When Chopper (a.k.a. Young City), formerly of Da Band, was debating which label to sign with after leaving Bad Boy, his decision came down to one thing. When he was down and out, Chopper said, fellow New Orleans native Baby of Cash Money Records provided for him.
The “Making the Band 2″ alum explained he was upset by what he perceived as Diddy’s lack of support for him when Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans last year.
“I believe if I’m working with you, you are me,” Chopper said. “You’re a part of me if we’re getting this together.”
Chopper said he felt he deserved more based on what he had done for the label up to that point, including paying for his videos out-of-pocket and waiting patiently for his turn in the spotlight as a solo artist.
“Puff is a multimillionaire, I’m a thousand-naire at that time, grinding,” Chopper said. “I shot the [’I See You Lil’ Daddy’] video and the remix with Lil Wayne and Jody Breeze without him even giving me an advance check. I did that thinking it was all love. [Then] Katrina hit, boom, took away my house, my mama’s house, took away a lot of stuff from my family.
“When that happened, I didn’t get no phone call [from Diddy],” Chopper continued. “He didn’t call me and say, ’Are you all right?’ He didn’t say, ’I got these Sean John clothes and can make sure your family at least has clothes on its back.’ He didn’t do none of that. So at the end of the day, I felt played. That’s why I wanted to disband myself from the Bad Boy situation.”
Keesha Johnson, a spokesperson for Diddy, disputed Chopper’s claims. She said Diddy promoted Chopper as the first breakout artist from Da Band (see “Da Band’s New Reality: Solo Albums And Movie Deals” ) and that Bad Boy and its distributor, Atlantic Records, funded both of Chopper’s videos. While Johnson did not respond specifically to Chopper’s comments regarding Hurricane Katrina, she noted that Diddy, along with Jay-Z, made a monetary contribution to the American Red Cross. In September 2005, the two artists announced they were combining checkbooks to donate $1 million (see “Jay-Z, Diddy, Others Reach Out To Disaster Victims; Kanye West Attacks Bush During Telethon” ).
Diddy also responded to Chopper: “[He] is a former disgruntled artist of Bad Boy who obviously has an ax to grind. We wish him well in his future career,” he said in a statement released to MTV News.
A little more than a month ago, Chopper officially joined forces with Cash Money co-founder Baby. Their discussions began when Chopper was visiting New Orleans and ran into Baby, who inquired about his status with Bad Boy. Chopper explained he had parted ways with Diddy and, according to the rapper, Baby quickly offered a spot on the Cash Money roster and put some money in his pocket.
“I told Baby the story [about his Katrina losses], and he was like, ’Look here, at the end of the day, we always wanted to sign you,’ ” Chopper recalled. “And I told them they was the reason I started rapping in the first place.”
The 21-year-old has been in Miami prepping his forthcoming solo debut, Fast Life, which is set to feature collaborations with Cash Money artists Lil Wayne and his Young Money crew, as well as appearances from Chingy, Soulja Slim, and Princess of Crime Mobb. Chopper hopes the album will help him move beyond his reality-TV past and showcase his abilities as a legitimate artist.
“I’m really one of the coldest guys in this game, rap-wise,” he said. “It’s time to show the world that, and that’s why this Cash Money situation is gonna be a great for me. I’m a grown man now — you ain’t talking to a little kid no more.”
Chopper is currently facing 90 years in prison, according to his lawyer Paul Gardner, for an armed-robbery charge (which also includes two counts of first- and second-degree assault), stemming from an incident in Baltimore in 2001. He was pulled over for speeding on July 31 and detained when authorities noted that he had an outstanding warrant on the armed robbery charge. Chopper’s hearing is now scheduled for February 28.