing. The Wrong One is another of his songs, and I didn’t want that to go unheard, so I put it on here. He told us that the stories in the song are true. We had a second session with Buck and I’m pretty sure that’s when we got the beat for his version of Like Father, Like Son. He was telling us studio stories and started talking about how The Doctor took some sounds out, but he really liked them and never understood why he did that. He played us the beat and it sounded marvelous, so we asked him for it and he said sure. That record has always been one of my favorites partially because we got to use the beat how Buck wanted to hear it.
Pearly Gates is another of my favorites. Goon made that beat. Hayes is on it too, but I didn’t use his verse. He and that guy you know made those two songs together, but they didn’t really get along. Hayes did the songs because I asked him to and he really liked me, and he allowed it because we asked him to. Nothing really happened to cause friction, their personalities just didn’t mesh well.
It was fun putting that Imperial verse out. Balogun helped put it together. Pretty sure he was still at that one label at the time, and I had originally met him when I was there. He was also doing postings on Blacksmith, and would put our songs up there. Kno might have given us a few hundred for the feature, but he also wanted us to rap on his beats and they were going to shoot a video, help promote our name. I was familiar with them, fans of the music, and knew they had a fan base that went to shows and supported. They also talked about possibly bringing him on tour with them, and paying him for it. Great! Get on their song and annihilate them. Make their fans your fans. His verse on Imperial was pent up frustration. He never understood why people thought that other artist was better than him and always felt like they left him for dead to go work on somebody less than him. He absolutely loved being able to put that verse out. Helmsley emailed me about it afterwards trying to talk, but I never responded. I was fully gone and not his friend at the time. With everything we all went through with him, and now my girl isn’t even with me, I didn’t want to talk to him ever again.
I had a rough plan of what I wanted to do, and familiarity with the songs, but no real order. I’m always listening to his music though. I had a disc changer tucked, with the single disc in the dash, and the single disc was always a mix I made of his. Changing things up with different combos and sequencing. Listening for ways to improve, and how songs sound together. As far as knowing the music inside and out, I knew the most out of anybody in the world. I made a list of the songs and verses I wanted to use and it was 82. I didn’t like that number of songs, but I liked 81 for Kobe, so I took one off and that was the song list. It still took more than a few listens to get the final order, but I put together the skeleton and started listening.
For me, sequencing is easy. I just listen for where the song wants to be, and then I hear how it flows into the next song. If something feels off, I switch things around. Look for themes that connect for cohesion. It’s all somewhat my own feng shui and songs just need to fit where they fit. A lot of it is from doing dj mixes, and my strong suit as a dj were my mixes. I could blend songs from different genres really well and find that sweet spot that makes it work. It’s just an internal feeling that I guess I was born with. I’ve always been good at it.
A lot of people started reaching out after midwest came out, and rightfully so. People weren’t putting out free albums like that. Not with that quality, and not with all original beats. We weren’t the very first to do it, but it wasn’t the norm and our success with it helped blow that door wide open. SFJ from that NY mag is one of those people that reached out. He and that other guy’s sister would talk, as she’s a writer too, but that’s the extent of his involvement. I did everything else. SFJ emailed me and asked for some music, and I sent some tapes his way, with a little background on each. Then he asked for the whole story, and I sent him one of the longest emails I’ve ever written. I told him all about his life and his struggles with his previous label. I broke down what would have been the album song by song, I talked about being dropped and him coming back to LA. I told SFJ about what we’re currently planning with The Viking, and where we’re trying to go. We talked over a number of days and the more we talked, the larger our part in the article. First it was on a handful of new rappers, then it was only a few, and then it was Jay-Z, Raekwon and him. And by the way, we’d like to set up a photo shoot for the interview. The photographer reached out to me and asked for help in finding a location and a lowrider. He had a vision of using the car, but didn’t have one, or know where to shoot. I might have gotten the car contact from The Viking, but I found a good company to rent from, and they weren’t too expensive. We shot it over at Pudd’s house off of Fig, and it was a lovely day. SFJ passed along our music to one of his lawyer friends, and that’s how we got out first attorney. He emailed us after hearing the music and said that he wanted to help. The photographer was even nice enough to send me the original print. When it arrived, I told myself that I was going to frame it and put it up as soon as I moved into a new place, but the print is still in the poster tube it was sent to me in.
That other guy was emailed about the CMJ show in NY, and he went out there with him to dj. It did not go well and that was the last show that other guy dj’d. SOB’s kicked him off stage for smoking weed, of all things. We’ve done more than a few shows there since, and always made sure to smoke a little bit extra every time. That other guy threw a fit when it happened. He threw something in the dressing room, or kicked some equipment. I don’t remember for sure, I wasn’t there. But we did get our first agent from the event.
My thought process with shows was to go after the college market. Smaller venues and clubs are going to happen naturally, but we wanted somebody also tapped into that thinking. We saw what Wiz, Wale and Sean were doing and knew we could do the same. I believe our agents had Wale and Sean at the time, so we knew they would be in sync with us on strategy.
That other guy also hooked up the L.A. Weekly story, if I remember correctly. I spoke with the writer directly to coordinate the interview because I handled his day-to-day schedule, but I’m pretty sure he’s the one that connected us. That was another thing that just kept getting better and better. The writer showed up for what we thought was just a regular interview. The conversation went well, and he asked to have a follow-up. Then, when his editor read the story, he said that they should shoot some photos. And when we shoot the photos, we hear that this is possibly for the cover. It got better and better with every conversation. I thought this was how everything was going to be from now on. I thought we were set.
Goon first did the edits for Labels and put the album transitions together at another studio, but I didn’t like it when I got home. A lot of the transitions need to be exact, they were just slightly off on a lot of songs, and the perfectionist in me couldn’t let that rest. Sequencing, and how songs transition into one another, that’s a big one. I re-made that whole album on my computer, with Audacity. I did all of the fades and bounced the .wav files. I did most everything on this project by myself. I created the concept, picked beats, got it recorded. I edited it, got the photo shoot set up, got the artwork made, got the video shot and helped come up with the video treatment. The photo shoot was with the same photographer from before, again at his place. I think that person you know gave the photographer $60. The girl was a stripper that worked at my friend’s club. She might have gotten $60 too, but she also slept with him, and was very happy with that. On the low, that person you know helped get a lot of things done that way. He and I used to joke that he’s rap’s version of Guns ‘N Roses. When G’nR were coming up, they used to live with girls they were sleeping with, and the girls would take care of them. When he got arrested and needed bail money, he’d call one of the girls he’s sleeping with. We did whatever we needed to make things happen.
The way things were going; that other guy and I handled the music, The Viking would oversee videos and publicity, and we would all work together on marketing initiatives to get him signed to a major. We were all clicked up and had company emails. I have all of my emails from the whole time, except for these, although I think I might have downloaded them all before getting rid of the address. I’d have to do more digging than I care to do right now to find out. The Viking said that he was going to get us on the Freshmen cover and we said, yes please. We also signed up with a company for publicity, via our lawyer. We didn’t give them anything on retainer, but they would help where they could, and once we got a budget, we would look out. That other guy and I were really his first PR agency. We were sending out tons of emails all of the time, from day one, that were basically mini press kits with links to articles and music. The company sold us on being able to get us on the cover, but that other guy had also emailed one of the writers there, after being referred by a colleague. They told him that they’re definitely interested in doing an interview and are thinking about something for Show & Prove. Then we got the fucking cover. That company told us that XXL let them know that The Viking had already put them onto us, they love the music, and he’s on the cover. That’s how we found out. Then they followed up a little later about the shoot dates. That was all through The Viking.
This will really turn into a saga story with multiple volumes if I go through everything in thorough detail, so I’ll mostly touch upon large points and projects, but there’s miles of assorted excursions that went into the next five years. The first major thing is that his publishing deal lapsed, and we wanted to get that renewed to get some money. Buzz is going crazy on the blogs. Magazines, performances, things are moving, b. His deal had a clause that it would expire if he was off a major label for two years, so we were technically free agents. He still owed a lot from his signing bonus, and the studios sessions they’ve booked, but he could’ve signed elsewhere if we wanted. We just didn’t have time for all that, we needed money. All of us. Our lawyer worked out the renewal and they offered $50k to keep their share of his publishing. We said hell yes, but I also requested that they put $10k to the side as a discretionary budget that we could use for videos (which our lawyer upped to $12,500). Even if the director doesn’t charge, you need some budget to properly do videos. Lenses, props, locations. It can be free, but a little money helps a lot, and if you’re smart with the costs, you can make that money stretch. The pub company agreed with my thinking, said no problem, and we used that fund five months later to pay for The Ghetto video.
A quick word on our videos. Except for videos for The Bad Kid music, I got 85% of our videos made, and that person you know did the rest. That other guy didn’t work on any of them, in any way. I’d ask for help on occasion, whether it’s getting models, locations, or props, but I never got any from him. I had friends reach out and ask if they could shoot videos for free, random directors emailed me and they shot videos, but that other guy never contributed anything. There was one Beat Konducta video I did nothing on, but I worked on all of the others in some capacity. Me doing most of the work was just how it was, but I never complained. I loved that other guy, I didn’t care. He saved me when I was Helmsley’s assistant and he kept things going while I wasn’t in the picture, long enough for me to link back up. Maybe I’m doing most of the work now, but things will even out in the future. I didn’t dwell on such things, I just wanted to get stuff done.
We got the publishing check right before the holidays, December 2009, and just in time. While we’re happy a big check came in, I also told him that it might be the last one for a little bit, so make it last. It’s very easy to blow money quick when you get a large sum at once, and we didn’t have anybody who could just give us more. It was six months before he got his next big check, but we’re on the way, and it’s all on us.
I visited that one label to see if the job that they had offered me was still available, even though I knew it was a long shot. This was after the L.A. Weekly cover came out and everybody in the building was happy for us. The people there still liked me, and they all liked him. The A&R there showed me his new Bentley that he had just gotten on a great deal. “I bought it with your Crank Dat money,” is what he joked to me, but it wasn’t a joke. Whatever money we would have made from that, went to him when we left. I thought maybe he’d take pity on me and hook me up with a job, but I was wrong. Life doesn’t work like that. He felt for me and wanted to help, but they’re laying off people left and right themselves. It’s not a good time to be asking. I never had hard feelings about it because I knew I messed up by not taking their offer in the first place, but it still hurt like hell. I broke down when I got home later. That Bentley line still kills me. It’s one thing to fail because of your actions, but I was upset that I allowed somebody else to make a decision that took a lot of money, and my girl, away from me. Working on his music at that time saved me because I had nothing else.
The NY trip for that magazine cover was early ‘10 and I planned on maximizing it. I don’t remember if they covered our flights, but they definitely did not cover our hotel. Our publisher did that. Our contract was just renewed, they wanted to help, and they knew the importance of the cover. We had the same rep from our label days, so she had seen the high-highs, the low-lows, and now the rebirth and rise. That person you know, Big Kill and myself went to NY for the week, staying in a very, very small room with two barely-double beds. Those two had the beds, and I got a rollaway cot in between. Don’t ask me how, but they mastered the art of constant snoring, so I had non-stop, surround sound snoring every night. I’d put earphones on, turn up Portishead to drown them out, and go to sleep eventually. Somehow.
This whole trip is amazing. EVERYBODY loves us. Every interview, every media person. Wardrobe, makeup, interns, assistants, they all adore him. The whole staff, everywhere we go. At the cover shoot, we realize we’re the only ones in the building with absolutely no label support and we just smile at each other. We’re feeling like bandits, like how did we actually get here? He was arrested and in handcuffs a little more than a year before and we’re now at the cover shoot. The same cover that that other artist did. I had an artist on that cover two years in a row. Not many who’s not a label employee can say that.
Having all of the artists in one room was dope. It was interesting seeing the different clicks and entourages. Cole came an hour late because of a flight issue, but everybody else was there on time and excited about the day. I knew a few of the different camps, but everybody would be in their own little circle. That’s when we clicked up with Rock. Hanging out, talking music, industry shit, and laughing at YouTube videos. Everybody wasn’t going to fit on the main cover, so we’d try guessing how it’s gonna break down. We knew it would be either us or Pill, and when we found out about Pill being signed, we knew he’d get the main cover. Really though, we were just happy to be there. No label. We made it solely on talent.
I set up most everything on this trip. That other guy set up the magazine visit where we filmed ’93 Til, but all of the radio appearances were me, and the ThisIsFreddie video was me, via my G-Unit homie. Someone else that was helping us get label meetings called me when we were en route to that shoot, to let me know that Sylvia Rhone wants to meet with us, but she’s only free for the next two hours. I told them that we have a video shoot set up with ThisIs50 already, but they still wanted me to cancel that, and make the meeting. Nothing against Ms. Rhone, but if you cancel anything that a friend went out of their way to do for you, especially for a label meeting, you’re a sucker. Labels only care about you when you’re hot, but your friends will support you regardless. If a label exec doesn’t understand that, it’s their loss. I told them that I’m not cancelling anything, and we never worked with that person again.
I knew a couple good people at Shade45 and Sirius, and they welcomed us with open arms. We had been friends for years and they jumped at the chance to help. They reached out to the dj’s there and booked all of the shows on that trip. Green Lantern, Angela Yee, Kay Slay. We were there a lot. I would check in every few days, but they did all the work. I also reached out to every NY blog writer. We hit every magazine. We had three to four meetings of some kind every day. I had already met her when I worked with that other artist, but he met Civil on this trip. She’s actually the one who guessed right on why everybody was in town and released the names first. We met Boyd on this trip. I think we also met YN and Dot on this trip. I knew YN from my work with that other artist as well, and set that up. The Viking’s team reached out and got some inquiries as well. If we’re flying out to NY for a week, we’re hitting everything. Fuck a bar, fuck a party, forget girls, or anything like that. We have things to do. I worked him hard on this first trip, but I also wanted to get him ready for what was ahead. He was going to have to do this, and a whole lot more, if he wanted to be successful. I saw what it takes when I used to work with DY, years prior. I learned so much from him, that I then taught that person you know. How to be with fans was number one. DY would never leave anywhere without signing every autograph. It’s one of the reasons his fans love him so much. He would be late to a radio interview because he was mobbed by fans and signing autographs. If people would ask why he’s late, he’d tell them, but he’s not leaving until all of his fans are taken care of. It’s admirable as all hell to see that quality in an artist. I was with that person you know so much that we had to talk about something, and I wanted to keep it productive because I want to reach our goal right, right now. I know he’s determined, and he wants to make it, but I’m motivated like a motherfucker.
I’m just going to say it plainly. At this time, every label had no clue what they were doing, and none of them saw his true potential. They work in a bubble that continually repeats work routines. They react to trends instead of cultivating and growing something because the best a lot of them can do is pay attention to the internet and apps. They’re stuck to always thinking about what can bring in money asap and look good to presidents, board members and investors in this quarter or next. New signings are always great to them because it’s a shiny new toy, but they also want another label to covet you. There are tons of great people that work at all of the labels, but there’s also lots of people in power that have no business having any. All of our label meetings at this time were jokes, nothing ever got serious. They all wanted a single, not an artist. We told them we’re a 12 course meal, and we might as well have been speaking gibberish. We ended up trying to sell labels on the idea of doing a What It Be Like remix with Cube and Nipsey Hussle, after The Viking said that he could make that happen. One of the major labels almost went with it and signed us. We sent them a deal that was basically 50k for the first album, with incentives and options. 50k. That’s all. We wanted to do something smart and obtain resources. Nope. They passed. Every label passed on us. There was no major that wanted to sign us in 2010 and I was devastated. I really thought we were going to get signed on that first trip. We presented things as forging a partnership and always said that we just needed somebody to put what we’re doing on steroids. No major label did that for 10 years, but thank heavens for LRG and Empire. And that publishing deal.
Since we couldn’t have done the trip without them, we made sure to also stop by our publisher’s office and say hi. I still remember our conversation, when I was expressing frustration at the lack of enthusiasm from any label. Our rep gave me the best advice when she told me, “Labels would rather overpay for a home run slugger, then make a wise investment on a career doubles hitter, RBI master. It’s not about the production, as much as the spectacle.” I hated that she was right, but she was. I knew no label was going to sign us anytime soon at that point. All the hype, but it barely mattered. No a&r with any real pull thought we’d look good on their roster without that one song to point people to.
The trip is a success outside of the label meetings, but we still broke. He had a little money from that publishing check, so he handles food for him and Kill, and I do for self. On most of our NY trips I would get by on two slices and a bottle of water. For the day. I’ll have more water of course, but never a second meal. Maybe a candy bar. Even when not in NY, my eating was horrible. My mom would be concerned, so she would give me $50 gift cards to the market every few weeks or so, but that only does so much. The whole time I was managing him, I primarily only had one meal a day, and a lot of the time it would just be a couple salami sandwiches, or a couple pb&j sandwiches. It was cheap, and easy. Sometimes I didn’t even have bread and would just use my finger to eat peanut butter straight. If I felt like splurging, I’d go get a $6 lunch combo with a dog, fries, drink and two pickles. Or I’d get two steak tacos from a local spot for $6. Just steak, because they would put in extra, since there’s nothing else to take up the space. And they always give extra chips if you ask. I’d have a bag of cheese from the market at home, so I’d save money on that, and have extra steak. Then there were times money was even tighter and I might just have a Milky Way and a bag of pretzels to eat. It would be $2.50 and that would get me through the day. Many, many days I didn’t eat at all. Just drink water, vape kush, and don’t think about it. I went to sleep hitting my stomach often. “Socking on my chest, just to stop my fucking hunger,” used to ring through my brain every time. Every. Fucking. Time. The way I used to eat is absolutely atrocious. When I started managing him, I weighed around 157 lbs. Five years later, I’m down to as low as 118, and it wasn’t because I was trying to lose weight. It was malnutrition. I was starving myself because I couldn’t afford food. Once money started to come in more steady, he would pay for my meals whenever we ate together, and that would be my only meal of the day. People on the road joked that I only got hungry when he got hungry, and that’s why. I was always appreciative of him buying me meals and drinks, but also a little upset after awhile that I couldn’t do these things for myself. It wasn’t until mid-‘14 that I could pick up the bill when eating out with friends. And only a couple times at that. Psychologically, that’s one of the things that gradually eroded my confidence.
I set up almost all of his socials, for everything. He already had Twitter, but I’m the one to interact with fans. Retweets, follows, likes. If you got a one or two word answer to a tweet from 2009-2011-ish, it was probably me. A lot of “fa sho.” He started tweeting a lot more and interacting with fans as things started moving in his career and his moods got better, but he didn’t like much of it early on. I was always in his ear about it. Telling him about the importance of that engagement, following fans, and how it can help turn regulars into die-hards. I talked to him about empowering fans because that’s what I did on everything. Word of mouth will forever be the best means of promotion. So whenever fans would message me and ask what they could do to help, I’d tell them to tell all of their friends about us. Tell promoters in their city about us. Scream his name from the top of your lungs. I started his Facebook fan page, the Gangsta one, and did 99% of the updates until August ‘14. I started that page so long ago, it was when you could only sign up if you were an actual college student. I knew I wanted to hit the college market even then and Facebook was a great way to promote. It was so much fun when you could do whatever on there for free, before they locked everything down. What I did back in the day couldn’t happen now, since they changed everything with ads. I think that other guy did one or two updates, years down the line, but all of the updates in the early days were all me. That was me putting up his song lyrics. Any fan who messaged that account, you were talking to me. I started his YouTube channel and created all of our viral videos. That other guy used to make animated videos with a friend of his and I’d ask him to make one for any of our songs, but he never wanted to. He’d always say that his friend is difficult to work with and change the subject. I taught myself iMovie to make the Personal OG video and the video from the Pitchfork Festival. I knew we needed something, so I just did it. I had his YouTube monetized in 2013. I set up and managed his SoundCloud too.
SxSW ‘10 was a blast and one of the most exhausting rides of my life. We had eight or nine shows in three days and killed them all. I deejayed, walking everywhere with my backpack stuffed. Our agent booked most of the shows, but none of them paid, and we didn’t think we’d be able to go. After lots of digging, I ended up finding two big shows that paid us just enough to cover our travel, and we were able to make it. People usually don’t pay anything for SxSW, but I got $750 from one company and $500 from another, and Pitchfork pitched in $300. We did an outdoor performance for them at 1:30am, when it was 32 degrees out. They were giving us shots of whiskey to help us warm up. Performed after Grizzly Bear and rocked that bitch. That crowd always stuck to our music. That other guy also came out for SxSW, but only because his label flew him out and put him up. We also had a fun show with TSS and Nahright, with every rapper imaginable. Big Kill almost beat up Eskay for kicking in the door of the bathroom while we were smoking in there, but I jumped in front of him and stopped it just in time. That was a close one, and hilarious. This was my first time meeting all the bloggers, and a lot of the artists. SxSW is a great time for the camaraderie and putting faces to names. Some of my fondest memories happened in Austin. This was also the first event that our new PR company really worked. They were just coming on board when we got the cover and that first NY trip was all me and The Viking. They could have helped, but we already had it covered. So they did their thing with press and set up a bunch of interviews for us and we worked our ass off. Three shows back to back, multiple days in a row, walking blocks and blocks, that’s no joke.
Nothing bad happened, but we parted ways with The Minnesota Viking shortly after this. The overall plan changed and it was better to break off and stay friendly. The Viking is an absolute legend. He has always been there and helped me whenever I’ve needed him for anything, at damn near any given time, for a number of truly random reasons. It would have been nice if things did work out together, but everybody’s fine. When it became apparent we weren’t signing to a major anytime soon, keeping him and his whole team was too much. Plus, we thought we could handle it. And by we, I mean me, because I just ended up doing all of the things that The Viking and his WHOLE ENTIRE TEAM were expected to do. I had never thought of it like this until now, but that’s exactly what happened. He had a team of six or seven full-time staff and three or so interns, and for the next 4 ½ years, I pretty much did 85% of all of the work that would have been expected from them, and more. And I still got fucked.
Getting rejected from every label hurt. In our heads we’re the best, hands down, but nobody wanted to do anything. There isn’t any label we didn’t meet with. Even smaller ones like E1. Everybody was reaching out because everybody was talking about us. Every site. Every blogger. Our press was impeccable. Labels would see that and say, “Where’s your single?” “No, you don’t get it. He’s a complete artist. We’re not just about a single. You’re going to have immaculate art for years that will be celebrated and cherished. You will be loved for bringing this to the world and carried on shoulders.” “Great. What’s your single?” None of them understood what we were about. He would get down about the denials, but I’d always just tell him, “Let them sleep. We’ll charge them double later.” I wasn’t going to let us fail. I believed in the three of us making this work like I believed in air.
We shot The Ghetto video in GI and Chicago in late March ‘10. Barber from FSD helped produce the video with me, working with the director and scouting the Chicago locations, while that person you know handled the GI spots. This is my first time meeting Barber, but we’ve been talking over lots of emails. I originally sent him music years ago, but he never listened and I always teased him about it jokingly. He helped a lot. Videos, shows, features. He’s awesome. There’s a lot of truly shitty people in the industry, but Barber is one of the good guys. This video wouldn’t have happened without that budget I had our publisher set aside though. It cost close to $4k after everything, and we had nothing close to that available if it was just us. I had been talking to MTV about us for months, but they didn’t think Womb was a good enough presentation to put on the channel. We visited their offices when we were in NY to put in some face time, and the plan from day one was to have it premiere on Jams. I had known most of the people there for years. Multiple friends of mine even used to intern there. Every time he was on MTV for any interview, except for the Vitamin Water one, it was set up by me. I would email or text the guys directly and set it up. Or they’d reach out. Mixtape Mondays, anything like that. All me.
The video for The Ghetto came out amazing and is everything we wanted. MTV premieres it on my birthday. It just happened to be one of the days available, and of course I’m going to do that. We wanted to make something that our fans would enjoy and the East Coast would respect, and we did that. Things are going great, but still nothing from any label. Our lawyer was reaching out to everybody, but nothing. We had meetings everywhere, but no real callbacks. Nobody showed interest, but Decon did. A mutual friend connected us, after our name came up in a conversation, calling me on 3-way.
There wasn’t much to the negotiation. They offered a small sum, I asked for more. They said they didn’t have more, but that they would help with syncs and our PR company was on retainer with them, so they could technically now get paid for their work. Everything they did at SxSW was just done, with no money exchanged. We still wanted more, but it wasn’t happening. Even just a couple thousand. We knew their offer wouldn’t be enough to finance a full length, so that’s when we shifted to an EP. I reached out to our publisher to talk to them about the deal and asked if they would book us a studio to mix the main single. With them agreeing to do that, we’re set to sign. If anybody else had stepped up, we wouldn’t have done it, but we had no other options. It was either sign with them, or put it out ourselves. In our heads, we hoped we could sell 20k+ quickly, make a strong impact, and generate interest to really get signed, but we didn’t get close. If we didn’t have LRG, things could have gotten really tricky.
LRG knew us from the label days. The rep there was friendly with one of his old managers and Helmsley, so starting that relationship was easy. Initially, they just sent us clothes, but later it evolved into so much more. Getting sponsors was fundamental to everything we did. We had no money and there’s no way around certain things. We’d get show offers, but if they couldn’t cover our travel, we couldn’t do it. We don’t have tour support. I especially have no money. I solely relied on our clothing sponsorships for clothes the entire time I was his manager. I maybe bought four actual items of clothing, outside of boxers and undershirts, from 2009-2015. Shirts, sweaters, hoodies, jackets, beanies, hats, socks, shoes, belts, pants, bags, backpacks, scarves, watches, bandanas. Absolutely everything I wore was given to me by sponsors, or our own merchandise. I was fortunate enough to be his dj, always traveling with him and seen by fans, so it was an easy ask. When sending his sizes, I would also include mine with a note that it would be great if they could throw in a little for me. Then, as relationships grew, companies would send me more and more.
We had a good amount of new songs, so I came up with the idea of doing the EP/mixtape combo, and Decon requested having a couple tracks exclusive to the EP. No problem. Not much of a budget, but I made it work. I got all of the producers to agree to $500 for each track. Some wanted more, but I explained that we didn’t have it, and that everybody is getting the same amount. Me getting all of the producers to agree to the same rate allowed us to stay under budget, and even keep $2,500 for ourselves. If there were any negotiations of any kind, I handled it. Any producer deals, side artist contracts. Basically all me. That other guy covered things with Innovative Leisure and The Bad Kid when that time came, but I had everything else.
Recording this project with no money for a studio was fun, but that person you know befriended a studio manager that would hook us up with time at her place. They were unofficial/official boyfriend girlfriend for more than a few months, and there were a couple times he’d have to go see her strictly so that we could get more studio time. It’s just what it was. We put their logo on the back of the mixtape, but that’s not really how we paid for it. We recorded most of the project there, but we also recorded at lots of spots in those days. Goon had The Goon Saloon in Hollywood. Quickie Mart had a studio at his house. Quickie also did the scratches on Goon Shit, but I forgot to include his name. I hated getting anything wrong since I’m the one that’s supposed to be checking everything, and I felt bad that I forgot to include him. One of the best things going for us is that people always looked to help. Lots were fans of the music, or friends of ours, and wanted success to come our way. People were rooting for us, and without help from others, nothing happens.
Even though money isn’t flowing, I still feel confident about what we’re doing. I’m interacting with fans online, I’m reading all of the messages. I see all of the comments everywhere. If you put a comment of any kind, anywhere on the internet about him, from May 2009 – August 2014, there’s a 95% chance I saw it. And 100%, if we’re talking about any time before we started really touring. I searched constantly. I didn’t even bother to set alerts because I was always searching. I followed threads. I translated foreign languages. It’s what kept me going because I’d see that what we’re doing is working. It maybe wasn’t moving as fast as I’d like, but it’s moving. It helped me keep faith. Fans kept me going.
I always preached to him about the avalanche effect. When an avalanche hits, it’s going to knock you on your ass, but it doesn’t start off all big and crazy. The beginnings are very small, and then they pick up steam and keep getting bigger and bigger. What was a few pebbles becomes a force of nature. One fan a day. And keep at it. It sometimes takes forever, but it works. Coming from nothing, with no real fan base, and no city to support him, that’s how I was telling him we’ll win.
That other guy might have helped pick some of these beats, but he didn’t really do much on this album. It was mostly me, that person you know and Goon. Those two got the features, and the beats they didn’t get, I got. Block Beattaz, Burn, Statik, K-Salaam and Kno. I coordinated with them. I got a mini-video for Born 2 Roll and 4681 Broadway made (same people who did Boxframe Cadillac and Murda On My Mind), and videos for Serve Or Get Served, Do Wrong and Rock Bottom made. All for free. And I coordinated everything with Decon for the National Anthem video. I came up with that title so that we didn’t need to call it Fuck The World. Our publisher booked us a room at Paramount with a SSL and I was introduced to their wonderful cookies. Goon was happy as hell to mix that record on the big board, and so was I, but he got mad at me because I kept pushing the bass higher. Like I said, I always let people work and do their thing, but I’ll come in after and brush things up if it’s needed, and it needed it. He didn’t like the levels going so high, but I talked him into it, and a few months later, he pulled me aside and told me I was right about it. It’s why I stick to my guns so much in the studio when I truly believe something.
I made the clean version for The Ghetto, and did all of those sound effects, along with coordinating everything with the Oil Money record, and that video. It was mostly put together by The Cool Kids’ manager, but I took care of everything on our end. Don’t remember exactly how we all met, but The Cool Kids and their manager are great. We recorded at their place in Chicago, hung out lots of times, and ended up filming the video at SxSW, since we’re all there. They approached us with the group idea, and Chip and Bun were already on it before we hopped on. That would have been a fun album if we ever made it, but none of us ever took it too seriously. Everybody was just having fun with it.
The Chicago Kid is another element I brought to this album. I knew him from my DY days. He came in and sang reference vocals, and I also knew he was a writer. With no money involved, he didn’t want to be on the project at first, but I begged and begged and talked him into it. He ended up agreeing as long as I picked him up from his place, and so I did just that. Drove out to L.A., and brought him to The Goon Saloon. It was a little awkward between the two of them at first, but as soon as things warmed up, they were buddy-buddy.
After doing the deal, I also handled everything with Decon on the artwork, promotional shows and syncs. I don’t think that other guy talked to them about anything until well after it came out. Decon didn’t have “new photo shoot” budget, but they did have “pay for photos already shot” budget, and fortunately we had done a nice photo shoot with a dope photographer for a foreign magazine a few months prior. That person you know actually didn’t want to use these photos, but we didn’t have a choice. It was either use them, or come up with money for a new photo shoot. I selected what I felt were the best ones and Decon figured out the layout. We didn’t know what to do for the cover, so I proposed taking one stamp from the Str8 Killa No Filla cover and adjusting it. The Tosh remake was an idea he had since ’05 or ’06, so he had been wanting to do that cover for awhile. I picked the photo for the stamp from our first photo shoot and I picked the photo for the back cover from a photo shoot that LRG put together. I sent it all to Toxic, and he made the mixtape front and back cover.
I got all of the song, feature and producer info, and wrote most of the thank yous in the EP. He had his 10 or so names, and I wrote all of the rest. I’m not kidding about seeing every message online. I knew everybody that was talking about us and what they were saying. I made a list of everybody who had supported us in any way, and I thanked them all. I really appreciated everything everybody ever did for us, no matter how big or small. Putting their name in the thank you’s of a project that wouldn’t exist without them is the least that I could do. The funniest thing about this project is our titles. I’m really the Executive Producer. I put all of the deals in place, I did all of the negotiations, I hired everybody. I even oversaw the mastering and finalized all of the .wav files. I did all the work. He just wanted the title and I didn’t care. After he said he was Executive Producer, I’m looking at that other guy, wondering what his title is going to be, because he didn’t really do much. He should’ve just been A&R, but he spoke up and said that the two of us should always share the same title and be Co-Executive Producers. I’m fine with it. Sharing titles is good with me. The reason it’s funny is that as soon as the Beat Konducta project happens, suddenly he and I have different titles on a project. I asked him about it, and he blamed somebody else. He said that it was his manager’s call and he didn’t know about it until it was printed. He would always say that it was somebody else’s fault.
This requires it’s own sentence, but being there when he recorded Slangin’ Rocks, and performing that record, singing it with all the homies on stage in Madison, will forever be a highlight of my life. That record used to bring me so much joy. I wish I could still listen to it.
I wasn’t supposed to be his dj, it just happened that way. Others would try, but it wouldn’t work, and I was better at it by a lot. There were a couple shows where somebody else would dj for him, and it would be all bad. Constant technical issues, and they wouldn’t be as familiar with the music as I. There was nobody who knew the songs better, and I’m a very capable dj. Might as well consolidate. One less body, one less flight, one less room.
I loved it though. Performing, being in the studio, recording and mixing, those are my favorite things. I was in heaven on stage. I’m not an outgoing or rowdy person, but performing with him was easily the bright spot for all of those years. I pushed him to never rap over his vocals, so I used to make TV tracks on the road all the time. Audacity, again. He would want to do a song we’ve never performed last minute, and I would make the TV track right there. In the back seat of the rental, backstage, next to the front door, in the dressing room. Any place you can think of, I’ve made a TV track there. We also had records like Slammin’ that start right on the one, so I would make a TV track that includes a four click track at the beginning. That gives him a countdown and he knows exactly when to start his verse to be on beat. Every so often I might see a fan hear the click and move their head around, wondering what it is, but then the song kicks rights in. I also chose our set list. We modified things in the future, when he started to give more input and made it more of an open format, but even then, I always chose which song we would start with. He tried to choose that once, but never again. He suggested doing one song first and I knew it wasn’t going to work, but I let him try it because I knew that was the only way he’d see why I didn’t want to start with it. The song he chose bombed badly and the show started really weird. We picked it up right away, but my plan worked, and from then on he fully trusted my judgment on set lists. I’ve been performing at, and throwing shows since 1999, so I’m very familiar with everything. I wasn’t active all the years, but the wisdom is there, so all of the strategy on his touring was his agent and me. That other guy helped booked some Echo Park/Hollywood shows, and some one-offs, but the road was my domain.
We wanted to tour in ‘10, but again, no tour support. For us, it’s the one-offs, festivals and colleges. The festivals and college shows go cool, but none of our headlining one-offs go crazy. We have fans, but we’re not packing venues. It’s still so early in the game for us. Our press makes it look like we’re on par, or passing a lot of others, but we’re really far behind a lot of them in our touring. Shortly after SxSW, we departed from that first agency and moved over to another. An agent there had been courting us for awhile, we really liked him, and we thought that maybe their roster would help us get on a tour. Nothing personal, just a roster decision. Our first agency was upset to see us go, but no bad blood.
We were in the car, on our way to our first Miami show, when he gave that Complex interview. Y’all know the one. The writer had booked it directly with him, after we all hung out during our last NY trip. He always talked to writers directly, and we encouraged it. Whatever makes the relationship better and gets us more press, but I didn’t want to get more press this way. I heard him answering questions and laughing, and realized it was probably an interview, but had no clue who he was talking to. Right away, when I heard him say that Jew comment, I told him he was wrong, and he knew it. He didn’t mean it in the way people can take it, it’s more so the lingo from where he’s from and the time he grew up. I’m Jewish, that other guy’s Jewish. We knew he’s not Anti-Semitic, but it was an incredibly poor choice of words. It didn’t end up hurting us with fans, but it did affect some things in the industry. Him disrespecting the Shady roster, paired with that quote, are the reasons why he was banned from Shade45. I tried many times to mend that bridge, but was never successful. As much as I pleaded with him, he never wanted to extend himself and fully apologize. He was still upset about them not signing him. I hoped things might blow over eventually, but they never did. Some people there would still help us out from time to time though. The homie let us crash at his place in Brooklyn for a few nights when we needed a place to stay, so it wasn’t like we were hated. Just no more visits to the station, and no more visits to the label. I really didn’t like having issues with them. I was brought into the industry professionally by them. I learned a lot and valued all of the time that I got to spend with all of them, but I’m fully with him. He goes to war with somebody, I’m right there with him. I agreed with what he had said, about him being better than the other artists they had signed, but I also understood that it didn’t need to be said in the interview. He could’ve easily answered the question without insulting the label. I knew full well that he was wrong in that regard, but I agreed with his sentiment.
No more Shade45, but everything else is going. We have our CMJ show with Grillade that year, our first with a live band. My friend from Yours Truly came through on this one again. He’s another person that I met while I was working with that other artist that ended up helping out a whole lot with that person you know. The live band was his idea, and he set everything up. I chose the set list and sent them the songs early so that they could practice. There was only one rehearsal the day before, and we were all really happy at how well the show went, it looked like they had been practicing for weeks. It’s a testament to the band, and him. We played with them a couple more times after this. The Carson Daly appearance, and a SxSW gig.
The very next month in November, one of my happiest moments ever happened at our Duke show. The show was great, it wasn’t anything too crazy, but afterwards a couple students offered to give us a ride back to where we’re staying. As the car starts up, The Labels Tryin’ To Kill Me begins playing on their stereo and we gave each other the weirdest look, these kids are obviously huge fans. It’s not a long trip, but a few of the songs play and both of the kids start talking about how they really like the transitions and sequencing. I almost shed a tear. That had never happened. Seeing the impact of something I did in the studio actually being reflected by a fan right in front of me. I had seen internet comments, talking about little things I had done, but hearing it in person was something else. I didn’t tell the kids that I sequenced the tape, but that was one of those moments I’ll never forget. It meant everything to me to hear that.
We never did find a headliner to open for, so we decided to do our own tour. Str8 Killa moved a little, but wasn’t selling like crazy, and there’s no labels, or any angel investor on the horizon. We knew the first time headlining wasn’t going to be too stellar, but we didn’t have a choice. You can only get so many $500 all-in offers before you decide to just do things yourself. We wanted to focus on the Midwest since that’s our home, but we didn’t have a real idea as to how the shows would do. Most every show ended with the promoter thanking me for being so courteous and on time, while handing me our envelope and making one of two comments, “I thought there would be more of a turnout,” or “I’m surprised it’s all white kids here.” People would see the hype, hear that he’s gangsta rap, order double security, and then it would be all white college kids. This was also the first tour we went on that that other guy did nothing on, but this isn’t anything I note as it’s happening because I really didn’t care. I only realize it later, looking back on things. I got the merch made, and sold it on the road. I dj’d every show. I booked the hotels. We got around on this one in friend’s cars, so there were no rentals, but besides that, I was doing everything.
The smallest crowd we ever performed for was probably around 10-20 people. We always performed though, and talked about the importance of doing shows like that. It’s still practice, you still need it, and you’re still getting paid. Might as well go out and get it over it. The one good thing I can say about our early shows that were empty is that we always sold a good amount of merch. I’d often look at that ratio for judging success. Count how many people attended, against how much money we made on merch. If I’m looking at over $10 a person on merch sales, that’s good to me because I understand how that grows. Word of mouth. These fans are not a lot now, but they come to the show, they have lots of fun, they tell all their friends, and they bring them to the next one. You do that four or five times and you’re selling out 500, 1,000 seat venues before you realize it.
SxSW ‘11 was one of the greatest trips of my life. A couple months prior, my girl finally caved in, and said that I could come see her again. I gave her some time to herself after we broke up, but after a few months I said hi to see how she was doing, hoping she missed me. I wrote her a lot of letters while we weren’t talking. I had lots that I wanted to say, but I wanted to respect her space, so I wrote them with the thought that I would send them later. She hadn’t moved on, but she was trying. I told her about the letters I wrote and sent them her way. She read every single one and told me that they’re the most beautiful things anybody’s ever said to her. I couldn’t afford a flight, but I did have frequent flier miles. I don’t remember exactly how I put a little money aside, but I had $100 or so for food and drinks. She knew I didn’t have much, so that wasn’t a problem, but I still wanted to be able to cover a little. All of my struggles, all of my pain… I wouldn’t feel any of it when I was with her, so I can’t wait to get there. The second I saw her, I felt energy through my body that I missed. Not just a sexual rush, but peace. I was happy just holding her.
She agreed to let me visit, but just as friends. I wasn’t expecting anything, but I was hopeful. You damn right. I felt horrible about how things fell apart and just wanted to extend the time that I could spend with her. I didn’t care what we did, I just wanted to see her again. She kept things cool at first, but couldn’t help herself the next day. Something at work stressed her out and she came back to her place on break. Jumped me, and then got upset at how well things went. Pissed that I could still make her feel good. She and I just clicked like that. We didn’t have sex the rest of the trip, just cuddling and kissing, but she told me that she might be able to go to SxSW and would let me know. I was so with it. I didn’t care what I was going to have to do. I would have sold a kidney to make it happen. Fortunately, I just had to find a place for us to stay.
We already did the overload of shows at SxSW, so we didn’t want to go that route again, but we still ended up having six shows. I dj’d all of them, except for the one with Grillade. Decon covered his travel, and then we got a cheap hotel room for the homies. There might have been six or seven of them in that one room. We did them crackhead hotels a lot in those early days, but there was no way in hell I was going to be in that hotel with my girl. I had an ex-girlfriend with a house in Austin and she said that we could stay with her. My ex, but we’re still cool. She also likes that person you know. She was with me when he was first signed, and she was one of the people that used to take him out to eat from time to time when he was staying at my place. I don’t remember if she was married in 2011, but she’s married with a kid now, and she was with her husband when me and my girl stayed at her place. He’s cool as hell too. They’re a great family together. It was a little strange when I realized I’m having sex with my girl while my ex is in the next room sleeping with her man, but I was having sex with my girl and quickly stopped thinking about anything else besides that. There were no hold-ups on this trip and it was amazing. We went to shows together, danced, ate. It was like we were on a date the whole time. I was floating in the air as I was walking. And all the guys in the crew liked her. My girl was a down ass chick and she had dope style. I really fucked up, not spending the rest of my life with her, but I just wish her happiness.
Y’all might not believe this, but I picked a fight with a 400+ lbs. security guard to help us get out of performing at a show. The Decon show, of all of them. The trip was cool overall, but I don’t think he’s having as much fun as the year before. I’m in a sea of bliss with my girl, so I’m not around when we don’t have a show to know everything going on, but his mood isn’t the best and I can tell right away. We get to the Decon show 25 or so deep, rolling with LEP, our homies, and they homies. It’s the last show of the trip and somewhat pointless. We’ve already hit press, we’ve done the major looks. We’re headlining, but it didn’t matter if we performed. The trip is already a success. He and I are talking and little things are bothering him. There’s flyers everywhere, but no flyers for us. I even get pissed about that. We’re the headliners, but the groups below us have product everywhere. We weren’t pissed at the groups being promoted, we were pissed at them not promoting us. They couldn’t have printed 100 postcards?
I go to the bathroom, but can’t find him when I get out. He wasn’t at the bar, he wasn’t with LEP. I thought he maybe got pissed and left. I go to walk outside and the security guard tells me that I have to walk around. The rope is right there and quite moveable, but he wants me to go walk all the way around the club and then come back the other side. Like 100 yards out the way, instead of just taking one step right in front of me. I’m already pissed. I know that person you know is pissed. I don’t care about the show, and I know for sure he doesn’t either. He’d rather go smoke and see girls, so I say, “Yeah, right,” to the security guard and duck under the rope. Walk right past him with my backpack on. A legit 400+ lbs., but not much taller than me. Short, very, very big dude. I took two steps out the club, and he grabbed the back of my collar, at the top of my bag. Pulled me back and put me in a chokehold. I started laughing at him and called him a bitch. I remember looking back over my right shoulder and up at the balcony in the club, above a twisted flight of stairs. I saw LEP and all the guys jump up out they seat, and then I saw that person you know jump over the balcony and try to land an elbow on the security guard, on some straight WWF shit. The security guard let me go and I kicked the door hella hard on the way out, making sure to make lots of noise.
The club owner and the head of Decon both came out, apologizing like crazy. All of the Chicago and GI homies were around me in a circle, making sure I was ok. I had to keep myself from smiling because I knew I wanted it to happen. We didn’t need to perform after that incident and nobody looked at us bad because of it. Perfect. I said bye to the guys and went to go meet my girl at a Collie Budz show. Went back to my personal paradise for the rest of the night, but it didn’t last. I thought that my girl and I might be able to keep things going for a little bit longer, but I never saw her again. We’d talk off and on sometimes, but that also stopped eventually.
We finally got a tour after some others fell through, albeit a mini-one. We were asked to join KRIT and DZA for some dates, which was tons of fun. Jackie Chain also added himself, which was amazing. He’s great and I had been a fan since Rollin’. We also signed with Snow right before the tour started, which is a sentence I never thought I’d say. It really was out of nowhere. Our lawyer tried getting us signed. Our publicist tried getting us signed. Our publisher tried getting us signed. The Minnesota Viking tried getting us signed. We tried getting us signed. Nothing shook. That person you know told me that Snow wants to sign him and I thought he was talking about a dream he had the night before. Beyond being fans of the music, I really looked up to the way he was marketed. Especially The Recession album. We talked with them and they sounded enthusiastic, but when we talked to his lawyer, he had no clue who we were. Literally had never heard any of our names. He took our info, talked with Snow to get more familiar and then got back to us. We weren’t dissuaded though, we still had faith. That other guy didn’t want to commit, but that person you know and I were with it. Truth is, that other guy never wanted to commit to anything that wasn’t 100% a slam dunk.
Honestly, we initially thought that Corporate was going to sign us and then ask us to help them figure out a real plan, but that did not happen. They weren’t in the best place when we signed with them. That first trip to ATL to meet all of them was an eye opener. Snow wasn’t winning the Rozay battle, and dj’s weren’t playing his records. They’d be respectful when he was in the club, but if he wasn’t there and you requested one of his songs, it didn’t happen. Straight up had dj’s say no. Saw lots of disrespect. We even had an issue in a club that almost turned violent. We were deep. 10+ GI homies in ATL, partying with Snow. Things got intense enough to where we’re all making eye contact with each other, putting down drinks, getting me behind others, checking exits. Homies always took care of me, so I never felt unsafe, but I‘m always aware. I’ve been in some strange, intense situations over the years, so I’m not too naïve at how to act. Things calmed down, but it didn’t look good for a little. We knew we weren’t in the greatest situation after that, but we hoped things would turn for the better. It just didn’t seem like Snow really had a plan.
We thought that we’re for sure going to his label, but he’s not the happiest with them at first, so it’s, “We’re going to shop you around and see what we can get.” They got nothing. We weren’t included in any of the talks, but I heard none of them went well. My guess is that Snow thought he had enough pull to just get a deal for us, but nobody was biting. Then he got back friendly with his label and he’s telling us, “Well maybe we’re going to do this with them.” It just came down to every label saying no. They didn’t want to sign us. They didn’t hear a single. It was the same story.
That time didn’t go the best, but they did put $14k in his pocket for the TM103 Tour. They did get him studio time. They did book a lot of hotels for him. That person you know also told me that Trey Songz wanted to get on Go For It, but only if he took “pussy” out of the hook. He said that he likes the song, but he doesn’t talk vulgar like that. He refused to change anything and it never happened. Snow didn’t have the best strategy, and he did make some mistakes, but this is the industry. It didn’t work with Corporate, but they got us to the next place we needed to be, and they gave us a lot more exposure. I remember the first time he was recognized in public from a video. We were at the DMV in line and somebody was watching on their phone, right in front of us. They turned around and did a double take. The whole point of the deal was to get us signed to a major. We had a stipulation saying that they needed to make that happen within nine months after delivery of demos, but it never did, and we’re out of the contract by July, 2012.
After seeing how the Midwest mini-tour went, I had a better idea of how to do things on the road. I had performed before, but never went show to show, city to city, and experienced that. I’m going to be 100% real here. My mom put in more work to make this next tour happen than that other guy. We needed a credit card for the tour van deposit, but neither of us have one. His credit has been messed up since his deal went under, and my bankruptcy got rid of mine. Paying for the van was no problem, we’re making more than enough, but we don’t have a credit card. I talked my mom into letting me use hers and sent it over with her driver’s license. The van’s set, I’m fine driving, but I figure that one or two of the homies will drive as well. Nope. I ended up driving the whole time. We finally get a good amount of merch for this tour, so I’m going to handle selling the merch and somebody else is going to dj. Nope. That first show did not go well and I dj’d every show after that. With me deejaying now, somebody else was going to sell the merch, so that I don’t need to worry about it. Nope. Things weren’t being handled correctly on that very next show, and so I sold merch, deejayed, and drove the van for the rest of the tour. And booked all of the hotels and flights.
The KRIT tour was superb. We all got along, joked, got food from time to time. That person you know and I were both on a whole ‘nother high during the Chicago show with Snow. One of my most genuine smiles happened that night because I really thought we made it. Finally. We had been talking about a chaining day since recording music in our friend’s basement in 2005. The Roc-a-fella chain was all we talked about, and Ye was the homie, so you know him being chained was discussed. It was beautiful how it all came together, and I got to dj the show. I was through the roof when it happened.
Going on the road to places you’ve never been before is fascinating, and every day is an adventure. We even had to deal with some racist cops putting us in hand cuffs just because. They didn’t find anything, but then they called the dogs and they did. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough. The homie said that it’s all his and he goes for a ride. We followed the cops to the judge, paid to get the homie out and kept it moving. The most random things would happen too. We were in Syracuse, not long after this, because the racist cops were upstate NY. The show went fine, but we were getting sick of being there. There were girls at the hotel, but nothing going. I think one of the homies cussed out one of their boyfriends over the phone. I wasn’t paying too close attention. We were going to spend a few off-days in ATL, with the original plan being to drive there in the morning. It was 1am. I had driven four hours or so to get to Syracuse earlier in the day, dj’d and sold merch, and could have used a little rest, but instead said, “Fuck it, let’s blow this joint.” We left Syracuse post haste and I drove through the night to Atlanta, while everybody else slept. I don’t drink coffee, or do energy drinks, I just stay up. Give me water, and some music, and I’m usually good. I slept a few hours when we got to ATL, but went non-stop before then.
This is around when his stage show is really evolving. He started to get bored with me picking the songs. Not that I chose poorly, he just might not be in the mood to do that song for whatever reason. Sometimes he wouldn’t even know the set list. I’d play a record, he’d hear what it is, and then start rapping. But then he wanted more flexibility, and flipped things a little bit. During one show out of nowhere, and with no discussion beforehand, he just started rapping a song, saying the words softly into the mic. He tried doing that with his homie, but he could never catch on to what he was saying and set it up in time. His homie didn’t know the lyrics as well as I did, and he wasn’t as quick as me. He would say three or four words, I’d know the song, and I’d go right to it. When he first tried it with me, I had another song queued up, but I heard what he was rapping and got it ready, damn near perfect. It surprised him that I got the beat playing that quickly, and when he saw that I could keep up with him doing that, that’s when his stage show really improved. That’s why I deejayed so many of his shows. He even tried throwing me curveballs at times, just to see if it would mess me up, but I’d get them. He also liked to joke about me while performing, in between songs. He’d talk about being a hard ass gangsta rapper with a white dj. We always had fun with it. One of the greatest show I’ve ever seen in my life was on this tour, in North Carolina.
We’re all a mess and sick, but they’re still rolling woods, smoking blunts like normal. Cough drops and cold meds everywhere. This tour is the reason why I stopped caring about smoking on the road. It just didn’t seem worth it, and the quality always sucked. We’re packing multitudes of people in cheap hotel rooms, sleeping head to foot, sleeping on floors. We weren’t healthy. I got sick in the second wave, earlier in the tour, and stopped smoking right then, but the rest of the guys kept at it like nothing going. That person you know is starting to get really bad and he keeps hugging hot tea and honey. We made it to the venue, but he’s not talking. His voice is really weak, and his overall energy isn’t much better. Nobody thinks he’s going to perform. Even the other acts backstage are worried for him. He says he’s good to go, but we’re all skeptical. His voice is hoarse and soft, and he can barely stand.
I get everything set on stage, drop that first beat, and he runs out like a man possessed. He performed every song perfectly with no hiccups or mistakes of any kind. Perfect breath control. Perfect execution. Perfect timing. No fan there would have believed the state he was in before he performed, and everybody on the side of the stage was shocked. We’re all in awe. It was by far one of the best shows of the tour, and he barely had his voice. But the second we get backstage, and all that’s over, he collapsed and damn near fell on me. “Hospital,” was all he could say, as he found enough energy to walk to the car with some help. I drove straight to the ER, way beyond worried.
Big Kill also came with us because he wasn’t feeling well and had trouble breathing, but I was ok and healthy. I stayed in the hospital as long as I could, but they eventually kicked me out of the waiting room. Still waiting on tests, I didn’t want to leave before knowing he was ok. I slept in the car in the parking lot for a couple hours and they had the results back by then. They had both almost developed asthma, but are ok now. They’re going to keep them for a little bit, but would be able to leave soon. I went back to the telly to sleep for two or three hours, and we picked them up after checking out. Had to take things a lot easier and not stay in crackhead spots the rest of the way.
Our relationship with LRG is really expanding. They let us know that they’d like to start shooting videos for us, helping with albums and we’re with it. The first thing we do is the Statik EP. We recorded it in 24 hours, but we had the beats beforehand to have an idea of what we’re doing. Working with Stat is great because he’s like me. He does a lot, and he’s quick with it. The Minnesota Viking first introduced us, and we stayed in touch. He mostly talked to that person you know about the music and doing the project, but then I would do all of the paperwork, and travel with him for the sessions. Stat also dj’d for us at shows a couple times. He offered to let us crash at his place if we needed to, and he always has a bottle of something good within reach. He’s good peoples. This EP was easy. Stat handled all of the music, recording and mixing, and got all of the other artists there. LRG handled the photos, artwork and shot the first video. They put it together and I’d give comments. Another project that other guy did no work on whatsoever. I also got the title track video shot for this. Some random director from the UK who happened to be coming to NY when we would be there. I checked out his reel, liked what I saw, and we set things up for the shoot. I’m still amazed at how many videos I got made for nothing.
That guy with Wings saved Cold Day In Hell. We were honestly a little down because we thought this album would be coming out on a label, but I got a pretty sweat deal from LRG for it. They agreed to do everything, but put the music together. Artwork, hard copies, videos, promotional trips, photo shoots. They even wanted to put on a mini-tour and pay us for it. Not even counting the boxes and boxes and boxes of clothes that were sent, LRG spent well over $150k on us, and probably a lot more. We shot three videos, two of those with travel. They also did ad campaigns separate from the album. The Neighborhood Hoez video shoot was something else, all in itself. The look on Tity Boi’s face when he walked into that house was hilarious. We had a video about hoez, but only one girl. My homie saved that video when he got a strip club in L.A. to let us shoot all of the other scenes with their dancers. The club, and the girls, all made available to us at no charge because of my homie. We just had to include their sign. Without that reshoot, that video doesn’t happen. What we shot in Atlanta was not complete. Watch that video again closely and you’ll see. Chainz is chilling on a couch by himself, and there’s one other shot with one girl, who’s the same girl that walked out when that person you know was on the couch. Everything with him on the couch with the girls was done during the reshoot, but the original plan was to shoot everything in ATL. Alley Boy on this album is one of my favorite stories. That person you know sent him the version with an open verse and Alley just two-track recorded it and put it out. You can’t really tell unless you know, or you have a really good ear, but the first two are mixed in with the beat, and then Alley is just all on top of it. I joked with that person you know that he was just showing us that he really robbed, and we didn’t mind that he did it. It was just a joke between us, and very funny. He got on a song about robbing and robbed it. We never properly mixed it either. The version you hear, is the version he sent us. We kept it grimey. I really love that song and I can’t tell you how hilariously difficult it is to perform it, while always muting myself on the last word. I understand white people who are fans of hip-hop, that like to say that word at shows and aren’t racist. I fully understand that concept. But I’m his dj, doing background vocals on all of his songs, one of which has that word repeated throughout the whole entire hook, and I managed to never say it at any show. Just saying that it’s possible.
One day I‘ll tell the full story about how I got two JL beats on here for no money, but not today. It’s a truly unique tale, but it wasn’t supposed to happen. I just kinda made that occur. A little slight of hand magic. I’ve always loved their music and have wanted to work with them forever. They were probably our first ask the second we went Corporate, and without their help, we wouldn’t have been able to keep these songs. That was a fun phone call. I had to act like I didn’t know what I was doing to get away with what I wanted. This album was basically done, but that person you know didn’t want to put it out. That happened often. He’d live with music so long that it would get stale to him, and he’d think it wasn’t good enough. The fortunate thing about this is that he always made something better, so we never really objected to him wanting to record more. All of the Cardo songs got added at the last minute, and those records are what made the album whole. That’s why he saved it. I don’t know exactly how he came into the picture. It could have been that other guy, or the two artists speaking direct. I didn’t talk to Cardo until much after this. Great guy, wonderful producer.
Cold Day is another project I do basically all the work on. That person you know and I met with LRG to go over ideas for the cover, and then I went over the revisions with them. I even got Blue Microphones to donate us a few mics, and that’s why their logo is on there. Smoking Section didn’t do anything with this project, but I told The Teflon Don that I would always put his logo on our albums for what he had done in the beginning. I did the same with Str8 Killa No Filla and Baby Face Killa, but we went logo-less for ESGN, and that’s why it stopped then. I’m never all talk with what I say. I show appreciation to people because that’s how I think it should be. Nobody really accomplishes anything alone.
Our publisher would usually get us a double room in NY if we’re only going to be there a day or two, but there were more than a few times that we had to stay longer than that, and that’s when we would crash with the big homie. Either in East New York, or in Harlem. He’d always joke with me that I shouldn’t walk down the street, but I still did. He was best friends with one of his old managers, so we had known him since the label days, and they had kept in touch. Smart cat, and a great father. I looked up to him a lot, even though he didn’t seem to really like me. I always thought it was because of something from Helmsley, or just me being white, but I never really knew. I just tried to be as polite as I could be, because having two grown men stay at his place, with his kids there as well, isn’t the most comfortable. He had an air mattress and a couch in the living room of a small apartment. That person you know would usually take the mattress, and I’d take the couch. Whichever was more comfortable, he’d grab. He’s the artist, and he’s bigger than me. I slept on so many damn couches, and so many floors, but being able to be there is half the battle. Travel, lodging, rentals. Those costs add up quick. Having a friend in NY that we could not only stay with, but also be somebody who could grab us from the airport and get us around the city, was beyond crucial. Especially in a city that’s expensive, and vital. He would give him money for gas, but that’s nothing compared to the money he’s helping us save. Press and radio are huge and that’s mostly all NY. Our big homie wasn’t there for all of our NY trips, but he was there for 80% of them. Helping with everything. He was invaluable to us coming up, in so many ways.
2012 was a rough year for me. We didn’t make the most money, but I did meet The Frenchman, and he wants to take us to Europe. He emailed me a bunch. I responded to feel him out, and he stayed on it. I knew nothing about him, but I liked his hustle. He had done tours with Fashawn and Asher Roth, but not a lot. I told him we had no money, and he said that he would set up press for us. I’m not going to say no to free, credible PR help, so I tell him to do it. We talk over email for a few weeks back and forth. He tries to come see us while we’re in NY, but we’re busy and it wasn’t a priority. Plus, I wanted to meet him solo, in case he ends up being a flunkie. I know the kind of people we’ll get along with, so I needed to evaluate him in person before he meets anybody else.
We met for food in Hollywood and he didn’t disappoint. I could tell right away he’s about business. I again told him that we have no budget, but if he sets up a tour, he can get his commission and make money that way. I’m straight up. No grand promises, let’s just see what happens. We ended up making just over $10k after expenses on that first Europe tour. Off seven or eight shows. Making way more money in Europe than what we were doing in the states at the time. I knew that we needed to focus on the overseas market from working with DY. I spent so much time in the label’s International Department, talking to everybody. Plus, I knew that gangsta rap translates well overseas. I’m also seeing Facebook messages, and fan messages on the site. That other guy had no involvement in any of this. I would tell him about messages, and meetings, but he wasn’t on the messages, or in the meetings. French and his team took care of everything on their end, and I handled everything for us. He originally emailed us in early July, 2011, and we had our first Europe tour in mid-April, 2012. In the meantime, he got us press looks overseas and helped build the buzz out there. Just him and his partner. That first Europe tour saved us from slipping. That chunk of change came in real handy when not too much was coming in.
While French knocked things out the park, I ran into the opposite, and had a janky promoter encounter when working on the Raekwon tour. This actually almost got me fired and is the reason I wasn’t at SxSW ‘12. This promoter reached out about being the main support and the numbers sounded really good. I jumped at it. I’m sure I did some kind of research, but it wasn’t enough. I was also very much in need right about then. Not using it as an excuse because I know my actions were wrong, but if my money situation was different, it wouldn’t have happened. It’s a couple weeks before we’re supposed to go out and I’m getting nervous. He’s been lagging on the deposits and communication has started to get bumpy. I’m worried about what I’m going to tell that person you know if this collapses, but I’m also worried about how I’m going to pay rent. I’m literally at the end of my rope. I have probably $60 to my name. I’m constantly under fears of missing rent and becoming homeless. I realize now that my family would never allow that to happen, but at the time I was worried about it almost every single day. The thought haunted me at all times.
Desperation doesn’t make good business. I know this, but it’s the situation I’m in. I finally speak to the promoter and he tells me how the tour is still happening, but it’s half the amount of shows, and a fraction of the money. I’m crushed. We’re barely making anything, and it’s not even financially feasible to do the amount of shows that are left. I’m not going to be able to pay rent. I’m going to be homeless. What the fuck.
Our big homie saved my job, and my life, when he saved this tour. He was close with Rae’s camp and reached out to them about the situation. There were still some shows cancelled, but most of them remained, and the money came back to what it was. I was more than relieved. One problem though. The tour was initially going to start right before SxSW, giving us a way to handle transportation there, but that plan changed, things got broken up a little, and it’s now starting right after SxSW. I had booked us a Thrasher show for $1,000, but that’s not enough to cover travel. That was just going to be spending money. Food for the crew, parking, all that extra stuff. Our big homie saved the tour, but I had to figure out how to save SxSW.
I reached out to our LRG contact, and with one phone call he said they’d cover our travel. Sweet! I was happy to be going back to Austin. Without money to move around, I can’t really socialize and try to find a job for myself, and I’m looking at SxSW as the place for me to network about acquiring one. I need it. I’ve reached out to all of my friends that I could, and any business associates. I’m so broke it’s ridiculous. I don’t even want to try to count how many salami sandwiches and pb&j sandwiches I ate those years. I hate so much about what happened, but I’m very optimistic about Austin. I know that I can get around rather easily, and everybody is there. Then our LRG rep calls me.
“….. just called me… and I don’t want to get in between things with you two, but he just told me that you’re not going to SxSW and to not get you a flight.” A little surprising to me, but I calmly responded, “No problem, don’t worry about it. Y’all have fun out there.”
Homie couldn’t even tell me himself. I still love the guy, but I lost some respect for him that day. He put our rep in an incredibly awkward position because he couldn’t handle speaking to me directly, and I felt bad for our rep, for it. He took me off the SxSW trip as punishment for messing up on the Raekwon tour. My chance of networking and maybe finding a job was gone, but there wasn’t anything I could do. I even had to give that other guy my Thrasher contact so that he could coordinate things the day of, since I wasn’t going. I gave up all of my contacts to them. I never hid anything, or tried to. I was completely open. After SxSW, he was still in a sour mood and that other guy told me the trip didn’t go too well. In my head I’m thinking, “Yeah, that’s what happens when y’all don’t take me.”
Shortly after those shows with Rae, we have our Europe tour. I have a shirt guy that I go to for the printing, and I handled the designs and colors, but I had no real clue what to expect. I’m hoping for the best, but I also knew that if things went bad, I’m out of a job. This trip was just me and him. We couldn’t afford adding another person. I was going to dj, help out on vocals to not overload his voice, and sell merch. This trip wasn’t perfect, but it went better than expected and French took care of everything. I was so happy watching him work. He reminded me of me. He handled a lot of jobs, didn’t take any shit and always took care of us. Most artists use a large agent, and they have the same places that they always go, but French was actually in the trenches. He and I also linked up with some new promoters that nobody had ever used before and we performed in a dungeon. They reached out to me with the offer, and I put them in touch with French to finalize. A lot of the promoters and clubs he dealt with weren’t the regular ones. I loved it though. It reminded me of what I used to do when I threw shows. Not only was this Europe tour good professionally, but personally as well. My viewpoint on things wasn’t great, but traveling through Europe really opened my eyes. It’s a whole ‘nother tangent to go on, but it made me appreciate life more. I’ve done a lot of cool things, and went to a lot of cool places, but the feeling of, “How am I going to pay rent?” would always be in the back of my mind. At all times. Except for when we were in Europe. I can’t recommend traveling enough. I think people might have more empathy and this country might be a little better if more thought to travel and experience other cultures first hand. Not just the carbon copy version that’s brought in and served to order.
At the very last minute, that person you know says that a new dj is going to join us for some of the trip, but he’ll get his own flights. He had been hanging out with him a lot, and had dj’d a few shows. I still handled around 80% of them, but that new cat would dj the others. He was from Chicago, in the party scene, and could also produce, so there were a few different things that he brought to the table. Him being able to move around by himself, without us covering things, worked for me too. I liked deejaying, but I also knew that I needed to sell merch. I thought he was going to be on the tour for longer, but he ended up needing to leave a few shows in, and I was back to deejaying and selling merch. French handled everything else, and he handled it well, so I had no issues.
I planned ahead a lot when I traveled because of my money issues. I had $200 or so in my account, but I knew I might need that for an emergency, so I didn’t want to touch that on the trip. The Europe shows had decent craft services, and I took full advantage. That person you know would go out to eat, and I’d be eating turkey and cheese sandwiches backstage. Otherwise, I’d have to grab some money out of the merch money. I basically looked at that as my bonus for doing all the work. I was making, transporting, and selling it all, with no help. I figured I deserved a meal for all that. Outside of food, I rarely spent money on trips. It’s weird going places and not being able to shop with everybody else, but I found pleasure in my surroundings. I strangely also didn’t get sick, but that person you know did. He ate something funny and didn’t leave his room for a day and half. We were in Zurich and I found a local market to get soup, and help him get better. It was the first time I helped somebody else who was sick. The trip really went well and towards the end, he and I seemed to be getting along like we used to. Our relationship would sometimes be rocky, but I wouldn’t always know why. I would just work harder, and find another check for him, since that always perked him up.
Back in the states, and I’m back to looking for a job everywhere. No other choice, and no shows on the horizon. He spends a lot of this time in Atlanta, and I’m stuck at home. Being broke as a manager sucks for a number of reasons. Whenever anybody is in town and they want to hang out, I have to make an excuse. I’m sick. I have a family gathering. Next time. Half of what you do is networking, and the only way I can network is through my computer and phone. I can only do the free, I can’t go out. I’m running the point, missing half a leg and three fingers, but still putting up triple doubles. All I wanted was to do this with a clear head and some security. The whole time I’m trying to be creative with marketing and whatnot, and I’m depressed like crazy, not able to fully utilize what I know I can. What I have in the past.
People that know me reach out, and also lots of people who get my contact through whatever means reach out. Rockstar reached out in 2012 and that was the start of a beautiful relationship. He’s not too big on video games outside of Madden, but I’m a big fan. I’m home a lot, with nowhere to go, and I’ve ran through more than a few of their games. The Max Payne 3 song was the first thing we did, and they paid handsomely. When you work with companies, you can’t always dictate what they do because they have their own plans, but I would always drop hints. Always push a little to try to get more involvement. “Do you guys want him to do voice work in the game? Can we do more soundtracks? Whatever you need, we got you.” Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s all about your approach and your relationship. I’m always courteous and prompt, and with artist managers, that’s not always the case. Companies wanted to work with us more and more because of the ease. They knew we would deliver and there’d be no bs. I politely pushed Rockstar for well over a year to get him and Spitta in the studio with ALC, and it worked. I always dropped hints with Adidas that we’d love to do marketing campaigns, and we did. Who knows if the stuff happens without me talking to them about it, but it doesn’t matter, it’s what happened. Everything that we did with Rockstar, Adidas, Converse and LRG was all facilitated by me, with no involvement at all from that other guy. I’ve never wanted to live my life with an “I did this” sign, but damn. It’s like nothing I did well was valued and everything I did poorly was made into the worst thing in the world. And they always ignored that I was doing damn near everything by myself.
By the end of the Corporate deal, it was clear that Snow’s right hand man was really the fan. I believe Snow liked the music, but his man was the die-hard that wanted to sign us. The enthusiasm just wasn’t the same. Snow and I spoke one on one when we first signed. We were at Justin’s, and he said that that person you know is the next 2Pac, along with a bunch of other accolades. I think he wanted to empower his homie to have more authority, and he wanted to be more of an executive, so he took that leap of faith with it. His actions just never made it seem like he was 100% sold, as much as he said he was. He tried in his way, but not necessarily the right way.
It’s not like we were fighting off options when we signed with them. We only did it because no major was trying to sign us by ourselves. We thought teaming up would get the job done, but that pairing didn’t solve the issue the labels saw. The main reason that they had all passed. Snow is big in the streets and stature, but he’s not the constant Billboard hit maker in 2011, 2012. Not a knock, just being honest about it. If we had signed with the Owl, labels would have seen that a hit is coming for sure, but going Corporate, labels don’t see that. We dropped Stripes, it doesn’t gain any traction, and labels continue to have no reason to believe that they’re wrong in their assessment. That’s the difference.
Even though the Corporate deal didn’t work, it upped our exposure and kept us afloat at a time when nobody wanted to mess with us besides LRG. And while that deal is falling apart privately, my homie emails me about doing digital distribution with Empire. I had known him since he was with DubCNN because they were one of the few places that posted our music, way back in the label days. I also looked out for him when he emailed me ticket requests for shows. I never did it because DubCNN is a huge site, I did it because he supported from day one. Our only option right now is to release it ourselves, so having a partner sounds like a great idea. The Corporate deal is done, we’re not with a label, and nobody’s calling. My homie and I have a few more emails, a couple calls and he sends an agreement over. 85%. I’m with it. He said their normal is 80, but they’ll up it to 85 for us. I’m willing to bet that it would have been 80 without the Corporate deal, but that’s just me.
I talk to that person you know and he’s fine with it. There’s no reason not to be. It’s either we put it out ourselves, or we partner with them for 15% and see how it goes. Plus, they work well with majors, so if somebody wants to sign us, it’ll be a smooth process. I know that I don’t want to do everything on this album myself again, so I welcome the help. That other guy’s indifferent. I tell him how Empire put out Section.80 and that sways him. I had told that person you know the same. I’m the one pushing and doing the convincing. Not only did I trust what Empire was doing, but I knew that my homie had been a fan for years, so I trusted him personally way more than every other exec we had met with.
After widening my job search range to anything paying enough money, I finally found what was basically a sales job with a Depot affiliate, signing up people for cabinet refacing appointments. Not selling product, just getting the appointment signed up. I never liked sales job because of the atmosphere, but I needed money. I soon realized they basically do cattle-calls, so not the biggest boost to my ego, but I did become one of the top people for a few months, and traveled to work other territories.
I talked to that person you know and let him know that I wouldn’t be able to be around as much as usual, but I’m still available at night, and on the weekend. He’s fine with it. He has his Cadillac now, it’s new and reliable, and there’s lots of new people who want to just hang out with him, so he can get around however. Things with The Bad Kid are also gearing up and he has a short Europe run planned. Since it’s for that project, that other guy is going on the trip and he brought back some viral videos, which was a nice surprise. He also told me that The Bad Kid’s European promoter pulled him aside and asked about booking us for Europe. Saying that the crowd has been really responsive and he’d like to get us some solo shows. He had no clue we had already done a month long tour and a couple festivals. Without me and French, that’s most likely who that other guy would have gone to for help in Europe. Just saying.
After being at the Depot job for a little bit, and not hearing many music updates, I reach out to that other guy and ask him how things are going with Baby Face Killa. I’m expecting something good, but he’s not optimistic at all and actually really down about it. He doesn’t think it’s coming out anytime soon, and everything is falling apart. I ask him what’s going on, because this all news to me, and he tells me that it revolves around the fact that we have a song with Skateboard P that they can’t clear. They also don’t have any kind of artwork and everything that Corporate has shown them hasn’t been good. “Huh? We have a song with who?” Apparently a producer had sent them a record with P already on the hook, but he said that he could only clear the song if it’s on a major. I started to laugh because that other guy sounded so hurt and I’m happy as shit. We got a record with Skateboard! Oh, hell yeah. I told him to send me the song and I’ll see what I can do. I also tell him to not worry about the artwork, I’ll handle that too.
I reached out to a mutual friend that was close with P and started my email with, “Ok, so this might end up being the biggest favor I’ve ever asked you.” He liked the record and said that he would send it to P and see what he says. I didn’t know what to think, but I know he doesn’t bullshit. I checked in with him a few days later and he told me to call him. I called him on my lunch break and he said that P likes the song, but he doesn’t remember recording it. P thinks that the producer somehow found vocals of his and put it on his beat, but he doesn’t care about that, he likes the song and is fine with us using it. I told him that I wouldn’t put P’s name in the credits, but P didn’t care one way or another. I could’ve done it if I wanted to, but I wanted to keep that a secret for people who actually listen to the music. I got one of the greatest producers of all-time, and one of the biggest pop stars ever, to agree to appear on our free mixtape, with an unauthorized bootleg recording, on my lunch break. For no money. Afterwards, I remember rushing back to try to talk to a customer, so that I could make another $50 for the day, and then thinking to myself, “Holy fuck, I just secured Skateboard P for us, and I’m rushing over here to make $50 so that I can eat.” I should’ve been treated like a king forever from just this.
Now that I know exactly where things are with Baby Face Killa, I come back in to wrap it up. That other guy has been coordinating things, but I take over on mostly everything to finish. The cover was made by an artist that French linked us up with. Again, more amazing art being done for us for free. Toxic gave us great work at no charge, and now Fifou wanted to extend the same. He had sent over some ideas, but they were too much like a mixtape. That person you know had the idea of making it like a portrait to spruce it up and I chose the photo. LRG then made the mixtape back cover with a childhood photo that I had been trying to use for quite some time. There’s a cover that Archer made for the mixtape, but it didn’t get finalized in time, and Corporate made that #BFK mixtape cover. I thought it was horrible when I first saw it, but whatever, it doesn’t really matter. The other cover is cleaaan though. I think a font was off, and it was already too late to change, so we didn’t use it. Gathering the music on this album was all collaborative as we all did some. That person you know and Corporate mostly handled features as that’s always easier when it’s done artist to artist. I sequenced it, and figured out the bonus tracks. I think I had to talk him into including that Fuck Them… song. That’s why it’s a bonus track. Already touched on Go For It, but I’ll also add that Breaking Bad was actually originally made for the show. A friend reached out to me because they were doing promotions around the new season and they wanted a song to pitch the producers. There might have been a mixtape too, but if something happened, it would have been official, with the cast involved. It fell through, but we had a dope record with Ea$y Money produced by Statik, so we put it on the album as another bonus track. Every City made it on as a bonus track because that’s all we could do with it. He was pissed about losing it, but whatever. You can always make another song.
Baby Face Killa is out and moving. Gangsta Grillz and the iTunes with the bonus tracks. LRG shot the video for The Hard, and that person you know hooked up the video for BFK. That’s another song that was just going to be, “Intro,” until I stepped in. I refuse to allow any artist I work with to release a project with the first song titled, “Intro,” unless there’s a deeper meaning behind it. The BFK video is real dope, and I had a lot of fun getting that onto MTV. I worked with both of the directors on the final and made the clean edits myself, with some b-roll I was sent to splice in. I did the same for Revolt later on. All of our videos that you saw on TV were from me. Even The Beat Konducta ones. There was also supposed to be a Bout It Bout It video, but Corporate messed up that shoot. They flew him out to Houston on the wrong day and missed Bangz. Amateur hour. One of the things we had a valid complaint on, but not the biggest thing.
I’m at that Depot job and they started talking about holiday schedules. I’m thinking about Black Friday/X-Mas crowds, and that’s the breaking point. I chucked the deuce and bounced. We also got a good amount of shows at the end of the year and I managed to get a kid to give us almost $6k for a verse, hook and beat. The beat was probably one of G-Wiz’s throwaways and we gave him $500 for it. These negotiations were pretty funny because at one point the kid talked about how his dad was freaking out about the purchase. His dad didn’t think it was legit and the kid wanted me to send him a contract, but I just told him to send a deposit or keep it moving. I got a lot of strange feature requests. The weirder the request, the higher the price, but I don’t do anything unless that deposit hits. The kid got the song posted on some blogs and they all wondered how he got that person you know on it. He paid a grip, that’s how. We were getting around 2k at the time and I got 5k for a verse and a hook. No matter what though, if they paid and he agreed to do it, I would get him to record. I don’t like people who do that. I might charge somebody extra, but I don’t screw people.
That Empire money first hit in January and I felt like a million bucks for a whole two hours, but that’s how good times went with me. I’d be happy for an hour or two, and then reality would set back in. Empire is the real reason things started to come together. Monthly money being delivered on time, and usually in the thousands. I’m glad I pushed us to do that deal. First check was over $16k. We put up whatever we had. It didn’t matter if we didn’t have the full rights, put it up. It’s the Wild Wild West, come do something. We brought in over $25k overall for the month, and I just want it to always be like that and better. We’re also getting more paid features, better shows guarantees and more mainstream love. That person you know is incredibly likeable, marketable and sociable. Metrics go off the charts whenever people work with us. Labels won’t sign us, but they’ll ask us to feature on all the artists they sign. We always joked about that amongst ourselves. The thinking was so ass backwards. Use us to make your artist who won’t last six months hot for a couple months, instead of investing in what we doing and make money for 10+ years.
He always had a studio in his place thanks to Speakerbomb donating us his old Pro Tools rig. Goon, G-Wiz, Fleezy, or some random would engineer and away we go. Getting those mics donated from Blue was the other half of that battle. With his voice being so great, you want to be able to fully utilize it, and as long as you can record vocals with a good mic, a competent mix engineer will be able to do the rest. You never really need to go crazy with a home studio, and putting that up was the first thing we did when he moved downtown. Goon, him and I installed it. It’s the studio you see in the Thuggin’ video.
ESGN was originally going to be a West Coast album called West Coast Thug .… (his title), with all West Coast beats and features. My homie at Empire was going to help get features from some prominent artists, and others on the label. F.A.M.E. is one of the first records we recorded to give you an idea. That person you know named that song, but he called it The Hate U Give when he first recorded it. He and that other guy had dinner one night and I saw the other guy after. He told me that instead of a West Coast album, we’re going to do an ESGN project and highlight the crew. Bet. We’ll do it quick and easy as a money grab. Originally it stood for East Side Gary …., but that got changed to Evil Seeds Grow Naturally a couple days later. Once I knew we were doing the group project, I went to talk to that person you know about the art. All he said was, “I want to bury a body.”
Almost all of the beats on this project were free. We had to pay a couple of them on the backend, as a royalty of sort, but I worked all of that out with the producers. I even talked a producer into allowing us to take his producer tag off the beat, even though we were getting the beat for free. Normally we don’t care, but they asked me to make that happen because they didn’t like how it sounded. That was an awkward conversation. Everybody wanted to work though. All of the producers liked the music that was made, so it wasn’t too difficult. I asked our publisher to get us a studio for a few days to mix, and I reached out to our engineer again. We had a small budget, but not a lot. $7,500. 4k for recording / mixing / mastering, and then 3500 to our publicist. They’ve been getting a good return on the music so far, so they know it’s a smart investment. Plus, they know that we’re going to get videos made for free, so you can factor that into the 7,5 as well. I’ve been telling people since 2005 that they need to just give me a budget, let me work his music, and you’ll see a profit. And I always delivered.
Our publisher booking Paramount takes care of the biggest hurdle. Again, them paying for studios and hotels on a regular basis through the years is the only reason we could do what we did. We’re not able to afford one day at Paramount, let alone multiple days. We did three or four I think, but I didn’t really like those sessions. I felt off. I wasn’t as relaxed as I used to be, and I felt like it was affecting my ears. A lot of the work that we did on the first day, we re-did. Sodi recording his vocals was hilarious. We didn’t have a plan, we just had him talk, and keep talking. Either he or I came up with the idea to use Snow’s vocals, but I’m the one who picked the beat and put his vocals on it. I put my foot into the mix on Came Up. We didn’t have time to go through the pro tools and mix every beat, but we did do a couple. Paper is only on the album because of me. Both of them weren’t the biggest fans of that song, but I always liked it and gave it to a friend for his mixtape. He leaked the track and it blew up, and both of them saw they were wrong from the fan reaction. If I wasn’t around, that song would have never came out. I’ve heard people talk about how violent this album is, and a lot of it is a reflection of where I was. I’m depressed, I’m barely getting by, I’m angry. Listen to how I sequence projects. Nothing is done as a mistake, every placement is thought out. I take people on a ride. I want you to go on a journey as a listener. The mixes were meant to cause damage and make you feel it. So when I mix, master, and sequence an album; put it in, hit play, and sit yo ass back.
Manhattan reached out to me cold about shooting photos a little before this and I liked his work. He had an A$AP photo that really impressed me, the colors just popped. He also didn’t want any money. He just wanted to shoot. I’d give him herb every so often, but rarely any money. And he’d send incredible photos the same day. It was amazing. I love the guy. I knew that he’d do the photos, and Fifou would handle the art, so I just had to find a way to bury a body. A friend heard of a place where people may have done things like that and told me a general direction to head to. I grabbed a couple shovels, the crew, and we all went out there a couple cars deep. Hit and Edge were here visiting, Wiz and Fleezy are local, and Kill was living with him at the time. His house in the valley, with a lot more space.
We get out to the area and I look for a place to dig, but nobody bothered to tell me to bring water. I’ve never buried a body, or anything for that matter, and this ground is incredibly solid. I slam the shovel in hard, but nothing. A little chip. A tiny scoop. He laughs. He tries. Same result, a little better. I tell him to let me try for a few minutes just to see, but I’m not hopeful. I made a minor crevice into the land after 15 minutes and we all realized that there would be no grave at this shoot, but we made the best of it. There are no do-overs when you have no budget and are working around travel. I always laugh when I see the photos with a shovel because I know that we maybe only dug a foot into the ground. Great photos though. Manhattan is really gifted. I think I just gave him an eighth for doing them. Maybe a quarter. He also shot a couple videos for us, The Real G Money and Deuces. And he did both of those for free.
Our homie Colombo is another director we know and he’s now with DGK. We met him when we were with Snow and he’s telling us that he’d like to shoot some videos for us with product, essentially the same thing that LRG did. Let’s do it. Easy. He’s a great director, so we know the videos will be clean. He’s not working with large budgets, but we get enough. He does Eastside Moonwalker and One Eighty Seven. The same guy who directed BFK, directed Have U Seen Her, and then he also directed Harold’s, off Piñata. For those GI scenes in that video, it was just the three of us. That person you know, the director, and me. We didn’t have a permit or anything for the bando scenes, and had no clue if anybody was in there or not. So, for any of those shots where you don’t see his gun in his hands, I’m holding it off camera, keeping a lookout. I’m very used to being strapped in GI at this point. There was rarely a time when we’re there without something. Strangely enough, when he first moved in with me, way back when, one of the first things we did as a bonding experience was go to the gun range together. “My a&r can shoot!” he proudly exclaimed afterwards. He was quite surprised at my aim.
I explained to Fifou how this is a solo album, but it’s also a group album. I want to see individual photos for each of the members inside, and we’ll also list their names somehow, but the front cover’s focus is only on the one. I gave him the individual photos, and the ones for the front and back cover, and told him how I’d like the cover formatted, with the placement of the ESGN logo. We also talked about roots growing out of the ground, playing off the evil seeds, but everything else was all his artistic hand. The AK was a hilarious touch. I had to do some final touch-ups, but Fifou got me 95% there. The “G” symbol in the tracklisting was something I added last minute. I also blurred everybody’s face on the cover, except for his. That was a very, very last minute change. He asked me to scrap the entire cover the day it had to be finalized, but blurring faces was the compromise. On the same trip that Manhattan shot The Real G Money video, he also took tons of photos all around. I ended up creating song art for each track, using a photo that relates to the song, and Noisey ran a pictorial spread with them and a few extras. Our entire art budget for all of that was one small bag of very good kush. This is another album that I did most everything on, where I’m the actual executive producer, but not properly credited to appease other’s desires. I look back at the things I was able to accomplish with favors and shoestring budgets and it baffles me how our relationship ever went sour. I was doing everything, and making it all happen, while being paid nothing. I was used for every resource I had, with promises of ownership that they never intended to fulfill.
ESGN comes out and does what it do. I’m always glad when things are well received. On the one hand, I’m a little down because we haven’t made it, but things are steadily moving. I can’t have a life, or really function that well, but at least I can work on his music. I’d like to be social, but I barely have money for food, and I’m not interested in playing a bunch of games. I don’t want to live like that. I know that good times and lots of money are right around the corner, so I’m holding out for it. I’d rather have nothing of something, than half ass it. I’m also always worried about a reputation going around that, “His manager is broke.” I’d rather stay away from people and avoid the possibility, however remote. I’m just trying to keep myself together until then, but I’m confident that I have plenty of time to do everything I want. I also know how shallow the atmosphere can be. You could go away for ten years, but if you come back strong, it’s like you never left. But they’ll remember if you were ever there in bad times, acting a mess.
It takes three months for revenue from a new release to hit your account, but it arrives monthly after that. That first ESGN check was over $21k. I say got damn that’s good. We’re not set by any means, but I know full well that we don’t need a major. Empire is amazing. Not only do they work the actual records, but they’re very smart, and entrenched in all of the networks. A small label, with major capabilities. Not to mention the entire landscape has changed. Labels used to hold a lock, but they fired over half the key holders, so that monopoly evaporates and other avenues are exposed. We’re an example of that, and not being on a major was a blessing. When companies reached out to us, there was no red tape. They talked to our agent, me, or that other guy, and that’s it. We cleared music, we didn’t step on toes. We were “independent,” but that was a good thing because we could use every resource without a major label shutting something down. No idiot lawyer sending takedowns, or scamming managers that are difficult to deal with. I’ll put it to you like this. If you’re signed to a label, and they don’t know what to do, and you’re basically sitting on a shelf; you’re not doing marketing opportunities of any kind. They won’t allow it. They won’t want you promoting anything until the album is ready, but we never cared about that kind of thinking because we needed to always make money. Figure out something to promote. Make something to promote. If a company wants to do a campaign and spend $50k on us, we just need to come to an agreement on what we’re doing and it’s go time. I can’t overstate how much marketing departments loved working with us just because of ease. And that’s how we were able to do all of the things we did.
We had an Australian/New Zealand tour later this year and it was so damn lovely. It came to us through our second agent, and I coordinated everything on it. To any Australian/New Zealand fans that came to the shows, y’all the greatest. Every show was packed, but I was the only one really pushing to do this tour. We were in the process of switching agents, and the new agent had found a festival tour stateside for comparable money. Agents do what they do and push their agenda, but I had mine. I knew that it’s harder to set something up overseas than in the states every single time. They always give you that, “But you can do this next year” line, and it’s always bullshit. I fought them on it, but we did originally cancel this tour. Things like this started happening more often. Decisions where the two of them would decide to cut somebody, or something off, and I’d be the only one fighting to keep it going. I now realize why that was the case, and it’s funny how they never gave me credit for saving their ass. I hated sending that email to our old agent, telling him to cancel Australia, but news of some of the shows had already gone out, and the promoters really didn’t want to cancel. They adjusted their offer to make it work around our new schedule and got rid of some of the shows. I really give kudos to them because they helped save our face with those fans. Tickets were already bought, fans wanted to see us, people would have been pissed. And everything over there was set up plush. All of us had the best time.
That new dj came out for this, so I can just be manager guy and sell merch. I also enjoyed having him around, just to have another person with us. We watched Breaking Bad on a pirated stream while out there because we were all hooked. The second, or third, right before the finale. This was one of the first trips where I was almost able to be normal. I had a little bit of money for food at least and didn’t need to be completely a recluse. I miss traveling. I really enjoyed seeing the world. He also did one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen from an artist. To begin with, his sleeping habits are legendary. Anybody that knows him, knows. He falls asleep everywhere. He falls asleep while writing raps. Our joke was always that he writes them in his sleep. I’ve woken him up many times in the studio, wondering if he was still there, or if we should call it a night. He’ll wipe his eyes, say he’s ready to rap, and walk right into the booth. His recording habits are hilarious, and I always just let him do his thing because of the product. I might nudge a little here and there, but you have to allow the process to happen.
He’s passed out like a light backstage. Comatose. We had been drinking and smoking lots, and it was late in the tour, so he’s more tired than usual. Five minutes to show time, he wakes up to roll a blunt for the stage. Rolls it, falls back asleep. It’s one minute to show time and the promoter is freaking out. I’m like, chiiiiiill. I grab a water bottle and a bottle of Hennessy, and tap him on the shoulder. I lift him up, give him water, and give him the Henn. Barely awake 15 seconds, the dj drops the first beat and he runs out. Again, like a man possessed. He gave his best performance of the trip that night and the promoter’s jaw was on the floor. I always got a kick out of seeing things like that, and the reaction from others who weren’t used to witnessing greatness all the time. Every so often, he really would do some super human, next level shit. He’s one of the best performers I’ve ever seen.
Once we got back home, I set up our online store so that we can finally sell some merch. I found out about Big Cartel, designed the site, took the photos, got the product made, and fulfilled orders. Fans used to comment about how the Ziploc bag was a genius way to ship the shirts, but I really just did that out of necessity. My mom started giving me grocery store gift cards again. Not as much as before, maybe once a month. She didn’t think I was healthy. Every time she saw me, she was worried that I wasn’t eating, and she was right. I didn’t tell her at the time, but that’s what was going on. She gave me cards out of eating concerns, but I also didn’t have any money for the packaging on our merch orders, so I bought those gallon Ziploc bags with them.
In late ‘13 I also started to help out Buddy. He was pretty much on his own and needed to get back on his feet. It was brought to me by the same mutual friend who hooked up the Skateboard feature, just looking out. I love that guy. I brought it to that other guy’s attention right away because I thought that it could be something we work on together. I always envisioned growing the business with him. I figured we would eventually have other artists or producers since we’ve been successful in what we’re doing. He was a fan of the music, but wasn’t interested in helping. No problem. The songs were basically done, but I asked that person you know to add a verse, and he did that one for me. Manhattan shot the photos, Archer made the front cover, and I made the back, a play on the Doggystyle back cover. That kid was dope, but I knew it was most likely not going to last between us. I wasn’t set up financially to really move around. All artists have an ego, and if you can’t be there for them how they need you, it’s not going to work. I’m also seeing things with that person you know slowly come together, and I know that once it’s really going, I’m not going to have time for Buddy on his come up. I go through his batch of records, pick my favorites, and sequenced Idle Time. P wasn’t really in the picture for this part of the project, but he didn’t need to be. All of his work had already been done, but his engineer brushed up the mixes to get things sounding right. Buddy and I stopped working together when the album came out, but it’s all love. I was about to go on tour with that person you know for three months, and I figured that it would end up happening while I was on the road just because. I’m glad that I could put that project together for him, and remind everybody what they have.
We closed this year on an incredibly high note with an Adidas in-store for lots of money, and a Rockstar GTA performance for even more. Corporate checks can be your best friend on the come up. ALC was also at the performance and I reminded Rockstar again that they should put them in the studio together. They’re big fans of ours, so I know they want to do more. Moving into 2014 and we’re finally almost hitting 20k consistently. Getting closer and closer, and while that’s great, the little that we’re lacking is still killing me. Every month. If 2010-2013’s issues hadn’t happened, I could have dealt with 2014 so damn easily.
Piñata was an odyssey. Way too much to include here. We worked on it for years, and nothing was ever certain except for the fact that we’re doing it. We tried possibly having a label partner, but never did. That other camp mostly handled that, and they never heard anything that made them happy enough to sign. Them having their own label gives you that freedom. That camp is smart too. Artistically, Jank is one of the greatest. It was fun to work and talk with him for that little bit. The 1960s alt cover he made for this album is brilliant and perfect. I came up with the notion that every song should be one word. I also didn’t want any of the features listed on the back cover. My initial idea was to attempt to turn the tracklisting into a poem of sorts that becomes a poster with the back cover artwork. It was my shoot for the stars idea, but I at least got my one word song titles.
The great thing about this album is that everybody wanted in on it. Asking for a feature was not difficult. Face gave us the homie discount, but he’s the only artist we paid, and we were happy to do it. Everybody else was a verse swap, or just done. There was a fight for a few of these features to stay on the album. I’ll just say that quality control was an issue. There’s a few that he really does not like, but he tolerated them for the look. Badmon was actually taken off the album because of his verse. Not that it was bad, but it didn’t match his verses. I’m pretty sure they even asked if he wanted to re-do it, but he didn’t, so he was taken off the album, and we had the first verse for our Knicks Remix already in the pocket. The early version of the album has Knicks with the two of them. I felt bad when it happened, but there was nothing I could do. Home was originally going to be on the album as well, but then it was put aside for a remix release. I was really happy G-Wiz got on the album. He put in a lot of work for free, and his verse is fire, so that was dope.
The original thought for the artwork was to have a piñata stuffed with cocaine, split open on the ground, with a bunch of kids around it, but that was scrapped for a number of reasons. We shot the photos at the park in Sodi’s hood and asked Jank to make magic happen. When that other guy first sent me the mock covers, he commented that he thinks we may have to go back to the drawing board and figure something else out, but I liked the zebra print the second I saw it. It made no sense, but it looked great and had an individual aesthetic to it. We always said this was our rock album. That person you know liked that one too and the cover was set.
I’ve been a Bad Kid fan since Turn Tha Party Out. One of my favorite E-Swift verses is also on that song, and I love the breakdown in there. I even deejayed at a show with him, and met him initially, when he was with Lootpack. While we’re working on the album, we had a meeting at LRG, his name comes up, and it’s mentioned that he used to be a rapper. That person you know had no idea, so on the ride home, I played him WLIX and he couldn’t believe that it was him. It’s a completely different person. That was hilarious, seeing the rapper listen to the producer rap.
Since I’ve sequenced all of our projects, I made a version of this album and gave it to The Beat Konducta as a suggestion on how I saw it. I wasn’t trying to force anything, I just wanted to express my thoughts, just in case. He didn’t go for it, and Home was also on my version, but he did like one of the interludes I grabbed and that became Supplier. All of these beats were patched together by Goon or G-Wiz, with guidance from that person you know. He would format it in his head, figure out how he wanted the music to go and they’d make it happen. It was that other guy’s idea to do the beat change in Real, and that was dope. It’s still annoying that we have different credits on this project, but that’s that other guy for you. I heard it from more than a few people after the split happened that he wanted to be “the man” and not share. In hindsight, all of his actions showed me that, I just didn’t bother to do anything, and that’s all my fault.
The Piñata shows are going great, but I can’t fully enjoy them. The NY show is sold out and we’re all out there for it. It’s one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen, and something I’ve always dreamt of being a part of. Everything about the show, absolute perfection. There was even a moment where he was having a panic attack backstage, and I straight up saved him.
The backstage is a big ass square room with a bathroom / dressing room to the side, and he’s in the bathroom, getting dressed and ready. I see his head poke out the door, looking nervous and frantic. He looked at that other guy and tried to say something to him, but he was having a conversation and didn’t notice. Then he saw me, and I could see something wasn’t right. I darted across the room quick as shit and got in the there with him, closing the door behind me to hide us from the crowd. He’s having trouble breathing, and his heart is racing. I’m holding him up with one arm, with my other hand on his chest, feeling it explode. I give him some water, and start talking him through some meditation breathing techniques that I recently learned from a friend. A technique that helped me lots, and saved him that night. It took a second, but with my help he calmed down, started breathing normally again, and everything was ok. I felt great being able to help. We took a photo with the whole crew backstage, and I was over the moon elated the whole time, one of the happiest nights of my career. Right up until the show was over.
He went out and celebrated with his girl. That other guy went out with that other crew drinking. And I’m standing at the venue alone. I walked across the street, had two slices at the bar, and a Jameson. I only had around $70 to my name and needed 30 or so to pay for my parking back at LAX. I always parked at a cheap lot close by whenever we traveled to save on costs. I didn’t want to go out with that other crew and not be able to pay for drinks, so I didn’t even try to roll. I was ashamed that I would have to leech, so I didn’t even ask. I had a couple slices, one drink, and then stayed in our hotel room doing work. My celebration for a sold out NY show that was years in the making.
After these shows, we had the Strange Tour, which is something I set up all by myself. No agent. Me. We had been trying to have a nationwide tour since the beginning, and it’s finally happening. 70+ dates, all through a friend of mine. That person you know was on a tour bus for the TM103 Tour, but they were hitting hotels and not on the bus how we’re doing it now. Strange keeps a tight ship. We’ll do a show, hang out and party for a little, and then drive off to the next city. The drivers sleep during the day, so that they can drive through the night. I set up our set list to have options. We’re doing so many dates that I didn’t want him to get bored, but we also needed some kind of structure because of the sheer amount of shows. Wiz has the first verse on On Some G Shit, so he can come out and warm things up for him to enter on the second. Next was usually Still Livin’, then I might have one more locked, but then he’d just do what he felt like for a few, we’d suddenly arrive at Eastside Moonwalker, and there would be one or two more songs after that, depending on how much time is left. The schedule is tight, and there’s no encores, so you do as much as you can, but you don’t go over. Even though his new dj has been spinning for him recently, we’re still in sync on everything, and performing so much back to back, it got even better. I hated everything about the travel, but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat to perform. I don’t do a lot of vocals because I’m never sure how my voice actually sounds, but I’ll chime in every so often, and a little more if I happen to hear his voice fading. The end of lines, and in the hooks. As depressed as I was, the stage is the one escape that always worked. I’m up there performing music I helped make with my best friend. Crowds are singing along to songs I’ve been living with for years. Songs that I know the actual stories behind, and met the people in them. I really enjoyed that. Seeing the growth from when I first met him in NY to packed crowds at shows was magical. All of those performances with him were some of my most favorite moments in life. I just wish I could look back on them more fondly without having to weed through so much bullshit.
I got a confession. I’m the one who showed him the tweet from Doughboyz when they were talking greasy. I forget what it said specifically, and I’m pretty sure it was somewhat subliminal, but it was very clear to me. I showed it to him, laughing about it, but immediately regretted the decision. He tweeted something about it and the beef is on. We were on the bus when their homies did whatever they did to it, but we barely heard anything. There might have been a little tap, but nothing significant. Somebody came running onto our bus, telling us about the people outside, but that was after the damage was done, and then everybody chased them off. Strange wasn’t too happy about it, but nobody got hurt. I wasn’t acting responsibly, showing him that tweet. I don’t think it’s anything he ever really had an issue with me doing, but I was upset with myself for not knowing better. We actually rolled out through Detroit afterwards, went to their hood and partied in a strip club. I’m not sure if he knew that we’re in their hood, but he knows we’re in their city. A couple people with us had driven up from Chicago, so there’s most likely a strap somewhere, but nothing too heavy. I’ve rolled with him to the club with an AK in the trunk and this wasn’t that. We’re not there long, but we’re there long enough for everybody to be staring at us and for us to notice. I always keep my head on a swivel whenever we’re in any club, just off gp, but this is an extra heavy swivel, considering what just happened. We’re there maybe 30 minutes and he gets a call, telling him that they know we’re there and we shouldn’t be. Our safety isn’t guaranteed if we stay much longer. Vamanos we go, and it’s back to the tour bus, off to the next city. I’ve heard through mutual friends that the Doughboyz guys are actually pretty great, and it’s unfortunate we had that little static when we did, because it really was about nothing.
I saved his career, and possibly his life, four days later. I had been sick for a little bit and having issues. Making love to the NyQuil bottle every night, not breathing right. I wasn’t doing well in the bunk. I would have the shade closed, and the air vent blowing on me because I thought it would keep me cool, but the way a tour bus works is that the air is recycled, so I was essentially blowing toxins directly onto my face, and keeping them there by having the curtain closed. I was dumb as all hell and developed a slight case of pink eye because of it. Had to head to urgent care, but I’m still pretty broke, so I walk the almost two miles, right after our bus arrives at 6am or so. The swelling and itching had gotten so bad that I couldn’t sleep. Maybe I got an hour. I knew something was wrong, but luckily it wasn’t too bad. I got some eye drops, some better allergy meds and it cleared up quickly. As I’m walking back from urgent care, I get an e-mail from that other guy about our upcoming Europe tour. That same new, larger agency that we signed with a few months prior, with hopes of them helping him break into acting and more commercial appeal, is having issues with something else. They’re great, but with a larger agency, they also want all of our business, including international. They don’t have any actual issue with French, but he’s not their guy. He presented the tour, and his plans for it, and they told us that it wouldn’t work. That it’s the wrong dates. That they don’t know these venues. That they want to set it up with their people, and route it right. The fucking tour sold out every show, but back to May 5th. That other guy sends me an email thread with them talking about how we should cancel Europe and he’s in agreement. He tells them that we should cancel and says to me, “Do you wanna have the talk with French? Or how do you think we should go about this?” This motherfucker. I got pissed at that other guy twice while I was working with him. I don’t remember the specific issue, but we were talking about how to solve something that had popped up and he says, “Well, we’ll figure it out.” That pissed me off. I shot back, “What do you mean, we’ll figure it out? That’s what we’re doing. We have to figure out what we’re going to do.” He went silent. Whatever the problem was, I just handled it. Then there’s this day. I’m off almost no sleep, pink eye medicine permeating, and I just walked more than a few miles because I can’t afford a cab. I’m already not happy, and then this bullshit?
I ask that person you know why he thinks this is a good idea and he just kinda shrugged his shoulders. He said that the agency wants to handle the tour, so we should let them handle it. “What about French building our shit in Europe? The work he’s done?” That didn’t really faze him, but he left the decision to me and that other guy. So I called that other guy like, “Are you crazy?” and he got hella defensive quick, backtracking. Talking about how the agent says it’s a good idea and I’m like, “Dude, they work for us!” I respect their work and their opinion, but I also understand their agenda. It benefits them to have all of our business, but does that benefit us? French did things for us that no agency could do, with the thought that we’re going to take care of him. I’m not just going to brush him aside because our shiny new agent is upset that they don’t have our international business. They should understand that he’s doing it well, and him doing that well helps everything overall, so chill out. It’s not saying that they would be bad at it, but that French is really good, and he earned the right to stay. That first Europe tour really did save us. We weren’t making much money, and we got a good amount, for very little time. That other guy backed off when he saw how strongly I opposed, and he and I talked with French on 3-way a couple hours later.
I told him that everything is still going, that the agent is just being a little sensitive, and we need to do a little dance and entertain them. But don’t worry, we doing it. Please set everything up. I wasn’t around when he had his issues overseas, but I did hear from a few that French was essential in helping him through that whole ordeal. I’m sure the agency would have helped as well, but I can pretty much guarantee it would not have been as much as he did. He’s one solid dude, and you don’t throw people like that aside for no legitimate reason. I think he’s running his touring now, but I don’t know for sure. We don’t keep in touch, and I never told him this before. Even after they fired me. I didn’t want to mess with the relationship, but it did happen. That other guy would’ve cancelled that European tour, which would have essentially pushed French out, until I screamed on him.
I’m not feeling my best on this tour, but I still stood up to him when he almost did one of the dumbest things an artist can ever do, and not perform. He was upset at how a venue in Texas told us that if he says, “Fuck police,” in between his songs, they’ll cancel the show. It’s ok if it’s in a song lyric, they’re not censoring any of the music whatsoever, but he can’t have the crowd chant it in between the songs, which he did quite often. He felt disrespected by the request and thought that the best remedy was to not perform. And to my surprise, everybody in the crew completely backed him up. I was astonished. I told him his reasoning made no sense. We’re coming to this city for the first time and there are some fans here just to see him. Not chanting “fuck police” isn’t going to ruin our show. Nobody’s going to care that they didn’t get to yell that. He screamed on me with his reasoning for a good five minutes straight, but I wouldn’t give in. No exaggeration. He’s fully yelling and saying that I don’t have his back, but the truth is that I’m the only one who actually had his back that day. I just kept telling him that it’s the wrong strategy. You don’t take things out on the fans. They didn’t do anything. But he wasn’t trying to hear it. He stormed off the bus to smoke, but I followed right after him and wouldn’t give up. I’m not about to play on this and he’s just going to be mad at me.
Eventually I talked him into it, but he was definitely pissed at me and pretty much treated me like shit for the rest of the tour. I didn’t know for sure, but I completely felt like he had decided to fire me already. I had those thoughts often, just being depressed. Always nervous about it, but I really thought it was happening now. Cold shoulder for the most part, keeping me distant. Some cities we’d all go out, but other times they’d just bounce without saying anything and I’m left at the bus. I’m grown, so I don’t need my hand held, but I notice that I’m being treated like shit, off and on. He also held money from me for no reason. He avoided me for a few days, while my account is dwindling and I’m trying to get commission for money that’s already in his bank account. He did that often with me, since forever. There were a few times when I’d reach out, trying to pick up a check from him, but he’d have other ideas. He’d tell me he’s going to the strip club and we’ll meet up the next day. I’d just say, “Cool,” and tell myself that I’ll eat tomorrow. I always felt like I was bothering him and annoying him when I’d ask for my paycheck, but why am I even having to ask? Even on this tour, after we’re making good money, I’m still sleeping on hotel room floors at times. I’m nearing 35, my artist is successful, we’re on a tour that I set up completely, and I’m sleeping on a hotel room floor. We’d be ok when it’s just him and I, but as soon as anybody else is around, he’s treating me different. We flew back to LA on the first flight after the tour, hugged each other for making it through all the dates, and the next time I see him is when he fired me.
The rest of this story is going to get messy. If you choose to turn away and just believe that everything is copacetic, I won’t blame you. Look at the flowers. I wish I had that choice. Unfortunately, this is my life. What unfolded over the next number of months and then years is something I never expected, but probably should have. And before reading any further, please know that I’m ok. The pain I went through is gone and I didn’t write this as a cry for help. My goal when I became his manager was to set him up with a career that would provide for him and his family for decades. I accomplished that. I may not be able to financially benefit from it as much as I thought I would, but I still accomplished my goal. As much as what happened next hurt, and it created some crazy wounds, I healed. I love my scars. My scars make me. So things are a whole lot better now, but…
THIS THAT FUCK SHIT
I’ve touched on not having money, looking for work, and depression, but I didn’t really speak on it, and it’s integral to the full story. First though, my biggest mistake in all of this was not putting our whole agreement down on something real. I didn’t think I needed to. I trusted both of them completely. We were all wronged by the same people. I put my life in his hands in GI more than a few times. I put my freedom on the line at times. I didn’t think there was any way he’d do me dirty. Him of all people. And I thought there was even less of a chance of that other guy doing it. I figured the three of us would be unstoppable and unbreakable, but I was wrong. In September of 2009, I printed out a four paragraph letter saying that the two of us were managing that person you know for 20% and we all signed it, but it didn’t mean much. It’s not properly formatted, and there’s so many other issues. I’m sure if he ever showed it to his current lawyer, he probably got a good laugh out of it.
Any day I wasn’t with that person you know, I’m home online. Searching the web, writing emails, plotting, sending resumes out, and talking to that other guy on g chat, while he worked his day job at that label office. I’d go see that person you know a lot, but that other guy and I would talk off and on for hours, all day long, every weekday I’m home. It’s one of the reasons I thought we were closer than what we were. He did some weird things while I worked with him though. The first incident was around our first NY trip. I asked him if he was free, if he could maybe give me a ride to the airport, and he flipped out on me. He started telling me that he doesn’t work for me, and that he doesn’t need to do what I say, but I have no clue where this is coming from. He told me that he thought I was treating him like he was still my intern. That I was ordering him to drive me to the airport, because he used to drive Helmsley when I didn’t, but that’s not what I was doing. I asked him for a ride because I didn’t have anybody else to ask. I was asking him as a friend, and as my business partner, since I had to go to the airport for our client. I told him how much I valued and liked him as calmly as I could. How I wouldn’t treat him like that because I had some of those same feelings towards Helmsley, but he didn’t hear me.
The second time was a little bit later, when we had a West Coast run around a Medicine Show. SF, Santa Cruz, Seattle and Portland, with the three of us driving up there in a rental. The way things worked with our bookkeeping was this; I handled everything. I invoiced everybody, I collected all of the money, and all checks were sent to me. I would send out statements to the two of them detailing all monies that had arrived for that period, where from, various expenses, commissions owed, and how much he earned. I deposited any checks into his account, and would account for any cash. I’d usually grab that other guy’s commission when I grabbed mine, and then he would meet up with me at some point to get it. With this being my sole source of income, I’d need the money right away pretty much every time, but there were lots of times that I would hold checks, or cash, for that other guy for weeks. His money would just sit in my desk drawer, ready for him whenever he wanted to grab it. He had a day job. His bills were covered. All of his commissions were extra for him, and they never once wanted to acknowledge how that was the case. I was handicapped from the start.
I never have money in my account to cover anything, so that person you know always has to put his debit card down for rentals, flights and hotels. I’d rather be able to handle it myself like a normal manager, but my bankruptcy made that impossible. Directionally, I lived between the two of them, and it made the most sense for the managers to get the rental before picking the artist up. I have maybe $100 to my name, but I was holding onto $1,000 of that other guy’s money, from commissions owed. It’s been chilling in an envelope at my place waiting for him, and it’s been a few weeks, so it’s obvious it isn’t stressing him. With that in mind, I asked him if I could deposit the money I’m holding for him into my account, so that I have enough to cover the rental without using our artist’s card. We’re going to pick up money later that night at the show, and I told him that I would give him the money I borrowed to cover the rental back then, along with the new commission he’s owed. I basically just asked to borrow money for a few hours so that I wouldn’t need to inconvenience our artist. Money he wasn’t about to spend in the next few hours. He started stumbling, didn’t really answer, and then said he’d call me back.
Not even two minutes later, that person you know calls me screaming. “WHY YOU TRYING TO STEAL FROM …..? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? FUCK IS GOING ON?” I tried to calm him down, but he wasn’t hearing me, so I gave up that plan. “I’m not trying to do anything of the sort. I was trying to help you, but I won’t do anything now. There will be no changes. I will be by soon, and we will go get the rental together,” is what I said to him. I don’t know what’s going on. I tried to do him a favor, and got called a thief for it. I called that other guy and asked him what that was about, why did he think I was trying to steal from him? He told me he got confused and went silent.
I knew from prior conversations that he’s had his own issues with anxiety and gave him the benefit of the doubt. I never wanted to see bad in him. I let it go. I tried to talk to that person you know after and make sure he didn’t think I’m a thief, but he’d always just change the subject real quick. I got a half apology, but it always seemed like they just didn’t want to admit that they were completely wrong right there. We got the rental with his card and the rest of the trip was cool, no real issues. I drove the whole way, and dj’d our solo shows. My crazy ass even drove from Portland back to L.A. in one go. Those other two just chilled, talking, playing games on their phone while I mashed, only stopping for gas.
The third thing that happened was when I finally realized that there was something not right going on, but it went down so close to the Strange Tour that I never had a chance to do anything about it. After ESGN did well, I’m on Empire about giving us more money for the next album. Not stressing them, but dropping hints. That person you know understands the game a lot better now and he’s taken to mentioning their name more in interviews, as they appreciate the recognition. And whenever that happens, I make sure to forward it to them. There were a couple back to back, with one of them being a rather nice blurb in Rolling Stone that they really liked. A couple days later, I get a call from them letting me know that they agree that we should have a larger budget and we’ll have $50k to work with for the next project. Finally we can do something real and not have to call in a thousand favors. I call that other guy right away to let him know. I always told him everything first. From day one, I told him that he and I should always have a united front. We won’t be good managers if we’re telling our artist two different things, or if we don’t know the same information. I’m going to see that person you know in a few hours at the studio, so I was just going to tell him there. I never liked to bother him too much when he’s off doing whatever, and with us already having plans, I didn’t see a reason to call. But less than ten minutes after I hung up the phone with that other guy, that person you know calls me. He’s in a great mood and starts telling me about how we got money from Empire. I guess that other guy called him right away and told him about it, but made no mention of the fact that I’m the one who did it. He’s now giving me all the details, as if I didn’t already know. If things didn’t go all bad right after this, I might have had a chance to find out exactly why that other guy didn’t feel the need to give me any credit, but I never got that opportunity.
The fourth thing was something that I didn’t find out about until a lot later. I had a meeting at what’s coincidentally his present label about a job for me. His name, and the Beat Konducta album of course come up, they’re big fans. They ask me if he can coexist with Rozay, and I laugh about it. “He definitely can.” I tell them that we should all come back and meet, but don’t talk anything beyond that. I told that other guy about the meeting right when I got home, joking with him about it, but didn’t think much about it because there was never a follow-up request. Fast forward many months after I’m fired, I’m talking to somebody and they tell me how that person you know vented to them about me trying to get him signed to that label behind his back. It was weird hearing that because I did nothing of the sort. I told that other guy about the meeting right away and hid nothing. That person you know was acting really cold towards me around this time, so your guess is as good as mine as to what happened, but follow the bread crumbs.
When I first got into the industry, I was told about how there’s label employees who will stick around not doing anything, but still get a paycheck. They maybe did one thing of note, but then would coast for years by being non-committal on projects, and being well liked. I had seen people like that at every label previously, and that other guy was like that. Again, I had no job. I needed this to work. I have nothing to fall back on. There is no plan b. I would be pushing lots of things, and be the only one pushing. He would sit back, wait and see if it works, and then say something. Take part in the success and celebrate, or be critical of me if there’s failure. It’s a sweet gig if you can get it.
I went through this job search cycle for four years and it always unfolded the same. Brush up my resume, get my confidence up, start sending it out everywhere. Apply 10-20+ places every day. Searching the internet, checking job boards and company websites. Apply. Apply. Apply. I’d get some interviews. I’d usually get a second interview, things look good, but that would be it. No job. Different reasons, but it happened so, so many times. I’d get confident, then disappointed, and crash. Over and over again. I applied everywhere, and my self-esteem and my confidence is being shredded left and right while this is happening. I’m thinking that I’m not good enough on a daily basis. Applying everywhere and rarely getting a response. That whole time I pretty much only had one client, and one income stream. I was really dumb.
But I did actually get one very real job prospect that could have helped me a whole lot, right after we signed with Snow. With MMG. Within a couple weeks after the announcement. We were in the car when I got an email asking if I was still looking for work and looking at labels. The person reaching out to me is a pretty powerful individual, who had put in a referral for me on another job when I first started looking. I got that interview because he reached out on my behalf, but I didn’t get the job because he had reached out on my behalf. As they put it, if I’m able to have somebody like him email a referral for that job, I was already way overqualified and would have been bored within a day. I understood their reasoning, but I wouldn’t have been bored being able to pay rent. I might have been too far along for that first job, but this MMG one is exactly what I’m doing and right up my alley. I call him to talk about it, and he explains things with the position. They just got their deal and are figuring out personnel. They didn’t have anybody in mind, and he was willing to put in a strong word. That alone, without any of my work to back it up, put the chance of me landing the job very high. He didn’t want to promise anything, but the implication was pretty clear. The only problem was that this person is a friend of Helmsley’s, and we just signed with Snow, who is not best friends with the head of MMG. On top of that, in our head, the thought that we might be used to lyrically go after him is not lost on us. The first thing that person you know says to me is, “They’re probably testing your loyalty, to see if you’d leave me.” Then he jokes and says that maybe I should take it, but I was a little paranoid about that first notion as well. I sent my friend an email, thanking him for thinking of me, and politely declining, noting that we recently signed with Snow, and me going to work there wouldn’t have the best optics. Years later, after Helmsley and I reconciled, I asked him if he was behind the job offer, or if it was real. He said he didn’t know anything about it, that me telling him about it is the first he’s hearing of it, and I believe him. I think I just messed up. I really could have used that job in more ways than one, but I always thought about his needs before mine. I’m also working towards ownership, and in it with who I thought were my best friends.
I learned how to barely get by when I was getting unemployment, and thought I’d find some kind of job before it ran out. Then somehow I figured out how to get by when I didn’t find a job, and I just kept doing that. Looking back and seeing how much I was bringing in is quite ridiculous. In 2010, I made $3k. 2011, I made $13k. 2012, $11k. That was when I had to get that Depot gig. I made $25k in 2013, which was a great bounce back, but still next to nothing. I almost thought things weren’t going to happen, as it wasn’t moving how I thought it would. Me securing the Empire deal was key that year. I was supposed to make at least $36k in 2014, but he stopped paying me commissions owed just because. Shorted me just under $11k that year during the holidays.
During a chat with my mom about an upcoming tour, she asked me why I don’t get any extra money for dj’ing on the road and I got a little upset at her for asking. I replied that we’re family. “We’re all in this together, there’s no need to nickel and dime them,” is what I told her. She was right though. I was the one coordinating with our agent, or the promoter, I dj’d, I was the tour manager, I drove any rentals, I booked the flights, and I booked the hotels. I did all of the work for the show and then would split the commission 50/50 with that other guy, with him doing nothing. Never once said anything about it, never once complained. I knew I was doing the bulk of the work, but we were a partnership. I thought it would balance out in the end. It looked like it was starting to with the Beat Konducta album, but instead of continuing on that path, it was goodbye. It’s no other way to put it, that’s what happened.
My mom helped out a lot financially at first, but that had to stop after a bit. I never got mad at her for it, I was thankful for what she had already done. It was never supposed to be forever and I hated needing my family’s help anyways. She took me to dinner in early ‘12 and told me that she just can’t do it anymore. I need to find another way to make things work. With no credit card for gas, and even less money that year, I used to go over a week easy without leaving my place. Not even opening the door. There were times that person you know might travel for personal reasons, and I wouldn’t leave for anything that wasn’t for him, so I’d just be home. I wasn’t getting any sun, I wasn’t eating. I got really pale. I hated looking in the mirror because it felt like I was looking at a ghost. No nutrition. I shaved my head all those years because I couldn’t afford haircuts, not because I liked the look. I hated it. And every time I saw it, I was reminded of how bad things were. That’s why I wore a hat everywhere. I like hats, but not to that extent. I was maybe seen without a hat five times in five years, but I rarely wear one now.
My anxiety would come in waves. It would get worse and worse as the days went on, and then with each recurring cycle. I’d pay rent and get relief for a couple days, but it doesn’t last. I’d start looking ahead, and anxiety would creep in immediately. Looking at bills coming up, outstanding invoices, and estimating when money might be arriving, or if there are any shows coming up. As it got closer and closer to the end of the month, if I hadn’t made enough money, which was usually the case, I’d start freaking out more and more. I spent my days continually looking for more and more ways to build revenue. Not just for me, but that person you know would be on me about money all the time. He always needed more and more, or he’d be on me about not being signed yet. Then somehow I’d get rent, pay it, relax for a couple days, and it would start back up, all over again. I wish I was paycheck to paycheck. I was, “I hope I might get a paycheck to I hope I might get another paycheck.” And as much as I’m going through it, I’m still doing my job. My brain was all over the place in those days, but I had to put on a good face for the public, and for him. He leaned on me a lot and came to me to solve every issue. He used me as a therapist. I couldn’t come to him with what I was dealing with because he was talking to me about all of his stuff. I handled everybody’s problems, but nobody wanted to help me with mine.
When I was in high school, my best friend’s mom was murdered by her boyfriend. She was pregnant, and he didn’t want to tell his wife about the affair, or the new baby. Immediately after it happened, my mom offered to let my friend and her brother stay at our place so that they could finish the school year. She also had two little sisters, but they went with other family. Her brother found another place to stay after a week or so, but she stayed with us for a couple months. She was going through hell, but she never showed it at school. Not once. We’d talk at night, and she’d cry every so often with me, but nobody outside of her close circle knew anything. I couldn’t imagine what she was going through, or how she kept it together. One night we’re talking, and I asked her how she did it. “I just turn it off,” is what she told me. She wouldn’t allow any emotions to develop, not even a little. And that’s what I did the whole time I was managing that person you know. I hid everything I was going through from everybody. People would know I didn’t have money, but they didn’t know how bad it really was. People might think I was an asshole, but really I’m crumbling on the inside and just trying to keep myself together.
My stomach used to do this thing where it would twist itself into knots, physically hurting me. I don’t remember exactly when it started, but it happened so much that I began to think that it had always happened, even though it was a new thing. I’d get a stabbing pain that would turn itself into a knot, and I’d start sweating. Most of the time it was minor and would go away in a few seconds, but there were a few times where I buckled down to the ground in pain. I’d be slowly rocking back and forth, clutching my stomach, waiting for it to stop. I don’t know what it was, but it finally stopped happening in ‘15 and hasn’t happened since.
The shows on that Raekwon tour went well, but it also had an incredibly low point in Salt Lake City. It’s that person you know, our big homie, and me on the road, and it’s clear there’s friction. I’m walking on eggshells, just hoping to not upset him. I’m so vulnerable and not who I want to be. I’m sitting in the car alone while they’re having a talk about me in their room. Our big homie walks out, gets in, and tells me that I was almost taken off the Europe tour. Forget the fact that you need to send passports early, and set things up with customs, or the fact that it’s only happening because of me, he’s thinking about taking me off it. I started crying almost immediately, I had no control. I bottled up and hid my emotions so much that when he told me that, they exploded right away. Pressure point hit. And our big homie had never seen me like this. It shocked him. “I thought you were an emotionless asshole this whole time,” is what he told me. I told him how much I’m hurting, how it’s not fun right now. I’m really having trouble. He consoles me and says, “Don’t worry, you’re going to Europe. You good, but you’re on thin ice.” Then he says something that should have shown me that there was a major problem that I needed to fix, but I was honestly too scared to talk to that person you know about it. Not scared of him personally, but scared of being fired and having the thing that was keeping me together taken from me. I knew I was mentally barely there, and I just wanted to hold on to what I had left. “I didn’t know that you had left them, that you weren’t around from the get go,” is what he told me, and that’s a lie. I told that person you know explicitly that I would still work on his music after he got dropped, no matter where I was. I never once abandoned him. Ever. I wanted to put that music out more than he did at the time. I told him that when he called me, but then he wouldn’t shake my hand at The Knux show. I’m not going to keep reaching out after that, but my number never changed. He could have called me at any time and I would have been right there, but he pushed me away. He was also going to my homie for help at the time, and I ok’d it. My homie called me before he gave him anything and my homie isn’t doing any of that if I abandoned him. I should have asked him why he and that other guy told our big homie that I left him, but I never did. I knew right then, in the back seat of that rental car, that they believed I did something that I did not do, but I never approached them about it. And I wonder all the time about what would have happened if I did.
Even though I couldn’t talk to him about me, I had no fear talking to him about him, and I was the only one who did. I’m different with things that aren’t directly about me. I’m not worried about getting in his face if it’s business related and he needs to give it the proper attention. If there was any issue with anything, I’m the one to tell him. That other guy never wanted to do any of that. I did it because it had to be done, and I’ve always been like that. I look at it as a sign of respect to want to see your friends do better and help them. You lie to people you don’t care about, but I wanted him to become a better person, so I would get on him about things if it was needed. I was the moral compass of the crew. There were a couple issues I had to talk with him about. I’m also the one to remind him about every appointment, meeting, session, or interview. If he needs to be somewhere, I’m at his place early, making sure he’s up and getting ready. Whatever grind he might talk about doing, I did more.
Something really weird happened on the return flight for our Europe tour. Right after boarding, he told me that if the trip hadn’t gone well he was planning on firing me in Europe, but he’s happy he didn’t have to. The air in my lungs started to sink a little when he said that, but I was ok. I’m not fired. Then he told me that he had a conversation with a major executive and Snow right before we left, and that the executive is going to sign him. He said that he didn’t want to tell me when it happened because he wanted to see if I was going to make it to the end of the trip. He grabbed my shoulder and pulled me close, “Everything’s going to be ok. We’re getting signed,” is what he told me.
This was towards the end of April in 2012, my birthday is right around the corner, and I’m thinking that any day now we’re getting a phone call about the conversation he told me about. It never came, and I don’t know if the convo even happened. All I know is what he told me that day on the plane. When the Corporate deal was going bad, I asked him straight up about what he told me, but he just looked at me with a blank face. That kind of roller coaster killed me. Thinking that something was about to happen, get excited, then nothing. Think I’m about to get a job, second interview popping, get excited, nothing. No bother to rinse, just repeat. My life was Chinese Water Torture. The same thing over and over and over and over again.
Things got even worse for me when he was staying downtown and the parking isn’t free anymore. It’s not a lot of money, but I still don’t have it most of the time. $3 to park, when you only have 7, and you’re thinking you’d like to eat that day means you’re not going. I’d have to wait until the evening, when there might be free spots, but then you also have to park blocks away, and search far and wide. It’s downtown, after all. Mostly lots, and not so many free spots. I was so happy when he moved back to the valley and got a house, just because of that. Getting anxiety about going somewhere because I can’t afford $3 for parking is insanely annoying.
I started getting really, really depressed. I was never suicidal, but I welcomed death. Daily. I’d never think the money would come in, I’d go crazy, and then it would… barely. I started feeling very worn down. I would come home to nothing, and those feelings add up. A lot of loneliness that greatly affected me without me realizing it. I’d wake up in the morning wondering why I was alive, wishing death was on the menu instead. And late night I’d lie in bed, wondering why things hadn’t happened yet, wishing death would just take my pain away. I thought about stepping out in traffic, driving off highways, wondering about ratios and possibilities. I just wanted the pain to stop. I didn’t like where things were going, and I knew I needed to make a change. Then I almost got fired again.
I can’t even remember what specifically happened, but I think it was lingering issues from the Raekwon tour, and my overall attitude. I wanted to get better, and I was trying, but it wasn’t working. I was getting worse. I went over to that other guy’s house to talk with him. I didn’t have a plan, I just went over there to discuss everything. We ended up talking for over two hours and I was crying through a lot of it.
I was honest with him about my feelings towards the two of them, and my commitment to what we’re doing. How everything I’ve done has always been about us, from the very beginning. He admitted that he had been treating me different based off his feelings towards Helmsley and I told him how unfair that is to me. I really loved the guy for what he did for me, but he would look at me as somebody sinister off another’s actions. Everything I did was looked at through stained lenses. He was expecting me to do something foul, and constantly waiting for it, instead of just looking at what I was actually doing. It hurt, hearing that he thought that about me. I had no idea he still felt this way. He never thought to just talk to me about it and we talked about everything. It’s unfortunate that these things happened, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I begged him for help. I told him about my anxiety. I told him about my fears of being homeless. I told him about the pain I was in. I told him about my stomach turning on the inside. I told him how I’d scratch the back of my head and clumps of hair would fall out. I told him about how I got shingles. Twice. In my early 30’s. How I wasn’t healthy. How I would grind my teeth so hard in my sleep that it would scare people. How I had multiple girls tell me for years that they were worried about me, and thought that I would be in so much pain when I woke up, because of the noises they heard at night. I told him how I held the weight of everything we did on my shoulders. How I thought everything that went wrong was my fault and everything that goes right is because of the group. I’m pissed I was so weak that I couldn’t do more for myself at the time. I told him about how I hated my money issues keeping me from having a life. How it keeps me from even doing simple things like going out for a couple drinks. I thought that we’d be signed in a year, tops. I knew our product is better than everybody else’s, but never understood why labels acted soft.
There were a couple weeks that he didn’t have a day job. I don’t know what happened with his first label job, but he stopped working there and was looking for something else. During those couple weeks, I’ve never seen him so stressed. You could hear the tension in his voice. He was nervous at all times. He had no clue what he was going to do for rent, bills, everything. Fortunately, he was able to join on at another label, which was started by people he had worked with at that first label. He could go back to the people who had hired him and look for help. For me, that person you know went to war with the people that could have helped me get a job, so I never had that chance. I reminded him about how he had felt during that time when he didn’t have a job. How he was freaking out and uncertain. And I told him, “Welcome to my life. That’s what I’ve been dealing with forever.” What was killing him after a week or so, I went through for five years.
Goon had a b-day party that I didn’t go to. Not only did I not have money for drinks, I didn’t have money to leave my house. If I can’t earn anything, I’m inside. It hurt my pride not being able to do those little things. I asked him if he would talk to Goon for me, and let him know how much he meant to me. How much it hurt, not being able to celebrate with him. I was thoroughly ashamed that I couldn’t speak with Goon about it. I begged him to talk to that person you know and express how much I’m in this. I know he talked to him because I wasn’t fired that day, but I don’t think he ever did talk to Goon for me. I tried reaching out to Goon after I was fired, but he’d never respond. That hurt a lot too. He was a great, unique person. He always made me laugh and laughs aren’t easy for me, so I appreciated him bringing me a reprieve from the cloud of darkness I called home. Anybody that has helped me get out of that, even if it’s just been a minute or two, holds a place in my heart.
Some of y’all might remember Goon’s twitter tirade, when he heard about a friend talking bad about him in other cities. I could see the sorrow in his tweets and had gone through similar, so I reached out to let him know that I’m here for him. We hadn’t talked in awhile, but I knew that pain, that despair. Still never heard back. I sent him a couple more messages and tweets, but never a response. My friend died hating me, and he and I never got to have that conversation.
When I met with that person you know afterwards, I thought we’d actually have a real convo, similar to what I just went through with that other guy. Instead, we met at a wings sports bar and grabbed drinks outside on the patio. Downtown, and a football game was on. It was a half-assed attempt at talking, and I wanted more, but I was fine. I just wanted to stay doing what we’re doing. He talked about having that other guy do more of the big picture items, and shifting me to focus on other things, but that’s how things were going anyways. I had already talked to that other guy and told him that’s what he needs to do. I’m in the trenches, I’m broke, I’m not able to socialize. He needs to do that. I understand the landscape and what needs to happen. I looked at us as a team that formed together to make a great combo, but I was the only one. I told that person you know that I’m with whatever, and let’s get this album going. That other guy had been talking to Balogun and supposedly TDE wanted to sit down. There were a couple others buzzing around too. Even though it looked like a label might actually happen, I knew what we had with Empire was more important. It’s ours, and we’re treated like kings. They love us because we bring them credibility and great music, and we love them because they do real work and get things done. They’re in events and circles with tech crowds that move the needle. They earn their 15%, and then some. So I don’t mind letting that other guy do the label game because I already know what we’re building with Empire. I also thought he wanted to put in more work since I had been doing so much, and I’m not fighting him doing more. My attitude has been sour towards labels since they said no to signing us, and no to hiring me, so please, go do that dance. I’m not in the habit of begging. I’m going to do what I do, and make you come to me, before I beg.
I found out something rather strange when we got the first accounting report for Piñata. I noticed a payment for $2,000 that I had no record of. It was the first check they gave him and I asked that other guy about it right away. I note all payments, so how am I not aware of money coming in? He apologized and said that it must’ve just slipped. I let it go, it wasn’t anything to linger on. It’s only $200, so not a lot, but that happened when I was skipping meals. That $200 could have fed me for a month, and I never hid any checks from him. I was giving him checks left and right for things he had no knowledge of, and helped in no way to make happen. Features where the person would email me, and I deal with everything. I negotiate and collect. I get the music, I get him to record, I send all the files and deal with any issues. Then I give that other guy the same commission I’m making, just for existing. I handed him so many checks for things that he did no work on. I was meant to fail. It was just a matter of time.
I started getting a little wild towards the end, with some erratic behavior. I always took it personally when labels didn’t sign us because I looked at them as playing with my money. How do they not see that everything we do makes profit? I’m meeting with people who haven’t made anything close to the music we’ve made, and are currently working on artists that aren’t doing anything, but I’m supposed to listen to them about what we’re doing? I played the game for a little, but after every label passed on us, fuck ‘em all was my feeling. There’s an executive that passed on us, that I told off in March ‘14. Somebody I looked up to. I thought that if there was anybody who would get us, it was him, but that meeting was the same as all the others. Fast forward a year or so after, and he’s reaching out again, but the conversation goes sideways with some colorful texts, and I basically told him to lose my number and stop wasting my time. I did apologize to him later that year, but I went off on him something crazy. I screamed on a few people around this time. Anybody talking bad about us would get it. I screamed on somebody in the biz that I saw talking slick in a message board. I yelled on a writer for something another writer said when I got their last names confused. Luckily, it was somebody who is a very nice person and we got to laugh about it after I apologized, but I was acting like a rabid attack dog for no reason
The Strange Tour is the reason I got fired. A couple other things were mentioned, but this was the main thing. It’s wild to think that I secured our first national tour all by myself, with no help from anybody else on the team, and was fired. This is something that three agents have now tried to do, and all have been unsuccessful. One month is the longest we’ve gone, but this is for three, and we’re hitting lots of markets for the first time. I put $60k in his pocket for three months of work. At first I wasn’t sure if I would be going out with him, but they let me know that me being on the road with that person you know is one of the main reasons why they felt comfortable moving forward. They knew that I would keep him reliable. That’s what I do. It’s not that they don’t trust him, but they really, really trust me, and feel most comfortable with me joining. Our new dj couldn’t make the full commitment, so it’s never an issue, but that could have been very interesting. We talk with them about merch and they say that they can help get it made. It’ll be cheaper through their guys, and it will travel with all of their merch, for a small fee. It’s one of those things where you don’t need to do it, but it would have been quite costly otherwise. We would’ve had to hire somebody specifically to handle our merch and travel with it, but we’re fine with what they say and agree to their percentage. I sent over our designs and they got to work on the printing.
A couple weeks before we’re supposed to go out, I get a message, asking about the money for the merch. I’m confused because I thought this would be handled on the back end, but that was my assumption, and I was wrong. They also didn’t check in with me when ordering and ordered way more than I would have. They had been doing this so long, that I didn’t think to double check on quantities, and that was fully my mistake. I messed up royally. I didn’t ask the follow-up questions about how many were being made and payment. There’s no excuse. I expressed that I was upset that they ordered without checking in with me first, but I couldn’t get too mad at them for what was my mistake. They told me that they ordered quantities based off what their last opening act sold on their last tour. That last act was 40 Water.
They ordered $9,000 in merch for us that we had no way of paying for right away, but they had a solution. They can cover the money for us, but there’s now a 30% increase on their percentage. We had no choice, but I still tell them that I need to speak to him about it, and I drive to his place. To say he’s pissed is an understatement, but what’s there to do? Something around 3k might have been doable, but no way at nine. We bite the bullet and I tell them to go ahead. It didn’t happen until August, but this mistake is why I got fired. He and that other guy never even looked at the actual figures though. They never saw how everything was discounted. How we weren’t charged for screen changes, how we weren’t charged for a bunch of ink. All of those small charges that add up to a lot and have been present on all of my merch orders weren’t there for these because Strange handled it with their people, and with their discounts. I even heard from somebody that he thought that I conspired with Strange to deliberately screw him out of this money, but I hope that person was just messing with me. I really feel sorry for him if he ever thought that because it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. I was devastated when this happened.
While we’re out on tour, I found out about another interesting tidbit that that other guy hid from both of us. When things started with The Bad Kid, shows were split 70/30, but only that other guy knew this. I found out much later, and while I understood, it was confusing that I’m finding out accidentally. He also told me that he didn’t tell that person you know about the split, he just agreed to it to make it happen. Again, it made sense, but I never hid anything with his business from him. I always had faith we would make the right decision with the proper info. It did get raised to a 60/40 show split after this, and then 50/50 after ‘15, but I didn’t make it to ‘15.
After the tour, the two of them take the money they made and have a Jamaican vacation with their girlfriends, while I wait to get the final reporting. All that other guy did was respond to a few emails and he made the same amount as me in commissions. They got a vacation with their tour money, and I was able to buy a new TV. I also have a couch that’s falling apart, largely because of that person you know sleeping on it for so many months while having nightmares and kicking at it, but I can only do one or the other. He told me he broke it one night and promised to buy me a new one, but no clue why he never did. It’s not something I bothered him about, it just never happened. I remember somebody asking me in ‘06 if they could have my couch when I get rid of it, because they figured that I’d be buying a new one soon, as things are about to take off and all, but I didn’t get a new one until ‘19, with help from an actual friend. It’s unsightly, but since the recliner still works, I figure the TV is the better option and go with that. My first purchase of any kind above $100 in over five years.
Along with the merch issue, I also over ordered on Piñata cd’s. We got a recommendation and went with it, but we shouldn’t have gone so high. We were worried about running out and needing more, but we ended up with a large overstock. Again, that other guy left every call to me, so that whenever anything goes wrong, it’s on me. It wasn’t the biggest deal, we just had to return some to the distributor, but it reflected poorly on my judgment. I walked right into my own execution and didn’t turn away when the blade hit.
We sold more merch on that tour than we had sold in our online store to date, and had more items remaining than we had sold. It was a lot of shirts, and a lot of bandanas. We sold a lot, but with the high percentage we only broke even. All of the remaining shirts would be all profit, but that’s it. The second I told him that we made no money on the merch sales, that it just paid for all of our costs, my fate was sealed. It sucks that it happened, but it was all my fault. I don’t hold anything against Strange for how things unfolded, and I’ve never once blamed them for any of it. It was my responsibility to do better.
I’m meeting with that other guy during this time, and we’re talking about things for the future. Things on the tour didn’t end the best, and with this merch issue, I’m wanting to have a little distance to let things settle. We talk about upcoming plans for the album, and ESGN as a label. I tell him that he should work more with that person you know on wrapping up his album. That I can come in towards the end for the mixing, mastering and sequencing, and while they’re doing that, I’m going to get Hit’s album done, and G-Wiz’s EP done, along with working on some things for Watts. I was talking with Archer about creating a comic strip and merch with Big Time as a character. He was also pushing me to do more of our merch in general. I see what he did with Nipsey and The Marathon Clothing, and I’m pretty sure that he had thoughts of doing that with us. I also mention to that other guy that we should finally put our agreement on paper. We had our whatever contract, but it wasn’t really valid for anything. I proposed that we officially form our company with all of us having 1/3 stake. I talked about how we can do profit splits with Hit and Wiz on their music, and make it fair. I proposed that we each get 10%, with the remaining going to the artist. We didn’t think the projects would do a lot, but they didn’t need to. They would start a revenue stream for the homies that had supported us and make ESGN look bigger with a crew. We’ll have at least one song that features that person you know, I’ll get a video shot for it, and that’ll be that. If something pops, great, but low risk. I didn’t tell him this at the time, but I also wanted to do ESGN Radio with Dash, and start getting shows going with Wiz and Kill. I was thinking about radio shows and podcasts in 2014 because we had people in our crew who had great voices and personalities. I’m thinking about how we can expand things and grow as a unit, not just him specifically. That’s where my head is, but the next conversation we have is when they let me go. Out of the original members, D-Edge was first to go, then me, then Hit, Wiz, Fleezy and Kill, but I think he and Fleezy kept in touch because everybody loved Fleezy. I miss that guy.
I was fired on August 10th, 2014. Sitting outside, at a Starbucks on Ventura Blvd. I’m guessing they probably thought I’d flip out if we weren’t in public. I don’t think it would have mattered though, I was too paralyzed.
They were already there when I arrived, and I sat down with them. I started to take out a piece of paper I had written some questions for him on, about some things coming up, thinking this is a regular meeting, and he starts to tell me about how he’s decided to move in another direction, without me. I begin to crumble on the inside while I slowly put the paper back into my pocket, and respond, “But… I’ve… given… you… everything.” He starts explaining himself, but it’s not registering. “So he can go with you to this next level, but I can’t?”
“I think I’ve gotten all out of you that I can,” is what he told me.
I don’t want to say what my first thought was, but it wasn’t rational. “So you can completely use me up for everything, and then just leave me in the trash?” is running through my cerebral, and my heart’s below the concrete, but I just sit there, fully in shock. He then said something about how this is the only chance he has, how he has no back-up plan, and I’m looking at him so incredibly confused because I’m not sure what back-up plan he thinks I have. I’ve 100% completely dedicated my whole entire existence to helping him for the last 5½ years. I went all-in, with no protection of any kind, because I trusted them. But what he was referencing there was me wilding on that executive. In his head, my behavior is why he doesn’t have a record deal. He even told me once that he knows that he’d be signed if I had a label job, after an a&r he met with implied that he’d sign him if he was managing him instead of me.
Then, he started talking about how much money I cost him on the merch and I’m lucky he’s only firing me, which I got a kick out of since neither of them had looked at any of the reports, or even asked me how the merch mishap happened. They just know that it happened, and that’s it. In reality, I didn’t cost him anything. He had 30% less profit on almost half of an incredibly large merch order, where the rest was all profit. The 30% loss is miniscule when calculated with the full shipment, and especially with what it might have cost us if we made everything. Even with them taking the huge percentage, it was still less expensive than us doing it ourselves. But they never bothered to look at anything. If you asked him exactly how much money I cost him, he wouldn’t be able to tell you an accurate figure. I made him just shy of one million dollars of legitimate money in the five+ years that I managed him, and got fired over a 30% loss of profit that wasn’t really a loss and didn’t even affect him.
He said that he would give me commissions through the end of the year, which I found humorous since I had worked on everything through the end of the year and earned my commission regardless. One of them was the Europe tour that they wanted to cancel until I yelled on them. I don’t say this, but that’s exactly what I’m thinking. I’m tired though. I’ve been thinking that I might be fired for so long that a part of me felt relief. He also says that we might be able to do something in the future, but it’s all gas. He doesn’t mean any of it.
I tried talking, but it’s clear there’s no budging. I took out that paper again, and asked him my questions anyways. Statik wanted him to go on 106 with him and a couple other things. He gave me a hug, I gave him four pairs of shoes that I had in the car for him, and that’s the last time I’ve seen him. August 10th, 2014.
The very next day I had a meeting at Rostrum about getting Wiz on a song. I was thinking about canceling, but a part of me thought that I might be able to save my job if I pulled this off. I had gotten Skateboard, why not another miracle? I try to talk about the song, but I’m having difficulty, to put it mildly. Somewhat holding it together, but cracking at the seams. I have a hat on, with the brim so incredibly low, trying to block as much of my eyes as possible. I already know they’re red, I was crying the whole night. I hadn’t planned on telling him that I was let go the day before, but I just didn’t feel like lying. I didn’t have it in me to attempt a charade. This also isn’t our first meeting. I’m familiar with him, and have known him a few years. It isn’t that incredibly awkward, but it’s far from normal. He understands my predicament and we have a good talk. I did send him the song, but as you’re aware, it didn’t happen. And after the meeting, I mailed out twenty merch orders. Fired, but still helping.
I also have the excess merch from the tour to deal with. That was a large freight, and I carried every single box into my place by myself. My living room was full of them. I might buy a box at a time when I do a normal order, and that’ll last a month or so, but I had over 20 right now. I felt so bad about messing up that I was planning on selling the merch until it was right. I didn’t care about money for it. My pride was hurt, and I didn’t want to leave things as-is. Plus, I knew that if I had the merch, I was guaranteed to get the commissions he promised me, one way or another. I trust him, but he also just fired me, and I’m not stupid. It hurts every time I process and ship an order, but I still do it.
The other thing I was working on when I got fired was getting Rockstar to set up the session with ALC and Spitta. They wanted him in NY for something, but he had the Europe tour coming up and our schedule was tight. I set the Europe flights to be out of NY, and Rockstar flew him from LA to NY, so that he could be there for what they needed, and then fly to Europe after. Before that though, he had the session in L.A. with those two. I set it all up and I got to see that other guy post up like he did it. He’s funny like that. That person you know was supposed to leave me a check in his mailbox before he left for his flight, but he didn’t. He left to catch a flight that I set up, to start his journey on the tour that I saved, with the promoter that I brought into our circle, and he didn’t bother to simply leave me a check in his mailbox. He said he forgot. I drive to his place, check the mailbox, and nothing’s in there. That’s how I found out. I asked his housemate, and he had no knowledge, but said that he’d ask him about it if he hears from him. Things like this is why I kept the merch.
I gave them items to sell on this Europe tour out of the stash I had, and it all sold out quick. They needed more, he found out that everything was still at my place, and he got pissed. He tried to send somebody to pick it up, but I told them no. I wasn’t trying to fight, or start anything, but I knew exactly what was going on. That other guy called me to try to make it work, but I wasn’t hearing it. I had no guarantees I’m getting my money, he’s on a tour I set up, and he’s already not paid me. “How do you see this happening?” is what I asked him. He promised that he would for sure get my check as soon as that person you know gets back, and that there wouldn’t be any more issues. I think he also gave me an extra 3k, just as another cushion. I remember it vaguely, but I also remember thinking that the extra money really wasn’t anything, considering everything I’m losing.
I let the homie come pick up the merch, and that was weird. My place feels especially empty now, and I’m just here alone. I forecast the commissions coming in, and figure that I’ll have enough money to make it to April, possibly May. I’m going to continue on my path of trying to get better and kick that into high gear. I’ve been walking, running more. Exercising, trying to get my self-esteem back. I know it’s going to be difficult to find work, but I figure that I can reach out to people that I’m closer with initially, and work my way around. It hurts being fired, but part of me thinks I deserved it. I was hard on myself about things I messed up on. I thought maybe I was the issue. A fresh start somewhere could be what I need. The industry dies down heavy at the end of the year, so I know that I have a couple months to plant some seeds, and hopefully I can have a job situated after the start of the year. That’s the rough plan I have in my head, and how I think I can get through this. It hurts like hell, but I’m not out of it. I start to put my resume together and I’m shocked at everything I’m writing. Listing all of my tasks, the things I did, I forgot the vast extent. I thought I was the worst, and everything was my fault, but I began to see how much I actually did, and that started to help me feel better. I had never sat back and really looked at it, and when I did, it’s a whole, whole lot. I had real issues shortening my resume to get it on one page.
My rep at Rockstar is the first person I notified and I didn’t do that until almost a month after it happened. I set up the studio sessions, I set up the flight, and once those things were done, I didn’t want to keep going. We had a nice conversation, and I thanked him for everything they had done. We had been working together on projects for over two years, had nights getting drunk together, talking outside of business. He’s a good guy. I also asked if he could keep an ear out for me and sent him my resume. I probably cried on the call too. It took me years before I could talk about any of this without crying, my constant open wound. And I didn’t speak with anybody else for another two months. I physically couldn’t. Talking to Rockstar at the time was hard enough. I still needed to get my mind right. I wanted to give myself a little vacation for the first time in years to collect myself. I needed time to mourn losing a business I spent almost ten years investing in, and get myself a new job. It was our Adidas rep that I spoke with next, and when I did eventually call to inform her about the situation, she sent me four boxes of product as a parting gift, just because. I couldn’t believe it when she said she would, but she did. And I wore the clothes she sent me that day for the next four years.
That other guy did get me that check when he got back, but the September check didn’t happen. Neither did the October one. This was when I’m really getting annoyed. You fire me, you’re my only source of income, you know this, and then you hold money from me for no reason. I’m doing everything you ask. I’m forwarding emails, passing on passwords and transferring things over. I’m not making a mess. I’m being peaceful, but he still decided to avoid me and not pay me. I just want to get on with my life, but I’m being tortured even more. I’m literally at home bawling my eyes out, wondering why my friends are hurting me, not knowing what the fuck is going on. I didn’t know what to do and I just started writing. Instagram posts talking about things I did, thinking maybe he forgot. I was crying while I wrote all of them. Nobody knew that he had fired me, and people thought that I was just reminiscing, but really I was breaking down and calling out for help. I wrote about that NY magazine, and how I wrote SFJ the longest email I’ve ever written. How the article was about, “Jay-Z, Raekwon, and some unknown rapper. And somehow the unknown rapper got the photo,” speaking about things in ‘09. I didn’t know this at the time, but I was told many, many months later that he read that and thought that I was calling him an unknown rapper in 2014. As far as I know, he’s the only one who took it that way. Everybody else seemed to realize that I was saying that he was unknown in ‘09, when placed next to Jay-Z and Raekwon in a New York magazine, but he didn’t. I was paying him a compliment and he took it as offense. The person who told me about this, also told me that this is why he stopped paying me. He had already avoided me for September’s money, but this is why he avoided me for October’s.
In the midst of this, our web monetization company emailed me a report showing that we’re due $2,700. That other guy never told them I was let go because he’s never dealt with them, and has no idea who they are. I didn’t go into full details, but I asked our rep if he had any issues cutting the check directly to me, instead of that person you know. He responded that their only responsibility is to write a check to the person listed on the invoice, so I sent him an invoice with my name on it. I wouldn’t have kept it if he had given me my commissions as promised, but he didn’t, so this at least softened that blow a little.
November 4th. My phone is blowing up before I wake up. A lot of people thought I was in NY. Nobody knows we’re not working together. Most people don’t even think that’s possible. To this day, I still get texts every so often about him. People are hitting me up, asking me if we’re ok. How are you? Do you need anything? All that. I hit that other guy right away. Call. Text. Called his new dj. I’m online, looking at news stories. That other guy texts me thirty minutes later. A dozen in a row, breaking down everything. Telling me how they were dumped on. He saw them walking up, they fired shots, chased him into the venue, kept shooting, kept missing, then fled. He told me our dj got hit in the knee, but everybody else is ok. They had him in a safe location and are flying back that night. I told him to travel safe and I texted that person you know the same, but I found out later he had already changed his number, and never got my text. He did to me exactly what Helmsley did to him. Dropped me, changed his number and didn’t tell me. It’s one of the reasons why I’m very positive in my thinking that most of what happened to me lies in the residuals from the label and him blaming me for other’s actions that I didn’t have any part in. It’s messed up, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case. I don’t hold anything against Helmsley for this, it’s just what it is. Maybe one day he’ll realize he was wrong, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it.
A little over a week later, that other guy and I have lunch to catch up. I’m hoping he’ll have a check for me, but he doesn’t. We talk more about the shooting and the trip. First thing he says to me is, “I’m not traveling with him anymore, I’m scared.” I started laughing to myself on the inside. I thought about death a whole lot while I was managing him. I’m alone all the time, extremely depressed, and that’s where my thoughts go. I often thought about what might happen if somebody tried shooting at us. He had altercations before. No shootings, but associates have been shot at because of him. It’s not entirely out of bounds, and it happened in November ‘14. I decided awhile ago that I was fine dying to help him make it. If somebody came up on him dumping, I would have put myself in front of him, without a thought. I figured it would make a good story and propel him into another tax bracket. My pain would be gone, and he’d be successful. I was fine with that. If he hadn’t fired me, there’s a good chance I would have been in NY, and been his dj. His dj is who got shot. And if that was me, I most likely would be dead right now. I cared so little about my life and I somewhat expected to not make it. You pass, but the person you’re working for lives. I first had feelings like that when Lil’ Chris died in the plane crash with AM and Travis. Chris was the homie. AM too. Helmsley and I always saw Travis and Chris out, and he’d be talking to Travis, and I’d be talking to Chris. Chris is Travis’ right hand who’s with him all the time, I’m Helmsley’s right hand who’s with him all the time. Seeing him pass like that was difficult for me because I saw a lot of myself in him, and what he was doing. We were a lot alike, in profession and stature. It was similar when Lil Pooh passed. What happened to him, I thought might happen to me. Get caught up in something in GI, Atlanta, New York, or wherever. Going on runs, riding dirty, whatever it might be. I was down for it all because I was fine with my life ending.
I’m not going to front, I thought that other guy was a perra when he told me that. I understand being scared and cautious, but he was just thinking about hiding right away. His anxiety had been kicking his ass since the shooting. Even a week later, he was still unsettled. We ate, talked for awhile and I asked about the check, but no dice. I knew the shooting was a lot to deal with, but it was still very late at this time. He could have just paid me earlier, or even given me a lump sum when he let me go, like normal jobs do. Instead, it’s monthly payments until the end of the year, which he didn’t adhere to once. I’m still being cordial about matters because all things considered, but my patience is waning thin. I didn’t get my check for Sep/Oct until December 8th, the same day my friend Hayes shot his wife and killed himself.
I’m doing everything I can to reach out to that person you know, but he won’t respond. That other guy gave me his new number, but he blocked me and I still have no clue why he’s so upset. It’s Thanksgiving and I send a DM since I can’t text him. “People are lying to you about me and this shit ain’t right. I need to see you. We need to talk. Please. Asap.” is what I wrote, pleading. I just wanted to talk. Then he responds about an hour later that he doesn’t take kindly to threats and I need to know what I’m getting into. He tells me that he’ll talk on his terms, don’t contact him. And he blocks me. It’s Thanksgiving.
The last few years have not been kind, and the holidays can get especially rough. I can’t ever do anything with no money, and they haven’t been good times. But in the middle of ‘14, I thought that this was finally going to be the year that I have a good one. I thought that my suffering was finally over, and I was somewhat looking forward to the holidays. I’m sure I probably went to my mom’s for dinner, but I don’t remember any of it. November 2014 – until about March 2015 was one of the darkest periods of my life and the closest I’ve ever come to killing myself.
I started to write people in late September. Him not appreciating what I had done made me think about everybody who had helped me, and I began sending emails thanking people. Telling others how much what they did meant to me. I also reached out to anybody I might have had any issues with and apologized for whatever it might have been. Some responded, some didn’t. Most of my fights were his fights, and there’s no reason to carry those crosses. My life was all about him, and without that, I didn’t really know what to do. I remember going through my Instagram to delete photos and every photo is something regarding him. I had nothing else, and losing that was eventful. All my eggs were fully in one basket. Cracked.
I couldn’t understand why my best friend was now actively hurting me. The whole time I was managing him I felt like I was at the bottom of the ocean, looking up at the sky above, desperately trying to get to air before I run out of breath. Struggling and struggling to get closer and closer, while losing more and more oxygen. For years. Years of constantly thinking air is right there just beyond my grasp, just one more…
And I finally get to the top. I break through the water. I take that first deep breath of fresh air, and as I’m inhaling deep, I’m smashed right back down to the bottom, pushed down even further than I was before, by my “best friends.” I had that one brief moment of relief where I broke the crest, like Trinity and Neo crashing the clouds in The Matrix, and then went right back down deep, deep down into darkness. It’s one thing to go through pain on a daily basis, and have to deal with that, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to have that little bit of relief, think the pain’s finally gone, just to have it come right back, and even worse.
When he blocked me on Thanksgiving, I did not take it well. I had set up our website and was the administrator for our emails. Emails that both of them are using while they’re holding money from me for no reason. I’m trying to think of ways to motivate them to pay me without resorting to physical means that could spiral out of control, and I think to change their passwords. I let that other guy know that I don’t care to read their emails or anything underhanded, but if you would like access to your emails back, you need to pay me, and you need to pay me now. That worked. I had a check within a few days. I gave them access to their emails before I got the check, just being nice, but my point was made. That’s the last check I got from them though.
The interesting part about this whole dance is that I found out that I could launch anybody’s email with the touch of a button, without needing their passwords. I could have been reading that other guy’s emails the whole time, without him knowing. Looking back and hearing from more than a few people about how he wouldn’t always speak as favorably about me as he claimed, part of me wonders what I would have found in there, and if I might have been able to do something different, but then a larger part of me realizes that I really wouldn’t want to be there in such an impure situation. I really enjoyed that we had the moral high ground in what we were doing. We were the outcast. That person you know had been left for dead, that other guy was the intern, I was the assistant. The high powered managers, lawyers and execs couldn’t do it, but we could. Because we believed in it that much and wouldn’t stop. I loved being a part of the underdog winning. I went through some of the worst pain imaginable for that ideal, and I would do it again. That fairytale ending of good finally winning after years of torture and turmoil. I got to live that for a little bit, and it filled me with the little joy I did get.
I meet that other guy at his day job to grab my check and talk to him a little bit more. I hate being in this situation because all I’m asking for is for them to honor their word. I’m not trying to force them to give me a piece of the company I deserve, I’m not venting to anybody. I’m keeping things cool, but they’re not treating me right. When I see him, I tell him how much I need the money coming up. Thank you for this check, but I also need the next one. It’s the holidays. The industry and most businesses are shutting down, so it’s not like I’m about to get a job tomorrow. “Don’t worry, I got you.” I should have never trusted him.
Later that day, the news about Hayes broke and man I broke down. Hayes was going to be the first artist Helmsley and I signed, but it fell through. He had a wonderful spirit, and was a lot like a little kid most of the time. I’ve never been a huge roller coaster fan, but he loves them and he wanted to go to Magic Mountain when we were trying to sign him, so we went. He brought a girl with him, and it was the four of us. The first, and only time I’ve been to Magic Mountain. We took a photo on one of the rides and I guess I looked shook because he held that photo over me every time he saw me. It always gave him a laugh and he’d playfully tease me about it. I miss them jokes. It’s really sad what happened to him, and his wife. All the promise in the world, and a lot of money thrown at him, but sometimes it just doesn’t go. I spent the night listening to his music and crying. And a lot of my tears were because I was thinking about suicide too.
I can over analyze at times. I’m always looking ahead, and thinking about how things can progress. My whole holiday season was spent thinking about dying and various details, and then pushing those thoughts hounding my brain away. I didn’t go anywhere, I didn’t do anything. I hadn’t even told my friends that I wasn’t working with him, it was still too difficult. I always thought that he and I might have dinner over the holidays to talk about everything after it cooled off. Being away for a little bit, he might realize the things I had done, and just want to talk. I wasn’t his enemy, but he was treating me like it.
I was talking with that other guy on the phone almost every day since I saw him, trying to make sense of what’s going on. Crying off and on a lot and pleading my case. Talk for an hour or so, and end with him saying that he’ll try to get him on the line tomorrow, but it never happened. I’d call to check in, get the bad news, and talk and cry for an hour all over. Day after day. I was so desperate to talk to him that I told that other guy straight up, “Tell him that he can come over to my house with a bag of weed and his gun. Roll up and smoke while I talk with him. Listen to me for a little bit, and if he doesn’t agree with what I have to say, he can shoot me afterwards.” I hadn’t crossed them, I never spoke ill. All I did was do everything I could 24/7 to help both of them. I didn’t want to live if the person that I cared so much for thought so little of me. I asked him, “Why are y’all trying to kill me?” Losing things professionally was hard enough, but I thought that person you know was my closest friend, above everybody else. We went through some things together. I thought he was my brother. I gave my life to him. I remember I really blew up at that other guy about something and screamed on him about whatever it was. Yelling through tears at the top of my lungs. I had to take a walk because I was so worked up. I just couldn’t wrap my head around why they were hurting me and why he was refusing to simply talk to me. They called me on 3-way while I was walking, but I didn’t have my phone with me. We didn’t connect that day, but we did connect on the 14th.
After getting nowhere talking to that other guy day after day and that missed call, I emailed him direct. I was just trying to talk with him, between the two of us. He owes me money, but I’m also concerned for him because he’s not acting rationally. I told him that I was his friend before his manager and that I care about him. I asked as humbly as possible to just talk. I told him that I respect his decision to do whatever he wants with his career, but I’m only asking for the commissions you said you’d give me. I’m just asking you to keep your word.
It’s now been over three months that I’ve been trying to talk to him, while he’s refused, but we’re finally connected on 3-way. I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I can’t wait to finally talk, say hi and try to figure out what’s going on, but that’s not going to happen. He starts yelling at me almost immediately, not even trying. I lose my composure and cuss back a little, but I don’t remember what I said. In one of the last conversations I had with that other guy, I had asked him if his girl had a problem with me. I was confused, and trying to find answers. I never had an issue with her, I liked her a lot, but from his behavior I could tell that somebody was telling him things about me, and I’m trying to find out who. I don’t think she’s doing it, but the only possibilities are her, or that other guy, and that other guy keeps telling me that he’s my brother. I asked him about it, he said no way and I dropped it. I didn’t think she was, so when he said no, I was relieved because that’s what I was hoping to hear. Next, that person you know starts yelling at me, “You think my bitch talking about you? You got a problem with my bitch?” I knew right then that the other guy had been stabbing me in the back, but I don’t allow myself to process it. My brain wasn’t ready to accept it and I just completely block that notion for the time being.
I try to say no, but it doesn’t matter, all the damage is done. He starts yelling out his gang, and talking about how if I want my money I can come fight him, or sue him for it. He also yells at me that we were never friends. I start laughing. Not a funny laugh, but that Joker laugh where you’re laughing to keep from crying. My entire psyche is collapsing as he’s yelling at me. Every word is another cut, and I can’t believe it’s happening like this. Yelling out his gang, cursing and threatening me, and all I wanted to do was have a conversation. He hung up, and that’s the last time we’ve talked.
If I had a gun in my home at the time, I probably would have killed myself right then and there. I really did not want to be alive, and I knew I couldn’t be alone, so I went to my mom’s. I couldn’t even talk when I got there. I tried, but I broke down before a word came out. I wanted to handle this all on my own. Get better, on my own. Get a new job, on my own. Then come see them after, and tell them. I haven’t needed any financial help in over a year, so my family thinks everything’s going great now. After ten minutes of just sitting there and crying, I finally start talking and slowly told her what happened. I was there awhile and she just said to not worry. That we’ll get a plan and get through it. She asked me if I wanted to see a therapist and I said, “Please.” I needed it. I had been begging my “friends” for help for years, while hiding all of it from my family.
I’m still trying to get that last little bit of money though. I asked that other guy for an accounting of what came in, but he wouldn’t respond. It wasn’t until the statements arrived at my place that I could see how much they made and stiffed me on. It ended up being $10,994.79. That other guy does a lot of things well, but at least at this time, his administration skills are thoroughly incompetent. He changed passwords for logins, but he didn’t notify everybody working on things that I’m no longer on the team, and he waited a very long time to change their address on a number of things. One of our agents emailed me some show offers. A publicist sent me press clippings. Months after I’m let go. Various pieces of mail would arrive for the next four years, and whenever something arrives, it’s another stab wound. They’re only arriving because that other guy doesn’t know how to update an address. I get fired, then tortured while trying to get my severance pay, stiffed on some of my severance pay, and then tortured some more after.
I keep pressing that other guy about them just keeping their word, but it’s obvious he’s getting annoyed. There’s only so many times you can talk to somebody who’s crying their eyes out, and the conversations just go in circles. I’m sure I repeat myself a lot. I’m frantic. Then he starts trying to give me arguments in his favor and I really see the perra in him. I’m trying to get commissions for things I actually worked on. It’s not like a manager’s job is an assembly line. This isn’t instant. I work on projects that may not fully materialize for a couple years, there are deals that take months, I’m constantly speaking with people to get things adjusted. It’s not a real simple thing to break down. As a manager, you get commissions on what you worked on and helped bring together. I don’t punch a clock. That other guy once said to me, “He has given you three months of money. Most jobs only give you 4-6 weeks. I know a friend of mine who only got a month from their job.” I couldn’t believe the gall of what he just said. First off, those people are hourly employees paid a livable wage and usually benefits. The most I ever made in a year was 26k. Then, he gave me the kicker. “I know this is hard, but why don’t you give up and move on? Get something new going. I’m rooting for you.” Anybody familiar with his saying will know why I especially got a kick out of that one. I wanted to yell on that other guy, but I still need him for a job reference, and while I thought he was suspect, I still thought we were friends, somewhat. I wasn’t able to face what he did to me until a few months later, and even then I didn’t fully look at it until much, much later.
I got pissed at that other guy in a couple of these calls. I just thought what they were doing to me was incredibly stupid. I kept asking him if he really understood what he was doing. Asking why they think it’s smart to dick me over. I asked him, “Why are you guys trying to turn me into your enemy?” It was my job to retain files and it’s my address on everything. That person you know lived with me for months and his name is on my mailbox. “Did you really think this through? Do you not realize all of the things I have?” You don’t do a person like me dirty, you just underpay me. I was warning him about something like this happening. I was more than willing to go away and not be a bother, just pay me the promised commissions and let me move on. “What about all of those extra things I helped him with? Them things that had nothing to do with music?” I asked him. “Yeah, he tried to get me to help him with some of that too, but I always said no,” was his answer. I don’t even know how to respond to that, and our conversation is basically over.
That other guy hits me back a little later and tells me that they’ll give me a check for the commissions owed if I sign a NDA and relinquish the website address to them. I tell him no way. They owe me and he needs to pay me. End of story. If you want a NDA, or anything extra, you need to give me more. “We’ll just get another website,” is what he told me, but I’m not giving up my only cards. I need money badly, but I also know the value in what I have. I had been flying off the handle in my conversations with that other guy and they probably realized how smart a NDA would be for me, but fuck that.
My therapist is cool at first, but she starts to get annoying real quick. She used to work at a label, so we talk a lot about business plans, artists, execs, things of that sort, but she keeps on me about how you can only be successful if you’re signed to a major. It didn’t matter that we’re keeping 85% of profit on sales, he just had a year where he almost made 370k, and should be over 1 million+ rather soon. This person keeps telling me that what I put together doesn’t work and that you can only make real money on arena tours. I see her for a few weeks, but she stays on that same point and won’t let it go. I keep telling her that she’s wrong, and after the fifth or sixth time of the same conversation, I had enough and snapped. “Look, I came to you for help with my emotions, not my business plan. If you can’t shut up about this, I’m out.” She didn’t really like that and I left. People talk about how good it feels to find a therapist, but it also really feels really amazing to fire one.
I know all of this ultimately falls with me, and I need to get better because this isn’t what I want my life to be, so let’s get better. A lot of it is being honest with myself, recognizing triggers and altering behavior based off that. Staying away from stress, and stressful people. Redirecting energy. I can’t solve all of my problems at once, but I can go little by little. Altering patterns on what had previously been reflexes. Working out more, staying flexible. Yoga and meditation. Keeping physical pain down. It’s all connected for me. My physical and mental energies are intertwined and I wanted to smooth everything out.
I’m also talking with everybody I can while I’m trying to get better. After putting my resume together and seeing all of the things I had done, I thought I was for sure getting a job. I would have taken 20k, I just wanted in somewhere. I had a skill set that covered every department and had just kept him afloat for years, damn near by myself. I met with every label, big and small, and it was always the same meeting. Since I wasn’t working for him anymore, people were more honest and open. The consensus was that he had reached his ceiling, and that’s why nobody signed him. They all thought that where he was, was the highest he would reach. There was no blackballing. They just didn’t believe in him enough. We were banned from Shade45, but that’s it. And when I heard the same thing from everybody, I knew this road was about to be rocky. I’m trying to get a job off the merits of an artist that they’re not that impressed by. Me saying what I did for him doesn’t mean a thing. I’m assed out. I still apply to every single job I can, on every single job board out there, but I have zero confidence in actually getting one. I applied to hundreds and hundreds of jobs through every portal for every major label and entertainment company for years and never got one e-mail or one callback outside of a cattle-call group round-up, but whatever, it’s their loss.
While I’m begging for work, they’re getting engaged. Maybe that person you know got engaged in Jamaica. I don’t remember for sure. He wasn’t engaged on the tour, I know that much. That other guy also moved into a new place a few months prior, and both of their careers are on an upward trajectory. Everything monetarily is coming together for them and it’s no wonder how I was pushed out. That other guy’s confidence is through the roof and mine was beneath the ground. When they let me go, that other guy is making money hand over fist, with his commissions and salary from his day job, while I was barely able to finally cover my bills.
It’s the new year, and I’m getting very desperate. I ditch the thoughts of anything music related and just try to find anything. I sign up for every temp agency I can and go through that process. That other guy agrees to talk to them over the phone and says that he gave me a “glowing review.” I checked in with my rep and asked him how the conversation went, and if it was a good recommendation. “Yeah… It was… good,” was his reply. He didn’t get into specifics, but it didn’t match what that other guy told me. My rep made it seem like it was an adequate recommendation, but definitely not glowing. He couldn’t even put on an act and give me a great recommendation to help me get a new job. The bare minimum couldn’t even happen. There were also some conversations with other associates that didn’t add up. Things that that other guy told me, that were a lot different from other’s recollection of the matter. I noted it, but I didn’t want to think about it at the time. I was solely focused on getting me a job. If I keep thinking about what happened, or look to analyze, I would have been stuck. And things are not going well for me.
None of the temp agencies can even get me an interview. I’m spending all of my day online sending out resumes, but nothing’s shaking. I’m still meeting with people as much as I can, but nothing. And interviews I do get can get weird at times. It’s interesting trying to get a job when your most recent experience is over five years entrenched in gangsta rap. I was looking for somebody to hire me so that I could work on something and get over my issues, but I’m not handling interviews the best. There’s more than a couple where I almost had tears. Thankfully none came down my cheeks, but my eyes are watery. I couldn’t help it. Somebody would ask me what happened, and I wouldn’t know how to answer. Rehearsing didn’t matter. I even explained to somebody the 30% issue and they’re looking at me like, “How do you get fired over something so small?” My story doesn’t add up. How am I doing all of this, and it’s working, but I get fired? I wish somebody hired me because I really needed the money, but I don’t blame any of them. I wasn’t necessarily all there.
That other guy showed me his true colors again right about here. I tweeted something about doing whatever you want managers, talking about another artist, but he hit me like, “Are you talking shit about me on twitter?” I wasn’t, but I saw what he thought of himself, if he thought I was talking about him with that statement. So ever since then, that’s how I’ve addressed him, “Allow the artist to do whatever they want, management.” I believe that was a big part of me being let go. That other guy never got on him about anything. I’m the one that gets called in for any of that stuff. And I’m the only one that ever asks about my check. That other guy just hangs out. Even just subconsciously, over time that’s going to affect your feelings towards somebody.
I reached out to everybody for help and nothing really happened. I got a couple referrals, but they never materialized. I keep reaching out, but it gets harder and harder. I have no money and I can’t keep asking for it from my family. We’re not wealthy like that and they’ve already been helping, off and on, for years. I’ve been selling whatever possessions I can, but I’m trying not to sell the G chain he gave me. I’m still holding on to a little bit of hope. A fan dm’s me out of nowhere and asks if I’m ok. He saw some messages and was worried. A fan. He asked, so I’m honest. “No. I’m not ok.” We talk on the phone for a little bit, and I can’t believe it. He offers to send me money. Part of me is thinking it’s a scam of some kind, but I can’t figure out what’s the scam. He asks me to text him my bank account and he put $800 in there the next day. He said he just wanted to help. He didn’t want anything in return, and he’s never asked for anything. Not even a favor. We talked a little bit more over the next few months and he sent me some more money a couple more times. Almost $2k total. A fan who I met once at a show is paying my rent because of what he told me I had done for him, by just doing my job. I didn’t know whether to be happy, or sad, but it put me in tears all the same. He helped me get by just enough until I got a job, and his last little bit was exactly what I needed at the time. He gave me more self-worth and confidence with that gesture than I had been given in years, and he’s basically a stranger. I can’t thank him enough and still have no clue why, or how.
I finally found a job with a small company and the owners helped me lease a new car. My car this whole time has been a ‘99 Honda Accord. Stick shift, with I think over 200k miles. It was definitely well over 150k. I drove it everywhere, and I drove him everywhere in it. There were lots of problems with that car. Battery issues, engine issues. It had a loose ignition switch for a little bit, and would turn itself off at random times, even while I’m driving. Brakes always need to be changed. Tires are a pain. It used to give me tons of anxiety because I’m constantly trying to get money to pay for repairs. It’s why I couldn’t just do Uber right away. I’ve mentioned a lot of things and said that they all gave me anxiety while I was managing him, and it’s all true. I had no escape because everywhere I went I was hit with something that would drive my nerves wild.
My friend’s boyfriend teaches a class on music business & management and he’s always having guest speakers come by. She mentioned to him who I am, and my situation, and he asked if I’d like to come talk. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I’m looking to meet anybody that might help me, so I agree to do it. He has a teaching plan for the first half of class, with a speaker for the second, so I get there a little early to check things out and listen in. He’s discussing manager contracts. What should go in them, what it means and why.
This is the first time I’m seeing a standard management contract. It’s straight forward, with terms and conditions, and benchmarks to hit. Then we get to the sunset clause and he starts explaining the principles behind it. I begin to tear up. In the class. I feel like an idiot for never looking into this before. It’s exactly what I’ve been saying I did for him. I built a garden, got the foliage right, and the shade all perfect. The tree house is comfy and plush. a/c pumping, sound system nice. Everything’s all set, all the hard work’s done. I’ve taken on all of the bruises and pain, but I get kicked out and told that I shouldn’t be able to enjoy what I just built. My past work is no longer relevant and I’m not deserving of anything. When things first started in ’09, my family told me that I should get a full professional contract, but I didn’t listen. I told them that their word was good enough. I didn’t think there would be any chance of them doing what they did. Even though I couldn’t afford it at the time, that proved to be an incredibly large mistake financially. I’m sure I could have found a way to get the money, and I should have. I did a lot of things wrong simply because I trusted them.
The new job didn’t last long, but at least I did get the car, and could do Uber because of it. Most of the riders were even impressed because the car was so new. I bet on myself. I knew my capabilities and I knew what I wanted to do, so I told myself that I would do Uber until I found the right job. I’ll drive at night, when traffic is lighter, and look to have interviews during the day. I thought that I would for sure find something, but I never did. I used to worry about what people in the industry said about me when I was managing him, but I can only imagine what’s being said now if my name’s brought up. I even pick up some people I know. An exec, an artist, others. It’s bad. I’m trying to hold it together, but I’m still not really able to talk about things without having some kind of emotion. Some friends tried to help me, and it didn’t go so well. I was very sensitive and could take things the wrong way. I was sliced open with a chainsaw and trying to put myself together with used scotch tape.
I did call that other guy a dick though, and that felt a little good. We were somewhat maintaining a cordial relationship while I’m looking for work, in case they call him as a reference, but the second I got a job, that’s not a factor anymore. I told him that I’d like to talk to him about something between us because I’m finding out things that aren’t adding up. He said something about how he never talks to him about me, and I know that’s not true. I’ve had multiple people tell me the opposite. Even the people that don’t know him, when I talk about what happened, they all say he did something to me. I used to push back on the notion when I was still trying to fight it, but they’re right. If he had been my friend even just a little bit, I doubt any of this would have happened. If the shoe was on the other foot, and that person you know did to that other guy what he did to me, I would have stopped working with him. I wouldn’t have gone along with it, and I definitely would have made sure that any promised money was paid. I never did anything really bad. I made mistakes, but I never went against the family, and I never stepped out. That extra chatter though, combined with the stuff I didn’t even do, I’m looked at as a bad individual to be suspected. I happened to notice that his Spotify was linked to my account and I tweeted about it, just messing around. I knew full well that he’d see it. I figured he’d text me or something and I’d transfer it over. Instead, he had Spotify lock my account, and never even reached out. That’s when I texted him that he’s a fucking dick.
I knew I was wronged, I knew I was hurt, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do about it. I only knew that I didn’t want to do something that I might regret, and I didn’t want to make them a focus of my life. I’m only going to hurt myself more if I dwell, so I don’t. I need to get a real job, and get settled. Then, whenever that happens, maybe I look back. There’s no point in anything if you lose yourself in the process. That’s not getting right. I ended up driving for Uber and Lyft for the next three years, and it absolutely sucked. Both companies are horrible. I did also sell that G chain, but I had to sell it to another fan. A die-hard that I knew would want it and could afford to give me a decent amount. I tried selling it like gold, but it wasn’t worth much, maybe a hundred or so. I sold it to that fan for a g and paid my rent with it.
While I’m driving and looking for work, some health issues come up for me. Largely due to anxiety, stress, years of malnutrition and neglect. I was 118 lbs. at my lightest weigh-in and I couldn’t even remember when I weighed that little. As unhealthy as I got, and as bad as things were, it did help me get things in order. I had a crash and a hard reset in a sense. My family was aware of the mental damage that I endured, and now they’re seeing some of the physical. I’ve eaten a lot better since, and things have gotten back to a normal, but I can’t abuse and neglect myself in that manner. I got lucky in a way, but my doctor thought it was cancer at first and there were quite a few tests and a lot of uncertainty. I really don’t know why I cared so little about me, but I’m now at a healthy weight. I feel better than ever. I’m never going back.
Coincidentally, my health troubles lined up right around his legal issues. This is another time my phone was blown up, but I didn’t really care about it. I knew he never did it. He can be a lot of things, but he’s not doing that. That’s something we talked about a lot. I’m well versed in his thoughts on the matter, and I never once thought he actually did anything. I didn’t even care to follow what was going on, I had other things in my life I was more worried about. However, I did find it incredibly curious that he’s shot at and has a rape case within a year of firing me and breaking his word. I never wished ill on him, but I definitely thought karma was trying to tell him he fucked up.
I sent him a message a little bit after he was acquitted congratulating him, but I never heard back. Long story short, I cussed out somebody close to him in an extremely profane manner when I thought it was him using their phone. I later apologized to that person, but I don’t know if it resonated. I felt bad and incredibly stupid when I realized what I had done. Some people have issues apologizing, but we all make mistakes. I’d rather be around somebody that’s wanting to be better and recognizes it, than somebody who thinks they’re always right and never budges. Nobody’s perfect.
I can say one good thing about Uber. They’re not as bad as Lyft. I ended up having a couple incidents on both and my driving privileges were removed. I’ve been submitting my resume almost daily for three years and nothing landed. I got a contract gig for a few months, and that was good, but it was only those few months. A friend was casting a show and I helped him out. I don’t know how I get so lucky sometimes, but I really do cherish everybody who’s looked out for me, and I try to return the favor. I look out for others as much as I can. I put over 100k miles on a leased car in those three years and ended up $15k in the hole. No job, I’m only doing rideshare, and my options were to give them that $15k right then, which I don’t have, or pay $600/month for the next five years on a low level model. I knew this might happen when I started driving, but I didn’t have much of a choice. A little under three more years left on those payments.
I did find a good home eventually, but before that happened, that DJ Booth interview came out. The writer’s incredible and I felt bad for him about the position he was put in, but his editor should’ve known something was missing. It’s nothing to be mad over because it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but it was poorly handled. As I told him at the time, “Y’all basically asked the people who ate the meal, how did the chef make this?” He’s known me since the label days, we’ve talked for years. But the writer wasn’t familiar with me at all, and he had no idea that he’s being fed a bowl of ripe propaganda. He didn’t know he was enabling my abuser with his interview.
I had a couple texts before I even woke up. That was crazy to me. The interview is rubbish, but people being upset that I wasn’t even mentioned was something I’ll never forget. I hadn’t felt good like that in so, so long. I’m submitting resume after resume and not hearing anything, and feeling like I’m garbage, back down to no worth. People caring that I wasn’t included inspired me to write my twitter thread. I didn’t write it for myself, I wrote it for everybody I mentioned. Everybody that, for whatever reason, they don’t mention. And everybody responding and joining the conversation, that all gave me my first genuine smile in years. I felt amazing after I wrote that. Good enough to sing. It was tons and tons and tons of bricks off my back. But that’s just what I’ve found from that other guy. He two-face like crazy on the low. People enjoy his company, and think he’s a great guy, but look at what he’s actually done. He rode my cape and can’t even acknowledge me. Probably out of guilt. He knows he didn’t do the work. It’s a fraudulent crown.
Another thing. At no point in time was The Grateful Dead mentioned. Ever. I don’t know what he’s smoking, but could you imagine telling a gangsta rapper from GI in ’05, ’06, or even ’09 that we’re about to make him into rap’s Grateful Dead? Nothing against the Dead, they’re an amazing band, but that’s nowhere near what we set out to do. MOBB. DEEP. That’s who we looked at. The fact that they secured their core fan base and would always sell a good amount based off that. If they had a hit, the sales would go up for the new fans, but it never went down. And we always talked about how we’re going to need to tour a lot, but never The Grateful Dead. We talked about Hiero, Dilated, J5, KRS-One, even CunninLynguists after we worked with them. How they could sustain their fan base through touring and have a thriving business, regardless of a major’s involvement. Touring is what creates those decades+ careers. The Dead are great, but they were not what we were looking to do and were never discussed. I can’t believe y’all actually accepted that. I laughed so much when I read that.
Shortly after the article, I fully rearranged my resume and put the focus squarely on me. The only name on it was mine. I listed myself as an independent contractor since 2009, instead of his manager for five years, and then an independent until present. I called that temp agency that couldn’t even find an interview for me in 2015 and begged for a second chance. Our last conversation didn’t go too well after I expressed frustrations over not even getting an interview after a year or so, and that ended our first go around. I was in the 97/99 percentile on every test they gave me, but never got placed anywhere, which was incredibly nerve-racking. It was a completely different team now, so they didn’t care about past issues, and said sure. I Skype interviewed with them on Monday morning, had an interview with a company later that day, and was working on Tuesday. I went through the whole interview process without mentioning his name once, and that’s the job I got. I’m 41, been working since my teens, and this is the first time I’m actually making a livable wage and treated well. It’s the first positive work environment I’ve ever been in. I’ve been paycheck to paycheck, and worse, my whole work life, and abused relentlessly for decades.
It’s weird being depressed for so long and feeling it slowly leave your body because a large part of you doesn’t believe it’s actually happening. I thought my life was just going to continually get worse and worse, but it didn’t. Things just started feeling a little different. Like a new pair of sunglasses with a slightly altered tint. I don’t feel minuscule, I can smile without forcing it. I don’t hate everything, I can walk tall. I feel good about myself. I missed me.
So that’s really the story on how things happened, but this is only a story… from the real.
I wrote this for a few reasons. Being alone so much, I’ve done a lot of thinking. Everybody will come up and talk about a violent means to solve all of your problems, but it’s not something that’ll make me happy and it’s not like a fight brings me back what I’ve lost. I would have done that a long time ago if that was the case. We’re all different and have our own opinions, but I’m doing what I want to do. I don’t want to find pleasure in hurting others, even if they’ve hurt me. I want to live better. Finding happiness in causing others harm isn’t something that can continue. Play it out. What if you hurt somebody, and you still don’t feel good? Do you hurt them more? How far do you take that? What if hurting them lands you into something that takes your freedom away for years? I’ve already given him 15, why should I give him any more? I’m not the easy target I once was. I’m not in pain. I’m not hurt. I’m going to say what I have to say for the record, move on, and live my life. I don’t know why they’ve treated me how they have, but that’s on them.
Once I got to a point where I could actually talk about what happened, I tried to talk to everybody. Some I didn’t reach, but I got to most. Not knowing what happened was very frustrating and that caused me even more trauma on top of just the separation. The punishment wasn’t fitting the crime and I couldn’t figure out why. I could have just lashed out in anger, but I really craved information. I found out a lot of interesting things in my talks. Things he had told others about me. He told people that I played with his credit card and did fraudulent purchases. That I was stealing money and buying a bunch of stuff. That’s also when I found out about his issues with my Instagram post, the reason he stopped paying me commissions. Somebody even told me that he said he fired me because of my overall bad attitude, which is hilarious considering I was asking my friends for help to get out of that bad attitude, and none ever came. A bunch of people also told me that that other guy was never really my friend. I just took in all of the info. I knew I’d have to analyze it one day, but I needed to stay focused on getting me right first. The world is so large that you can go find your happiness in so many different places, and I wanted to find mine, way more than I cared about anything with them.
I heard everything that people told me he was upset with me about, and none of it was true. If that other guy would have ever just told him to talk to me, instead of looking to push me out… but that’s not what happened. I did actually do one thing somewhat underhanded, something they never knew about, and I felt horribly ashamed about it. It was one of those days where I haven’t eaten and it’s the afternoon. I didn’t really eat anything the day before, and I’m not sure what the hell I’m about to do. Then $5 comes in through Bandcamp. I set that up as well. I’m pretty sure single downloads were free, but album downloads were $5. It was never about the money, it was just about having content available. Everything I did was about bringing in fans and making them die-hards. I was trying to create an army of people just like me. People that get obsessed with the music and tell everybody that they need to listen to it. The albums are also available for free everywhere else, so not much ever comes in, but every so often an album is bought. That email with the $5 notification arrives and my ribs are touching. I use the money to get a hot dog lunch special and feed myself, but I feel horrible for doing it. As I’m eating. I’m chewing sad, and I feel bad, but I needed to eat. I felt like I was being dishonest to my friends, but I was also really hungry.
Then it happened again. Same scenario. It was probably a week or so later. $5 comes in, I might have had a dollar or two, and I took that to go get a lunch special. This went on for a little bit, but I only did it for food and I was starving. I used to tell myself that I was going to give him back however much it was and apologize. Just hand him some bills and tell him sorry. Having to do that for food really hurt, but it’s not something they ever noticed, and it wasn’t a lot of money. That other guy never had to skip one meal.
I haven’t handled things the best. I’ve talked shit online. Somewhat a lot. I’m not perfect by any means. I’m no saint. I tried to include my failures and mishaps because I don’t want to be one of those people that just points fingers. I’ve also learned and grown from those mistakes. I don’t have issues with being fired, and not working with him, but I do have issues with being abused for years and having my poor mental health taken advantage of by people who told me they love me. They’re two different people, and they abused me in different manners, and for different reasons. I’ve always looked at how the Dodgers let Ned Colletti go and wondered why I didn’t get the same treatment. He built the team, but new ownership wanted to go another route, so he’s replaced, but not ostracized. He’s recognized for what he’s done and treated accordingly. And I did way more for those two than what he did for the Dodgers. The Bad Kid took him to another realm. 100%. I’m never going to argue the merits of that, but he’s not making it those five years before Piñata without me. No way. The first five years of a new business are the most difficult and I did 85% of the work during that time.
Just look at what I did. The New Yorker, after the assist from his sister, all me. The blogs, mostly me and The Don. The Minnesota Viking, who was a huge reason we got the XXL cover, me. LRG, me. Rockstar, me. Decon, me. Adidas, me. Europe, me. Empire, me. Artwork, me. Photographers, me. Videos, me. Mixing, mastering, sequencing, me. Hard copies of projects, me. Getting merch made and managing the online store, me. Paperwork, me. Producer deals, me. Tours, me. Tour manager, me. DJ, me. SxSW shows, especially the ones that paid, me. MTV, me. Our first press run in NYC, me. Radio, me. Personal driver, me. Errands, me. Scheduling, reminding about meetings and everything on the day-to-day, me.
Videos/visuals for Womb 2 The Tomb, The Labels Tryin’ To Kill Me, Boxframe Cadillac, Murda On My Mind, How We Do, ThisIsFreddie, 4681 Broadway, Born 2 Roll, Serve Or Get Served, Do Wrong, Rock Bottom, Illegal, The Coldest, Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away, Anything To Survive, Deuces, Neighborhood Hoez, Menace II Society, Eastside Moonwalker, The Real G Money, and One Eighty Seven, all made for free. The Hard was also made by LRG, but that person you know mostly put that together and I helped on the edit. He also put together BFK, Have U Seen Her and Lay It Down, with me handling the final edits. These are just the facts on how things happened. Love me or hate me, I still did the work.
Seeking a resolution, I wrote him a long letter telling him a lot of what I’ve felt, along with some of the misconceptions I’ve seen. I admitted my faults. I’d rather we just speak man to man. He and I have been through a lot of things that only involve he and I. As much as he’s hurt me, I still love him and don’t wish harm on him. I’ve never been closer to another person and these thoughts haven’t gone away, so I figured I might as well try. At least I would know that he’d be able to read my words directly from me, and not whatever version that other guy tells him.
He never responded, but I somewhat expected that. I’m not going to beg him to talk to me. He knows he owes me, and he owes me for life. Nothing will ever change that fact and it’s all on him to make it right. I’m here whenever. I didn’t write this to start a boycott, or to get anybody to stop listening to his music. It’s the opposite. Please keep streaming, keep buying, keep going to his shows (whenever those start back up again). He’s the best gangsta rapper there’s ever been, and it’s somewhat absurd for anybody to argue otherwise. And I say this without hearing anything he’s released in the last five years. Not just the fact that he raps circles around everybody, but his melodies and understanding of song arrangements. Throw in his voice, his comedic presence, videos and performances, and it’s crazy to think you can logically compare any gangsta rapper to him. You can get one or two qualities, some might be better here and there, and get close, but nobody has him with all categories combined. The only thing he’s missing is a huge crossover commercial single, but it’s just a matter of time. When it comes to making music, he’s on another level than any other gangsta rapper ever. I’ve never once wanted to bring that down. Not only about him, but his family as well. Uncles, cousins, immediate, extended. I have love for all of them. They all treated me like family and I’ve never wanted to hurt them. On a lot of those trips to GI, I used to wonder what my life might have been like if I was born out there. You don’t get to choose that, you just get to live yours. I saw things there with my own eyes, and I always wanted to help him get out of that. He’s had to fight for so much, for so long, and I’m not interested in harming what he’s doing in any way. We’re both very stubborn individuals that had some disagreements that got a little out of control. We’ve both said horrible things about one another, and we’re both wrong in that regard. Maybe we talk again, maybe we don’t. Either way, I can’t shake the things that I’ve done for, and with him, and I’d rather just be happy for his success.
On the other hand, that other guy made a conscious decision to continually do things that eroded the relationship between that person you know and I. He’s somebody that I asked for help from, and outright begged for help from, for years. He’d say he’d help me, but he did the opposite every chance he could. He witnessed everything that went down, and allowed it. I was laying on my back motionless while he lingchi’d me. I look back and get upset that I saw these things happening, but didn’t want to accept them. Maybe some things turn out different, but it was always going to be bad. They both never got past that first label and associated me with all of those issues, while never recognizing the positive that came from all of that. Not even speaking on all of the resources we acquired those years and later used, point plainly, if he never gets dropped, he never makes Piñata. Helmsley and I actually played him beats from The Bad Kid in ’06 and he was not a fan. He didn’t want to work with him then. Him being released ended up being the best thing for his career. In a way, that’s how I look at what happened to me. It hurt like hell, but it probably was best for me. If I wasn’t let go when I was, I’d likely be dead right now. I’m not here to complain about being fired and lost friendships, but somebody else taking credit for my work, that all stops now.
Even with all this, I don’t necessarily wish harm on that other guy either, but I’ll be damned if I live another day allowing him to just act like he did everything. He didn’t pay for that. He didn’t go through them trenches. He stayed at his 9 to 5 and heard about what was happening. He may be able to do some things with a budget, but when we had nothing, he was barely kicking in. So keep doing business with that other guy if you want to, I really don’t care. But just know that he a whole hoe who manipulated and abused somebody he called his brother to get his spot. It wasn’t his hard work. If he was halfway as good as a manager as y’all be hyping up, he would have convinced his artist to pay me properly, and I’d have a NDA and not be able to write any of this. I never did one bad thing to that other guy, and I never said one bad word about him. The question that I used to get asked the most was, “Who is he?” Everybody saw his name, but never him, so they’d always ask me about him, and I’d always speak about him in the most positive light. “He’s not here, but we put this all together. We share brains. He’s essential to everything. You don’t see him, but he’s the man.” I said those sentences so many times, it was basically a memorized script. I understood the feelings he had about being Helmsley’s intern, I had them too. He wasn’t alone. We were the same, but he looked to abuse the fuck out of me and stabbed me in the back, just because he always wanted to be “the man.” I’ve definitely been weak when I’ve mouthed off online over the years, but I was really talking about him in most of those. They both called me their brother. Our first label was ….. Family.
I saw an article that said he’s like Phil, and that’s really when I said fuck this. Seeing that comparison pushed me to write. That’s why I’ve avoided most everything for years. I always knew that reading articles would set me off, and this did just that. That person you know may very well be Jordan, but that other guy is not Phil. Phil didn’t cut Tex from neck to naval and dump him in a sewer when he got his spot. Plus, the triangle’s about ball movement, and the fact that anybody can score, but all of their plays are isolation. Give the ball to him and let him work. That was more Doug Collins’ style with Jordan. I’ve studied Phil’s teachings for decades and seeing that other guy put in the same sentence is disrespectful to all of his principles and guidance. That other guy is no Phil. He’s the abusive coach from The Waterboy that stole Henry Winkler’s playbook.
I also wrote this for any artist that’s looking to do this themselves. The cookie cutter statements I’ve seen from them don’t cut it. If you’re looking to really do it, you can read through this and learn a lot. There’s no one way to go, and anybody who says otherwise is trying to sell you a dream for their profit. The best thing to do is to look at what’s been successful and adapt it to your needs. Steal, and make it yours. Nas was right when he said, No Idea’s Original, because it’s not about the idea, as much as the execution. Teach the truth to the youth. Even in the early label days, I preached to him about creating your own garden and bringing people into what you’re doing. Don’t worry about what’s going on over there, focus on what you’re doing and the people gravitating towards you. Just keep killing it. Keep doing what you do, and the people are going to come because they’re going to see how much fun everybody around you is having. We don’t need them. They need us. We’ve been special from the beginning.
Lastly, I wrote this for anybody who’s gone through anything similar. The abuse, depression, or work being stolen and heralded as others. I thought I was so alone when I was going through it, but when I talked to others, I found out that there are a lot that have been through similar. Too many. My story is unique to me, but it’s not a unique story by any means. Stuff like this happens all the time, everyday, b. I only wish I had reached out to better people. I reached out to the two people that I thought would help me, but I was wrong. I’ve suffered from depression, but it doesn’t make me. There are better days ahead, and you can get out of lots with proper thought, planning and execution. I’ve fallen, but I’ve gotten up every single time and kept fighting. I’ve started from scratch four times in my life. Multiple major mental breakdowns, with one being extreme as all hell. But I’m still here. I haven’t lost myself. I’ve actually gotten better. And I never thought I would say that.
Money wasn’t necessarily a thought when I first started writing this, but as things progressed and it got rather expansive, I figured that I would add a little note. If anything I said did move you, or help you in any way, and you’d like to send something, it’s all appreciated. Not even necessarily for me. Above any of my financial concerns, I’d really like to pay my mom, and the rest of my family back for everything they’ve done to keep me alive, help me chase my dreams over the years, and help him realize his. $archbonkers or @archBonkers on Venmo.
I do also want to thank everybody that has reached out to me through the years. Fans that passed on messages about my work, and anybody else I spoke with, with any encouragement. Artists that have trusted me to work with them. I’m here to focus on the rest of my life and live it. Writing something as personal as this has been a journey in itself. It’s a lot, but they knew all of these things about me when they did what they did to me, so y’all might as well know them too. It’s not the prettiest, but I refuse to allow this abuse to continue and let them erase me from history. I earned mine. I fought my whole career to get artists paid and credited for their work, so best believe I’m getting mine.
So please, please keep being his fan and listen to their stories, but also know the truth. They can go ahead and continue to live in the world I built, but I’m here to lay claim to my credit. They’ve given their story, and that’s cool, but this is mine. And I’m going to let the whole world know exactly what it is I did. Because fuck it. No NDA.
BACK LIKE I LEFT SOMETHING
People can say that there’s two sides to the story, and there’s always going to be exaggerations and omissions depending on how you view things. That’s normal human behavior. It’s ok if you’re hesitant to believe what I’m saying. And yeah, I’m going to look fairly positive in my recounting of events. But I’ll say this about whatever happened. If you really want to do this, here’s a log with all of the money we made from mid-2010 through 2014. Every dollar, except for that first Bad Kid payment they kept from me. And we can go through all of this line by line and trace exactly who did what and how. Because I have my emails, and I have backup for most everything I’ve said. I might look like Charlie from It’s Always Sunny at the end of it, with the strings and arrows, but I’m not worried.
The past is the past, and it’s never coming back, but my name is my name, and my work is my work. I brought Freddie Gibbs to the world. Can’t nobody tell me shit.