Big Lou talks about his latest project, scared rappers finding reasons not to work with him, working with legends like Jeru the Damaja, why the Grammys are within reach and much more.
You haven’t dropped the long-awaited official album and despite huge radio support, you still have a huge following. Why do you think that is?
I don’t know, man. You know what, B? I just keep the internet busy as hell and keep the streets busy too. I still do a lot of street promotions and I try and just be everywhere and in everybody’s faces and just keep on feeding them until I come through with that record and that album. That’s what’s working for me, B, for real.
Your last mixtape, Goya Product with a Twist of Soul Food, has great lyrics and appearances. How did you go about putting that together?
That joint, the Goya Product with a Twist of Soul Food, to tell you the truth, B, that was just a statement to everybody that I’m here. It’s me against the world-type shit, just like the Joker. He couldn’t trust nobody and everybody looked at him like he was the bad guy but they didn’t see what it was and they didn’t respect the work he put in. That’s how I felt about this project. Even going back to the time when I was with Streetsweepers, it shows that I fuck with everybody. I always jumped on tracks. This is a statement that I’m alive and I’m going to bring the heat and I’m going to change the face of rap.
You worked with Jeru the Damaja, Reef, Vinnie Paz, Shabaam Sahdeeq among others. Which collab was the hardest to pull off?
You know what? When I was getting the project done, it just flowed, man. It was a blessing. It really wasn’t hard. A lot of cats already knew that I was on my grind and they respected that. When I did the Jeru the Damaja track, we met up in New York. Shout out to Jeru the Damaja. We went in the studio and he just jumped right on it like the professional and legend that he is. It was just an honor getting Jeru on the joint. It was a good feel. It’s the same way with Vinnie Paz. That track came out ridiculous with Vinnie Paz and it was the same way with Reef. Everything came out easy, man. These cats were excited to get on the track and that’s how I work, B. You know, I guess I showed that I’ve been putting in that work because these cats embrace me and it’s deeper than rap. I got a personal relationship with Vinnie Paz, Jeru, Cuban Link, Chino XL and Frankie Krutches. It’s deeper than rap. These guys are like my brothers. That’s why it came out nice.
Why do you think they’re all down to do the verses they did for a free mixtape?
They know I’m a real nigga. I’m a real cat. It’s not a gimmick image or no façade. They know I go hard and I’m out there and my face is everywhere. Who wouldn’t want to work with me? I want to work with real cats too. I don’t want to work with cats that are ass and shit like that. I want to work with cats that are lyrical and that’s why I respect them. There’s a lot of cats that are scared to work with me. If you look at my track record, I go hard, B. There’s a lot of cats that make excuses and don’t jump on records. I’m not going to say no names, but there were some who wouldn’t jump on the track with me because I bring the heat. When I go in, you’re going to remember me. I respect the cats like Vinnie because he jumped on the track and he don’t have no fear in his bones and he’s a legend in his own right. Shout out to all the dudes who weren’t scared.
You’re not going to tell us who’s scared?
Oh, there’s a lot! (laughs) There’s a lot of cats out there who are scared to work with me. They gotta worry about me right now. I’m coming in strong, B. I ain’t letting up.
What’s the best excuse you got from another rapper?
It was a beat. It was a beat and shit. Everybody wanted to jump on it. Almost every MC that I mess with wanted to jump on it. I was like “Well, if all these MCs love this beat, I’m going to send it to this cat and see if he wants to jump on it.” He said, “The beat, I’m not really feeling the beat.” I was like “Alright, I’ll send him another banger.” “I’m not really feeling the beat.” Beat after beat, it was “I’m not feeling the beat.” I said, “Fuck it, I’m not following up.” Then the next best excuse is “He’s busy right now.” So I just fell back from it. I just know niggas are scared to jump on tracks with me.
Do you take that as a compliment?
Yeah, it’s a compliment. It’s a compliment. At the same time, it shows weakness in the game because, you know, before, niggas that were real lyrical and they see an up-and-coming cat in the game, they would embrace that and want to get on a track with me. Not only do they take it as a good look, they take it as a challenge. They want to make sure they’re still sharp and they still got their shit and they’re able to embrace somebody like me because they know it’s competitive but it’s all love. When a cat don’t want to be competitive like that, I don’t feel like he should be fucking around and MCing because that’s not a true MC. You should be ready and embrace somebody of my caliber and go in. Let’s do a track, not for me and you but for the fans and let them have a good time with the track and debate who killed it. It’s just good for hip-hop. Nowadays, cats are just bitches. They don’t want to rap with somebody that they know is going to go in there and kill shit. It’s just corny right now, man. It’s just real wack.
What song are you most proud of off Goya Product with a Twist of Soul Food?
Geez, that’s a tough question, B. That’s a real tough question. There’s too many of them. I don’t really got a favorite. I like the majority of the tape. It’s just something that you can put in your whip and listen to. It was a good experience getting songs with the people I did. I did a song with Tito Puente’s son and I was paying tribute to his father and Celia Cruz and it was just love letting me take parts of his interview and putting it on there. Shout out to Valentine, who hooked that up for me. It was just a great experience with songs like that. The track with Vinnie Paz…There’s just a lot. There’s too many to mention. “Latin Connection.” There’s just so many great tracks on there.
It’s been over a year since Mike Beck was killed and you remember him on “Mike Beck Forever.” How do you remember Mike Beck today?
You know what? Me and Mike Beck, man, we clicked from day one. The funny thing is me and him, we barely got together and met up. We used to talk on the phone and vibe and meet up and when we did, it was always good. It was unfortunate what happened. It was sad. It was a sad day in hip-hop because this was a dude that went extremely hard. Every time I talked to this cat he was in Miami or he was somewhere. He was just moving, making his runs and it was sad to know a brother like that was taken down. My hat always goes off to that dude and I just felt like I had to do a tribute because I mess with his brother. That’s why I got him on the track to narrate it and he did a verse for me and I took it and put it on there. That’s an homage to him and his family and that’s the least I could do for somebody like Mike Beck. My heart goes out to his family and my condolences. God bless that brother. One day I’ll see him again.
Does it ever bother you putting this out for free when so much work went into it?
You know what? We put it on sale too. It’s on Amazon and it’s on iTunes. It’s everywhere and to tell you the truth, more people bought it than downloaded it. I did my numbers. I’m just moving quietly but effectively. It did its numbers. There’s people still buying the joint and I think they got it for $17 and they’re still paying for it. It speaks mountains on how good the project is and how good that mixtape album is and we got a lot of downloads and a lot of love and that was just the move right there. My thing was to put it out and let everybody know I’m still here. I’m very much alive and very relevant and I just wanted to get the fans to run with it because Goya Product 2, they’re going to have to pay for that! (laughs) They’re going to have to pay for that because it’s coming out more phenomenal than the first one.
What makes it better?
It’s gonna take another eight months to hear. We’re going to let them marinate on this project and make sure it goes as far as it can. We’re going to keep on pushing it as much as we can because right now with this one, it has a crazy buzz. Everybody is just, they’re just overwhelmed at what I just did. It’s a good look and I would say in less than a year, Goya Product 2 and what to expect for that, it’s going to be crazy, man. The lineup is just ridiculous. I’m going to take it to other heights that people didn’t think I could touch on.
Are you still motivated to prove Kay Slay that he was wrong for not treating you differently?
Nah. I was always motivated. When Kay Slay picked me up, I don’t think Kay Slay understood what he had on his hands. I’m a dude that goes extremely hard. I’m from Camden, New Jersey. If you survive Camden, New Jersey, and everybody from Camden knows this, we go hard. And I think that Kay Slay didn’t know that. I go extremely hard. It’s nothing to prove to Slay. There’s really nothing to prove. I love hip-hop and if anything, it’s going to get proven to myself. I always elevate. Right now, I’m more popular and doing more work than I was. When I stopped fucking with Slay, more doors started opening but I always thank Slay. He gave me a chance, but he just didn’t follow through. But he did give me a chance so I always show him love on that. I can’t be a fake nigga. Yeah, he showed me a chance but he just didn’t know how to handle an artist like me. An artist like me, I can get Grammy’s if you know how to push me hard and work the way I work. The sky’s the limit. I just think he didn’t know how to handle an artist to me. But it’s northing to prove to Slay now. We’re official. It’s Big Lou and Lost City Records. We’re on a mission.
What do you need to do to get to the Grammy level?
Right now I’m sharpening up on my radio tracks. Not no bullshit radio tracks, like a lot of cats make just dumb little catchy shit to get on and the next thing you know, they’re not getting respect. I’m well-respected and I’m good at making records. Once I can tap into that mainstream market but with my twist, what I do and keeping it real and making that good music, then I can bring that shit back out and I think what’s going to happen is I’m going to pop it off on mainstream and I’ll go fucking platinum because everybody knows that I can make good records. They’re going to support the album because it’s going to be a good album that they can just put in their shit and listen to. I’m not going to be a one-hit wonder trying to sell albums. Sometimes the long way is better because people know what to expect. That’s why people like Jay-Z and Eminem can come out and always sell albums. They can make singles but they can also make good albums and that’s the artist that I want to be.
How have you grown as an artist in the past year?
I saw a lot of changes. I grew to the game. Of course I learned from the whole lawsuit thing. I learned how to protect myself better and I learned how to get more involved in the whole business aspect of it. As far as the songs, I learned how to grow. I think I was always sharp on the songs but I got even sharper on that. I always think out the pocket when I make my music with deep subjects and deep matters, things I’ve seen and things other people have seen. Really, sometimes I amaze myself with some of the things I do and that’s not tooting my own horn, but fuck it, I gotta toot my own horn. It’s crazy man. The music is just in me. That’s part of my life and I just think I’m getting better as I go along and I’m knocking on the door and I’m about to knock that motherfucker down.
What’s the most effective way for you to get your name out today?
You definitely still gotta use the DJs. I think DJs still break records. The DJs are definitely the record breakers. With the internet, you definitely gotta get on the internet and do your homework. A lot of cats, they go on there and they expect it to work by itself. You gotta go on the computer and touch base, whether it’s Twitter or you’re giving every DJ a record single-handedly. That makes a difference. You have to send them a hot record and I think you just gotta get on your job. A lot of cats really don’t put that work in and I think you gotta get it to as many DJs as you can and get it to the websites that count and the people that can really push your music. Sometimes it takes money to make money and there’s a lot of different avenues, B, and a lot of cats don’t use it. Me, I put the work in in the streets. I go to every city you can imagine. I’m there. I do a lot of street work and then my partner, he hits it up. It’s really a two-man team. Everybody thinks I got a big camp but it’s really a two-man team and we make Lost City successful because we grind really hard. We don’t just talk about it. We be about it.
What are your goals for 2011?
Right now it’s keep on pushing. I got two projects I want to focus on for 2011 and the single “Out this Club” that’s getting pushed right now. People overseas are loving it and shout out to all the DJs that are supporting “Out this Club.” I’m opening these doors and showing them that I can be a big artist like a Jay-Z or Eminem but Big Lou style. I’m just going to keep on cracking the doors open and show them I can get in. I’m going to show them what real grinding and paying dues is really about, not that bullshit these guys are doing nowadays.