Give me a brief history of Street Smartz.
F.T.: Originally Street Smartz was me and my man Six Shoota. As soon as we got the deal he got locked up that’s why I’m on the joints by myself. We are about to do a Street Smartz album. Right now we are talking about whether I should release my solo LP first or the Street Smartz album. So I’m basically working on two albums at the same time. We also have the Tru Criminal album coming out soon. I have a joint on there with Alchemist called “John F. Hennesy”. You can also look out for “Stand Up” on the streets.
What can fans expect from the forthcoming album “The Curse” and are you stressed or relieved with its upcoming release?
F.T.: Stressed basically, but the fans can expect hard rhymes and hard beats. Production wise on the album I’ll have Alchemist, I did two joints with Young Lord, Buckwild, K.O, Rush and my man Buda. We are also definitely going to do something with DJ Premier that’s already in the works. Some people think the whole album is only on some guns and knives topics but there are joints on there like “Brolic” and “Just Do It” which is an unwatered down party banger. They can also expect songs such as “Dangerous Games” which is for all the hardcore heads. There is going to be a lot of variety.
How picky are you with the beats you rhyme over?
F.T.: I’m mad picky I don’t just rhyme over any track. I look for heavy kicks, snare, and bass lines. The kick and the bass line are my main thing it has to be real heavy and the track has to move. If you listen closely a lot of people these days have the same rhyme patterns. F.T rhyme patterns changes up every few bars. When you hear a beat you will be like yo that’s an F.T beat.
You released “Ain’t No Burna” in ’96 what took so long for an album to be put on the agenda?
F.T.: When I did “Aint No Burna” I was only 17. I did that song just to put out a record. It was really more of a freestyle thing but they wanted me to put it on wax. After that I did “Metal Thangz”, released “Don’t Trust Anyone” on the Tru Criminal EP, then I dropped “F-IT-LESS” that’s when I got a deal with Epic Records.
Has Epic given you a lot of creative control with the album?
F.T.: Actually I’m about to bounce from this situation. There were some personal differences between a person on the staff and someone on my team. It really wasn’t a musical thing more so behind the scene politics. I’m still working on the album and we are going to release it on a different label.
Will any older material such as “Metal Thangz” be on the album?
F.T.: As far as “Metal Thangz” no. We are working on “Metal Thangz 2” for the Tru Criminal Compilation in January. We haven’t confirmed any guests but I would like to work with M.O.P or Redman. As far as my album I don’t know whose on it but I’m on it.
I read in one of your interviews that you decided to water down your lyrics, what made you decide to do that?
F.T.: I wouldn’t say watered down let’s just say I filtered them to make them more understandable. For example on “Metal Thangz” I said “It takes concentration and confrontation / so fuck conversating and contemplating.” Right now I might say something like “Times is hard that’s why nigga’s saving this dough / playing the low / blazing my dro / praying I blow”. I got tired of people trying to label me and I grew as an artist so my lyrics changed over time.
Since your initial moves I’ve seen you on countless compilations. Was this a concentrated effort to keep your name in our heads until the album dropped?
F.T.: Somewhat, a lot of those compilations were situations overseas. I felt I needed to be heard there as well so that when I travel abroad they know me. That’s why I did a lot of them. The track I did with El Da Sensai happened when I was overseas in England. I bumped into him on the street and he was like we doing a track tonight and I want you to be on it. I went down there and did that, I didn’t even know Pharaoh and all them were going to be on it. They all came through and it was on. Another MC named Brixx I met through Matt Fingaz. So I met a lot of those people at shows or through friends so now I have a nice audience overseas.
What is something in hiphop you are fed up with?
F.T.: All this material shit. Its good to have but it isn’t all about that you don’t want to brainwash people into thinking if you ain’t got this you ain’t shit. Maybe I don’t want that maybe I want something else. Right when B.I.G died that’s when hiphop got watered down. That’s why hiphop is in the state its in now.
You were dubbed Y2K Artist of the Year by the Source. How significant is it to you to be recognized by places like Hot 97 or the Source?
F.T.: It feels good. When I saw my face in the Source I was like “finally”. I was gassed I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t think it would ever happen. When I saw that it inspired me to go harder.