Glasses Malone Interview
|Label:||Suburban Noize/Cash Money|
|Next Project:||Beach Cruiser|
|Twitter:||Glasses Malone on Twitter|
|Website:||Glasses Malone's Website|
Imagine signing a landmark record deal for 1.7 million. As the ballpoint pen in your hands lowers towards your contract, thoughts of big budget videos and strategic marketing campaigns fill your head. All the years of independent grinding seem as though they have finally paid off.
Not long after you cash your first check, though, you get word your label is shutting down the subsidiary that signed you. In one moment joy becomes pain, all that hard work and poof, bye bye label and bye bye advance money. But, wait. With the help of a great lawyer and some powerful industry friends, all is not lost.
Sound like a crazy story? Well, that’s because it is. It is the true story of West Coast rapper, Glasses Malone. The real beginning to this tail, however, will take place on April 1st, when the Cash Money signee releases his major debut album, “Beach Cruiser.”
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” G. Malone steps inside the booth to talk about the advance money he was able to keep from his busted deal at Sony, what artist had the soundtrack to his drug dealing career, and which endorsement deals would or would not ruin his street cred.
Listen to the Interview
Glasses Malone 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 West Coast rapper who is set to release his major label debut, “Beach Cruiser,” through the Miami-based and New Orleans-founded Cash Money Records sometime hopefully later this year. Please welcome Glasses Malone – how you doin’ today?
G. Malone: I’m good fam. April 1st is the magical date.
DJ Booth: April 1st – well, April is my birthday month, so that’s gonna be a great month for both of us.
G. Malone: Yeah, we ballin’ out, we ballin’ out real idiot-like.
DJ Booth: Regardless of their past successes, what made you decide that the best interest of your career should be put in the hands of a Southern-rooted record label like Cash Money?
G. Malone: Well, it wasn’t that plain and simple. I actually had a joint situation with Mac 10. We both from the coast, you know what I mean? Mac 10 is probably one of the best executives. He hasn’t got his just due yet, but I’m makin’ sure he gets his just due on the executive level. Cash Money – it don’t matter where you from, man. They real street dudes. We understand each other, and their work ethic is crazy. Anytime you deal with them south dudes, they ethic work is retarded, especially those Cash Money cats.
DJ Booth: You inked a four-album deal with Cash Money. By the time the fourth album on that deal drops, how will the music industry ideally be shaped?
G. Malone: I don’t think it’ll be much different; I think you’ll have some people who sell records and some people who don’t sell records. Aside from that, I think digital will be a little bigger. A lot of people [are] sayin’ digital is movin’ a lot faster than what it is. I think people are digitally always gonna buy singles, but when it comes to buyin’ albums, people will still hit the store when they have somebody they really wanna pick up.
DJ Booth: You said there are artists who are going to be selling records and there are artists who are not going to be selling records – how can you guarantee that Glasses Malone will be one of the artists who is selling records?
G. Malone: I can’t guarantee it. I’ll mess around and be not selling’ records – you never know, man. You gotta just put your best foot forward and make the best records and best albums possible. That’s the key: makin’ the best album possible, and giving people something else to look forward to besides a song or two. Every time I do an album, I want a concept. From the art on down to the music to where you would actually wanna pick up a complete project. That’s what I think [artists] have to get back to: complete projects.
DJ Booth: I couldn’t agree more. Your nickname, “Mr. 1.7 Million,” is because your initial record deal with Sony was for $1.7 million, correct?
G. Malone: That’s correct.
DJ Booth: Do your friends and industry-mates call you Mr. 1.7 Million?
G. Malone: Different people do, you know.
DJ Booth: When the Sony record deal fell through, before you got scooped up by Mac 10 and Cash Money, had you already had the chance to spend any of the advance that Sony gave you?
G. Malone: Oh, yeah!
DJ Booth: Did the label make you pay any of that back?
G. Malone: Nah, they didn’t. It was actually a cool deal. I don’t have anything bad to say about Sony. I hear a lot of people talkin’ bad about Sony, but Sony had money and at the time it looked like they were just tryin’ to close down one department of their record label. It was up to me to go to Epic or Columbia, but it just didn’t seem right – I didn’t know anybody at either one of those buildings and the people that I knew weren’t gonna be there. It was like tryin’ to get a whole new record deal without holdin’ record deal money. I decided just to take my stuff and see if they’d let me go. It was a lot of work, but like I said, my contract and my attorney was real good, – shout-out to my attorney, Bob Lieberman – so I didn’t have to pay anything back. I lost some money at the end, as far as money I would’ve received if I fully returned the album, but, it worked out, ‘cause I left with my masters, and with a hell of a lot of advance money.
DJ Booth: Definitely – a nice little signing bonus to take with you. You’ve lived in both Watts and Compton, so you are certified West Coast. With that said, do you consider yourself a gangsta rap artist?
G. Malone: Uh, let’s see… yeah, I would have to be a gangsta rap artist ‘cause I’m a gangsta and I’m a rap artist. In reality, I think my music is a lot deeper– yeah, I guess you could say that. I have to go with that; that’d be, kind of an inaccurate description.
DJ Booth: Okay. Ice Cube, who I’m sure you favored growing up, just released his single, “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It.” At the end of that song, he says, “For all you who talk about gangsta rap, don’t get on TV talkin’ about it, ‘cause nine times out of ten, you don’t know what the *expletive* you’re talking about.” When Cube makes that remark, who is he talking about?
G. Malone: I hope he’s talking about people like himself, who are still makin’ records that’s gangsta, about what he would do to somebody or something, and how he’s in a position now where his whole life is changed. I hope he’s referring to himself and other people who do not live the gangsta lifestyle. I think that’s the biggest sham ever. That’s one thing I respect about rappers like Scarface, peeps who may be gangstas, but now they at a certain point in their life to where they actually release music that is wisdom-filled. I don’t think a lot of the dudes that were gangsta rappers from here, which actually aren’t living that lifestyle anymore, are releasing wisdom with their music. And I think that the wisdom Cube does portray in that song, “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It,” I think he’s talkin’ about a lot of rappers, of his caliber, rappers who aren’t gangstas at all, things of that magnitude.
DJ Booth: Do you think that coming from the West Coast and having there be this mentality across the rest of the country that if you hail from anywhere, let’s say, west of Kansas, that you have to be a gangsta rapper-
G. Malone: I don’t think so, ‘cause I think it’s a lot of people who come from the West Coast that aren’t gangsta rappers. Most people from west of Kansas are gangstas. I mean, this is a lifestyle. You grow up in the neighborhood, and these are your homies, and you run with them, and you’re all kinda knockin under the same titles, that’s how it usually gets stuck, ‘cause it is what it is. But just rappers who come from out here, that aren’t gangstas, a lot of people see that as a route to sellin’ records, so they choose to be that
DJ Booth: Hoping that that image sells records. Growing up in Chicago, I was raised on a multi-regional assortment of hip hop. Many artists, though, who I’ve spoken with, who grew up in either the East or the West Coast, claim that their musical selection was limited to just their region. So, what artists have had the biggest impact on your sound, who were not from the West Coast?
G. Malone: Definitely Jay-Z. He had the soundtrack to my drug-dealin’ career. Definitely Cash Money and Scarface; I think they were very instrumental. I listen to Beans – he’s a little more recent than everybody else, but Beanie Sigel was really ill.
DJ Booth: I have a lot of friends on the East Coast, and when they were growing up, if they wanted to listen to down south hip hop, they wouldn’t do it and brag to all their friends about it – it would be on the down low. When you were listening to artists like Scarface, Cash Money, and Jay-Z, and every over at Roc-A-Fella, was it being done amongst all your peers, or was it kinda on the side, by yourself, when you weren’t pumpin’ Dr. Dre, Snoop, or Eazy E?
G. Malone: The whole West Coast sound was no brainers for you to play. You could get a kick out of turnin’ a couple of my homeboys on to Jay-Z when he first came on. I was on Jay-Z in ‘95 – his record got released nationally in ‘96, but I was on Jay-Z records in ‘95. Signin’ to Cash Money, before Juvenile came out, they had the first Big Tymers album – I was on that. I’m a leader, so I do exactly what I wanna do, and that’s the end of it.
DJ Booth: Definitely.
G. Malone: I love turnin’ people on, everybody knows I love turnin’ people on to new music. I love just good music – I don’t care where it come from, really. But, Snoop, Cube, them dudes is no-brainers. Like, they been putting out great records before I was even fully buyin’ music, so I walked into that. Snoop, really – Death Row as a whole was the greatest rap label ever.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about that for a second. I’ve heard you mention Suge Knight and Death Row Records within the lyrics of your material. Would you have fit in with Pac, Snoop, Dre, Daz, during the Death Row ‘90s heyday?
G. Malone: Oh, easily, easily. It would’ve been a perfect fit.
DJ Booth: Who do you think out of that bunch you would’ve collaborated with and would’ve been on the exact same page?
G. Malone: Any of them at that time. I think at that time they all was on the same thing. I think Dre was definitely the architect of the sound itself. Snoop came out with the swagger. It was brand new to music as a whole, or at least rap. Tha Dogg Pound, that music was just incredible. None of them have been able to make that same type of quality music since they dispersed from each other.
DJ Booth: I agree. It would’ve been interesting, though, to see if Tupac, while still alive, would’ve been able to sell records with complete creative control over. I’ve always wondered: why is an artist named Glasses Malone never seen wearing glasses?
G. Malone: [laughter] You know what? That’s a funny name. My name comes from the fact I just can’t see. Like, I’m just blind; I have the worst vision ever. I got contacts now, but sometimes I throw my glasses on. I got a couple fresh designer pairs, and I got some regular ones that you can just see in. I actually put ‘em on, and it’s funny because I walk around LA, thinkin’ that people wouldn’t know who I am, ‘cause they’ve never seen me in glasses. But people still know exactly who I am, so that’s funny.
DJ Booth: Would your hood not appreciate if you were to call up, say, LensCrafters, and ink an endorsement deal with them? Would that ruin all street cred?
G. Malone: Nah, not at all. Nothing could spoil Glasses Malone’s street cred. Glasses Malone did a lot of stuff, and I put in a lot of work before the music even came into play. Any type of element of the street, I done been in it. Lowridin’, drag racin’, drug dealin’, gang bangin’, ballin’ out – whatever you wanna say, when you come to Los Angeles, if you on the east side of town - ‘cause I’m not one of those street legends like a lot of dudes are, - I’m one of them dudes that a lot of people know. Born up in Compton and in Watts, I was able to make a crazy impact on the East Side as a whole. But we’re workin’ on some kind of deal right now. It wouldn’t mess with my street cred at all.
DJ Booth: Well, if your rep can go untouched, then I suggest that we call up LensCrafters immediately and get you inked to an endorsement deal, and if I’m able to get you that deal I’m gonna need at least five percent. How does that sound?
G. Malone: That sounds awesome.
DJ Booth: Well, great – let’s make it happen. [laughter] New album, we talked about it earlier, “Beach Cruiser,” it’s been highly anticipated for a long time now, since you inked that original deal with Sony. It’s supposed to drop in April. What can fans expect when it is available online and in stores?
G. Malone: You’re gonna get a sweet LP for sure. You’re gonna get a very wide range of music and sounds. I definitely surprised Baby and everybody else when I played the record, ‘cause I think a lot of people had me pegged, but that’s because they must have been listenin’ to “White Lightning,” to see how different it was. Expect a complete LP. I really worked hard on it, man; I took my time and I worked hard. I don’t think it’s my best one, but I think it’s a good one. I think it’s just as good as “White Lightning,” and, like I said, it’s settin’ up for a better record every time. I keep steppin’ it up from the last time.
DJ Booth: Those expectations are going to continue to rise. I wish you nothing but the best of luck with your endeavor. Give everybody a website, Myspace page, so they can find out more about Glasses Malone.
DJ Booth: I appreciate you joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth. Once again, nothing but the best of luck to you, G. Malone.
G. Malone: Back at you family.