Red Cafe: Tha G Code

Brooklyn’s Red Café has patiently waited his turn. From a five-year bid, to uniting with 50 Cent and DJ Whoo-Kid, now to aligning with Mack 10 to attempt to make history. In all of these movements in phases, Red clearly can, I Got a Story To Tell.

Like the title of his forthcoming Hoo-Bangin’/Capitol release featuring Fat Joe, Irv Gotti, and others – Red Café tells some things. From his view on New York gang culture, to Cormega’s boxing skills, to early 50 Cent, Red Café keeps it gully. Read up. You were locked up from ’92 to ’97. What was your prison term like?

Red Café: You can't be a sucker or you can be, my choice was to be no sucker. So I still had to be pretty much rowdy in the joint. But you got a lot more time to think about a lot of s**t. You around a lot of old-timers, you learn a lot from them n***as, because they're never coming home. For me, I learned a lot, I came home with a plan. When I came home, I hit the street and got my ones up. I hooked up with my dude [Chris] Lighty [of Violator]. I was in a group called The Franchise. Yeah, unfortunately their parent company Loud Records folded.

Red Café: Yeah Loud closed. Then Violator was in limbo, and me and the group was just going through it. Niggas wasn't comfortable, we weren't happy. So I stepped out the box, and I started to do me. I hooked up with Whoo Kid. Me, Whoo Kid, and 50 [Cent] got on our grind, and we created a whole new movement. That's what got 50 hot. After that, that's when the war for my solo deal started. I had offers from everybody and ended up at Trackmasters/Arista. Around the same time you signed with Arista, 50 started to blow. A lot of people were saying that everyone was trying to find their 50 replica. Did you ever feel that pressure?

Red Café: I from the street, 50 from the street. We were grinding at the same time. He from Queens and I'm from Brooklyn. There's real niggas all across the country. It just so happen we had similar avenues. My nails is really really dirty though. The music was changing, the eras changed. When it was happy with Puff, then you had the more street era that came after it and is here now. People just say that because his album came out before mine did. People that didn't know no better. Do you still rock with Whoo kid and 50 like that?

Red Café: When I see them, we talk. It's all good. Those n***as is running, they on tour forever. I'd seen them at the concert, it was all good. I love what they are doing. What was your interaction with some of the rappers you bumped into while incarcerated in various prisons?

Red Café: That was all good. Littles even wasn't really rapping then. Lakey neither. He started out later in his bid. [Cormega] was. Me and ‘Mega was banging out together even when we came home. Maino had a lot of time in his hands, so he got into it later in his bid. Real talk, was Mega really nice with the boxing when he was locked up?

Red Café: Yeah Mega was nice! [Laughs] Me and that n***a were in the same joint. He was undefeated. Did you box as well?

Red Café: Nah, I didn't box too. Not in the ring [laughs]. In the south yard, I was boxing. Do you think New York will ever come back to its prominence? The South is running it right now.

Red Café: The South is doing its thing because the South stick together. We don’t stick together. That’s the number one problem. That's not how it's supposed to be. That’s why I did that song "Bling Bloaw" with Fabolous. I'm from Brooklyn, he’s from Brooklyn. There's no more ”Symphonies” anymore. When I’m at home, I want to hear my s**t and some other New York s**t. For my remix, I am putting another New York artist on the remix for "Bling Blaow." Who you getting for the remix?

Red Café: I got a big name; I don't even want to mention it. A big name, if you don't get Jay-Z, whatever is the next biggest name after, that is who I am getting. How did you hook up with Mack 10?

Red Café: Mack 10 f**ks with some don niggas from out here, some old school n***as that are G's and get money. Those n***as know me and how I get down, they know a n***a from the street. We met from that. I never shopped a deal. He came to me like, “Am I out of the Arista s**t?” Once Arista went under, I ducked BMG. They wanted my music. They don' know what to do with me. I'm a gangster n***a; I'm toting guns and s**t. He thought it would be real for an East Coast n***a to f**k with a West Coast n***a like him. We talked about it a little bit more, and the numbers made sense. How much creative control do you have in this situation?

Red Cafe: I got all the creative control. I'm from the East Coast, and I got to make East Coast music. Then make the West accept it, and they going to accept it on the strength I'm f**king with [Mack 10]. I got a couple of West Coast producers; I got Fred Wreck producing a record. I got a record with Battlecat. I got Kwame, Irv Gotti, and Jimi Kendrix too. You’re throwing the word ‘gangster’ around a lot, what’s your definition of a G?

Red Café: My definition of a G is different on how I'm using it in this conversation. I had an opportunity to really be on the West Coast and live in the coast to really see what gangsters and what gangbanging are. These n***as out here got it all the way confused. Gangsters are based on organized crime. Let's say I need you to f**k up some dude, and he gets f**ked up in 20 minutes. If I need you to get some money from this dude and he's not giving it up, you know what to do. The s**t we are not supposed to do, but we are doing it with a structure. That's what gangsters do. The gang is organized, there's a leader, or there's a boss and s**t gets done in an organized fashion. If that's not what you got going on, you're not a gangster and you ain't in a gang. How do you feel about New York embracing the Red and Blue so heavy?

Red Café: I don't know man, I never seen New York as followers. I think New York is fascinated by the West Coast. When they did Paid in Full, that s**t was hard to me. I appreciated that s**t. It was hood s**t, showcasing n***as getting money in New York, as opposed to seeing Menace To Society and Boyz In Da Hood all the time. Since they show it to us so much, we got caught up. The n***as I f**k with is OG's, for real. The Bloods f**k with the Crips, if it’s about money, they'll f**k with each other. It's not to the point where's about killing each other anymore. But for New Yorkers who don’t understand it and jump into it, that’s crazy to me.