NEW YORK — "I just came from court, I got my Donald Trump button-up on," Tony Yayo said with a smile on Thursday afternoon (January 10) while sitting in the G-Unit's Manhattan office.
Yayo, born Marvin Bernard, had been in court earlier in the day to make an appearance before his upcoming trial on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, assault and harassment in connection with his alleged role in the roughing up of the then-14-year-old son of Game manager Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond in March. According to Yayo's lawyer Scott Leemon, the district attorney revealed in court that the co-defendant in the case, honorary G-Unit member Lowell "Lodi Mack" Fletcher, was interviewed by the infamous New York Police Department "hip-hop squad" following his arrest in the case last year, but that police did not disclose that conversation to the district attorney's office until recently.
"The DA disclosed today that despite constitutional protections, members of New York's infamous hip-hop squad interviewed [Fletcher] after his arrest, and he said that Yayo was not the person who hit the boy," Leemon said. "Fletcher said he was the one who slapped the boy, but the DA didn't learn about it until last week."
The judge in the case set a trial start date of March 31. Yayo, whose birthday is actually on the same day the trial begins, said he couldn't go into details of the court proceeding but that he felt positive about it.
"Everything is good," Yayo said. "I got top-notch lawyers. I don't smack kids. I got a kid on the way."
Yayo's name also popped up in the news this week when a house belonging to his road manager Barja Walter was not only shot up but had a Molotov cocktail thrown at it. Almost a year ago, Yayo's mother's house was assailed by firearms as well.
"He's good," Yayo said of Walter. "Truthfully, he don't live there. He don't live in that house. Picture my road manager living in the 'hood."
Tony's mom does still live in her neighborhood, in the same house that was violated.
"My moms didn't move," Yayo said. "I mean, she went through what she went through. I pray for her, but she made that house. She don't wanna move. She came here from another country, she bought a house. She did everything for it. She don't wanna leave. Trust me: She can if she wants to."
The most energetic member of the G-Unit admits it is difficult to leave your familiar surroundings even once you've attained major finances and stardom. To this day, he still hangs out in his old environment.
"A n---a can't tell me I'm not in the streets," he said. "Look at the situations. My mom's crib and all that. I'm in the 'hood. You know what it is? It's a Catch-22 to everything in life. You move out of the 'hood, you deal with racism. People are like, 'This young black guy dropped out of school. I went to school my whole life, [got a] master's degree, and this f---in' guy lives where I live at.' You have to deal with that. Then when you go back to the 'hood, you have to deal with people being mad at you because you made it. It's like the Frank Lucas movie ['American Gangster'] where he says, 'Success took a shot at you.' What are you gonna do? Run away from it? Biggie said, 'Mo' money, mo' problems.'
"It's a whole bunch of sh-- you have to deal with, but it's better than being broke," he added.
Yayo has been out of the 'hood for a while. In fact, he hasn't even been on U.S. soil lately. He just finished a two-month run of the world with 50 Cent, performing everywhere overseas, from Paris to Dubai to Germany to even Kosovo.
"We went to places where they don't even speak English and they know 'So Seductive' and 'Pimpin,' " he humbly boasted. "They don't know other rappers, but they know us."
The Southside Queens native is getting ready to go to the Cannes Film Festival for a screening of 50's new movie, "Righteous Kill." As you've probably heard, it also stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
"Who wouldn't want to meet De Niro and Pacino?" he laughed. "I'm a fan. I went to couple of photo shoots and a couple of things."
On the music side of things, the entire G-Unit are working on a new group album, the forever-in-the-works Lock and Load.
"Me, [Lloyd] Banks and [Young] Buck went to 50's house and was working," he said. "We got a couple joints coming from [Dr.] Dre, Eminem. We're just working. Fif is still working — he's working all the time. Oh, man. 50's a beast in that studio. You never know, it could be his last day [recording,] and he'll write the biggest record he ever did in his life. Or it can be his first day. When you look at 50, he has spurts. He has moments when he can write incredible records. ... He can come with that two or three big records, then fall back, then come with more."
Lock and Load doesn't have a release date yet.