To say Consequence has a good work ethic would be like saying Adriana Lima is kind of good looking. Both are vast understatements. Even though he has two videos in rotation on Rap City, VH1 Soul and MTV, the man refuses to slow down. Consequence is currently finishing up The Cons Vol. 6 – The King of Queens, as well as his next official album, You Win Some, You Lose Some. He just shot a video with DJ Whoo Kid, finished up a movie titled Inside a Change, which is due out in 2009 and features Consequence both in the film and in the film’s score, and he’s readying the launch of his label, Band Camp Records. This week Consequence found enough time to sit down with us at RapReviews to fill us in on many of those projects and even talk a little Tribe Called Quest history.
Adam Bernard: Tell me about You Win Some, You Lose Some. What’s it going to be about?
Consequence: It’s a continuation in the vein of Don’t Quit Your Day Job, but the soundscape is going to be a little harder. The theme of it is about moving both from an action standpoint and from a metaphorical standpoint. The first record on the joint is called “I’ma Leave Soon” and it takes place where I’m 19 or 20, I got a girl in my room and before I actually go for the touchdown the mom character from the Day Job album busts in the room like “I know you ain’t got one of these heifers in my house!” The rap goes:
This lady’s really getting on my nerves
I wish I had a sign that said Do Not Disturb or Do Not Return
Because you’ve got to learn how to knock when you see my door locked
I’m dead serious ma, this really gotta stop
It’s not fair you charge rent
Then barge in and give orders like you’re somebody’s drill sergeant
And I’m just a private with no privacy
So in private she can’t see my privacy
So my pride should be obviously destroyed
Because the girls keep saying I’m a mama’s boy
So it’s hard to avoid
Talking under my breath
Oh I love you to death
But you’re only worried about me (inaudible)
And I’m only worried about me trying to clean up my rep
She scared away my guests like it’s a haunted house
“Well unless you want to be next, boy shut your mouth”
Mama I’ma leeeave soon.
What I’m going through with the whole narrative, it’s about moving on and standing on your own. It’s set during that time in life, when a child needs to have their own independence and grow up and really start to experience life for themselves.
AB: That’s the literal moving. What about the metaphorical moving?
Consequence: With this industry you can come into a situation where you’re a part of a collective and to take it to that next level to show people that that stardust is on your shoulders you gotta take that stand and you gotta make the moves accordingly to show people that this is where it’s at. I feel like with this next record I’m definitely going to be able to show people this is where it’s at. I’ve put in the legwork and I want to broaden the fan base for people who were not in our thing with Day Job.
“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, sometimes being a part of the Grammy Family has been a gift and a curse…”
AB: How has being a part of the Grammy Family affected things?
Consequence: I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, sometimes being a part of the Grammy Family has been a gift and a curse because on an exposure level I haven’t had as much exposure in continuance. Because I went through the Tribe situation and then the gap between that and when I kind of resurfaced with Kanye, those people who knew me from Tribe, they got older, some have children and now their children are fans, so they might not necessarily know me from that. They may know me from doing a verse on “Spaceship,” which is great and all but it doesn’t show you who I am in totality. I think now that Day Job and moving forward with You Win Some, You Lose Some people are getting a chance to gauge me for who I am and that is a great position because now I can be judged on what the content of the music is. Now I do have a face. It was basically with Day Job starting from zero as opposed to starting from a kid coming from A Tribe Called Quest. It’s a bloodsport out there. At the end of the day anybody will tell you what they want to tell you. It’s a gladiator sport, kill or be killed, and when you’re on a record with somebody who’s got a great win-loss record in the arena you gotta go for the deathblow.
AB: You create whole concept albums rather than singles. A lot of artists go the other way and focus on making single and getting the iTunes downloads. What keeps driving you to make full albums?
Consequence: I can’t approach a record without trying to make it the best record that I can make it. I’m a human being, so I’m going to make a mistake here and there, but I know with the intentions that I go in with using my brush and my canvas and it’s to paint the best picture possible, to make the best piece of art possible. When it comes to approaching the microphone and being an MC, that lives with me. The experience of being in the studio with Tribe, that doesn’t just go away. Even working with Common, or Kanye, or John Legend, or Musiq, it still excites me. With that kind of love and passion for something you’re going to try to do your best. I also cook. I’m very good at cooking and I would just give someone a burger with a dry piece of cheese on it, I’ma melt the cheese, put onions on it. It’s the same with making a record. Even with Take Em to the Cleaners, that was an independent mixtape, but is arguably in the top 100 albums of the 21st century so far, that’s because I don’t really know how to just make one record and then have nine duds on it. I don’t know what that is. I don’t come from that school of thought. When I approach making an album I approach it from a level where I want to get the most accolades I can get for the whole work. I’m still a fan of rap and I love it when I’m able to put in a CD or buy an album off of iTunes and be able to listen to ten great records. I like when I get an album from an artist and I like three songs that aren’t even the single like yo this is crazy, I know this is next!
AB: Yeah, that’s a good feeling.
Consequence: It’s a GREAT feeling! For the consumer at large that’s the feeling that you want to have when you get a record. I’ll give you an example. I remember when I first got (D’Angelo’s) Brown Sugar. When I heard “Lady” I was like oh my gosh, b! And that’s the passion that I have with records and that’s the passion I have when I make records. That’s the joy that I hope to be able to give to somebody with this next record and that’s the joy that I hope somebody took away when they heard Don’t Quit Your Day Job, like they heard “Disperse” and were like “that’s my shit.” That’s why I’ve been so adamant about promoting this record and I went to the lengths to get “Feel This Way” shot, because I knew “Feel This Way” was such a great record. Shout out to John because he’s always been a fan of what I do, we were roommates on the road for the first couple of tours with Kanye and he’s always supported me then. He definitely looked out, he’s in a space where he doesn’t have to do a Consequence video. It doesn’t, on a commerce level, do anything for him. This is being real. This is me saying it, this is Consequence saying it. What is it going to do for John Legend at this point? He doesn’t need to do a Consequence video, but just him having that understanding for what that song is and what the music is and what I bring to the table he was more like I got you, let’s do it.
“First and foremost my faith in God. Me practicing Islam has definitely given me patience.”
AB: You started your career back when a lot of Hip-Hop’s current audience weren’t alive yet, 1993, but didn’t get to release your first official solo album until just last year. What got you through those 14 years?
Consequence: First and foremost my faith in God. Me practicing Islam has definitely given me patience. Me having that faith and having ascertained wisdom over the years I’ve learned to be patient, I’ve learned some of the untold rules to what this industry is. This is an industry of valleys and peaks. I was young when I joined Tribe, I was 16 when I did “The Chase,” which would make me an artist damn near like Kriss Kross without the pop. I learned a lot of things being in Tribe, but the thing is, and I’ve gone on record and said this before, they were already essentially breaking up when I came in for Beats, Rhymes and Life and there was confusion to my addition because that was a decision Q-Tip had made himself and then brought it to Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad as far as this is what the movement is. When you’re in a group, even being the leader of a group…
AB: You still make decisions as a group.
Consequence: Yes. The number one job of a leader is to communicate. The guy’s surrounding you have to know what the next move is and be in agreement wholeheartedly or you’re going to have a situation and that’s kind of what happened with Beats, Rhymes and Life. At the end of the day I was a little disappointed in the final product because it was bittersweet for me. This being my set up, even back then being 18 I knew what setting up an artist was. You saw EPMD set up Redman. You saw Dr. Dre bring out Snoop. 3rd Bass brought out Nas, to me. With Tribe and the reverence people had for them it was like this shit, I’m about to be outta here! Once I got into the group, though, everything wasn’t all good. You gotta understand that I was never removed from Tribe, I walked away from it because I was on the inside. The only thing I’m saying to my fault is that I was so connected to it that it hurt me from a business level. Me being so into it, my heart being into it, I couldn’t just say “well, that’s on ya’ll, I’m doing what I’m doing.” Sometimes I wish I would have taken that position because as a man that was my right, I could have taken that position. In any business situation there’s a start and there’s an ending and I just feel like maybe I let it go to long because of my immaturity.
AB: The biggest bumps and hurdles for artists right now are that album sales are terrible. Having been in the industry so long, does the current situation with album sales surprise you, or did you see it coming?
Consequence: Well, it definitely ain’t the 90’s no more. I think that people were became spoiled and basically the music industry overdid it. They kept giving people garbage. They kept setting these people up with no back story, nothing for the consumer to buy into and then it bottomed out. The out to all that shit was downloading. I don’t have to get beat anymore. Because people will still buy records, they just aren’t buying the bullshit anymore because they don’t have to. That’s what downloading did for the consumer. I don’t have to be duped into buying anything anymore. It’s the same thing that Pro Tools did for producers. Producers took the hit first, and nobody ever really speaks about this. Producers would just sell a beat, would just get a first half for a beat and you ain’t even have a record done to it, but just to secure that people were just throwing money around like yo, let me just buy this. I feel bad for producers that they took that hit in the economy but at the same time why even buy a beat if it isn’t a guaranteed record? Why even buy an album if there ain’t no guarantee that you’re gonna like it? With producers people started two tracking, like I can two track this, put it on a mixtape and if it’s really worth me buying then I’ll take care of that later, but as of right now this might not even be worth me buying it, it’s kind of up in the air. And this was producers who were selling shit for $25,000. That’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of money for an artist to have a beat sitting that they have to recoup on that essentially is never going to see the light of day. Everything that you spend money on you’re supposed to make money on. If the Knicks go out and get whoever…
“If I’m gung ho about some shit and I buy ten beats and I only get two records out of it then it’s like damn.”
AB: Yeah, they’ve done at a lot in the last few years, get “whoever.”
Consequence: And if you do that and don’t win then you’re not getting what you bought. Me as a rapper, if I’m gung ho about some shit and I buy ten beats and I only get two records out of it then it’s like damn. You can’t move forward with your economics that way.
AB: I think you just compared a lot of MCs to Jerome James. Sorry, I’m a long suffering Knicks fan. Can you tell?
Consequence: Well, you know there are more rappers out here being constructed and there’s more business being done the way the Knicks do business than the way say the Celtics or the Lakers have been doing business this season. A lot of motherfuckers have been playing with money, everybody ain’t been playing to win. It allows for somebody to sit here and figure out how to make five videos and get it poppin. I didn’t even talk to you guys when I put the first record out, and there are a lot of people I didn’t talk to when I put the first record out that I’m talking to now, because I was doing business like the Knicks. I ain’t doing it like that no more. Hopefully we’ll continue to move in a positive direction.
AB: Just don’t work with Isaiah Thomas, that’s all I ask.
Consequence: And more or less just work.