Published on URB
“Now, you know you don’t own a Benz / Yes, I do and chrome’s the trim,” says Redman to himself on ‘Redman Meets Reggie Noble’ a track off his 1992 debut, Whut? Thee Album. Even then, he drew a line between himself and Redman, a boastful blunt smoking, gun-toting rap character who’s nothing like Reggie (besides the blunt smoking part). That was 17 years ago, and now, his new album Reggie Noble 9 ½ caps a career that’s made him known in both rap and entertainment.
Known for his solo records (Dare Iz A Darkside and Muddy Waters) and work with Methodman (Blackout! 1 & 2), Reggie’s been in films and TV, runs his own label, Gilla House Records, and is an admitted workhorse. “I multi-task ‘cause I’m after that paycheck,” he says, which was apparent during our interview as he repeatedly placed me on hold, talked to his agent about the new album and upcoming mixtape, while taking his daughter to soccer practice.
I caught him on a busy off-day to talk about his pre-Redman days, upcoming film work, and other projects in the pipeline. Here’s to Reggie Noble, a rapper who’s never taken himself seriously and who’s built a name through hard rhymes–and an even harder work ethic. “So fuck all you fools out there with a large vocabulary in your sentence / I don’t need that shit to pay my rent with!”
You debuted on EPMD’s Business As Usual? Talk about that history for people who don’t know?
I met the legendary EPMD at a club in Jersey called “Sensations.” I was actually a DJ at the time and was with this other dude. We went to Sensations to see MC Lyte, but once we got there, we saw EPMD backstage and decided to just kick it. My friend told Eric Sermon [that] I could rap, mind you, I was a DJ at the time and only knew, like, two raps [laughs]! But they kept fucking with me, telling me to kick some raps for them. After a few hours of drinking and smoking, I kicked some raps and Eric threw me on stage that very same night! That’s how I got down with those dudes. That’s how everything started basically.
That’s how you linked up with Def Squad?
After that night, EPMD was just a phone call away. We became homies and I ended up living with Eric [Sermon] for some months. When they’d go on tour, I’d come along to carry their bags and shit. Eventually I worked my mic skills up and got to be featured along with Def Squad.
After dropping your first album, Whut? Thee Album, you made Dare Iz A Dark Side. When was the last time you heard those albums?
Man, I haven’t [listened to] them in like… when I recorded that shit [laughs]. Over the last ten years, I’d say I probably heard parts of them, but I never sat down and listened to the whole thing.
Out of all your records, which has the most sentimental value for you?
Oooh, hmmm, Muddy Waters and my first album.
And through these albums, you’ve pretty much kept your delivery the same. Is this a conscious thing?
It has always has been a Redman thing. I always wanted to keep that solid core for my fans. With this new album, Reggie Noble 9 ½, I have Redman sitting back and Reggie is stepping up. It’s not like I’m trying to get in with the times or trying to make my music fit nobody’s taste. Redman is its own thing, and Reggie is its own thing.
What’s the difference between Reggie and Redman then?
It’s really the personality difference. Reggie Noble has certain views on music and is a worldwide musician—which you’ll be able to hear in the new album. With Redman, I just stick to the normal funny, party shit that the fans seem to love. So this album is a little different.
Obviously you don’t carry guns everywhere with you, especially with a family and such. But it’s not all fiction—you smoke weed right?
Is it ever hard to travel with it and getting in into different cities?
Not at all because fans that want to show me strands from their regions! Some cats even grow their own shit and want you to try some. People want to prove that their town has the best weed, so usually finding weed on tour isn’t a problem. A lot of these people actually go out of their way to give me shit [laughs]!
What’s the best greens you’ve had? Where’d you come across it?
I got plenty of stories about that. I would first like to shout out Humboldt County, and just Northern California in general! One time I met these two white girls, who were tight looking too, who happened to be growers. One was a master grower and one was a trimmer. They was so proud! Anyways, the trees they gave me were unbelievable. I get a whole lot of weed, but this was special [laughs]! Y’all want the best weed? Northern California is where it’s at!
Let’s move onto your other projects. Talk about those Ill At Will mixtapes.
Sometimes labels won’t let you do this or that because of copyright issues. So doing these mixtapes allow me to do extra material however I want. It’s just for the fans too. Look, I’m a workaholic. Live From The Bricks is probably my favorite one we’ve done.
A lot of younger kids were introduced to you through your work with Methodman. How did that relationship with Meth come about?
After I dropped my first joint, Meth came in the game and was on the same label as me. In 1994, they teamed us up to do the “Month Of The Man” tour, which was one of the best and biggest promotional tours Def Jam ever organized. I guess they figured we were both black and looked alike, let’s throw these dudes together! [laughs] They both smoke weed, just put them on the road [laughs]! We’re both good at our jobs, so we put it down.
Any new projects with Meth you can tell us about?
He has a solo joint coming out called Crystal Meth that he wants me to executive produce, but that’s still in the works.
Talk about Reggie Noble 9 ½.
This is one of my albums that Eric [Sermon] isn’t going to be on. Like I said, its more Reggie Noble and less Redman. Rocwilder is doing most of the beats along with some international cats I met overseas. Like I said, I multi-task, so I made this while doing Blackout 2 because I was bored. The shit ended up being twelve tracks. I multi-task! Plus, it means an extra check [laughs]!
How long does it take you to put together a song?
Sometimes it takes two days, sometimes two hours, sometimes two weeks. Through the years, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the process. So now, when I go in the studio, I know what to listen for, which really speeds up the process. I know exactly what I wanna do once I hear a beat.
You’ve worked with many producers through the years. Who haven’t you worked with that you’d like to?
Let’s see, I worked with Timbaland once before, which was good because he put me to the test. I think Dr. Dre is one of them for sure. I would also love to get some beats from Pharrell, too.
What’s up with the acting gigs?
I’m keeping that on-hold for now. What I want to do is direct. So my acting gigs are pretty much two movies: How High and Bride Of Chucky. I kind of want to keep it that way. Those were both silly movies and I’m happy with that for now. I’m learning to direct and hope to get in that field more. I don’t want to whore myself out too much [laughs].
What’s next for you?
Reggie Noble 9 ½ is the next one! I’m also heavily trying to push my own label, Gilla House. We got a lot of new music and ideas comin’ out. Eric Sermon is geared up to do Muddy Waters 2 for me, so he’s still very heavily involved in the process. Be on the look out.
Any last words for your fans?
Yes sir! If you still love hip-hop then check me out. I know a lot of heads have been turned off by recent rap, but we’re still doing it! Wu Tang, Def Squad, Redman… keep rockin’ with us!