Junior M.A.F.I.A.: Back At It

As Ready To Die reached high plateaus, Biggie Smalls quickly created a platform for a nine of his closest friends. Junior Masters At Finding Intelligent Attitudes would go on to rule the year a decade ago with “Player’s Anthem” and “Get Money.” Names like Lil’ Cease and Lil’ Kim sprung into solo stature, and even future power exec Lance “Un” Rivera was a proven mastermind, all surrounding Conspiracy Theory.

Just over a year later, the tragic loss of Christopher Wallace left the Mafia orphaned. Because they weren’t on Bad Boy, the group name and many of its members tarnished. Cease and Kim aligned with Puffy’s “Family” for No Way Out, and after the mourning, a ten year hiatus began.

Lil’ Cease sacrificed a tepid solo career and came back to his roots to add to the lonesome Junior Mafia catalog. May saw Riot Music drop, with guest appearances and production from Sha Money XL and Heatmakerz. As far as the record stores know, Junior Mafia is back. But it may take Lil’ Cease talking to AllHipHop.com to let the fans from yesterday. Don’t get it twisted, Biggie’s legacy lives on.

AllHipHop.com: Why such the long hiatus?

Lil’ Cease: We’re a unit. We all grew up together, so we were still seeing each other. We’d visit each other’s families. It’s funny; Big would say stuff the day before it would happen. When he was around, it was all good. When he died, we had to become men. We were all doing solo projects. I released one, Klepto did one… We were always working in the studio. It was about getting things right and in the proper perspective. We released a DVD last year called, Chronicles of Junior Mafia. It sold over 100,000 copies.

AllHipHop.com: Besides the obvious absence of Kim, is it the original lineup?

Lil’ Cease: All of the original members of Junior Mafia except Lil’ Kim. We’re the same members that we were when Big was around. That was a vow that we made. No one new in, no one out. Junior Mafia was all Big’s idea. He loved nine people enough to be like, “Yo, theses are my people and I wanna put them on.” Big was real with us. He was loyal and gave back.

AllHipHop.com: I heard that a few verses from B.I.G were supposed to appear also?

Lil’ Cease: Yeah, but Puff wouldn’t clear the [rights]. I don’t know why. I said, “F**k it!” We’re not trying to deal with that kind of stuff right now. We’re focused on our game and making music. Mad people have shown us love like, “It’s good to have Junior Mafia around again.” That’s what’s important t us, just making music and getting it heard. The thing is; we never stopper making music, even during the break. It’s just better now because you’re not at your homeboy’s house making some stuff that you know will never be heard. As far as the Big [absence], it’s all good. We got another deal. Charlie Murphy, Capone, Nore, Young Gunz, a lot of people showed us love. We did that without the help of Puffy. We’re self-sufficient.

AllHipHop.com: Why isn’t Kim with Junior Mafia anymore?

Lil’ Cease: Shorty wasn’t really trying to f**k with us. We gave her too much power. She didn’t respect us. She didn’t feel like we were big enough. She was trying to run s**t, and felt that cats weren’t doing anything. We’re a unit. Big was the only leader. What he said, went. We didn’t ask any questions. We did s**t as family, not for pay. It came from the heart. She didn’t take us seriously, but we grew up. She didn’t. She just pretty much said, “F**k y’all.”

AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about her current legal troubles?

Lil’ Cease: I’ve got mad love for her, but she put herself in that position. I had to wash my hands of the whole thing. She doesn’t have anybody in her corner. She could be facing some serious time. I still have mad love though. Once family, always family.

AllHipHop.com: I’ve always found it strange that in Big’s death, Puff never put you guys on.

Lil’ Cease: Puff is about himself. It’s f**ked up to say, but he’s selfish. He’s about the money. He won’t really school cats. He made it clear in the beginning that his s**t was with Big, and that was it. He felt that he was too big to deal with us. He’s sitting on money, but won’t help anybody. He’s got no love. Don’t say you’re a family and at the end of the night, be all about yourself. Don’t sell us B.S. That’s why everyone left his label. The Lox, Mase; they all left. He wants to be the shinning star. You can’t run the label, if you want to be the label. You have to get big and then came back to him. I didn’t complain. We saw the picture and stepped away. Junior Mafia was with Big and he didn’t want any part of it because he didn’t want any dirt on his shoulders. He don’t know us. It’s f**ked up to say. Regardless, there are no hard feelings. Once family, always family. Big was our leader. What he said, went – even after death.

AllHipHop.com: How do you deal with these problems with Puff and Kim?

Lil’ Cease: All they can say is that I’m broke. But that’s okay. I’m a family man. I played my position to the fullest. I’m the only one that stood loyal to my people. I’m gonna create my own check for me and my people.

AllHipHop.com: You appeared alongside Violetta Wallace in the documentary, Biggie and 2Pac. If Puff was so tight with Big, why wasn’t he in it?

Lil’ Cease: I can’t tell you why. I don’t even know myself. That’s a good question. I guess he was too busy. I’m tight with Big’s mom. If she needs to call on me for anything, I’m there.

AllHipHop.com: How are Big’s teachings still prevalent in Riot Music?

Lil’ Cease: Definitely. People will like the new album because we used everything that he taught us. I learned a lot from him, in and outside of the studio. He taught me about style, how to be melodic and how to make records. He taught me that you don’t have to be saying the illest s**t, but know how to drop a good record.

AllHipHop.com: Is that really what Hip-Hop needs right now? Isn’t Hip-Hop suffering?

Lil’ Cease: I like how things have spread out in Hip-Hop. It’s not all East Coast or all West Coast or Dirty South. That’s what Hip-Hop is about. It’s global. It grows and covers all grounds. To be a dope artist, you have to be versatile. Be able to do anything, anywhere. Back in the day, East Coast Hip-Hop was at the top. Everyone had to have an east-coast artist. Now it’s vise versa. I think that it’s only fair. I’ve known about Screw [music] since ’95. You’ve got all kinds of people. It’s evened out. As rap artists, we all have to help each other. We have to keep each other stay alive and out of jail.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think that Hip-Hop has strayed from its roots?

Lil’ Cease: Naw, It’s what we prayed for. So we can’t complain. If it helps feed your family, then it’s good. A lot of people originally hated on Hip-Hop. Now it’s bigger than anything.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think that Rap artists need to take responsibility for the youth listening?

Lil’ Cease: Not everyone had to struggle like they make it seem. People think that’s us all of the time, like “You gotta be tough.” They have to realize that it’s just entertainment. Some times we talk s**t. Some of what we talk about it real and some B.S. But it’s just entertainment.

AllHipHop.com: After a ten-year wait and being off the radar, what can fans look to Junior Mafia for now?

Lil’ Cease: Expect another new album before the end of the year. We also have a clothing line coming out called Mafioso Apparel.

AllHipHop.com: That’s a power move. What alliances in the industry came out to jump on and support this album?

Lil’ Cease: Jadakiss and Prodigy make appearances on a few tracks. This is the first version of the album. We had Method Man and Beanie Sigel on some tracks, but things haven’t cleared yet. Once they do, we will release another version.

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