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1 January, 2001@12:00 am

If Omar Credle (O.C.) has learned anything in his seven-year recording career, it’s that while skills are a widely appreciated commodity, they are not enough to pay the rent. Reason being, though O.C. has been warmly embraced by critics, and fans alike, there has always been one thing that has eluded him: record sales. O.C.’s quest to attain commercial acceptance is a habitually played out, and eternally debated scenario in hip-hop. One where, respected emcees, like O.C., are forced to withstand watching lesser-talented artists go Gold, or Platinum, merely on the strength of one catchy, radio-formulated single. Though O.C.’s hands have been undeniably tied by his two former labels (Wild Pitch, and London/Payday), both of which grossly under-promoted his highly slept-on endeavors, Word…Life & Jewelz. Things got even more complicated for O.C. when his third recording home, V2, folded up its tents right before the release of his now aborted third release Love, Hell, or Right.

Now back after a four-year hiatus, and recording for his fourth label, JCOR, O.C. has re-emerged with Bon Appetit, and with a seemingly more commercial approach to his craft. That approach, has thickened O.C.’s skin, as for the first time he is feeling the wrath of critics who usually adorn him with praise.

With that in mind, an obviously frustrated, and somewhat agitated O.C. spoke with me about Bon Appetit, some of his past woes, and his future as a solo-emcee (retirement?).

HHS: Bon Appetit is your third release, and the fourth subsequent label you have recorded for. Have you ever felt truly at home, or stable on a label?

O.C.- No, not really. Basically, the labels that I was on were not behind me 100 percent. And scared money don’t make money. You can’t go into situations half-assed. That’s always been the problems with these little labels. Maybe there was a quota they had to fill when they signed me, or they did it out of respect, but didn’t have faith in the project.

I hate sounding like a crybaby, blaming the labels. But I could have released things independently and made more dough.

HHS: Do you feel comfortable at JCOR?

O.C.- No. With JCOR, I gave them something easy (Bon Appetit) to work, and they didn’t know how to work it. With all of these labels, it’s the same shit, different toilet. It’s not like they’re gonna say, “Aiight, we messed up, here’s a half-mil to rectify the situation.”

HHS: You have dropped two dope LP’s, and a classic b-boy anthem (“Times Up”). Yet, your record sales do not reflect the amount of respect you have in the industry. Do you feel your releases have even been given proper promotion?

O.C.- No! If there’s no promotion, then people don’t know.

HHS: Bon Appetit differs from your previous releases, as it is a more smoothed out/radio accessible LP. What prompted the change?

O.C.- It’s a different day. Every LP is not supposed to be the same. People criticize; talk shit about me trying to thug it out. But if they follow my career, like they said they do, they’ve seen me with the gold teeth and the chains on earlier albums. I’m just trying to be me. What would happen if I sold over 500,000 records with the same material? I wouldn’t be considered underground. But I’ ve never put that label on myself. I’ve called myself a “slept on phenomenon,” but that don’t mean underground. It could mean, hasn’t gone Gold yet. I can’t do “Time’s Up” on every record.

HHS: What was your goal with Bon Appetit?

O.C.-Just like everybody else’s goal in the business. To sell records. That’s what we’re in the game for.

HHS: Do you feel the four-year delay in-between Jewelz and Bon Appetit affected you?

O.C.- Not really. If you put out a dope album and people respond to it, it doesn’t matter when it comes out. I’ve always felt it’s been the lack of promotion.

HHS: Bon Appetit‘s lead-single, “Half Good, Half Sinner”, is not included on the LP, why?

O.C.- Couldn’t get the sample cleared. I did not want that as a single. That’s the single the label wanted. It was just supposed to be a white-label. Promo-only! And you know that B. White is hard to clear.

HHS: Fans, and critics have not embraced Bon Appetit like your previous endeavors. Did you expect any backlash from your core fanbase with this release?

O.C.- If they feel like it’s not up to what they feel it should be, then don’t pick it up. Period! I understand people are not gonna like everything. It’s not about me being bitter. It’s about being human. Anyone would get upset if people kept saying, don’t do it that way, do it this way. I have to do it the way that is best for me. If I go thru the motions just to please someone else, it’ll be phony. For those who feel letdown, ask God to turn you into O.C. so you can show me how I should be. I’m the best judge of what is in O.C.’s head. I’m the best judge of what O.C. is gonna say, and why! I bet you if every album after Word…Life went Gold, or Platinum, everyone would have forgotten about “Times Up.” But since I never got those sales, and stayed stuck in the “underground,” all my work will be judged on that.

HHS: Fans, (myself included) become guilty of expecting artists to stick to certain styles/musical identities. Is it fair to expect artists to remain cemented, or closely adhere to what we have become familiar with?

O.C.- I don’t make albums for the fans. No disrespect. I can’t please you all the time. I never set out to make albums for fans; I make them for my own personal gratification. If it sounds right to me, then I’m happy.

HHS: Whatever happened to the material you recorded for the aborted Is Love Hell, or Right? How far into recording did you get, and will that material ever surface? (I know “Foundation” f/Jay-Z was originally slated for that LP)…

O.C.- Check for it soon, that’s all I can really (legally) say about it right now. It will come out at some point.

HHS: What does the future hold for O.C? Also, any plans on another D.I.T.C. collaborative effort?

O.C.- No more D.I.T.C., we’re called Wildlife now. We’re always collaborating. No more solo albums for now! I will still be in the game, but I can’t really say much more then that. And if you’re not satisfied with the 2nd or 3rd O.C. album, buy the first one!!

  Mixtape D.L.
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