Crooked IAlthough Crooked I is rising to new heights as a member of the four-man supergroup Slaughterhouse, who just signed to Shady Records earlier this year, he knows that there’s much more work ahead if he wants to breakout as a solo artist.

That’s just what he’s doing with the recent release of the Million Dollar $tory EP, a four-track digital offering which serves as a pre-cursor to his full-length album of the same title coming later this year.

The new EP is the first taste of solo material from the Long Beach rapper since 2009’s Mr. Pigface Weapon Waist. However, this new project has a much different tone. On Pigface, Crooked released songs in a style accustomed to fans of Slaughterhouse, but for Million Dollar $tory, listeners will get a better understanding of his travels through hip-hop.

“The Pigface Weapon Waist was kinda like an alter-ego project. It’s kinda like I was in that zone, coming on stage with Slaughterhouse with a black Dickies suit and a pig mask,” the rapper tells with a laugh. “Like we was on some wild, we don’t give a damn about nothing, we don’t give a f***, we coming out on stage, we wrecking this mic, we killing this crowd and we outta here.

“The Million Dollar Story is like ‘Ok, I’ve been through a lot, everybody has seen my journey, and a lot of people who haven’t, they gonna find out about it,” Crooked continued. “Million Dollar Story is just more like full circle, my hip-hop journey, although I got way more sh** to achieve, I got goals I set, I got a lot of work to do. It’s a lot of lessons I learned in the game, on the streets and in hip-hop, and hip-hop is very close to the streets. So, you know, it’s a story to be told. The EP is a pre-album, with the album coming after that.”

Despite this being first new solo release in two years, Crooked I admits that fans are resistant because of the fact that the project is simply an EP, rather than a full-length album.  It was a business decision, and the rapper promises fans, it’s necessary.

“There was another company responsible for my marketing and I wanted to take control of the marketing,” Crooked I explained. “Now, I’m in control of the marketing for the Million Dollar Story album. Therefore, I had to push it back, because if Interscope, Def Jam, or Atlantic … if they give they artists 90 days to roll out and promote a project — I’m independent, I really need 180, I need 200, I might need 300 days. I don’t have a budget like them.

“I have to think just like [the major labels] do in certain instances, and I have to have more innovative marketing strategies than they do,” he continued. “That’s why we pushed the record back, so we could roll out this marketing plan.”

The EP and upcoming album will boast four music videos, which Crooked I is set to begin filming at the start of April. Two of the visuals will be for tracks off the EP, while the other two will be for the upcoming album.

However, at press time, the projected dates of release for the music videos were unknown, nor was the release date of the full-length Million Dollar $tory album.

While Crooked reveals that Slaughterhouse is hard at work on their debut albm, which he says has “good concept songs,” he’s hoping his solo projects help usher him into the eyes of fans as a viable solo artist, even if he doesn’t do the sales numbers some may expect.

“With the EP and album, I don’t care what the numbers are,” the rapper explained. “What I’m trying to do is introduce myself as a solo artist to the hip-hop community. That’s what I care about. I don’t give a f*** how many it sells. Obviously, I would like it to sell, but I also know that if I’m controlling the market, spending $100,000 on marketing, then that’s what I’m gonna get back.”

The Million Dollar $tory EP is out now, and available at either iTunes or Crooked I’s official website,