***EXCLUSIVE*** INTERVIEW WITH LEGEND MR. SERV ON…TALKS ABOUT NO LIMIT, HIS NEW PROJECTS AND ARTISTS, MR MAGIC, HAVING A CHILD WITH AUTISM AND HAS A MESSAGE FOR MASTER P…
How much did you have to do with behind the scenes No Limit Records in the early days?
Well of course P had his own situation going on in California and had alot of California artists, so when I came along it was really predicated on the fact that he liked a song that I had which was called “Get My Serv On”.
KLC and I were together, he was my mentor not just my producer, and he had a sound that we knew if we get it to the world, the sound and style would change some things and P gave us that chance. He came back home and was getting some artists, he was getting “Down South Hustlas” together and we pitched a song at him, that was the song everyone would know as being “Im Bout It”.
Our idea was to have a bunch of artists… me being on the East coast in the military I paid attention to Wu-Tang , and not just their music, it was something they didn’t do and if they would have done the East coast would still have the game locked down. They had a blueprint and they really didn’t see it at the time. You know, people don’t realize KLC had Juvenile in his basement, Soulja Slim, Mac, Mia X, Me, Mystikal… he had all these artists and some that were murdered that would have been top artists (R.I.P.) and see our thing was, if we do an album together then each artist come out and make sure we lock the game down so we had that idea but we didn’t have the deal. So we got to P, I had KL as one producer and Craig B. (It Aint My Fault) and he had a whole different sound, still street but he was more musical… like he’d bring Jazz in and things like that and I also had some other producers I was working with. My thing was, let’s bring what we want into the game to P and maybe he’ll adapt and make it work, and by him creating his No Limit Army thing it fit.
“I’m Bout It” was the song, it was a song of mine, it was under a different name and P came and used it to do a commercial and it got kind of big. With me be a team player, I said the beats yours, do what you do… P gave us a chance. I want to make this clear, “I’m Bout It” was NOT my song, just the beat. The concept was basically the same but it’s was what we wanted and what we hoped for and P was the one with the deal. Our plan was to get on, come back and get everyone else then smother and lock the industry.
I read somewhere that you did A&R work for No Limit…
Well, before I left P would have me submit albums and I guess what’s considered “A&R” now is what I was doing back then but there were no titles. Actually KL and myself got at Juvenile and told him we would get at P when he got back but Cash Money ended up getting to him. We were really searching for artists, you know, we went back and got Slim, we went back and got Mystikal, went back and got Mac and when it came to Fiend and Kane & Abel, P was like “what you guys think” and we wanted them anyway so we got them. Mia X also did a lot and played a big part in bringing in Odell, which is one of our super producers. So I guess by today’s standards, I guess you could yeah.
You actually own all of your masters, correct?
Yeah, I own them now. I basically owned them then, P was a very fair guy. People have said so much about P getting people over and he said this and he said that but I’m like “stop it”, especially the guys on the internet swear they know what they’re talking about, but we had the best contracts anyone could ever have. We owned all our masters, we got all our publishing… we were actually on pay roll, even when we didn’t have albums out and our payroll for the lowest artist was like $1500 a week and your apartment was paid for, this is before he bought everybody houses as gifts, in your name which a lot of labels won’t do so they can take it back from you. When you turned your album in, small guy or big guy, you got major money up front along with gifts like that car you always dreamed about he would get it and be like “here, you worked hard man thank you” and he would tell you thank you. P was always around, if you had personal issues dude was there. We also got paid by the verse when we did features, so think about this, house paid for, car paid for and you’re on payroll while you’re waiting for your album to drop. We had 50/50 deals which was unheard of, nobody was getting deals like what P was giving.
Getting back to you owning your masters, given the success of “Life Insurance” and “Da Next Level” have you considered re-releasing them digitally re-mastered?
Yeah, we’re in the process of doing that right now. Actually I’m working with Beats by the Pound on that and we plan on putting some bonus tracks on there too.
Recently there have been numerous No Limit remakes, remixes and references by the new generation of rappers… what’s your take on that?
You see it as a sign of respect. Only thing I didn’t like is like with redoing the Young Bleed song (How Ya Do Dat), I understand people might feel like that was a P song but if you know the true history you know that that was Young Bleeds song and they remixed it, and I feel like “Holla at Bleed”… even when you shot the video, call him, show that respect.
So from what you know, no one reached out to Young Bleed on that project?
I don’t know, I like that artist Problem don’t get me wrong, very talented dude and I like his music, but when you’re doing interviews and people are asking about the song I feel like you should show the proper respect. That was Bleeds style, his flow… that was him. Even with other songs, I just feel like some songs shouldn’t be remixed and they should just be what they are.
I think the industry as a whole fears what we did and they don’t ever want that back. Like the mixtape phase, the same way they put out a mixtape every month, we dropped an album every month. I’m big enough to say it, a lot of the artists in the South don’t show their proper respect. Don’t act like you invented who you are and what you are. Like we showed our respect to Outkast, they opened so many doors, you could never get me to disrespect them and when talk about southern music you’re talking about Outkast.
Going back to the No Limit references, there is an artist in Louisville, KY by the name of Alexander the Great and he has a single he’s pushing right now called “Master P”, have you heard it and if so what do you think about the song?
Actually I did and to be honest I really liked it. When I heard it I was like, dudes hot and that meant a lot. That’s somebody saying appreciate you and I have no problem with that at all.
How do you feel the “local” music scene now is different from the “local” music scene when you were on the come up?
I think the internet has made a lot of artists lazy. Yeah it’s easier, it’s cheaper and it’s safer which is some good things because the artists back then, we had to really get out and grind and show up in places like Louisville in a one way in and one way out club with the worst of the worst and prove that we belong and then you have those fans forever.
The artists coming out at the time we were coming up are different from the artists today. Today these artists are more worried about how many views they can get, they don’t spend much time on their music.
Recently there were a group of local artists here in Louisville that started a protest and marched in front of a local radio station in response to that station not playing local artists, how do you feel about that and do you agree with that approach?
I commend them because in time you start realizing what’s wrong and what’s right and sometimes you have to bring notice to it for it to change. If you’re doing it for every artist that deserves to be on the radio I commend you, not just for yourself but every independent artist that don’t have the money to pay the radio as they say. Every artist deserves a chance.
I don’t think they were wrong, if you’re an artist and you think they were, then this aint the business for you because they were standing up for you. I wish I would have known about it, we could have done this in every city because every city is going through this. You have good songs from good guys but the radio is just like no and it’s wrong. A lot of artists have to understand too, on the flip side, stop wanting to be on the radio. Not everybody listens to the radio, get in the streets and work your album.
What advice would you give those same aspiring artists that aren’t in a major city and don’t have plugs in the industry?
I think people need to understand something, we knew New Orleans wasn’t going to give us the love we wanted, we tried but they were at the time on bounce music real hard. So what we decided to do was hit everywhere else where we knew it was hard and rough times were going on and they could relate, what ended up happening is the Mid-West took us in and I spread back down to the South.
Stop trying to be the king of your hood, why try to be the king of Louisville, it’s a million trying to be the king of Louisville and being the king of Louisville does not translate into you reaching your original dream of the world hearing everything you got. Start networking with other artists in other cities and say, I’ll push your stuff here and you push my stuff there.
Don’t get caught in this life that these dudes put on TV with the hundreds of bottles. You’re spending $300 on a pair of Jordans when that same $300 could have went to someone to blast out your music or press up mixtapes and send a 100 copies to someone in this state and 100 to someone in that state and give them out. Popping bottles in the club doesn’t help your record sales, you have to be a business man and understand that if you have a thousand dollars then spend that on you, invest that back in you and don’t be afraid to leave from your city. Find where your music is supposed to be and build a following there.
You know, I deal with several people in Louisville and I feel like Louisville just has to find their own style, their own talk. You have people that like the NY way or they might like the South way but the Ville is hard. Talk the Ville, talk the Ville slang, talk what the Ville do and I think that’s what’s going to help Louisville. I think it’s becoming a place a lot of people are looking at, it’s always been a good place for music and support.
On a more personal note, how close were you with Mr. Magic? (R.I.P.)
(Side note: This question noticeably struck emotion and I could tell this was a hard question for him to answer and talk about)
Extremely. My middle daughter was like he and his wife’s baby at one time, they babysat my daughter. My ex-wife and his wife who was also lost were very close and he and I were very close because our families were close, our homes were close. He was my guy, when he got there (No Limit) I gave him a lot of hell for being from the 9th Ward because we were all from uptown and he took it like a man, he was an all-around good guy, you could call him for anything and he was always there. That’s a very hard situation, it’s not something I’ve gotten over I have my bad days just like talking about it right now it’s rough. He meant a lot.
How has your outlook on life changed for you since having the blessing of caring for your child with Autism?
Well, he’s my step son but I’ve been in his life for a while now. My whole outlook at life has changed watching him struggle. You know, I see people say I just want to get drugged up and fucked up until they can’t move where you want to hurt your body, you want to mess up your brain just to have fun for the night and I watch him every day just try to be normal. He’s 5’11” and 12 years old, he should be playing basketball like any kid his size, he’s a very smart kid but his Autism and the things he goes through derails that. I look at everything we take for granted in life and this young man, if he could just go 5 minutes without losing control he could do anything and it’s hard to watch. I don’t complain anymore, I couldn’t imagine being in his shoes, the way the world looks at him, I’ve had to actually ask people what they were looking at what’s the problem. All of the battles I’ve had in life don’t compare to the battle he goes through daily, so it changed a lot for me.
What advice would you give to any parent/parents going through a similar situation of caring for a child with Autism?
Number one, if you suspect it then get your child tested and don’t be embarrassed. In the beginning it’s going to be hard, you can’t worry about what people think, you have to continue to pray and learn as much as you can about Autism. It can be a rough road, if you’re feeling down because your child has Autism call somebody that has a child with Autism and can relate, don’t just keep it to yourself. Look around for all the help you can get. To anyone out there, do not be embarrassed, they are still God’s gift and don’t give up. Don’t let it break you, just know that even people that are famous are going through the same situation, it’s not just you so just reach out.
What can people expect from Mr. Serv On next?
I have my mixtape “Quaparation Canal” coming out late December and will be the first real music you’ve heard from me in a long time and it’s a transition from Mr. Serv On to Serv 4000 but it’s still the same Serv On so watch for that. I’m also proud to announce that I have an artist by the name of Jakk Jo who just happens to be the son of rap pioneer/legend Mia X and I feel like he is the one. He’s like Soulja Slim and Jay-Z mixed into one. He’s a beast, he’s made for this and he’s bred for this… he’s the future.
My label Hot City Music will be releasing a Mia X Greatest Hits album with some bonus tracks produced by Beas by the Pound, KLCs (of Beats by the Pound) album is coming, Craig B (of Beats by the Pound) has an amazing album coming with all music on there not just rap, of course the two albums we talked about re-releasing earlier in the interview (Life Insurance and Da Next Level), I have a group called C.B.D. (Can’t Be Denied) that will be dropping an album soon.
I also have a book I wrote that is about to be published, we are shooting our first Hot City movie in February called “One Last 40” it’s a comedy.
You’re going to get a lot from me and Hot City because I’m pushing more back into my role of what P was teaching me before, which is be a C.E.O., and I want to say this too, any moves you see me making and anything you see me do was taught to me by him and I’m proud to say that.
With all of that being said and with the fact that P is making a big push to bring No Limit back, would you consider joining back up with P and No Limit at some point?
I love where I’m at and I love who I am and P always taught me to stand on my own, I love Hot City and that’s what I’m building but I would never say no, if he called me and said let’s do some songs and let’s do some shows and make some things happen, hell yeah, that’s my guy and it makes sense. I feel like the game don’t show the proper respect to what we gave to the game and It would be great for all of us to get together and do an album and lock the game up. I would take that phone call any day, now as far as going back and being an artist let me just say this, I co-sign and like all of the young talent he has but I couldn’t go back and sign with not just No Limit but any other label because of what P taught me to be a C.E.O. and I’m happy with who I’ve become and where I’m at. With that being said though, again let me say that for a one-time thing I would love to make that happen and put it out there to P, get at me, we can do a project and make that happen it’s no problem.
Is there anything else you would like to put out there to the fans?
Just be on the lookout for “Guaparation Canal” because it’s been a while since I’ve put out real real music and people will be surprised with the flow, you’re going to get the Serv On but you’re also going to get Serv 4000 and it’s a good thing. Also keep an eye out for Jakk Jo and his upcoming project and everything Hot City Music. Thank you to my fans and supporters.
I want to personally thank Mr. Serv On aka Serv 4000 for his time and willingness to do this interview, it was a pleasure.
Interview by: Jeff Gill for www.102TheBeatFM.com