AllHipHop.com: Can you talk about your history coming up?
L: I can say one thing about all the trials
and tribulations I faced getting to this point. A lot of it was a good learning
experience. I don’t have any regrets of any of those situations as far
as Mase retiring, Tommy Boy not fully understanding what we were trying to bring
in ’96, L.A Reid having his hands full and not really being able to give
me a fair shake. You got backlash from the court case with Shine, separation
with Jennifer Lopez, leaving Arista and going independent, going through a war
with distributor. Pressures that come with me, that’s like peanuts. I can
say every situation from the beginning of my involvement until today has had
the same level of importance. When I came to Bad Boy it wasn’t the flyest
spot. n*ggas was taking shots at Bad Boy. Every question that was being asked
was about Jennifer Lopez or the court case. It wasn’t no real acceptance
for the new approach we taking toward the music industry, it was more of a gossip
column. It was like signing to a gossip column instead of a record company.
Any artist out there, a lot of this sh*t is in your hands anyway so it don’t
matter if you go to Bad Boy, Universal, Def Jam or Death Row. A lot of the responsibility
is in your hands.
AllHipHop.com: Did you ever start to worry if this wasn’t
the right situation or did you have complete trust in Puff and what he was doing?
L: I know for a fact that Puff has relentless
drive, he’s a brother that doesn’t want to look bad. He will go to
any extremes financially or physically to avoid that. If you’re a person
in the business that has a lot of great things working for you, but you might
have minor flaws, he’s the perfect person to be with when you’re falling
short on faith or support or anything. This dudes drive is like 24/7 –
365 days. To answer your question I never felt like this might not happen. I
felt like me and Puff was put together for a real good reason, once we cut through
the personal tape as far as initiating the whole relationship. You got to look
at it from his point. This guy is putting his whole legacy in the hands of a
guy that just came whistling along. It helped me out with a little compilation
album back then and it helped him with a lot of situations. People might look
at me and say "Loon saved Bad Boy." I just came where work was required.
I did the work and now I’m here. I don’t take a lot of credit for
saving Puff and saving Bad Boy; I don’t even know Jennifer Lopez.
AllHipHop.com: So you don’t feel like you’re carrying
L: I have endured a lot of responsibilities
that comes with that position, so initially you got to accept it. Mentally,
I don’t program myself to think that I’m carrying Bad Boy. That’s
a sycosis that can take an effect on you’re music. Your rhymes will start
coming out like you’re the soul controller or savior of Bad Boy, and you’ll
be spitting like that. I try to keep myself focused on what’s really going
on around me and try to capitalize and elaborate off of that. Stay away from
the whole Bad Boy movement and me being a force in it. I just accept it as credit,
okay I’m getting acknowledged for my accomplishments, I just take it like
AllHipHop.com: Can you talk about your growing up in Harlem
and how did it affect you musically?
L: Harlem has a whole lot of characteristics
and talents that make up Harlem. It’s been a lot of old sh*t that’s
been brought to the table that people are taking crazy. Like the “Harlem
Shake." That was a dance put together by this alcoholic dude in the neighborhood
by the name of Sisqo. His name is Al B. It was called the "Al B.,"
not the "Harlem Shake." This dude for a dollar or even 50 cent, he
would do the Al B for you, for a shot of anything like a bottle of Corona or
any type of beverage will get this man to perform the Al B for you. So with
a dance that’s so accessible, for $1 you can learn how to do the Harlem
Shake. That was just a whole dance lesson that just so happen to leak into the
music industry. Just coming from Harlem the only pressure is being the way we’ve
been represented. If people are aware of it we always represented Harlem the
same way, any rapper that ever stepped in the game. Kurtis Blow had a jerry
curl, with a top hat and two girls on his arm talking about "if he ruled
the world." Everybody else was wearing adidas suits. Dougie Fresh, he had
a fade wit the curls on top and the Sergio Velente velour, he kept rubbing his
hair, he had a little smooth sh*t with him and he was from Harlem. Mase came
in the generation where youthfulness was definitely a requirement because you
had a lot of older and older looking artists. Mase was eye candy, just like
Nelly, he was eye candy for a minute. Girls was tired of looking at these rough
dudes in videos with dogs and all kinds of crazy sh*t. So just coming from Harlem
there’s never any pressures, it’s more of a crutch. Harlem is something
that will never fail you. Being from Harlem, the squarest dude in the world
can go to a correctional facility in Wisconsin with a bunch of rednecks that
just want to hang him, and he can represent his self. Being from Harlem can
stand for something. It’s the way we put it down in Harlem for years, all
the way back to Bumpy Johnson. Our name rings bells all over the place like
a Los Angeles, so being from Harlem is a plus more than a minus.
AllHipHop.com: What is your family background? Like I’m not
sure exactly how it was, but I heard your family was entrenched in the under
world of Harlem
L: My moms is like say, Lil Kim and Nicky Barnes
was Biggie Smalls. This is the era she came from. She was that young chic, had
a fleet oif Benzes, whole bunch of furs. Her pop’s was a gangsta, he use
to be on 116th. His name was Hamburger. With both of them doing their thing
in the street it enabled me to live like a prince in Harlem. The whole town
was like his backyard. I was not a one block dude and I wasn’t in the projects.
I lived in Esbanard Gardens, that was like a Beverly Hills dropped in Harlem.
I slept good at night and I lived in a good environment. Its just once I left
that complex and stepped outside those stairs, I was on Seventh Avenue and the
games begin. Being that my parent‘s did they thing, my moms was getting
money with Nicky Barnes, and my pops was getting money on 116th and back then
the game was sweet. It enable me to have a different outlook on the way things
went and a lot of her peers and the people she did business with, they also
lent their hand to the growing process of the streets of Harlem. I lived like
royalty; I had everything a kid can want. I had a million dollar baby shower
sponsored by Nicky Barnes. That was just my intro, but my outro is going to
be a lot more positive.
AllHipHop.com: Who did you go to school with?
L: I went to Beverly Hills High School. I was
doing really good in New York as far as academics, but I found myself in a lot
of trouble. On July 4, 1989, a friend of mine got shot and my grandmother monitored
my behavior. She seen that it was escalating. It went from fight and a lot of
mischievous things, to shooting. Now before I become a victim of a shooting,
my Godfather suggested I go to Beverly Hills and stay with him. He was a motion
picture producer. His name was George Jackson (editors note: George Jackson
also produced "New Jack City, loosely based on the story of Nicky Barnes.
He also founded the internet company, UBO.) He produced Krush Groove and
a lot of movies that shaped the black music industry. I moved out to Beverly
Hills and George immediately structured a nice situation for me to redeem myself.
I enrolled in Beverly Hills High School. It was kind of dull at first because
I did not know anybody. I’m from the streets of Harlem and I don’t know
how to interact with these people cause your first impression of Beverly Hills
is a bunch of cocky little bastard. I did not know it I had the mental capacity
to deal with them, but it turned out that they wasn’t as obnoxious and
snotty as people think. They were pretty much like me and you they just had
a lot of money, and power, and things that were accessible to them that we did
not have. I was sitting in the middle of the most popular kids in the whole
world. It was just ironic that some of the kids that went to school with me
at the time turned out to be big movie stars, celebrities and just stars all
together. A few of them was Monica Lewinski who made her own stratum, which
we are not going to discuss. She wasn’t the type of person that was social
or popular in school. Its just ironic she got all the way in the White House
and did what she did. Angelina Jolie, she hung with the Gothic crowd, so she
wasn’t a popular person. She dressed like Wednesday Adams. A lot of TV
stars, doctors, lawyers, plastic surgeons you name it. Just being exposed to
all that at such a young age and really when I was at the pinnicle of being
a knuckle head, I had to grow up over night. I had to change over night and
I did. The transition itself was just long process and it seemed like it was
never going to end. I found myself back in New York and in trouble. It was a
great experience. I was able to go to a great school and meet some people who
in the future became great people.
AllHipHop.com: So what’s the essence of the record?
L: The essence of the record is very club orientated.
It’s a powerful club record and it’s definitely got all the elements of
that dark party element. The concept of the first video was to make three different
videos in one, so the first verse is me and Puff pretty much showing you the
chemistry we have together and how we roll up on the scene looking all sexy.
The second joint might go into a real metallic red background or something.
We just tried to take different little scenes instead of just a light up scene,
performance scene, dancing and then the corny club scene. A lot of these directors
are robbing cats, giving everybody the same treatment. [Director] Little X generally
loved the record so that played a big roll in the creative process of the video.
Unfortunately Kelis couldn’t show up for the video, but a lot of other
sexy girls took her place. She is very appealing by herself so we had to take
several other women to make up for that one sexy woman that unfortunately couldn’t
AllHipHop.com: Is there any reason why she couldn’t
L: I have no idea; I don’t want to assume
nothing. I’m kind of disappointed ‘cause I felt like that was a certain
type of chemistry that needed to be captured being that I’m where I’m
at in the game and she pretty much has her own slot as a young Diva. I feel
kind of cheated out of it but like I said the women that we found to replace
her wasn’t far off.
AllHipHop.com: Is there any truth to the rumor that there’s
a little tension with you and Nas?
L: To my knowledge, Kay Slay basically made
it public about what transcended between him and Nas. It’s really just
a situation between him and Nas that just lingered over to Loon. I did the original
song for the Kay Slay album and supposedly Nas had went to the superiors at
Columbia or Sony or whatever and did a little boycotting on his own to get himself
on the song. He had supposedly said a comment to Kay Slay about take Loon off
the song, Loon aint gangsta or something like that. This goes back to the beginning
of the interview with me trying to separate myself with that form of ignorance.
I’ve played my role in the street to a level that surpasses a Nas and a
lot of other rappers in the game. Me being a grown man first and foremost and
trying to take the iniative to separate myself from the negativity, I kind of
felt compelled to be upset more so with Kay Slay than Nas. Kay Slay knows me,
I’m from Harlem and he’s from Harlem, Nas from queens and me and him
actually worked together on the Harlem World album. I seen him in Jimmy’s
Café not too long ago and he actually stopped one of his conversations
just to come over and show me love and tell me how much he appreciate everything
I do. So however the ball bounces I can’t really say I have nothing against
Nas, nothing was personally directed to me from Nas. I’m more upset with
Kay Slay; I expressed it to Kay Slay ‘cause that’s my man. Just to
let you know there’s no friction between me and Kay Slay or even Nas for
that matter. It took an incident like that for you to come clean with me. I
would have appreciated if Kay Slay would have approached me first personally
before he got on the radio. It’s already out there and for listeners and
watchers I don’t have any problems with nobody in this business and I don’t
think nobody in this business want problems with me. I’m strictly here
as a professional, businessman, a young brother from the streets trying to make
his way out and I really don’t have any time for no bullsh*t.