Q&A: Redman on New Albums, Movies
The weed-lovin' rap vet talks about his upcoming record Reggie, the state of hip-hop, and his next endeavor: directing.
If you’ve been to a house party anytime since the ’90s, odds are you’ve felt a Redman track, perhaps “Whateva Man” or “I’ll Bee Dat” or “How High,” and most definitely “Da Rockwilder,” rattle the walls, literally. Yes, the perennially blunted dude (and his many collaborators, especially Method Man) has nailed the bass-thumping soundtrack to having a good time (i.e., smoking weed and drinking).
Andthe party hasn’t ended for the 40-year-old Redman, aka Reggie Noble. Dude’s still dropping the jams, and on December 7 he’ll release Reggie, his tenth album. He’s also working on Muddy Waters 2, the follow-up to his 1996 solo benchmark, and Blackout! 3 with his sometime partner (and co-star in stoner classic How High) Mr. Meth.
SPIN caught up with Redman while he was touring in Norway to chat about his new releases, the state of hip-hop, and his next endeavor: directing movies.
What sets Reggie apart from your other releases?
The album is more conceptual. I address different things than I would on a typical Redman album. I’m not political, but I touch a couple of bases, more than what Redman would normally do. For example, I’ve got a song called “Mic, Lights, Camera, Action.” In the second verse I’m picturing myself protecting President Obama. What can we do to protect our first black president? What can we do so he doesn’t become a statistic, like Martin Luther King Jr.?
So what’s up with Muddy Waters 2 and Blackout 3?
Blackout! 3: I’m working on it. I’ve got ideas. I want to drop Blackout! 3 this summer. We’ve got like 11 or 12 songs so far. Muddy Waters 2: I plan to come out with that next September or October.
What are some of your ideas for Blackout! 3?
We gave the last album a classic ’90s feel. We fed the fans what they would expect of Red and Meth. This time around I want to do something unexpected. But I don’t want to do just a hip-hop album. I want to do something way out there that shows the world that Red and Meth ain’t going nowhere. I want to collaborate with some different artists, too.
I’ve always wanted to work with Jamiroquai. For this album I would want [R&B crooner] Ryan Leslie, too. Red and Meth and Ryan Leslie. That’s something out of the ordinary.
What’s the status of How High 2? The original has become a stoner classic.
Goddamn Universal [Studios]… [sighs]. If they stopped doing those damn Harold and Kumar movies they could get a How High in. Universal owns the name, they own the characters, they own the story. We tried to go out and do our own How High, but since they have paperwork on the characters, that was a no-go. But I told them, ‘Fuck it, man. I’ll do another movie. It ain’t got to be How High. I’ll do another movie and it’ll still be weed-affiliated.’ How High 2‘s chances look really slim unless everybody — and I mean everybody — calls or mails Universal, and tells them they want a How High 2.
What do you think of the current state of hip-hop?
Hip-hop still gives people jobs and feeds families. But a little bit of the effort and a lot of the culture is gone. The game turned into a cash cow instead of a cultural business, where an artist is respected for having the best album. It’s all about the single and the money. But you can’t just blame it on hip-hop — it’s the internet, too. We moved from wax to CDs to now MP3s. You ain’t even got to go to the record store. All that has a big role in hip-hop.
Do you think there’s a way to restore that culture?
Absolutely. You can’t turn back the hands of technology. So it’s up to the MCs. It’s up to the artists to set an example for the newcomers. It’s about making great albums. It’s about doing interviews and paying respect to whoever your favorite rapper growing up was. I love performing overseas because they still have the culture of hip-hop. You can have a break dance contest and a thousand people will come. If you have a break dance contest in the States, you might get two hundred people, if that.
What’s on your Christmas list this year?
Whatever my kids get me. My gifts are always socks and underwear, stuff like that. I appreciate it; I don’t expect much. If I really want something I have to buy it myself. I’ve always wanted a Canon 5D camera, so I bought myself a Canon 5D. I might buy Final Cut and start learning that, too. I love video editing.
You’ve been editing a series of video blogs from the European tour. Is getting behind the camera something you’d like to pursue professionally?
Yeah. I’m not trying to act. You know, if an actor or, say, a basketball player writes a rhyme, it doesn’t mean he’s a rapper. You got to put in time. I don’t say I’m an actor. I only did two movies and in those movies I played myself. It wasn’t hard to do [laughs]. To be a good actor you really have to study. I want to put that effort into directing. The rap game has helped me build that eye. Every video that I’ve done was my idea. Even the MTV Cribs thing was my idea. They wanted me to rent a house [the clip notoriously shows his dingy Staten Island home. Watch here.] I was like, ‘No. I’m not renting a house. Y’all come into my piece of shit.’ And it was the best episode.