Respect is crucial in rap, and 8Ball has that in spades. With a career that dates back to the early 90s, Ball and his partner MJG’s storytelling skills, witty metaphors and pimpish tricks of the trade have garnered them a reputation that spreads throughout and beyond their stomping grounds of Memphis, Tenn. Adding onto the individual legacy he’s created with several solo albums, his new disc, Light Up The Bomb, is a highlight for the artists on his label 8 Wayz Entertainment. In an interview with HipHopCrack, 8Ball puts his career into perspective, gives his take on southern hip-hop, and speaks on future projects.
HipHopCrack: Your album in 2001 was called Almost Famous. What do you think it’ll take to get you “famous” on a national, mainstream level?
8Ball: Well, like I’ve said over and over again, when I titled that album “Almost Famous,” I didn’t mean it like I’m scratching trying to get this certain level of fame. I meant it like I’m really where I want to be. I’m almost famous, I’m at a level…that’s how I describe what I am. I’m not the stereotypical whatevers of being famous; I’m almost famous.
HipHopCrack: So where do you see yourself at now?
8Ball: I think at all levels, if you have hustle in you, you always want to try to do better and try to do more. I’m with one of the greatest hip-hop duos to come out of the south, 8Ball & MJG. We’ve been around for years, and people are still buying our albums, people still love what we do. That’s a real big accomplishment in itself. Being able to do my own label, 8 Wayz Entertainment. I’m in a good place right now. A lot of people are still scratching, trying to do the things that I’ve done. But in my mind, I feel like there’s always more to do, no matter how much you’ve got, or how much you’ve done, there’s always more you can do.
HipHopCrack: Well what more can you do?
8Ball: You’ve got to think: this is entertainment, and this is life. We’ve got a couple of movies coming up, and things like that. In the entertainment world, we’ve got a couple of movies coming up and things like that. In the entertainment world, there’s always more to do. The industry is forever going; it’s 24-7/365, it don’t close, it don’t stop, and there’s always other people working to what you do better than how you do it and make more money than you and work harder than you at the same thing that you do. I’m always thinking that there’s always work to be done, no matter what. That’s how I look at it. No matter how much money you’ve got, no matter how much you’ve done, there’s just always more to do. You’re always learning stuff every day; as long as you live, you’re going to learn shit. The smartest muthafucka in the world learns something new every day. That’s all I mean by that.
HipHopCrack: A common misconception about the south is that the south is less lyrical, and more for just driving and clubbing. Does that make you upset, being a southern artist who takes pride in what he spits?
8Ball: Every form of hip-hop comes from their world. How can you tell the next nigga, “You don’t be doin that, you don’t be clubbin’ all day, poppin ecs all day, or smokin’ all day, or fuckin’ all them bitches and drivin’ all them cars, you don’t be doin’ that shit.” How can you tell a muthafucka that shit, if you don’t be with them all the time to see if they’re doing the shit? The music is going to go where life goes, because hip-hop is reflective of life. This isn’t what the world say, this is my opinion. There’s a lot of partying that goes on around the world, and that’s what the music reflects. Not everybody can rap about the same shit or make the same kind of songs, because then we’ll take the diversity away from hip-hop if it was all the same.
HipHopCrack: With that being said, what do you think of the whole “snap” movement?
8Ball: It’s party music, man. That’s undeground,
HipHopCrack: Do you think that viewpoint is a product of you being in the game as long as you have?
8Ball: I think my view comes from me being on this earth as long as I have, not just in the game. That’s just my opinion, that’ s just how I look at it.
HipHopCrack: What’s it like being on Bad Boy and working under Diddy, compared to your other label situations?
8Ball: To me, it’s just another major label experience. It ain’t groundbreaking, or we ain’t changing the world. Same shit going on over here that’s going on at other major record labels; you’ve got to get in where you fit in.
HipHopCrack: Well what would you say is one thing that people don’t know about him that you know after working with him?
8Ball: I think the world knows all the same shit I know about him [laughs]. We don’t work in the studio every day together hand-in-hand, with him standing over us watching everything we do. We don’t work like that. We talk when we talk, we see each other when we see each other, and it’s business. That’s my relationship with Diddy and Bad Boy; we work to gether, and that’s it. We don’t really have a big personal relatoinship; when we see each other, it’s work. It’s about some business.
HipHopCrack: What’s the word with the second Bad Boy album?
8Ball: It’ll be out in February. It was lined up to come out earlier, but that’s another example of the major label bullshit. They felt like it wasn’t ready for the October release, so they released Diddy, and our album will be next in February.
HipHopCrack: With the extra time, have you added a lot on or taken a last off?
8Ball: That’s just like…I don’t know, you’ve got to really wait and see on that one. I don’t want to say; I want to shock the fans.
HipHopCrack: Has the
8Ball: Yeah, but that’s what major labels are doing right now. They’re shaking trees everywhere. We’ve had our share of people coming through here looking for stuff, but that’s what they’re doing in every small town.
HipHopCrack: One of the primary things that people note about the south is that you guys stick together and support each other’s music more than any other area. Where do you think that unity comes from?
8Ball: It’s just the pride of the music, the pride of the art form. People stick with what they love and what they know. It goes the same for West Coast music, East Coast music…cats just stick with what they know and what they feel. We were all we had at a certain time period in this hip-hop thing, so we relate to our music form. We can relate to it all, because it’s all music, and it’s all hip-hop. It makes your head bob, and you like what they’re saying, then you’re relating to it. You can just relate to your backyard a little better when it’s someone from your backyard.
HipHopCrack: You also have a film coming out.
8Ball: We just really started on it, we’re literally right now in the writing process of the movie. The casting starts in January, the filming starts in early spring, and hopefully it’ll be out to the public by fall or something like that. We always wanted to do something like this, but it really just came about. I’m not really no actor, I’m not no in front of the camera type of dude, but we’ve been wanting to do this, so we’re just going to explore that side of it and see what it do. We’re going to be starring in the movie, it’s going to be on some Cheech and Chong or Half-Baked type shit.
We’ve also got the history of Memphis DVD coming out, hosted by 8Ball & MJG, that should be out in January or February. That’s an 8 Wayz Entertainment thing, it’s just the history of
HipHopCrack: The last few years have shown backlash toward rappers who go into acting. Did you have that in mind when thinking about this movie?
8Ball: No, because I’m not going into acting. I’m not doing this trying to be an actor, I’m just making a movie [laughs]. Me and MJG have been wanting to do this, and now we’ve got a chance to do it, so I’m just making a movie. I’m not trying to seek out a
HipHopCrack: With this new album, you give your label a lot of shine. How have you liked having your own label?
8Ball: It’s cool, man. I love music, music is my favorite love, man. This is what I want to do. It’s been a beautiful process to me, and it can only get better. It’s really about just having the chance to have someone who’s been in the game as long as I have, and been through what I have, to be your CEO. I think it’s better for them than I had it, because you have someone there who has been through what we’re going through. At the time, when I first got into the game, me and my CEO were learning shit together.