By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
DRE: Man, it’s so many. You got so many goddamn verses.
BIG BOI: Mm-hmm. I’m a rapping fool. Trying to tell you! A rapping fool.
DRE: Big Boi probably got the most superb goddamn rhythm out of any rapper. Any rapper. It’s almost like he was tap dancing. If he was a horn player, he’d be doing a whole bunch of scattin’. And all on rhythm, not missing a beat.
BIG BOI: I’m saying, man, thank you. Damn.
Over time, do you improve at closing the gap between what you first hear in your head and what you get down on paper or in the studio?
BIG BOI: Kind of, but not really, because we’re still students of the music. We’re still learning, still looking for that moment. Even if you think you got the dopest verse in the world, the dopest melody or dopest song, it still ain’t never good enough when you put it down. You’re still like, damn, I don’t really know if this is any good, until people around you [say], man you buggin’! What the fuck is wrong with you? Or we take it to one another and he’ll be like, man, that’s a muthafuckin’ smash! But the best thing to do is always just get your idea out. Never just sit on your ideas ’cause you might fuck around and forget some shit.
DRE: That’s the tormenting part about it, like if you hear this whole amazing thing in your head, and you get to the studio and have it sound like shit? You’ll be like, man . . .
BIG BOI: What the fuck was I thinking?
DRE: I just knew this was gon’ work! [Laughs.] But then a lot of times what happens is, you had to have that [first thing] in your head to get to another point. Or, because it didn’t work that way, you had to change it, and it ends up being so unconventional that it turns into something totally new and fresh that’s even better.
BIG BOI: That be that shit where you be like, how the fuck did I come up with this? You in a trance almost. And that’s why we don’t make deadlines. You can’t force that kind of thing.
DRE: The only thing you can do is try your best.
BIG BOI: Apply yourself every now and then.
DRE: You gotta get out there and work, you know? You can pray all day, but you got to get up off your knees every now and then and go do something.