Tony Yayo watched rap form into what it is today. He was right there when Get Rich or Die Tryin’ kicked in hip-hop’s door and helped Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent (along with G-Unit) take over the industry. Suffice to say, the soon-to-be forty year old Jamaica, Queens native has seen some shit and earned his OG status.
Forging a reputation as the hype man for a gangsta rap group, it’s interesting to hear the motivation for his career stems from honour and discipline rather than simply gang violence and drug dealing. That’s what happened when himself and fellow G-Unit signee Uncle Murda (aka Lenny Grant) spoke to Montreality.
Even with a reputation as a street hustler, he never lost sight of what truly makes one gangsta. He mentioned he had to hustle to survive and not because it was cool; but ultimately to take care of those closest to him.
“I would say a G is just a nigga that wanna take care of his family,” said Yayo. “You’ll meet the illest killers in the world you know what I’m sayin? Muthafuckas that’s in jail don’t wanna be in jail, muthafuckas that’s in the feds they don’t wanna be in the feds. They’ll tell you like ‘what the fuck you doing here, you stupid?’ So I mean yeah, just take care of your family.”
Seeing it firsthand in the form of 50 Cent, Yayo recognizes persistence as being an integral part of success. When asked what message he would have for the youth out there, the veteran MC didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“My message is, I always go by this, consistency is the key to everything,” he said. “If you keep studying them scripts, you could be an actor. You keep shooting that jump shot, you could be a ball player. If you keep consistent [with] your music, it’s gon’ [work out for the better]. Just don’t give up – consistency the key to everything.”
Not losing perspective on life as a whole, the man born Marvin Bernard is eternally grateful for all he’s experienced. In his opinion, a higher power could have easily altered things and stopped him from being in an influential position within the culture. Using an old (and now dearly departed) label mate as an example, he says the end comes for everyone and it’s about cherishing the accomplishments that matters most.
“It’s a blessing for me because I feel like we are all chosen – God didn’t have to put us in this position you know what I’m saying?” said Yayo.
“Sometimes muthafuckas get spoiled because you wanna be on the top forever but the game don’t work like that. I went to Prodigy’s funeral, that shit was some heartbreaking shit, we gon’ all have our day but at the end of the day, Prodigy flew around the world and did more shit than ten people [did], maybe a hundred people will do in they lives so God bless him. That’s the same experiences [I] have – I haven’t been to Canada since [I was] a kid. I got family in Montreal I couldn’t see because you know, [Canada] don’t play with the felonies and shit like that, so you know I’m just blessed that Canada let me in hopefully I could go to like Toronto…Ottawa and all these other places.”
The full interview can be viewed below and throughout the 15 minute video Yayo and Uncle Murda discuss 50 Cent’s unwavering work ethic, Uncle Murda and 50 nearly having an indoor shootout when 50 first tried to sign him, they recite what they consider their realest verse, never working a regular 9-5, Prodigy’s passing and more.