More About Beanie SigelUnlike his contemporaries, Beanie Sigel didn't pay his dues by performing on the underground open mic circuit or appearing on mixtapes. No, this thoroughbred MC skipped the demo-making process and went straight from rocking ciphers on the streets of his native South Philly to rocking mics alongside his Roc-A-Fella brethren, Jay-Z and Memphis Bleek. "I ain't into battling people and all that," says Sigel. "You come at me like that and I might slap you. I ain't trying to hear that. Man, I'm gangsta, nigga." Which is why, in many ways, Sigel's debut album, last year's The Truth, was his demo tape.
One year later and more than 700,000 units sold, Sigel is finally prepared to unload his highly anticipated follow-up disc, The Reason. Produced by 88 Keys, No ID, Kanye West and Just Blaze, and featuring collaborations with Scarface, Daz Dillinger and Kurupt and, of course, his Roc-A-Fella rhyme family, The Reason is a cohesive collection of hard-core gangsta soul tracks that explains why Sigel's first album was called The Truth. In the place of trendy references to jewelry, cars, money and hoes, the new disc is packed with raw and uncut tales from the hood.
"This album is different from the last one `cause it's me," says Sigel. "This album should've been called The Truth `cause it's just me spittin' however I want. It ain't no direction or nothing to this album. It's just straight beats and rhymes. The Truth had a lot of stories-"What Your Life Like," "Ride for My Niggas," "Remember Them Days," "Mac Man"-a lot of little concepts and tricky stuff. It ain't like that on The Reason. The first album was business, this album is fun."
Although Roc-A-Fella, one of the most prestigious imprints in hip-hop, has become synonymous with Jay-Z's witty, boastful rhymes about Cristal, cash, hoes, platinum and ice, Sigel spits gritty, point blank lyrics that were inspired by his days and nights coming of age on the streets, where he was surrounded-and ultimately raised-by hustlers, dope dealers, dope users, thieves, con artists and money snatchers.
"Jay-Z is responsible for [influencing other MCs] to change their styles and talk about jewelry and shit," concedes Sigel, "but that's not me," he adds. "I'm Beans. I'm doing me. I mean, I got jewelry and Bentley's, but I don't talk about it in my rhymes. That's just something I got. Some people need to talk about that stuff, but I got my own flavor. I don't really talk about me, like what I got or what my lifestyle is now. I talk about how I was and what made me where I am right now. It ain't about where you at, it's about how you got there-that's what counts. What happens in between the start and the finish is what the people wanna know, so that's what I talk about."
"Nothing Like It" is perhaps the track that best explains Sigel's rhyme and reason. In it, he drops such gems as, "I paint word pictures on the canvas of life / I don't control the brush / I just keep the colors in order" and "I changed my whole life in nine months / Like sperm in the womb / These young punks never learn / Try to tell `em / You can't burn without smelling the fumes."
"If I had to pick a favorite track on the album, I guess I'd pick `Nothing Like It,' cause there's really nothing like it," he says. "That song explains how I write my rhymes. I ain't never had no bookbag with a lotta rhymes in it, or sat down everyday writing rhymes and listening to beats-that was never me," he continues. "I listen to a beat, walk around, talk to myself, think of thoughts, put my words together, write a rhyme in my head, then go in the booth and spit it out."
Similarly, when Sigel heard the beat for "Grandma," he says it reminded him of an old gospel song. "It sounded like some real old soulful shit and it reminded me of big momma's house and the thought of grandma"; hence, the self explanatory title.
Another standout is "Man's World." "That beat is just sick," Sigel exclaims with proud enthusiasm. "It's a hard bea