Harlem rap vet Black Rob returned with his first new album in four years recently, entitled Genuine Article.
With the project in stores, we caught up with the former Bad Boy Records artist, who broke onto the scene in 2000 with the smash hit “Whoa!”, to talk about his the state of New York hip-hop, his new album, and recent health issues.
For starts, let’s address the elephant in the room, we heard about your stroke. As of late, over all, how have you been feeling?
I feel great man. Now, I can keep my health at a place where I can deal with it. I’m not eating those (bad) foods now, you know?
So, that was the main cause of the stroke?
Yeah man, that was the main cause. Also, doing street things. You know being in the street, taking your coat off, things like that. All of that sh*t was three years in the making, you know what I’m saying?
Is it hard doing all those album promotion with your health issues?
I mean, you know… the album was coming along fine. So it wasn’t really a problem making it. Now, I just had to double it up.
I had a chance to hear the new album. It sounds fresh. From the feedback, I’ve been seeing and hearing it seems like the type of album New York needs. There was no Dirty South mimicking… none of that. With that said, is that why you titled it Genuine Article?
Yup! (laughs) Definitely man… definitely. There’s too much of that out here man… too much imitating. They trying to be like somebody else. The real beat makers and the real rappers that make these records from up top, they in the street. They in the street and they don’t sound like they from Down South. They sound like they are from here… from New York.
How do you feel about New York artists losing their identity over the last decade?
Awww man, I say you better get back on your grind man. I wish I can be on my grind like I was 10 years ago. That’s when I was able to… THAT WAS THE GRIND! So that’s why I say these new n*ggas, they need to get back on their grind, because this ain’t really going no where.
What about N.Y. radio? Do you think they have shifted the gears and are pressuring artists to make that type of sound? Because in my opinion, and a lot of others peoples’ opinions, when I turn on the radio locally, it sounds like I am in Atlanta, not New York or New Jersey. It doesn’t sound like New York anymore. Do you think they are forcing this change, because I never hear a Joey Bada$$ or any one with that boom bap sound on the radio?
You absolutely right.New York is not giving that play. I don’t know why these DJ’s is doing that.
Sadat X recently posted a picture with himself, you and Kool G Rap. You guys got anything cooking up?
(laughs) Maaaaan… I’m just gonna keep my mouth closed (laughs).
I saw you re-connected with Q Parker (of 112) for your record “Where You At”. The song is pretty dope. Any chance that’s gonna be released as an official single, or is a video in the works?
Yeah, we are gonna do a video for that one. We gonna make it a single too… just for you bruh (laughs).
Speaking of that joint again… 10 years ago, a record like that had the winning formula for a top 10 record on most of the hip-hop stations. What happened to that type of formula? You know, the dope R&B artists mixed into the hip-hop, over a fresh beat. Where you think it all changed?
Me personally, I always kept it with me. You see with my first album, I placed the bar kind of high. That second and third album was strictly hardcore music. The first was in the club banging, that second and third was crazy raw. Those last two albums, I ain’t do sh*t with them sh*ts man. So I said, “F*ck this, if I’m gonna make records, I’m gonna make these type of records!” So, there that go and that’s why I pushed that joint out and people’s loving it.
What’s your favorite record off the new album?
I’d have to say “Bring Them Out”.
Over the years your relationship with Diddy seemed to deteriate. But recently, he was rocking the stage with you, is it safe to say that you guys are working back together again?
My relationship with Puff never deteriated. I don’t know what they be talking about man (laughs). That’s why I love TV man, because you can do what you wanna do and everyone can see it.
So, we know you guys are good. With that said, Diddy got a new album in the works. Are you gonna be featured on there?
Oh, no doubt. I’m might be on there. You never know man (laughs).
We already talked about New York hip-hop, but now I wanna get your opinion on the state of hip-hop as a whole. I noticed your album features Sean Price, Tek — real emcees. Q Parker is on there. I already know you are about authenticity. So overall, not one state only, but the whole state of hip-hop, how do you feel about it currently?
Aww man, from where I’m coming from, it looks alright. But that’s where I’m coming from (the streets). I don’t know about where everyone else is coming from. But from where I am, and what I see, it’s alright.
So is it getting better??
Nah, it ain’t getting better.
So it’s not better. But from what you see on the daily, in the street, it’s good. I got you!
Word. It’s getting worse man. Since them singing n*ggas started coming around and no one saying nothing to them n*ggas.
Back when you dropped “Whoa!”, what was the turning point when you realized that record exploded?
It took a while man actually. I didn’t even like the record at first. But then, after six months, it went platinum. Then I started going with it (laughs), but it took time.
So what’s next after this album? You got another one in the works, a mixtape on the way, you ever think of starting a label. What’s going on?
Well, I already started a label. I got an artist on there named Quas Amill. So things is happening. But after this, I might drop another album. Who knows. I might go like LL and drop 10 (laughs). Maybe 11 or 12, nah mean?