By: Todd Davis
Music executive, manager, and record producer, Sha Money XL, is not only credited as introducing multi-platinum artist, 50 Cent, to the masses, but he is also a founding member of G-Unit, and, along with 50, brought extended family members; Lloyd Banks & Tony Yayo into the fold. He and Mr. Curtis Jackson later formed the powerhouse imprint, G-Unit Records, after the super-success of the groups 2003 debut, Beg for Mercy. With this being said, meet Sha Money XLs latest discovery, Harlem, New York, emcee, Riz
When did you first fall in love with Hip-Hop?
When I heard Milk is chillin, Giz is chillin (from the Audio Two classic, Top Billin) -- I always was around music, I just slowly got into the process of making music.
Youre from Harlem, New York, right?
Yes, but I was born in South Carolina.
Oh, okay. So, whose music did you grow up on?
When I got old enough to understand what they were talking about, (it was) Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie, and Pac.
What prompted you to make a career out of rap?
In 2005, after I put out an independent CD in my neighborhood. I received a great response.
When did Sha Money XL, co-founder of G-Unit Records, come into the picture?
I actually signed to Diamond District (Entertainment) before I met Sha. I seen Sha at video shoots, never said much to him, but I would be there in the cut. Dave and Will (of Diamond District) went to see Sha at a mixing session, played him some records, then Sha was interested in working with me.
What reason did you choose for going with an indie imprint versus that of a major label?
The majors want you (to) put all the work in. Then, they want to split the profits through the 360 deals they have in place.
Musically, what type of vibe are you on?
I describe it as diverse. My music is full of my experiences, thoughts that I have in my head, (and) my point of view of the environment I live in.
Riz, how did that moniker come to be?
Just a name they called me in the hood. It stuck with me
Self Made, why did you wanna call your album that?
It represents the struggle. The power of self believing, that you could accomplish whatever you set your mind on -- Self Made means born alone, die alone, hold your own, (and) get paid.
Earlier this year, an artist out of ATL, Rocko, dropped a solo album with this same exact title -- Did that come into play when it came time to name your record?
No, never heard of him before. It doesn't change what I represent.
When you write, do you usually pen your lyrics before, during, or after hearing the beat?
The beat talks to me. I build the song around the concept, and the chorus. Then I apply past, present, or the thoughts I have for my future.
Although its still very early on in your career, have you had that one particular A-Ha! moment yet?
Just one highlight; meeting Jay-Z at Def Jam, in his office, before he left -- It let me know I was getting closer.
What are your immediate plans for lasting in this grueling business of music?
Hard work, staying true to myself, (and) the fact that I'm talented and I have a lot more to offer than (just) a single.
You are also planning on launching your own clothing line as well, correct?
What type(s) of apparel will you specialize in?
I plan to do a t-shirt line, hoodies, crew neck sweaters, and hats. Internet store is what I'm aiming for. No one likes to leave home anymore. My store is just a click away.
Who exactly are you making your music for?
I speak for the people in the environments that are just like mine, that don't have the opportunity to be heard.
What do you do to unwind or relax?
I'm in the gym or in the hood with the homies, or home with my family.
What are your future long-term goals in life?
(Becoming) a millionaire, (being) retired, (and) watching my daughter grow into whatever she chose to become.
Do you have any shout-outs?
Shout Sha Money,
Will, Dave, (and) all the Damus worldwide, and, of course, Harlem.