FELON: What’s the status of the Ruff Ryder?
DEE: We’re still working with the Lox, Eve, DMX but we just changed and got a new deal with Virgin Records and we got a bunch of new artists over there. So, we’re working on our new artists’ now: Jin, Murder, Ganz, Drag-on. The old deal – we good with them because they like O.G.s they know how to do it. We don’t gotta sit and babysit them we gotta go and work with all the new artists’ now.
FELON: What can we expect from the new artists on Ruff Ryder?
DEE: We gon’ give them heat. We did it with the old artists now we gon’ do it with the new. Nine times out of ten we don’t gotta worry about the artist—we artists and they become us because we give them whatever we experienced in life and we feed it to them and help them to be able to say it. So, they speak through us, that’s all that is.
FELON: How much of a role do you play in developing a new artist? It’s said, you’re hands-on in the studio and you give a lot of direction.
DEE: Basically, I might put my two cents in by saying a verse or two. But, they basically write themselves and I’m just there saying the rhyme so I can get the tone right and know exactly how their voice is coming across on the mic. My part is when it’s time to mix after the song is done—they can go home—I’ll just mix the whole song and do the drops and stuff like that.
FELON: Between you and your brother Wah, who plays the studio vs. business role?
DEE: I play the studio—Wah likes to go down there and beat up on the ‘crackers.’ I let him go down there and deal with that. I’ don’t have no patience for that. He’s business— that’s his thing. He likes to go down there and negotiate and come up with a bunch of stuff. If I wanna know anything that went on downtown all day—he’ll tell us.
FELON: Let’s focus on the two-sides of Dee—the Industry vs. the In the Streets side. Since your accident there was a tremendous loss of your presence from Ruff Ryder—even though you spend most of your time in the studio and you have your sister and brother to hold things together—the streets were missing your presence. Why do you think this is so?
DEE: Cause I work with the artists’ all the time. My brother he always gon’ be in the office—he still gotta do the office work. When it comes to the music that’s something I do all day. I’ll fly wherever to get the music done. Mainly, they didn’t have the person here with them to get the music out there. There was a gap for a minute.
FELON: You’re the force behind the energy.
DEE: I’m the inspiration to them when it comes to the music. Me just givin’ them the input on things they, probably don’t know about—but they could write to it. I’ll sit up here and deal with them all day—call them when I get up—soon as I get up. Through the course of the day I’ll run into them and we probably lay something tonight.
FELON: While you were recuperating did you feel the need to speed up your recovery to put Ruff Ryder back on the map?
DEE: Yeah, I felt that. But, I gave up—I was willin’ to give up that whole year—last year to get to right now to start off new. So, I’m good. We took a break last year—you need to take a break every now and then to give everybody some space. Then we come back hard!
FELON: Because of the slow-down with Ruff Ryder a lot of new labels have formed. How do you feel about the recent upsurge of new labels?
DEE: We they probably won’t gain is what we got—we the ‘streets.’ What we do is natural—what I do is not a problem. You probably gotta figure it out—how to do it—what we do is what it is. I really don’t try and follow what they doin’. I just try to do whatever is goin’ on out there. You might catch me anywhere— sittin’—chillin’. I’m in the hood every day. I don’t feel like I’m ever gon’ leave the hood—no matter how much money you get—cause that’s where I’m from—that’s where I chose to be. So, I see all the new and old come and go. I prefer to be in the hood because I learn more—I learn more quickly in the hood—cause they not comin’ pass 50th street or any other street to any borough. We good in any hood—that’s good with me—I’m straight.
FELON: Can you share with us about your new distribution deal with Virgin Records.
WAH: Our joint venture deal with Interscope is good with the artists’—as far as Dee and Wah with Interscope—we were available to do whatever we want to do. Re-negotiate and go to Interscope or go elsewhere. Our Ruff Ryder deal with Interscope expired and we could have re-negotiated—which we did— we didn’t like it. So, we’re still in the joint venture with all the artists’ that’s there—we still partners with all the artists’. We didn’t lose any of our artists’ and we’re executive producers of that whole deal. We wanted to go somewhere else that didn’t have so much goin’ on. Plus, we wanted to bring on some new acts and do some new things. We wanted to start fresh.
FELON: Any concern over Virgin being supportive of the Ruff Ryder Movement?
WAH: Virgin got the bigger picture. There’s a lot of money involved. You comin’ to get 5-6 acts. You showin’ you’re willin’ to play ball with the “R.” We act worryin’ if Virgin don’t have the street presence because “we are the streets. We know how to dominate the streets.” They just like an engine in the corporate world. We need your engine to deal with the B.S. and we can roll. We feel they are gonna get behind us—they don’t have a whole lot of Ruff Ryders and Rocafellas up there. We’re the only ones. We gonna get the special attention. They got “pop” and all this other stuff—they have Ruff Ryders to run the urban division and make it happen. We feel we can pull it off. Dee is back in the lab. It’s all work.
FELON: There was some talk about the public being pissed about RR signing the Japanese artist. How do you respond to your public?
DEE: We look at Gin as a business move. We didn’t look at him as people looked at us—“streets.” We don’t want him to be “streets.” That’s our little Eminem. He gon’ pull in that $7-9 million. Gin don’t got no album out and he got ‘bout twenty shows. He go all over the world like he dropped an album already. We ain’t worried about what they think. We know he gon’ do what he need to do to help break all the other artists’ in—he’s a business move—passport.
WAH: Ruff Ryders’ is risk-takers—we trendsetters. Anything that got to do with takin’ a step to another side—believe it—we gon’ do it. You tell us ‘Yo, there’s a lake over there filled with piranhas—we gotta go in there and find out if it’s real piranhas or just guppy fish.
FELON: Will Gin be the first one out since your new distribution deal with Virgin?
DEE: Gin is probably gon’ be first. We got Gin, Drag, Murda and Ganz right now. We ain’t get to the point to know who we gon’ drop right away. They all gon’ drop probably this year.
WAH: They from all over. We got Brooklyn (Murda), Drag-on (Bronx), Gin (Queens), Ganz (Polo Grounds). We spreadin’ love and goin’ in hoods that n****s from that hood ain’t even goin’. We do what we have to do to make it happen.
FELON: Any concern that Ruff Ryder is starting from square 1 or do you consider it just a continuation?
DEE: With new artist it’s always square 1 because they ain’t out there yet. Everything we did with the old artist we did with the new artist. All you gotta do is give them that little bit of attention and time and they become old artist. Same attention we gave to DMX, Eve, Lox—we gon’ give these people the same attention.
FELON: You made a comment that a lot of people won’t go toward 150th Street in Harlem—that you stay in the hood no matter how much money you get. Do you think that gives RR (Ruff Ryder) the edge over a lot of other labels because you guys’ aren’t afraid? Everybody knows there’s nothing broke about RR in general but you’re accessible—people can reach out and touch you guys’ and no one is afraid to approach you.
DEE: We don’t want them to ever be afraid to approach us. They wasn’t afraid to approach us before—you ain’t every gotta be afraid. Walk up. I’m gon’ talk to you just like I would talk to anybody else. I don’t need 50 police around me—security guards—I ain’t with all that. Come. Whatever you gon’ dowhatever you gon’ say—let’s do it.
FELON: There’s a lot of beefing between the labels now. I don’t recall RR being part of any beef with another label.
DEE: That’s rap beef. We don’t really get into that. Beef is probably different to us. We don’t really beef about what you say or what he say—cause if it’s a beef we really ain’t gon’ know nothing or say nothing ‘bout it. We handle our s**t differently. You definitely not gon’ get it in the paper and you definitely not gon’ hear s**t on the radio. It will probably make the paper (laughs)