Beanie Sigel Interview
|Next Project:||The Solution (Dec '07)|
|Twitter:||Beanie Sigel on Twitter|
|Website:||Beanie Sigel's Website|
Veteran Philly rapper Beanie Sigel has witnessed the death of a dynasty. While we all were witness (hello Lebron) to the rise and fall of the Roc-A-Fella Empire as it once stood, there is no denying the talent it encompassed during its height of success. Though its bricks lay crumbled on the street, a few of its members embark on the next chapter in their storied careers. Ready to battle through legal adversity and a troubled past, Sigel is second in line (behind Mr. Carter) and ready to unleash “The Solution.” During an interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” Beans reveals how much cash money he’s spent on legal fees, how Def Jam dropped the ball prior to his last album release and why getting locked up gave him something he never had before.
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Beanie Sigel Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Philly MC who discovered the truth, explained the reason, told us he was coming, and now looks to find the solution. My man, Beanie Sigel, how you doin’?
Beanie Sigel: What’s up, man? I like how you just ran that down!
DJ Booth: You like that?
Beanie Sigel: Yeah, I liked that! I’ve got to use that.
DJ Booth: Well if you want, I can record it and you can put it on the new album?
Beanie Sigel: [laughter] Yeah, we could do that.
DJ Booth: Usually, Beans, when there is a solution, first there was a problem. What’s the problem?
Beanie Sigel: There are several problems. Not just mine like a lot of people’s problems. The music business, as far as the quality of music that’s out. So I believe there’s a problem, and I give people the solutions to a lot of different things.
DJ Booth: If this album is successful, were you thinking maybe you might want to start giving a self-help book to artists coming up in the industry.
Beanie Sigel: [laughter] Yeah, the self-help book is – I’m giving them chapters. Every album is a chapter.
DJ Booth: In the new single, “All of the Above,” (you’re in Chicago right now filming the video with R. Kelly), you spit the famous line, “With the top down, screamin’ out, money ain’t a thing.” I don’t need to know about commas, but how hard has your financial success taken a hit from the jail time you did, the legal troubles, and poor promotion on your last record?
Beanie Sigel: It’s a crazy hit – I deducted most of it out of my pocket. So you figure just with the bail situation, from the attempted trial it’d be $150,000, cash money, and then the additional $100,000 that I had to pay the first time for the federal charge, and then bein’ locked up – that was when it was a state charge I had to pay the $100,000 to get out. Then once I got out, the feds adopted it, and when they adopted it, I was locked up. I had to pay $150,000 to get out on bail – bein’ out on bail for that I had to pay the lawyer. I had three attorneys on my federal case. I had a federal prosecutor. I hired her, she was $350,000. I paid my attorney that I used, and it’s crazy– on everyday cases he was $150,000, and then his partner was $75,000. Then after that situation I had to turn around and pay for the attempted murder charge, I had to pay him $200,000 for that case. And then I got a mistrial and I had to come back, after I got released from the federal building, and fight that attempted murder case again – that was $100,000.
DJ Booth: It’s not cheap.
Beanie Sigel: All cash money! We ain’t even talkin’ about the civil suit –I beat the case, but I didn’t want them to do me like on the OJ case, you know what I mean? You beat the case, you move to civil, so that cost me $450,000 just on the civil case. You do the math, you’re keepin’ up with me so far.
DJ Booth: It’s a lot. It is a lot. A lot of people don’t have any idea how expensive it really is. Beans, do you think that trouble finds you, or do you find trouble?
Beanie Sigel: I won’t say I find trouble, ‘cause I don’t go lookin’ for trouble – when you look for trouble, you find it, and I don’t look for it.
DJ Booth: Your time in jail clearly affected what Def Jam could do with your last album, “The B. Coming.” If you weren’t locked away, what do you think the final outcome of that project would have been?
Beanie Sigel: For the album to go gold, with me sittin’ in a jail cell and no promotion, no marketing scheme or plan? I kind of created my own and had the bad work for me. Before I had to go away I did a lot of work, I did seven videos in five days. I filmed my whole court process, from me gettin’ up in the morning, to gettin’ dressed and goin’ to court, and afterwards I filmed my whole eighteen months during house arrest. I had a lot of tools that they could’ve utilized in my absence, which wasn’t done. They didn’t use it at all, and I feel if I was home, and was able to travel and push the album, that could’ve definitely been a platinum album.
DJ Booth: Well, that’s the point. Look how much you did, but they didn’t do on your behalf. Imagine what it could have been had you had that support from your label. Being that was the case, is there any question going into, “The Solution,” knowing what you put forth for your last effort, but what you got back was not satisfactory?
Beanie Sigel: I’m just goin’ to go ahead and continue doin’ the work ethic, and just push hard. And now that I’m here, it’s just like, “Okay, y’all owe me one.” I did my job to the fullest, its up to them now, so I just want them to go hard to help me help them.
DJ Booth: With the new project dropping in December, the ability, as we mentioned, for you to promote and market this album, clearly is the most important. From this time forward, are you confident in your ability to completely stay out of trouble?
Beanie Sigel: Yeah, I’m always confident, man. I’m always confident. There’s a lot of things that I’ve changed, as far as, company, unnecessary things. One of my boys in the hood told me that I needed to trim my fat, you know what I’m saying? So I did that.
DJ Booth: Recently you recorded a remix with Freeway to Kanye’s, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” record. Your first album dropped back in 2001, so in seven plus years, has there ever been any advice about the industry that at the time, you didn’t want to listen to, but on your own later found out to be true?
Beanie Sigel: Nah, it wasn’t that, any advice that I wasn’t listening to. Just with myself I wish I would’ve paid more attention to the business part. Me makin’ that transition, from in a situation that I was in, was unique ‘cause it happened like, overnight. I went from the block, on the street, to Roc-A-Fella Records, and within the course of seven days I was signed to Roc-A-Fella Records. I was on Jay-Z’s album within a week, and three weeks after that I was on the Hard Knock Life tour, and started coming right off of that with starting to record my album. My whole life changed in the course of two, three months. I was still goin’, it was just happening too fast! I didn’t have time to sit down and think about nothing, I just was goin’. I was just on a high.
DJ Booth: Do you think during that time period in which everything was rushed, it may have actually helped you, now?
Beanie Sigel: I believe for the first time since I’ve been signed, the time that I had to go away for a minute and that house arrest – that might’ve been the first break that I really had since I first met Jay-Z and everybody at Roc-A-Fella. With me havin’ that time off to sit back, I thought about everything. To me it was like a blessing in disguise, that situation, ‘cause it just gave me a better outlook on things.
DJ Booth: I read that you chose not to use that time to pen any lyrics for material. In retrospect, do you regret not using that time, or do you think that your best interest was served by just clearing your head and starting fresh?
Beanie Sigel: No, I didn’t use that time for it ‘cause I didn’t have time for that, you know what I mean? I wasn’t there for that. I didn’t go there being Beanie Sigel. I had to be who I was – I couldn’t be the rapper, in that situation.
DJ Booth: Recently, you auditioned for the role of Notorious BIG in the upcoming biopic about the slain rapper. What were your first thoughts – we’re goin’ way back here – after hearing a Biggie song for the first time?
Beanie Sigel: Hm, my first thoughts after hearin’ it? Dude, it was nice. I wasn’t thinking about rhymin’ or nothing at the time, but it was just that, I liked his music. I was like, “Cool, talkin’ my language.”
DJ Booth: Hypothetically, if you were to receive this role – which I hope you do – how do you think it would change your career?
Beanie Sigel: I don’t know? I hope for the good.
DJ Booth: You’ve done everything to this point to establish yourself as an artist. Would you have a problem with consumers seeing this film and then saying, “Yeah, it starred that Sigel actor who played Biggie,” instead of recognizing you as a seasoned rap vet who just so happened to be taking on an acting role in a film?
Beanie Sigel: Hm. I mean, this is whatever, man. However way it go and however way it pan out, it’s all good with me. ‘Cause at the end of the day it’s all business – you know, you in business to make money, it’s gonna make sense, it’s gonna make dollars.
DJ Booth: You made the new Jay-Z album, “American Gangster,” as one of the very few featured guests. Does the timing of his release, which is in November and approximately a month before yours, make it easier or harder for you to follow?
Beanie Sigel: It’s different for a change, me comin’ right after Jay instead of him comin’ right after. In my career, I’ve always had an album out and then Jay always followed a month or two later. I mean, it’s different – I’ll see how it pan out.
DJ Booth: After “The Solution” drops, what’s the next step for Beanie Sigel?
Beanie Sigel: Let’s get back in the studio and do it again!
DJ Booth: Persistence pays off, Beans – you know that better than anybody.
Beanie Sigel: Right back in – no breaks.
DJ Booth: Go ahead and give everybody a website, or a Myspace page, so they can find out more about what you got going on, including the release this December of “The Solution.”
Beanie Sigel: You know what’s so crazy? I don’t even have a Myspace page. I don’t have a legit, my own Myspace page. I see too many people get stuck on that – I don’t got time to do that.
DJ Booth: Yeah and there’s about eight or nine fake Beanie Sigel Myspace pages. So there’s a lot of people who wanna be you, Online.
Beanie Sigel: Man, I looked on there – yeah, I got probably about twelve Myspace pages, ain’t none of them me.
DJ Booth: Isn’t that crazy?
Beanie Sigel: There’s one guy – crazy, man, the stuff he be sayin’. Like, there’s a bio – he made his own bio and everything. He’s trippin’, man!
DJ Booth: Anything in that bio that you kinda wish maybe was in your own or no?
Beanie Sigel: [laughter] No, man. Dude – it’s crazy, a Myspace bandit.
DJ Booth: Beans, I appreciate your time. I thank you and I wish you nothing but the best of luck on this upcoming album, and a fresh new start to your career.
Beanie Sigel: Thanks, no problem, man. Anytime, hit me up, Z.