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LAist Interview: Beanie Sigel

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Philly native, Beanie Sigel hit the road for Los Angeles to promote his new album, The Solution which dropped yesterday. The Rocafella representative took a little time in between radio interviews and a late night run to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles to chat with LAist about his latest effort, his time locked up and the current state of hip hop music.

How’s the response for the album been so far?
Good, you know the album has been leaked for about three weeks. It’s always frustrating you know when the album leaks. You expect it, but three weeks, damn. Actually, its 23 days. But the response so far has been great. If I had a whack album I’d be sick right now. Everyone has their favorites. Everyone has multiple favorites. That’s a good sign you know when people are picking two, three favorite tracks.

How did you hear about the leak?
I was out on a promo run down in North Carolina. Someone emailed me and told me, “Yo, your album leaked, it’s on the Internet.” I was thinking that might be the little thing we put out there but my man was like “No, its your whole album.” I was like “Wow!”

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Is that frustrating?
Definitely. You in this game to make money and to sell as many albums as you can and go on tour and support that album. When the album finally is in stores you know that line isn’t going to be as long when everyone already had the album three weeks ago.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Gutted” featuring Jay-Z where you're getting on people about the way they spend their cash. How did that track come about?
“Gutted” is a word me and my boys use when playing dice, cards or poker. If we playing and you lose and we take all your money, we just gutted you out. If we playing like 500 a shot and you come in and say I got 200, we’ll say "get out of here man, you gutted." You can use it a lot of ways, like when people out there frontin’ like they got money, we’d be like "oh man he’s gutted." Like you out at the club and you see a chick dressed to the tee, she got the thousand dollar bag and the expensive ass dress and she can’t afford to buy a drink, she’s gutted. So that’s how that came about, just some old Philly slang.

What do you think is the biggest problem with the rap game right now?
No message. There's no message in it at all. Right now, everyone’s in the club and partying and dancing. There’s no substance in hip hop right now. There’s a total lack of character.

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I read your interview in S.O.H.H. where you said too many people are jumping on trends. Earlier this year 50 Cent told Rolling Stone, you had to jump on trends to survive. Why such a difference in opinions?
The type of music that I make, my music comes from the heart and it’s about the things I have done and seen, so I don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing because I don’t do what everyone else is doing. Like I said, there’s a lack of character in hip hop right now, there’s no individuals people are just looking at what everyone else is doing and clinging on to what’s selling and what’s hot. I can’t do that, I’m my own person. I am just making heartfelt music that is coming out of me. Whatever state of mind I am in, whatever emotions I am going through, that’s the kind of music I am going to make.

What was your time in jail like? How did your fellow inmates treat you? Were treated any differently? Do they recognize you?
Yeah, they definitely recognize me. I wasn’t treated any differently. I wasn’t Beanie Sigel in there, I was just another inmate. But I think people connected with me because I was like their window to the outside world. It wasn’t like guys in there were trying to act harder around me, or nothing like that. Of course people wanted to ask questions and learn more about my life but that’s because they have been on the inside, you know.

How big of an influence does Jay-Z have on your music and your creativity?
Since the Truth, I have always created my own music. Creatively, Jay has always just let me go. I just present to him what I wanted to present to him. I don’t think Jay has never said “You should do a song like this or you should do a little something like this.” Jay has always just let me go.

What was it like working with R.Kelly on “All of the Above” the lead single on your new album?
I didn’t actually get to sit in the studio with him. That was a track I got from the Runners and we were looking to get Akon or T-Pain on there, but both weren’t available. Akon was overseas and T-Pain had too many other projects going on so he couldn’t guarantee the video. So next person I thought would work was R. Kelly so we sent it out to him and he killed it, he did so much more than I expected and he was really adamant about doing a video. Definitely happy with the result of that record.

What do you think of the addition of Jadakiss?
It’s great for hip hop. It’s a great look. This is going bring back that energy hip hop is lacking right now. We’ll definitely be working together in the future. In fact, we just did the Roc Boys remix together. Yeah, that remix is me, Jada and Jay. There will definitely be more to come from me and Jada.

I know you guys are waiting for me to wrap it up so you can go to Roscoe’s, is that your favorite spot here in LA?
You can’t come to LA without going to Roscoe’s or Crustacean. You got to go to Roscoe’s.

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What else do you like doing out here in LA?
To be honest with you, at this particular time I can’t do what I really like doing here in LA. Like Big said, “Going back to Cali for the weather, women and the weed.” So you know.

Photo by Tim Hammer for LAist