A lasting career in the music business is not promised, even if you are lucky enough to be chosen out of 40,000 people to star in your own MTV reality show. E Ness learned this lesson, but luckily, he knew the rules of engagement. Having already experienced regional success before his MTV stint, Ness wasnt too worried when Diddy announced that he was dismantling Da Band in 2004.
Ness, regarded as the boy wonder of the group, was one of three members selected by Diddy to be solo artists on Bad Boy. Two years on the shelf could make any thirsty MC start a riot to be released from the label. Ness used his time to start his own label to help put out up and coming Philly artists, write for Diddys new album, shoot a movie with Freeway, and release the latest installment in his Rhyme or Crime series with the DJ Drama-cosigned The Ness Best Thing. As a prequel to his much delayed Nessesary album, Ness shows that the time off allowed him the opportunity for some lyrical exercise.
AllHipHop.com: Lets take it back. When Diddy made the announcement to break up the band, what went through your mind?
Ness: I just thought it was all over. I thought I had to start from scratch as far as getting back in the game solo. Da Band was a good situation, but after it was over, I was glad it was over, because I wanted people to see Ness in the light I want them to see him at.
AllHipHop.com: You were one of three Band members that Diddy kept, werent you and Babs supposed to be packaged as a Bonnie and Clyde duo?
Ness: We were supposed to, but that didnt go down. I got a lot of material recorded for my album, so [Bad Boy] thought it was best to go with who had the work done already. Not saying that [Babs] is not working, its just that Im extra hungry.
AllHipHop:.com Whos on the new album?
Ness: The name of the album is called Nessessary. I got everybody production-wise from Bink, Will.I.am, Just Blaze, Kanye West, of course the Bad Boy staff, D-Dot, Tony Dofat, Stevie J, Chad West, a lot of people.
AllHipHop.com: You had a single called My Hood that got a lot of airplay in Philly when you first went solo. You didnt capitalize on the momentum and the album was pushed back, did the delays frustrate you, or do you feel the delays helped you put out a better product?
Ness: If you woulda asked me if I was ready to come out with an album then, I woulda said no. It was frustrating, but it was kinda a blessing in disguise.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think being on a reality show hurt your credibility?
Ness: Um, not really because that was just one look. People dont really know Ness. They dont know that I already had a little name in my city prior to Making The Band, and I was already on that grind. The show gave me exposure and opened up Ness to a new market, thats it. As far as the s**t people make fun about [walking to Brooklyn for cheesecake], thats just part of the game. When you come in theres things a lot of things that you gonna have to do that you dont wanna do. People dont understand that that was just a TV show and we did things just to keep up the ratings.
AllHipHop.com: On the show you had the battle with Jae Millz that ended in the infamous draw. Do you feel you won that battle?
Ness: Yeah. They always ask me this question because thats the last time they seen me in the ring duking it out. But, I dont think they shoulda called it a draw. Rhyme for rhyme, I gave him work. They put him in front of me for my deal. I had to go through him to get my props. They just put two gladiators in the ring, they called it a draw I didnt agree, but at the end of the day people got a chance to see me.
AllHipHop.com: So you believed you won?
AllHipHop.com: have you spoken to Jae Millz since?
Ness: Yeah, Ive spoken to him, he say the same thing yanahmean, that he won. Its just being an MC. Everybody feel they number one. Im not gonna go nowhere and say I lost the battle.
AllHipHop.com: Ness Best Thing is getting some acclaim quickly...
Ness: No doubt. I actually went to [Central High in Philadelphia] with DJ Drama, people dont know. So it was actually bringing it back home. This is actually the third in my Rhyme or Crime series.
AllHipHop.com: Diddy said on one of the interludes of the mixtape that he kept you locked in the dungeon with no food or water to keep you hungry. He gave you a ringing endorsement, do you feel hes 100% behind you at this point?
Ness: Um, no. I mean, you gotta understand that he has a label to run, hes the CEO and hes also the artist, and theres also a lot of acts everywhere. I could say this, whenever I call him or I need anything, he would make sure it gets done. Money-wise, contractual-wise, any problem I have the doors always open. People may be saying, Why you still down with Bad Boy, Puff is a jerk artist or whatever, but Id be the first to say if you dont handle your business, youre gonna run into obstacles. Me and Puff got an understanding; he knows that I love the music. I cant speak on anybody elses situation, but I know all my paperwork is straight.
AllHipHop.com: You touch on a lot of topics on the mixtape, one being your hometown and the jealousy you experience in Philly. Is the hate really that bad?
Ness: Its not really that bad. The jealousy is always gonna be there when you trying to do something and you build it from the ground up. I love Philly to death, but it just dont have the influence on the industry as the other cities. We got a lot of up and coming artists and I do music with all of them. Philly breeds the hungriest MCs, Diddy has said this to my face. Its just that we dont handle our business correctly. Thats the thin line between love and hate with this s**t. You love to do the music, but you hate to deal with the business side. I got Philly on my back and wherever; I go Im one of those dudes that big up the city.
AllHipHop.com: Your former band mate Young City was recently dropped from Bad Boy South, have you spoken to him recently?
Ness: I havent spoken to him recently, but I know he put out a song coming at Bad Boy or whatever. I dont know if he said my name, I heard he said my name but [we ll see].
AllHipHop.com: Whens the new album dropping and what can we expect from it?
Ness: Its slated for 2007. Its just my story from when I got locked up, before I got locked up, while I was locked up, life after I got out of jail to getting my opportunities in music. I did what I wanted to do. I got with one of the most notorious n***as in the game, as far as Hip-Hop. So I pat myself on the back. I did the rap thing and its time for me to put other n***as on.