Rodriguez “Young Capone” Smith has been focusing on music for most of his life. “I started freestylin’ when I was 10. I started writing rhymes about when I was 13,” an accentuated Atlanta drawl delivers his comment. Combining his innate musical talent with his burgeoning production aspirations, YC refined his focus. Early in his career, respected Atlanta producers like Yola Da Great and D.O.D. worked alongside Young Capone. The young production prodigy even did a couple of tracks for Shawty Redd. Being 17 and signing his first recording contract was an extreme rite-of-passage, Young Capone’s assertive lyrics fought to maintain the national spotlight with his release of “I’m Hot” and “What It Iz.”
When the “snap”craze besieged hip-hop and captured the nation, Young Capone was shuffled aside. It seemed as though the snap music had crackled YC’s chances at longevity and popped his hip-hop hopes. Years have passed and Young Capone’s adamant belief in his talent has not waned. If anything it has intensified. Adding CEO of Trotti Entertainment to his résumé, Young Capone is cultivating both his business and musical talents. Serving as the flagship of Trotti Ent., the Georgia native is prepared to lyrically trample any doubters. Expecting a summer release of Small Things To A Giant, the maturing MC gives Ballerstatus.com a candid look into his career.
Ballerstatus.com: In 2004, you signed a single deal and dropped “I’m Hot,” featuring Daz Dillinger of the Dogg Pound and Jermaine Dupri. Soon after the snap craze seized the nation, why’d you remain loyal to Virgin and sign a label deal with them?
Young Capone: It’s just because I know I didn’t do the same kinda music that [Dem] Franchise Boyz did, so you know. They [Virgin] didn’t really have nobody on they roster, at the time, except me, Johnta Austin and Dem Franchise Boyz. All of us, pretty much, did different things.
BallerStatus.com: How’d you discover that Jermaine Dupri was leaving Virgin and going to Island Def Jam?
Young Capone: I mean, just hearing [it] around. I had been hearing talk ’bout that in the studio and stuff. And they even told us that he was getting ready to be released. And I just heard around.
Ballerstatus.com: In what ways did this move impact your professional and personal relationship with him?
Young Capone: As far as the personal one, it didn’t really; it was just business. It’s just business at the end of the day, you know what I mean? It was all good, me and Jermaine [are] still cool. It was all business.
BallerStatus.com: Now that you’ve severed ties with Virgin, what business practices do you plan to implement with your label Trotti Entertainment?
Young Capone: Branding the label, you know what I’m saying? Bringing my project out, Small Things To A Giant. I’ll be signing and promoting acts on down the line. I mean, just branding that CTE before I get up to that point.
BallerStatus.com: Tell me about your upcoming album Small Things To A Giant. Why’d you choose the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League produced, “Choosin’ ” featuring Mario, as the lead single?
Young Capone: Because it’s something different from me. I never came out with anything for the females. A lot of my fanbase … the majority of my fanbase is female. I ain’t never had a song catering to the females. So, I figured, this time around I wanted to come with a more mature look, a more mature sound. We invited Mario on it to come with a whole new sound.
BallerStatus.com: In what ways are you working to regenerate a buzz?
Young Capone: Staying out every night, going on the road doing shows; staying at the radio stations, keep the mixtapes coming out. Grinding, going hard everyday, going to the meet and greets with the DJs and throwing little parties to keep the buzz going to build the buzz back up, so everybody will know what I got going on with Trotti [Entertainment].
BallerStatus.com: It is important to build a brand so that you’re identifiable. How do you distinguish yourself as a brand without becoming a gimmick?
Young Capone: Well, with me being me, myself, you know what I’m saying? Being true to my music and what I do. I ain’t no gimmick, so people know it’s me. I feel like a gimmick is just me coming out, doing something just because everybody else is doing it. Or, you know, being like that. I always do me, point blank. If my music ain’t what people are doing at the time — if they’re doing the snap music or the crunk music or whatever — I feel like I’m staying true to me. I feel that somewhere down the line, my fans will know [that] Young Capone didn’t do this certain type of music; Young Capone did him.
BallerStatus.com: So, we’re not gonna see you walking around looking like a bag of tropical Skittles with a print in some skinny jeans?
Young Capone: Ah, nah. When it comes to trends, I do dress. I don’t wear skinny jeans. (laughs) I’ll wear some True Religion or something that fit. But, I don’t be in no skinny jeans. You won’t see me dressing like nobody else. I dress like Polo collars, a lot of people didn’t understand. But with me, I’ve been in the game for a minute. I came in the game in ’04, before there was a Young Jeezy, before there was a Young Dro, before there was a young anybody, you know what I’m saying? With the Polo situation and wearing the collars and stuff, before Young Dro was doing that, I was doing that.
I just didn’t have a lot of exposure. I [have] been through a lot of stuff. My true fans who ride with me know I been doing a lot of stuff before a lot of people came out with it. I’ma switch the swag up for ’09, you know what I’m saying? [I’ma] give you my own style, my own look. I ain’t gonna look like nobody. They’re all gonna try and look like me.
BallerStatus.com: Given your relative success, children may look up to you. Are you community orientated?
Young Capone: Yeah, uh huh, all day every day. I’m from the hood. I feel like it’s important to give back to the hood. With my PR, we stay in the mix of the charity events. Being from the hood and me not having my father — you know, it was me and my mother — really just giving back to the community is important.
BallerStatus.com: Do you ever revisit the Thomasville Heights housing projects?
Young Capone: Ah yeah, yeah, yeah. I got family out there. So, you know, it’s all good. I grew up out there, man. My whole family from out there. We used to be there [with] 20 people in an apartment, back in the day. I still got people out there, my brother still hang out there. My family still hang out there. So, I go out there every now and then.
You know, but I cut a lot of my extra curricular activities off, to get my grind and handle business. I don’t really do too much extra stuff these days. I really just stay in the studio and stay working, if not I’m in a club performing. Everyday I’m in the studio or doing an interview. Or, doing something that has to do with my career. I have to keep my focus up. I done cut a lot of that off.
BallerStatus.com: As a man, what does Rodriguez Smith believes that Young Capone needs to do to better his position within hip-hop?
Young Capone: Be on time more, be more consistent, be about business. You know, back in the day I came into the game when I was 17 years old. I was young, I was still trying to run the streets with my partners and do that type of stuff, man. But, now these days, I’m just trying to stay focused. I don’t really be hanging around in the streets no more, you know what I’m saying? Everyday I’m trying to do something that has to do with my career. But, I dot make sure I’ll take a camera to the hood.
BallerStatus.com: What is your strongest asset that will help you in the game?
Young Capone: My strongest asset is me being the type of person I am. You know, being a person that keeps it 100. I don’t ever feel like I’m too good for nobody. When it comes to the fans or whatever. I don’t feel like I’m too good to sign a autograph. I’m used to it — with me coming from nothing. So, me being regular, even though I might have success or I might, you know, be doing things with different people, I’ll never forget where I came from.
There’s a lot of people who do that. I don’t. I think that with me that’s one of my strongest points because I’ll never forget where I come from. People have to sometimes tell me that I am a rapper and that I can’t do certain things — because, I don’t even feel that type of way. I’m just a down to earth person.
Ballerstatus.com: Do you have a tentative tracklist for Small Things To A Giant?
Young Capone: I know for a fact “Choosin'” will be on the album and “Shawty” will be on the album. I got little joint out now called “Loud”, we’re just trying to build this buzz. Right now, everything I got I’m just leaking it out there to see how people are feeling it. Because, I feel like if we ain’t got no buzz, we really ain’t got no album. Sometimes, some of the songs will ride up to the album, the songs that people really like. So, we’ll just keep some and keep the rest for the album. Right now, I’m just doing the mixtape.
BallerStatus.com: Would you like to express anything else?
Young Capone: The mixtape, we’re trying to bring that out sometime, we’re looking at the Spring. We’re trying to drop that album sometime around the summer, Small Things To A Giant. Check me out on my MySpace/youngcapone, or YouTube TV at Youtube/YoungCaponeTV. Yeah, hit me up!