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DJ Envy & Red Cafe: Hip-Hop Deeds

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Odds are you probably know some of Queens rapper Red Cafe’s hit songs already because of the lengthy amount of ghostwriting he has put in the last few years. You may have even seen the video, “May I,” with the Snoop Dogg inspired hook, which was in rotation a few years ago, too.  If you’re up on your mixtape game then you know that he’s been that artist that’s always just about to blow.  He’s moved from Loud to Violator to Arista to Capitol always coming close to dropping an album.  Now with his recent signing to Akon’s Konvict Music and the release of a joint album with DJ Envy, The Co-Op, it looks like the people will finally get to hear the artist they’ve been listening to all along.AllHipHop.com:  You’ve been on the mixtape scene for awhile now. How did you link up with DJ Envy?Red Cafe:  Envy works about ten job [laughs]. I mean, we would see each other in the streets and both of us would just be on our grind.AllHipHop.com:  DJ Envy, what attracted you to want to work with Red Cafe?DJ Envy:  I would see Red everywhere…at clubs, at the radio…just everywhere. He was always in your face and dude could actually spit. It wasn’t like a lot of other artist who come out for two weeks and you don’t see them anymore. He was consistent from week to week. Always fly…always had something new…and when you would hear the new stuff he did it was always something crazy. We started to do a couple of songs together and ended up with about 15 tracks. I was familiar with Koch and we decided to just put out [an] album.AllHipHop.com:  Red Cafe, You’ve been on a number of different labels. What has made you persevere through the label changes?Red Cafe:  I’m not old school now [laughs]! I do it because I love it. I’m a little different from most of the artists out right now. A lot of people do it because it’s the thing to do.  It’s like me shooting hoops. I go out there because I love to do it and not just because I’m getting paid.AllHipHop.com:  What made you decide to sign a deal with Akon?Red Cafe:  Akon is from the streets. I wanted to sign with someone who is not trying to change me or look for a certain type of single. Akon was locked up.  I was locked up.  We come from the same place and can relate to each other. And don’t think I’m trying to glorify getting locked up it jut that I want to give the people honesty. It makes perfect sense that I can break brad with an artist that relates to me.AllHipHop.com: Envy, what’s it like working with an artist like Red Café, and seeing him finally start to break into the mainstream partly because of your efforts?DJ Envy:  It’s great to see an artist with the same drive and fire as you. I call Red at three or four in the morning and he’s in the studio working. His drive is incredible and he understands the game. He knows his business…points, publishing, samples, clearances….he knows the [ins] and outs of the business. With Red I would never say that I broke him. I would more so say that we broke each other. Jordan wouldn’t be Jordan without Pippen and Pippen wouldn’t be Pippen without Jordan. We push each other to do our best. AllHipHop.com:  You’re an artist that has been behind the scene for a number of years ghostwriting. What has it been like seeing your work make others successful?Red Cafe:  I guess you could say I’m successful in one right but at the same time you sit there thinking “Damn, that could have been my record.”  I’m not bitter about anything, though.  I’ve gotten the chance to help others succeed. I’ve watched a lot of artist come from under me and go past me.AllHipHop.com:  Care to mention any of those artists now?Red Cafe:  I mean…I would prefer not to [laughs].  I’m not trying to tear down anyone’s career. Let’s just say I’ve wrote for a lot of your favorite artists.AllHipHop.com:  How is this album going to compare to your first album, The Virus, which was never released?Red Cafe:  It was a different time.  The market has changed.  The music has changed.  There’s that kind of music on there but my album is going to be for today’s listener.  The Virus was recorded when it was recorded.  When I get a chance we’re definitely going to put that out there.  I own all of my albums so it will get out there.AllHipHop.com:  Why didn’t The Virus album come out?Red Cafe:  Politics.  Behind the scenes stuff at the record company.  A lot of executives that have signed me have wound up going through drama and eventually leaving.  When the new guy comes in to replace—he doesn’t necessarily understand me as an artist.  Every time an album hasn’t come out it’s because I stopped it.  I’m not just putting anything out there with my name on it.AllHipHop.com:  Does the ghostwriting and behind the scenes work give you more control over what you put out?Red Cafe:  Absolutely.  That’s where I’m [at] now.  I’m comfortable so I can make decisions like that.  I can make the music that I want to make without having to compromise myself.AllHipHop.com:  Who can we expect to hear on the album?Red Cafe:  Red Cafe…..Red Cafe……Red [laughs]DJ Envy:  [Laughs] Styles P, Jermaine Dupree, Busta Rymes, Kool G Rap, Sean Kingston, Juelz Santana, Nina Sky, Remy Ma….just to name a fewAllHipHop.com:  You’ve got a few New York artists on there.  What is your response to people who say New York has fallen off?DJ Envy:  Red Café was in the studio.  He’s about to drop an album now so it will all be taken care of.Red Cafe:  [Laughs].  People are always going to look at the bad in a situation.  Look at the numbers…if New York stopped putting out records right now there would be no other region that could catch up with us.  We still sell the most records…Jay Z sold 700,000 first week.  50Cent sold 700,000 first week.  We make good music.  We make albums, other people make songs.  No disrespect to anyone but if you want to sell albums you have to actually make an album.DJ Envy:  Ringtones are good for the company so that they can make their money but it sucks for Hip-Hop and the music.  We need to get back to making great records and albums.  This Co-Op record coming out on [October 9] is going to be a complete record.  The album is a great album.  Red and I put our hearts into it.  If you don’t like the album I’ll give you your money back on site.  That’s how confident I feel about the project.AllHipHop.com:  What kind of subjects are going to be addressed on this latest offering that makes it a complete album?DJ Envy:  We’re going to speak to people about our lives and not things that are fabricated.AllHipHop.com:  What are your feelings about being compared to another Queens rapper, 50Cent?Red Cafe:  Well…We’re both from the streets, both from Queens, both signed to Violator, both been shot….We have a lot of similarities but my story is totally different from 50’s story.  If you listen to my records you’ll see we’re totally different.  I love 50 Cent as an artist but we make different types of music.

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