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Napoleon - Outlaw on the Rise
3/8/05 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview by Dante

 


 

rapper Napoleon of the Outlawz

Mutah Wassin Shabazz Beale was born in Newark, New Jersey, one of four sons of Spanish and African American roots. Tragic events in his childhood led to living with his grandmother in Irvington, New Jersey, he would eventually be connected to 2pac through Shakur's Godbrother Kadafi and became part of the Dramacydal group.

 

He was featured on Tupac's LP "Me Against the world", 2pac would later bestow him with the alias of Napoleon when the Outlawz were born, and the young artist found himself featured on four songs on 2pacs "All Eyez on Me".


Only months after 2pac's passing, tragedy struck again as Napoleon's cousin accidentally shot and killed Kadafi, Napoleon later convincing his cousin to turn himself in.

 

December 1999, the Outlawz released their debut LP which went platinum in less than month. Two albums later, Napoleon would go solo. Now working on a double LP set to release this year, Napoleon is on a mission, he spoke to LR about his life, his music and his movement in our exclusive interview.

LatinRapper.com: Its been a while since your name has popped up, what have you been up to?

Basically I been doing a lot of transformation. I been doing some growing up, know what I mean. I been connected spiritually, getting more into my spiritual side. Bowing down to God, getting married, having kids, traveling around the world. Seeing kids that love Pac and the Pac movement. That's what I been doing the last couple years, just finding myself basically.

So what new projects are you involved with?

Me and my cats, I been working, I been doing some fire things. I got a group called the U.S, United Slaves, me and a couple cats from all over, puttin' out mixtapes. My own label, Devoted to Loyalty Entertainment, me and my boy Tiny, a Mexican cat. I just got finished doing an album called "Have Mercy", produced by Johnny J who did 150 songs for 2pac. I been workin' with some other producers, Siege. But I just been working and politickin', pretty soon the whole world gonna hear a lot of Napoleon, on a major level.

Any noteworthy collaborations?

Not no artists, no mainstream artists. I did one mixtape with Jim Jones, but these are like underground songs. For my major album I have Barrington Levy, I have Jon B, the rest are underdogs, I like to roll with the underdogs. The album is fire, reason I aint put it out with yet is politickin, find the right machine to put this out with.

So you're releasing it on your indie label?

I'm not gonna drop mine on my label, I'm gonna go to a major. I did a production deal with Johnny J on his label Clockwork Entertainment, we in the process of looking for major, we not settling for nothing less.

As far as affiliations go, you're no longer a part of the Outlawz?

No, I'm not longer a part. I still go by Napoleon Outlaw, 'cause I still believe in a lot of stuff we represented with Pac, but right now I'm solo. I'm gonna be an outlaw for life, no one can take that away from me, but I plan on making a movement. Just like Outlawz continued to put the message out for Pac, but instead of just touching the ghettos in America, I plan on touching ghettos across the whole world, and I need to take that to a major label to make that happen.

How long have you been doing the solo thing?

I been doing the solo since I been out the group, about two, three years at the most. When I came into the Outlawz, I came as a solo artist and Pac put us together, but I came into it solo.

I read a very moving story about you, one that moved 2Pac himself to tears and led to you and him working together. Are you able to share that story that with us?

Definitely. At an early age, at three years old, I witnessed my mother and father get murdered. My brothers were in the house, my little brother Kamil, my old brother Moonie. One of the guys that murdered my father was my Godfather. I got shot in my foot when I was three years old.

 

I'm a soldier, I know that everything that happened, happened by the will of God, and everything God put us through, it makes us stronger. And I shared that with Pac, and I guess he was feeling that. Pac grew up through a struggle the same way. And I guess Pac seen something on the talent level that made him want to get me involved.

So how did you get put on, wasn't it one of 2pac's relatives?

Kadafi, he was a half-brother to Pac, he shared this story with Pac, he know sort of what happened. When we were in New York, I been around him a couple of times, but I never really shared the sory. So he asked "what happened with your moms and pops", when I told him, that moved him to tears.

The media have portrayed 2Pac in both negative and positive lights. To you personally, what kind of person was Pac?

Man, Pac, first of all, he had a beautiful soul. He was sensitive in a lot of stuff. He could see something on the news, like a little kid getting killed, and he would get to tears. Some people watch the TV at dinner and don't get affected, Pac was the opposite. He did a lot of positive things he didn't even want the media to know. As long as God knows the positive things that he did, that's all that mattered. He was like a father figure, a brother figure too, a positive role model.

Do you think the hip hop world would be different if Pac was still with us today?

Of course, of course, I definitely believe. Because before he passed away, hip hop was his, the number one selling artist. All the hottest artists right now, I don't care who you are except for a few, they got some part of Pac in them, part of his style. Pac wanted to get into politics, he was definitely gonna change the game. 'Cause I know what Pac wanted to do the in the music industry, I want to do what he wanted to do, so that's what I'm doing with my career right now.

When 2Pac passed, rest in peace, Outlawz were still on the grind and had a platinum LP, but then we didn't hear much about you for a while, what happened?

We did a lot of bad business mistakes, and I believe you have to grow, every year you have to grow with your music. When we were with the Outalwz, we didn't grow with our music, we were doing the same thing each year that we did on the last album.

 

That's one of the reasons I left the group, if I can't grow with the group, I would grow on my own. And we made mistakes. We were a bunch of wild cats, and major labels were very scared to deal with us, a lot of people tried to blackball us, major artists, so we had to do our independent thing.

Blackballed Outlawz? Dissing Outlawz would be like an extension of dissing Pac, who would want to blackball you?

It happens though, brother. But when Pac died, a lot of people we thought were friends in the music industry turned. Pac had enemies. Once Pac left, they didn't care about the Outlawz. I won't say everyone had beef with Pac, but a few major dogs.

 

The music industry after Pac died came from the East or the South. The East Coast thought that we had something against them, at that time a lot of people in the industry were friends with Biggie or Puffy, and some cats on the West Coast were afraid of Suge, so that affected us. Being that I still got a little foot in the game, good management, good people, and God been opening a lot of doors, my chance at shining definitely coming up.

What would Napoleon be doing at this very minute if he chose to not become a rap artist?

I probably be doing what the rest of my family or friends be doing: either locked up, dead, or selling drugs. That's the people I know from back home. Aint no telling, but that's a 90% chance.

You're Muslim, from what I understand. Were you born into Islam or did you convert?

My moms and pops was Muslim, but when they passed I wasn't able to practice it because I was raised with a Christian family. But I always called myself Muslim. But three years ago I reverted, right now I can say that I'm proud to call myself a Muslim, I do pray 5 times a day, I did go to Mecca twice.

Do your religious beliefs cross paths with your music at any time?

No it don't, because first of all I would never do music that goes against my religion. Right now my music is just positivity. Islam tells you to speak from the heart. I don't disrespect women, I don't curse in my music, I'm doing gods work right now. I can get killed doing what I'm doing right now, and I would feel good that I died on a positive note, I'm doing a positive movement .

There have been a lot of recent studies showing Latinos gravitating towards Islam. How do you think Latinos can benefit from learning more about your faith?

I think Latinos can learn, first of all, this faith goes back to the Latin world. Spain was ruled by Muslims for 800 years. Like a lot of words in Spanish come from Arabic, like arroz. It was a lot of words, Islam goes back to their ancestors. And Spanish Muslims contributed a lot to the world.

Like Arab influenced architecture in Spain and words like "almohada."

You notice you got a lot of Spanish people named Omar. Actually Omar was one of the second caliphs after Mohammed, peace be unto him. And names like Medina after the holy city, so the influence is big. Just like a lot of African Americans is coming back to what their ancestors were practicing.

Getting back to the music for a moment, who are some of the artists that you listen to?

To be honest, its not too many hip hop artists, and that's sad. Once in a while I turn on the radio, but there's not really one artist. When Scarface drops, I listen to Scarface, Pac drops, I listen to Pac. Common, Talib Kweli, I like what they talk about, but there's no album I can go buy, and that's sad when hip hop gets to that.

So what did you think about Pac's last album.

I didn't have nothing against it. I was happy about it dropping, but the album I wasn't happy with. I don't even think that was a good album, I couldn't really feel that album, but I'm happy with what it did on the charts. I think if Pac was here, he would agree with me, I wasn't happy with the sound of the album.

The sound being who produced it, or just the way it was put together?

It's not even about the producer, 'cause Eminem is a dope lyricist and I think his production is cool. But I don't like how the album was 'cause I know how the tracks were originally. They made his voice extra fast or extra slow. So if you heard the original tracks, you'd say "oh my god", but someone with a fresh ear for it wouldn't know what I'm talking about.

Anybody in particular you'd like to work with in the future?

I would like to work with... not just people talented, but people because of their realness. Like Fat Joe, I would love to do that Spanish Connection with me and Fat Joe. I plan on doing an album where I have all street cats, and one side all conscious rappers, and there's a lot of people that I would pick from. I don't wanna say the names 'cause I don't want people to steal my idea (laughs). Couple cats... Talib Kweli, Common, people like that.

Do you speak Spanish?

No, I don't speak Spanish, that's what I'm mad about, grandma aint teach me. She taught me how to count: uno, dos, tres, that's about it (laughs). But my grandmother's still alive, she's 85 years old, she from San Juan, Puerto Rico. That's my heart, she reps Puerto Rico to the fullest.

Speaking of Islam and rap, what did you think about Shock of the Hour?

Shock of the Hour?

Around '93, MC Ren dropped an album with clips from the Nation of Islam. Very pro-black album, but also with lyrics talking about things like hanging a black man for having white best friends.

It's crazy 'cause a lot of people quick to talk about Islam. One thing about Islam, you cant be mad at someone because of a skin color. I don't wanna disrespect the Nation of Islam and the brothers searching, but know the true religion before you speak on the religion. You doing more harm to the religion than the enemies of Islam. To Muslims, Christians, Jews, I'm trying to spread a message worldwide.

So you'd collab with Christians and Jews?

Not a problem. Long as I feel like they music is the music I feel, we can make it happen. That's not what Islam teaches, all through the Quran, the "people of the book", how the Quran refers to the Christians and the Jews, we need to respect them. The prophet Mohammed, peace be unto him, respected them, and we need to follow what the prophet did.

What are you doing now outside of music?

Right now, just trying to get into real estate. I got a lot of business plans I want to do. Over in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, its one of the riches places to be. I just came back a couple months ago, so I'm trying to build opportunities.

What does the future hold for Napoleon?

I really feel like the world gotta see my face, I got a lot of people backing me. I'm just doing the connection worldwide, doing stuff for Ethiopia, trying to feed the orphans and the AIDS victims over there. Trying be the first to get MTV to come to Dubai or North Africa with me and see how people can live in the gutter, the hoods of Puerto Rico. To get people to open their eyes and see the rest of the world, Africa, Puerto Rico, Mexico, get them open minded. I want to use my music to open that gap worldwide.

Any last thoughts or anything you'd like to add?

Thank you and the Latin community for the interview, and hopefully we connect everybody together, make it happen real big.

 

Napoleon official website: http://napoleonoutlawed.com

Napoleon on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lifeofanoutlaw

Napoleon on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/mutahnapoleon

 

 




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