DANG: Here's an excerpt:
People are struggling to make money in the music industry. Do you have a lot of investments outside of entertainment?
Absolutely. I make more money away from music than I do off of music—well, I was. Shit is terrible right now. Look at the economy in general. General Motors and Chrysler are looking for a bailout. It’s going to be a financial issue if they don’t succeed, though. If they don’t receive the assistance, they will go bankrupt in the next couple of years.
Isn’t it sort of like what happens to rappers when they don’t produce what the market wants?
That too. In this climate, it’s not just them. Every time you open the newspaper you see another business or establishment you thought was credible in trouble, like Circuit City filing for bankruptcy. The United States is the place to do business. So if it’s bad here, where do you go? We’re the feeding ground. All those Asian countries—Thailand, Taiwan, China—they’re manufacturing things to sell here. How long do [regular people] have to survive before we recover? We may lose our middle class. If you have $20,000 in stocks invested in different areas, a home that you actually want to live in and [a] car, that’s middle class. So those people, if you had stocks in GM like I had, [they are in trouble]. My [broker] from Goldman Sachs just got laid off. [If] the guy you got assisting you [with financial] decisions is having issues, then you really got to look into it, right?
Speaking of Main Street, there’s foreclosure crisis in your old neighborhood, South Jamaica, Queens.
Yeah, it’s got a [high foreclosure] rate because we are conditioned to want things that we don’t need. That’s as people, period. In general, as soon we can afford the $300,000 house, we’re selling it to get the $500,000 one.
I imagine you’ve had trouble convincing other rappers to be fiscally conservative?
If you try to convey that type of information to the average rapper, you ain’t going to do nothing but confuse them and make them angry with you.
So what’s your five-year plan?
I create a five-year plan and then I accomplish it in a year or so. Things happen at a real rapid pace for me. Recently, I did a film with Val Kilmer and Sharon Stone called Streets of Blood. I play a police officer. While I was shooting, I said I wanted to eventually start writing and producing films. So I created a film-production company. I just opened this office [in Hollywood]. Ideas that were part of my five-year plan happened this year. I thought it would take 10 years to get to the space I’m in now.
Who would you still like to collaborate with in Hollywood?
Martin Lawrence. We’re actually looking at film scripts right now to collaborate. And Seann William Scott. He just had a film come out called Role Models. I was with him on the Tyra show.
[Laughs] He’s a funny guy, man. I think there’s an opportunity for me to have a stronger position within the film world. The biggest actor in the world came from a musical career.
The Fresh Prince became Will Smith. Would you be Curtis Jackson or 50 Cent?
Curtis, absolutely. 50 Cent is a portion of my character. You become the song to your audience. They can’t see past [it].
On the iTunes bonus track “Smile (I’m Leaving),” you talk about how this next album might be your last. Really?Jay-Z has signed a so-called 360-degree deal with Live Nation that includes a large advance in exchange for pieces of his touring and merchandise. Would you ever sign that type of deal?
I don’t know if I’m willing to do a 360-degree deal at this point. I mean, Jay is in a different space in his career. He may be tired of running around and negotiating each individual deal. The 360 deal would be actually putting that in someone else’s hands to support those outside ventures taking place.
So you wouldn’t feel great about giving up those percentages?
I’m comfortable doing it the way I’ve been doing it. The difference between him [and me] is obvious. He’s married, he’s getting ready to be 40 years old. He’s in a different place, he might not want to run around, and even touring may soon be out of the question. He might want to be in the office and run one of the companies. He’s got enough business sense to do that. He can do whatever he wants.
Who has the best model for staying relevant to fans?
Puffy has the best model for staying relevant, because [he does it] without a song. He’s been able to maintain an interest and stay in a space to executive produce television and film projects, and stay relevant to hip-hop culture. What was the last record that made you feel like, ‘Oh, my God, Puffy is on fire’? You don’t need it. That’s what makes his business model exciting to me. There are only three of us to look at: Jay, [me] and Puff. [We have] three totally different situations. We’ve just been a part of hip-hop culture. That’s the similarity. I still think they’ll be relevant. I just think they’re like the fire hydrant: You can’t move those guys out of the street. I think they’ll [still] be the guys you need to connect with [to] get a shot.
So where will your brand be in the future?
Well, I believe that I will have a stronger position as we move forward. What I have on my side is age. [Laughs] See, in the next five years they’ll be 45 and 44 years old. And I’ll just be close to where they are now