Let’s talk about the album a little bit more. Is it true you already have a sequel planned?
I’ve recorded so much music—127 songs—I had to take off some jamming-ass records from some top-shelf producers and some extremely important features. I have records with Snoop Dogg, Trey Songz and Pharrell and tracks that I really love that are just laying around. I wouldn’t be doing the entire project justice, and the amount of time I’ve dedicated to this project, if I just use the sixteen [songs on this album].
I need to complete this thought. The mindset and feeling and emotions, I need to put this out before I can move on. The sequel will be Trouble Man: He Who Wears the Crown.
Was there more output creatively than previous albums?
That’s the most value I’ve produced for one particular project. For Paper Trail, I did 60 or 70 songs. This is the most time and attention I’ve dedicated to one project in a long time. I didn’t confine myself to a date; I just worked and worked until I thought I was finished.
Where did the ideas and writing take place? Was it recently or when you were in prison?
I wrote some shit while I was in prison. I wrote the introduction in prison and “G Season.” I wrote “How Wonderful Life Is” featuring Akon when I got out and they took me back to prison for two weeks, and I wrote “I’m Flexing” during that time. I’d say 88 percent was written since I’ve been home, and some of the hottest records were some of the last ones I did.
You’re working on a film project to accompany the album that looks at how your life would be if you never became a rapper. How did it feel to recreate those situations?
It made me thankful and grateful for all the shit I’ve been able to avoid due to the support system around me and the blessings I was granted with music. The life that I could be living, that shit doesn’t look good. A lot of people sit around glorifying it, and it’s good to sit back and say you survived it, but when you have to live it everyday, you don’t know what your freedom has in store for you from today until tomorrow. That’s not a good feeling, and we put up with it if we have to, but nobody wants to.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with adversity and struggling right now?
First and foremost, keep god first and let him lead the way. We fuck shit up a lot more than what it is when we try to take control of a problem and not allow god the opportunity to step in. Just try to understand that it is never as bad as it seems, and as long as you have life you have hope. Just wake up tomorrow and try to be better than you were today. Repeat that process and eventually things will turn around. I’m living proof of that.