There’s a certain unwritten formulaic magic that goes into the creation of a certified hip-hop “anthem”. Making a hit record is hard enough! Hits tend to become forgotten at some point, especially amidst a sea of new hits. Anthems? Those last forever. Few rappers can stake claim to certified, undeniable anthems. Naughty By Nature can (Hip-Hop Hooray), as can M.O.P (Ante Up), and – of course – Harlem’s own Black Rob.
Black Rob has had a career, and life, of incredible highs and humbling lows. In and out of jail at various points, Rob was a Bad Boy Records staple throughout their first two iterations: the Biggie, Lox, 112 era, and the “Diddy” era. It was during the latter that we first got the opportunity to get familiar with Rob and experience his epic smash-hit, Whoa. His debut album, Life Story, featured names like JLo (amongst others), and reached Platinum status.
He released one more album before doing a bid in 2006 that kept him off the streets until 2010 – after which he released his first post-Bad Boy album on Duck Down Records. Unfortunately, the fast life caught up to Rob at the top of the year when he suffered a mild stroke. Luckily, he’s recovered and is back at it with a new album.
We had an opportunity to chat with Rob, who shared his new album, a fond memory of Biggie Smalls and how the stroke changed his outlook on life. Whoa!
How did you originally get into hip-hop?
Wow… Well, I was fascinated with it from the jump. I started rhyming to myself, and I was nice at it, so I started taking it seriously.
Can you describe your first time meeting Puffy?
It was very interesting. This dude I knew was cool with him from school and took me to him. He asked me to rhyme – and I started rhyming and wouldn’t stop. From there history was in the making!
It’s been just about 20 years from the first time I heard you on the 112 Come See Me remix. Now, here you are with your 4th album, Genuine Article. Can you describe this album for us?
This album is very special. It’s the element of Hip-Hop that many have been hoping would come back to this industry. Lyrics juxtaposed with that boom bap sound! I speak on some real issues that many can relate too as well.
The album is unapologetically NEW YORK. What’s your take on the current NY scene?
That’s what I know and do. Strictly New York flavor. No disrespect to anyone or any other place, but I can only be me and do what I know. Right now – the way I see it – New York is in a good place. It’s coming back to that New York sound, and these days the music is (once again) becoming more about the lyrical content.
Your 2011 release Game Tested, Streets Approved was released on Duck Down, what prompted the jump to Slimstyle Records for this release?
That was a situation my manager Jemal “Jay” Mosley brought to my attention. There was an offer on the table that I felt was very beneficial to me, so I went for it.
You suffered a stroke at the top of the year. First, how are you feeling? Second, how did that affect your outlook on life?
I’m good, thanks for asking. It opened my eyes, and let me know that I have to take better care of myself – and face the reality that I can’t do certain things I used to do when I was younger. What people don’t realize is that as an artist, we’re on the road a lot and don’t eat or sleep as we should. We eat fast food, party, hit the studio, rinse and repeat. I had to change up my lifestyle.
May 21st was BIG’s birthday. Do you have any fond memories of BIG you’d like to share with our readers?
I have a few, but I’ll share this with you. One day, I was in the studio with Nas and Biggie doing a song for Mary J Blige. When we started going over our verses, which, by the way, he never wrote anything down on paper, he heard my joint and was like “yo, B.R. this joint is for Mary.” I was going so hard on the joint, and he was like, “lighten up fam.” That was a good day. I would love to hear that song right now.
What can you tell us about Quas Amill and Box In One?
Box In One is my label, along with my manager Jemal Mosley. Quas Amill is a beast – and his album is just about complete. We just have some fine tuning to do with it, and believe me when I tell you: he’s going to shock the world. He’s the reason you’re going to fall (back in) love with Hip-Hop.
What’s next for Black Rob?
Well right now, I’m currently filming for the reality show Come Back Kings along with Ed Lover, Mr. Cheeks, Do-It All, Treach, Lil Cease, Jamie O, June Balloon, Rashad, Horace Brown, and a few others. That will be airing on UPN (Channel 9) July 4th, 2015 at 12:30 AM EST.
Any last words of wisdom for our readers?
Purchase that Genuine Article album, and tune in to watch Come Back Kings. Take care of your health and be mindful that everything you do today may bite you in the ass tomorrow. Follow me on twitter and IG at @TheRealBlackRob.