Photo: Scott Dudelson / Contributor via Getty Images and Johnny Nunez / Contributor via Getty Images
  /  07.08.2023

On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN had a chance to converse with the renowned rapper Tony Yayo. They delved into his musical journey with G-Unit, going solo, beefing with DJ Khaled, and much more.

Born Marvin Bernard in 1978, Tony Yayo made a name for himself as a member of the hip hop group G-Unit alongside childhood friends 50 Cent and Lloyd Banks. The group quickly gained notoriety with their debut album, Beg for Mercy, which sold over 2 million copies and was certified double Platinum. Some of their hit tracks include “Stunt 101,” “Poppin’ Them Thangs,” and “Wanna Get to Know You.”

Yayo has also experienced success as a solo artist. He released his debut album, Thoughts of a Predicate Felon, in 2005 while he was part of G-Unit. Despite mixed reviews, the offering debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and had hits like “So Seductive” featuring 50 Cent and “Curious” featuring Joe. The rapper’s contributions also extend beyond his music. He has appeared in films such as Morning Glory.

REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from Tony Yayo’s “Drink Champs” interview. Check them out below, and watch the full episode here.

1. On Diddy having the chance to sign 50 Cent 

Despite a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sign 50 Cent to Bad Boy Records during the early 2000s, Yayo said Diddy declined due to concerns about industry and street beefs surrounding 50 and G-Unit. Recalling the interaction, Yayo shared that Diddy’s hesitation was largely influenced by the then-recent loss of The Notorious B.I.G. and an unwillingness to engage with further drama, specifically between 50 and Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff.

“I’m in the meeting and he’s telling 50 like, ‘I can’t sign you. You got beef with Preme and all that.’ A lot of n**gas don’t want to deal with the Preme beef; it’s understandable. Eminem took the step… shout out to him,” Yayo said. “That’s basically what Diddy was saying. Like, ‘I lost B.I.G. and I don’t want to deal with the Preme s**t.’ It was understandable. You’re a liability… You just got shot the f**k up.”

2. On Pop Smoke’s death setting New York back

In 2020, Pop Smoke was tragically shot and killed during a home invasion. Prior to his passing, the rapper rose to commercial success with singles like “Welcome to the Party” and “Dior.” According to Yayo, Pop’s death set New York’s music scene back.

He shared, “I wish he would’ve stayed in a hotel instead of an Airbnb. Rest in peace. That kind of f**ked New York up. New York was coming back. We had Pop Smoke. You got Fivio [Foreign], all these drill n**gas. A Boogie [wit da Hoodie]. Everybody knows you can’t trust that Beverly Hills s**t.”

Later, Yayo cautioned other artists about staying in Airbnb homes and other nice rentals, noting, “This s**t a $4 million house, but Compton could be 10 minutes away.”

3. On seemingly helping DJ Drama get his chains back 

In June, it was reported that DJ Drama got his chains snatched while visiting Toronto. In a video posted on social media, three masked men were seen holding up jewelry that allegedly belonged to the Generation Now label head. While speaking on his experience traveling, Yayo seemingly confirmed the events and said that he helped Drama.

“You think Canada sweet? I thought Canada was sweet. N**gas got blicks out there,” Yayo stated. “There was just a situation with DJ Drama. I helped him. That’s my guy. Some dudes called me about it and I helped him figure that out. ‘Cause Canada ain’t sweet.”

4. On drill music 

Later, Yayo voiced his concerns about the dangerous nature of drill music, noting a key distinction between it and traditional gangsta rap. He asserted that the genre ultimately escalated tensions in New York due to its nature of invoking the names of the deceased in lyrics — a stark contrast to previous eras of rap where diss tracks targeted living rivals. “I think that drill music is dangerous,” he said.

Yayo explained, “I think we took a style that came from Chicago, and now New York is as worse as Chicago and California because n**gas is throwing n**gas’ dead friends in there. When we had battle raps against Ja Rule, and n**gas and s**t like that, n**gas was still alive. N**gas will die in the hood and n**gas will be like, ‘I’m smoking your brother or uncle.’”

5. On committing passport fraud

While evading his probation terms in the early 2000s, Tony Yayo admitted to committing passport fraud and traveling internationally using his brother’s travel documents. Despite being in and out of prison for gun possession and probation violations, he continued promoting G-Unit through mixtapes and music videos, even embarking on a tour that included locations across Europe.

“I don’t like jail, so I went. I had the balls to go in the passport place and I used my brother’s name, and they gave me the passport. So I went to Barcelona with Eminem, all of them, on the run. I’m chilling, living life,” Yayo said.

When asked what countries he visited, the rapper responded, “So many. Barcelona… We can do all the states like Chicago. In Europe, I’d probably say Barcelona, Brazil, maybe Paris or somewhere. It was nice places on the run. My brother’s passport.”

6. On Gunna and Tory Lanez’s legal issues

Reflecting on Gunna’s controversial release from prison and subsequent plea deal, Yayo shared his views on the case. In reference to “bread & butter,” the legendary emcee discussed the faulty outcome of the situation despite Gunna purportedly paying millions in lawyer fees. Yayo tied it in with Tory Lanez’s shooting case, saying of the lawyers, “You can’t trust them n**gas.”

“You heard Gunna’s new s**t? The album is cool, but I feel like the album is hot because he went through something. When he said in the song, ‘My lawyer and the DA tricked me.’ You can’t trust them n**gas. If I spend a million dollars on lawyers, I said this before with Tory Lanez,” he began. “I got a live witness, which is ‘ol girl, saying I shot you. My lawyer is going to tell me to cop out, but if you got a lawyer and he’s telling you, ‘You spending a million dollars, half a million dollars and you still lose.’ Man, that’s going to make you want to choke that lawyer out right there, bro.”

7. On what happened to G-Unit

Once a dominant force in hip hop, G-Unit was led by 50 Cent and included artists like Lloyd Banks, The Game and Young Buck, among others. However, the group faced a significant decline in relevance over time due to factors like internal conflicts, changing tastes within the genre, and the emergence of new artists who eclipsed their popularity. Speaking on their dissolution, Tony Yayo revealed 50 worked harder than everyone else despite being the most successful.

He told N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN, “When a n**ga that got the most money out of everybody is working harder than everybody, then something might be a little bit wrong. And not taking nothing away from Banks, Game, or Buck, but 50 is the type of n**ga, if we’re on the road, he’s going to go to the gym twice… So I’m looking at his work ethic like damn, I gotta make sure I’m early for ‘Drink Champs’ because he’s outworking me.”

8. On almost getting into a fight with DJ Khaled

Later in the interview, Yayo spoke on how a fight almost erupted between him and DJ Khaled. Due to his affiliation with Fat Joe and Terror Squad, who was beefing with 50 Cent years prior, Khaled wasn’t on the New York rapper’s good side. While in Miami, Yayo detailed running into the DJ at a radio station, an encounter that allegedly almost ended in a shootout, according to his previous conversation with DJ Vlad.

“I told Nelson I don’t want to go to DJ Khaled, but I did go because this was radio. I don’t understand this s**t, I’m getting out of jail. ‘DJ Khaled!’ Look at my hand, get the f**k out of here. So I’m like, ‘Yo, f**k you Khaled.’ You can ask him.”

9. On 50 Cent not liking “Many Men (Wish Death)”

Despite the success of 50 Cent’s “Many Men (Wish Death)” — a three-times-platinum standout from his classic 2003 debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ — the hip hop mogul was reportedly not a fan of the track according to Yayo. While discussing the G-Unit label boss, Tony Yayo stated, “50 didn’t even like ‘Many Men.’ My talent is, sometimes, I can be in the studio and I can pick the record for you. I’m like, ‘50, you’re bugging. ‘Many Men’ is the s**t.’”

“You gotta remember, that n**ga got shot the f**k up. He’s shot up. He’s laid up. He don’t even want me to see him… I pull up to his grandmother’s block, shells everywhere,” Yayo said. “He’s doing the music, but he’s running around with the hammers. He knows the caliber of the n**gas he’s beefing with.”



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