By Inga “International” Newson
While many artists wait for that “close to retirement” moment in their careers to establish their very own record label, Los Angeles County born rapper Greed took the step as soon as the MC saw his buzz gaining momentum, establishing his very own independent imprint, Sixx Figure Records, in 2005. Inspired to follow the indie route by the success of late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s Bay Area artists such as E-40, RBL Posse and JT Tha Bigga Figga, Greed has steadily kept on his grind dropping five indie albums to date, with plans for three additional projects in ‘09. A one time self-admitted “hot-headed, drug dealing gang banger”, Greed now spends some of his free time counseling at-risk minority youth in L.A. “The penitentiary is hiring muthafuckas daily,” laments the MC, “but that’s one job a young man of any race don’t want to have”.
With a background playing a variety of musical instruments, Greed has always excelled at his craft, but it would be his commitment to leave street life behind that led the one time aspiring rapper to his current position of recording artist, producer and CEO of Sixx Figure Records. Speaking passionately about his disdain for the music industry’s glorification of gang violence, Greed has committed part of his life to helping others follow in his path and rise out of the endless cycle of violence that has plagued many L.A. neighborhoods for the better part of three decades. Says Greed: “I feel it’s my duty to teach the little homies about the legal hustle, and that there’s nothing wrong with having a job and that by being a family man you could still be hard and a thug and have a job”.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Cali is home to many rap legends. In your view, what does it take to reach that kind of acclaim?
GREED: The music game in any genre is about promotion and marketing. That’s all I need, a little more push.
RIOTSOUND.COM: To date, you’ve released five albums. As an indie artist, how have you managed to stay so active and get your music out there for the fans?
GREED: My hustle is tight and I love music. I blend the R&B sound in with the rap. R&B will never die, no matter what people will always love rhythm and blues. I love gangsta rap, that’s what I was raised on; I just try to do it a little bit different.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Nowadays it seems like many West Coast artists aren’t getting much mainstream support as opposed to say artists from the South, for example. Why do you think that’s been the case in recent years?
GREED: It’s not really the West Coast, it’s L.A. The Bay Area supports their artists. Muthafuckas in L.A. are too Hollywood, and also there’s too many rappers with a weak ass hustle. The West Coast has a certain sound; the radio stations need to understand that everyone doesn’t want to fucking party all the time. People want to hear some real shit sometimes. DJs [out here] need to play a West Coast artist on the radio before they play an artist from the South or East Coast.
Gang banging is another reason why L.A can’t get this rap shit crackin’. Everyone is worried about what hood the artist is from; is he a Blood or a Crip? If you don’t gang bang then they say that a nigga ain’t a real street nigga. I love L.A. but it’s a fucked up place to get support, for real! I sell major records overseas in other countries, so I just laugh all the way to the bank.
“Everyone wants to be a Blood now since Lil Wayne and
Game. The shit is funny and full of bullshit. Death Row
Records scared White America and they don’t want to
see no more of that shit. So, I guess they figured
let’s get some wanna be gang bangers to represent”
RIOTSOUND.COM: Being the CEO of your own label as well as a producer and an artist, you obviously have a lot invested in the rap game; do you sometimes worry about what the future holds?
GREED: Honestly, I hate to say this, but CD burning killed the rap game. It’s too commercial and it’s not street anymore. The purpose of rap music was to inform you about the struggle in the hood. Today they have made gang affiliation a trend. Gang violence is nothing to glorify. In the early 1990’s you couldn’t be on a TV commercial representing Bloods and Crips. White America wasn’t having that shit. Now, it’s ok to have on a blue or red rag and be on TV.
Everyone wants to be a Blood now since Lil Wayne and Game. The shit is funny and full of bullshit. Death Row Records scared White America and they don’t want to see no more of that shit. So, I guess they figured let’s get some wanna be gang bangers to represent some shit that started in L.A. and muthafuckas died for. So many families have been broken and so many people died over gang violence in South Central; drive by shootings all day every day. And now the bitch ass industry wants to make it a trend, fuck that shit! Nas said it best, Hip Hop is dead.
RIOTSOUND.COM: As an artist, you’ve made a conscious decision to stay independent, who inspired you in that regard?
GREED: The late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s Bay Area artists influenced me to be independent. I still have E-40’s Federal cassette tape; the original one I bought from the Slauson swap meet, totally insane. Also RBL Posse, JT The Bigga Figga, Master P, Herm Lew, C-Bo, Brotha Lynch Hung, EA Ski, etc… The Bay Area, I love that fucking place. I also have MC Eiht’s first tape I got in ‘89. It’s the original cassette, you can’t even see the words on the muthafucka, it’s so old and faded. Shit, I learned to press the music up and sell it to the public, but it has to be presentable, and that’s what artists don’t understand.
RIOTSOUND.COM: How did you originally gravitate towards Hip-Hop? Can you recall the first time you actually wrote down a rhyme?
GREED: The first time I wrote a rap was at after school care at Baldwin Hills Elementary when I was in the 2nd grade with my homie Perrial, R.I.P. The fucking rap didn’t even rhyme, but we have to start somewhere [laughs]. My first concert [I went to] was with my mom at Universal Theatre, now Gibson Theatre, I was five years old. Performing was UTFO and New Edition, we had third row seats. I have been turned out ever since. What you muthafuckas know about that? [laughs]
RIOTSOUND.COM: If you were to collab someday with an artist from outside California, who would you like it to be?
GREED: Nas is the artist I would like to collab with. He represents Hip-Hop to the fullest. He is the only one with the real Hip-Hop image mixed in with the new image of today.
“You have two types of hustles, legal and illegal.
Illegal is for the niggas who have jail records and
can’t get a job. Once you are in the system, that’s it!
There is no escape out the illegal life style”
RIOTSOUND.COM: Even though you’ve enjoyed success as an independent artist, if you were ever propositioned by a major label to come on board, would you consider the offer?
GREED: Yea, Rap-A-Lot Records actually contacted my management company, I International, back in early ‘08 looking for me. We are still working something out with Rap-A-Lot right now.
RIOTSOUND.COM: One thing you do outside of Hip-Hop is act as a big brother mentor to inner city minority youth in L.A, can you describe the nature of your work in that regard?
GREED: I was a gang banging hot head growing up in South Central L.A, so I know what it takes to go on another path. It’s all about who you hang around. You have two types of hustles, legal and illegal. Illegal is for the niggas who have jail records and can’t get a job. Once you are in the system, that’s it! There is no escape out the illegal life style. I don’t knock no one’s hustle. I sold big drugs, my mom used to find pounds under my bed and give the shit to her boyfriend.
I still go to the hood and kick it but I’m on the legal hustle shit. I feel it’s my duty to teach the little homies about the legal hustle, and that there’s nothing wrong with having a job and that by being a family man you could still be hard and a thug and have a job. The penitentiary is hiring muthafuckas daily, but that’s one job a young man of any race don’t want to have.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Over the last three years you’ve continued to build your buzz by performing up and down the West Coast as well as constantly releasing new music through your label, Sixx Figure Records; are you happy with your accomplishments thus far?
GREED: Snoop Dogg told me don’t play with the rap game as an independent artist. I took that to heart. I’m not going to sit around and wait on a record deal when I could do it myself. I have put in major work to get where I’m at. I still have a long road to travel full of steep hills and pot holes, but I’m going to keep rollin’ even if my tires go flat. There’s no stopping me with this rap shit.
Get with it or be without it! Fifty people will like your shit and fifty people wont, it’s all based on opinion. A lot of rappers do it for fame, women and luxury cars. I do it because I love music for real. I used to act like I was Run DMC when I was a little boy, me and my cuzzos, and look at me now! Every day I stay grinding with this rap game. “We must sell records” is my motto.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What inspired the name “Greed”? Some would probably assume having a name like “Greed” automatically goes with being greedy?
GREED: No, I hate that name Greedy! No offense to anyone with that name. My cousin actually gave me the name. He wanted to start a rap group with the seven sins as the names, so I rolled with “Greed”. My birth name starts with the letter G, so I stuck with it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: As far as future projects, what do you currently have in the works?
GREED: In February I will be dropping the Income Mo’Cum Outcum album compilation. In April I’m dropping my latest solo album, 40 Acres and A Lexus, rappers please don’t bite my title. Also, me and my nigga Jsell from Long Beach collaboed on an album called Blood Cuzzins; we are working on that now. I’m dropping three albums in 09’. Log on to www.UrSession.com/OriginalGreed to purchase my albums. If you buy one, you get the rest at 50% off, you can’t beat that!