Is there a rhyme scheme that they do? Is there a hip hop history book on them?
I can tell you, there’s more out of the closet in the rap game now than just about any other time in history. There’s more of us than there ever was. So how many out there, even as the youngest, how many out there want to be the first rapper to hit number one in the charts? That’s crazy.
So this whole thing started from the people saying you were coming to America and it was “Shake Your Rupah” that opened it up for you to perform at that point in time?
Yeah. It’s funny—the way it worked out because there wasn’t a record that opened that many people’s eyes in the beginning that I had already been in the game since I’ve probably been a young man in the neighborhood, because I had my record out before “Shake Your Shupah” came onto the scene. I didn’t start out getting that attention. A lot of the people who made fun of me in the first year didn’t even know I was making videos for the music. That first year I really got my name known as a professional rapper, and I just did the videos for the music so it just kind of started rolling.
Did you have a mentor before you made the music? Was there anybody you could turn to and say “I’m gonna teach you how to be rapper?”
My first mentor was my uncle in Chicago. I used to bring him to my shows. He was the first one that gave his blessing, because he had a bunch of tapes. He had my music on and he made tapes for me. He also had a lot of friends that worked with him and taught him how to be a rapper so he’d be the guy to go to when I needed a few lessons on my craft. Also, I used to watch how he was so successful, he made all the records and was one of the top artists for a long time. He worked closely with a lot of rap artists and was definitely the type of person that I wanted to be like. He was an inspiration to me.
At this point you were doing videos for The Coup. What was that like? Did you ever get a chance to go live at home?
It was tough for me. It was tough for my parents. It was tough for my mom. That was actually our third year on The Coup. When our album