As he has for most of his career, Irv Gotti said he’s going to have the last laugh very soon. Heck, he’s laughing so much right now, he can barely get a whole sentence out.
“God!” he answered recently with a huge laugh about how he came to sign pop singer Vanessa Carlton to his infamous record label, the Inc. (see “Yeah, Irv Gotti Knows Who Vanessa Carlton Is — He Just Signed Her” ). “God himself [oversaw] this project. He’s executive-producing all of my projects into 2007.”
Gotti’s laughter has been bolstered with what he called blessings bestowed upon him over the past few months. First, his artist Lloyd almost left his label — which was in limbo without a distribution deal at the time — to go to Atlantic. The R&B singer returned to the Inc with the heat rock “You,” featuring Lil Wayne (see “Irv Gotti Rebuilding The Inc. With A Little Help From Lloyd” ). Then Gotti inked a new deal with Universal Records and the Universal Music Group, not only getting the millions he wanted, but also a brand-new distribution deal. Then the proven Carlton joined his label — which already has Ja Rule, Ashanti and hitmaking producer 7 Aurelius, who Gotti described as “Prince if he f—ed with hip-hop.”
“I’m gonna make a prediction,” I.G. said. “Don’t be shocked and amazed if at one time, you’re looking at the Billboard top 200, and in the top 20, you see four or five Murder Inc. records. You’re gonna be like, ‘I thought them f—ers was over.’ ”
The only place Gotti and company have been is in the boardroom making deals and in his studio making music. After Gotti was acquitted of money laundering last year, he severed ties with Def Jam and the Universal Music Group. Although he had nothing but great things to say about Def Jam, he spit what he called justified venom at some of the Universal Music Group executives, namely Jimmy Iovine and Doug Morris. He accused them of sabotaging his project, being ungrateful for the millions of dollars he made for the company and turning their backs on him as friends. Gotti maintains that he never had any beef with executive Zach Horowitz.
A few months ago, Horowitz and Morris contacted Gotti’s lawyers about a meeting. “They wanted to sit back down and discuss things with me,” Irv said. “At first my lawyer [asked the Universal execs], ‘Are you crazy? You’re going to get me fired. You know Irv ain’t f—ing with y’all.’ But then the lawyer said an interesting thing. He [told Universal’s lawyers], ‘Maybe I can get Irv to the meeting if you offer him his masters.’ They were like, ‘If you get him to the meeting, we want to talk to him.’ ”
Gotti said his talk with the two was “quintessential, real talk.” “Doug explained the level of what I was getting myself into [with] the federal investigation,” Gotti said. “He put it to me like, ‘Irv, you put my job at risk. What did you want me to do? … I’m the chairman. You put me in harm’s way.’ How he explained it to me, he made a lot of sense. No bullsh–.”
Irv accepted Morris’ apology — but not before he conveyed one last emotion. “I turned it back to him like, ‘I understand, but f—, man, you could have been my man still,’ ” Gotti said. ” ‘You could have called me and said, “I’m praying for you, I hope you get through this.” ‘ We went at it. To be honest, after we went at it, I understood where he was coming from. He understood where I was coming from.”
With everyone on the same page, all Gotti had to do was turn down an offer from the Warner Brothers Music Group and sign back with Universal — which wasn’t too difficult, because Warner underwhelmed him.
“The deal they put on the table wasn’t even comparable. It was like night and day,” he said. “I remember telling Dame Dash [about the Universal deal]. He said, ‘What? Nobody is getting deals like this anymore. Sign that now!’ I swear to you.”
With the business done, all Gotti has to do is get back to making records. He said Carlton, Lloyd, 7, Ashanti and Ja Rule are all working on their 2007 releases now. Gotti’s especially excited for Ja’s comeback.
“He has a [song] he did that I made him a $100,000 bet on,” Gotti said. “I said, ‘We’ll put the money in escrow and wait till we’re 50 years old and we’ll collect on the bet.’ I said, ‘Rule, you will not make a bigger [song] than this one we just made.’ It’s called ‘Father Forgive Me.’
“Everybody says, ‘Can Rule do it? Can he come back?’ I say Rule is the best songwriter I have ever been around,” Gotti said. “This guy makes big records in his sleep that people would love to have. You better not ever count me and Rule out. It’s too much talent. I’m saying that through experience of me being around the best rappers alive.”
The working title for Ja’s next album is Love Is Pain. “It’s a sequel of sorts to Rule’s biggest-selling album, Pain Is Love,” Gotti said. “Vanessa’s album is tentatively called Heroes and Thieves. The title track is about how we don’t know who comes in our lives, whether they be good or bad. A lot of her songs sound like they should be title tracks of movie soundtracks.’
Gotti said he and 7 will produce Carlton’s project along with Rick Rubin and 3rd Eye Blind’s Steven Jenkins. Linda Perry is writing some material too. Carlton also will appear on a sure single from Aurelius’ album, Channel 7. “Sixty percent of his album is done,” Gotti divulged. “Every song is like the biggest record anyone has ever heard. His first record is gonna be called ‘M-A-K-E-L-O-V-E-T-O-M-E.’ The record is like a Gwen Stefani ‘Hollaback Girl’ vibe, and we took the Hall and Oates’ ‘Method of Modern Love’ hook. Instead of ‘M-E-T-H-O-D-O-F-L-O-V-E,’ Vanessa is singing, ‘M-A-K-E-L-O-V-E-T-O-M-E.’ ”
The only project Gotti didn’t give too much info on is Ashanti’s next record. The label’s princess is recording on her own, unlike her first three albums, which I.G. oversaw.
“She’s the captain of her ship,” he said. “With her project, I wouldn’t even comment on it. I would say get [the info] from her. Bust she’s still on Murder Inc., and it’s still coming in ’07, and it’s all good.”