Stat Quo is a name most people in hip-hop are familiar with, but how many people would recognize the man himself if they saw him walking down the street? According to Stat Quo, “a lot of people don’t have no idea what I look like.” This is something he’s actually learned to embrace, although things were a little different a handful of years ago.

Back in 2003 Stat Quo signed to Interscope Records and was heavily buzzed about around the same time The Game was was starting his ascent to superstardom. His album, Statlanta, kept getting pushed back, though, and in 2008 he had finally had enough and left the label to do his thing independently.

Now signed to Sha Money’s Big Dream Ventures, Stat Quo has a new outlook on the music industry, and this spring Statlanta is going to finally see the light of day. RapReviews caught up with Stat Quo while he was on the set of a commercial with Dr. Dre and found out more about his new outlook, as well as a little bit about Statlanta, a little bit about Detox, and why he’s perfectly fine not being recognized everywhere he goes.

Adam Bernard: You and The Game were developing your buzz at around the same time. Why is it that he’s basically had his entire career and you’re still waiting for yours to get jumped off?
Stat Quo: I think he had a different situation from me. 50 was hot, Jimmy (Iovine) decided to put him with 50, and G-Unit was going on and he hopped on that and that elevated itself. And let’s keep it real, there are only a couple artists that are looked at as having a certain status, and automatically when you come out under Dre you’re gonna be looked at like that. Plus, the dude is incredibly talented. He was actually at Aftermath before I got there. People don’t know that, but he was signed there before me, so it was only right that he had his opportunity to come out because he had been sittin there when I got over there, and from a standpoint financially, I’m doing pretty alright. I can’t complain. I might not walk in the mall and everybody run up and be like “oh Stat Quo,” but I’ve made a lot of money and some of the people I respect and that I look up to as artists, they respect what I’ve done and what I do, and that’s all I can really ask for. As far as Game, I’m happy about what he’s done because I think he’s a good person and he’s my dude anyway. I fuck with Game. I fuck with 50, too. I’m not the kind of person who looks at somebody else’s success and says “damn, that could be.” Nah, that’s what God intended for them. When I look at what I came from, and what I was doing before I started fuckin with music, I’ve come a long ways, man, for real, and I’m happy about it, so it’s all good.

AB: And the mall is overrated anyway. Everybody there is crazy underage. You don’t want them runnin up to you.
SQ: You know it’s just like, I told myself, and you know the saying be careful what you ask for, I told myself that I never wanted to be at a point to where I couldn’t go and do regular things. I like to do regular shit and I think it’s awkward when people just stare at you. Sometimes I forget that I rap because I do regular shit. I’ll be in the studio with Dre at night and then at the morning I’ll be at LA Fitness working out. So I’m doing regular shit and sometimes people stare at me that might know me and I’m still like what the fuck are you lookin at? I never wanted all of that. I like to stay under the radar and make my music and go about my day. I don’t want going to get gas turning into an event, you know what I’m sayin? And when you’re at a certain status, let’s say if I wanted to drive a regular ass car and I’m like the big time rapper. Say I wanted to get a Honda Accord and I’m a big time rapper and I pull up to somewhere in a Honda Accord. People are gonna be all “he don’t have any money, he’s going broke, he’s in a Honda Accord.” But when you’re under the radar you can drive, or do, what the fuck you want.

AB: In other words, fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
SQ: It’s hard to be in that position because people expect you to live this outlandish life and when they see that you’re not livin it it’s like a big deal unless you’re just so rich it doesn’t matter what you fucking drive, but most rappers aren’t as rich as people think they are. It’s a double edged sword that you deal with in this entertainment business. I’m cool where I’m at. I like where I’m at. Of course I would like to have put out a project and more people to have gotten it, but I’m getting my opportunity. Yes, it’s independent, but at the end of the day that might be what was meant for me being that I’m an independent thinker, that I have to do it on my own terms. So there it is.

AB: Has this journey been harder than you imagined it would be?
SQ: You know what, I got signed so fast in comparison to how some other people have gotten on, and some of the things that they went through to get on, I chop it up as all payin dues, I just paid my dues when I was signed. It’s all good. I’m not mad about it. It’s my journey. It’s my odyssey. Sometimes when shit is so easy and simple you don’t really appreciate it anyway. Anything worth having is worth fighting for and I fought for this and I’m happy to be in the position that I’m in. It’s beautiful.

AB: How freakin long has Statlanta been done and is there anything about it you’ve changed since you first completed it?
SQ: Oh it’s totally different. I made this album five times. I started making it one way when I first signed. It had a whole Atlanta, southern, sound to it. Then I changed it once I worked with Em. Then I went in with Dre and we made it THAT way. Then I left Interscope and I made an album minus Interscope that was a certain kind of way. It was more me trying to fit into that “I want to sell a bunch of records and sign with a new label.” Now I made it this way where it’s like I’m just gonna make music that I like. I don’t give fuck who buys it or not. If it sells one copy, or if my mom is the only one that buys it, I don’t give a fuck. This is what I like to listen to and the people that say they like my music and the shit that I’ve been putting out, they’re gonna like it, so anybody else can kiss my ass.

AB: One person who definitely likes your music is Sha Money, because as soon as he founded Big Dream Ventures he made it a point to make you one his first signings. How did that go down?
SQ: Me and him just got a great working relationship and always have been cool. I met Sha Money through the whole 50 process. I liked how he handled his shit with 50, how he did his thing, and when he was talking about doing his own thing he saw my work ethic and how I got down musically and he was like “yo, you want to get down with this shit?” I was like “hell yeah! Hell yeah I want to get down.” That’s how it all came together. He kinda lets me do my own thing with the music, do it how I want to do it. There’s a lot of pressure on artists to try to sell this and sell that, we’re just trying to make good music, period, and that’s it.

AB: What else are you working on now and when can we guaranteed hear an album from you?
SQ: The album comes out May 4th, guaranteed. I already turned it in to the company and I shot the video. I’m working on Detox with Dre. Me and Game are doing a situation called The Commission, which is me, Game, Hayes and Slim Da Mobster. It’s a group thing we’re doing. I’m also working with other artists, trying to help them with their albums. That’s pretty much what’s going on.

AB: You mentioned Detox, which is like ten years in the making. What are you allowed to leave the lab and say about it?
SQ: It’s gonna be incredible. That’s what I’m allowed to say.

AB: Is it actually gonna come out this year?
SQ: Yeah. I think so. I never would have said that before, but at this point in my life I can honestly say it’s gonna come out.

AB: Over the years you’ve seen a lot and you’ve done a lot. During that time what have you learned about label politics and what are some of the situations you now know how to avoid or get out of?
SQ: I would tell any artist that if you want to be famous sign to a label, if you want to be rich go independent {laughs}, especially if you’re dope. If you’re dope then what the fuck, what you signin to a label for? What are they gonna do?

AB: To play devil’s advocate here, the label would say “build the name.”
SQ: With the internet now you can do that on your own if your music is hot. You saw Drake. Technically he coulda went independent. The reason he didn’t was because I think he felt some kind of loyalty to (Lil’) Wayne for helping him with his career and then it’s kinda hard to turn two or three million dollars down. I don’t know how many people have been offered that kind of money, or understand how much money that is, but it’s a very difficult thing to say you know what, keep your fuckin two million dollars, I don’t want it. I can’t be mad at him, though, because I probably wouldn’t have turned down that money either. I would have said fuck that, lemme get that, lemme get that Universal, lemme get that shit.

AB: But at the same time you’re perfectly happy being independent and keeping a little bit more of your privacy and a little more of the money.
SQ: Hell yeah.

AB: Is there anything else you’d like to add about yourself or the album you have on the way?
SQ: When I do interviews they always ask me who’s gonna be on it and all that shit and I hear artists, and even me, I did it over the years, “yeah, such and such gonna be on it.” I’m not doing that this time. I’m not telling people shit about it. There are just too many ways for people to get your music for free, so I’d rather shut the fuck up. If I don’t say nothing about who’s on it at least they’ll have to research and maybe during that research they might say “you know what, let me click on this and pay for it actually.” When you’re putting something out independently you have to find new, creative, ways in order to make money and other ways to market your product, and the way that I’m choosing is to shut the fuck up and not say anything about it {laughs} and just let the music come out and if you buy it you can see who’s on it. I guess if you bootleg it, too, but hopefully people won’t do me like that.