It took me about two years to write my first rap track with a beat. I was in a friend’s car and just started rapping. For the longest time I just freestyled over my car and everything. And I thought it was cool because I was just rhyming like myself. That led into getting a beat in a couple of months and then recording with somebody, which was really fun because we all grew up together in the ghetto. I went out on the road with my buddies and I was like, “I’m really excited to come up and make this track.” And then I just kept getting out there and doing it.
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How long before the beat was made?
It took me four months—four years. At first it was just the drums, then it was bass, then it was drums, bass, and vocals and vocals. I was in a whole other room at that point but it just went crazy. I was just out there rapping all night and nobody could stop me. I remember we just dropped “Pistol,” a song from the film Goodfellas on Jay Z’s Def Jam label. Everyone was like, “Yo, that’s the new Jay Z!” That was our first hit.
When did you start rapping? Who was your first mentor?
Tay-K (Owens) was another friend of mine who would come over from Chicago. My parents got in an argument and he stayed out with me. He always told me, “If you let yourself do things, you’ll make something of your life.” He encouraged me to be who I was. He had two girls. The first was named Maddy and the second was Dolly (Owens). Everybody loved T. He was still on the radio, “Biggie.” It was a big deal—not only from where we grew up but for hip-hop. He was just always around. He was always helping me, giving me stuff.
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You went to high school with Marley Marl.
I went to the same high school as Marley. He went to college for three years and then he went to rehab and got sober. He got back to doing music.
What was his story?
The one that really got me excited to get out there and start rapping was when he came over with “Bad and Boujee” or “Suspicious Mind
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