New York, N.Y. -- Aubrey "
" Graham was speaking for most big-name recording artists when he said, "
I want this sh*t forever.
" But for every singer or emcee who manages to stay at the forefront of the public consciousness long-term, there are dozens who shine brightly for a brief moment before fading from the mainstream radar—often so gradually that you don't notice till years later, when you ask yourself, "What the hell happened to...?" With our latest
exclusive interview series
, we in
aim to answer that very question, catching up with past hitmakers who are either plotting their comeback, or simply want to remind listeners that they never left.
In the inaugural installment of
, we chop it up with
, a former
signee who saw his greatest success with 2000 debut single "Whoa!" Near a decade and a half later, the Harlem, N.Y. rhymesayer is preparing to kick off a new chapter in his career with
Life Story 2
, the official sequel to his freshman set. His fourth full-length in total, the project is due out later this year via
Box In One
What was your “welcome to the business” moment?
My first check!
You’ve released three albums. What album are you most proud of? Why?
, because that was a major accomplishment in my career. It was my first album!
Why was Bad Boy never able to push another single onto the radio with the same success as “Whoa”? Was there anything you could have done differently?
Yes, not go to jail. We had
Star in the Hood
out along with the video and
, but I was already looking at jail time then. So I was really here to help promote the album or single.
What was the biggest misstep you made in the industry?
I wouldn't say anything. Everything I've gone through has been a learning experience.
On your first two releases (with Bad Boy), you worked with everyone from Petey Pablo to Jennifer Lopez. On Game Tested, Streets Approved, the only feature was Sean Price. Which feature accompaniment style fits you better as an artist?
I’m really not big on features. Plus on
Game Tested, Streets Approved
, I’d been away for a minute and I wanted my fans to hear me, and not a album full of features. On my next album,
Life Story 2
, I may have a few features on there.
After your release from prison, did your outlook on hip-hop and the music industry in general change? If so, how?
Not really, because to me there were always different chapters of Hip Hop. You had the back pack rappers, true emcees, [conscious] rappers, etc.
On January 23, you Tweeted: “U forgot about me huh? Sad.” What do you think your legacy is and what do you want people to remember you by?
That Tweet was meant for someone. People should always remember that I was a lyricist and story teller. I spit that real.
You are currently working on Life Story 2. What is the current status of the album?
We’re still in the process of recording.