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DJ Vlad Apologizes To Me On Shirley’s Temple

March 2, 2024

Read the full interview on SheenMagazine.com!

This was a long time coming. One year after our public falling out, I asked DJ Vlad to come on my show Shirley’s Temple, with a focus on mental health.

DJ Vlad first reached out to me after he saw I had G-Eazy on Shirley’s Temple. I then proceeded to work for him at Vlad TV, booking talent and conducting interviews.

Last year on Thanksgiving, DJ Vlad lashed out by angrily yelling and threatening me over the phone, all because he couldn’t get a Saweetie interview. Things escalated even further because I wouldn’t give her publicist’s contact, and he proceeded to throw me and the publicist under the bus. He then humiliated me on social media.

 

One year later, DJ Vlad decides to finally apologize via Twitter. I asked him to come on Shirley’s Temple to clear the air and here’s what happened.

Thank you for being here. How are you feeling?

I felt bad about that whole situation and your role in it. You didn’t do anything wrong. Unfortunately, you got swept up into a bigger situation and I felt bad about including you in it. I’ve been thinking about when the right time was to publicly apologize. That’s why when I first did it, I publicly apologized. Left it at that, and see if there was going to be any sort of follow up conversations, on your terms.

https://x.com/djvlad/status/1720470309558485181?s=46&t=kceGBolbfunQRYhbbiTCwg

Because I was the person that was wrong in this regard. You were minding your own business and you got caught up in other bullshit. When you asked, “hey, can you come on the show?” Yeah, you definitely deserve that. Me come on your platform and publicly say what I had to say. Because I publicly tweeted the apology first. In terms of an explanation, I said whatever you want to do.

What prompted you to apologize a whole year later? 

Let’s set the stage so everyone understands what happened. You and I were working together and you book interviews for me, as well as do some interviews. At that point, you were primarily booking interviews for me.

What had happened was we had gotten a pass on the Saweetie interview and off the cuff, I just made a random tweet: “Oh Saweetie, only sold 8000 copies. Had she done VladTV, she would’ve doubled that.”

 

I was going to ask what your intent of that tweet was.

It was just me talking my shit. If you look at my history, I don’t really hold my tongue. I am where I am because I go hard in my interviews and my opinions and everything else. I threw that out there, didn’t think anyone would give a shit. I had at the time maybe 150K followers, I don’t have a big Twitter account. That tweet started to go viral, which was really unexpected.

Is there a part of you that is happy when that happens?

You stay in the public eye for what you do. But in a way, there’s sort of a frustration overall. I’ve spent 16 years of my life, a third of my life, I’ve devoted to VladTV. Probably about 40% something I’ve devoted to Hip-Hop. Thousands of interviews, everything I financed myself. Over a decade of grinding independently to get these big moments, to continuously get millions of views and to be the top media outlet. Then to constantly be shut down by almost every label. There’s always the publicist at the label that doesn’t like Vlad TV and continues to send people like Benny the Butcher to go do XXL that gets 5K views, and ignores the VladTV that would get two, three million views. It was a frustrating thing. That tweet started to go viral to get millions of impressions to the point where Saweetie responded. She said, “Actually…”

“I’m a fan.”

“I’m a fan. Here’s a Snoop video I’m just watching. I had no idea that you even requested an interview. I fuck with you.” At that point…’

 

At that point, you should’ve been happy. But instead you got mad! She made you look good as fuck. 

I should’ve stopped. I’m not going to talk about excuses or what I’m personally going through in my life because it doesn’t matter. I’m an adult. I should’ve stopped and I fucked up. I ended up posting our text messages about that to try to respond to her about that publicly. Because now Shade Room was picking it up, it’s going everywhere. You’re right, I should’ve stopped. In the process, I ended up dragging in and reposting one of your text messages. Which I totally shouldn’t have done, I was wrong for that.

I would’ve been mad regardless, but you could have left my name out. 

You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I blacked out and I threw you under the bus, and this is why I felt bad about the situation. It started a bit of a back and forth with social media.

You ask why I spent a long time not responding, the reason was when you and I were texting, I said alright fuck it. You’re protecting your sources, I’m mad about the situation. I felt I’ve been holding you down, paying you more than you ever got paid. Honestly you could look at the interviews, we ultimately took a loss from the interviews. Unfortunately, which is not your fault.

Our audience did not react the way I was hoping. I spent a lot of time and money investing into trying to get our audience cool with you and your brand, because you were getting in very good interviews. The interviews you were booking were very impactful and important people. Some of them did do well, some of them did get a little bit over the top.

Someone said me and Fredro Starr were the new Vlad and Boosie.

Yeah, you and Fredro… Ultimately, it is what it is. As a business owner, I take that loss. I don’t complain about it, I don’t cry about it. What had happened was during the back and forth, when you and I were texting, I said alright, fuck it. If you want to protect your sources and I’m frustrated by the situation, I choose violence. I’m going to turn up. I choose violence is a Game of Thrones meme.

I don’t watch Game of Thrones.

I remember hearing an interview where you address that. It’s Game of Thrones. SZA’s new album, she says “I choose violence.” This is the biggest singer in the world right now. She says it on her album. It’s not some obscure term. It’s a very known term. At no point did I try to threaten or physically hurt a woman on any level, but I felt you were starting to paint it that way. Let me back away before I get a #MeToo moment of threatening women, which I’m not doing! [laughs] It’s a meme. It’s a meme term.

I wasn’t saying you’d literally choose violence. It was more so your response.

Yeah, it was a fucked up response. That was the reason why I kept a long time of not responding because I don’t want to get #MeToo’ed. This is a real thing right now, and it’s happening in my business with the people around me. Let me ease back. Once everything calms down, I’m going to publicly go forward and we’ll see how Shirley reacts to it. It’s totally up to her. Because she may have been like “no, fuck your apology.” It is what it is. And I was prepared to accept that because ultimately, I’m not making excuses here. It’s me and the overall frustration of being me, of being in this business and constantly being overlooked for the big artist interviews over and over again.

But look at the level of talent you’re getting.

I feel like you get bigger artists than I do. If you take a step back.

You have a YouTube audience. If anything, I was trying to take a page out of your book.

I feel you. The thing is, we still wanted to work with you because you’re now going on the booking side of things. I had to look at the situation and be like, I fucked up. I fucked up on multiple levels, I’m going to have to hold this and see if I can fix it at a later point.

A whole year later. 

Whenever possible, I try not to keep a beef going. I just did Drink Champs. Me and N.O.R.E didn’t speak for 3 years. We had a whole falling out over the phone. I’m not saying I’m a perfect person. I’m not saying I’m great at interpersonal relationships. I have my bullshit like everyone else in this industry. Me and him had a falling out, but slowly, we got back cool again. I just did Drink Champs when I was in Miami. Me and Wack 100 didn’t talk for 10 years.

Sometimes, shit can be squashed. A lot of times, the person you’re dealing with has to have a certain level of growth. If it’s the exact same person on the exact same bullshit, you probably are going to get the exact same response. But if you look, a certain amount of times past, you see the person’s acting differently, behaving differently, their business has grown. They’re not struggling and on the edge all the time, you usually could have some sort of intelligent back and forth with that person.

How lit did they get you on Drink Champs?

I stayed relatively more or less sober. The argument with N.O.R.E was over me not drinking and him saying “You gotta drink.”

Why weren’t you drinking?

I was a little nervous about drinking on camera.

Vlad, that’s the whole point!

I know, and I don’t think I’d watched enough of the show to know that there’s drinking games spread out. There’s an A or B drinking game.

I saw you drinking on Math Hoffa.

How much did I drink? Literally it was the same drink being nursed.

What was in there?

Probably vodka or something. The whole Russian side of me. I did go along and drink. Oh, this is his show. This is his look and feel. Let me go along with it. We got to hang out the whole next day and it was dope. It was really dope because he really was a friend of mine before.

What was the beef?

It was over that. “Yo, I want you to do Drink Champs.” Yeah, I got you. I’m not going to drink. “Why aren’t you going to drink?” Because I’m a CEO. He’s like “yo I’ve had Puffy on here. He’s a bigger CEO than you.”

Is it a requirement to drink on Drink Champs?

Yeah. It turned into a “do you know who I am?” Both ways.

Something that stupid is laughable. Who took it to social media?

N.O.R.E. had mentioned it. Him and Fat Joe had a conversation about it on Fat Joe’s Live, and he had mentioned a little bit on his show. He touched on it. The whole thing is when I look at situations like this, we could all disagree. At the point you start talking about people’s families and kids and wanting someone dead, start saying racist shit and whatever else, that’s when I say nah I’m good. If this is what happens when you push a person to a relatively simple back and forth — no one’s been hurt, no one lost a lot of money. It’s a simple back and forth. If you go completely out the window with that, I’m not going to work it out with you.

Has someone violated?

I’ve had all types of bullshit over the years. I’ve had all types of dumb shit and certain people, I keep them at a distance. Certain people I work it out with. That’s just life. Part of my job is dealing with a lot of people and a lot of personalities. Not only the regular personalities, but constantly new people. Every week, there’s new people I’m meeting and having interviews with essentially.

When the incident took place, it was on Thanksgiving. I had gotten out of a movie, I think I saw Wakanda. We get on the phone and you’re yelling and threatening, just very angry.

Well, I wasn’t threatening. I was saying I’m going to put the shit on blast. I was angry at the situation. Because you were protecting your sources, and I was annoyed about that. Because I know who’s behind this, then I find out from Baller Alert who is the person.

Walk me through that day for you. Did something else trigger this?

If you want to know the reason, I didn’t want to say this because it sounds like an excuse. If you watch Vlad TV interviews before that date, you’ll notice that I sound a little bit more nasally and congested. A few days before that incident, I had this procedure where they put balloons in your nose and they move — I had a deviated septum. It’s called balloon sinuplasty. It is an operation, it’s not an operation. But they drug you up and put these balloons in your nose. The balloons move everything aside, so now I can breathe through my nose. Up until that point, I couldn’t breathe through my nose. I had that operation and because of the post-op, they gave me all these steroids.

So I was steroided up during that whole time. I didn’t want to say this in a Tweet or during the initial conversation because I’m making excuses. I’m an adult, and I don’t want you to think that wasn’t me, it was drugs. Prescribed drugs, but ultimately it’s still me. Regardless of what I’m on, I am who I am. But that’s what was going on, if you really want to know. I was not pleasant around anybody during that week, honestly.

That makes so much sense. 

I was on some bullshit. Because I don’t take drugs, I don’t take pills or do coke. Being on steroids was weird for me, I couldn’t figure out my emotions during that time. But that’s what I was going through, to be totally honest.

What hurt me more too was you knew how much I was trying to protect the publicist. 

I can’t target the person who’s blocking my business? Really, how is that?

And she’s female.

She’s a person! We’re dealing with people. You’re a person. I’m a person. The gender part is not important to the conversation at hand. We’re all people. We’re all trying to provide, we’re all trying to make money. We’re all trying to do a great job. I’m not out blocking anybody else’s shit. I’d never do that.

What if she’s protecting her artist?

You could work with me and still protect your artists.

That sounds like a conversation you guys need to have.

Here’s the thing, I’ve always been a reasonable person. We can even work out situations where you can see the interview before it drops for certain types of artists. It’s not something I do every day, but it has happened before. Most people would say no. But depending on the artist: alright, I’ll let you review it. Because I’ve gotten passes when I’ve done interviews.

Who’s someone who asked to watch the interview?

The Smokey Robinson interview, they asked to review it. Once you get to these real high levels, you ask us for that type of thing. I’ll say okay look, I’ll give you 48 hours to review it. If I don’t hear back from you, then we’ll run it. If I do hear back from you, then we could have a discussion. I’m not gonna let you hold it forever and hold up the whole project.

But my whole thing is I feel I’m at the point that it shouldn’t be a “we don’t work with that outlet at all.” Alright, we can have discussions. We can figure things out. There’s ultimately a business. But I don’t remember the last time a label gave me an interview with an artist that’s on a promo tour. Unless it’s an artist that no one’s ever heard about, then they’ll hit you up out of the blue. “Here’s this guy with 10K views. Can you interview him?”

There’s so many lit artists outside of the labels.

Of course there is, but you want both. Now, if it’s these guys are doing Good Morning America, Piers Morgan and 60 Minutes. I get why I’m not in that conversation. But if you’re doing Breakfast Club, Big Boy on the radio, why am I not in this conversation? Because my YouTube numbers are as big as all these guys, if not bigger. On a regular basis.

In the entertainment industry, it can be hard being a female. I want to point out that incident on social media dragging two females…

I look at it as I’m having a situation with two music industry professionals.

But we didn’t do anything.

Well, the Warner Brothers girl did.

She’s the nicest human being.

I understand she’s nice to you, but ultimately I’ve been blocked from every Warner Bros. artist. At the end of the day, I look at it as we have to stand on our professional accomplishments. That’s really what we have. We could always fall back to gender, to race, to religion, to age, to whatever. But ultimately, we have to stand on who we are professionally. When dealing with another person professionally, that’s what I focus on. I’ve gotten into it with males and females. Straight, gay. To me, it’s whatever. We’re all in this fishbowl in the music industry and we all have to stand behind our shit. I’ve never said well, it’s because I’m white. Ever in life. I’ve never felt like I’m not here because I’m white.

I don’t pull the race card either. 

I don’t play the gender card. I don’t pull the age card. I’m 50 years old. I know I’m older than the majority of Hip-Hop media, and that’s cool. I accept it.

I saw you started Vlad TV at 34 recently.

34, yeah. It’s very easy to turn everything into race, gender, whatever. When I made my comments about Taraji P. Henson and the whole salary thing, the first thing that turned into is Vlad is white and shouldn’t be allowed to even comment on this. And that’s what it devolves into initially. That to me is the annoying part of debates. We’re not talking about all the extra shit, we’re talking about what’s happening right now.

Incidents like the Taraji P. Henson thing, do you sometimes feel you have blindspots. You’re not really aware that what you say could have consequences?

I’m always aware that it’s an unpopular opinion and people are going to criticize me for the opinion. I’ve said multiple times, I love Taraji as an actress in pretty much every movie she’s ever done. From Baby Boy To Benjamin Button to Hidden Figures to everything, she kills it every single time.

You guys are in the same bracket.

What I said was this: at the age that she’s at, as opposed to being frustrated that she’s not getting paid what it is that she feels she deserves — none of us feel that we get what we deserve. Right now, I can bet that you feel underpaid.

Every day, I’m trying to figure out why.

Every day, you’re trying to figure out why this person over here is getting paid more than you. You’re not exactly sure why because you’re hustling and grinding your ass off, because I’ve had moments like this. You gotta understand that Vlad TV started at 34, but 6 years before I moved to New York to become a DJ and started at the very, very bottom. Backpack full of CDs that I’d leave on consignment.

Damn. How old were you?

  1. I turned 30 in New York. At 29, I upended my whole life and moved to New York. Was homeless and slept on couches until I had enough money to get a little studio apartment in Brooklyn. I grinded CDs, and I figured out my way in this industry. There’s a whole process that goes into that.

What were you doing right before that?

I had went to school at UC Berkeley. I majored in Computer Science. I was studying computer science, but I was also getting my feet wet in Hip-Hop. I was making beats and doing demos, working with local rappers. I graduated, I was a programmer for a little while. I started a company where we recruited key engineers for a lot of these startup companies. I was a headhunter, I had my own company. We had an office, everything else. That was the first time I made real money. Because sometimes you get paid $25K, $30K, $35K to get someone a job. It was a really rewarding position.

In 2000, the whole Dotcom crash happened out of nowhere and all the companies I was working with all went out of business. I had this moment in my life where I could go different directions. I could go back into tech, I can maybe go to law school, or I could try this DJ thing. Because I’d been starting to do it and making beats, DJing. I’m 29, I’m not going to have a window and time again for the rest of my life to really try out my dreams and see where they take me.

At 50, I can’t say hey, I’m going to be a DJ now. [laughs] If I was an engineer for 50 years, no one would take me seriously. I could be a DJ now because of my history, I can go back to it. But I can’t be a brand new DJ, it’s silly. I knew in my lifespan, this was the last time. I said let me move to New York and try the DJ thing, try the mixtape thing and see if I could really do the Hip-Hop thing for a living. With nothing, with no resources. Trying to figure it out. Because I was living in the Bay at the time, so I moved from Oakland to New York.

How was that? Cold? The Bay is cold too. 

Hard. It was cold, not cold like New York. It doesn’t snow in the Bay. I never lived in San Francisco where it got cold cold. It was rough. You don’t quite know when you’re going to stabilize. It’s always a very unstable existence where one bad phone bill or your car breaking down throws off everything in your life and you’re trying to figure it out. I remember the low point was I was working at this dead strip club in Brooklyn.

I know you worked over 40 jobs and I remember you talking about this strip club.

This fucked up strip club, and the owner yelled at me in front of all the girls. I’m looking at this motherfucker like you just don’t know who I am and who I’m going to be. I get it because I’m this guy doing an unskilled job right now, because playing at a strip club was not a skilled job. I get why you don’t feel like you got to respect me on any level, but I know who I’m going to be so I’m out. [laughs] I realized I gotta get on my focus. Because all the strip club shit, whatever local club shit is taking me away from what I need to figure out how to do. It’s money not well-earned.

Shirley’s Temple has a focus on mental health. How is your mental health?

It’s pretty good. It’s decent. I don’t think I’m going through any kind of lows or highs right now.

If you work in the entertainment industry, chances are you’ve experienced some form of mental health issue. 58% of performers and 51% of media professionals suffer from depression, anxiety, or burnout.

The cool thing about what we do is you ultimately control your own schedule. Most times. Yeah you have to work with other people, but it’s different from having to do a 9 to 5, as opposed to being able to pick and choose. “Hey, I’m not going to drop an album for a year. I’m not going to tour.” You see this a lot. “I’m not going to do as many interviews. I’m not going to go to these events. I’m going to chill.”

I’ve learned that over the years, where I used to be every night: out out out. Every event, every All-Star weekend. Every Grammy this, every BET that. I used to be there. Now, a lot of that is not as necessary. It’s always good, there’s never a downside to it. But it’s not as necessary. That’s a way to keep your mental health by knowing that you don’t have to chase after everything. Ease into where you are and what you’re good at.

Was there a time where you were always out and had to be out?

Absolutely. When I moved to New York: I’m not here to sit in my apartment. I’m not here to sit on this couch at someone else’s house. I gotta be out every night. A lot of these relationships that I have started a long time ago. Shawn Prez, who’s my main interviewer, we met in 2003. A year after I had moved. The first time I had a big project was this Biggie mixtape called Biggie Rap Phenomenon. The mixtape world is not really what it is, but back then it was a big deal.

It was the first project that MTV ever mentioned, Shawn Prez was managing the other DJ, Dirty Harry. That’s how I met Shawn Prez. During that time, he was working with Bad Boy as well. This is the relationship that goes back over 20 years, literally. It’s cool that we get to work together now.

Depression is a highly treatable mental illness. Approximately how much% of individuals respond favorably to treatment? Which typically consists of medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

Maybe 60%?

80% to 90%. A few years ago you mentioned you were depressed. How are you managing it now and what do you do for your mental health?

I went to go see a therapist. When I was going through it, I said I can’t keep functioning like this. I can’t keep going through this crisis mode, emotionally. Let me go get a professional. I remember doing some Google searches about celebrity therapists.

Damn, he said he needed a celebrity therapist.

Not because I feel that I’m a celebrity, but there’s certain things that I go through that other public people go through. Someone who’s dealt with public people would understand what I’m going through as opposed to someone who’s never met a person who’s a public person. I feel a lot of therapists, especially outside of LA, are dealing with regular working people. We have our own set of situations. Whether people feel it’s a big deal or not, it is what it is.

I went and found a guy. He helped me through a difficult time. At one point, I felt I was good and I didn’t need a therapist to deal with it. But it was helpful because a lot of times, you don’t always have a person that you could talk to about your problems. Sometimes, you don’t want to talk to a person about your problems because that could be used against you as well, in its own way. Having someone whose job it is to hear about your problems and is legally not allowed to share that with other people is a big deal. It should be utilized whenever you need it. There are low cost solutions to this and free solutions and apps.

Therapy is expensive if you don’t have insurance. Sometimes even if you have insurance.

You should have insurance though. We all should have insurance. Before you buy an outfit, before you go out to a restaurant, you should have insurance. Everyone should have insurance. Before you invest, you should have insurance. If you invest in stocks and you don’t have insurance, you’re doing it backwards. You should absolutely have insurance. Every full-time employee of Vlad TV has medical insurance, that’s something we’ve had for a lot of years now. What else do you have if you don’t have your health? That’s the most important thing in your life.

How much have you made off stocks?

I’ve done well. Last year was my biggest year in terms of pure profit.

How do you have time to do stocks and Vlad TV?

Stocks doesn’t require a lot of time. I have 3 stocks and I don’t touch them. I buy more, Tesla’s one of my stocks that went down recently. I bought more. It doesn’t require a lot of time.

Why did it go down recently?

There’s always something that’s going on with Elon. Something crazy, so that affects the stock price radically. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Real stock investing is boring, you don’t really do much.

Do you make the most on dividends?

No. I have my 401Ks all in the S&P500’s so there’s dividends for that. But when I say I make money, I don’t sell any of my stocks. Technically, I didn’t make anything. It’s all on paper. But this is a way of building your wealth over time. If you don’t sell your house, your house could be worth twice as much. You haven’t sold it. Technically that’s on paper, but it’s the same type of thing.

How’d it feel buying that house?

It felt good. A lot of celebrities in my community.

Can you say any? 

John Salley. He’s a neighbor.

He goes to Au Lac, which is a vegan restaurant near me, all the time. Don’t tell me he’s driving from Calabasas.

He is, absolutely. In a Tesla. D.L. Hughley, he’s another one of my neighbors. Everyone pretty much respects each other’s privacy. In a gated community, everyone understands what it is. People aren’t just poppin’ up.

You lost 30 pounds at the beginning of COVID. How did you change your lifestyle?

First, I started counting calories. That was by far the biggest change. You gotta really understand what it is you’re putting into your body, and the amount you should be putting in. Right off the bat, I put in my age, my weight, my height. Cool, you could eat roughly 2000 calories a day. If you go over, you’re going to gain weight. If you go under, you’re going to start losing weight. If you workout, however many calories you burn, that goes into the equation.

But for me,in the beginning, it was mostly the food. Alright, let me see if I could eat under 2000 and really understand. Because I never really counted calories before or really looked at certain foods. I just got it and the weight started to come off. To this day, I’m always thinking about calories in my head whenever I’m eating. I also started to workout every morning on my treadmill. I play video games on my treadmill. I can zone in.

How do you…?

You can only do certain kinds of games. You do turn based games. You can’t play like Fortnite, you’re going to end up falling. [laughs] You can’t play certain kinds, like action games you can’t do it. But certain games where you do a turn and then something else happens, like card games. I could zone out. Before I know it, an hour, hour and a half passes. I burned 1000 calories a couple of days ago. I was on the treadmill for 2 hours and some change.

Are you running…?

I’m walking. I do 3mph, but I do a high incline. 4, 4.5. Sometimes 6.

 

Damn, two hours of video games?

I had that tweet that went crazy over video games, but I’m doing it while I’m working out. I’m on the treadmill. I’m not sitting on my couch with a soda playing video games. I’m actually healthier by the time I finish that game.

Was video games ever a factor?

Man, a video game’s always there for you. It’s always there to lift up your day and it offers nothing in return. You’ll get happy winning something. The dopamine triggers, unless you’re making money off of it or you’re working out doing it, you walk away with nothing. Just the memory of it. That’s cool every so often, but I definitely started playing a lot of video games during my depressive stage. For 10 hours straight, I’d play. I’d get a new game and put my whole life into it.

We have to talk about Tupac. I interviewed you for Variety and asked your most meaningful interview, you literally said the Keefe D interview.

So Keefe D is currently locked up based on his involvement in the Tupac murder.

What year did you interview him?

It was 4 years ago, 2020. He wrote a book at the same time I did the interview. He was putting his book out. We had a copy of the book leading up to the interview. My thing was, let’s once and for all, I’m going to take you through what happened when Tupac got killed.

The crazy part to me is Keefe D being down.

He wrote a book. He had some level of legal protection, which is a proffer agreement. Which doesn’t hold after you leave that day. So if you choose to retell a story, you could get prosecuted for it. He chose to write a book, do interviews about it. He’s an older man, I believe he had cancer at the time. I don’t know if he still does. Tupac being the biggest rapper of all time — I know everyone has their favorites. But if you go from a bird’s eye view of the whole Hip–Hop genre worldwide, you’d be hard pressed to find a person that has a bigger impact, even right now than Tupac. Especially someone who’s been gone for 25 years. We’ve lost a lot of Hip-Hop greats, nobody’s on a Tupac level. Here’s my chance to tell the story of his passing through the only person that was there, that was responsible for it. And take us through the whole process. He had written a book, so I felt it was all fair game. You write a book, I’m going to ask you about the book.

How did you get in contact with him?

There was someone I know that knows him as well, they connected us. It was a rapper I know, he connected us. He agreed to do it, we knocked it out. A lot of years passed. He did a lot of other interviews about the same topic until Las Vegas PD felt like they had a case.

How did it feel when Vegas PD contacted you?

I didn’t really realize how big it was until Piers Morgan reached out to me, wanting to do an interview. Suddenly, every big media outlet started to reach out. I had already solved it in my head. To me, okay y’all are just late. That’s fine. But it was never my intention to try to get him arrested or try to get him in jail. When Las Vegas PD called me, I didn’t respond. They kept calling, kept leaving voicemails. They started emails. I don’t have to cooperate. It’s not a requirement that I cooperate, and there’s no legal basis of them forcing me to cooperate. All they want is essentially all the raw footage, hoping there’s something else he said off camera.

You bring up a lot that Keefe D might not get convicted. What do you foresee happening?

If he could prove that he was getting a check and he was making all this up, because he was trying to make money off the situation. He needed the money, it’s not like he was rich.

Doesn’t it all come down to their legal teams?

Yeah, it’s up to his lawyers to try to convince a jury that all this was made up. But you never know. How trials go, maybe at some point Las Vegas PD might say “this is an old man and this is an old case. Let’s just give him time served.”

I mean, it took them 4 years to arrest him.

Yeah, about that. Until when he started to go public, he also went public in a BET interview.

After you?

Might have been before me, but it was a small part in a bigger piece. That’s going to be a problem for him as well. If you choose to talk about a murder willingly, you’re going to have to hold whatever comes with it.

According to the World Health Organization, 10 million Ukrainians suffer from mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. Outside of the 10 million, 4 million may have cases that are moderate or severe. How do you feel about that?

Imagine if there was war on the outskirts of LA right now. Think about how well we’d be holding up right now. Think about every so often a drone comes in and blows some shit up. Missiles hit.

Do you remember anything?

I was 4. I’ve always said I was Russian because at the time, it was part of Russia. It was part of the USSR, so technically it was Russia. It became independent after I moved out, so I’m in a weird in-between state when it comes to who I am. In terms of what country I’m from, technically 2 different countries. It’s fucked up.

I was a kid when we left, but to know this is happening… I haven’t really seen from the very beginning a way for the Ukraine to really win this situation, because they’re so overpowered by such a much bigger country with way more money. Way more military. The US is getting tired, I believe the US has stopped funding after this last batch. Ultimately, the inevitable is going to happen. It’s sad, but it is what it is at this point.

This thing has been going for so long because America and other countries have been funding it. At some point, that money’s going to run out. And then what? We’re reaching the “and then what” part right now.

Do your roots in Ukraine play a role sometimes in your mental health?

Yeah, but I don’t have any more family there. All my family either moved or died. Everyone on my father’s side, if they didn’t move, they passed away. Some may have moved to Germany, they settled over there. We don’t have anyone out there anymore that I know of. I probably do have relatives out there to some capacity, but not any that I even know exists.

I was born there, you have to recognize that part. For a long time, I had a Ukrainian flag in my bio on Twitter. At some point, the reality of the situation is going to hit and we’re going to see what happens in the next couple of months.

How was it coming to the states at 5 years old?

As a 5-year-old, you adapt. I don’t think I have a Russian accent. I adapted to America pretty quickly. My parents had accents and they never really meshed into American society the same way I did. Which that’s why they didn’t really understand what it is that I do. I meshed and I became an American. Think about it, imagine if you moved to Paris right now. You wouldn’t really mesh into French society completely. You’re listening to French music, you could probably hold on to some American friends over there. That’s ultimately what happened. I came up as an American kid with American friends, American schools, American universities, American music. It was cool for me, but it’s not like that for the people that came a little bit later in life. It was hard for them.

Is this what you always wanted to do…?

It wasn’t what I always wanted to do, this is a bit of a surprise. I’m always thinking about how this wasn’t in the plan in high school in any capacity. Not even really in college. By chance, I stumbled into DJing. When I started to DJ and do that type of performance, it really hit me as to how dope that was. How I started to think that I could be one of the best at this. This is the delusion of everyone who tries to make it on any level. I’m going to be the best at mixtapes, I said.

From there, things evolved into media. Me doing interviews was once again by chance, by a weird set of events. You have to look at shit realistically. You have to say, I’m not going to be the world’s best DJ. There’s people that are so much better than me and they’re always going to be above where I’d want to be. But there are certain things I could be the best at. At interviewing, I could potentially be the best. I started to focus on what it is I felt I could be great at. A lot of the success is based on quitting when you still want to hold on, but you know deep down that you’re not great at this. You should be doing something else. You need to cut ties and go onto the next thing.

How long until you touched your first million from YouTube?

It was some years. It wasn’t quickly. See the thing is, making a million is not exactly a milestone because a lot of money has to be spent to make that million. Having a million in the bank, after taxes, that’s a milestone. But making a million? Because unless you’re hoarding the money for yourself, a lot of that gets reinvested. A lot of that gets reinvested in order to keep increasing the quality and getting a certain level of guests, the production, being able to move around and really do that. Getting a million is not the goal because you could be at a 10% profit margin where that’s only $100,000.

What about the first million in your bank account?

That felt good, but a lot of that came from investing. A lot of it wasn’t just stacking YouTube money. Alright, take this money and have that money make more money. That’s the goal. That’s not even the goal, that’s the line between rich and poor. People like to say middle class. Middle class is not exactly a real thing. It’s a construct.

Does Vlad say there’s no middle class on Shirley’s Temple?

There really isn’t. Because until you’re at the point of investing, your money is making money and what you have is growing on a regular basis, it doesn’t really matter how much money you’re bringing in. If you’re bringing a bunch of money and everything is going into your mortgage, in your car note, in your lifestyle, you have one month in the bank as your savings, your one bad situation away from being homeless.

If you can’t work for 6 months and you don’t have that 6 months put aside… because I had a situation like when my company crashed. I had to sell my house. I had a half million dollar house in the Oakland Hills, that was the first house I ever bought.

Tell me why I never heard of Oakland Hills.

Oakland Hills. Montclair was the neighborhood, very nice neighborhood. It was in the hills overlooking the Bay, it was dope.

What were you doing? 

It was called Giga Staff, the staffing company. It was doing well, we were kicking ass. Suddenly out of nowhere, the business changed. I couldn’t make that type of money I was used to making. I had to sell a house that I did not want to sell. I thought I was middle class, but I was really poor pretending to have more than I really deserved at the time. I was thinking the money’s going to keep coming forever, I was spending it like it was going to come forever, when I didn’t really have money put aside. When things changed, I had to sell my house. I had to shut down the business. I had to totally rethink my whole life.

That’s not rich, that’s poor. That’s being poor and being hit with a bad situation that poor people go through. I thought because I had an expensive house and a Benz that I thought I was rich, but I wasn’t. I was working poor. I was working in order to maintain those bills. Until you get to the point where your money’s growing and this is happening over the course of many years, doesn’t matter what your salary is. If you’re not investing your money, because you’re technically losing money every year just from interest rates. From inflation. $1000 today is not what it was 5 years ago. You saw what’s happened recently, it doesn’t buy the same amount of stuff.

Once your money’s building in and of itself, and you’re working to help put more money into that pile, that’s when things change. You look at money differently. Before then, you’re making enough to buy the cool material shit that you like. The car you want to drive, the clothes you want, taking trips, that’s cool. But a lot of poor people do that. You have to realize what it is that you want, if you want to change.

How much were you going to buy XXL for?

It wasn’t a conversation about money. He threw some dollar amount, a couple of million maybe.

Is that reasonable for that time?

It wasn’t a reasonable conversation because it was “I’ma give it to you for this amount, site unseen. You can’t go through the nuts and bolts of it.” It wasn’t a serious conversation. Because if he was serious, I’d have to see under the hood and see what exactly is happening. Without that, I’m not going to throw money into a black hole, not knowing what it’s really about.

Where would you be now if you sold your company for $700K back in 2010?

Oh man. Yeah, I almost sold for $700K right when I launched. It was just by luck. I had sold the company, they couldn’t come up with the rest of the money so the deal fell apart. The economy was going through its ups and downs. You’d be surprised how many great companies launched during the worst times. Because during those times, that’s when you’re forced to rethink a lot of shit.

But where would I be? I probably would’ve launched something else. I might’ve signed a contract that would’ve prevented me. I don’t know, it would‘ve really fucked up my trajectory. It would’ve really taken away from what it is that I did, because I took the quick money. At the time, $700K was all the money in the world. I’d never touched that type of money. The taxes would have been relatively light because it was a shareholder thing. I had set up a whole new corporation just to deal with that deal.

I was all in. The down payment they gave me basically went to legal bills. It’s not like I’d made any money and they couldn’t come up with the money. It worked out that they didn’t. I had another friend that wanted to invest in the company, but he wanted to give me $10K or $25K. That amount didn’t make [sense].

Vlad & Shirley Ju

Just a one time fee?

Ron Artest wanted to invest early on. A lot of things could’ve gone a different type of way, but I’m not great at partnerships. I felt like this’ll only work if it’s my thing.

That’s the whole thing, right? Nuild your own shit so you don’t have to deal with anyone else.

That was the point about the Taraji thing. My whole thing was at that point in her life, if she feels she was not getting properly compensated, she should be doing her own thing. By either funding it herself or partnering with people that she respects, that have the skills she doesn’t have. Whether it’s production, direction, writing, lighting, camera work, put together her own shit. That’s what I felt I had to do early on. I knew I wasn’t going to get properly compensated. That Ghostride the Whip documentary didn’t make me any money.

Eminem is one of the top artists you want to interview. What would you ask him? 

I’d really get into Eminem’s story of him growing up. That’s something that’s never really been discussed. Everyone knows the things he went through to get to where he was, the rap battles and how Dr. Dre found him. Everyone knows that part. Everyone’s seen how things have  worked out in the public with him and various people, but it’d be dope to see what formed Eminem into what he is.

Because when I first heard about him, it was on this website called Sandbox Automatic. It was a tech space website. They used to sell independent Hip-Hop vinyl. I remember they’d always have the Top 5. This guy’s project was in the Top 5. The Marshall Mathers EP, this is what came out before Dre signed him and they put out an extended version of that. I remember I had that as an independent CD at the time. When you heard it, he’s so much better than everyone else. Right now.

There was such a gap in skill level that it was so obvious what was happening. It’d be interesting to see what got to there. Because at that point, everyone wanted to work with him. If it wasn’t Dre signing him, he would’ve gotten signed somewhere else. It was obvious what was happening.

Anything else you want to say or promote?

Check out Vlad TV on YouTube. Thank you for having me because I know how these things go. Especially when it’s a public falling out, it doesn’t always get worked out. I appreciate you letting me come on here and accepting my apology. I’ve always wished you the best. You’re still in the industry in a place that’s hard to maintain. Especially the place you’re at right now, it’s very much of an in-between time. Stick with it and keep doing your thing.

I’ve always been proud of the hustle. I’ve always respected that. Even though we had our tiff, I’ve never had anything else to say after that. I’ve always had respect, I was hoping at some point we could work it out.

Photo Credits: Shirley’s Temple

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