Oschino: Trial By Fire

Though greatness is not always rewarded with longevity, it can often be measured by the legacy it creates. We may never know all of the juicy or ugly details behind the break-up and sale of Roc-A-Fella Records. But it is impossible to deny effect that the company had on the music industry, Hip-Hop culture and the individual lives of the artists formerly known as Roc La Familia. Case in point: Oschino and Sparks.

The two artists, who have been friends since their high school days in Philly, were signed to Roc-A-Fella as a group back in 1999. Soon enough, they became one fourth of State Property. Despite being featured on several Roc-A-Fella releases, in the “crew love” fashion always put forth by the label, the Oschino and Sparks album never saw the light of day. Now as the smoke clears, finding each of the artists on opposite sides of the fence, Oschino took the time to talk to us about loyalty, solo projects, business, and life lessons learned.

AllHipHop.com: Obviously you were always Oschino & Sparks, and you were a fourth of State Property. Where did the whole jump to being a solo artist come from?

Oschino: Well, [we] haven’t had a group mentality for a few years now, and it just took its toll. We had different management, different everything. We don’t have any beef or nothing like that; But musically, what we wanted to do with our careers was going separate ways.

AllHipHop.com: I heard that before you were with the Roc, you had a solo deal on the table with Ruff Ryders. How did that come about?

Oschino: I was living out in Yonkers. I’mma keep it gully: I was broke as s**t, you diggin’ me? Jadakiss befriended me, and he was looking out for me. I was trying to get in the game, and he was showing me the game. He gave me the confidence to know that I have [as far as] what it takes to be a professional artist. I still respect him to this day for that. Through him, I used to rap for Dee and Wah everyday. That’s how Ruff Ryders ended up offering me a deal by myself. They didn’t really know Sparks, so I can’t really say they wasn’t feeling him. But my loyalty had me like, “If it ain’t me and my boy together, I’m cool.”

AllHipHop.com: Were you originally planning on being a solo artist?

Oschino: Yeah, I was. But then we had got into this group called ICU [or] Inner City Hustlers. It was like 15 of us, and me and Sparks became a group [within the group]. When I become tight with somebody, I take it personal. My loyalty is real crazy. So even though I was dead broke and needed the money bad as s**t, I turned [it] down because they didn’t want my family. I wasn’t rocking with that.

AllHipHop.com: Did the whole situation with Roc-A-Fella affect your relationship with Sparks at all?

Oschino: Nah, that was already [happening].

AllHipHop.com: In December you said you were 99% sure you were rolling with Dame Dash. Are you still up in the air when it comes to your label situation?

Oschino: Everybody’s rolling with Jay-Z. The Young Gunz, Freeway, I think Peedi Crack, whatever. Beanie’s staying with Dame. So I think I’mma stay with Beans and Dame, the underdogs. Jay-Z got a lot of responsibility right now. He can’t really super-duper focus on nobody. I need that hands-on. I think I can get that with my man [Dame], ‘cause I know my man like that.

AllHipHop.com: Are you looking at deals with other labels too?

Oschino: Nah, I ain’t looking for deals with nobody else. Really, what I wanna do is get my fame just to the point where I can get my own artists, and I become the boss. That’s my goal now.

AllHipHop.com: You’ve got the “Best of Oschino Part III” mixtape coming. Give us the details.

Oschino: Maybe in a month. ‘Cause I got my own studio at the house, so I can knock the joints out anytime I feel like it. And that’s the thing that keeps my name buzzin’. My mixtapes be so fire. My last one sold 4,000 in like four days.

AllHipHop.com: Are you working with anyone in particular on that project?

Oschino: This one, I think I’ll [just] have a DJ on it; the last one I did by myself. But I had features from Twista, N.O.R.E., Cardan, [and] of course everybody from State Property.

AllHipHop.com: You were signed to Roc-A-Fella since 1999. Besides being featured on the State Property album and a couple of mixtapes, nothing’s every really been released. Was that frustrating?

Oschino: It was before, but not now. Because I took the experience of being a rapper and meeting people, and used it as business sense. I make more money now from meeting people than I would have. Car washes, real estate… I just make cake.

AllHipHop.com: Is that something that you had in mind already?

Oschino: No, I didn’t have it in mind. But a hustler just finds a way to make something work. So even though I don’t got an album out, these n***as can’t tell.

AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about the industry right now?

Oschino: The industry is wack. N**Ias is so fake. Corny s**t goes platinum. I like Styles, Beanie Sigel, Kool G. Rap: n***as like that don’t go triple platinum ‘cause [they] too hard for n***as. N***as like Chingy go platinum! And I’m not biting my tongue: not saying nothing against Chingy, he do what he have to, to feed his family. But he’s f**king wack.

AllHipHop.com: Now that you’re standing on your own, obviously that’s gonna bring some attention. Do you feel like you’re ready for the spotlight?

Oschino: I been ready, it just didn’t happen. I just hope that the wait be worth it. My skills is definitely unquestionable. And it’s hard waiting for something and staying hungry. Especially when you don’t need it as bad. Before, I was broke and I needed it. Now, it’s like I just want to prove something.

AllHipHop.com: So what keeps you from giving up after all these years?

Oschino: People coming up to me saying, “You hot, I kept waiting for you.” Everyday, I get that. I can’t just stop! There’s young boys that relate to my story so much, so I gotta make it for them.

AllHipHop.com: So what makes you say that the last few months have been the best time of your life?

Oschino: Just being able to take care of my kids, putting money in they bank accounts. Just not having to worry about… I mean, you still gotta worry ‘bout getting your paper. But [having] enough to where you’re not scrambling. Looking out for your mom, looking out for your family feels great. And then in September, I’m going to school. I wanna major in psychology. I never thought about school ever. I got a GED in ’95, ten years ago. And I got that s**t in prison. For me to be thinking about school, you gotta know my mind is making a transition, you dig me. That’s my personal goal. This Rap s**t mean a lot to me, but that’s not everything. If your moms do crack, and you don’t have a father, and you live in foster homes, you have no choice but to become gangsta. You have no choice but to rob and to steal. But at the same time, you grow up. You grow out of it. Especially, if you have knowledge of self.

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