Ali Vegas has blessed many-a-mixtape in both the mainstream and underground circuit. Representing Queens, the same borough as Nas and 50 Cent, Ali Vegas has crowned himself the “Prince of New York City.” Paying his dues, this young MC was signed to a record deal when he was only sixteen years old and he had a reputation for sounding like a younger version of Nasir Jone. With his family behind him, Vegas is now confident and secure that the best years of his career are ahead of him.
As he prepares his next critical link in the chain, The Rebirth Of A Prince, now-West Coast resident and AllHipHop got together to discuss the margin between then and now. With a fledging label and a heart full of ambition, only Ali Vegas knows whether or not he can come twice the first time and conquer.
AllHipHop.com: Why did you make the transition from New York to Los Angeles?
Ali Vegas: Everything is out here. My cousin plays for the Lakers.
AllHipHop.com: Who’s your cousin?
Ali Vegas: Lamar Odom. So I’m out here.
AllHipHop.com: Oh wow. Has that been a good connection for you?
Ali Vegas: He helps me on a regular basis. That’s a key person in my life.
AllHipHop.com: Does he fund everything?
Ali Vegas: He’s my big cousin, so he really wants me to have my own; my own label, my own everything. So really it makes it easier for me, because I don’t gotta go to no labels. We’re gonna go into the business together. Instead of it being a family thing, it’s gonna be a business all at the same time.
AllHipHop.com: Does he have his own artist or are you the main act?
Ali Vegas: He judges his talent next to me. If they don’t bring to the table the hard work and stuff that I bring to the table, then it’s really hard for him to focus on you. I’m the main focus [of] Council Recordings.
AllHipHop.com: How long has that been an entity?
Ali Vegas: It’s a new company, pretty recent. Ali Vagas, Joe Gotti, Kenny J, Abby, Lamar Odom. It’s a big company.
AllHipHop.com: I heard that you’re going to be on an ESPN game.
Ali Vegas: Yeah, [for] EA Sports.
AllHipHop.com: How did that come about?
Ali Vegas: A friend of mine [who is] named Abby, when I came out here, she called me and asked me if I wanted to do a song for a game so I linked up with her. We did the track and EA Sports wanted to go with it. It’s on “NBA Streets 2005.” She’s a good connect in LA. I also got the Mad Twinz, they got the “Blok Hedz” comic book. Their like my brothers. I linked up with them when I was [here].
AllHipHop.com: What else do you have going on?
Ali Vegas: I got the Big Mike, Ali Vegas CD and DVD called The Rebirth Of A Prince.
AllHipHop.com: What’s the DVD about?
Ali Vegas: To sum up the DVD, a lot of people heard my music but no body never really saw me. I’m a ghost to the public. I’m the opposite of what they say a child should be “Seen and unheard.” But I’m the opposite “Heard but not seen.” So the DVD is basically about that. It’s a little bit about my past, what I’m doing in the present so you’ll know what to expect in the future. We got Council Recordings. That’s basically it.
AllHipHop.com: It feels like just yesterday you were a teen. How old are you now?
Ali Vegas: I’m twenty-two.
AllHipHop.com: How did you get with most DJ’s? Did you get in contact with them or did they come to you like “I heard you’re hot and I want to put you on my mix?”
Ali Vegas: I knew DJ’s from before when I was signed to Trackmasters. A lot of relationships came about because my family is well connected in the streets. Plus my talent combined so that’s how I got up with a lot of people.
AllHipHop.com: We all thought that Trackmasters had heat. What really happened?
Ali Vegas: They were taking on too much at the time. They had me, 50, Nature. I mean they were just taking on too much and at the same time they were producing. It was hard on them.
AllHipHop.com: How has your life been since Trackmasters, from then to now? What can you say is different about it?
Ali Vegas: I think my maturity level has changed. I was always ahead of my time. I know the business more now. It’s more of a business to me now then when I was sixteen. I was just happy to be there at the time. Now my business is much more focused. It feels better when the ball is in your court.
Allhiphop: Do you think that Trackmasters gave you a bigger push than the mixtapes?
Ali Vegas: Well I think that when I was signed to Trackmasters I was well feared. They would always compare me to Nas and Jay-Z. Now, it’s Jay- Z and AZ. A lot of artist of today and yesterday fear them. Naturally it was more like they would fear me. Then when I displayed the talent, a lot of fear came. It helped me being signed to Trackmasters because I learned the business from connecting with people. The mixtapes are just a whole other market. That’s marketing and promotion. I think it just opens up a lot of people’s ears and welcomes them to me.
AllHipHop.com: Being in Los Angeles now, do you still retain some of those contacts from five years ago?
Ali Vegas: Yeah, like Capone, Nas. That will never break up. Like I said, I’m heard and not seen. I’ve worked with DJ On Point, Big Mike, DJ Absolut, DJ Black Rob in San Francisco, DJ Finger Print in Miami, Green Lantern, and Kay Slay. I gotta give a shout out to Wendy Williams because she held me down. I worked with a lot of DJ’s.
AllHipHop.com: Ultimately, are you using the street mixtapes to build momentum towards a “real” album?
Ali Vegas: Of course. It’s called Who Needs A Pen?
AllHipHop.com: Why that title?
Ali Vegas: The title track goes like “Who needs a pen? / When my blood is ink and my heart writes everything. / Who needs a pen? / When the stories in my mind play over and over again.” Basically this album is from the heart. I’ve been through so much young that when I do an album it’s straight from the heart. It’s deeper than my pen. Who needs a pen when I’m living it?
AllHipHop.com: What can we expect as far as producers and rappers?
Ali Vegas: As far as rappers just my artist. You know, Royal and Promise. I don’t really feel a lot of artist that are out now. I feel like Outkast and those kinds of people. I don’t really feel like a lot of people are on their jobs. Most likely it will be Royal Promise, probably Mobb Deep; we’re working that out right now. As far as Producers we got everybody, Kanye West.
AllHipHop.com: Really? Who approached who?
Ali Vegas: A friend of mine on the management team took care of that. So they reached out to Kanye.
AllHipHop.com: Who else can we expect?
Ali Vegas: We got a producer that is signed to me. He’s fourteen, a young buck, he’s ill. I also got Shatek. He did “X Gonna Give It To Ya” he did the “Hit The Road Jack” G-Unit anthem. It’s deeper than Ali Vegas. It’s a whole movement behind me, Council Recordings.
AllHipHop.com: Are you scared of “The Mixtape Jinx?” For example like Cassidy and Jae Millz and even Jin whose albums did poorly or were shelved after their success with mixtapes.
Ali Vegas: Nah, I don’t fear that. If I did, I would be doubting my self. A mixtape is a mixtape. A whole album is different. Maybe they aint have the same range I have. Certain people were made for mixtapes and certain people are made for albums. They had to break me out of album mode. I make songs because that’s my genre.
AllHipHop.com: Where do you see you’re self in a few years?
Ali Vegas: On top of the game. In a few years, I’m so much ahead of my time I’m telling you the game gonna be mine, For real. I can’t even explain it. You’re just gonna have to watch. Stay tuned you’ll see. That’s my whole plan though. Just to take over the game.