Archie Lee: Reppin’ Time

In Hip-Hop, nothing is promised. Archie Lee was the first artist to release an album on Swishahouse Records seven years ago with Da Mista Masta. However, the album failed to give the label the push they needed to break out of Houston, and Archie soon left. When Lee returned to Swishahouse in 2005, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, and Lil’ Keke had filled the top spots, despite the rapper’s seniority.

Archie Lee did get a lot of reppin’ time on Swishahouse’s The Day Hell Broke Lose Volume 3 in 2006. With his Hollyhood album coming this year, Lee will finally get an opportunity to do what wasn’t possible in 2000. Get to know the veteran and the new face of Swishahouse at once, and see if Archie Lee has the juice to join the ranks of his elite brethren.

AllHipHop.com: First of all, I’m really drawn to “On What We On,” which is you and Juelz Santana. Swishahouse and The Diplomats have worked together before, and on the song, you reference each other a lot. Is that a collaboration that will grow to bigger heights?

Archie Lee: I think Paul Wall had worked with them before. Every time we work together, I think it’s building a better bridge for the future. As far as networking and getting along with ‘em, that’s a definite yes. The question you asked could probably be better answered by [Swishahouse executives] G-Dash and Michael Watts.

AllHipHop.com: Because Santana is on it, you know that song will get burn on New York mixtapes and appeal to a broader audience than your norm. How much of your audience is from the Northeast right now?

Archie Lee: To be honest with you, I know I have a little fanbase, but I haven’t really just really got to touch that direction. I haven’t really had a chance to get a grasp on that end. As far as the down South market, I’m pretty familiar with my fanbase in this area. But I know that with that collabo right there, I know that’s gonna bring a lot more fans from different markets. To be honest, that’s my first time doing a collabo with anybody from the East Coast, let alone Juelz Santana, feel me?

AllHipHop.com: Being that was your first time, did it enter your mind when you were spitting your verse?

Archie Lee: To be honest with you, once I had the track and heard [his] verse, I just went in a zone. I zone out to the music. I was really feelin’ it, and just pimpin’ the pen. I wasn’t really considerin’ it when I was writing it.

AllHipHop.com: You were the first artist to ever have a solo album on Swishahouse. That being said, has it been difficult to watch the success and subsequent attention given to Mike Jones and Paul Wall over the last two years, when you’ve got the seniority card?

Archie Lee: Man, good question! I’m very patient with it. When that album dropped, I look at that as a stepping tool, getting my feet wet. When that album dropped, Swishahouse was really local. We were nowhere close to where it is now. Now it’s a nationwide major label. I look at it as…I was getting my feet wet with it. I have no problem waiting for my second solo album due to the fact that I’m comin’ behind Mike Jones, Paul Wall – platinum albums. I have no problem being patient, ‘cause I want to make sure it’s done right. And when it drops, I’m gonna know what it’s gonna do, feel me? I’m takin’ my time with it, but I’m gonna make sure it’s right.

AllHipHop.com: As of right now, what’s the timetable?

Archie Lee: Right now, second quarter of ’07.

AllHipHop.com: Why’d you name it Hollyhood?

Archie Lee: The reason was I just got back with the ‘House early [2005]. From the time that I got back with them till now, I done been to MTV, BET, and people been seein’ me. I’m just a hood dude. I still hang in the hood; I kick it in the hood. Right now, even though I did all that, you can still catch me in the hood at the hole in the wall, hangin’ with the fellas. I just took them. I’m Hollywood, but I’m still hood – put together, Hollyhood.

AllHipHop.com: Is your project also going to be distributed by Asylum?

Archie Lee: Uh…that’s a good question. We haven’t really got that all worked out just yet. That’s a G-Dash question.

AllHipHop.com: Hip-Hop suffered commercially in 2006. It seems ludicrous to release a compilation into the market. Still, Swishouse did The Day All Hell Broke Loose Volume 3. As an artist who’s future depends on right now, what do these compilations mean to you?

Archie Lee: That’s a good question, man. I’d say my career depends a lot on it, [and] the feedback. Really, what the compilation does, it gets you out there, and gives the people a taste of what you got. It gives us a taste of what people are feelin’ about you. In dealing with release dates, and if it’s time for you now, all that rides off of the compilation. It’s pretty important.

AllHipHop.com: It’s very cool that Willie D and Scarface on the compilation. You’re not on those songs, but looking at veterans, who did you look up to?

Archie Lee: I love The Geto Boys: Willie D, Bushwick, ‘Face…man! N.W.A. [too]. Even though I ain’t on a song with ‘em, just to be on the same album, the same compilation, that means so much to me. I grew up off of them. I got all the respect in the world for Geto Boys.

AllHipHop.com: When you go to do your album and get that seemingly essential collaboration, who’s it gonna be?

Archie Lee: I can’t just say for sure, but I guarantee when you see who it is, you’ll be very much surprised.

AllHipHop.com: You said you rejoined the label in late 2005. When Lil’ Keke entered the picture, it seemed that he got a ton of attention, and that you and Coota Bang’s albums were pushed back. Obviously, Keke has a lot of significance to Swishahouse and Houston, being he’s from the Southside. But how did that feel for you, especially clawing for position?

Archie Lee: You wanna know, honestly man, when I found out about them signing Keke, the sense that I got is that we’re building a family with so much talent. I’m a fan of Keke. I’ve been jammin’ Keke for years. I’m from the North, he’s from the South[side of Houston], but I’m a fan. We buildin’ a solid team, and we gonna keep on to be makin’ solid music – that’s a plus!

AllHipHop.com: Is there a sense of friendly competition within the label?

Archie Lee: That’s what brings out the best in ya, in my opinion. There’s nothing wrong with a lil’ friendly competition. It keeps you on your toes. But it’s not no competition to where we competin’ against each other, but there is competition in the sense that we’re tryin’ to jam harder. We’re trying to make it happen, man. You see E-Class and Young Redd working together a lot, and me and Coota [Bang]. The reason for that is we’re really just starting to work together. Redd and E just came this year too. When you hear future stuff, you’re gonna see us all working together more – less teamin’ up stuff. In the beginning, we were like that ‘cause they came in together, and me and Coota came in together. Over time, we done been a road a whole lot together; we done bonded. We got that family thing. It’s one whole group from Paul to Keke to Yung Redd to E-Class to Coota to me.

AllHipHop.com: As far as the distribution and that, do you feel that the labels like Asylum aren’t as receptive to Swishahouse trying to break a new artist as they were with Mike or Paul?

Archie Lee: Man, that’s a good question. I’m thinkin’ like, what they’re waiting for, I think they may be a lil’ hesitant. The way Swishahouse has always worked has been that we just get our day and do it. We work, and the proof is in the pudding. We ain’t gonna wait for it, man, we’re just gonna keep workin’. When they see the people are biting it, they’ll come along. I can’t say for sure, but I probably think they are a lil’ hesitant due to the fact that we just new artists, period.

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