Beanie Sigel: Rhyme and The Reason
As competitive as the hip-hop game is, holding that championship belt is an invitation to all contenders and pretenders. Jay-Z has claimed a good chunk of the heavyweight title for a while, drawing heat from all comers in the process. Luckily, his Roc-A-Fella labelmate Beanie Sigel has always had his back.
Philly's gangsta native son lives by his own rules he raps what he lives, while others often barely live
what they rap and loyalty to the Roc family is key. And why not? The R.O.C.'s been good to him, from his star-making cameo on Vol. 2 ... Hard Knock Life to his solo deal with the label. Now Sigel steps into the ring with his second effort, The Reason.
As Rahman Dukes discovered, Beans pulls no punches on his follow-up to 1999's The Truth, whether he's talking about the weak state of rap in 2001, his alleged feud with the LOX's Jadakiss or the pseudo-gangstas making money off the life.
MTV: A lot of rappers are attacking Jay-Z these days. There's also the alleged beef between you and Jadakiss. Has there been any talk in the Roc-A-Fella camp of, "Let's squash this"?
Beanie Sigel: Jay's on top right now. He's got the belt. He's the heavyweight champ [and] people want a shot at the title. Everybody's gonna talk. They're gonna talk if you're doing good, [they're gonna] talk if you're doing bad. But we ain't squashin' nothing. It's squashed when it's squashed. I ain't no peacemaker. I ain't waving no white flag. However way you wanna do it, bring it, man. Like I said, we got the belts. If you want a shot at the title, step into the ring. We ain't turning down no fights. We could do it on cable. It could be on pay-per-view, or live on MTV.
I ain't talked to Jada yet, [but] I talked to [LOX member] Styles. Me and Styles always see eye-to-eye ... I respect him, he respects me. ... There was a lot of [talk] going on over [an alleged beef between] Beanie Sigel and Jadakiss. Somebody must have been feeding some sucker sh-- in his head or telling him something. It's all gravy, though. There's no love lost. I got respect for him, hopefully he got respect for me.
MTV: What do you think The Reason is going to do for hip-hop? How is it going to revive things?
Sigel: It's gonna bring it back to the basics, the essence. When you hear the album, if you close your eyes, you're gonna see two turntables and me on the microphone, just rocking it. The beats are raw. You're gonna wanna rip out your back seat. Everything will just be rattling when you are coming up the block. I basically kept the rawness of my style [from The Truth]. I ain't looking to try out new things. I keep it basic. I found out that less was more.
MTV: What are you listening to? Is there anything that has moved you in the past two years?
Sigel: What's in my deck? [Jay-Z's] The Dynasty. [Memphis] Bleek, Scarface, N.W.A. But it's weak, man. Everybody's partying, everybody's in the club, dancing and all that. I ain't dancin', man. I ain't with that. We ain't partying where I'm from. Ain't nobody happy, for real. People be looking for that, [saying] "I need a joint for the clubs." I ain't reaching for nothing. Rap's too happy right now. Nursery rhymes and all that. I mean, that's just not what I'm into.
MTV: What's your idea of a perfect album, then?
Sigel: Consistency. That's what I'm looking for. The perfect combination of music, back-to-back. When you listen to it, you ain't gonna put it in and go straight to track five, or track four, or six. You're gonna want to put it in and [listen to] it from beginning to end. But what's the perfect album? I don't think anybody [has done] that but Michael Jackson with Thriller. That's what I'm reaching for. I ain't trying to clutter people's ears. Not everybody's into what I'm into. A lot of people won't get it, a lot of people will be asleep. [I'm trying to] get people hot songs, songs you can feel. Songs you don't want to just listen to. [Songs that get] you locked into the beat, but also tuned into the words. Nowadays, it's either/or. A lot of people just look for the hot track, but they ain't really listening to the lyrics. ... I [want to give] them gangsta beats you can feel and raw lyrics [that make you say], "Yo, let me rewind. Did you hear what he said?"
MTV: What's the difference between you and some of the other rappers on the charts today?
Sigel: A lot of dudes are made-up ... they're characters. A lot of people try to live what they write on their album, talking all this gangsta talk. That's crazy. Yo, if you can't play the part, pass up the script. It can make you not want to do certain songs with people, because you don't believe their story. There weren't nobody on my Truth album but Scarface, an original.
MTV: With the various cuts that you and Bleek have done together over the years, it seems there's a real chemistry there. What's it like working with him?
Sigel: [The chemistry's] there, but you're always searching for more. There ain't a song that me and Bleek did that ain't crazy. People love us together. It's like when I see Daz and Kurupt working. Daz knows what to expect from Kurupt, and Kurupt knows what to expect from Daz. ... I saw them make three, four songs together in a couple of hours. That's sick. That's crazy. There have been times when I've been in the studio [and spent] two days on one song. But then there are times when I probably did four songs in six or eight hours. It ain't nothing for me to go into the studio and knock out 10 joints in four days, no problem.
MTV: How do you feel about getting lumped into the whole Philly scene that's happening now? There's the Roots, Jill Scott, Musiq, Bilal and so many others that have put Philly on the map again.
Sigel: That's normal. I mean, Philly has always been the scene for music. We [have] always been there. Gamble and Huff, Philly International, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti Labelle. There are a lot of Philly groups out there. And now Pink, Jill Scott ... it's the same thing, history repeating itself. We're back in the loop again. But Philly was stagnant on the hip-hop scene for a minute because it wasn't cool to be a rapper in Philly. Where I was from, it was like, "You rap? Man, nobody's trying to hear that sh--." I couldn't tell anybody that I rapped. A lot of people didn't know I rapped until I landed a deal with Roc-A-Fella. I just came on the scene, like bam!
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