MIAMI — "I'm finished, I'm gone, I'm history," Irv Gotti said with a smile on Saturday at the Hit Factory Criteria studios.
The music mogul was sarcastically mocking those who have written him off amidst his label being investigated by federal agents for money laundering of drug funds and its lyrical war with the Shady/Aftermath collective, most notably the G-Unit and Eminem.
"I see it differently," Gotti, losing his grin, added about his detractors. "I hear all the chitter chatter. I don't like it, though. I don't like being investigated for no particular reason. I don't like beefing with other black artists. I don't like it. I'm going through it, cool. But when people write Murder Inc. off, I see it differently. I see that Murder Inc. is on everyone's mouth. I see that Murder Inc. is the topic of every conversation out there, be it good or bad."
The latest words coming from the government aren't too good (see "Murder Inc. Probe Leads To Arrest, Alleged Ties To 50 Cent Shooting"). On Monday, a federal complaint was filed in Brooklyn, New York, by the U.S. Attorney's office to seize profits from sales of the movie "Crime Partners."
The complaint alleges that the Inc. laundered narcotics money earned by Gotti's friend Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff to support the film and its soundtrack, which has never seen the light of day. McGriff is listed as one of the movie's co-executive producers and one of the principals of Picture Perfect Films, which produced the flick.
McGriff was convicted of drug conspiracy charges in 1987 and is said to be the head of the Queens, New York, crack cocaine cartel known as the Supreme Team.
A portion of the complaint reads, "Drug cash delivered by McGriff and others was, among other things, then converted into checks for McGriff in connection with the 'Crime Partners' film project" and that "McGriff's drug cash was delivered to various video shoots for the 'Crime Partners' movie."
That comes on the heels of a court affidavit that went public last week detailing what the feds say led to their raid of the Inc.'s offices and studios in January. Among other details in the court documents were accusations that McGriff helped Gotti get his start in the music business and that Supreme was the real head of Murder Inc. and some of Gotti's other businesses.
The documents also say that agents have evidence that Gotti and McGriff, who became friends while living in Queens, did business together from 1999 to December 2002.
Others allegations say that McGriff used two-way pagers registered to the Inc. for use in drug trafficking and that he received calls from underworld associates at the Inc.'s offices. The "World's Most Talented Label" is also said to have funded some of Supreme's air trips and hotel stays, for which he used false ID.
McGriff was arrested in Miami on December 28 on a federal gun warrant. In April he pleaded guilty to the charges of illegal weapons possession by a felon and is currently back in prison.
"I know what I did and I know if I did anything wrong," Gotti said of his woes. "It's crazy to get all this attention when I've done nothing wrong except be friends to people.
"What doesn't kill me can only make me stronger, and I'm still breathing," added I.G., who has not been formally charged with any crime. "They can throw the kitchen sink at me. The only way they can stop me is they gotta stop me from going to the studio. It's a funny thing, with all this, I resort back to the basics. With all the [craziness], I'm in the papers every day, I'm on MTV every day, every 15-minute newsbreak. But I don't look at the papers, I don't watch TV. I go in the studio and I listen to music. Music calms the savage beast and it makes me so focused."
Gotti's main focus the last few months has been Ashanti's second LP, Chapter 2 (see "With No One To Say 'Awww Baby' To, Ashanti Turns To Her Friends"). He produced the entire project with Chink Santana. Meanwhile, Murder Inc.'s cornerstone, Ja Rule, is taking a six-month hiatus. Gotti says that sometime in 2004 Rule will return with a double album (see "Ja Rule To Give Fans A Break From His Music").