Since the late 90′s, back when Roc-A-Fella records was just starting its rap dynasty and through the fall of the label, Philly rapper Beanie Sigel has remained one of the best emcees in the business. And while he’s facing a two-tear term in prison for tax evasion (his second bid: he served time on federal weapons charges in 2004), Sigel is in relatively good spirits. TheGrio sat down with the “Broadstreet bully” to talk about his new album, This Time, his crew, State Property and his admiration for rapper Scarface.
Where are you at right now, musically with this album?
I mean musically, I think you hit it dead on the nose. Real music man, real music. You know me, coming in the game at the age of I believe 21, 22, 23 and being blessed to be in the game for so long, I mean I make real music. I am in tune to music. Like with this album you going to hear music, and a lot of the music that I used in this album were musicians instead of producers. When you listen to this album, this is an album that I was told by a few hard critics from my neighborhood, that I usually take my albums to, to see if I’m on point and if I’m going in the right direction, [that] it’s that music that you are not going to hear when you go to the club. It’s that type of music [that] you can put in your car on your way to work or wherever you are — on your way to taking a trip, and you on the highway. It’s that CD you can put in when you’re cleaning the house, doing the dishes, ironing your clothes for school or doing whatever you doing. It’s classic music.
This album seems to be more of a throwback to that classic, organic Philly sound that was a staple back in the early 2000s. Was that intentional?
I meticulously sat in on everything, you know? Gave direction with producers on the music that I picked, because I didn’t want to do the typical album and use the typical producers that everybody’s going to use and have the same typical sound that everybody has. I hate to sound redundant and I never want my interviews to sound lame, but when you buy an album from somebody now-a-days, that is what you get.
On ‘The Reunion’ track you bring back the entire State Property fam, and it looks you guys had a good time making the music video. What would it take to have a State Property Vol.3 album?
We just got to get all the guys together and let everybody get on the same track and in the studio. It wouldn’t be hard. Like I think State Prop and the people that gravitated to State Prop, we had the type of movement and [the] support that we had because first of all, we all was unique in our talents and our gifts. None of us sound the same. Everybody was different. You know, Peedy didn’t sound like Free, Free didn’t sound like Chris, and Chris didn’t sound like Neef. Neef didn’t sound like Oschino. We all had our own sound. It’s like a pot of gumbo. We all added our own flavors and our own spices to it and put our own meat and potatoes to it. We made that music that sticks to your ribs.
Where do you rank State Property against today’s rap groups: Young Money, G.O.O.D. Music, MMG?
They couldn’t lace our boots (laughs). I wouldn’t do that because I am a fan of Young Money. I think Young Money is one of the best groups that’s out. In comparison, that’s the closest comparison [to State Property] is the Young Money camp. You got Wayne. You got Nicki. The only thing that State Prop didn’t have was a female artist. Nicki Minaj is like phenomenal, exceptional. I like Nicki Minaj over a lot of male artists that’s out right now. She’s sick with it. The only male artist that I can compare Nicki Minaj to is Eminem or Wayne.
Do you see lot of what Meek Mill is doing now career-wise as putting Philly back on the map or in the spotlight?
I wouldn’t say putting back on the map or in the spotlight, but definitely Meek Mill is doing his thing and is a great example of [the] talent that Philadelphia has. We come from a city where 90 percent of the music in the world was produced. … Philadelphia was responsible, if I’m correct, for at least 80 to 85 percent of the music in the world, from Philly international records.
When can we expect that album from you and Scarface?
I mean, you trying to get me in trouble man! The world is waiting on that. What we’re planning to do was pick six of the hottest tracks. He was going to pick six joints and I was going to pick six joints. What we were supposed to do is get together and narrow it down to probably give the people 10 records. But we were going to record the whole album in 48 hours and call it “The First 48.” I’m leaving it at that.
Can you tell me about the chemistry you have with Scarface and what led to this project?
I mean the chemistry that I have with Scarface is just great, because we share some of the qualities of those throwback human beings that stand up for some of those morals and principles that people just don’t stand up for anymore.
Can you elaborate?
Like just being men period. Just being a man and not sacrificing your integrity and your morals for just anything. When you don’t stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. And I believe with me and Scarface when we link, like when I first got with Rocafella records, they asked me who did I want to work with and I said Scarface. And then they asked me who else did I want to work with and I said Scarface. Then they asked who else in the Roc besides Scarface did I want to work with and I said Brad Jordan. I would hope to be in the game as long as he is in game, and still relevant. I think that Scarface is going to be around for a long time. He is one of those guys that can make that “forever music.” He doesn’t have to make music ever again, but he makes that forever music, and his music when you listen to it, you know it’s from the heart. I think we got that chemistry because we got old souls, man.
I think when Scarface spits it sounds like that uncle in your family who’s always giving advice about what to do and what not to do.
He’s schooling you. Sometimes a lot people just listen to the hook and the beat and nothing else. [With music," you know the beat and you might catch the hook, but he and I, we make music that makes people want to say, "hold on, rewind that back -- what did he say just now?" People look to music on a sad day when something happened in their life and they take the CD out and will say, "That’s what such and such was talking about on that track," or "remember when Scarface said that?" You know, sometimes you got to make people think.
Fans were disappointed to hear about your upcoming jail sentence. Do you feel like you’ve let them down?
My legal issues are not something new. It’s something that I am being accused of that happened in 2003 or 2004, you know, with tax[es]. It’s a lesson learned, you know? Like I say in my music, I go through it so you won’t do it after me. I was self-taught on everything I did. I left home; I left my mother’s house when I was 13. I was on the streets since I was 13 years old. I became a man on my own and I was self-taught. I’m still going through the hard times. First law of nature is self-preservation. You got to go through certain things. Sometimes you got to crash your car to know that you can’t drive. I got a bunch of great guys that believe in me, and for me to be in the situation that I am — that I was in — and still be able to give that opportunity [to people,] and for people to still believe in the movement and believe in my brand, says a lot. It says Beanie is going to be around for a long time. My story has just begun.
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