He’s one of the founding members of Mobb Deep and for Big Noyd this is the year he hopes to finally have the opportunity to make an impact. Fans may not have heard much of Noyd’s work other than his appearances on Mobb Deep albums, but this week he sat down with RapReviews.com to give the full story on why that has been the case. Noyd also revealed what he feels has accounted for Mobb Deep’s incredible longevity and in what ways he sees himself bridging the gap between being hard and being musical. According to Noyd “it’s like Noyd reinventing himself for ’08.”

Adam Bernard: Let’s start with the new album, Illustrious. What makes it and you illustrious?
Big Noyd: I’m feeling good and it’s a situation where it’s a new thing. You don’t find me on MTV, I’m no millionaire, but statistically where I come from at this point I’m supposed to be dead or in jail, so for me to be here right now on the phone doing interviews with you, on the road promoting my new album, I’m shining, man, so that’s what makes me illustrious.

AB: I noticed the songs are all about three minutes long. Was it intentional to keep your songs shorter?
Big Noyd: This album right here is really my real solo album. Usually everybody hears me on songs with Mobb Deep and they’re great songs, but it’s really about me with this one, that’s why these songs are three minutes in and out.

AB: After being in the game for over fifteen years why isn’t your catalogue bigger?
Big Noyd: With a lot of my projects it seemed like if it wasn’t for bad I wouldn’t have no luck at all. My first deal was with Tommy Boy. It was one of the biggest, $350,000, deals back then. Unfortunately I got locked up and my album wasn’t even a whole LP, it was an EP. I didn’t even get a chance to finish my whole album, man. I really lost out on a great opportunity, so that was one situation. Thank God I made it home, got back on my feet, got back to doing songs with Mobb Deep, got my name back out there. Then came Only The Strong with Landspeed. By the time I had finished my album and was ready to go and promote it and really blow up this time Landspeed got shut down, they got sued by Interscope for putting gout some music with 50 that they weren’t supposed to and it shut the whole company down right when my album was supposed to come out. By the time my album got to the stores it wasn’t a label no more. That fucked me. I didn’t have no promotion. Being in the game so long, I should be a lot further. I still have stuff on my chest that I want to get out there, man.

AB: As most people know you are an official member of Mobb Deep, you have the tattoo, you were on their first album.
Big Noyd: I’m on every album except Blood Money and that was nothing personal it was just a situation where they (G-Unit Records) brought Mobb Deep in and once they got established he (50 Cent) was gonna bring the whole crew in. It’s just unfortunate that they didn’t sell the records that everybody expected them to sell and a domino effect happened. But when it comes to me and my family we’re brothers for life. Like you said, I have the dragon on my hand and we’re taking that to the grave.

“A lot of artists who you hear and have great music, or great singles, they’re mimicking music that they hear on the radio or they see on TV.”

AB: Why do you feel you’re all still relevant over 15 years since your inception, during which time we’ve seen entire subgenres of Hip-Hop come and go?
Big Noyd: Because, and this is real talk, it’s because a lot of artists who you hear and have great music, or great singles, they’re mimicking music that they hear on the radio or they see on TV. They’re trying to be that. We came in the game and we invented a sound. We’re carrying that out and it’s real, it’s tradition, it’s not something that we’re trying to copy because we saw someone else do it because when you do a situation like that, when the music and the times change people be caught in the middle because they don’t know how to transition themselves. It like, OK, what are they gonna do now? Are they gonna follow the next person that’s hot? We don’t have to do that, we created our own sound. We created our own language, we created the Dunn language. We created our own style. We created our own Hip-Hop; a style of dress, a style of talk, a style of walk, so if anything it’s only gonna get bigger because you’re gonna have people that are gonna try to follow us, what we created, what we do. That’s why we’ve been able to stay in the game so long.

AB: I noticed with Illustrious the production has evolved a bit, or at least tweaked slightly.
Big Noyd: Everybody’s used to hearing me on that Queensbridge sound, but this time around I switched the whole game plan up and my whole album is executive produced my Lil’ Fame from M.O.P. He’s still hardcore Hip-Hop because M.O.P. is right up our alley, but at the same token it’s a completely different sound than the norm that you’re used to hearing me on. That alone made my music sound completely different than it has in the past. Fame executive produced the whole album and not only just the production, even helping me come up with concepts of songs, helping me come up with hooks, even helping me pick beats from other producers, so he played a big part in it.

AB: That’s a bit of a poetic link up, too, since weren’t M.O.P. also on G-Unit for a minute?
Big Noyd: Yeah, actually I think M.O.P. is still singed to G-Unit. That’s why even though he executive produced the album you don’t hear him rhyming on it. He’s on one song and he’s actually just doing the hook.

AB: How are thing’s looking for Prodigy?
Big Noyd: I’ve been seeing P, he’s not in (jail) as of yet, they actually gave him an extension and he’s working on HNIC 2. P’s a strong dude, he’s gonna be alright. Hopefully he can take something positive out of this negative situation where maybe he can number one get his health together because he won’t be in the streets drinking and smoking and doing certain things that he would be able to do when he’s home and hopefully, you know he wrote the Murda Muzik movie that we had done so hopefully he’ll pick up a pen and a pad and write another script and just try to take something positive out of a negative situation.

AB: We spoke around the time On The Grind was hitting the streets and you mentioned how you’re really not cool with all the gunplay going on. Have you found a way to curtail this, at least within your own life?
Big Noyd: Oh yeah definitely and to be honest you mentioning that right now it brings me back. I do kind of remember us and the interview because I remember saying it. It is a struggle. It’s where I come from. It’s a part of life, but I definitely don’t condone it. As much as you may hear it in my music I don’t really condone that gun. Walking around with guns, being bigger than your britches, and trying to show someone you’re a tough guy… a tough guy is taking care of your family to me. The sad part about it is you’d rather get caught with it than without it, you know what I mean? You don’t want to get caught with your pants down, so it’s kind of like they force your hand to be that way. What I do is I just stay out of places where I know it can pop off at any minute. I’m not scared to go there or nothing, it’s just I’m at a point in my life where I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I don’t gotta worry about what anybody believing, like Noyd don’t keep it real, he don’t be in these type of places because I’ve raised half of these bitch ass niggas that’s even talking about how they’re gangster. They grew up listening to my music. I made them want to wear their hat to the back, so I ain’t gotta prove nothing to nobody about my life. I understand that sometimes people gotta go through it and they gotta learn on their own through experience sometimes to get it through their heads, but it doesn’t bother me when people say that Noyd don’t be in certain places because I don’t. When I know there’s a certain area where there’s a lot of drama going on I try to stay away, man. It’s like I said, keeping it gangster to me is raising my daughter, man, and hopefully being around one day to see her get married and do something great.

“I think the lack of album sales is that people are not appreciating the artists’ work anymore.”

AB: You’re releasing Illustrious at a time when album sales are pretty poor across the board. What are your thoughts on this situation?
Big Noyd: I think the lack of album sales is that people are not appreciating the artists’ work anymore. It’s like why pay for it, especially when they’re only expecting two or three songs to be good on an album. The same thing with the artists, they’re not appreciating that there are fans out there that want to enjoy a whole album and not just you talking about you got all this bling and you’re a gangster where you live. Lyrically you can put songs together and people will enjoy themselves instead of just worrying about what set you’re repping, or what hood you rep. There are still a lot of people out there who enjoy music and that’s why a lot of artists like Common and Kanye that are doing well, it’s because it’s that feel good music and they’re not trying to be tough all the time.

AB: It’s less of surprise now when an artist like Common debuts at number one.
Big Noyd: Right. And a while ago I remember a while ago it was nothing but gangster rappin and it was hard for somebody like Common. People are getting sick of the same old same old and even though I still represent that I’m never going to forget or turn my back on where I come from, I represent the ghetto, I represent the hustle, but at the same token I’m trying to make music, I’m not just making raps.

AB: So do you feel you’ve bridged that gap?
Big Noyd: I think within myself I have. Like I said, I’m not afraid to tell somebody that I don’t go to them fucking clubs where there are supposedly gangsters at. I don’t mind telling somebody I don’t hang out there, I’m over here where they’re playing R&B all night and at the same token I have enough respect that they’re not gonna just diss me or disrespect me because it would take two minutes for me to get on some gangsta shit and a put a nigga in they place, but if I don’t have to I don’t want to.