Last month, Beanie Sigel was sentenced to two years in prison for failure to file federal income-tax returns. He will begin his 24-month sentence on September 12, but This Time, B. Sig assures fans that it will be his last prison bid. This Time, Sigel says he has finally learned from his mistakes and matured for the better. This Time, when Beans goes in and comes back out in 2014, he’ll be a different man. But before then, the Philadelphia rhyme slinger is dropping off his brand new album, This Time, on August 28 via Ruffhouse Records. This Time, like nearly every time, Beans’ music delivers. In addition, he’s working with Scarface on a joint album called, The First 48, a project they plan on recording in 48 hours straight without sleeping. Here, Sigel sits down with XXL to talk about his impending 24-month bid, what he told his children before the ordeal, reuniting with State Property, not wanting a conversation with Jay-Z any longer and why people should cop his album.—Mark Lelinwalla
The title track, “This Time,” is one about trials and tribulations and persevering through them. The song seems to really speak to your current situation. You even seem to address the tax situation with the line, “If you get cash, take half and bury it.” Talk about that.
That song is special to me because in any music I do, I love to be honest. I think some people are talented; some are gifted. When you’re talented, you have to work on your talent. When you gotta gift, it comes natural. I had a gift of just being able to put words together and be able to paint stories with words that people could see. I was good at that. That’s what I knew. At the time, being with Roc-A-fella, that’s what I thought my job was—just rapping. I wasn’t on top of my [finances]. Wasn’t doing my due diligence. The whole time I was with Roc-A-fella Records—a lot of people don’t know this—I never had a manager. I never had an accountant. For me to be on one of the biggest labels in the world and not have that guidance…me just sitting here right now, it’s like having a child and you release him to the world and don’t tell him certain things. I didn’t have that guidance. It was just like, ‘Go.’ On The Solution album, I had a song called “No Bravery,” where it was me checking myself. A lot of times, that’s a hard thing to do. Usually, it takes someone else to tell you what you doing wrong or the mistakes that you’re doing. When I got to the point, where I knew like I was in trouble, I feel like I was going to be able to fix the situation and this time I was going to be able to make it right. I honestly want that for myself and my family. All my albums that I did, I always tied it to the something. The Truth, The Reason, The B. Coming. I think it was time for a change and this time. So, when I say, ‘If you get cash, take half and bury it/If you got a gun and won’t blast, don’t carry it,’ why put yourself in certain situations?
Even though the track is titled This Time, it almost feels like you’ve made up your mind and that this is the last time that you will ever go through something like this.
Yeah, I’m done. It’s over! It’s over. It’s over. It’s over. I want you to hear, “Bang Bang Youth.” There’s kids out there that’s walking around with guns and stuff and if you breeze through it, I made a statement in there: ‘We got daytime shootouts and night time cookouts/Teddy bears where niggas getting took out/These young niggas run around the ghetto lost/You hang with three broke niggas…you’ll be the fourth/And fucking with these young bucks, I don’t suggest it/’Cause who you was and what you done, don’t impress ’em/Bullets spun or they hung out that Smith & Wesson/Going back to the bink…out the question.’ Over the music, you listen and groove to it, but when I speak it without the music, people understand it a little better.
What do you tell your kids as the September 12 day gets closer?
I had that talk with my oldest, but the younger kids, I don’t think it’s something that’s…children are sponges; they soak things up. If I was to tell my five-year-old or my seven-year-old that I’m about to go to jail, when they go to school and they talk to their classmates, their innocence would have them in situations where they’ll be frowned upon and it’d hurt them. “My dad in jail.” My children don’t even know I’m Beanie Sigel. They don’t know that name. My oldest do, but they don’t know who Beanie Sigel is. I don’t even allow them to listen to my music. I’m at the point in my life where if my children can’t listen to my music, I shouldn’t be making it.
You’ve done other bids and came out to do music. What’s your mindset going in to this one?
In that environment, this outside world…you gotta hang all that up. When I go in there, I won’t be Beanie Sigel. I’ll be 57613-066. That’s who I’ll be. I won’t be Beanie Sigel. I’m not gonna sit in my cell and write rhymes everyday. That’s a real thing inside. There’s people inside who ain’t ever coming out of those buildings. I would talk to them and do my best to be a window for some of ’em who are never gonna make it outta there. We all have the same commissary, we all have the same amount of money on our books, we all gonna eat the same food and nobody cell gonna look different. I’m gonna be a number like everybody else.
Given your situation, doing “The Reunion” track with State Prop must have felt great.
It’s a good feeling because I watched all ’em grow. I was with Roc-A-Fella when it was me, Jay and Bleek. It was Freeway and the State Property, before I created the State Property name, they were young cats trying to get their deals or trying to get on. I knew they were special and there was a special thing about them. I loved that they respected my opinion and they looked up to me in a way.
Last week, Memphis Bleek was on MTV RapFix Live and he said that he tried to reach out to you. He also said that despite the fallout, that you’re still his dude.
Memphis Bleek ain’t never reach out to me or try to reach out to me. I brought Memphis Bleek to my neighborhood. Memphis Bleek been to my mother’s house. He ate from my mother’s food. So, if he wanted to reach out to me, I ain’t a hard person to find. I ain’t a hard person to find at all. But, I don’t have no gripe with Bleek. That’s like my brother. We came into the game together. We grew up together in the music business. I don’t have no gripe with him.
After you released “What You Talkin Bout? (I Ain’t Ya Average Cat)” in 2009, you said all you ever wanted from Jay-Z is a conversation. A few years removed from that now, do you still want that conversation?
[That feeling] is gone. There’s no need for that conversation anymore. There’s no need for the conversation anymore because it’s been too long. That’s all I ever wanted. Jay-Z don’t owe me a dime. What me and Jay had or what I thought we had was a brothership that was beyond music and business. A brothership that I trusted and that I’d put my life in harm’s way for ‘this thing of ours, this [Roc] La Familia.’ I thought it was bigger than music, I thought it was bigger than business, but as I got older and thought about it…that’s all it was, it was business. So, the conversation is for what? I kind of understand…Jay was growing, he’s in a different space, he was rubbing shoulders with different people and when you get around certain people and you get into a certain bracket, sometimes you got to disassociate yourselves with the hoodlums. But this is the same person who says, ‘Jigga man, take the do-rag off/What? I’m bustin’ a U, chick I’m droppin’ you back off/Thug nigga till the end, tell a friend, bitch/ Won’t change for no money, plus I been rich.’ At one point, I thought this rap shit ruined me. I got in more trouble being Beanie Sigel than when I was just Mac.
When you finish your bid, is there something else you could see yourself doing?
I could see myself doing music without the music. My lyrics without no music behind them. Spoken word. Giving the messages to the meanings behind the music. I always said, my last album, I want to decipher every album I did; the meanings. In one of my albums, I said, ‘It’s been a while since I left a stain on your brain/And gave you some game that you could gain from/I’m here to end it now and Break the Cycle of the bullshit same ol’ same that the lames run.’ It’s been a while. That’s a song…from who? The rock group what? Staind. [Singing] It’s been a while. ‘It’s Been a while’ was the first single off the album, Breaking The Cycle from Staind…but rappers don’t rap like that no more.
Best-case scenario, what do you want people to take from This Time, your new album?
How wonderful this album is and how you need to have this album in your life and how this album is one of the best albums that has been put together in such a short time. It’s a body of work that’s needed in hip-hop today because the music that’s out today has no substance and no integrity in the music. All it is, is a bunch of jibberish and a lot of people saying ‘I, I, I, I, I. I got this, I got that.’ There’s no message in the music anymore. I want my music to be me. I don’t want it to be anybody else.