Havoc: Lost Art
For a producer whose dark grooves helped define New York
Hip-Hops aural landscape in the 90s, Havocs recent presence in the rap game
has been underwhelming. The 34-year-old MC/producer displeased many fans two
years ago when his long overdue solo venture, The Kush, came and went with dubious results. With his other half
of the infamous Mobb Deep in the penitentiary, Mobb Deeps status in the game appeared bleak, and once
die-hard fans started to find comfort in other acts.
But this winter, hopefully all that is set to change thanks
to Hidden Files, the second solo
album from Havoc. Rumbling drums and sinister samples accompanied by thun language, Hidden Files provides a solid list of
murda muzik for any Mobb Deep fan to enjoy. That doesnt mean Hidden Files is
flawless. Unlike many other musicians, Havoc finds faults in his own projects
and openly addresses the issue.
Yet, its difficult to speak to Havoc just about music when
his name is constantly mentioned amongst controversial Hip-Hop figures (most
notably his partner, Prodigy). Regardless of his affiliations, though, the
rapper from Queensbridge has survived in the game for
more than a decade. Does Havoc still have a criminal mind thirsty for
recognition? Let us find out.
Whats the general idea behind this album?
Havoc: Ive been
dealing with Koch for about two years. They got mad that I had a deal prior to
them with Nature Sounds. So theyre asking me to dead the contract. Initially,
I said, F**k it. But they came back to me and said, We still want to do the
album. And they wanted something fast. So I was like, Let me go through my
files and go through some old s**t that I can put together. Koch was trying to
make a n***a do commercial songs. I feel them and all
that, but these songs were meant for my core audience and if I get some cents
out of it, so be it.
Commercial song as in Watch Me?
Havoc: They did a
song and put auto-tunes on the hook. I dont have
anything against Auto-Tune but thats not Havoc. A lot of bloggers got heated
at me. They think Im co-signing that s**t. Nah, Im not a trend chaser. I
appreciate Koch giving me the opportunity. At the same time you have to
understand there are certain things I just dont do.
basically youre not satisfied with that track.
Havoc: No, not at
all! When people rush a project and they throw it to the press, s**t gets set
in stones. And I heard the track last minute. I was like, What the f**k is
this? Yeah, I did it, but without the auto-tunes. When they threw that
auto-tune s**t I was like, They try to body a n***as
career! So when I saw the blog, I couldnt get mad at the people blogging
against it. Because I felt like jumping on the blog and be like, I feel you my
n***a! I got the utmost respect for Koch, but like I say about any label, you
just got to be on top of your s**t.
Havoc Heart of the Grind Video
Was that the reason you decided to put, Heart of the Grind as the first single? And was Koch satisfied with you doing that?
Havoc: I dont
know if they were satisfied, but I know I was. Because I thought, I need to
put out a song to cover the stumble. And I got to go to the extreme of
something way opposite of what is out today. People say, The song sounds old.
Exactly! Its old.
would you consider this as unreleased materials instead of an actual album?
Havoc: It has my
name on it; its going to be marked as an official album for me. But me as an
artist wise? Its not an album for me. Its just the music I want to give my
core audience. And my other half is locked up so
you ever go upstate to see Prodigy?
Havoc: When I
went to go see him, I f**ked up and I left my ID home. And they dont let you
up there when you lose your ID. But thats my n***a for
life, and Im going to go see him. Everybody could look at it anyways they
want, but him and me we just have a different relationship.
do you correspond with him through the phone?
Havoc: Yeah, we
do that, and through the mail.
Hows he doing? Does he tell you what hes doing inside?
Havoc: He just
tells me that he be bored. He wants to hurry up and get home because he misses
the studio. When I spoke to him, he just told me hes thinking about a lot of
s**t he wants to do when he gets home.
anyone from G-Unit visit him?
Havoc: From what
I understand, Yayo visited him. 50 visited him.
you been keeping it touch with everybody in G-Unit?
Havoc: Yeah, they
call me on the regular. Im still doing beats and production with them. I go to
50s crib, or I meet them at the office. I might meet them somewhere out of
realized there are no G-Unit members featured on this album.
Havoc: Its a
Koch product, and G-Unit and Koch are not the best of friends. I wanted to put
some of them from G-Unit on there, but I couldnt because of Koch.
But arent you still under G-Unit records?
Havoc: Im on
G-Unit records as Mobb Deep. But 50 gave us the
leverage to go independently wherever we want to go. At the time when I did the
deal with Koch, I didnt know it was that kind of conflict.
what happened with the deal with Nature Sounds?
project with Nature Sounds came out. But Koch re-emerged and said, Look, we
still want to do it. I was supposed to do another album with Nature Sounds but
they lost their distribution. So the contract had to be voided.
think The Kush really didnt get the
attention it should have gotten. Why did you decided to go with Im the Boss
as the single?
you come to some weird f**king compromise with these labels. No disrespect to
Nature Sounds, but how long have Nature Sounds been a label? I could run a
label better than most of these independent labels. These independent labels
they offer you a cut, get you the material, and you dont speak to them
anymore. The relationship isnt even built with them. The next thing you know,
this s**t is already e-mail blasted as a single that you didnt even approve
of. Im like, I want to do the song to the hardest s**t on the album. And
they say, The radio spins And then you started thinking, Word, the radio
spins And then you become a victim. But right now I dont give a f**k because Im going to do my numbers regardless.
Thats funny because Mobb Deep always did well with
the hardest tracks in the album.
When you try to make a radio song? That s**t backfires.
Was Tragedy Khadafi involved in this album?
Havoc: Nah, not
at all. Hes currently locked up. I dont know the particular, but he got like
three or four years.
Damn. Well, did you hear Joe Buddens diss song that recently released against Prodigy?
Havoc: I heard
about it, but I havent heard the track.
Whats your thought on the situation?
Havoc: I think
Joe Buddens feelings are hurt, thats why hes
saying that. He wasnt saying things about n****s before; when P says something
hes now all up on that. N****s just need to man up. If a
n***a is voicing his opinion against you, dont cry about it.
According to Prodigys comments in an WorldStarHipHop diatribe, he stated, Whos the worst
rapper on the planet? I think Joe Budden is on that
line. Whats your opinion of Joe Budden?
Havoc: I never
had too much of an opinion of Joe Budden. Thats not
saying hes wack or hes dope. I just see him as a
fellow rapper trying to do his thing. Im about making money, and making sure
my s**t sounds good.
Right, but at the same time in your career as Mobb
Deep there has been many points where you dealt with beefs.
Havoc: It depends
on when somebody comes at me. If I think speaking against something is worth
it, then I speak against it.
see. Well, its been many years since the Jay-Z situation sparked. Whats your
status with Jay-Z now?
Havoc: I never
had a problem with Jay-Z. That was something P addressed. And I stood by him as
P addressed it. Thats my homie going in at somebody
and Im not going to see my homie get pounded out. In
all actuality, I could appreciate Jay-Zs business savvy and his contribution
to Hip-Hop. I might not agree with everything he might have said but it was
nothing to me. If Jay-Z had a problem with me, so be it. But hes not thinking
about me. I dont think hes thinking about a lot of people.
would you hop on a track with him?
business opportunity ever came up, and the money is right? Ill do it.
do you do anything besides music?
Havoc: Right now
Im currently trying to dive into scoring movies, working on my label called
Strategy Music. I mean you really have to do this hard man.
Well, then what are your thoughts on a lot of rappers making more video blogs
Havoc: They do
what they do, and I do what I do. But you know what bugs me man? When dudes are
rapping but they actually claim theyre not a rapper. It confuses me. What do
you mean Im not a rapper? But youre rapping though! You trying to front like
getting money other ways. Oh! Youre doing this for fun. But it seems like
youre going pretty hard though. Stop fronting man! Or maybe youre not a
rapper and maybe you need to stop. Youre just taking up space! You dont see
NBA players with a basketball going, Im not a basketball player.
You have this new Infamous Instrumental
CD coming out; dont you think its a little too late?
Havoc: I think
you need to talk to the label about that. They probably have a think tank like,
How could we make some more money? Oh! Lets put out an Infamous Instrumental! You see back then, they took the masters so
they could do whatever they want to. So I dont have any control over that.
guess they decided to put it out before people completely stop buying albums.
Havoc: Its real
sad, with Virgin Megastore shutting down in Manhattan. I think in five years,
all record shops are going to shut down.
Then do you still go crate dig for samples?
Havoc: I still
dig, and I still use samples. People got problem with samples, but I could tell
you this: 90 to 95 percent of the music that you hear out today derived from a
sample. I just hate it when certain producers say, Oh, I dont sample. No,
really? You just f**king invented a wheel?
there a specific track on the album that you would say, Damn, I flipped that
s**t real nicely!
Havoc: Well, I
think the people are going to judge it for themselves. I like them all; theyre
all my pieces of work.
Not the auto-tune though.