Stat Quo (June 2009) | Interview By:
Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser
So many hip-hop fans are familiar with Stat Quo’s Shady/Aftermath history, and the controversy
surrounding his overly-delayed project. To a label surrounded by the elite giants—the three-headed
monster known as Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent—Stat came, he saw, and he seemingly failed to conquer.
He sat frustrated for years waiting for his music to be brought to the world, to no avail.
Now, speaking from the heart about Eminem, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine and everything
far and in between, a humble (but true and transparent) Stat Quo opens up to share his side of the
story with Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser for this Dubcnn exclusive.
Without sacrificing his respect for those involved, Stat speaks candidly about his journey seeking
the emancipation of his art, in what turned out to be an undoubtedly controversial conversation. And
seeing how this interview took place in California, we thought it only appropriate to include his song
“In California” produced by Focus. Don’t miss this.
Also, make sure you pick up his newly released street album Smokin’ Mirrors.
As ever, be sure to leave your feedback in our forums or email them to email@example.com.
Stat Quo – “In California” (Produced By: Focus)
Dubcnn: Have you talked to Eminem or Dr. Dre since the falling out or whatever?
it wasn't a falling out, but no, I haven't talked to them. I have spoken to other
artists and people at the label [Shady Records]. I think Em kind of expected me to be
bitter about the whole situation, but when he was sick and I sent him a card, I think
that kind of threw him for a loop. I ain't that kind of dude, this is a business and
I understand that and I'm not going to sit around and be bitter, that’s just not my
style. If they were talking shit about me it would be different, but it's cool and I
fuck with them. We are cool from my understanding. If I see them out in the streets,
it's all love, I’ll ask Em and Dre about their kids, and they would do the same…
Dubcnn: So when did you realize that nothing was going to happen and it was time for
you to bounce? Was there a specific instance or event that made you realize that Stat Quo
and Statlanta weren't going to come out through Shady/Aftermath?
You know what did it for me and made me realize that it wasn't going to work out was
when Busta Rhymes album [The Big Bang] didn't sell a lot of records. I knew how much Dre
put into that album, as far as time and production, and when it didn't sell great, I knew
he was going to fall back into his shell and I was going to have to seek other means. But,
that album didn't do well because it wasn't marketed properly. If you remember when
Touch It and the Touch It Remix came out, there was a big controversy
around Busta and he should have put his album out right then, if so, he probably sells
half a million or so in the first week because the buzz would have been so crazy. What
they did was wait too long, because from my understanding, it was taking Dre so long to
get the shit mixed down and mastered and tight to where he was cool with it and, at that
point, the buzz died down and the album didn't do that well.
Busta is one of my favorite rappers and that was one of his best albums ever, so he should
have sold way more than that, but when they came with the I Love My Chic, the overall
success wasn't what was anticipated then. I knew Dre was going to shut down and shit was going
to get extra crazy. The Re-Up came and did well, like 2 million worldwide, and I got
some confidence that maybe I was going to get a shot, but then I had a conversation with Em
about how he wanted to put his record out and I heard Jimmy [Iovine] talking to Dre, Em, and 50
about how they wanted to put out their records, so at that point, I pretty much realized that I
wasn't going to put out a record with them. From a business standpoint, it makes sense for Jimmy
and them to put out a 50 cent, Eminem and Dr Dre record before you put out a Stat Quo record.
Dubcnn: Speaking on that, how correct is some of the public perception that Jimmy Iovine is
fucking up Aftermath [Entertainment] and Shady [Records] by letting all those cats go like Rakim,
Busta [Rhymes], Obie [Trice], you, and everybody else?
Jimmy is not fucking anything up. He is one of the few executives that actually has an
ear. He knows the business and he can pick out a hit record. Jimmy is handcuffed just like
the rest of us; he is at the mercy of Dre. Dre is going to put music out when Dre wants to
put music out, if it is not perfect in his eyes, it's not coming out. People need to look
at the position Jimmy is in, because he wants Dre to put out an album, too, from both a
business and a fan standpoint. Then you got Em who puts out music, but he has a lot of
personal issues in his life, like with Proof, who was my friend, too… so it's hard to only
talk about music with all the personal issues going on. The label can only carry so many
artists, so they almost had to let people go like Busta, and Obie, and myself. From a business
standpoint, you can't carry all kinds of artists if their records aren't a priority for the
label. The priority is Em, Dre, and 50, so it doesn't make sense for Stat Quo or any of those
other guys to stay with the label. They pushed back the 50 record, so when is that coming out?
From a label standpoint, when you go from like 9 to 10 million—even 25 million—down to 3 to
4 million records, that a big hit. Jimmy is waiting on Dre just like us; he said, “Aftermath
is the greatest tragedy of all time.” He said that was when the [New England] Patriots were
doing their thing, he said that Dre is like if Tom Brady decided that he didn't want to play on
Sundays, only practice. Tom Brady is killing it and you're like, man, he is the best, why isn't
he playing on Sundays and he's like, nah, I'm not going to do it, man, I'm just going to practice.
Football sucks and Tom Brady is over here killing it, but he won't play in the game, ya know. From
an executive standpoint, that shit got to eat you alive, ya know. I couldn't imagine being in
Jimmy’s shoes. He isn't fucking anything up; he is dealing with shit like us. Dre said it to me
"Stat I do shit when I want to do it and I've made music in this business to where I can live
like that." So you have to respect that. He talks to people and sees people when he wants to.
Dre is a very complicated man…
Dubcnn: When you hear that conversation, doesn’t that seem unfair because, yeah they have the
massive sales history, but you and some other people have never had the chance to get that sales
Yeah to me, my real album should have come out a year or maybe a year and a half after I
signed. It would have sold ridiculously and I could have become part of that group, like we going
to put the Stat album out… we going to put the Game album out, ya know, but we missed the boat. It
was a wave and that wave isn't the same anymore. People like different shit now [because] hip-hop
fans are so fickle and they change like the weather. 50 knew that shit and took advantage of it. His
shit was hot, but it was like fire for what the fans were into at that time. Dre is about more than
going platinum… With Dre, it’s more about being iconic with him, but what he doesn't understand is
its always going to be iconic because it is him. He is the icon that puts out icons, so if he had put
out a record at that time, it would have been colossal. Everyone gets their spurt. You remember when
everything Ja Rule put out was a smash? Now, today, everything T-Pain and Akon drops is a smash. 5
years from now, you don't know who is going to be running the game, so you got to take advantage. Plies,
everyone wants to talk shit about him, but he did what DMX did; he put out 2 records in a year and he is
riding that wave and he knows whatever he puts out is going to be a smash. You have to ride that wave;
they didn't ride that wave when it came to me and the other artists and it was a bad business move and
we all missed out on a substantial amount of money. If I was just on Shady Records, I would have
dropped my album I think, but when you put the dynamic of Dre in the equation, it's going to be dope,
but who knows when it's going to get done.
Dubcnn: From a general perception, I thought for sure that after the verse you dropped on Eminem’s
Encore album [“Spend Some Time”] that your album was going to be coming out shortly after…
It made sense, but Dre is one of those genius's that you will never understand – and I’m not
saying it’s totally Dre’s fault. People might say, well Stat can't write a hit, but Stat can
right good songs and we could have put out a great CD with all kinds of good songs on it, because
we weren't selling the CDs then, we were selling the perception of Shady/Aftermath – the whole
entity and brand. The precedent had already been set and all we had to do was stay in that lane;
behind the Em albums and the Dre albums and 50s albums – just keep with that kind of music and it
would have sold like crazy. You remember when Bad Boy was on their wave, and everything they made
was selling like crazy? Everything that Puff put out was selling crazy, because it was all similar
music and they were selling the vibe of Bad Boy Records and Puff made millions…but I guess that they
are so rich, that a couple extra hundred don't mean nothing.
Dubcnn: I agree…
I told them going in the door, I said ya’ll got the game on lock, you got Dre and Cali, Em
and the Midwest, 50 and New York, and I'm from the South. I'm from Atlanta and can you imagine
them coming down south and rocking? They would shut it down; the whole state of Georgia, right
on Peachtree in downtown Atlanta, but I guess they didn't see that. I'm still going to make it
in this game and I'm still going to do my thing and I still got love for them and it's all going
to come full circle…
Dubcnn: A lot of people speculate that Bishop Lamont might get dropped…
He leaked that Dre record and the rest of the label weren’t behind that record, and they
didn't want him to put that song out, even though it was hot. The record didn't do anything
because the rest of the label wasn't behind it. Dre didn't like it. I called Bishop when I heard
that record and was like "yo that the shit" and I was pumped about it, but Dre obviously
felt differently… so that record didn't get where it was supposed to go. When an artist comes out,
everyone has to be 100% behind that artist and that project, or the project it is doomed to fail.
Another reason I don't work there anymore is that the people don't want a Bishop Lamont album…
They want Detox, Relapse and Before I Self Destruct. So the stockholders who want those albums and
when the rich, I mean the billionaires in this game start to suffer, then they are not feeling that.
They don't care about Stat Quo or Bishop or anything else, all they want is Eminem and Dre and that
is it. The business side of me understands that, but the artistry part of me is upset. As a business
person, I can only respect the move that is going to bring in more dollars, but I feel like it’s
about more than money, so I had to split… its 90% business, 5% creative and 5% perception of the
music. You're not buying the music, you’re buying the person. The shareholders want their money and
they know that Eminem, 50 cent, and Dre will sell lots of records.
Dubcnn: Prior to you leaving, was there anything that you worked on, or any indication that
you were going to still be on a part of any of those records?
I was supposed to be on all of them but 50's record…and I'm pretty sure now that I'm not going
to be on any of the upcoming albums. But who knows, Dre might use some of the things that I wrote
for the album, but I have no idea really. I don't have to lie anymore; I can be honest with people.