Everyone knows about Cam, Jim Jones and Juelz Santana, but how many folks know about Freekey Zekey, the President of Diplomat Records? While the rest of Dip Set was getting famous Freekey was stuck doing a nearly three year bid. Released this past November, Freekey is back on his grind and this week we sat down with him to talk about what’s been going on since his release, his deal with Asylum Records, and the steps The Diplomats take to make sure they continue to be a successful team.
Adam Bernard: So what’s been going on?
Freekey Zekey: Basically everything. I’m happy that something is going on, period, you know what I’m saying? There’s a lot of people who don’t get this opportunity. Right now we got an album coming that’s gotta be turned in by April so maybe a May / June debut. We got a couple of dump truck companies that are about to open in a few minutes. I don’t really want to go into depth with that because it’s not all the way solidified. Soon as one of my other dudes come home we’re going to start a real estate firm called Back To Back LLC.
AB: I don’t know, waste management and real estate, sounds like some Tony Soprano stuff going on there.
FZ: (laughs) I don’t want to be over there, the feds love it over there so I’m just staying at regular eye level but making Soprano money, though.
AB: You know what, I’m sure you’ve done a billion interviews that have asked you the same boring questions, so tell me, what’s really important to Freekey Zekey?
FZ: What’s very important to me is to maintain my company, to keep it afloat, and to add some more success to it. Due to the fact that I feel I never got an opportunity to show how talented I am, how charismatic I am, and I really just want to add to the legend of people who come out with music and thousands and millions and fans enjoy it.
“It was basically me running the streets trying to keep Diplomat Records afloat…”
AB: You mentioned you fell. For those who may not know, why haven’t you had an album come out yet?
FZ: Actually I was going to do an album, it was called Stop Callin, but due to my incarceration it got pushed back three years. It was basically me running the streets trying to keep Diplomat Records afloat because even though we were in videos looking good the glitter wasn’t really gold because once we were with Sony, when Cam did his two albums with Sony, Un was running Untertainment under the label we was on, he made a lot of wrong moves and put us in debt, $4.4 million, and no Key Food job, no regular Foot Locker job would have gotten us out of that. I hit the streets for a cause, it wasn’t so much to glorify the fact that being in the streets is something that you need to do and that’s the hot, hip thing, it was actually to feed my family and keep us afloat. Thanks to Dame (Dash), he saw how hard we was going and he brought us out of our debt. Unfortunately during that time I got nabbed by the police.
AB: How long ago did you get out?
FZ: I got out a couple days before Thanksgiving 2006.
AB: How has your life changed since you got out?
FZ: First of all I feel as if I’m doing something that a lot of artists, I won’t say can’t do, or haven’t had the pressure of doing, but when I got out of jail, I call it the hoosegow, in seven days I already was signed to Asylum Records for a multimillion dollar deal. The pressure got laid on me because they said I had to have a complete, done, album by April. Usually when you get signed to a deal they give you eight months to a year to complete it so I’m just going so hard that it’s ridiculous. What else changed is that I’m living it up now because I never got a chance to really ball out like how we wanted to. We always had money but not to the extent of buying like four, five, six cars, getting two houses, running around and flying out spontaneously. That’s what really came into my life when I came home, plus the love of all my peoples, which was really good to me because once you got to jail it’s really out of sight and out of mind and even though people say they loved you and when you’re around they do little things to show the love, when you got to jail it’s like poof, you’re gone and so are they, but that didn’t happen with Diplomats. That’s what really kept me striving and feeling like prospering. That can be an emotional breakdown if you work so hard to try to keep your people’s alive and then when you go down they just turn your back on you. A lot of people have mental breakdowns but that didn’t happen, it was the exact opposite. My life changed and opened my heart up to really see that people do love you.
“I’m not going to lie I used to be crazy. I’m still crazier than a muthafucka…”
AB: What do you feel are the main differences between how people view you and how you really are?
FZ: I’m not going to lie I used to be crazy. I’m still crazier than a muthafucka, but like back in the day of “Horse and Carriage,” just to get the audience’s attention I used to dress up in a one piece Superman suit, size medium, and I was like 200 pounds back then. People were like “what in the hell is this dude doing? This guy here is crazy.” But after a while people were shouting “where’s Superman? Where’s Superman?” So the craziness worked. I’m real spontaneous, but at the same time I am the President of Diplomat Records so I’ve gotta buckle down and get in my book sense and read everything with the lawyers, talk to other CEOs. Me, Cam and Jim (Jones) sit down and have meetings about what we’re going to do for each quarter. So it’s like I fluctuate with my attitude and my charisma. There’s no one way to describe me because there’s never two days in a row where I’ll act the same. I like to have fun but I’m real business minded.
AB: You mentioned “Horse and Carriage,” and earlier you mentioned Untertainment, so I have to ask, where is Charli Baltimore?
FZ: She’s gonna be on the next milk carton in the XXL in about two minutes. I don’t know. I don’t know where she went and I don’t know how she got there. Maybe she doesn’t either because she’s lost.
AB: I always thought she was dope.
FZ: Word, she was doing her thing! But when they dropped Untertainment they dropped her and a couple of other people.
AB: Yeah, then she went to Murder Ink and they got canned.
FZ: Yeah they got canned, like literally, the real step on the garbage and the top open up and they slammed em in there and shut it tight and put cement over it shut down. She just been having bad breaks, sometimes it’s like that. We did, too, but we pushed on, we didn’t allow the situation to mess us up and we learned from everything. We found whythis happened to us, why we didn’t get no money, why we was indebted. We went in and studied that and wrote that down and we’d always go to meetings, me, Cam and Jim, and discuss what happened to us and what we needed to do to change it. We weren’t just artists, we always stayed business minded, but I think that comes from being, I won’t just say just from Harlem, but when you’re from Harlem you always try to think of a way to better a situation and get a dollar up faster than anything on earth. That’s probably what happened to us, we’d seen our mistakes and corrected em right there. A lot of artists don’t do that, they just stay in the artist zone, they don’t get into their business. Next thing you know you’re back in the projects stepping on them roaches you left a couple months ago.
AB: Yeah and the roaches, they can laugh.
FZ: Word up, and they look at you like you crazy like “why are you back here and you know I’ve been living here and you’re just gonna to try to come back and take over? We’re gonna come out when you have company all the time.”
“I bring in how people sometimes should pray to get their mind right because life without prayer can be messed up…”
AB: You have the solo album you’re working on, how will it be different from your work with The Diplomats?
FZ: How I’ma be different, I guess it’s gonna be my style. I’m talking about people not having fathers, the life of that. I bring in how people sometimes should pray to get their mind right because life without prayer can be messed up for you. And I keep it all in a street type format so people can actually learn how to fix their mistakes. I’m trying to formulate a blueprint for my people that’s out in the street who’s mothers and aunts and grandmothers be like “don’t go out there, you’re gonna end up dead or in jail,” and he be like “I know, but I know what I’m doin,” and he goes out there anyways. My album at least is going to show you and let you hear my mistakes that I’ve made, so if you hear that and you’re getting ready to do that maybe you’ll think “oh shit, this nigga went to jail for this, let me do thisinstead.” That might save one or two people from doing a whole lotta time. That hoosegow, that jail, is NO JOKE. That’s my word. I don’t want to go there ever times a billion trillion evers again. We be in there like let me outta here PLEASE!
AB: Finally, there have been some high profile beefs for The Diplomats, but the Cam vs. 50 thing seems to have quieted down. Is it over?
FZ: Cam really, I’d say he’s playing on defense because of the fact that he didn’t initiate the situation. 50 came out his mouth talking about how Koch Records is the graveyard and he can smash the head dude on Koch and Cam took offense because he felt he was shootin at Jim because Jim is on Koch Records and right now “Ballin” is the number one song, so he felt that he took a shot at Jim. Cam did what any older brother would do while his little brother ain’t around and he defended him. After that it was on and poppin. 50 came out with some lame shit and Killa came out with CUUUUUUUUUUURTIS!
AB: I felt bad for everybody with the name Curtis after that song came out. You know there’s some poor guy at Best Buy, he walks in and his boss is like “CURTIS!”
FZ: (laughs). People were so mad, callin their moms like “Why did you name me Curtis!” What if your girl screams like CURTIS! Get outta here. You look like a monkey with rabbit teeth. He went extra hard on that, but he’s just gonna stay on defense. He said what he said, he smashed 50 on that on, he was waiting for 50 to come back and 50 came back with some nonsense again so it’s on and poppin. It’s like we don’t care. We love the beef. We’d rather just get money but please don’t cross the line because that’s what we’ve been doing all our lives, battling through everything. Being in the projects, having the older guys take the basketball from us, we gotta chase them down, someone ask for a ride on your bike and doesn’t come back for a week, so fightin just been a part of our lives. We didn’t want it but we always gotta do what we gotta do to defend ourselves when it’s time to be that way so we just enjoy it. Plus battling been going on since KRS-One so it’s just a part of the rap game. KRS-One, MC Shan, LL, Eminem, Nas, everybody battles. I think it’s fun, it keeps us alive, it keeps us interested, so that’s cool. And people got too much money now, man. 50’s not gonna come out with the mask on and a big tech waitin on the corner to shoot it out with Killa. We’re past that. It’s just competition with two guys that are major right now, but if anybody else cross the line we all jumpin in. Right now it’s just 50 and Killa and that’s how Killa want it. If anybody else jumps into the situation you already know we in there like swimwear.