The decision to stay indie. Obviously with a stake in your label, it’s not just a matter of credibility. What was it like for you?

It just made the most sense for what I was trying to obtain. Younger, I was definitely on some ‘Fuck major label’ shit, because I didn’t know any better, I heard all the horror stories about what the majors do, this and that. But as time went on, and I actually started meeting some of these A&R guys who were approaching me, and some of their bosses, I realized these people are not evil people. A lot of them are great guys.

Most A&R guys actually love music. And so, it’s the machine. If I’m gonna be mad at the machine, then I also have to be mad at all the gas stations and all these kids running around rocking Adidas, and I also have to be mad at you for smoking Camel Lights. The machine is the machine, regardless of what industry you’re in.

Once I realized all that, I kind of stopped the whole hater, bitter shit. Now it’s just a matter of what makes sense for what I want. I don’t want to not be able to walk down the street and buy a grapefruit juice without being harassed. I don’t want to be famous. I’ll stick to this faux fame shit.

I’ll be faux famous for as long as they’ll let me, but I’m not trying to be like Eminem, or No Doubt, any of that shit. And by no means is that me saying that I qualify or have what it takes to be those things, but it’s just saying I don’t even want to go through the machine trying to turn me into that, because in the end, let’s say I’m successful, then I’m stuck with fame, which, in its own way, is worse than money.

Money is a pain in the ass. You know, ‘Mo money, mo problems,’ however the fuck you want to call it, but it’s a resource that can be used to build things, and I see that. I was never against the labels because of money. And the way it seems, I’m able to gain the resources, being money, time, power, a voice, that I need to continue to fuel Rhymesayers, doing it just the way I’m doing it, and still be comfortable in my own skin.

So what happens if it happens for you?

If it happens because of nature, if it happens because it’s just my time, if it happens because I didn’t pay anybody to do it, if it happens because it was god’s will or whatever the fuck you want to call it, then I can’t really argue with it, and then when it comes, I’ll have to be mature about how I treat it and how I use it. But I don’t want to reach for that when I could spend my time reaching for things that are a little bit more important to me.

That seems awfully…sensible.

I don’t know if it’s sensible, because I’ve got friends that tell me I’m retarded. ‘Why wouldn’t you go for it? And if you get it and you’ve made all this money, just imagine what you could do for Rhymesayers!’ I don’t even know that this is a sensible conclusion, it’s just mine. In 10 years, we could look back on it and go, ‘Well, you did it wrong,’ or ‘Well, you did it right.’ I don’t know.

Let’s face it, I’m a pothead, and I’m a very self-analytical motherfucker, and I’ve broken down everything about my life at least 150 times a day, and so within that, with all the neurosis that comes, it’s given me a lot of time to go, ‘Oh, that makes me paranoid, I’m freaked out by that, I don’t want to do that,’ or ‘Okay, I’m comfortable with that.’

And then you stop and you wonder, why are you comfortable with some things and why are you paranoid about some things? Well obviously, my priorities go as follows. One of my priorities at this point is not being rich. Sure, if I hit lotto and get rich, it’s not like I’m gonna shoot myself in the face, but that’s not what I’m struggling for. I would much rather be a positive influence than be just another fucking rich rapper.

My outlook is shaped by what? A: probably how I grew up. B: by the people who are in my life and the people who are important to me. I don’t necessarily know if I can claim, ‘Hey, look at me, I’ve got a sensible conclusion over here!’ I think more so, this is just my path at this point, and man, fuck it, who knows? In three years maybe I’ll flip the script, go sign to Interscope and make a record with Jimmy himself, have him sing the hooks.

As of right now, I’m pretty content with where I am musically, where I am socially, where I am in the dichotomy of this whole fucking music game. I don’t know how many of my contemporaries feel that way, and so I do feel lucky in that sense.

Atmosphere will be at Irving Plaza on Oct. 14, and the Trocadero in Philly on Oct. 15. For more info, logon to rhymesayers.com

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