Slaine has been one of Boston hip-hop’s favorite sons for quite some time. Whether it’s been his work as a solo artist, or as a member of La Coka Nostra, and Special Teamz, his fierce style, and vivid rhymes, have attracted a passionate fan base. With his latest album The Boston Projecthitting stores today, RapReviews caught up with Slaine to find out more about album, and what it means for his home city. Slaine also discussed dealing with an ever changing hip-hop world, and how a sudden influx of young fans might be influencing him in the near future.

Adam Bernard: The new album is The Boston Project. Isn’t everything you do technically a Boston project?

Slaine: Yeah, but this is different because I wanted to work with everybody that I came up with. Boston’s a really hard place to make it out of as an artist, I think, and I have so much respect for, and came up around, so much talent in Boston. I really just wanted to do a whole album about Boston with all the different voices. I’m not the only voice for Boston, so this is a story I felt needed many narrators.

AB: These are a lot of artists you know and have respect for, but you wouldn’t classify this grouping as a crew, right?

S: No, it’s not a crew at all. Most of the people on there I have existing friendships with, some people are acquaintances, or people who have come up in the scene at the same time. There are some kids on there who are younger kids that I thought were dope that I just put on. I’m on every song, but these are collaborations with different Boston artists. That was the concept of the album. Everyone who came into the studio, it was “I’ll meet you there at eight.” Boom, come through, start the session at eight, have some drinks, build the concept, build the beat on the spot, write everything on the spot, make the hook, and we walked out of there with the finished song by the end of the night with every single one of those songs. There were maybe two sent in verses, but 95% of the record was all done on the spot.

AB: When someone listens to this album, what do you want them to think of Boston’s scene?

S: I think it’s undeniable that there’s a wealth of talent on the album, and I think there’s a lot of different styles, too. That’s why I had one producer produce pretty much the whole thing. I knew everybody had different styles and different lanes, so I needed to move towards people’s styles a little bit. Also, like you do with any artist, you make a collaboration that works for all parties involved. Lu (Balz) is a perfect producer to do that because he plays everything. He’s such a talented musician, and I’m really happy with the record.

AB: With so many artists on one album you really need something that’s the glue holding it all together. Do you feel you being on every track, and one producer producing the album, does that.

S: Yeah, I think it does. I didn’t want it to sound like a compilation, and when I had the master put together I listened to it for that, and I don’t think it sounds all over the place. I also put my verse first for the first seven songs, which I think works, because for people who are just getting it because it’s a Slaine record it works aesthetically, and sonically. It eases you into the record, which is going to have so many artists on it.

AB: Your music has always had anger in it. Having experienced the success you’ve had, how difficult has it become to bring that emotion out of you?

S: Listen, I’m one angry fuckin prick, dude. {laughs} Look, if I started going into the studio tomorrow and had no anger, and was writing other stuff, I’m sure I would make good records in some other way. I don’t have to drum up anger. I never try to drum up any emotion when I go in. I just write what I feel like. To me, this is the least angry record I’ve ever made. I sound like I’m having a good time on this record, which I did. Every studio session was a party with people I was cool with. I think people are going to freak out at some of the stuff I said, they always do, but what I see is real life, and stuff that is not offensive to me is apparently offensive to other people.

AB: You’re a big proponent of authenticity in hip-hop. A handful of years ago there was the whole Sammy Adams incident. Now, when you hear things like Rick Ross rapping about raping girls, and LL having his regrettable verse on “Accidental Racist,” are we at a weird tipping point in hip-hop today?

S: The two things you referred to I haven’t heard yet because I’ve been so busy with this record, but hip-hop is definitely in a weird place. It’s been in a weird place. It’s THE American music now. The stuff I said about Sammy Adams was, in one light, I know why I said it. I know for me to be in the position I’m in in Boston I almost had to be the dude to say that. In one sense I regret it a little bit, with a little time on that. I spoke with Sammy, hung with him a couple times since then. He built something that is pretty impressive. He was independent for a long time. He had like a quarter of a million, half a million, fans independently, and that’s pretty impressive no matter how you do it. I think all the old heads like me, you can give your two cents, and you can sometimes hand out ass whippins, or tongue lashings, but hip-hop, really, is not what it was in 1988. It’s never gonna be (that) again. It’s become the predominant American music, and when that happens you’re going to have people from all different backgrounds. It takes on a WWE kind of thing sometimes, I guess, which was also one of the things I regretted about the Sammy Adams thing because I never wanted to be like one of those WWE type of rappers, and when I look back on it, it kinda put me in that light, which was completely my own fault. Hip-hop has been in a weird spot. For me I just try to do what I like. That’s all I can worry about. I can’t worry about Rick Ross, or anybody else.

AB: Doing what you like has been working in both your music, and film, careers. Can you pinpoint a moment where you said, “wow, I’ve made it?”

S: It just happened recently. I got a place out in L.A., but my son is still in Boston, so I come back frequently, like two weeks out of every month. I’ve been staying in Dorchester, my old neighborhood where I grew up, and I was walking down the street and ten, eleven, different people stopped me, “Hey, I like what you’re doing, you’re doing the city proud.” Kids are getting off the school bus and I see their eyes light up when they walk by, and they scream “SLAINE SLAINE!” I was walking up the street and I was thinking this is fucking crazy. This is where I grew up. My eyes were watering and shit because you’re walking right past where you grew up and see that these kids, they see me and see they can do something like that, too. That’s when I realized, even though I had finished the Boston Project thing months ago, that’s what this album was for.

AB: Did it surprise you that kids recognized you? A lot of your rhymes feature adult content, and your films are rated R.

S: You know what, yeah, because my music and movies are definitely… my son doesn’t listen to them or watch them. I certainly don’t market it to kids. This thing with the internet now… how old are you?

AB: I’m 34.

S: I’m 35. When we were kids you used to find a porno magazine in like somebody’s dad’s porno magazine collection. You’d fucking throw that thing in the stash and you might have it for four years.

AB: You’d have a relationship with those girls.

S: {*laughs*} Nowadays, and it’s crazy, with the internet you can watch any perverted shit you can type into the computer. It’s a different time. I definitely had started thinking about it recently because for me it’s always about the art. Fuck everything else. Fuck what anyone says, fuck any effect, I’m making pictures of what’s going on in my world, and what my thoughts are, my struggles, my victories, and to be a great artist you really do have to be selfish in that way, but you know, like I said, when something has such a big effect on you, and you do see kids… I have not been mainstream enough to where I’ve had to think about that in the past, and it’s definitely a conflict I have moving forward.

AB: To get to this point, what has been the greatest hurdle you’ve had to overcome?

S: Every day’s a different hurdle, and they never stop. In the beginning the hurdle is, how am I gonna get in the studio to record this music? Then after you do that it’s how am I gonna get this music out to people to hear? Then how am I gonna get an actual audience who are gonna come to see me at shows? Then you have the regular hurdles in life. How am I gonna pay my rent, how am I gonna get this infected tooth out of my mouth, how am I gonna get high? There’s all these things, and those things have changed for me a million precent. The hurdles I have now are not the ones I used to. I think they actually get harder. When you get some sort of level of success it gets more difficult. That’s what I tell people coming up. It’s difficult when you’re trying to get on, but it’s more difficult when you get on. I’m not saying I would trade my problems today for my problems yesterday, but the way they treat you changes. What people expect from you… you really see an ugly side of a lot of people, and that’s hard, that’s a big hurdle. My marriage failing was a horrible hurdle that had a lot to do with my career. That was a tough one. Then I think also, where I’m at right now, what do I do moving forward… I’ve changed my life from negative to positive in a lot of ways and now I want to figure out how to take what I’ve got here and help affect other people’s lives positively, and start working in the community and doing stuff like that. That’s my next challenge that I’m trying to take on.

AB: That leads nicely into my final question. You’ve been in some really huge movies, The Town, Gone Baby Gone, Killing Them Softly, and worked with a ton of great actors. Who’s floored you with their kindness?

S: I mean that’s one thousand percent Ben Affleck. I think he would be the obvious answer for me, but you’re talking about a man that changed my life, and aside from that he told me “look, man, I didn’t do you any fucking favors putting you in the movie. I needed you in that movie. I needed you in that role in Gone Baby Gone. I needed you in The Town. You made those movies better.” I appreciate that, and he changed my life. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. He saw that I was an actor. I was in The Herald for music. He saw my picture, and backstory, and brought me in. I auditioned five times. I got to know him a little during the auditioning process. He advocated for me, fought with the producers to put me in the movie. He mentored me the entire way, and he has been a good friend since. If I need some advice, he’s always available to answer me back, and I’m really proud of him, too, for wining Best Picture for Argo. Aside from that, just on a day to day, dude is a real deal, man. He’s one of the good guys.