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Sha Money XL: Graphics and Games

The actual date the video game industry asked for Hip Hop’s hand in marriage is a little hazy, and all involved can agree that it has been quite a lucrative relationship so far. With Hip-Hop being the preferred theme for the new basketball game Freestyle Street Basketball, Sha Money XL found himself at the helm when it came to the soundtrack.In this candid interview, he discusses the video game, life with and without G-Unit, and how he is a producer first and foremost. So when Vivendi Games threw him a bone, all he could do was chomp on it the way he knew best. With Sha’s Midas touch, this bone, that has already amassed a following of 30 million plus, is hardly a negative on his resume. While taking new paths and searching for inner peace, (after packing up his desk at the G-Unit office) Michael Clervoix III is happily riding solo. AllHipHop.com: How was this idea pitched to you in order to get you involved in this game?Sha Money XL: It was pitched to me by one of the best employees over at Vivendi which happens to be Kelly Clancy. We had a history working at Interscope and I also worked with her on the 50 Cent Bulletproof game, which I did the scoring for. So they called me to come in and check out their game and I was excited once I seen it. AllHipHop.com: As a producer, is it a natural progression for you to begin working on scores and soundtracks, etc?Sha Money XL: Well as a producer you should want to have your craft pretty much everywhere that music is involved. Whether it is a commercial, a video game or a movie, you want them to hear your music in all formats.AllHipHop.com: Now when it comes down to video games, do you think that soundtracks are just as important as graphics?Sha Money XL: Yes, because the music has to provide the motion of what you are looking at and it triggers your mind to get into it. You have to be able to get into it, graphically and musically. It just has to coincide. AllHipHop.com: Are you an avid fan of video games?Sha Money XL: The best part of this is that the only video games that I play are sports and only basketball. So this one helped me as I would have played this even if I wasn’t a part of it, I would play the game. AllHipHop.com: As a fan, what are the advantages of playing online as opposed to playing on a PSP or an Xbox?Sha Money XL: Well not only are you playing on line but you get to play two on twos, three on threes. It is interactive so that you can play with anyone across the world or the whole US. There are just so many advantages of this game. AllHipHop.com: In comparison to how many cassettes, vinyl and CDs many of us see being replaced by digital media, do you think that PSP’s, Xbox’s, etc., will eventually be ousted by online games?Sha Money XL: Absolutely. AllHipHop.com: When people see a video game launch, they move millions of units at 50 bucks a pop. What is it about the marketing strategy that creates these results and why do CDs seem to fail in that arena?Sha Money XL: Demographics change, you are talking about 7-38 olds playing video games and the demographics completely change. You got some rockers, you got some Hip-Hopper and some Jazz, everyone plays video games, it is not a genre. AllHipHop.com: Okay, but in your estimation, are they marketed more than CDs?Sha Money XL: No, absolutely not. It is just that people are real gamers. When we were 4 years old we were playing Atari, Nintendo 64, Play station, Xbox and now this. Things just keep growing. AllHipHop.com: People have been known to say that rappers waste a lot of time playing video games. If time is money, are video games the ultimate vacuum or are they just a release of pressure?Sha Money XL: Not to get over technical, but there are studies that say video games are good for eye and hand co-ordination, that is me being a guy who likes to absorb information but at the same time, rappers need to kill time because if not they will be driving me crazy. So playing a video game on the tour bus instead of discussing how hot they are all the time; so it kind of works. You know it’s a peaceful thing; some guys meditate, some guys smoke a blunt and play a video game, so it is something to give them some quiet time and then just choose into that.AllHipHop.com:  Why is it that you just play the sports games?Sha Money XL: For one, I am always on the go so I don’t have that much time to play and when I play I want to play a challenging game where I am playing some one. So whether it be me and my son or with 50, we will play each other in a basketball game or another sports game. When I was younger I played Contra, Metroid, you know those games were real cool to me when I was younger. AllHipHop.com: Then time is obviously of the essence. No time for strategy?Sha Money XL: [Laughter] Time is everything. Yeah I mean with basketball you learn from an early age and when you have learned the moves you are just going to get better and better.AllHipHop.com: Do you let your son play the fighting games; did you let him play Bulletproof?Sha Money XL: No actually I pulled it from him, because after I had actually watched him play and heard all those words, I took it away. Hip-Hop grows these kids too fast and I am trying to keep my kid a kid.AllHipHop.com: Being a parent yourself, do you think that much of the negativity surrounding Hip-Hop right now does not actually fall on the shoulders of Hip-Hop, but on those of parents?Sha Money XL: You have to decide. You have to decide what you let your kid watch, even as a guy who makes a lot of money off this, I will not let my son play a video game that I am a part of and that my name is on. That is me being a parent, not me being a guy that is so far up my own ass feeling I did a game that will make my son f**king distorted saying, “S**t, f**k, duck down,” and all types of curse words based on a video game. That is really parenting and I am a young parent. There are older parents with these same kids and they are strict, they don’t let them play them. Me, I will pick and choose what he is playing. He has to play “E for Everyone.”You don’t want the TV to raise your kids.AllHipHop.com: What do you believe makes a good video game?Sha Money XL: The transition, the graphics, the actual action, you know what you see, how they are doing it all that ties into the graphics actually and you know just the excitement. Now you are getting these games with Hip-Hop in it you can bob your head like you are really in a zone.AllHipHop.com: Do you think video game soundtracks will eventually become as popular as movie soundtracks?Sha Money XL: Yes because you take 50 Cent’s video game; I did 57 tracks on there. I have heard mixtapes with guys taking tracks from the video games and spitting over the beat. Some of the freestyles are hot.AllHipHop.com: In doing the soundtrack in its entirety, how was that process for you? Sha Money XL: Me and my musicians, I had already seen the game and I knew that my music had to be filled with energy. I knew when I game down, this was not a case of getting a sample and rapping to it. I had to have a build up, you know start off slow and build up into this big beat with the raps and the hooks that coincided with playing basketball. It wasn’t just like I went about it with just freestyles; if you listen to the lyrics you will hear they are all about basketball.AllHipHop.com: How long did it take to get it together?Sha Money XL: About two weeks. You know I put in hours every day, four hours here and four hours there and just got it in. Then when it came to crunch time I really got it in. AllHipHop.com: Once they approached you on this, did you know exactly where you were going with it?Sha Money XL: Yes, absolutely. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, what instruments I wanted to play, how I wanted to record it, how I wanted it to move, who I had to call to be a part of it and be on my team. I can visualize things easy.AllHipHop.com: You aren’t playing a major part in G-Unit now, is this because of the production?Sha Money XL: Well you know I was a producer first, that is my natural talent and what brought me into this industry. I am still managing Buck and Banks but I am just moving into other directions in Hip-Hop and trying to involve myself with everything, films, video games, clothing, more record companies. I am just going to wear my hat in all places. I don’t want to be in an office just talking about one thing, it is more than that. Luckily, I have the gift to keep spreading the word and the knowledge and pass along by bringing more guys into the game. If you look at my track record, I can tell you over 20 producers who had never sold a track before but met me and went on to sell a track.  So I am keeping the game evolving; evolution.AllHipHop.com: What has encouraged this change in you?Sha Money XL: My mission for peace. You think that when you make money, you find peace.AllHipHop.com: Do you believe that? Sha Money XL: I made money, lots of money and still didn’t find peace. So while I am on this mission to find peace, I am getting closer and closer and that is what is making the change in me.AllHipHop.com: Has everyone understood where you are coming from when making these changes? Sha Money XL: I am getting the best people around me at this point, I am meeting the best people and hanging out with the best people. You are pretty much who you hang out with. I am accentuating the positive and I am eliminating the negative, anybody coming at me with something ignorant, I am telling them about themselves. I am spreading the word and I am doing things I have never done before in my life.AllHipHop.com: Is that something you did before, not tell people what you thought or felt?Sha Money XL: I am riding around in Manhattan in my car by myself right now, I am naturally a loner. I don’t need to have a million people around me to feel like I am the guy with the crew that is ready to run this city. That is just the nature of my character, so with that being involved, I never spread myself out to people giving them all of me. Now I am giving more of me to these people.AllHipHop.com: Does that make you feel better?Sha Money XL: Yes it does. AllHipHop.com: Is everything cool with you and 50? Sha Money XL: Yeah everything is cool, there are no issues. It is just growing pains, his tree is growing one way and mine is growing another way. He is the most talented guy I have ever worked with in my career and I would never take anything away from that guy. He is just taking a different path. AllHipHop.com: Isn’t that just life?Sha Money XL: Yes it is, there is no hate. AllHipHop.com: Is Banks being let go?Sha Money XL: No, no, no, he just signed his papers for his next album with G-Unit and they are getting started on a G-Unit album this summer. It is just creative growing pains, that is all you are seeing.AllHipHop.com: What was the hardest lesson you learned in your position at G-Unit?Sha Money XL: The hardest lesson learned? [Silence] Oh man, [laughing] I got to save that for my book. That is a good question and I really have to hold onto that, and I love you for that question. I have to hold that one in. That is the best question I have heard this month. Out of all these interviews, you got me with that one. [Laughing].AllHipHop.com: Well I want credit in that book when you publish it [Laughing.]Sha Money XL: Don’t worry I got you. [Laughing]

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