Thursday, March 13, 2014

Still Scarred, Interview with Verb of The New 2 Live Crew

Here it is, finally, my interview with Verb, the fast rapping, lyrical member of The New 2 Live Crew and Disco Rick's Wolf Pack. If you've been watching my videos, you know I've been tracking this underrated MC's work for a while now. So, with no further ado...

I first wanted to ask you about "2 Live Freestyle." On the notes for that song,t he album and the single, you see Fat Daddy credited with appearing on there. But you don't hear him on the record. You have two verses, though, so I was wondering if that was a last minute thing to replace him, or just what's the story there?

Yeah. He was going to be on that, to my recollection. At that time he was working on a song he was doing with Don Ugly for his Madd Blunted project. He was in the same studio working on that at the same time. Actually, he was going to be a member of The New 2 Live Crew.


Yeah, but Fat Daddy and Chris Wong [Fresh Kid Ice]'s voices... he was a higher octave than Chris! So I don't know if it was a Luke thing or a marketing thing or what, but... the fact is, me and Fat Daddy were homies. I knew Fat Daddy before I knew Chris. Actually, Fat Daddy was real cool with Marquis. Even before Balli and the Fat Daddy, he was first introduced to the whole 2 Live thing because him and Marq was more cool. And then over the years, him and Chris became more cool. But Fat Daddy actually wrote Chris's verse for the "2 Live Freestyle."

Oh, okay. I could definitely believe that! I always had the impression he wrote or co-wrote a lot of his stuff from that era.

Yeah, because it was: okay, I need to keep up with young Verb. So Fat Daddy was like yeah, I helped him with his verse. I don't know how much of the verse he wrote... And then I heard he was supposed to get on the record, too. But maybe it was the politics or somebody at the label, I was wishin' he could get on the record, but they were like no, you gotta do a second verse. And that's how that happened.

Yeah, I always figured it was something like that. Maybe they thought it would be confusing to have another guy on the first New 2 Live Crew record and people wouldn't be clear on who was an official member or not...

Right, right, right. For the majority of those sessions, while we were in there recording that stuff, you had Fat Daddy making the transition from being a rapper to learning the SP1200 and working on Madd Blunted. And actually the "Shake It" record and all that stuff was recorded right on top of that, at the same time.

Yeah, there's actually a song that's on Fresh Kid Ice's album and the Madd Blunted album; it's the same song.

Right. And actually, "It's Your Birthday" was supposed to be on Back At Your Ass.

But you guys weren't on that, that was just Luke.

But that was our idea! See, what had happened was:L  we went on the road, you know, you get ideas on the road. And everybody was singing "it's your birthday." Fresh Kid Ice had the concept for that song, and when he came back, I remember specifically, he had the idea and that song was supposed to be for our album. But Luke procrastinating to do the record. And Chris told me, you know what he's gonna do? He's gonna hold the idea and do it for his shit. And sure enough, he did that.

See, when I came to Luke Records, I brought DJ Slice, who did "Yes 'N' Deed" for Society. That was my homeboy that I brought in prior to Luke Records. I brought him in and I also brought in DJ Spin, who was a guy that I met at school. So when I came, they didn't only get Verb, they got a facelift in the production with a guy from Philly with that sound. And then you had DJ Spin who was my best friend and crazy on the turntables and transferred over to production. He did all of the singles... pretty much took Luke through the dark era after the Mike Fresh sound. This guy still gave him a plaque with "Raise the Roof" in the later years. He went on to do some stuff for Trick Daddy later on and get some plaques for Trick Daddy, like the song he did with Twista.

I actually just uploaded a video about DJ Spin, one of his albums, last night.

For real? Yeah, that was my partner; he was my best friend. We used to spend the night in his room and he would be on the wheels and I used to be rappin'. Actually, that's how "Scarred" came about! I had the idea for "Scarred;" I actually brought "Scarred" to Luke. I had the concept, and what happened was Fresh Kid Ice and the New 2 Live Crew had already finished. And I came in, I had this break! You know, Luke had The Pac Jam, which was this  little teen club that's next to Luke Records. And they'd test records at that club. During part of breaking that record, I was out of town. I'd gone to Luke like, look man, this is the break! They said what is it? I said, this is Barry White. They said like, nah; he basically wasn't interested in the idea. I said go over to Pac Jam, have them play this record, and tell me what you see. So he procrastinated on the record about three or four months. And what happened is, the record started catchin' fire. It didn't occur to nobody to go in there and see the people going crazy until they started getting calls.

And at that point, we had differences as far as how my career was going, as far as what was going on with the budget. That then actually was supposed to be on Luke's album. And when he called I said to myself, you know what, this record is going to be track fifteen, this record ain't gonna get no shine. I was pretty much disappointed in the direction the company was going as far as me as an artist. Because I wanted to do hip-hop. I always wanted to be an artist that would do pretty much what Society did, but at that time you could not do that in Miami! In Miami, that's kinda the reason I always got a bum deal. It's like you couldn't be hip-hop in Miami 'cause bass was runnin' Miami, and then when it became cool to do that, pop came into New York.

To us on the east, you brought this new credibility to the 2 Live Crew, like oh, they have a lyricist now?

Yeah, and I coulda done a lot more, but I had to stay in the lane. You gotta remember, I was a young kid, I was gettin' a shot. I didn't particularly want to be in the 2 Live Crew. Because at that time, New York hip-hop was still pure. This was [Verb asked me to cut these names; but just think of the big east coast NY lyricists of the early 90s to get the point] era. So I'm signed, this is what I'm listening to; but I'm in Miami and this is what's selling.

You're only as good as your team, and what happened to the record label was: as soon as I got there, 2 Live Crew opened the door for groups like H-Town. Because that was Luke's last shot. Actually, Joe Weinberger invested money in with Luther Campbell to take a shot with this 2 Live Crew project. The project was so successful, Luke came out on the road to see how successful we were selling these shows out; he got off the road to go back in the studio and record his solo album. Part of what hurt the New 2 Live Crew is that we were ready to go out on the road but we had to wait because he wanted a 2 Live Crew AND a Luke ticket. So you got a group that's hot and on fire, we could tour on our own, but he wanted us to wait for his album. And by the time that record got done, we were done. I mean, we shot a good video for "You Go Girl," but you know.

And how did Trick Daddy come into all this? Because "Scarred" is basically the song that launched him.

Well, you've got to look at the situation like this. Trick came in off a concept - and this is not taking nothing off Trick as an artist; but this is how Trick was introduced to the world. Trick was introduced off an idea that I came up with. Because I came up with that break, how it was used. At that time, we had probably 90% of the album done. Luke probably came in two or three days and filled up everything on the record. A lot of what he was saying wasn't relevant. He had sort of lost his impact on what he was bringing to those records. But if you listen to "Scarred," he was different, it was different.

Okay, it was nothing that was gonna play on the New 2 Live Crew album. The "Scarred" record is etched in time as a classic Miami record as far as bass. Chris Wong came up with all the ideas for the New 2 Live Crew stuff... this is the ideas, this is what we're gonna write to, that's that. Verb came up with one idea and that was "Scarred." I wrote "Scarred" in like five minutes thinking I'm gonna do this quick record, get this check, and this'll be pretty much the last thing I do with the label.

If you look, me and Trick never performed that record together. After we did the video, we never performed that record. When you get a hit record, or a record that could've been bigger...

"Scarred" was major.

Yeah, it was a pretty big record, but you know. But when you have situations where egos get involved... Luke is the type of guy where if you're not all the way in, he's gonna kill the record because he don't want you to get shine off a situation.

Well if you remember from that video I did on it, looking at the "Scarred" cover, it's just his name on it, it's just his picture on the front and back. Just from the packaging, you'd think Luke did all the rapping, though obviously he never raps...

No, no! It wasn't like that. See, and that's the thing. Pitbull took my place in the performing of that at.... I forget what award show. They did that record without me. Pitbull took my place. Once the record start burnin' up, I actually called Luke and I told Luke. This is what happened. Luther Campbell got a third of the record, I got a third of the record, and Barry White's estate got a third of the record for the sample. Okay, the clearance of the record was nowhere near as high as Barry White's estate got. Barry White wanted all of the record, his estate. Okay. Luther Campbell did not want to give me a percent. He wanted to give me the percentage that he gave Maurice Young, known as Trick Daddy. No disrespect to Maurice, he was just young and comin' in the game, but I didn't agree with that. So I never signed off o the record. So when the record actually came out, they never had any clearance from me as an artist.

Now, they were negotiating me with and Maurice Young so that we could sign and get deals. Luther Campbell had to have us sign a lease to a five year contract for the labels to buy into his company at that time. So his guy signs him to Universal. Everything flopped over there at Universal except Dru Hill. I mean, some stuff did what we would consider good, but to Universal that's a flop. So you've got Luke coming out with "Scarred," Verb had never got compensated for the record and THEN you've got the record coming out on the Eddie soundtrack with Whoopi Goldberg. So we had some issues there where we had to get some money, and that's what with me and Luke on that record.

I could honestly say, when people say Luther Campbell is a bad CEO, I never had a problem with him. When I signed, I got my checks from him. I got some checks from Joe Weinberger. I never had a problem, everything that was in my contract I got. Maybe some differences on some royalties, but that's neither here nor there. Me and Luke were cool, we were always boys. In fact, he trusted me a lot more than he trusted a lot of other people. But at the end of the day, it's the music BUSINESS, and I felt, as far as the record, I could've taken "Scarred" and did it myself! But I brought the record to him, and I wanted him to compensate me right for the record. Look, you get a third, I get a third, let Barry White get a third, and however you want to do Trick.

You gotta remember, this record was done before Trick even came into the picture. Trick was the icing on the cake.

You mean the record was totally finished without him and then you went back and added his verse?

This is why I wanted to do an interview. You never know what your best work is gonna be. Probably my worst day as far as me writing, to me, happened to be the biggest record of my career to this day, as far as how the world knew me by, commercially. So now if you look at the record, you'll see the nasty version, which was the original version, I have two verses. What it was gonna is: I do one verse, Luke do the hook, your boy Verb come back again, I give you your second verse, Luke do the hook and then Luke do this rant, you know how he do, for the outro, turning it into a party record. That was "Scarred."

What happened was, this new guy get out of jail named Maurice Young, this heavy hitter, hungry guy, come out of jail. He comes in, he did the record and attacks it like a pit bull and it's history in the making.

Listen man, you gotta consider how disappointed I was with this record. I get a call to say, hey man, verb, did you hear this record? I say no. You gotta hear this record, they put Trick on it! I say oh okay. I listen to the record, I say that's nice, but I'm still thinking it's gonna fifteen, sixteen on the album. No man, we're thinking of making this shit a single! I said, oh shit! (Laughs) I'm thinking in my mind, they got Biggie Smalls, Ice Cube... this record's never gonna be a single. They call me back and say Verb, this record is gonna be a single, this shit is crazy.

You gotta remember, this is almost a year after I came Luke with this record. If we had did this back when I told Luke to move on it, it would be even bigger than that!

So, you put Trick's stuff on there and it's like okay, now you have to go in and you have to do a clean version. So now, at this point, me and the record company really got differences. The only reason I'm going in and doing this stuff is because I've got fans and people telling me, look, just do it for promotion and stuff, blah blah blah. So I go ahead, I'm cussing like a sailor on the original. So I'm so frustrated with the situation, I go Trick, look, there's no way I can clean up this second verse unless I rewrite a whole a different second verse. I say look, if you want, I can clean up this first verse and I can give you the second verse. So if you notice, on the dirty you got two verses from Verb and on the clean you got two verses from Trick. But that took my shine because you hear more of Trick on the commercial record than you hear of Verb!

Right, and that's the one they shot the video for and everything.

Exactly! So can see how disappointed I am with the company. I never knew this guy was gonna be on the record, I never knew anybody was gonna be on the record. It's just unfortunate. And so what happened with the situation with me and Luke is when the record went viral I called Luke and said Luke, the record is high on the charts, you know, take care of me, man. And we got in an argument and that probably was the first argument me and Luke was in, and it was the last argument. It wasn't even really an argument, I mean he just told me that, in so many ways, I need to call the motherf'ers at Universal, etc etc. And I'm not putting up with that, so that was that. We never had no run ins from the day that I got there 'till "Scarred."

And actually, I had a solo record that I was working on when I was with Luke.

Yeah, I was definitely going to ask you about that. Because you saw those videos I did of all your songs spread out on different compilation albums.

Yeah, so what happened is I got a lot of money. You know, if I wasn't loyal I could be a lot bigger than I am now, because those people saw from the moment I was there, how I took over with the stage. You know Chris, god bless his soul, was never an out front guy. He was the most distinctive looking guy in the group, but he never was the out front guy as far as being an entertainer. You could say, okay, the China guy is the most distinguishable guy in the group. But the management and everybody over there was telling me, look, you gotta go solo. Why don't you just go solo? And I'm like, this guy brought me into the group. I'm not going to turn on this guy. But everybody at the company and all the management was like Verb you gotta go solo. I felt like I could never let Chris down, because I had a lot of respect for his bringing me in to the organization and doing that.

But what happened was, one day I heard a record in the studio. And they say, oh man, we got this record, a 2 Live Crew record! I said, a 2 Live Crew record? We never did no record. No! I said, you mean a record with... and they said yeah, Marq and them! And I heard "Hootchie Mama."

Right, when they briefly reunited with Luke on the Friday soundtrack.

And I said, what... the... fuck? So the next day I called Luke, and me and Luke was real cool then. And I said, look, I got to set up a meeting with you. He said alright, no problem. I come through with what I come with, I got all my producers, I say look, I need to do a solo album, these my people, this how it's gonna sound. He said let me hear some stuff, I let him hear some stuff. He funded me up, he signed the contracts, he loved it. That's when Verb started working on his solo project. You see, I didn't pull the gun on Chris, Chris pulled the gun on me! I guess it was politics.

So did the album never come out because Luke Records folded into Lil Joe?

Well, two things happened. Luke never folded into Lil Joe. You gotta remember, there's two things you have when you're with 2 Live Crew. Number one, I don't care how old your records are, you're never gonna get booed, no matter what market you're in. You know why?


The one killer that they based their performance on is four or three or two naked, raunchy women. SO in the clubs, the drug people, mostly males that go in... You gotta remember, in 1993, we're on tour with Wu-Tang Clan. We're on tour with Outkast. Outkast did not want to go before us. They had a record that was platinum, Outkast was certified platinum that night we were performing! And they told us look, you go in and headline the spot. But we wasn't getting headliner money. So that's a crutch that, as an artist, it can make you lazy.

Then, at that time, companies started taking out Artist Development. So now you have Verb, you have no Mixx, you have no Mike Fresh. You had Verb, a dope artist with his producers, but these producers don't have Artist Development. A lot of people think Luke had a lot of geniuses around him, but I think he just had dope producers who brought stuff to him. Mr. Mixx? That dude was a genius! And Luke was a genius for what he did at that time, but Luke started losing his ears.

So when I got there, I didn't have no Artist Development, I signed the record and I got lazy. I was used to Chris coming up with the concepts and I didn't know how to put the whole song together. So basically, what I would do is go to the studio, get stoned out of my mind and do a verse, then practically go bang a broad in the studio. Didn't have my shit together and that's what happened. After a couple months, you have an A&R guy come to the studio and say, well, we wanna hear what you've been working on. (Laughs)

Put it like this. When a group like the 2 Live Crew comes to an artist, that's like putting a platinum spoon in somebody's mouth. It took away the hunger for Verb as an artist. Because when I'd go on the stage, I didn't work for these classic records that I'm singing that people know in every venue that we go in. I didn't create that work. So for me to shift from that as an artist, I didn't have the proper people and management. It's like Jordan getting to the Bulls without Pippen and without the coach, you understand? He's gonna be great, but these people helped Jordan develop. So if I would've met Mixx or Mike in their heyday, you would've heard a different Verb. But those guys were done when I got there. And you see the chemistry between Society and DJ Slice? Well, they stayed together for that summer.

But you had a bunch of dope, finished songs.

Well, what happened is, the next death blow is, MC Shy D versus Joseph Weinberger. 2 Live Crew was ready, but you needed money to do a credible 2 Live Crew album. Money which Luke probably didn't have, so they had to go back to Joseph Weinberger. Remember, The New 2 Live Crew saved Luke Records. Then he came out with a solo album and then he came out with an H-Town album which surprisingly went platinum. And then you got a lot of bad stuff coming after that, you got a U-Mynd album, Poison Clan's stuff never really took off. So that was a bad investment. So, I don't know what was going on with his money, but what I heard was that before he could get some more money, Mr. Weinberger told him that he's got to sign over some properties. And Mr. Campbell didn't like that so Mr. Weinberger got fired immediately.

So here's a guy that was an inside guy since "Me So Horny" and post the Atlantic era, this guy was one of the main attorneys over their. So that was the end of a chapter right there. And that was the beginning of Lil Joe Records Inc. Because what he did is he took the 2 Live Crew, singed them to his imprint, he put an end to the bankruptcy and he bought the catalog. He acquired me in the buy-out, but he would've had to pay me a shitload of money. So he released me. So he bought that situation, but for in order for him to keep on going, he would've had to hit on all those contracts. So he released me and I was able to go through all this stuff with LaFace and freelance and all that.

Everybody wanted to be Suge Knight at that time. There's a lot of drug dealers who signed me and paid me and I did records you probably will never hear. So Verb was comfortable floatin'. And what killed me was - this was another black era. I'm in the club and I met this guy who was an A&R for Jermaine Dupri. He said, listen, I got this deal. This guy Tony Mercedes is doing this compilation album. He said let me do some work with you, I got some stuff with Jermaine Dupri and I could do you, too. Long story short, he wanted to make sure Slip'N'Slide was in on the deal and everybody was on point, but Tony Mercedes wasn't happy with the numbers this guy was negotiating. So, I don't know, about four or five months later, the same deal comes back around and Slip'N'Slide comes to me and says Tony Mercedes is doing this compilation for LaFace Records. So I think maybe they knew somebody over there at LaFace and they said well, we have Trick and we're not going with this guy, but if you want to deal... Anyway, long story short, I didn't hear from that guy; that guy didn't do what he said he was gonna do. They were giving him a hard time. He actually said, man are you sure these guys working with us? I said yeah I'm sure. But I find it funny that I ended up brokering the deal with an A&R and ended up doing the record with Slip'N'Slide and Slip'N'Slide having the advantage. You follow what's going on?

Well, the record did wind up on LaFace. You're talking about the one with JT Money?

This is what happened. We went in and I think it was about $24,000. Ted [Lucas, founder of Slip'N'Slide] didn't think we could do another record nowhere near what we did with "Scarred." Remember, Trick Daddy's coming out with his album. They want me to introduce Trick to the world, being the same guy that introduced him to the world before. So they're on the phone with me, they know I put "Scarred" together, so they ask what ideas do you have for the record. I said, well listen. I wanna do this, I wanna use this Prince sample, and this is what I wanna do with the record. So we go to the studio, I call my boy down and say sample this record up right here and we're going in,. We did the record, they paid up, we go in the studio, we cut the record. Tony was a guy, he gonna get you a plaque. He's a guy who never put out a single with a company like this that don't get some kind of plaque. I said, what you do is, you let him put the record out, right? Then you drop Trick's album on the back end of the momentum of LaFace. That'll give Trick into a good situation with his album and that'll push Verb into a bidding war with a major.

We did the record, and they wanted to keep the record. I said, Ted, you don't know what to do with a record like this. Your company's not developed for a record like this. Ted comes to me like, listen man, I want the record man. What would you say about us keeping the record? I said, look, Trick's my boy. If you feel like this record's gonna set his career up, fine man. So I let a record go, where those masters were supposed to go to Tony Mercedes and I was supposed to get another big chunk of money from LaFace Records. And that record was supposed to go to LaFace!

And you're talking about "Gone With Your Bad Self."

That was supposed to be the first single. But Ted kept that for his artist, so Tony Mercedes got upset and he said well, look man, scratch that. You and JT get in and y'all do a record. That's why I'm on the compilation twice. You see, I had to save face with Tony. But that ended up shooting me in the foot because, just like I predicted, they didn't know how to work that record. They put this girl on there... I didn't like this. The way I wanted to produce this record, you had DJ Spin and then you had Funk [producer Righteous Funk Boogie], the beginning of Funk. But even though Spin produced the record, he didn't put his fingerprint on it. He just programmed it. So you hear more of Funk in his beginning on top of a Spin record. That's why it's not clear. It's like a hybrid, with Spin at his end and Funk at his beginning. But I still think it was good enough to make something happen if it would've come out through LaFace, because they wouldn't have put that chorus on there like that. That type of singing would have never flown.

So when that came out, that didn't do anything and that kinda made things go cold with me. And then I actually signed to Lil Joe Records. And here's a guy who really wants to, at that time, put a record out, but he's a guy coming from a different perspective of life. You have hip-hop, which is so raw, and this guy came across a couple of bad people, dealing with this music. Like life, some people cool, some people not. This guy got robbed, stuff like that, dealing with people from hip-hop music. Here's a guy who can get on the phone and broker deals with chains like Target and stuff like this, so you know, him dealing with these street thugs kinda put a bad taste in his mouth and put me in a bad situation. He wanted to deal with me because he already had history and he already know: I can make money with Verb. But the thing is, he didn't want to deal with the grassroots of the project. I would have producers come, he would sign the contract, cut the check and the guy would say look man, tell Joe I appreciate the business, I just wanna shake his hand. I'd go back and say yo, this guy says he appreciates doing business with you, he wanna shake your hand. And he'd say well, tell the guy I'm not here.

(Laughs) Right.

Even though these guys didn't go to college, some of these guys have high IQs. So when I come back and tell this guy, oh he's not here, he'd say oh fuck it, man. He don't wanna come speak to me? It's not a right or wrong, it's just unfortunate when those situations happen; and at that point he wasn't willing to get his fingers dirty with hip-hop. With radio, he kind of got blacklisted because he went against hte almighty Luke. Things of that nature. I think he got kinda paranoid, he didn't know who to trust. He stopped putting a lot of money out. He had a couple of artists before me that didn't pan out. I really feel I created some of my best work and really created a niche for myself there. I wish a lot of people could've observed the stuff I did at that time, they would've been surprised.

But that stuff is so spread out, because what happens, you'd get a couple of months of genius and then he's suing this guy and the records are held up for five to six months. And you know, hip-hop is changing every two to three months. Hip-hop now is nowhere like where it was six months ago. So you get back in the studio and the stuff you recorded is not relevant no more. So we kept having to start up over and over and over. And it's hard for me to compete with a guy who already has a catalog he's trying to work; it's nothing for him to pull ten to twenty songs together, slap a label on it... he doesn't even have to go to radio, spend no money on it. Just go right to the major chains and get a deal to start making money. And we already had some differences in terms of how I wanted the record to come out, what I wanted it to sound like, and dealing with Joe. He had people that I thought was dope, but he wouldn't deal with those people because those people had ties to Luke, or were people he didn't like. And so I couldn't deal with those people. So that was the situation right there.

And so Lil Joe owns everything, right? Your stuff and all those former Luke artists.

Yep! You gotta realize, these companies play the publishing game. Artists that we hear with samples that become some of the best ever samples are from groups that never were released. And for these companies, it's not in their best interest to put artists out. At first that might be a lucrative situation to put artists out, then they change up and realize maybe we oughta just go with a catalog and publishing. You hear a lot of these artists get in these studios and record these albums for next to pennies, and then whoever owns that company, no disrespect to them, but they're not in a situation where they've have to necessarily put that stuff out. SO generations later, their grandchildrens' grandchildrens' grandchildren stumble upon this stuff and say, oh look! I got some lost 2 Live Crew in here and that stuff be gold thirty or forty years later. And so that's how you've got some lost albums coming out now redigitalized and stuff like that.This is what happens, Companies get paid for recording artists and having albums for publishing purposes, but not putting it out for general consumption. It's a monster, man! A lot of people asking why you don't hear your favorite artists? It's politics. It's not because this person's a good guy or a bad guy, or this person fell off lyrically. It's politics.

If Miami was New York, it would've been easier for me to bounce back because you got Warner Brothers, you got Columbia... If it's not Warner Brothers, you could go to a subsidiary like Elektra or Atlantic. In Miami, you only had Luke, Hot and Joey Boy... and Vision. And Vision was done! They were pretty much putting out compilations, too. And Pandisc was done and just putting out compilations. What the smarter companies do is go into a hiatus where they don't sign artists anymore, but just put out compilation albums. And you see that stuff, when I was there and you say, well how did this record go on this compilation? Easy! 'Cause you've got Verb coming in saying I need twenty grand, I need ten grand, I need to be able to live. Oh well, could you go in the studio and do some work?

You hear that song I did about the record companies? That was an actual situation I was going through! And that song was freestyle because that's me saying look, if you got Verb. I got people waiting to hear product from me and here's a guy that wanted me to go and work in the warehouse! I won't get into that, but we just had differences of opinion. And I felt like I should be doing records and putting records out, but there was some bad artists that got there before me so this guy didn't trust anybody. I always felt like he should've been in the position of a Jimmy Iovine.  If you don't wanna deal with these guys, put somebody in a position like a Dr. Dre to get the product and just bring it back. But the problem is, he didn't even trust a Dre! So that's why you never got some stuff that came pure out of that company, this guy was just paranoid. Like I said, I don't know his experience, I won't speak on it or say it's right or wrong, but I understand and it's just unfortunate. You never seen some good art that was painted over there that never got released.

And some stuff that did come through that label at the end felt cheaper or unfinished, like the second Madd Blunted album [in retrospect, I realize that album I was thinking of was on Joey Boy, not Lil Joe - whoops!].

That was me being in an uncomfortable space because I always felt like let's not half-ass the people and give them these records on these bullshit ass compilations. I didn't even like the artwork on these albums. I didn't want my album to come out with a cover anything like this person was doing. That was my vision. It's like if you have a house and this person says let's just slap some paint on this house and sell it. And then this person says, why don't we renovate the house? It's a different perspective, you understand? His thing was slap some paint on it and sell it when I was like we have to be particular about this project. We just had different views. It's different if you have a label that doesn't have the luxury of a catalog. Then they have to make it work with their artists. But if you've got a catalog you can work, your main thing is gonna be working that catalog and squeezing every penny out of it, suing everybody you can sue. And when you sue these people and shaking people down,t hat put a bad taste in peoples' mouths in the industry.

Even with the Ringmaster situation [Verb was featured on the soundtrack to the Jerry Springer Show movie, Ringmaster], it wasn't like oh you're so great we wanna work with you. There was a lawsuit there! So it was almost like a bully move.

So do you think there's much hope of your lost albums coming out now? Or are those vaults just sealed forever with the changes to the music industry?

Well, right now you've got some stuff I'm working on independently; I'm probably gonna drop some stuff for the heads. It's not like I've never been in the game, like some 37 year-old rapper just trying to get in the game. At least you have to say this is a guy who was out before and did something on the level. You've got guys like Ross, 38 and Plies and Jay-Z still dropping albums and they're still going strong. So I've got some stuff I'm trying to introduce as as far as mixtapes.

But as far as the old stuff? We'll see! If the mixtape do good, it'll be like the Ross situation.

Oh right, yeah, that second album of his that was all old unreleased stuff.

Right! These companies, man, they have the albums, but they're unsure of you as an artist. You know, I have a song with Ross right now! That's at Joe, you know. In fact, I was supposed to be on "Take It To da House" record with Trick. But we couldn't make it make sense with the company. At that time I was working with Slip'N'Slide, I always thought they'd o good by me if I ever got a situation and be instrumental in getting me back out to the world the same way I helped their situation. But when you're not an artist going gold or platinum that people have heard from in a while, it's kind of hard to get on an even playing field.

You know, I'm responsible for Trick going to Slip'N'Slide. Because he called me and was like, yo, this guy doesn't wanna give me two grand, man. I said look, Luke Records is done, man. I know this guy who wants to give you some money and sign you. I said, this record company is done, go ahead. And he went.

Slip'N'Slide kinda did the same thing with Society...

Look, I was supposed to sign with Slip'N'Slide Records. Trick pulled for me to sign. But I'll go on record and say TED LUCAS DON'T HAVE EARS! He don't have ears! Here's a guy whose ears are worse than Luke. Here's these guys who are blessed to have the right situation come to 'em at the right time. So I get a hold of Trick at Slip'N'Slide and he says, look man, you're not doing nothing,w hy don't you come over here? I go over there, he's got Buddy Roe... I'm not on the top of my game at the time, so Buddy goes, look man, let me hear some stuff!  So I start telling Buddy Roe, right now, uh-uh. He's like, look man, I have to hear a verse from you. SO I spit a verse and then I see Ted tell Trick, hey, come here man, let me talk to you. So they went outside and I knew from there, you know what, I don't sound like trick, I don't sound like Buddy Roe, this is not gonna happen. The only reason Society got over is there is because Yes 'N' Deed had bass in it and it was movin'. It was proven and it was relevant. You gotta remember, I predate Yes 'N' Deed. So all that stuff fell in his lap.

So Ted comes back in and says, what do you wanna do? I'll sign you but we really don't have the capital. I said, what you mean? He said, we just signed Society, we just signed Trick. I was not interested in playing a Lost Tribe role for Slip'N' Slide where I sign for peanuts on the dollar. So what I did, I went to the giants, got paid a shitload of money, but the team was a bad team. It's like you sign with a team, you don't get no money, but the team's going all the way to the play-offs. I don't regret it because half of those guys didn't make the money I made and I didn't even have no releases. The only guys who made really any money over there was Trick and Trina. So I don't regret my moves, but my company wasn't as active as Slip'N'Slide.

So when they signed Ross, who I had on my album, we were discussing the politics. I was surprised he didn't sign with Slip'N'Slide. I said Ted Lucas is never gonna put Rick Ross out. Why do you ask that? Because Ross sounds very near to the work that I do. And let's look at this: he never put Ross out. What happened? Some real stuff happened that was in Ross's favor. Number one, when he came out with Trina, he was in a position where he wrote. Because he had some experience writing for artists, so he wrote for Trina and that's how he was able to get on and put his foot in the game. And that put his foot in the game. But if you look, nothing after that. He had a mixtape come out where he went against the company for not moving on him. He had to make himself hot. Here's a guy who's been on Slip'N'Slide for a couple years and had to go underground and mixtape like he was a new artist. Got a deal with Def Jam, but you already signed to an indie! An indie already signed to a major!

Wait a minute, you had Rick Ross? But you didn't have the ears and he was too risky! That's what happened to Verb. Miami wasn't ready for Verb.  It's like Star Wars, you're too early, you're Buck Rogers. You're right on time, you're Star Wars.That's why you see the stuff with Plies, 'cause Plies sounds kinda like Trick Daddy, in that kind of a vein. You never heard an artist remotely like a Ross or a Verb come out of there since then. People like what they like, I'm not knocking them, it's just different experiences where people come from in life. At the end of the day, it is what it is. So, that's what happened.

And that mixtape you mentioned...

It's not out yet. Right now I'm into production and engineering and making rhymes and just doing some stuff, experimenting with some Southern stuff. Of course you're gonna hear some east coast stuff. We're just gonna be all over the place. It's kind alike the Guns & Roses album, where you take eight years, and you keep recording and recording and recording... What is it, The Great Wall, the album Guns & Roses just did? The most expensive record in history to record. That kinda was the lost albums from Verb.

So props and thanks to Verb for talking to me and solving some of these long-standing mysteries... I'm definitely hoping all his music comes out, old and new. His new mixtape reunites him with Trick Daddy, and I'll definitely be spreading the word when that drops. By the way, I've just found another unreleased song of his from the 90's on a Japanese compilation called Bass Patrol (no relation to the group) vol. 19. It's crazy.

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