Drag-On Getting Personal, Revealing Mel Smalls On New LP

Baby, DMX, Rockwilder will appear on Hell and Back, due this spring.

Drag-On didn't let a little thing like a stuttering problem stop him from breathing fire on the mic, so naturally it didn't hold him back when an acting role presented itself.

"I'd be on the set stuttering," admitted Drag-On, who co-stars in "Cradle 2 the Grave" with Jet Li and his friend DMX. "I [can] feel myself about to stutter, so when I feel it I pause, then talk. As far as rapping, I got it down. But this acting thing, there's no beat involved -- it's talking. But once I [say my lines] one or two times, it clicks in my brain. I remember it and it becomes like a rhyme."

One of his most memorable scenes -- a face off with Li -- didn't involve too much talking.

"He can only speak English a little bit, but he cracked jokes with me," Drag said. "He was like, 'Today is the fight scene. Today you have bad luck.' We had to rehearse it a few times, but we had it down pat."

The action that occurred while the cameras weren't rolling rivaled some of the excitement that was filmed, Drag said. "Every day it was wild fun, it was something new happening. X, he brought his dog to the set and it bit one of the cameramen one day. The next day we'd be play fighting. The next day we'd be playing with remote-control cars and helicopters."

Even though Drag has three more film projects in the works, it's obvious from talking to him that he prefers cooking up songs in the studio. He's done with his second LP, Hell and Back, due this spring. "My last album dropped in March of 2000," he noted, "of course I miss [doing music.]"

Though his Ruff Ryder labelmates have been fairly prolific over the past three years -- DMX and Eve have put out two albums, and the LOX have dropped a group album and solo LPs by Jadakiss and Styles -- Drag said label politics are responsible for his silence.

"I've been ready, I've been done," he explained. "Even though I've been away shooting movies, I never stop writing. It was whenever they were ready for me to come out. The first album, I didn't have no control over. I didn’t pick beats, I didn't pick choruses. I just did my verses and left. This album I had full control, sat back and designed how I wanted it to sound."

Drag might release "Holla" as his first single, but he's got other fire starters at his disposal, like "Let's Get Crazy," featuring DMX and a Rockwilder beat. "It's about getting crazy, me and X pouring liquor out in the club. We walk in the club and everybody's thinking we're brothers. 'All My Ladies over there, get crazy.' It's real crunked-up.

"I got a joint with Baby and TQ called 'I'm a Ryder,' " he continued. "Baby's expressing the things he do. 'Brand New Bentley' [is] me just expressing how I feel, how I been gone for three years and for a minute I felt as though n---as left me for dead. But I didn't dwell [on] that because I'm happy I'm back. It's just real amped. It's explaining how life is a rough ride. It's not all smooth.

"The first album, all I was really doing was talking about how good I spit," he added. "Now I'm explaining my life. My real name is Mel Smalls, and people gonna get to know that person."

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