G-Unit (Part 2 of 2) [Interview]
New York, NY – Tony Yayo and I got a chance to get up on the phone the week after my interview with the rest of his G-Unit family. Yayo didn’t make it past customs so he wasn’t able to join the group for recent concert dates in Toronto and Sudbury. We spoke about Young Buck, The Game, Fat Joe, the new G-Unit album T.O.S: Terminate on Sight, his relationship with 50 and upcoming projects to look out for. I was waiting a little until he had finished getting his haircut at the G-Unit office and then he was ready to roll. It was a good talk and we made sure to put every last drop of his comments within the interview text. Yayo didn’t hold back, and neither did we. Check it.
HipHopCanada: So the album is out. I’m not sure what the sales of the album are, but I heard they’re somewhere around 100 thousand. Is that true?
Yayo: I couldn’t even tell you. Nobody has told me what the numbers are. I’m hearing speculations online but I’m not sure. Truthfully we didn’t call numbers. I was just happy with the body of work that we did. We put out “Rider Part 2” on the radio and we didn’t really make too many radio friendly records.
HipHopCanada: Was there anything you were disappointed with, as far as the album goes? A couple of the songs leaked the week before, and the whole album was leaked a few days before as well.
Yayo: Well I think we did good on the bootleg. Usually an album leaks two weeks before it’s supposed to come out. Usually, when the album goes to the power plant, it happens to fall off the truck and be in the streets. I think it did well watching the other albums we’ve put out.
HipHopCanada: How is G-Unit’s relationship with Jimmy Iovine? Both Busta and Obie are off Shady Records, and in his song “So Much Drama” Obie states differences with Jimmy. How do you feel about that?
Yayo: I don’t really even know Jimmy Iovine. I’m going to be honest with you. The first time I met him, I went to his house, and then I met him two other times. I had a “hi-and-bye” conversation. Last time I saw him, him and 50 were having lunch on top of Interscope and I didn’t really have too much to say in that conversation. I heard about Busta online the other day, and I was shocked because those are two good artists; established artists. I couldn’t tell you what their relationship with Interscope was like because I have no relationship at Interscope. When I go to that building, people say “hi” and that’s it.
HipHopCanada: I heard you chose many of the beats for the album, and played a big part in the A&R-ing of the project. Is that true?
Yayo: Yeah, me and Banks and 50. I was happy about that. I got to pick some records and people liked them, so I was happy about it.
HipHopCanada: What were you looking for and what classifies a hot beat in your opinion?
Yayo: A hot beat is something that everybody likes… to me, in my eyes. When we make music we don’t make it so that it can stay in the studio. I would stay “Straight Outta Southside” is a record that we have dedicated to Sean Bell and Joe Guzman and Trent and everybody, because Joe Guzman was just at a show we did in Atlantic City. If the streets are happy with it, then I’m happy with it. Fans are like – how can I say – like drug addicts. One minute they like it and then they get tired of that work and they want something new. Then they miss your work, and they want to hear some of that again. That’s what I feel is going to happen with the G-Unit album. It’s a good body of work. We’ve got Polow Da Don on there, Swizz Beatz…
HipHopCanada: What about the record concepts? Songs like “Kitty Kat” show that G-unit is always somehow finding new ways to push the envelope in a creative way. How do you choose the songs that make the final cut?
Yayo: We just all sit down and pick the best ones because we all have so much work.
HipHopCanada: I know. 50 said that you and Banks recorded like 70 songs or something…
Yayo: Yeah, we recorded a lot of records and we just picked the ones we liked the most. There are always other records, but we don’t stay on one, we just keep it moving. “Kitty Kat”, that was a record I brought to the table.
HipHopCanada: Oh you did? Why did you like it?
Yayo: I just liked it. I like the beat, the build up in the beat. It was something different. And I just wrote the hook, it came out catchy and it came out to what it came out to be. And Fif liked it, Banks liked it, and that’s all that really counts. We don’t have Jimmy Iovine looking over our shoulder or nothing like that. I really don’t even know Jimmy Iovine. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: The album was initially supposed to be called Lock and Load and Shoot to Kill. Why the name change to T.O.S: Terminate on Sight?
Yayo: Because Shoot to Kill and Lock and Load was a little graphic. Couldn’t get it into stores.
HipHopCanada: Couldn’t sell it at Wal-Mart and Target, huh?
Yayo: Yeah. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: T.O.S. retains an East-coast rap vibe throughout the album, even with southern producers like Polow Da Don, Hit-Boy, Don Cannon on it. A lot of artists from the east coast are jumping on the southern vibe with their records, because that’s the ringtones that are selling right now. Did you go into recording with the mentality to stay true to your roots, or all the final tracks just happen to be more East coast rap?
Yayo: We kept our own zone. As far as G-Unit goes, we’re not really going to switch up and do what everyone else is doing. With the beat I really don’t think we specialized on picking southern beats because we had other artists on there like Stereo, Ky Miller; it was various producers. When it comes to production we go through at least 5,000 beats a day. We take beats from everybody. There are various producers on there that people never heard of.
HipHopCanada: You guys always put new producers on your records…
Yayo: Yeah, we got Stereo on there, Ky Miller, Ty Fyffe (Straight To The Bank), Dangerous LLC (Just a Little Bit, Window Shopper). There are a lot of producers that are under the radar; I wouldn’t say that there’s down south rappers on there.
HipHopCanada: No, yeah I know. You guys have never been the ones to say, “Oh, let’s jump on this beat because it sounds like a southern crunk beat”. You always manage to stay true to your roots, which is dope.
Yayo: Yeah. We put out two mixtapes and got over a million downloads; Elephant in the Sand and Return of the Body Snatchers. Actually “Rider Part 2”, our first single came off Elephant in the Sand.
HipHopCanada: The general vibe of the album is more street than Beg for Mercy. Do you think the lack of singles in the album may not allow it to surpass the 6 million sales worldwide that Beg for Mercy had?
Yayo: I’m not sure. With the way the record sales are now, it’s more digital sales than anything. You could ship a certain number, but more people could buy it on iTunes than at the actual store. They’re not sure where the number is going to be at. One site it says 100,000 and the other says 700,000. I can’t tell you. Nobody is telling me anything because with the digital sales it’s so hard to tell. Either way, I’m happy with the product. If it’s 125K then we just got to work the project to make it go platinum and if it’s 700K then we have an easier road to make it go platinum. If anything, you just have to work it.
HipHopCanada: How has the group chemistry changed since Young Buck left?
Yayo: I feel it’s better because there’s less confusion. The T.O.S. album was a success, he was featured on it and that’s the last time you’ll hear us do a track together.
HipHopCanada: When 50 takes on a beef and disses certain artists on records, how do you and Banks feel about it? Do you ever feel like there are certain people you wish you hadn’t beefed with because it may have ruined any personal relationships as far as Tony Yayo as a solo artist goes?
Yayo: It is what it is. We came in this situation together. It doesn’t matter to me. If you’re my sister… I know girls in my neighborhood – let me give you a perfect example. There’s a girl in my neighborhood named Rasha. She has 3 big brothers that all know how to fight. She goes around the neighborhood and spits on dudes and slaps dudes around because she knows she has 3 brothers. And it doesn’t matter if she’s wrong or right. If someone does anything to their sister, they come outside and whip someone’s ass. So I mean, 50 chooses his beefs, you know why, there has to be a reason. From the Ja Rules to The Games – in The Game situation 50 wrote all his singles, so you know where that publishing goes to. As far as Fat Joe goes, we left him alone for a while. He had that Ja Rule affiliation… in New York City, we knew that. He got on 106 & Park talking about when he’s going to see us in the club. I went to three clubs just so he could see me. I don’t have time. If I’m in Amsterdam, and New Zeeland and Australia I don’t have time to be in the club with your fat ass. Buck spent all his money. That’s what it comes down to. Buck had a habit where he was renting cars, 22 thousand a month, flying girls in. He was doing all kinds of crazy shit with his money. 50 got tired of his shit but he was dealing with it. That 125,000 you heard about on the tape… that was old. 50 lent him money more times that he owed him money. That’s why he was talking about taxes from last year, because Buck will always fuck up around tax time come. If you get a cheque for 250, it’s really 125, but we pay our taxes different. We can put our taxes on hold or whatever. It just caught up with him where he owed these dudes money and then he went all foul in the media talking about 50 owed him royalty money. To me that was a cry for help. 50 tried to help him… but you know what it is? If you say “Fuck 50” you get more media from that [than] standing next to 50. It comes to a point where whoever put you on, is gonna bigger than you no matter what. Jay-Z is always going to be bigger than Kanye, even though Kanye sold all those records. It’s at a point now where we will be doing an interview and the person won’t ask us a fucking question.
HipHopCanada: That’s wack…
Yayo: That’s just how the game goes. I’m not mad at it, I understand it. 50 sold 16 million records, I sold a small platinum. I’m not jealous. But it comes to a point where when you’re in a group, the other artists get tired of the energy. With someone like Buck… they get tired of more fans screaming for 50 then them.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, people are not cool with playing their part.
Yayo: Yeah, and that’s where the jealousy comes from. Me, personally, I’m happy with what I have and I’m happy to the point that I’ve made it now. There’s nothing that no one can tell me. My kids go to nice schools; I got a nice million dollar home. Other dudes, they want more.
HipHopCanada: Yeah, you get greedy and you want it all.
Yayo: I’m not saying that I don’t want more too, Lola, but I’ve never heard 50 say that he’s going to sell more than Eminem, or Dr. Dre. Buck went on record before his record dropped and said that he was going to sell more than Kanye, 50 and Eminem. It’s just how it goes. If I went on record and said, “Fuck you 50, fuck you Lloyd Banks”, tomorrow you’ll be interviewing me again. It gets more interest. He’s going out putting out all these diss records, and that’s okay because at the end of the day he still owes 50 four albums. At the end of the day, I’m starting to understand how the game really is. When I first got out of jail, I did a lot of whiling out, I understand that. But all-in-all I started learning that this shit is not really serious. These niggas really don’t want beef, it’s just competition. Sometimes things happen in entourages and niggas might get into little scuffles, but you know what it is. Dudes like Fat Joe, physically he’s big but mentally he’s smaller than an ant with the moves he makes. You can ask these dudes about me; I’m in the streets. I’m probably one of the only rappers you will see in the projects in New York City. We can go around BK, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, Harlem, I done been everywhere. I’m in the streets. Fat Joe doesn’t even live in NY. He’s in the South making records with T-Pain and them niggas. I’m in the trenches.
HipHopCanada: Which is why I was asking about G-Unit retaining their east coast vibe since a lot of other artists from the East, are moving with the southern vibe. Fat Joe’s working a lot with Khaled and other artists down there.
Yayo: I can’t stand DJ Khaled.
HipHopCanada: I heard you dissed him on a record.
Yayo: We had a little altercation.
HipHopCanada: You said in a radio interview that you wanted to physically fight Buck? Do you still feel that way?
Yayo: Yeah I fuck Buck up. Fuck Buck. You know why? He said I’m in 50’s A hole. What I’m saying is that I don’t like when niggas try to assassinate my character. Telling me I’m in somebody’s A hole? You’re trying to divide and conquer. I’m a smart man, I read the 48 Laws of Power, I read the Bible, I read books and I analyze shit before I say shit out my mouth. When he says I’m in 50’s A hole and 50’s money’s not mine… when 50 writes that cheque over to me, it goes from being his to being mine. [Laughing] He always tries to make himself seem bigger than he is. He already knows what time it is with me. That’s why if I invite him to a fight and you hear his new diss records he will not say anything about me. Because I will smack the shit out of Buck.
HipHopCanada: Has he made any comments to anyone close to you regarding that?
Yayo: He knows what time it is with me. I’m in the streets. There’s more to this conversation. My man 40 taped him. He’s talking about me dirty on the phone. You know what he’s trying to do? He’s trying to get other people on his side. Calling niggas from LA, calling niggas from here; that’s bitch nigga shit. Let niggas decide who they want to be friends with or not. This is the rap game; niggas can be cool with both sides. I don’t give a shit if a nigga is cool with you. You’re doing bitch shit, faggot shit, getting on the phone. I’m not with it. I’ll smack the shit out of Buck. And I’m falling back. He doesn’t want me to really expose him. There’s so much shit I could talk about. It depends on what mood or what interview I’m doing because I could shit on him for real.
HipHopCanada: I guess that’s more mature of you to hold back…
Yayo: You know sometimes I just get tired of these niggas and that’s where the negativity comes out of me. Where I say let’s take it to the streets. Let me explain something to you. You want to know when my heart got cold?
Yayo: When niggas shot my mother’s house up 22 times. I don’t give a shit about your mother, your children because at the end of the day, a nigga don’t give a shit about me and mines.
Yayo: And then niggas be saying, “Yo, why Yayo walk around so negative or why Yayo really don’t give a fuck about these niggas?” Because niggas shot my moms house 22 times.
HipHopCanada: Do you know who it was though?
Yayo: I don’t know what it was for. But I know it was over me. My whole thing is… say my sister or my niece would have gotten hit. Then what? Say my mom was in the house, then what? Niggas can shoot at me. Come shoot at me, because niggas shot at me plenty of times. That’s when my heart got cold. Fuck a Game, fuck a Buck, fuck a Fat Joe because at the end of the day niggas don’t give a fuck about me and mines. Especially Buck. To me man, in my heart man, he’s just shook to me. For him to be embedded with Game; that’s the enemy. If 50 don’t kill him in the media or nothing like that, I’ll smack the shit out of Buck. We’ll do it real street. They said I smacked the manager’s son. I didn’t smack no little kid. I smack grown men. You know how much bad press I got because of that?
HipHopCanada: What did Fif say about it?
Yayo: 50 know what it is with me man. He knows I wouldn’t smack no little kid. Buck was on a radio show out here and he was commenting on the situation and shitting on it. Buck is a piece of shit, point blank period. He shitted on everyone around him, and he shifts on to new niggas every time he gets a chance. Fuck him.
HipHopCanada: Well whenever you’re ready to air out everything else, make sure you call me.
Yayo: You know me. I don’t care, I don’t hold my tongue. You know what it is. It could be this or it could be YouTube tomorrow. People just don’t like us. It’s like a plot to destroy G-Unit. But we just stay strong and let it storm.
HipHopCanada: Tell me about your upcoming videogame Blood in the Sand. What’s that all about?
Yayo: I think we’re doing a show or something. It’s just crazy I forgot. But I know we’re going to be stuck somewhere in a land, maybe overseas somewhere and we gotta shoot our way out of there.
HipHopCanada: So it’s going to be a fighting game?
Yayo: Yeah it’s a fighting game. It’s real nice.
HipHopCanada: What about the soundtrack?
Yayo: Definitely a totally G-Unit material to go with it, so that will be nice. We also have our own film companies. 50 has his Cheetah Visions and I’m currently working with him and I’m currently working on my own film company too. Banks also has Bankshot Productions. We’re working and we’re shooting movies. I got a chance to be on set with De Niro, Pacino, Donnie Whalberg for Righteous Kill so that was really cool.
HipHopCanada: I read on XXL magazine that you were approached about playing the role of KRS-One in the upcoming Juice Crew movie ’The Vapors’. Is that a role you’re considering?
Yayo: I’m just waiting on the script now and everything should be good to go.
HipHopCanada: So you’ve accepted the role?
Yayo: Well I’ve been practicing. So far I’ve just been going through old DVD’s and KRS-One stuff.
HipHopCanada: Are you going to wear a wig?
Yayo: Yeah, I’ll do anything. It’s cool. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: Okay, cool. So are you working on any other projects you’d like to mention?
Yayo: Yeah, I’m working on my solo album which should be coming out after 50’s Self Destruct album comes out. We are maybe going to re-negotiate with Interscope, or take our bags and move it somewhere else.
HipHopCanada: Is it going to be called I am 50 Cent’s Tax Write Off?
Yayo: I don’t know. A lot of people like that name so it might be that, why not?
HipHopCanada: Who came up with it?
Yayo: I did.
Yayo: It does not matter. Records or not, I’ll still be street. I haven’t dropped a solo project since ’05 and I’m still getting paid. I do overseas shows and I can easily clear 250 or 120 thousand. We’re good people man, people just don’t like us.
Editor’s note: For more information on Tony Yayo and G-Unit check out http://www.myspace.com/tonyyayo or http://www.myspace.com/gunit.
Written by Lola Plaku for HipHopCanada