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 Players 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 werent on Bad Boy, the group name and many of its members tarnished. Cease and Kim aligned with Puffys 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. Dont get it twisted, Biggies legacy lives on.
AllHipHop.com: Why such the long hiatus?
Lil Cease: Were a unit. We all grew up together, so we were still seeing each other. Wed visit each others families. Its 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. Were 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 Bigs 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 wouldnt clear the [rights]. I dont know why. I said, F**k it! Were not trying to deal with that kind of stuff right now. Were focused on our game and making music. Mad people have shown us love like, Its good to have Junior Mafia around again. Thats whats important t us, just making music and getting it heard. The thing is; we never stopper making music, even during the break. Its just better now because youre not at your homeboys house making some stuff that you know will never be heard. As far as the Big [absence], its 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. Were self-sufficient.
AllHipHop.com: Why isnt Kim with Junior Mafia anymore?
Lil Cease: Shorty wasnt really trying to f**k with us. We gave her too much power. She didnt respect us. She didnt feel like we were big enough. She was trying to run s**t, and felt that cats werent doing anything. Were a unit. Big was the only leader. What he said, went. We didnt ask any questions. We did s**t as family, not for pay. It came from the heart. She didnt take us seriously, but we grew up. She didnt. She just pretty much said, F**k yall.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about her current legal troubles?
Lil Cease: Ive got mad love for her, but she put herself in that position. I had to wash my hands of the whole thing. She doesnt have anybody in her corner. She could be facing some serious time. I still have mad love though. Once family, always family.
AllHipHop.com: Ive always found it strange that in Bigs death, Puff never put you guys on.
Lil Cease: Puff is about himself. Its f**ked up to say, but hes selfish. Hes about the money. He wont 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. Hes sitting on money, but wont help anybody. Hes got no love. Dont say youre a family and at the end of the night, be all about yourself. Dont sell us B.S. Thats why everyone left his label. The Lox, Mase; they all left. He wants to be the shinning star. You cant run the label, if you want to be the label. You have to get big and then came back to him. I didnt complain. We saw the picture and stepped away. Junior Mafia was with Big and he didnt want any part of it because he didnt want any dirt on his shoulders. He dont know us. Its 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 Im broke. But thats okay. Im a family man. I played my position to the fullest. Im the only one that stood loyal to my people. Im 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 wasnt he in it?
Lil Cease: I cant tell you why. I dont even know myself. Thats a good question. I guess he was too busy. Im tight with Bigs mom. If she needs to call on me for anything, Im there.
AllHipHop.com: How are Bigs 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 dont 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? Isnt Hip-Hop suffering?
Lil Cease: I like how things have spread out in Hip-Hop. Its not all East Coast or all West Coast or Dirty South. Thats what Hip-Hop is about. Its 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 its vise versa. I think that its only fair. Ive known about Screw [music] since '95. Youve got all kinds of people. Its 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, Its what we prayed for. So we cant complain. If it helps feed your family, then its good. A lot of people originally hated on Hip-Hop. Now its 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 thats us all of the time, like You gotta be tough. They have to realize that its just entertainment. Some times we talk s**t. Some of what we talk about it real and some B.S. But its 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: Thats 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 havent cleared yet. Once they do, we will release another version.