When The Urban Daily was preparing for its interview with Shyne today, it had a laundry list of questions to ask the rapper, who was released from prison just over a year ago.
However, the answer to one simple question about his upcoming albums rendered the rest of the questions irrelevant.
In February 2010, LA Reid flew down to Belize, where Shyne had been deported after his release from prison, with a reportedly seven figure recording contract in hand. On February 16, Shyne once again became a Def Jam Recordings artist.
But apparently, things aren’t going too well for Shyne at the label.
I understand you have two albums dropping this year. Is that correct?
Not this year. I’m not coming out until first quarter, like March.
One will be under Def Jam and the other under Cash Money?
Right now I don’t know what I’m doing with Def Jam. It’s a new chairman over at Universal Music Group, so I don’t know what’s happening over there.
You’re talking about Lucian Grainge who replaced Doug Morris?
Yeah, and I know LA Reid ain’t gonna be there no more. I don’t know what’s happening over there. It all depends on who takes over and his commitment to hip-hop music. I think that’s why…. It’s really tricky. I don’t like to judge nobody or throw anyone under the bus, but I don’t think there was a strong commitment to hip-hop from LA Reid. I was on my way out the door a few times and he begged me to stay. Now that he’s leaving, that’s definitely the door opening for me to spin off myself, you dig. I don’t know the direction they’re going in. I don’t know if they’re gonna put another guy in there that don’t care about hip-hop music. You understand? We need people like Russell [Simmons] and Lyor [Cohen] and Jimmy Iovine, people that bled and got their hands dirty and were in the trenches. We need the Eisenhowers that are gonna be there on the warfield with us to keep this going, and L.A. Reid wasn’t that. I’m interested to see who they’re gonna put in there. If anything, I might do everything through Cash Money or somebody else, but it’s a real question mark with Def Jam right now.
Last week, a letter Nas had written to Def Jam made its way on to the internet where he was talking about how they only gave him $200,000 budget for the album and he wasn’t having that. Was it a similar situation with you?
Yeah yeah yeah! You know, I wrote a letter too! I got a blog on MTV, I’m surprised they haven’t posted that up yet. It was called “Def Jam Is Dying.” I feel the same way. I’m all with what Nas is saying. Absolutely! He’s 1000% right! In the letter I wrote, it says “Def Jam is dying thanks a billion L.A. Reid. Middle finger to you too.” You know, because he don’t care about us, man.
It’s crazy that you’re telling me this, I said that he don’t understand that Nas and Ghostface are modern day prophets. When he was perming his hair and getting pedicures and manicures, Jimmy Iovine and Russell were putting in work. R&B dudes used to run it, and then this hip-hop thing came along and hi-jacked pop culture, and I don’t think L.A.’s one of those dudes that likes that.
At the end of the day, it’s about great music and great people making music. Nas is really a hero. What he did for hip-hop is indisputable, and L.A. Reid don’t get that! This is not about Def Jam the brand, it’s about the Nas brand! It’s about the music he makes. You need a machine behind you that believes in that. These dudes aren’t doing that. You got executives out there that get an act that sells a few million, and now they think they’re geniuses. Then you get a person like Nas, who is a legend and has a legacy, and you got a machine that doesn’t know how to preserve this legacy.
In my letter, I talk about how unless you give LA Reid a song with Ne-Yo on it, or one of his R&B singers, you’re outta luck! That’s not hip-hop!
I used to work at Def Jam some time ago and I saw that happen all the time. They would sign an R&B singer then next thing you he or she is all over everyone’s record. I understand the business behind it, but it doesn’t always make artistic sense.
It ain’t even business, my dude. It’s that homeboy don’t mess with hip-hop! He don’t give a curse word about hip-hop! He don’t even wanna talk to rappers! My man told me that, even Jay… it’s crazy…
Just to give you some background, this wasn’t even L.A. Reid’s deal. This was Jimmy Iovine’s deal. Jimmy Iovine put this paper on the table. He believed in me. I was messing with Hova. He was talking to Jimmy on my behalf. Everybody was supporting me when I came out. And me and Hov, we got a freeze in our relationship because I didn’t listen to him. He told me not to mess with this dude. He said “Good luck getting that dude on the phone!” This is Hov! This is arguably one of the most influential musicians ever, the most influential of our generation, you understand! How do you not renew his contract? Nobody talks about the fact that Hov dropped the label. He broke out! That oughta tell you something when you can’t keep the biggest rapper around. That shows how much L.A. cares about the music. He don’t get it! It ain’t even business with him. He don’t get the culture. He don’t understand why we talk the way we talk, dress the way we dress… He thinks we need to put a suit on and you need to be clean and have an R&B singer on our record for us to go anywhere. Now Outkast was a fluke!
I was just having that conversation with someone recently. No other hip-hop act that was signed to LaFace had any major success aside from Outkast and Goodie Mob to an extent. You mention a group like “Highland Place Mobsters” to somebody and they have no idea who you’re talking about. When he was running Arista, if it wasn’t for Bad Boy being part of the company at the time, there wouldn’t have been much of a hip-hop presence at the company. When your first album came out, L.A. was the man in charge at Arista right?
Yeah he was over there. But you know, one thing I can say about my co-defendant [Diddy] is that no one tells him what to do. So he was doing whatever he wanted to do. So L.A. Reid can’t take credit for that. At least Clive Davis, he may not get hip-hop, but he’ll support you. A lot of these guys, they may not get hip-hop, but if you’re gonna be in the business, you give it your all! You gonna find the guy that knows what he doing, and you roll with him. But homeboy, he ain’t been able to do that. When I was on Bad Boy, that was all ol’ boy [Diddy], That didn’t have nothing to do with LA Reid.
Is your relationship with Jimmy Iovine good enough where you could go to him and get a deal with Interscope?
I can’t really get into that right now because we’re in a legal situation. My lawyers are going through my exit right now. So I don’t wanna put my cards out on the table right now. But Jimmy is definitely someone I admire, and someone I want to deal with. Whenever your gut tells you something, you go with it. But the Devil always comes by and tries to throw you off from where you’re going. “Hey look! There’s a shortcut over there!” I’d love to work with Jimmy if the opportunity presented itself.
Keep an eye out for part two of The Urban Daily’s interview with Shyne later this week!