Stat Quo: The Shady South

When Dr. Dre and Eminem co-sign an artist’s abilities, attention is both expected and deserved. Atlanta native Stat Quo is more than just Shady/Aftermath’s latest acquisition, though. Approaching his craft with a refreshing sense of focus and appreciation, Stat Quo is an MC who clearly defies the stereotypes set against Southern acts. Priding himself on his ability to assemble a complete album, rather than scattered hit singles, the 2005 release of his debut, Statlanta, could usher in one of the game’s next stars.

Slowly, but surely, building his buzz through his self-produced Underground Atlanta mixtapes, as well as appearances on albums from Young Buck, Alchemist, and even Eminem’s Encore, Stat Quo is patiently waiting in the wings behind label-mates Game, Eminem, and 50 Cent. Fed up with the current state of the rap game, Stat is ready to bring hip-hop back to its essence, one song at a time. First off, for those that don’t know, explain how the deal with Shady/Aftermath came about.

Stat Quo: This is what happened. I did a mixtape called Underground Atlanta Vol. 1, and that tape got in the hands of Mel-Man, who was working with Dr. Dre. Mel-Man introduced me to Dre, and from that introduction, I started working with him on the Detox album. I actually started doing songs for myself during that time. At that time, Dre was saying that he was gonna sign me to the deal or whatever. Me being who I am, I never stop. Even though somebody says that they are gonna sign me here, I’m still gonna keep working. My personality is like, you can tell me that you’re gonna give me a million dollars, but I’m still going to get on my grind to get that million. I believe it when I see it.

So, I had that in the back of my mind. I decided to put out another mixtape, Underground Atlanta Vol. 2. Around this time, the MixShow Power Summit was coming up, and I went to it. I didn’t have any clothes or nothing, man. I just had mix CDs, and I started handing out them out to everybody who would take one. It was crazy, ’cause I was really one of the only unsigned artists out there giving out CDs. I got to thank the DJs, ’cause they took the CD and ran with it, and got it out to the respective areas. It created a lot of interest with different labels. Ones that I had already shopped sh** to, but I guess that was an eye-opener for them. Like six or seven companies came to the table, and there was a bidding war going on. Eminem had gotten the CD through Dart La, who is an A&R for Shady. Actually, Dart gave it to Paul Rosenberg, and Paul got it to Eminem. Em hit Dre, and then it was a wrap. They gave me an offer I could not refuse. With Eminem and Dr. Dre backing you up, are you ready to handle the pressure and expectations that will come with it?

Stat Quo: The expectations are definitely high. For any artist putting an album out, expectations should be high, ’cause you got people spending their hard earned money to buy your CD. I think everybody should treat their project like they are signed to Eminem and Dr. Dre, ’cause even if I wasn’t signed with them, I’d still treat it the same way. I want it to be a classic. Classic and timeless music is what it’s all about. Timeless like LL Cool J’s flow. He has a timeless flow, and still raps the same way. He can put it in any era, and it will still be current in hip-hop, and that’s the kind of album all artists need to create. As far as dealing with the pressure, that’s something I put on myself anyway, to create something that is out of here. A record that, when people hear it, they will say, “Damn, that’s an incredible album.” That’s what I want to do. I’m sure you get asked this question a lot, but it is one that people seem to check for. With this Southern movement dominating hip-hop right now, it seems like the artists get put into one big cluster, whether unfairly or not. What do you think it is about you that will help to separate you from the rest of that cluster?

Stat Quo: It’s crazy, ’cause so many artists have been coming out of New York for years, but those artists don’t ever get asked that question. Like, what separates Method Man from Jay-Z. They don’t ask Method Man that question. But it’s like, everybody always asks Southern artists that. What separates artists from other artists is that we are different people. Like, what separates you from the next journalist? You are a whole other person with a different story and a different background. You have been places he has never been to, so your story is going to be different. Same goes for me. I’m going to do me, and can’t nobody do me better than me ’cause there is only one me. It’s up to me, the artist, to educate the people who want to know that. It’s up to me to make that music that will make you see why it’s different. Now, what is the name of the album you have coming out?

Stat Quo: Statlanta. What is the listener going to get when they pick up Statlanta?

Stat Quo: Basically, we got some storytelling on there. We’re gonna have a good time. Welcome listeners to Statlanta. It’s a ride, dog! Welcome to Six Flags! [laughs] What producers are you working with on it?

Stat Quo: Dr. Dre and Eminem. LT Mo, who is out of my camp. A lot of different producers, man. I’m working with all the top dudes in the game. I’m not gonna say any names ’cause my list isn’t final as to who is going to make the final cut. But I’m trying to work with everybody that makes beats in the world. So, if you make beats, Stat Quo is trying to work with you. When do you think the album will be in stores?

Stat Quo: I’m gonna probably drop a little after 50 Cent drops his new album. Around first or second quarter of 2005. In a past interview, you were saying how you have strong subject matter in your music. What topics will you cover on the album?

Stat Quo: Really, it’s just real life issues, man. To give you an example, Kanye West, on his album, he touched on a lot of issues that were just real to the common man. So I’m gonna deal with a lot of those issues, and also issues that the common man might not go through, but the common hustler goes through. There are a lot of hustlers in this world, trying to come up and make bread for themselves. Doing that, there are certain things you go through. Just discussing sh-t like that. Relationships, like not just with your bitches, but with your friends and family. When I make a record, I try to make sure that I’m not on that motherf***er just rapping. These days, motherf***ers just be rapping but don’t be talking about sh**. I try to talk about sh**. I’m sure listeners will appreciate that, because a lot of rappers today aren’t talking about anything.

Stat Quo: Yeah, it’s bigger than just rapping. Yeah, OK, you can rap. Everybody can rap, man. My little nephew can rap. It’s not about just rhyming some words. That’s not an MC. An MC doesn’t just rhyme. An MC brings across a message. We are the street messengers. We got a responsibility to these people; to speak for the have-nots. The track “Stop The Show” with you and M.O.P. that’s on the Alchemist’s album is crazy. How did that song come about?

Stat Quo: Basically, I was in New York working on my album. Alchemist is somebody I have always respected as a producer. I got word from his brother Neil, who works at Shady, that Al wanted me to be on his album. I was honored, because with Alchemist, you’re talking about Nas, Mobb Deep. He’s like the cornerstone of all those guys’ sounds, in a sense, because he is one of the only people who they have all worked with. When I heard that, I hopped on the song. I did my part, bounced, and M.O.P. came in and did their parts. Now let’s talk about “Walk With Me,” the track with you and Young Buck featured on his album. How does it feel to see your name on a big, major label release, rather than just a street mixtape?

Stat Quo: I’m gonna tell you something, man. Motherf***ers need to go pick that album up. It’s a beautiful thing. Young Buck is so supportive of me. There are a lot of people in this game that I come across, that I see, but I f*** with that dude right there. He just really extended his hand to me, period. Even before the signing and sh**. We both admire each other, talent-wise. He is like one of my favorite rappers. And to see my name on the album is crazy. Especially an album like that, ’cause that album is incredible to me. I’ve been hearing you on some mixtapes lately, like a Kay Slay one that had a freestyle that you did with Grafh. Do you have any new mixtapes coming out to set up Statlanta?

Stat Quo: What it is, I’m gonna constantly stay in the streets with the mixtapes, ’cause it’s a way to connect with the people. I’m working on Underground Atlanta Vol. 4, and that sh** is going to be incredible. We are probably gonna put that out [this month], so it can lead into more sh-t that we got going on. Do you have any other guest appearances coming out that people can check you on?

Stat Quo: Yeah, I’m working on some stuff. I have some solid things, but I don’t really wanna talk about it, ’cause I want to surprise motherf***ers. Like, “Damn, Stat is on this!” I want to do it like that. In a past interview, you said that, since status quo is the bar that people live their lives by, Stat Quo is the new bar. What exactly does that bar entail? Like, what standard are you setting?

Stat Quo: It’s how people approach artists, for instance, like when they approach albums. That new bar is actually an old bar that’s new because I’m setting again. Motherf***ers come out like, “I got three singles. Let’s go!” I just wrote an article in the new issue of Vibe magazine, and I had said some sh** in there. An album is a movie, man. It’s a movie. It’s a book. It all should correlate. It all should build and come together. These albums that people are putting out, track one doesn’t have sh** to do with track two, and so on. It doesn’t flow. It’s just some songs, and the songs aren’t good. That’s just because the people that they got around, the d***riders and all them, are deteriorating the craft that we call hip-hop. That sh** is just shop music, here today and gone tomorrow. The new bar that I’m trying to set is to bring that classic sh** back. Do you remember 1996, dog? Definitely, man. When you had the people like Wu-Tang, Nas, and Black Moon coming out.

Stat Quo: Exactly. Look at the game then, man. You had UGK, Scarface, and all these artists. From like 1992 to 1996, that’s the golden era. You had X-Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, Pac. I’m talking about all coasts. Every coast was hitting. You couldn’t come out mediocre. It ain’t like that any more. The rappers that are coming out now, these motherf–kers wouldn’t even be allowed to go on the road with those people. These niggas couldn’t even hold Biggie’s pencil, dog. The sh** went down, and it ain’t the same. These MCs lack fundamentals. Basic sh**, like they can’t tell stories. They just be rapping. “This my watch! My car! My watch and my car! My watch!” [laughs] Shut the f*** up, dog! Where are the meat and potatoes at? F*** the fast food, man. I’m through with the cheeseburgers. Slide me some mashed potatoes and greens. I need some of that gravy, Matt! These n****s won’t give me the gravy, dog! [laughs] I’m the gravy and I’m the greens, man! Shady/Aftermath is bringing niggas back! Back to motherf***ing 1992 and 1996. I’m living in the past on these rappers, you heard?!

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