I never had no [producer] tags, so people didn’t fully connect it. Even with a tag, people still might not connect the shit. So it’s just a crazy uphill battle, man. And I finally was able to shed some light on how I feel about it. I feel like most people would have been like, “Fuck Kanye, bitch ass n—-.” But I tried to just put it in a way that people could digest it and understand where I’m coming from on an intelligent level.
You had tapped in with Sean here and there between Cruel Summer and Detroit 2. But it feels like it had been a while. Did the Kanye thing affect your relationship with people from that crew like Sean, Pusha, and Cudi?
Not for real, not for real. Obviously you never know what’s said behind closed doors and shit like that. But for the most part everybody still was A1 with me. But at the same time, it’s like, that’s fucking Kanye, so of course they’re going to take that n—-‘s side over me.
Did you ever get a sense of just why working with Beyonce was even a thing? You went there and made “Flawless.” Seems like a weird thing to front on someone over.
Honestly I have no clue what that stemmed from. I can’t speak on that at all. I just know that for [him] to look me in the face and be like, “Yeah, I’m not taking no beats from you for this project because you worked with Bey.” I’m just like… “Okay, for sure.”
Damn. Have you guys come out on the other side of it? Have you patched things up a little bit?
Man, I ain’t talked to him. Nah.
Let’s switch gears to the larger issue that he was talking about, which is these bad deals that people get locked into in the music industry. Even a casual fan knows about the shadiness of the music business. Why do you think this is the moment for artists like yourself and Kanye to come out and speak on it?
We’re just in a much more exposed time. People know a lot more than they used to about the industry. They know what’s real, they know what’s fake, for the most part. People still obviously can be fooled, but it’s just more open. Obviously Kanye posted his whole contract, and people are dissecting that. So I could speak from it personally. I was literally one year out of high school, no education about this shit. There’s not much that you can learn, there’s not a lot out there to tell you how real it is, like how fucked up it can be and how much you need to protect yourself early to then be straight later on in life. For me, I was just bumping my head until I got to this point where my back was against the wall and I knew I had to just say something.
How does that weigh on you mentally when you look at your past decade, you’ve had hit after hit after hit, only getting bigger each year? But to be locked into a deal that-
It killed me, dog. I’m watching shit, like The Last Dance, I’m looking at [Scottie] Pippen like, “N—- my contract worse than Pippen.” Shit, like I’m 14 years in and they ain’t had to really invest no real money into me. It’s just messed up. We’ve got to find some type of way to really educate the next generation man, because there’s not a lot out there. If you look online, there’s no real information on how to get out of a publishing deal. How to really avoid a terrible publishing deal. And it’s not like I’m on a decline. I literally am on the number one album [in the country] right now. So it’s like bugging, I feel it’s connected with people.