Since his Billboard Top 10 hit "So Fly" off of his 2008 solo debut Loves Crazy, former 112 Member Slim seems to have been laying low. But, he's actually been busy putting together his new album.
The former Bad Boy signee gives us a candid look into his thoughts on current R&B stars, a possible 112 return, and the playful water fight he once had with late legend Whitney Houston. Read on for more in AllHipHop.com's exclusive interview with Slim:
AllHipHop.com: What's up, Slim? Tell us about your latest mixtape, Cruisin' Da City.
Slim: Actually, it's a sample of a whole bunch of things. It's the progression before you get to my next album, Cruise Control. This mixtape, called Cruisin' Da City, finds me cruising the city wherever you are. I'm not giving away the whole songs, because I'm really trying to see exactly where I'm going to be at once we start Cruise Control.
When you listen to records, you can tell within the first five to 10 seconds whether you like the song or not. When I put the mixtape together originally, it was supposed to be for my crew; we sit and listen to it. A lot of people said, 'Why are you holding on to these songs?' I just decided to put it out. And, it's been a blessing, man. It exploded.
I got some incredible feedback from it. I was like, wow! The reason why I chose to go this route is because, if you look in the mixtape world, sometimes they're brutally honest. Sometimes artists have to be checked a little bit. As far as music, and your craft. I've been in the game for 15 years, so my skin is very tough. I know the difference between constructive criticism and hate. At the end of the day, I can definitely take in the good.
AllHipHop.com: Why did you call your mxitape Cruisin' Da City Volume 1? That means we're getting more mixtapes before the album?
Slim: A lot of people want to know what I've been doing. I'm really a studio head. I sit in the studio and I work. I've been traveling around the world, and I've been in studios all around the world. From Atlanta to Austria to Germany. I've been everywhere. I said I'm going to call it volume 1. That's where I was in my life.
What's crazy about it is after I dropped the mixtape, two days after it people started coming to me with situations, deals, offers and stuff like that. So now I asked myself, do I start preparing for the album or do I continue to drop these albums? I'm trying to get to a situation, I want to show people the progression. Where I was since I dropped Love's Crazy to Cruise Control. Until I get Cruise Control together, here we go, just a little sample. I don't know if I'm going to use one of those records to even be on the album. It's a blessing how it blew up.
AllHipHop.com: Are you one of the cats that are mad at current R&B?
Slim: [laughter] Not at all. I'm sure when we came out, there were artists that were mad at us. I knew that there would be challengest. When you study music, each style of music sounds different. '90s don't sound like '80s, '70s don't sound like '60s. The sound is totally different.
AllHipHop.com: Are you enjoying your solo run?
Slim: It's been beautiful. Just making sure the business end benefits me at the end. My first album sold six figures. I made $7 off each record sold. Thats probably more than I made record-wise in a year. It's been a blessing. It's something I had to adjust to from being in a group, because in this situation, I had to put on more hats. It was challenge, but it was fun. When you hear Cruise Control, you'll hear I've grown musically. I love taking on these projects. It's been a learning experience. I'm really working on building the brand of my label, M3, and I'm also looking for a young artist.
Since we came in the game early, we definitely had to grow up. We were 15, 16, coming in from the '90s when Atlanta wasn't as musically-inclined as we are right now. Outkast definitely paved the way. We grew up musically in New York. We were from the church. We took that soulful feel and brought it back to New York, and we learned the Hip-Hop feel. My equation for music is still the same thing. Music now is changing every three to six months. The different sounds. It's amazing. I love it, though, because I'm a true musician. I love the challenge of listening to where the sound is going.
AllHipHop.com: Are we ever going to see a 112 return? Back in 2010, Q tweeted he was in the studio with other members.
Slim: At this time, I would probably say no. Where I am right now, and I love those guys to death, I look at it as you want the legacy to always remain where it is. You see athletes that were incredible at that sport, then try to come back, and they're not the same way. It diminishes their legacy. We probably made more money than any other group. Every album is platinum or better. This is a business. How many groups are out right now? Exactly. If I'm CEO of a record label, would I sign a group at this time? It's not the time. That chapter is closed. I enjoyed that situation. I thank God for that opportunity. It's been a blessing.
As far as artists are concerned, I've been working with a lot of people. As far as producers, I've been working with Drumma Boy, Bangladesh, Tim & Bob - I've been all over the place. I'm honing in on the how I'm going to come out. Right now, I'm in Florida working with Pitbull's producers. Actually, me and Diddy have been talking. I'm trying to create the sound, and they're helping me pull the sound. Diddy wants to know how I'm coming out.
In Atlanta, I'm in all different places of the world. What's interesting is what people consider uptempo now. When we came out, we didn't see the evolution of 128BPM. You would think Britney Spears is the only one that can do it, but now you're seeing Usher and Chris Brown. I want to put a twist on that. We're doing this right now, but how do we implement Hip-Hop and R&B?
AllHipHop.com: Did you enjoy this year's Grammys?
Slim: The performances were incredible. I love Adele, and I loved Chris Brown's performance. I also love what the Beach Boys did. Touching on Whitney, for me that was very touching. God knows she's a legend. She's in a class by herself. I was blessed to be on tour with Whitney, with 112. We really got to know her. We all knew how cool she was. Artists of her magnitude, you would think would be stuck up - she wasn't. She was cool. She kicked it with us. While on tour, Whitney's team played a hot trick on us, telling us MTV was about to be at the park. We dressed up and went to the park, got there and her and her dancers came out with water balloons and jumped on us.
That started a water fight. We ran down the street, found super soakers and had a wild water fight. The next couple of days, Whitney was sick. It was summer time in Albany, New York, but it gets really cold at night - the fight lasted that long. It was in situations like that where she would instill knowledge about longevity. Not letting the industry control you, you control the industry. I took a lot of knowledge from her. I've accomplished a lot, we've got our Grammys. At the end of the day, I'm very down to earth. I know where my blessings come from.
AllHipHop.com: No doubt. It's Black History Month. Is there anyone that has specifically inspired you?
Slim: I can name the Fredrick Douglass', all of the athletes and philanthropists. But, you know who inspires me? President Obama. He's doing something right now, making leaps and bounds, showing people that you can do whatever you want to do. You can work hard and put yourself in that sitaution. We have a Black man that is the leader of the biggest and strongest country in the world. I make my songs; watch the news. They know their history. In creating legacies, you have to have role models. Understand where we come from, and where we are going. The story of where he came from, a small young boy from Hawaii, was on welfare, Now, he's our president. If he can dream it, so can you.
AllHipHop.com: Can you give us a date on the release of Cruise Control?
Slim: I can say it will be in 2012. More volumes of Cruisin' Da City. Trust me when I say you're definitely going to see progression. Cities are all over the world. If you're in Spain, Austria, you are cruising the city with Slim. I see Slim is in Cruise Control. When you turn the track on, you'll feel like you're with me.
AllHipHop.com: Any final words?
Slim: I just want to thank everybody, and especially you all for concentrating on artists that are positive. Keeping it consistent. The game has changed, and now it's about being consistent. With consistency, that creates a legacy.
Slim's mixtape, Cruisin' Da City, is available for download here.