How has being on Aftermath impacted the way in which you create music?
I mean. You’re on a world stage. You’re not just making music for your neighbourhood or another hood. You’re making music for the world. It broadens your horizons as far as how hard you go in on creating a record. It amplifies everything and with that comes a responsibility to do something phenomenal and impactful coming behind the likes of Dre, 50 and Em.
So your upcoming projects aren’t necessarily going to have a West Coast sound?
I mean, with the heritage of where I’m from the West Coast element is always gonna be there. But it’s just about ill music, period! I mean, I know a lot of ill niggas from New York that sound like niggas from Long Beach. I know a lot of cats from Compton, Watts that sound like they’re from Brooklyn. Naamean?
Your next mixtape is “No Country for Old Men” with Crooked I…
Yeah but we gotta put that on hold. Cause you know Crooked was involved in some bullshit. Praise god that he’s alive and he’s well. Fuck the hater that did that. Right now we just need Crooked to get well. So right now it’s just about finishing up [my album] The Reformation… finishing up Detox, Xzibit’s new album, Warren G’s new album…
I don’t think I’ve ever heard you talk about the concept behind The Reformation. Where does this title come from?
The Reformation was a point in history in early Europe where the people rebelled against the law and the church to re-establish a right way of living. I look at the music business in the same way. That kind of rebellion is necessary in HipHop. It’s necessary in our society today. It’s about reforming things, destroying the old and building the new. If there are things that need to be rectified, they’re going to be rectified. It’s the rebuilding of the West Coast, it’s the rebuilding of Hip Hop - period. It takes intricate parts from East Coast, from the South, from the West, Detroit… all over! And it’s just great that everybody is feeling it and is in tune with it.
What are some things in particular you wish to reform in the music business?
The basic things. It’s about going back to originality. It’s about going back to the supreme architects of production. People should know about Large Professor, people should know about Lord Finesse, people should know about Buck Wild, people should know about Clark Kent, people should know about Primo, Selaam Remi and The Beatnuts. Stop chasing all these corny producers just because they got hits on the radio. Back in the day that wasn’t HipHop. Niggas got with the ill shit and made ill shit. I want people to start being individuals again. I want people to start getting on that Wu Tang again when niggas got with the grimiest illest shit because that was their chamber. People had their chambers of Mobb Deep, De La Soul, Tribe, Kingpin because that was their chamber. Whatever it was people had their separate universe, but we all coincided. So with “The Reformation” it’s about getting down and being about originality and being leaders and being individuals and coming with a new flavour instead of everybody sampling and borrowing and coming with the same flavour, the same technique, the same direction. We need to be about going against the grain again, being rebellious again, actually putting thought into your music, actually having a cause, saying something. Niggas aint saying nothing now. It’s all corny. You can see through niggas.
So are we likely to hear Souljah Boy on your album?
Oh (laughs), you’re funny. You know what though? No matter what people say about Souljah Boy he’s a young man and he’s doing the kind of music he loves so you can’t be mad at him. But do I listen to Souljah Boy? No! I’m a grown ass man. I come from another era of ill shit. But I love that little dude because he’s a real ass dude and he’s doing what he does. If he said that he’s better than Nas or that he’s bringing that real HipHop shit, then I would be mad at him. But he’s making fun music for the kids. That’s not the revolution. But I love that dude. We might hang out some time, we might party, I don’t fucken know. We might even do a song, who knows! (laughs)
Originally you were scheduled to come out before Em, 50 n Dre. And many people looked at your single “Grow Up” as the release that signified the beginning of the new Aftermath movement. What has happened since this release?
Well basically just label stuff. Jimmy [Iovine] wants the juggernauts first because things are just so fucked up at the label as far as red tape with deficits, you know? I was about to blast off, but Jimmy’s boss and he was like “Yo, we need these cats first before we can pour money into a new artist. We need to get this money right first with Em, 50, Detox then BOOM! The world is yours”. But I’m glad that we were at least allowed to unleash [Grow Up] for people to get a feeling for where I’m taking the movement and of what I have to give to the game. I stand alone from anything that’s come out of there yet.
I’d imagine that this situation would end up working out a lot better for you anyway as far as the momentum you get to enjoy?
Oh shit it’s beautiful. It gives me more to time to really get the album finished and really understand how everything works. I mean it’s a much higher level than what people know. I get to understand the politics and work at the biggest label in the world. It’s a whole other thing though. It’s not just about writing rhymes. You gotta be in them offices. You gotta be in the meetings with these executives. There’s a whole another level that goes with it. So it’s just made me that much more of a savvy businessman as well as another juggernaut coming into the game. It’s a beautiful thing.
That’s a really interesting point, how you can’t just be an artist any more. You have to be an entrepreneur as well…
Exactly, so I have that blessing and I’m just beasting and having a great time.
And most people are already familiar with you because you got that single out before it all went down
Right and when people bless it you get to go overseas. I aint even got an album out yet. It’s just the love. It’s just the movement and people are receiving it, so I’m back overseas again in a couple of weeks.
I can’t say (laughs) It’s a surprise! But I’ve got to come to Australia though. Xzibit was telling me about it. Warren was telling me about it. I gotta come out there.
If I got pimps out there, if I got players out there, I gotta come rock with them.
Speaking of things that are being kept hush-hush… What’s the latest update with the Bigfoot album [Detox]?
Ha! He said the Bigfoot album! Dre just went to Vegas, he’s finishing off 50’s album getting that monster ready. Em is pretty much set to go again. They’re all in Vegas, getting fucked up and making great music. So yeah, that’s what’s up with the Bigfoot album (laughs)
I think I heard somewhere that over 2000 records have been recorded in the process of creating Detox
Shit, I think it’s even more than that really. I mean he has a vault of records that he’s been dibbling and dabbling with for about ten years now. So I can’t even imagine how many more he’s got in there. Imagine doing 75 records in two nights, just vibing and zoning. There aint no telling how many he’s got. I mean after 22 years he’s like, I’ve seen that, I’ve tasted that, I’ve ate that. So he’s really gotta come with something you’ve never seen before. He’s really gotta come come with something he’s never heard before conceptually and production-wise. That’s where the bar has been set. So it’s a serious thing to do. He has to go beyond himself to get to levels that he’s teeing in his mind. It’s rare that you can achieve what you see in your mind or even come close. So to come that correctly is an arduous task.
And I understand that this work ethic has even brushed off on you where you have created over 200 records for Detox.
But my question is… what’s going to happen with all this remaining material?
I couldn’t tell you man. It’s probably gonna sit in the vault or be used for something else. I never look back though. Once it’s done I keep looking forward. Either he cuts it or it makes the cut. It is what it is. My thing is about progression. My thing is about growth. If it aint about the future what is it?
At the same time though wouldn’t you like to be able to look back at your past works when you’re not feeling so creative and just see how you were thinking at that particular time?
Man, I don’t even look back. I really don’t even care [laughs]. I swear to god. You’re living for now, so you’re looking at it like “Okay, where are we?” And if I really want to get in to that chamber I’m not even going to listen to my own stuff. That’s like looking at your own highlight films. I’m gonna go listen to Wu Tang. I’m gonna go listen to Pharaoh Monche, know what I mean? I’m gonna go listen to the old Naughty by Nature, I’m gonna listen to The Outsiders, The Fugees. That’s what I’m gonna try study if I want to think about the old days, rock some Keith Murray or something. I’m not gonna go back to my own stuff, I don’t even care about that stuff. As soon as it’s etched in stone, it’s on to the next.
Tell me about some of the artists you mess with outside of the Aftermath camp
Talib, Common, Madlib, Illa J, Percee P, XL, Raekwon, Jadakiss, Nas, there’s so many people it’s just a blessing to move in these same circles and run into these fresh niggas. Black Milk…
Black Milk is incredible. How did you guys come about doing mixtapes together?
Through my man Hex when I first met Slum Village. At the time my nigga RJ and Black Milk were still BR Gunner. And we just stayed in contact. I think the first thing we did was on the weekend of Proof’s (D12) funeral. Rest in Peace. And we did our first joint called “Go Ape”. From then it was on. It was my man Hex’ idea for us to do a whole album together, so I can’t take all the credit.
What about the more immediate people you have around you? The cats thatyou are trying to bring up?
Oh yeah. We’ve got this new Hot Box [mixtape] that Whoo Kid’s hosting with Pr1me, Dae One, Noe Spitz, G.O, JRK, Diverse, Rocket, Infa Red, Flave, Big Wise Young Dre [Dr Dre’s son], Joe Moses. I could be telling that shit all day long!
And do you plan to have a sub-label for these guys the same way Em and 50 have?
I’ve already got [my label] “Diosys”, so you know we’re putting fresh cats out. I’ve just got to rub my album off first. I’m only doing three albums, period. Then I’m getting behind the desk. Me and my partners want to build Diosys to be the label that every artist dreams of coming to. I only have so much to say that’s necessary for the doors to open and for us to converge and move to where we need to be. So I’m gonna be more on the business side. We’re gonna build a ship, from HipHop to alternative, if it’s ill we’re doing it.
What are you leaning towards as far as alternative?
Man, I don’t care! If cats can compare to this rock group I’ve found called the New Royales, there it is! If they’re ill, there it is! If it’s some ill jazz, there it is! I don’t care! I listen to everything. I’m looking for the next embodiment for all these different genres, cause right now everything has been so watered down and it’s not that revolutionary shit. It’s not that cutting edge shit. All I want to manufacture is the Mega, the amazing. I don’t want to be like other labels who say “Oh, we do HipHop and R[[[[[&]]]]]B” It’s gonna be alotta different genres.
I heard the story about how you were originally wanting to be signed Kanye West?
I can’t imagine you being on Kanye’s roster.....
(Awkward silence) … Why couldn’t you imagine that?
Because “Mohawks, tight jeans just aint you” (quoting an extract from “Grow Up”)
(Laughs hysterically) Bless your soul man. I mean again, everybody’s got their style but for me this is how I get down. But they’re family, you’d be surprised at who I get down with. It’d be the same thing if I happened to come out under Kanye, you probably couldn’t picture me being on Aftermath working with Dre. There was a time when I could have been signed with Dame Dash or Jay-Z. In the same way I’m sure you couldn’t even picture me being on Rocafella, you know
Have you had any more correspondence with The Game since you were calling him “Baby Girl”?
Nah you know what? We’re done with that. I just had to get at homie right. Homie was disrespecting me but at the end of the day I don’t believe in restless shit. I don’t have a problem with dude. Dude just does sideways shit sometimes to get attention or to feel like he’s the biggest nigga on the West Coast. I don’t get down like that. I spread love. I roll with everybody. Things are good with dude. At the end of the day, his mama and my mama go on vacation together. So I’d look real stupid if I wanted to beat this nigga up and hurt this nigga. But his other man we had to beat the shit out of at the club that night. But we good now. Sometimes you just gotta beat peoples asses to get their minds right, you know. So it’s love to that nigga. Some day you WILL see me and Game on a record together. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. His big bro [Big Fase 100] that’s my man, his little sister B-Fly that’s my little sister. So we’re all family regardless, know what I mean.
The stance you took from the start pretty much told me that ultimately you’d love to be able to just keep it peaceful and even work together.....
Yeah, ‘cause it aint shit to me. Everybody’s tryna make it on the West Coast. Everybody’s tryna do they thing. I’m about unity, so when you’ve got people causing division you gotta deal with that adequately. As much as I’m a peaceful nigga, I’m a warrior at the same time. I’m a General. I have to be setting the guidelines and organising these things correctly. That’s nothing to me. Cats wanna do records, lets do records. It’s all love. Let’s get it.
I think I read somewhere that you even tried to give Game a book on leadership?
Oh nah, that was his little man. That was someone I tried to teach. But the dudes a little gypsy rapper, the dudes a little rapist. I mean that’s one of the dudes I beat up, so we’re off of that now. It’s love for Game. But no love for bitch ass niggas. No love for cowards. No love for Judaists. We slay Judaists. That’s what that is. My arms are open. I embrace niggas with love. But if niggas want otherwise I’m gonna give you the Hannibal kind. I’m gonna give you the history of what I come from.
Haha. Like for example, what you did to DJ Strong?
Ha! DJ Thong! But let’s get off the negative though I don’t care about those dudes. We about Detox, we about the Relapse albums, we about Before I Self Destruct, we about the G-Files (Warren G’s new album)
Well then on a more positive note what else would Bishop Lamont like to achieve in his lifetime beyond music?
Just being able to provide for the communities. I’m setting up foundations now. I’m setting up a kickboxing and mixed martial arts school and some other things to keep kids out the streets. Ummm… more work in the churches, more work in politics. There’s a lot of things I want to do, that’s why my time is short in the music business. I gotta get what this is, but God has a greater plan for me. I mean some day I’ve got to return to the church being the true Bishop I’m supposed to do. There’s a lot of fresh stuff out there for me. I don’t wanna say too much else. I need to stay stupid right now. I gotta seem like I’m just another rapper. Naaameeean? (laughs)