Written & Interviewed by Eimear Treacy – @eimzt
On January 23rd 2012, a cold, rainy day in New York City, Mpire-Online.com got the call which we had been waiting for. The date was very significant, as most Ja Rule fans would know, the day before the highly anticipated follow up to “Pain is Love”; “Pain is Love 2” or simply PIL2 was to appear on the shelves. The album, as we know, was delayed by a month, until February 28th – the eve of Ja Rule’s (a leap year baby) 36th birthday, almost 11 years after the release of Pain is Love.
Although the most recent pushback wasn’t very well received by eager fans, the decision has certainly proved to be a winner. The reason for the pushback was simple, according to Seven; they just needed more time to promote the album. And promote they did. In the weeks following this interview, fans witnessed something unprecedented: people were talking about Ja Rule again. The release of Real Life Fantasy on iTunes in December and the video for the Jon Doe (700 Hit Season artist) assisted Never Had Time on Christmas eve had already generated a bit of a buzz for the project. But it was the release of Parachute, the powerful track featuring and almost eerie Leah Siegel, on New Year’s Day which really caught the ear of the public. The ball was firmly in Ja’s court, or in the case of the incarcerated rapper, the court of manager Ron “Gutta” Robinson and collaborator and the creative force behind PIL2, Seven Aurelius. Aside from the announcement of a Parachute remix competition open to all producers and DJs, things got a little quiet, too quiet in the minds of many diehard fans, until we got the word that the long awaited, Hype Williams directed video for Real Life Fantasy was to be released on February 1st.
The game changed on February 1st. In less than 24 hours Real Life Fantasy had garnered over 3 million hits on Worldstar Hip Hop, where it was exclusively released; it seemed the world was ready to listen to Ja Rule again. Then on February 2nd the New York Daily News ran a piece on Ja Rule and his life behind bars, where Ja described jail as an “amazing” place. Poor choice of word, or clever marketing ploy? Either way, the story went viral. Picked up by the Washington post, the Huffington Post and over 2700 blogs around the internet, the word amazing catapulted Ja Rule back into the public eye, becoming a trending topic on both Yahoo! and twitter. Of course Ja later clarified his comments, saying that “Jail is not cool,” but it was too late, the story was out there and the public were talking; proving the age old saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Real Life Fantasy went on to debut on BET’s 106&Park on February 8th causing Ja Rule to immediately trend worldwide on twitter, couple that with positive reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone and Allhiphop.com and I think we have the makings of a comeback on our hands! We have been promised the release of singles: Believe, Parachute (music video) and Superstar before is PIL2 finally unleashed on February 28th, so it’s shaping up to be a great time for Ja Rule fans.
In addition to producing PIL2, which was very much a collaborative effort between Seven Aurelius and Ja rule, Seven has recently started his own imprint (700 Hit Season) which he will discuss in more detail here, and will be introducing the world to 4 new recording artists as well new visual artists on the PIL2 project solidifying Seven’s role as a forecaster in the music industry with the aim to break new artists of all genres on a global level. PIL2 is much more than a musical experience, Seven reminds us, the artwork and supporting videos are as much a part of the project as the music, and most notable is the “F*ck Fame” portrait, a controversial image by French artist Marcel Bornstein, which will be included in the first 15,000 copies of PIL2.
This brings us back to where we started, the calm before the storm, January 23rd, in a quiet bar in downtown Manhattan. The call which we were waiting for was from Melanie Bonvinco, spokesperson for Ja Rule and Seven Aurelius, setting up the interview that MIO and Ja Rule fans everywhere had been waiting for – an in depth interview with the man behind the music, Mr Seven Aurelius where we discuss all things PIL2 and what the future has in store for Seven.
7: PIL2 is a passion project. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to capture a moment of a unique and extremely important artist in arguably the most important moment of his career. It’s a positive thing that he and I had the instinct and the fortitude to push forward and really make those last 3 months matter. Had we not followed through on any of the sessions or any of the phone calls that led to ideas or song titles, had we dropped the ball at any stage along the way this album would not have been made. In the end everything mattered, right up until the day he went in (to prison). The biggest lesson that I took away from all of that was that I’m here today because I was present then – I was present and we put in the time and focus THEN, and that’s why I’m doing as much work as I can now, so I can be here again in the future.
I just feel blessed that we were able to get back the chemistry. We hadn’t worked together in 10 years! That’s a lot of time; there’s a lot of feelings, attitudes, a whole bunch of ego, “I did that, he did this, do we have to do that again?” “Why hasn’t he called me?” “Let him call me” “I made Seven” – who knows what he was thinking, but ultimately, those things weren’t important. It came down to our instinct; when we got on the phone, we knew it was time. The phone call was amazing, it was like we just felt each other out – a couple comments here and there and we were back on track and ready. It taught me a lot about human nature and relationships, what really matters – ego does not matter! All that matters is the love that you both have for what you do. If it’s your girlfriend, your boss, your spiritual teacher, if it’s your friend, ultimately it just matters that you care about your relationship and maintaining what you’ve created. And so here we are.
MIO: Was PIL2 more of a 50/50 collaboration between you and Ja rule? I feel like it could be both your names on the front cover.
7: Creatively Yes it’s definitely 50/50 in terms of the vision but as a producer you don’t lose sight of the fact that this is Ja’s album. he has worked too hard as an artist before me and I would never take anything from him, this is HIS album. But, my credit, if I don’t get it here, I’ll get it up there (Points to the sky) and when you get credit up there, then everything falls where you need it to fall, and when you need it to, and that’s really where I’m at with it. But, I really want to represent it and make sure that it happens and that’s one of the reasons that I wanted to put out the message at the start of Parachute – “When you play by the rules of the world, the world will rule you. But when you play by the rules of the Divine, you will rule the world” – that’s a really important message that I wanted to get out to everyone, and it’s getting out there and it’s touching people. I see people tweet that and I say to myself “Wow, we really put something out there.”
MIO: You’ve taken on a whole new role with this album, taking it from just producing the album to promoting it and dealing with record labels such as Fontana – how has that been? Has it been difficult or a learning experience?
7: Both, but I welcomed it because I knew that at the end of it I would have the knowledge and the experience and I would know what not to do in the future and what to do and what works, all these priceless pieces of information came through this project. It was also important to include the fans, to open up a portal, a real dialogue between me and the fans, to let them know that all along the way, we’re here together.
MIO: Have you ever regretted letting the fans in so much?
7: Never regretted it, sometimes I wish that I had a little bit more support, consistently. There seems to be a lot of fair weather fans, but I also have to remember that I’m a huge Prince fan and a huge MJ fan and you can’t really influence someone unless you’ve been influenced. So for me, I know what it’s like on that side of things, because I’m still a fan of music. All they want is their album, so that they can get what they need, the connection that they get from their artist! They don’t see the big picture, and they don’t have to. That’s not the role of a fan. My kabbalah teacher told me something today when we were talking, on the way over here he told me “Seven, dealing with egos is a part of your business, unless you’re still the artist and it’s your ego. You have to decide whether you’re still the artist or if you’re going to manage the egos of the artists that you’re going to bring up.” It was very powerful. And it’s the same thing as the fans; it’s not their job to see further than “when’s the album coming out?”
MIO: So the album was pushed back from 1/24/12 to 2/28/12 – was that a tough decision?
7: It was very difficult to have to keep pushing it back but each time there were real issues we could not control. There is not one decision that is made, that Rule does not approve – not one. I need everybody to understand that. We speak every day as business partners and sometimes when I see fans like “Seven is doing sh*t without rule knowing” it’s the farthest thing from the truth. We are just trying to get this thing out so that the fans can enjoy it. And I have an obligation as a business partner to Ja who’s not in the free world – he’s making the best of the moment. When I’m reading him articles, reviews or comments, I don’t fluff it. When I’m telling him about a decision that we have to make, I don’t fluff it, because at the minimum he deserves absolute clarity on what we’re deciding on.
7: We’re gonna go hard with the internet. The big sites, WorldStar Hip Hop has 20million return visitors a month, 5 million unique views monthly – that’s as big as a network.
MIO: Are you happy with how the singles “Real Life Fantasy” “Never Had Time” and “Parachute” have been received?
7: This album is like no other album that I’ve done before. We’re both coming from such a place of truth that you can’t even imagine, it’s such a raw and truthful place that we’re coming from that it doesn’t even matter how the public take it right now because we know we did our job. When you come from your own place of truth, it doesn’t matter how they take it, it only matters how you intended it and then everything else is up to them. Am I happy from a business side? Yeah. I’m happy that people are giving my brother, Ja, a chance to be heard because it ain’t easy what he’s been through and what he’s going through and what we all go through on a daily basis. This is a “real life fantasy” right now, at any time of your life when you’re stressed out you could ask “is this my life?” Sometimes we wish it was a fantasy, that’s what the greats did – that’s what the Lennon’s did, the Michael Jacksons, the Stevie Wonders, the Led Zeppelins – that’s what they all did, they lived it, so when they put that on wax, the people received it because it was true! When people hear PIL2, they’re gonna receive it because it’s true. He ain’t talking about all these analogies about how dope he is or how rich he is, he gave a piece of his soul and so did I! A piece of our immortal selves are imprinted on this album, and it’s a different thing when you realize that. So when you say “Do people like this” I just like looking at it now, and seeing the reaction, more than worrying about whether people like it or not, I know that it’s dope and I know where it came from and I know that we’ve made history. That can never be taken away from us. Now it’s like – “how will they receive this one or that one” that’s interesting, to see that it resonates, is a very rewarding feeling. To see people like “Oh my god I fucking love it! I’m crying right now!” (Because I’ve read that) and to see people so passionate on the other side like “fuck Rule, he’s never coming back” – it’s evoking something so passionate from both sides – that’s when you know you’ve got something!
MIO: The PIL2 concept/synopsis – was that something that you both had in mind originally or did it come about organically as the album developed?
7: That was always our objective, it was maybe not down to the detail but it was always there. It’s like, me and Rule, we love Rock, Classic stadium sh*t. we love the bands that really changed the game and we wanted to take moments from other genres and other classic movies and music genres and incorporate those themes and thoughts into our own experience. I saw Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” concert Live at the Garden a couple of months before me and Rule hooked back up and it was so gangster and so crazy the way that Roger Waters came out of the back and he would pop out of the floor and “ In The Flesh” was playing and that shit changed my life! I had never seen anything like it, I had seen “The Wall” the movie but I had never seen it in concert and a couple months later I was talking to Rule. We were always going back and forth about doing something crazy and introducing these characters and doing something while he was gone that was going to be more cathartic and not so much needing the presence of an artist throughout promoting it. So we wanted to have something that, whether you liked it or not, was able to stand the course until he came home. And that’s what we got, that’s what we achieved with PIL2.
MIO: It’s definitely a quality piece of art, are you thinking about the Grammy’s?
7: Yes…As a business man, it’s natural to want the top prize for anything you do. I am on a Grammy committee; I’m a member, so it will be submitted. I’ll just let that take whatever course it’s going to take, I just feel like when you do truth, you just plant those seeds and you keep moving. You don’t stand around waiting for a stem to grow, you just keep moving and hope that it happens, and that’s where we are right now with PIL2. We planted a lot of seeds. People don’t even know, the e-mails that we’ve been sending the fans, all of these “stand bys” – it means something to them, they can go and talk about it or whatever, but it means something to them. I wish I could have gotten a “stand by” from Prince when he was about to release “Silent Times” so that I wouldn’t have to be disappointed when they pushed the album back, I wish I could have known why then, now I know but it’s like 20 years later. But as a fan – those are the moments that matter! And I’m a fan of Ja Rule, this is how I came into the music industry, this brother had a very significant role in what I was able to do in this world, as a musician. Me, Ja and Irv – we made history! But as it relates to this world – it’s still history so we’ve got to keep pushing.
MIO: Speaking of , what has been his role in this project?
7: Irv has been like an angel investor, energetically. That’s been the most that we could possibly ask for, because he’s in a different space himself right now, he’s writing movies, he’s doing other things. But no matter who you are in the Universe, everything has to evolve and grow, so you can’t be upset if somebody wants to do something else.
MIO: Can you tell us anything about “Nobody But Us”?
7: You will hear it, PIL2 is going to have a few reincarnations, we’re going to go back in and we’re going to redo PIL2 and we’re going to release it again, with all different production, and a whole new vibe. We only have so much performance from Ja to work with, so if we put everything we have on this album then we’re stuck. The album didn’t really need it, and Nobody But Us didn’t really lend itself to this story. I used to always wonder why Prince didn’t release all of his B-sides, I was like “why didn’t you put that on the album?” but it just didn’t work with that body of work, and it’s the same thing with PIL2.
MIO: Speaking of revamping – you have a competition to remix Parachute…..
7: Ja’s vocals were posted on a secure site and a lot of remixes have been submitted and the winner will be involved in PIL2.
MIO: You had a few issues with samples with this project. How difficult was the Spun a Web issue?
7: We did but I move on quickly because it’s just sound. I love the new mix and we put it on the album because Ja knew that the words meant so much to the fans, because they did spin a web! So hopefully the fans like the new vibe and enjoy that experience as well. It was worth more to the story to add it and remix it later than to leave it off and not have that part of it. I redid it 4 times, and I had the piano so perfect, and 3 more times I had the piano perfect until we got to a place where they were being such “businessmen” that in order for me to include it, with it on their radar so much, I had to change the actual sound. And it’s tough but that’s how it is sometimes. When you’re making a project and you’re working against time, you only have a small budget of time to spend on that, and once that’s gone – that track is either going on or it’s not, because it’s time to move on.
MIO: Tell us about some of the new artists featuring on PIL2.
7: Rule and I made a very conscious decision from the gate that we were going to break new artists on this album and that’s what we did. So in order to break new artists you have to find new artists, it wasn’t about finding rappers because the rappers who are on MPire are going to have their own look, and he wanted to make sure that he was telling his story on this album. So that left it to vocalists, we have Jon doe, Leah Siegel, Anita Louise, Kenny Dark and Somong along with a lot of new visual artist like Pini Siluk and Marcel Bornstein and on the videos JC visuals who directed Ja’s video for “New York” is back. The goal is what we did the first time with Ashanti – we broke a new act with Ashanti, and that’s what we’re going to do again. But it takes an eye, a vision; you’ve got to have an eye to find the right talent. And that’s what separates us, that’s what separates me as a visionary who is looking. It can be the strangest scenarios for the right vocals, if somebody speaks to me and they have an interesting tone I say “Do you sing? Have you ever thought about it?” Because to me it’s like casting for the ultimate movie and each character has their place, you’d never see a fat guy missing out on a role for a blonde chick, the roles that are necessary are endless. The gentleman that spoke at the start of Parachute, he goes to the kabbalah centre with me, his name is Michael Gallant, he’s Russian and he’s a very good friend of mine. He has this amazing soul and anytime he’d speak to me I’d be like “I need to call up George Lucas right now because your voice is incredible.” I thought when I need him I’m going to call him because that is a unique voice, you find a way to put everybody into your movie, and I think that’s what great producers do.
7: 700 Hit Season MPire Music Group! That’s the future.
MIO: Do you have an official roster that the fans can check out?
7: Yes, but this is not just a record label, this is a lifestyle, like Leah Siegel could walk in here at any minute. This ain’t just business, we’re bringing together lifestyles, like the guy from Israel who did the cover, he could walk in here any minute. It’s not about business, these are the next brands, and that’s what we wanted to do, that’s the future, that’s how you make an impact – you bring in brands, people who are going to effect on a whole other level by their own process, you just give them the portal to make it happen.
MIO: You’ve got Jon Doe featured on Never Had Time, which turned out great!
7: I’m happy to hear you say that. See that’s the problem with letting people hear the demo! I had so many moments with Ja getting “demoitis” of vocals which he recorded in his basement that were not on the right equipment. I was like “Ja your voice is a national treasure, you can’t leave me with these vocals that sound like shit!” and we would go back and forth on that. But he’s the artist, if he has “demoitis” that’s one thing, but when you let the fans in the process and the fans get “demoitis” – that’s a problem. And I think that’s the one thing that I would edit a little bit different with the next experience, because when the fans get “demoitis” it’s like if they hadn’t heard it, then they wouldn’t know to miss it.
MIO: Agreed, of course there are those who think they’ve heard most of the album based on the snippets released….
7: First of all until you hear it all together you have not heard PIL2. Just like real life fantasy sounds brand new now that you’ve seen the video. It’s unbelievable, but the thing is the game has changed; we don’t have the luxury to hold a whole album for 8 months until you guys hear it and still expect people to be excited about it. In the end I think we heard every song on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but it didn’t matter did it? Because in the end when you listen to the album, if you hadn’t heard it you have it now and the fans that were part of the experience have a different treasure – you can’t have it all.
MIO: What reaction are you expecting the album as a whole to evoke in the listeners?
7: I expect this to change people’s lives literally. At the same time I’m not putting any fences on it, we told a story and now it’s up to you all to experience it how you do, I don’t want to tell you how to feel or how I hope you’ll feel when a certain song comes on. We did our work, we caught it on tape and we edited it in a way that gives us goose bumps and there’s an overall story attached that is this man’s testimony, this is life. Did Moses care how we took the 10 commandments? “10 Commandments, here they are. Deal with it!” PIL2, here it is – deal with it!!
MIO: What comes next?
7: PIL2: the short film. It’s a short film that will elaborate on the story line, and we’ll be working with the same team that is working on Parachute, animation artists from Japan who are phenomenal. Think Pink Floyd – The Wall, and it’s going to be something to really trip out to and add to the arsenal of the PIL2 experience and give you another component to this time where Rule is only in thought or spirit or in whatever creative ideas we come up with that we can manifest – It’s like the movie Avatar just imagine that Rule is in that spaceship above the planet and his presence is in the form of PIL2. It’s really dope.
7: “Hear what I See.”
MIO: Is that the message behind it?
7: There are a lot of messages in the cover. For starters there are 3 faces and 2 Seven’s on the cover and it all has significance. when you’re in a process of doing something great, and you have great people that you’re throwing energy with; as a director, I know where I want to land and I know when it’s getting close and I know what direction to give to get there. But I won’t be so arrogant as to say that we planned that cover all along, it was like “Stop!” and Pini (the artist who designed the cover art) would send me things and I’d say “change this, change that, I like this, keep that” and it would give me a feeling and I said “let’s try the Rorschach approach” because when I went to Pini’s studio in Tel Aviv he had this style that he was doing that was crazy! And I say, “give me the Rorschach style and we’ll take it from there.” And when we went back I was like “Oh my God, this is it, but accentuate the presence in the middle.” And when he sent it back, I was coming out of the gym and I saw it and just started jumping up and down, like “We fucking got it!” He was going crazy in Israel, I was going crazy, and then when I showed it to Gutta (Ja’s manager) he looked at me like I was crazy. “I said you gotta trust me!” but he was like “I don’t know, show it to Rule.” So we finally got it to Rule, and everybody was sort of low-key hating on it like it just looks weird and whatever, and then, Ja got on the phone and said “You know me better than I thought you did!” And when he said that, it was so a cool moment because we knew that we were on the same page and he was like “Man, I don’t know what the fuck they were looking at, cuz that shit is HARD nigga!” It was such a relief knowing his trust in me wasn’t in vain.
MIO: We talked to Ja Rule back in May and asked him what his favourite track was, he said “superstar” – do you have a favourite track on PIL2?
7: I really love Parachute, I think that it’s something that’s so fresh right now. The fact that we dropped it New Year’s day I think was perfect because it matched the New Year 2012. He’s like “Yo, I could never see the ball drop unless its New Year’s in the heart of New York.” And that had just happened the night before, for him to say something so relevant that people everywhere had just gone through – that was some ‘Pac shit, not to compare him to ‘Pac, (even though Seven did do a posthumous hit record with ‘Pac) he had the vision to shoot past whatever he was going through then to be right there where the rest of us could catch up with it through our own experience of “Happy New Year!” And he comes the next day with “I could never see the ball drop, unless it’s New Years in the heart of New York, You can’t kill me, I’ve already been dead – I’m a holy spirit, watch my soul fly around like a G6 while my body stage dives in the audience.” That’s like – who is that? Who’s talking like that right now? Who’s saying real shit right now? Nobody!
MIO: Did the lingering reality that Ja Rule was going to Jail and that you were fighting the clock on this album lend itself to the creative process?
7: It always does. I think as it relates to creativity, certain boundaries are productive. Certain pressures and certain time constraints that you have to make through can be very very productive. It’s always been like that for me, we did Ashanti’s first album in a month! Foolish took off – boom, it was all about Ashanti and we did it in a month. And it was the same thing with Pain is Love, actually we took a bit more time with Pain is Love but we knew that we had 3 months to finish it. Honestly, if the judge had not extended Ja Rule’s date, because he was supposed to go to jail in March but the judge gave him until June, and if that hadn’t happened – we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. So when the judge did that, we both new that we had to make it happen, I wasn’t even worried about the music, I just had to get the shells together, enough skits, enough sketches, vocals, whether I could get them together and record them in the best quality I could before he went in. I knew that my post production game is like Jordan in his prime – I had that, but what I didn’t have was time with him. Beast with a Billion eyes was one of my favourite tracks, but he never did a verse and we were going to get to that but we just didn’t have time. He did the hook, but he didn’t do any verse on it.
We came up with the title of the first track on the F*ck Fame project, I can’t tell you it, but it’s really crazy! There’s something that he and I do, that evokes a frequency that is going to connect to the peopl . Any new producers, any new writers, the key is to find someone that you vibe with and you will have Success. just like Timbaland found Missy, Me, Irv and Rule found each other, me and Ashanti found each other. And I’m just really proud that that’s still in place.
MIO: Do you have any plans to work with Ashanti currently?
7: Ashanti’s my little sister, so the door is always open with that and we’ve been going back and forth sending beats and such, so we’re already in that process.
MIO: You mentioned that you wanted to release the Renaissance Project under your distribution deal, is that still in the works?
7: Maybe not with the current distribution but I’m working on a new deal which will be even better for Renaissance Project so, I’m excited about that.
7: Absolutely, with his artist, he calls the shots with them, so I have to wait for his signal. But those are my guys. Me and Harry-O were working on some stuff, me and Merc got in the studio. Me and Harry had an idea for a song called 700 Ways to Get Paid. But Rule took precedence because we were running out of time, and even after that it was all PIL2 and it still is now. I’m not taking on any other rap artists right now, not even my own artists, I just need to concentrate on PIL2 and get it out. Because, there were so many trip ups and so many wildcards that kept flying out of the woodwork. Like we weren’t trying to deceive you guys, like “Let’s just throw a date at them – that’ll buy us some time.” If we knew that it was going to be February 28th then we would have just said that. But I think it worked in our favour, I think it gave the fans an experience, it gave me an experience – I was in the middle of it like “Oh my God, are you serious? They didn’t accept it, now I have to go back in and there’s no way we’re going to make that date!” So I don’t think it would have been nearly as cool had we not let the fans in back in April and May, because otherwise you would have went out and found other things, until you heard something closer to the date, I think it worked better – did you?
MIO: Yeah, I think it was an experience, PIL2 was literally like a drug to the fans, and every now and then you’d release something new and it was like, getting another hit of the drug.
7: Right, but how has it been for you has it dragged on?
MIO: Well, I suppose it is coming up on almost a year since we first heard about PIL2, every time the album got pushed back I’d get annoyed, but then you’d send an e-mail explaining why and it was like “Ok, I get it!” and I think that was the same for a lot of the fans. You have to learn to look beyond yourself, and that’s difficult for a fan, as you said earlier. So I understand when fans are angry.
7: I feel like Obama sometimes, where it’s like –I mean well, and I’m doing my best to deliver, but it’s beyond my control.
MIO: Do you have any more plans to release your own solo material?
7: I’m an artist in my soul. But I have no desire to get on stage at all, not at all! I prefer to be a star maker, and create new brands that matter. It’s like when I record my own album the Heaven’s turn off the faucets, it’s the most amazingly consistent thing, if I go and work on somebody else they’re suddenly back on, back to me – off! So, that’s not why I’m here, I have a limited time to do a huge amount of work to affect and work with the right people who are going to affect the world in the way it needs to be affected.
MIO: What is your vision for 700 Hit Season?
7: To be a season in our industry and our world that brings back top level artists of all kinds. Actors, musicians, singers, artists of every kind! Helping them get on a world stage that’s going to allow them to affect the world in the biggest way and change the world that way. If I’ve done my job, then I will have changed the world in the way that I needed to. I need to change the world while I’m here, that’s part of my life vision, that’s part of my world vision. Think about it, whoever signed Prince, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, they changed the world, they did their job! Even if they died the next day, they did their job while they were here. So, that’s what 700 Hit Season is about, it’s about being that portal for the artists of the future who are going to change so many things.
Another thing I want to say about the album cover (and PIL2), it’s about being so committed to the process and so truthful, coming from a place where you genuinely feel so connected and your agenda is only to do something great. Along the way, that’s what gives you merit, to be connected and recognise it when you have it! Because, at any given moment in our lives, we have it in our lives, but it’s not until we have the merit to be on the right frequency to recognise when we have it, then we will be able to manifest the physical experience of having it. We can have something in our midst and not even know that we have it because we’re not on the right frequency, because we don’t have the merit to recognise what we have in our midst. When it was time to recognise the right music, the right cover and all the other parts that are ultimately going to be the experience of this project. We had the merit when it was time to make those decisions.
It’s good to know that there is order in the Universe, nothing is in vain! PIL2 was being played in Jerusalem, bumped in Paris and Japan… it’s like the merit that this thing has collected is now just resonating and simmering to be experienced – it’s just magic. And when you peel back the layers of what Rule is saying, it’s crazy, it’s like when Weezy was just puking it out on the Carter 3, that’s how Rule is on this – there’s nothing else he can give! All the way to Pray For the Day, there’s nothing else he can give, it’s like he said, he was ready to go in, he graduated to a different place, and so did I.
I remember we said we would stay in our lanes…. I did the beats and Ja did the rhymes. At one point he was writing and I was trying to move everything through and said “try this.” And I made the mistake of getting in the way of his flow. And we respect each other so much that it’s not an issue, but it felt really weird, even though the idea was cool, but I felt as if I had just overstepped our agreement. And he came back with a line that was so brilliant instead of the line that I came up with, and I’m no shabby writer – 11 no. 1’s! But he came back with something so brilliant, that I just had to apologise, I think it was the “soul” line from Parachute – I was like “Oh My God!!” “If I gave the devil a hug and gave the Lord a kiss” it’s like, come on man, that’s classic shit, even if nobody buys PIL2 – it’s a fucking classic!
MIO: PIL2 is possibly ahead of its time, it’s like we’re in a recession in hip hop right now….
7: You know, Quincy Jones said it best, Lionel Richie is a friend of mine and he told me that when Q and MJ were doing “Thriller” Quincy told him that Mike said “everything is so terrible right now, everything is such crap!” And Quincy said “We pray for crap, because when we come out, we shine!” And right now, I’m thankful that we have a recession in rap because PIL2 is going to take them to school – on every level – and I don’t care if you’re Kanye, and much respect to ‘Ye, but it’s like, Yo, you’re gonna look at the artwork and be like “Sick!” You’re gonna listen to the tracks and what he’s saying and be like “sick!” You’re gonna look at the project and the overall experience that the fans had and be like “these dudes are the best!” Because you’ll have to! Who’s gonna sit by and say “meh” – it’s PIL2! Nobody expected it! I told Rule – this is our last sneak attack! Ja will never again be able to tap a motherfucker in the industry on the shoulder and make them turn around and be like “Classic.”
MIO: Do you think PIL2, will be able to elevate him back to the level that he was at?
7: I think that’s the wrong objective, Ja is like Mandela of hip hop, in the context of being incarcerated for something that’s not just, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It’s beyond that, if that’s what we’re looking for, then we’re on the wrong route. All we want from an artist is to deliver the truth, deliver the album that’s incredible, deliver an experience that gives us nourishment, time and time again, every time we go back to it it’s making our lives easier! That’s all we want.
Getting back up there – what does that even mean right now? A hit record isn’t what it used to be. Will PIL2 make him the biggest artist in the world again? I never say never and I never try and predict the future, but what I can say is this; what PIL2 will do, it will do the most important thing, it will make way. PIL2 is a gateway album, PIL2 will erase the doubts, without a shadow of a doubt the world will know that this brother is the truth, and these 2 together are a problem!
This record is actually the beginning of the F*ck Fame movement. So if being back up there is fame? If that’s the watermark for success, then this is F*ck Fame, this is about truth! It’s about being who you are and coming together to do something that will penetrate culture.