Hip Hop Icon Series

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Part 2:

card_ocO.C., the self proclaimed slept on phenomenon, is a favorite of the Halftimeonline staff. His debut, Word..Life, is one of my favorite albums and ranks among many of the classic records in hip hop powered by the underground smash, Time’s Up. Although he’s put in mad years in the game, solo and as apart of the crew Diggin In The Crates, he has never garnered the acclaim of some of his fellow lyricists like Nas or Jay-Z. However, that hasn’t stopped him from moving forward releasing new records through Hiero Imperium. In what is probably one of the longest O.C. interviews, we caught up with O to talk about his intro to the game, creativity in hip hop, Big L and why he won’t rock on the same bill as KRS-ONE.  Enjoy.

HalftimeOnline: Do you feel that you’re one of the most slept on emcees ever?

O.C.: I used to say that, so yea I guess. I don’t even think about it any more man. It’s half work and half play for me now. I don’t even think about the criticisms. At the end of the day they shitted on Mozart and bad mouthed him 200 years after he died and called him an imbecile. I’m not comparing myself to him but maybe someday people will acknowledge but it don’t matter to me though cuz I know what I do.

HalftimeOnline: How did you first get down with D.I.T.C. and how did the crew originally form?

O.C.: I was actually on the first Source tour ever with Organized, Lord Finesse, Biz, Shante, Almighty RSO, this kid named Cooley La, these other kids named Little Bastards and the A-Team too. To make a long story short, I met Finesse on the tour and Buckwild was on the road for a few dates with Ness. That’s how we met. We got cool and then after the tour me and Buck started to record a demo. That’s when Buck really started doing beats. That’s where my initiation into the gang came and we took it from there.

HalftimeOnline: How did you meet up with Big L?

O.C.: That was through the crew but honestly I don’t know how me and L met. All I know is I did my first album and it just seemed like the crew just been around forever. I was meeting people gradually and it was like oh he’s down now? It was nothing that was officially said like you in the gang.

HalftimeOnline: This is a question I’ve always wanted to ask. On your first album you had the joint Ga Head with Yaself where you were talking about how your girl left you for another chick. Was there any truth to that or did you make all of that up?

O.C.: Nah that was something made up. I’ve known that to happen to people but it never happened to me. It was just something that made for a good story. Like KRS said a lot of people don’t use their imagination. Slick Rick is the best at it but I just did my interpretation of Slick Rick.

HalftimeOnline: Me and Marcus was talking the other day and our favorite track off the first album is the intro Creative Control. I read a lot of your interviews and everyone is always talking Times Up and over the years as I’ve continue to listen to the record…

O.C.: That there are better records than Times Up.

HalftimeOnline: Yea, but mainly that Time’s Up really doesn’t even fit. You had a lot of concept joints and stories and Time’s Up was just in the middle.

O.C.: Right, right. It was a to the left record. I’m glad ya’ll mentioned that. It’s like a guilty by association thing like O.C…. Time’s Up. People don’t even know the name of the album they just call it Time’s Up. I’m like you talking about the single or the album and they be like the album. Then I’m like you didn’t do your homework, peace.

Jbutters: Nah, it’s all about Creative Control. That’s like the best intro.

Marcus: I had never even heard a flow like that before. Who even flowed to a beat like that?

O.C.: The funny thing is ya’ll the first ones to even mention that. Nobody ever mentioned the intro.

Jbutters: Are you serious?

Marcus: What’s wrong with these niggas? That’s why I’m gonna do my segment. I’m gonna tell em why I’m mad when you get done yo.

O.C.: People who interview me ask me ‘Oh, so do you feel like you have creative control over this new album?’  I’m like I’ve always had creative control.

HalftimeOnline: Oh yea I saw that one. I was like yo that’s the first thing he said on his first album.

O.C.: I’m like what are you talking about? I have creative control over every record that I make. As far as me being signed to a slabel not a label. What they do with the record be out of my hands at the end of the day. Like my man Lamont always says, you got Anthony Hamilton on Jive but he’s not R. Kelly. Anthony Hamilton is dope but they aren’t going to give him the same attention that they give R. Kelly.  Time and time again I tell people I’ve always had creative control. Did you listen to the first record or anything that I did? What do you have in front of you that you don’t know what you’re talking about?

HalftimeOnline: Word and going off on the label thing you mentioned. What was the situation at Wild Pitch? It’s like they ruined every album. It’s crazy cuz they had Main Source, they had everybody on there but the records never got out and you can’t even find them. What were those guys doing up there?

O.C.: I don’t know. I can’t even shit on Serch cuz he was vice president when he signed me over there. He had the Serchlite Music thing with me and Nas. He did what he could and I understand now because that wasn’t his label. That was Stu’s label. I had Ice Cube ready to shoot a video for my first record but they didn’t want to pay like fifty grand or something like that. I was neck and neck with Flava in Ya Ear. Time’s Up was an underground hit. I was doing a lot shows with Bad Boy. Me and Craig had a lot of showcases and paid shows together but he kinda said see you later as far as his record taking off. I was still on the underground. I think what the label puts into you is what you’ll get out of it. These days I don’t even expect them to do anything for us. We are self contained, so they don’t have to. Give me the money and we’ll make it happen.

Jbutters: Go ahead Marcus I know you’re waiting.

Marcus: Yea, yo I just want to tell cats why I’m mad. I’m mad for one because you’re underrated. How can no one ever say anything about Creative Control when that flow was sick. I’m mad because people claim to be so into hip hop and nobody mentions anything about O.C.  Cat’s 35 and under and half of em don’t even know who O.C. is. Then, I’m mad because I’m looking for Word..Life and it’s not on the shelves. I can’t find it nowhere. Then when I looked it up on Amazon.com one day someone was selling it for $97.98. I’m pissed off also because on the radio when cats do flashbacks not one O.C. song is played.

O.C.: Hold up though before you finish being mad if you got an HMV or a Tower near you I put the album back out myself and they should be in those stores. We put out Word…Life and Jewelz and we’re about to put Bon Apetite back in the stores now. If I’m not mistaken they are running a special right now. We’ll have it here soon but I got the DVD with Word..Life over in Japan, but the regular album should be in stores.

Jbutters: Not to throw Marcus off his rant but what’s on the DVD?

O.C.: Yo, honestly I don’t even know, for real.

HalftimeOnline: Haha

O.C.: Lamont (O.C’s manager) is just a maniac when it comes to working. I don’t even have to worry about anything. He just tells me this is what’s happening and I’m like oh word? He’s a workaholic so I don’t worry about the business side unless I want to inquiry about something or we have a meeting. Other than that I just let him handle the business and I just do the records. It’s comfortable like that for me. I can trust him like that. Aiight, now that we done with that finish telling them why you’re mad.

Marcus: I’m mad because they had a show called Rap Attack and played AZ, Jay-Z, and Illmatic cuts but nothing by O.C. I’m like what the hell is going on. That just really frustrates me and lets me know people go for wackness.

O.C.: That or what’s common for them to get they hands on. Illmatic is something you can find anywhere. Sony always got behind Nas. It was Columbia first. I’m happy for homey. He represents what I do on a bigger scale as far as record sales. If I sold records like that it’d be in the same sense as what Nas sells or what his follwing is. It’s funny because it was L’s first time in Japan but with my following over there you would have thought that I sold a million records duke. I get people 21 and under walking up to me like O.C, D.I.T.C. I be like yo L this kid had to be 9 or 11 when he picked up my record. It’s bugged out but I’m a star over there. I hate to use that word but that’s what it is. My whole crew is stars over there. It’s funny to be home and be from New York and not get the love that I get from everywhere else. It doesn’t bother me anymore. It did for a long time but I’m at peace with myself about that now. Like I said the chosen one, they’ll dig up my bones one day, throw em around a shrine and try to rebuke my spirit. That’s how I feel. Any of these cats you mention when they see me they know what’s up. I don’t care how many records they sell. I’m from that era. I’m from that school of emceeing. When you mention Nas, Jay-Z, and Biggie I come from that right there. So as long as I know it in my heart I don’t care what nobody else says.

HalftimeOnline: It’s like this when I was in 12th grade I was bumping Illmatic and Word..Life. Do you think Illmatic overshadowed Word..Life and that’s why it didn’t get as big as it could have? When I did some research a lot of people were comparing Illmatic to Word..Life.

O.C.: That’s crazy. The only way I would switch that around is to say Word..Life was compared to Illmatic because he sold more than me. He had a bigger machine. He was signed straight Columbia while I was signed to Wild Pitch / EMI. EMI was looking at Wild Pitch like ya’ll always have good records but you don’t know what to do with them, so are we gonna really help you do what you are supposed to do we don’t know. When the record came out I think Arrested Development was on their second album at EMI and they kinda shitted on me for them and their record flopped. My record was buzzing crazy and I only had two videos. Throughout my whole career I’ve had like three videos besides the ones like Crooklyn Dodgers. I’ve never really had videos, I’ve always buzzed off the word of mouth thing. So EMI was like what’s up with this and Wild Pitch was like oh we’ll do it and they said oh you don’t need any help so fuck ya’ll and they backed up off me. The comparison in that sense is that Columbia was behind Nas. It also helps when you have a big ass buzz before you drop a record and he was proclaimed as the second coming to Rakim. That’s not a bad promotion broom to ride. I was happy for everything but I was like damn I’m that same type of caliber of emcee so this is gonna happen to me.  Guess what it ain’t happen. I put in the same work. I’ve been on the Bobbito’s and Stretch’s, I’ve put down hours of emceeing and at the end of the day it was like a slap in the face to me. So I got real disgruntled at one point, probably after the second album. I was just like fuck it whatever happens, happens. That’s where, in my mind, I started going downhill as far as my emotions, but I’m back.

HalftimeOnline: You mentioned Jewelz earlier and I remember when that dropped the lead single Far from Yours was all over radio. I remember a lot of people thinking you went soft and that the whole album was gonna be R&B. Do you think that move to put out that single, which got you some commercial airplay, changed what type of impact you could have done with that second album?

O.C.: Yea. I know how to make records and I know that wasn’t a formatted record to be in rotation at a commercial radio station. First of all the chorus is too long. If you really listen to that record the chorus is too long and too complicated. People on radio want something they can pick up. If you say endroom – endroom and they can understand it and its simple then it could be a commercial record. That wasn’t a commercial record. It’s something that everyone is doing now. Everybody is harmonizing now but I’ve been harmonizing since the first record. Creative Control is harmonizing, on Point of Viewz I’m harmonizing. People was like it’s a sellout record but it’s too long for it to be one of those records. If I wanted to make a record like that it’s not a problem for me but that’s not where my heart is at. I could have been sold out. That’s a funny word right there. People say pop but it’s only an abbreviation of popular and who doesn’t want to be popular but at what cost. I’m a human being so it crossed my mind a lot of times to be like you know what I’m gonna do some Father MC record and then I was like if I do that right there, there is no coming back from that.

HalftimeOnline: Hahah!

O.C.: If I did some ‘If you do for me, I’ll..”, There’s no coming back from that. Word..Life would have been forgotten. If that was on Jewelz it would have been a Frisbee in the $.99 raps. It wouldn’t have even made it to CD. It was a funny thing and just now people are like this album is incredible. I’m like yea I told ya’ll that though.

HalftimeOnline: Far From Yours was hot though. Who takes Tevin Campbell? It took me a while to think that yo that’s Tevin Campbell.

O.C.: Nope it’s not Tevin Campbell, that’s Brothers Johnson and Quincy Jones. They made it first. Quincy made it over with Tevin Campbell on his debut on Quincy’s Back on the Block record.

HalftimeOnline: I like how you were the first to use the sample Hov used for P.S.A. and Black Moon used for Stay Real but nobody mentioned that it was on Word..Life. Were you sittin back like yo this was my interlude, I didn’t even rhyme on this.

O.C.: Nah, I take that as respect for the simple fact that I know somebody like Just Blaze is a vast thespian of music. Dude knows how to play the piano and if you listen to the record you’d notice that he played it over himself he didn’t sample it. He probably has the original sample too because he digs. Dawg has been doing this for a minute, he ain’t no new jack. When Buck played me the loop years ago I didn’t know how to attack that record, that’s why Jay is dope. So when Jay did it I was mad not because he did it, I was like damn why didn’t I think of that flow to that record. That’s just being MC counterparts. That’s what we are supposed to do with each other. I’m sure when Kane heard a Rakim record he was like aww man this shit is gonna make me go back and write something incredible. It was the same thing with Jay’s record. I know they listened. I know Jay listens to me and Nas listens to me just like I listen to them. Great minds think alike and you feed off of other people. You not coming up with a hot album doing yoga, meditating, and lighting incense around you. It’s not happening. You gotta listen to other people. If I was a stupid nigga I would have taken that as a slap in the face or a real hater and be like you bit that shit but he didn’t. We sample the same loops and everybody flips them different. Just Blaze is dope and Jay is definitely incredible. The thing is ya’ll niggas need to do your history. I used the loop just as an interlude. That tells you how far advanced I was with picking music. I was one of the main dudes doing interludes on albums besides Gangstarr and them. I came on the end era when Guru and Preme started really stepping their game up after Step into the Arena. They was doing it and I bit it off of them I’m not even gonna lie. I bit. I’m a Gangstarr fan. That’s where I got the idea like we gotta freak some interludes. I didn’t do it because of Pete Rock I did it cuz of Preme. My point is to lead into everything we’ve been talking about is I feed off of other dudes. That’s how I make good records. Everybody ain’t gonna like what I make. I know this but at the end of the day if it’s a garbage ass album that I made it’s because there’s garbage out here now and I can’t feed off of it. We are supposed to feed off of each other that’s what hip hop is.

HalftimeOnline: That being the case what is your opinion on the state of hip hop right now? Are you disappointed?

O.C.: I’m not disappointed. I’m disappointed in the sense of originality but business wise I’m happy to see dudes making millions of dollars and jobs for their homies, buying their moms homes and putting their kids in the same schools as these cridackers. I’m glad we’ve advanced business wise. The originality is lacking. It’s not all the way dead but it needs some resuscitation right now.  I ain’t gonna lie though I listen to Jeezy and I listen to Anthony. I listen to everybody. I like everything. I don’t just sit in my house and listen to my records or Immortal Technique or somebody. You gotta be a well-rounded person. I listen to everything rock, rap, and underground. I might not like it but I’ll give it a listen. Jeezy’s not an MC, he’s a rapper. He makes good club records and I like dancing to his shit. My wife doesn’t like listening to Immortal Technique. She ain’t listening to no spitters, she hardly listen to me!

HalftimeOnline: Haha

O.C.: I think that’s the case for anybody who got a chick and they’re in the game. I don’t think Mobb Deep’s ladies be like yo..Quiet Storm. I don’t think they sing the lyrics to Quiet Storm. I think the effect is that your girl listens to everything but you. His chick probably knew he had beef with Jay at that time but she probably loved a Jay-Z record more than the Mobb’s. It’s crazy. I can distinguish who’s a rapper and who’s an MC. Fabolous to me is an MC but he does rapping. Breathe was a record that saved him. I don’t care what anybody says that’s a hip hop record. He was in pocket with that Just Blaze record. That’s a record I would do. I just pay attention to everything and I don’t try to judge nobody.

HalftimeOnline: I do. I can’t even front. I can’t rap for shit but I’ll be like damn this sucks and I can’t listen to it.

O.C.: That’s good. That’s what hip hop is. We are opinionated people. It’s supposed to be like that. That’s the only way you’re gonna keep on top of your game.

HalftimeOnline: Like I can’t get with the snowman shirt but I don’t mind this cat. But I don’t like when I’m flipping through the channels and turn on MTV’s hardest to understand rhymes or something and he’s on there like ‘Yo I’m going to the block, <what> I’m going to the block.’

O.C.: Can I get an adlib?

HalftimeOnline: I’m like this is not difficult to decipher. That’s just insulting my intelligence.

O.C.: MTV don’t know man. They really don’t. Like I’m watching the cartoon network and they’re showing the Boondocks. These dudes are like shit, ass, titty, my dick, everything and this is on the cartoon network, but BET will bleep out Hennessey and hoe.

HalftimeOnline: BET is the antichrist. I’ve already come to that conclusion. I can’t fuck with them.

O.C.: They’ll bleep out Hennessey and hoe real quick but meanwhile they playing Boondocks on the cartoon network. It’s crazy. So MTV is only going with the flow of what’s bringing them ratings. If they didn’t have all these side segments on MTV2 they would be out of the game already. Nobody just listening to rock and metal, that shit is not what’s happening. Who sells the most records now? Probably the Latinos. They always did but they just got overshadowed. We selling damn near more records than Led Zepplin and the Grateful Dead.

HalftimeOnline: Especially with 50 out there.

O.C.: Not even just 50 as a collective. For example if you go to a club in Japan these Japanese kids be Dipset out.

HalftimeOnline: Haha, let me find out Japanese dudes is rocking pink bandanas.

O.C.: Nah they just straight thugged out. They wear pink too but they thugged out. They got their Dipset shirt on and ironed bandana around their head. They ice grilling and all that. They think that it’s a fashion thing. It’s a way of life for us but to them it’s fashionable. It’s a way of life for us. It’s a generation thing. This is something we created. It’s bottom wear clothes that’s expensive now. We’ve boosted Nike, Polo, and Timberlands. Everybody’s company has blossomed because of black people. I look at these young foreign kids and be like ya’ll don’t know why we do it you think its just something happening because it’s on TV. They got a L.A. store in Japan like the Esses out there. Dudes be walking around with the big flannel shirts with the hard ass dungarees and the slippers. It’s not a game and they will whip your ass. They looking like straight esses until you see their eyes and their looking at me like he got blue on. It’s bugged out. So I’m like I’m apart of this whole influence. Anything on the east coast that we’ve pioneered and championed I’m apart of. I don’t even think of like why I never got a quote of the month in the Source or why I’m never in the top 20, top 50 or top 100. I don’t even care about that any more. It doesn’t even matter to me. It did before when I was younger. Now it don’t because I know what I do, what my capabilities are, and what I’ve brought to the game and what I still bring to the game.

HalftimeOnline: Word, even just how a lot of people sampled quotes from the first record like, ‘I’d rather be broke and have a whole lotta respect.’

O.C.: Yea, but with that statement a lot of people get it misconstrued. I be like I never want to be broke homey but I’d rather be broke and have a whole lot of respect meaning I won’t compromise bending over and taking it up the ass for a check. I might get blacklisted for this but it’s a lot of homos in the business. I’m dead serious. All jokes aside there are a lot of homosexuals in the music business.

HalftimeOnline: I’ve heard that before but the people named are usually the ones where you’re like what? Nah not him.

O.C.: Who you think make the decisions man? I ain’t saying no names but CEOs man. There are a lot of older cats. Like Jay said the Three Wise Men or something. Them dudes is gay man. It’s not a game. I’m not against it. I’m not gay or homophobic. It is what it is. We can almost say anything on the radio today so I figure why I can’t say that. That’s what I meant by that statement though. I saw it early on. I used to be around Serch and get stuff from Nike because he had a top 40 record. I was like oh this is the perks of being down with you cool. I’ve been around Russell a few times and seen other cats where I was like he’s fruity. He’s a fruitcake.

HalftimeOnline: So what’s like the best moment you can remember in your career?

O.C.: Probably the first time I went to Japan. Premier deejayed for me. Come on man DJ Premier deejaying for me. He was the first dude that took me over there. We was on tour, it was me, him and Lordz of the Underground. We had 3,000-5,000 people a night. I never witnessed that. I haven’t had a moment like that since. People came out because I was new but also people came out to see Preme and Biz. I might have packed em in with a 1,000 but it got to the point where they had to turn people away. I have yet to see that again. I’ll be back and forth to Europe dolo or with DITC and I’m packing em in 1,600 maybe 2,000 a night. That’s incredible for somebody who’s never had a plaque on his wall. Nas and Jay and them is packing 2,500 so if I’m pack in 900-1,000 a night that’s saying something.

Marcus: This reminds me of our G. Rap interview cuz it’s raw and uncut. Only difference is G. Rap would have been naming niggas.

O.C.: Haha. You could pattern my career behind him. It’s so fucked up that G fathered a style that we’ve chipped, bit and stole and he never had a gold record much less sold a mill. How can that be when he fathered a lot of stuff? He didn’t father gangsta rap, Schooly D did but on the east he was apart of that. A lot of dudes weren’t talking tough like that around the time he and Kane were around heavy. Not no punch line ‘get shit on like Exlax.’ He was on some straight ‘I’ll stuff the gun up your nose and blow your top off’ and this was ’90-’91 like woah. And he was spittin lyrical. He was giving you both sides of his mirror. So I had to really soul search before this last album dropped and see if I still wanted to do it. I can’t go back into this with a negative attitude and feel like people owe me something cuz at the end of the day nobody owes me anything.

HalftimeOnline: Who would you say were your biggest influences? Would it be a G. Rap or Rakim?

O.C.: G. Rap, Rakim, Kane and Slick Rick would be the main dudes that I bit. Let’s get it out there. We all bit. Pharoahe will tell you the same thing.  He’s probably the closest thing I’ve heard to G. Rap in years. Him, Pun, and Black Thought. You couldn’t tell me they weren’t Kane and G. Rap fans.

HalftimeOnline: Pun was straight from G. Rap with the things he was saying.

O.C.: And Pun would tell you off the top if you asked who he liked he’d be like G. Rap. He would quote every G. Rap record to you literally. That’s how deep Pun was into the music. G. Rap, Kane and Rakim were my main influences and story wise it was Slick Rick and KRS. If you go back to all my albums by me telling you this you could be like oh I see what he’s saying now. Constables is KRS and Ga Head is a Slick Rick type of record. It’s not the same thing but I mirrored it. I’m not ashamed. Rakim would be Ozone and Time’s Up is basically a Kane mixed with G. Rap record. Becuz and No Main Topic are records like these dudes did. I’m not saying I bit them to the letter but I did them like this is how Kane would flip it in my mind. I never compared Nas to Rakim because he was more like G. Rap to me. I probably sounded more like Rakim than he did. Nas was more simplified than G. Rap. Same thing with Rakim. Mine is more simplified compared to Rakim. He was simple but if you look at a movie and you see a camera in space and the camera is moving away like its flying and the stars start to get smaller Ra was saying that in Follow the leader. ‘Small balls of clay, world’s out of sight as far as the eye can see.’ This nigga was ahead of his time 15 years ago.

HalftimeOnline: You mentioned KRS. I think one of the sickest songs you have is Burn me Slow from the Buckwild compilation.

O.C.: Oh yea. I put that back on Jewelz as bonus cut.

HalftimeOnline: Looking at that one was that something you got from KRS.

O.C.: No doubt. Them dude’s influenced me so there’s no shame. It’s bad that the cat’s coming up right now don’t have anyone to influence them that’s why they all sound alike. And straight up and down that’s why I like Jeezy. He’s not an emcee but he don’t sound like nobody. That’s what attracts me to him. The first time I heard him say can I get an adlib I was like what the fuck is he talking about but he saying his own shit and it means something to him. That’s the meaning of hiphop. He’s talking the same shit in the sense of the coke and the keys or whatever but you gotta have something to attract people to you and he has that something. I don’t know what it is but I got his record.

HalftimeOnline: How did you and Pharoahe get down with F.T. for the Metal Thangz record?

O.C.: My man knew the cat that ran the label and F.T. had been doing his thing for a minute. Honestly, they had a check but on top of that F.T. was dope and I was probably hot at that time. You know how that goes, when you hot people want to make records with you. It wasn’t F.T. it was his label like do a record with O. I didn’t think we matched. He talked a lot of tough killer shit and me I don’t talk that killer shit. But I like son, we used to bump all the time and it was like your label is gonna cut a check on top of that cool. I really didn’t see the match up though with me and The Pharoahe. It came together though.

HalftimeOnline: Speaking of that I know there was talk about you joining Organized..

O.C.: Nah that ain’t happening.

HalftimeOnline: I know it’s not happening but I’m just saying I remember the talk and I don’t want to harp on it but I know there was an issue there with you and Po. Was it the timing of doing it or was it that you guys weren’t on the same page to do it at all?

O.C.: Nah, fuck that nigga Po. Next question.

Jbutters: Haha, ok then

Marcus: I’d like to see you do a song with Nas produced by Premier or Kanye West. That shit would be blazing.

O.C.: Yea that would be incredible but that right there is like G. Rap and Rakim doing a record together. It’s just something that will never happen.

HalftimeOnline: You don’t think Nas would want to go along with the idea?

O.C.: Nah. There are certain things that are never meant to get mixed together. Son was supposed to be on my first album but he never showed up to the studio.

HalftimeOnline: He seems like that kinda dude though. He seems like the kinda guy where you’ll be like let’s do this album and he’ll be like yea son let’s do it and then you never hear from him again.

O.C.: Yea

HalftimeOnline: He mentioned that in a couple of songs how he used to be immature and wouldn’t show up for shows so I could see him not showing up.

O.C.: At that time duke was pegged the second coming. He was real humble in the beginning but you being a kid, being gifted and on top of that you got a record label telling you that you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread it’s gonna go to your head. That goes for anybody. It would have happened to me too. I’m glad he never got caught up in the hype where he fell off. He got his bearings together before it was too late. He seen it. After It Was Written his career was crazy. It was rock star for him after that. I think niggas used to call him Nas Jackson or something. But dude is a grown man now. I’m proud of him, I’m proud of Jay, and anybody doing there thing in the sense of they’ve been around for ten years and their still on their toes and can do what they do. There aren’t many people who have lasted through the test of time. I’m not even supposed to be here by industry standards. People have seen my cars outside like how are you getting that? I’m not a fool man. I can drive the same thing ya’ll drive. That’s not what I’m about. I don’t talk about what I have. Money don’t make the man, the man makes the money. As easy as it comes it can go so I cherish everything that I get. But trust me to put out there just this time people have seen me pull up in a 500 or the Beemer trucks when they was fresh out and the Rovers and the look on these other rap dudes faces is like ‘you don’t even sell records.’ How? Show’s been having cars since before Party Groove.

Put it like this you got the thing on t-shirts now talking about stop snitchin but everybody is on their records talking about how many keys they got and blah, blah but they got t-shirts out saying stop snitching. They got police around them and it’s like you’re snitching too. You’re dry snitching talking about keys and coke on your records. All these cats pointing guns is snitching on themselves. Busta’s my dude but one time he was like ‘damn you look good.’ And I’m like how the fuck am I supposed to look? What am I supposed to look like? You know Busta’s crazy that’s how he is. He’s an exciting dude but people be like yo you look good like I’m supposed to have my head down at shows. I’ve seen it go so far as people look at the back of my jeans. I’m like yo is it that serious? That’s really bad man. People base you on how you look, what you wear, what you driving and are you broke. If you not broke then you must be selling drugs because you’re not selling records and that ain’t the case man. Everybody ain’t sell drugs. The drug game ain’t even popping no more.

HalftimeOnline: I think it’s funny that on Time’s Up you’re talking about exactly what’s going on right now. It’s either crazy or it’s sad that the situation is still the same. That bugs me out.

O.C.: And the thing is I listen to everybody. Juelz said in an interview one day that dudes is scared to make party records. They think you might feel like a sucka if you make a certain record. Hip hop is about balance. You had Native Tongues, you had Kane and he was talking a little bit of both black power and big jewelry. You had G. Rap talking about guns, coke, or whatever painting you a picture. You had Rakim talking deep thought and Chuck D on some hip hop black panthers. Now it’s like everybody is one person. When Santana said that he hit it smack on the nose cuz what’s wrong with making a record to make people party. That’s why Mase was so popular at the time. He was doing it. I’m trying to think whose popular now who does that type of thing. Ying Yang Twins do that type of shit. They’re not talking murder or killing. They’re making records to make people party. If you really think about it he’s really right. His record that <whistling> shit…

HalftimeOnline: That shit’s annoying.

O.C.: Aiight it might be annoying to you but ain’t it a change from what dawgs is talking about? I didn’t like the record at first but I like it because he took a chance with that shit. That’s the thing about hip hop, it’s about experimentation. I didn’t like every KRS record. You can print that and that’s my dude and I’m sure he didn’t like every rhyme I wrote. “I’ve heard better O.C records!” He’ll tell you that in your face. O I love you but I’ve heard better. Matter of fact I don’t even like doing shows with him because he’ll tell you that you killed it and then when he gets on his mic sound crispy clean. He’s blowing you off the stage. I don’t care what hits you have or how many people came to see you when he gets on the stage after you it’s a wrap. You’re forgotten.

HalftimeOnline: I’ve never seen anyone put on a show like him before.

O.C.: Dawg, I don’t want to perform with KRS-ONE. That’s in a good / bad way. It’s good to know that you’re on the bill with KRS but it’s bad to be onstage before him. He’s gonna make everyone forget that you were on stage before him. They be like it’s you and KRS, I be like L tell them I’m not doing it. He’s not blowing me off stage. I was on a 42 city tour with Hiero this summer and they did a show in L.A. at this festival and Nas rocked. Nas brought KRS out and everybody forgot about Nas after that. Word to mother. I’m not doing shows with him. We just did a show with PE in France. That was the last stop on a two-week tour and I was like damn we gotta go on before PE. Flav’s energy is past incredible, past electrifying but I can stand getting blown off the stage by Public Enemy that wasn’t too bad. But with KRS it’s bad.

HalftimeOnline: I saw him on this DVD for this festival in Boston and Kane rocked before him. And Kane is nice too but once KRS came on it was over.

O.C.: I was supposed to be at that festival. I was on tour at that time. I’m not doing shows with him. You can print that a hundred times. He’s not killing me man.

HalftimeOnline: What’s up with your partnership with Hiero. Honestly that’s like an odd mix to me. It’s the same era but their style is so different from yours.

O.C.: We’re night and day. Me being around them is considered gangsta music. And them dudes is straight out of Oakland. They are from gangsta originals. It’s just that their fan base is so crazy. When I was on the road with them this summer it was bugged out.

HalftimeOnline: A bunch of skateboarders? I know Del brings them out.

O.C.: The majority of their crowd is white. People were like where’s Del? People didn’t even want to see the whole group in some states. I’m not even lying. He gets onstage and starts doing beats in the background and people be looking past the other members sometimes like what is Del doing?

HalftimeOnline: How was the tour in general?

O.C.: I’ve never been on a tour like that before so those 42 cities I wasn’t turning down, plus I was getting paid for it. They was just on some yo we can’t pay you too much because this is just a promotion but say we give you a $1,000 a night. I’m like hold up. A $1,000 times how many days just to go onstage for 45 minutes. I can run through that quick. They was like we don’t want to insult you and I’m like ya’ll are bugging. I get to come out here and open up a new market and get paid for it. I’ve sold a 100,000 without hitting these markets ever in my life so what am I going to sell now. It was a good business move for me to do it. The record is out and it’s big in Japan right now. That’s through their connections. I’m just doing a lot of things. I’ve been touring since the summer, I’ll be back for Christmas and then I’m going overseas. I’m working on the next record now it’s not a game. Smoke and Mirrors is out now it’s cool. It’s decent but I’m working on the next record that will be done by March or April with a single before June.

HalftimeOnline: Do you have a name for that yet?

O.C.: Nope. I don’t even have a name for it but it’s just like I’ve been putting out records two and three years apart and for people to even want to hear something is a privilege for me. I don’t care about being pegged as a new artist by these young cats that’s better for me. That means I have a chance to sell a lot of records now. Then I get to show them what the art of emceeing is about.

HalftimeOnline: A lot of cats are slept on in your crew. We’re big fans of Big L. Where do you think he would be in his career right now?

O.C.: Well, L was like Joe in the sense that he wasn’t looking for commercial stardom it was looking for him. He was gonna be a star. L was gonna sell records like Jay and them. That’s where his thing was. That was inevitable for him. As far as my crew people don’t even realize that production wise we are behind some of the biggest records in hip hop. Diamond on the Fugees album title track, The Score. That shit sold 17 million worldwide. Finesse on Pun’s album and Biggies record. Buck did A Story to Tell on Big’s record, he’s on Jay’s records. Finesse is on the Chronic 2001, Buck is on Game’s record and G-Unit’s record now. My crew got history. Maybe one day they’ll get us all together and do a Barbara Walters type interview and ask us what’s your credit to the hip hop game or some stupid shit like that and dude’s are gonna run down their resume. I’m running this off the top of my head. Show did Sound of Da Police. Show really introduced Pun with Firewater. That’s a lot of records man. We’ve been sampled a zillion times. I’ve seen statements off of Show’s mechanicals where it’s like oh word Jay sampled this? On Takeover matter of fact. That lame shit and something else is from Sound of Da Police.

Dude’s don’t even know. They think we are has beens, washed up and outta here. When they do that I just say Buckwild. He keeps us in the loop on the up to date groups. So it’s like what ya’ll trying to say? People be like oh but you don’t do beats. I’m like me and AG don’t do beats but Lloyd Banks is guilty by association from being down with 50, so I’m guilty for being down with Buckwild, Show and Diamond for producing these records. If they produced it then I produced it. I’m down with Diggin in the Crates. That’s what D.I.T.C. does. You don’t just mention the beat dudes you mention everybody. There’s also a lot of stuff that’s under the radar. My catalog alone is crazy. I did over 200 records easy and people don’t believe that. I’ve done a lot of nondescript 16s from here to overseas in Istanbul. I’ve done a lot of 16s and I’ve done a lot of songs for people. I forget them. I ain’t gonna lie I took money for a lot of records that I knew would never make it over here. I heard Poland is one of the most racist countries on the planet and they love me out there. I don’t even believe that. Any place that you can name off top I’ve been there and people know me. [These foreign] people be like Rakim and I be like yea I like Rakim, but they be like no we compare you to him. I’m like woah that’s a compliment. Flattery is dope it makes me breathe another day to do the music. People comparing me to Ra that’s crazy. This is why I do it. I do it for the love first and money second because money comes and goes. You gotta eat, pay your bills and take care of your family. Nobody does it like I’m broke but I love you hip hop. You have to do it for the love and the money and all that other stuff will come if the love is shining through. I’ll always eat off of this as long as I want but then I have a reality in my mind where I’m not trying to do this when I’m 40 or 45. That’s why I’m putting in my work now for the next couple of years and looking for people to sign like somebody did for me. I’m not selfish. I want to see some younger cats come up and hopefully they love it and put in the work like I put in the work. Hopefully they won’t have to put in crazy hard work because I made it easier for them. That’s my job at the end of the day to pass on something that was passed on to me and that’s a chance.

HalftimeOnline: Is there a way people can reach out to you about that or is it something you’re doing more on the low?

O.C.: If I give everybody my email address that would be crazy. You know everybody is trying to come up at the end of the day like yo I do beats or I rhyme. I want to find him/her without looking. I want to bump into them accidentally. I want to catch them walking into a smoky club on some Count Basie shit. [Like I’ll say] I don’t want to go to the ass shaking club I want to go here tonight and for some reason the new Chaka Kahn is in there singing that night. That’s how I want to discover somebody. I don’t want to discover them because everybody and their mother is bringing me artists thinking they’re gonna get signed. That’s not how I got my way and that’s not how I’m gonna do it for someone else because maybe I got juice. You don’t learn anything like that.

HalftimeOnline: How did you hook up with Serch anyway?

O.C.: On that Source tour. He was doing that wack ass solo record. I know ya’ll remember that shit. He knows. That’s my dude so I can say that. It was actually a gift and a curse because that was the introduction for me and Nas. He had Nas on Back to the Grill Again and I was on the remix. That was the video he had and he birthed something out of that. He birthed me and he birthed Nas on that album. He found me on that tour. He didn’t give me anything. I had to do demos. I did a demo with Serch and shit was wack at first. Then I kept in contact with Buck after the tour and he was like yo I got some joints. For some reason them shits matched and everything that we demoed was on Word..Life except for Time’s Up. Time’s Up was a Pharoahe record.

HalftimeOnline: Yea I read about that. You said it took mad long to write it.

O.C.: Yea, a year or two. That record is mad awkward. It’s really hard to rhyme to that’s why it sounds different from everything else on the album.  It’s a real awkward record and it used to be frustrating that’s why it has no chorus. I had to go back and add the Slick Rick to it. It was only two verses because it was hard to rhyme to.

HalftimeOnline: How would you rank all of your albums?

O.C.: I would say my first album would come first just for the simple fact that it debuted who I am. I would put Bon Apetite second and Jewelz third. Jewelz would have been the stamp going out into the new millennium. When I used to go to shows people used to look at my crew like where’s O.C. and I used to be there draped in jewelry and gold fronts. People thought I was a backpacker for some reason. I don’t know why cuz everything I was talking on my record was street shit. Not street shit on some gun shit just on some true life shit. People used to be mad that I had on jewelry. I used to have to put people in their place or my crew would have to put people in their place. They’d be like we thought you was taller or some dumb shit. I’m like listen man do you got the other half of the money before I go onstage? Cut through the bullshit. Then I started seeing that when you sell less than the standard records in the industry you’re considered underground. If you sell half a million you’re reaching that commercial status. If you go back in the history to EPMD they was yelling keep the crossover but them motherfuckers was selling damn near a million records every time and that wasn’t hood people buying their records after a certain point. They probably had to laugh at that shit later like we almost selling a million records telling niggas to keep the crossover. After 500,000 that means white boys are buying your stuff.  That’s my point. People always thought one way of me and maybe that’s why in a lot of instances that I didn’t sell records to that point.  People was like well is he gangsta, street or a Del the Funky Homosapien type? People were confused because they never saw me.  That’s where the video started fucking people up. That shit really messed things up. Videos messed up the MC. People expect a video now.

HalftimeOnline: They didn’t do that back in the 70s with good R&B. It was all on how you sounded. You could be fat, ugly, buck teethed. Look at Billy Preston.

O.C.: Yup the perfect example is Teena Marie. On her first album they had a moon with a silhouette of a lady with eyes. People were like damn this black bitch can sing. Then when people seen Teena Marie they was like who the hell but by then they was already like her records is hot. Now you got the video and they are expecting a video to go with the song. The song won’t be hot without a video. There are only a few instances where a song will break through without a video.

HalftimeOnline: What was that song that Prodigy had? Did Keep it Thoro have a video?

O.C.: Yea, it had a video but the record was popping before they had the video.

HalftimeOnline: Yea I was thinking that was one of the cases. They fucked it up though by going back and putting in the chorus and everything.

O.C.: They was like we gotta go back and do a video for this now and that probably killed it with the chorus in it and everything. If you listen to all the good hip hop records back in the day there’s no choruses. Like Kane I get Raw. The chorus was just the music in between his 8 bars. I could name like a hundred records like that. Finesse’s Strictly for the Ladies, the hook was just a scratch. Nowadays so many things go into making a hit record we lost sight. MTV didn’t even play records, now they play everything with melanin in their skin.

HalftimeOnline: It’s interesting that you said Bon Apetite would be second because I know you know that got a lot of negative press.

O.C.: Jewelz got a lot of negative press when it came out too.

HalftimeOnline: Why do you think it got such bad press when it came out and why do you put it above Jewelz?

O.C.: Because all the little white boys that buy my records, their parents are cazillionaires and they go online and they don’t have anything else to do but try and pick apart a record. Then you got dudes who rhyme but they ain’t ever made it so their mad at the world. They want you to make the record they want you to make over and over. I can’t do Word..Life over and over. I can’t do Time’s Up over and over. They said Bon Apetite was a sellout record. Number one, none of those records on there were radio records. Number two, like I said earlier I don’t expect ya’ll to like everything that I do. It’s impossible to like everything I do. Some of my favorite artists I’m like nope this is not happening. There wasn’t really even no bragging record on it. I just toned it down. That was just the space that I was in. The beats were simple. It was just a simple record. Give me that much but people tried to stomp it into the ground. I’m like yo ya’ll done heard worse you’re not even giving this shit a chance. And on the internet most of the dudes who trashed it were little white boys because I didn’t do Time’s Up for them no more or I didn’t have DJ Premier on my record. Whatever the case was they didn’t like it and now people are coming up to me like Bon Apetite. I’m like oh word you like that? And they be like yea but it took me five years. It’s a repeat of Jewelz because I heard the same thing. [They say] ‘it took me eight years to get it through my head that [it wasn’t Word..Life]’. Ya’ll stupid man. I don’t say it to them but I look at them and my eyes say it. I don’t just make records for people I make records for me too. I don’t care if 50 said if you making records for yourself you’re in the wrong game. That depends on what you’re referring too. Matter of fact that was just a statement. He’s a controversial motherfucka and he just said that to make more controversy.

Jbutters: Yea he just be saying shit. I didn’t tell you this Marcus but he took a shot at your boy AZ.

Marcus: What!

O.C.: Yea he said making wack records like AZ

Jbutters: Yea there was no reason to throw AZ in there at all.

O.C.: He does that kind of stuff and then he’ll fuck around and sign AZ tomorrow. He did that with Mobb. Do you like Jay did to Mobb Deep and then signed the niggas. But he was like here are two porches and two million dollars apiece. They were like man what you said about us ain’t nothing. 50 can do that.

Jbutters: I’m still mad at them for that. How you gonna get clowned like that and then sign.

Marcus: I’m mad cuz he said something about AZ. We were just talking to him about that and the fact that no one disses him.

O.C.: Nah that’s good. Now he gotta figure a way out to capitalize off of that since 50 put him out there. If he same my name I’m not battling duke. I don’t have the money or the time to battle him, but I have the time to say, ‘50 said my name buy this mixtape.’

HalftimeOnline: Haha

O.C.: 50 said my name buy this. He said I was wack buy it. You have to use reverse psychology. Let anybody say my name. Say it in a magazine if you want because I’m gonna capitalize off of it like no other. I was dumb all these years by not being more business oriented with my music. I had one part down pat but now that I look at 50 and Jay and them I be like damn I was an asshole. He was smart before people said he was smart. He was like I’m gonna say everybody and their mother’s name and sure nuff Ghost and them niggas was like when we catch you son..and he was like I got them niggas mad that’s good. Pun and them was like who the fuck and he was like aiight I got them mad. Now people are like How to Rob and he sees Jay at Summer Jam and he’s like you know I gotta give it to you right. When he came offstage 50 was probably like thanks. I heard he shook his hand. Thank you now I gotta single out. Now he’s doing shows and doing people’s records over. Nobody wanted to let him in the game so he made his own way. I respect him for that. I feel like an old stupid mobster that was feared 10 years ago but didn’t save his money. Then you had those mobsters like Lucky Luciano who smiled all the time and was like you know you’re gonna have to work for me one day if you want to eat on the streets. You say no and end up with a bullet in your head like Dutch Schultz. That’s the way of the game. If I could turn back time and knew then what I know now I could be a cazillionaire and still be on the top of my game like Jay. I wouldn’t be a sellout or none of that.

Another thing is being behind the scenes is more lucrative than spitting rhymes. The rapper is the bottom of the barrel slave in the game. I get the last crumbs unless I own my shit like I’m doing now. Otherwise the label is like you didn’t recoup. I’m like I sold over 100,000 records. World..Life sold like 100,000 – 150,000, my second album sold 100,000 – 150,000, and my third album sold 40,000 records with no video or promotion just billboards in NY. Right now we just started to figure out the Starchild record that’s over in Japan is selling records. So who’s buying my records if I don’t make money for these labels. How can I sell 100,000 records if people aren’t buying my record? That don’t make sense right there. I’m gonna sell 100,000 on my own and walk to the bank smiling.

HalftimeOnline: That’s what cracks me up about the people caught up in record sales when most of these artists are getting pennies on the dollar but be like oh this independent cat only sold 100,000 not realizing he’s getting like $4-$5 a record. People don’t think about that.

O.C.: More like $7-$10 a record. Cormega sold 100,000 records. He’s good now. I heard Mega got houses sprinkled all over the United States and he was locked up when I was doing records. So he came home and got ahead of the game quicker than me. Dude is a nonstop workaholic. Mega is an intelligent gangsta. That’s my nigga. We don’t hang out and we ain’t friends from young but real recognize real. We did a Source feature together. He didn’t act tough. I done heard a million stories about this dude. I’m like this nigga? He’s the dude that knocked niggas out? Mega is a real down to earth dude. He sold 100,000 records on Landspeed if I’m not mistaken. He walked in the bank smiling trust me. I’m proud because of the shit he went through to get there. He’s making more money than a lot of these cats who are selling platinum or selling two or three million. Like I said I’m not scared to admit my mistakes, my flaws, or my ignorance about things. L is younger than me but he knows more than me. He worked at Payday when I did my second album. He used to be quiet. With or without me he’s gonna be a millionaire in the next couple of years. He knows how to do business. We could sit and talk another two hours me telling you about him but I’m not gonna tell you about him like that. I don’t need any stupidity around me and I’m sure he doesn’t. That’s my business partner, that’s my man and we doing our thing together. We got a clothing line we are about to start. It’s not a game.

HalftimeOnline: You should call the album that. It’s Not a Game

O.C.: I’m putting that in the Trio right now. We weren’t in Japan doing shows we were over there working out some clothing shit. It’s not a game. I got paid to do nothing really. I got a little vacation for almost two weeks. I chilled in the hotel, promoted my record, did a performance at HMV and at the biggest Apple Store in Japan. I got paid to do that and not full fledged concerts.

Date: May 15, 2006