Black Rob: Hell up in Harlem

Bad Boy Records has seen it’s share of valleys and peaks – from being the top record label in the game at one point to major acts being murdered and jailed. There since the early stages was Black Rob, who went from doing a stint in the big house to being surrounded by talent like […]

Bad Boy Records has seen it’s share of valleys and peaks – from being the top record label in the game at one point to major acts being murdered and jailed. There since the early stages was Black Rob, who went from doing a stint in the big house to being surrounded by talent like the late Notorious B.I.G., Mase and The Lox.

When it came time for Black Rob’s solo release, Bad Boy was in a state of limbo. “Whoa” hit airwaves in the fall of 1999 and when Life Story impacted it hit number 3 on the Billboard chart moving nearly 200,000 units it’s first week of release, eventually going platinum. This made the label a hot name once again, making it possible for the era of the Harlem shake to be ushered in, plus career cultivation for G.Dep and Petey Pablo.

After a five year hiatus resulting from illness and jail time, Black Rob returns this spring with The Rob Report. Touted by Deric “D-Dot” Angeletti as one of the top five storytellers of all time, Rob has promised more of the same style that made Life Story a success, only with a spin on 2005’s sound. Rob recently engaged with real talk on his new album, his troubled everyday spirit, and his decade of experiences in the Rap game. How has it made you feel to more or less be waiting all this time to put out a second album?

Black Rob: I mean, I felt f**ked up, but it was something I had to do because I was sick at the time so it was inevitable, I couldn’t do nothin’ else but chill. So I’m back, I’m back healthy, I feel 100% right now. I’m ready to just take this thing forward and keep going forward and keep blastin’ off because B.R. is authentic. I’m not somebody to come out with an album every six months, that’s not me. I like to marinate with whatever I do – I’m just that type of person. I got a lot of patience, I’m not bitter about anything in the industry. I’m not here talking about ‘Aww Puffy did this’ or ‘These ni**as actin’ like this’. I did what I had to do, it was inevitable it had to be done, I’m back in the game heavy. Do you ever feel like the media and/or the public want you to talk about Puffy and be mad?

Black Rob: Yeah, but I don’t got no time for that ‘cause I’m a real dude. I don’t talk about nobody else when they ain’t around to defend theyself. So there that go, that’s how I do it. What do you feel have been the most significant changes with Black Rob and Bad Boy over the last few years?

Black Rob: Well I’m gonna tell you like this, I really can’t say it’s been a lot changes. The love always been there from the employees, on up to the big people upstairs. Sean John, wherever I go, Blue Flame, it’s always just been a bunch of love for me. They might be frontin’, who knows? A lot of people might be frontin’, but I wouldn’t know ‘cause I’m one person everyday. I’m the same s**t everyday, one thing you [can] say about me is I don’t never change. I been B.R. forever, so when the s**t hit the fan I’m breakin’ away clean. I ain’t compromise myself one time for this s**t, I still got my soul, boo. This is real talk, you see I got ghetto ni**as around me. Ni**as ain’t got ice on, ni**as ain’t got jewels on. Ni**as that get down for they family, that’s who I f**k with. Ni**as from jail where I’ve been, that’s my people. Cut and dry, B.R. is just real deal, I can’t talk about nothin’ else. Anybody I bring in the game gonna talk about real s**t, this is what it is, this is it. Obviously you had a lot of things going on before you signed with Bad Boy. There’s been a lot of things that you had to have learned about the music industry and about yourself. What would you say is the biggest thing you have learned?

Black Rob: I was still on thug mentality [when I signed]. I learned in this game that gotta be the last last last last last last last resort, ‘cause these dudes ain’t gangstas – these businessmen we dealin’ with. I learned that much so I’m a little more calmer in the way I handle my business and I handle my business. If we gotta get thuggish, that’s nothing, that’s like second nature, it’s nothing. Sometimes you gotta get thuggish [in the mind] moreso.

Black Rob: Right, that’s the bottom line. You gotta be thuggish up here. [points to temple] Do you have any standout recording sessions or memorable moments since you started rhyming professionally?

Black Rob: Yeah! I remember one time [in 1995] I was recording with Biggie and Nas. It’s just wild ‘cause I was just coming in the game and Puff had just signed me. Nobody didn’t even know me; so they bought me to the session with Biggie and Nas. These ni**as is already international celebs, worldwide. I’m in there like ‘Yeah I’m a do what I do’, so I came in and I was kickin that raw s**t like ‘I’m a kill your mother, stab your father – Yo, when I come back from jail I’m a kill somebody’. [Biggie asked] ‘You alright?’. I was like, ‘What you talkin’ bout?’ He was like, ‘Yo dog, this joint is for Mary J. Blige, my ni**a’. I was like “Oh word? I ain’t know that”. I bet later you had a good laugh about it.

Black Rob: Yeah… so that’s why when I go in [the studio], I wanna know who I’m rockin’ with. Don’t just play the beat, ni**a. [laughs] How was it to be in the same circles with Children of The Corn [Cam’ron, McGruff, Big L, Mase,] prior to all of your lives going in different directions? What was it like back then?

Black Rob: I always knew that they existed, they was there. But basically we was all a whole different part of Harlem. I’m on the east side, most of them be on the west side like 140th, I’m on 115th. I might come through there once in a while and see them, but it’s always been love. I remember I used to write rhymes with Cam and his man, Blood in this girl’s house on 114th. They used to be writing they thing, I used to be writing my thing. But I’m glad they where they at, they deserve it, just like I deserve it. Petey Pablo was basically put on by you, so as a mentor how do you feel watching him make the choices he’s made lately by aligning with Suge Knight and so on?

Black Rob: Petey a good kid. The dude got a good heart, a real good heart. I just hope that he know what he…matter fact, I know he know what he’s doing, because when he was out here with me, he was doing what he do and he was basically…he knew what the f**k he was doing. I f**ks with that dude, that’s my man I know he making the right move for him, himself and his family. I wish him the best, I love him to death. I want him to be safe out here, that’s my boy. The first album you had was pretty diverse, it had the club and street tracks but you talked a lot about your life. With everything that’s happened between the last album and the new one, is this album going to reflect the recent things that have happened to you, or is it going to be along the lines of the first album?

Black Rob: Like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. We won with that last formula, that last formula let the world know who Black Rob was. I mean we gotta go with that same formula, but all the music is updated. We talkin’ bout the end of ’04, I was locked up for six months, so we talkin’ like brand new stuff. I’m on top of my game right now, Bad Boy’s behind this, [Puffy is] still a sponsor. I got not even top dog producers with me, I just got brothers that love me doing beats comin’ at me with fire and I’m killin’. How’s the relationship between you and Buckwild [D.I.T.C. producer] now considering you’re both veterans who received household status working with each other?

Black Rob: Now me and Buck, we family. Buck calls me like every other day. He got a couple of joints on my album, he like Albert Pujols, he ain’t Barry Bonds this time. That’s my boy, Buck is a real dude, screw the music. Real dude, with all due respect. Is there anything that you want people to know upfront about your recent robbery incident? You know the media is going to be asking you about it.

Black Rob: Yeah well, I’m a tell you like this – everybody makes mistakes. That’s why we got erasers on pencils. Basically I gotta watch myself, I be gettin’ into s**t sometimes. That’s just been me all my life, like I said I still got my soul. So I’m still gonna be B.R. regardless of when it is, what year it is, what day. At the end of the day I can’t even drive my truck without coming through my hood, once everyday. Like just driving through it’s like a magnet, so that’s just what it is. I f**ked up, I made a mistake, there that go. Let me live with it, bunch of motherf**kers made mistakes. Look at a lot of these rappers, gettin’ caught every other week for doing s**t. That ain’t me, I ain’t get bagged for doin’ nothin’ in 15 years. So that ain’t my regular, so you know it had to be a mistake. So there that go, and we wanna apologize to whoever that lady was who got bagged, but you got your s**t back, we apologize. We can’t do nothin’ else but apologize for what we did. That’s the bottom line it was a mistake. Speaking of ’05, what is your top five ‘Whoa’ list for 2005? What’s really standing out to you right now?

Black Rob: Nothing really fazing me like that. Bush getting elected, that ain’t whoa, that’s not whoa. Nothing’s whoa anymore, I’m sorry to be able to not answer your question but nothing’s whoa anymore. Everybody’s doing the same thing, so now we gotta get dough. It’s no more whoa, it’s just dough now, so that’s what it is.