Charli Baltimore: Immobilarity
By Danielle Stolich
Calling female rapper Charli Baltimore a soldier would be an understatement. The smoldering Philly beauty has dealt with her fair share of drama over the years, from failed record deals, to being the target of vicious industry rumors. After having her talent put on the back burner one time too many, this Baltimore love-thing spits the opposite on her wrong-doers.
Just days before Cam'ron used Charli's name in his attack on Jay-Z, AllHipHop.com spoke to Ms. Baltimore on both artists. In addition to those, we get some insight to two of her unreleased albums, plus her recent union with one Compton rapper and his label. AllHipHop.com been rocking with Charli since the "Stand Up" video, but you best sit down for this.
AllHipHop.com: What was it about Game's Black Wall Street venture that made you sign with them? How much time have you actually spent with Game?
Charli Baltimore: Game is one of those people that make decisions on the spot, so it really wasn’t a matter of me signing to him. When we met he was already interested in me as an artist. I was digging his whole movement and he was feeling the tracks I played him. I liked that Game came into the industry as a business-savvy new artist from the start. I was also impressed with his work ethic because I am a studio rat. He’ll work for days straight and if you are that dedicated, then that’s where I want to be. The whole agreement was unspoken, though. He didn’t have to say anything, [he] just put the [Black Wall Street] chain around my neck, and that was it.
AllHipHop.com: When it comes to your music, do you ever wish people would focus less on your relationship with B.I.G. and more on your skills?
Charli Baltimore: The funny thing about that is that I look at all of the people who were around Big when he was alive, and how they used it to advance themselves… it’s crazy. I believe my talent speaks for itself so I don’t ever mention Big. And I always felt like with me knowing Big the way I do, it would be disrespectful to even mention his name. It’s fine to pay your respects but I never felt like I had to say his name every time I rhyme. So yes, I wish that people would focus less on that and I think they’ve stopped. Now when I was on Untertainment, I felt associating me with B.I.G. would help my career. So in the beginning it was hard not to be associated with Biggie, but I personally never wanted to do it that way.
AllHipHop.com: What was life like for you before rapping? Like motherhood, how was survival?
Charli Baltimore: I had a really rough upbringing and didn’t have much of a life, outside of raising my daughter as a teenage parent. My family is not close, so things were left up to me to make it happen for myself. I wanted something better for my daughter than what I had when I was growing up. Since then, I’ve reached out to teen parents, many under 16, through support groups to show them that you can get yourself out of any negative situation. For me, talking to the girls, along with making music, is like therapy.
AllHipHop.com: You've said that Big Daddy Kane is your favorite rapper. Is that still true?
Charli Baltimore: I’ll still have to say Kane is my favorite, because he inspired me to rap. Funny thing is that when I first came on the scene, I had been asked to rhyme on a compilation where they matched old-school rappers with upcoming new rappers. I never knew until the next day, that I was supposed to do a track with Kane. Now the day before that I had taped an episode of Rap City where I rhymed over “Raw”. I met him the next day and he told me he saw the episode. I was so embarrassed. [Laughs] The compilation was never released, though.
AllHipHop.com: When you came on the scene, your style was hard to pin down… Was that marketing, or just Tiffany Lane?
Charli Baltimore: That was all me. Even when a stylist was hired, I had final say on how I looked and how I sounded. I’m ‘hood but I have always loved clothes like any other female. Growing up, I was a lil’ ‘hood-fashionista. [Laughs] Philly is definitely known for fashion, so my image and style was always me. And maybe that’s why I ran into so many problems because I didn’t look the way I rhymed. I believe it’s about finding your niche. As a new artist, I heard it all from critics… “she’s too light”, “that outfit was busted”, whatever. But when you stop listening to that and begin to “do you”, things fall into place.
AllHipHop.com: And then the hardcore way you spit with such a pretty face...People loved how hard and beautiful you were at the same time, it seemed natural for you.
Charli Baltimore: Un [Lance Rivera] told me once that he wanted me to be the “rap Britney Spears” and I was like, “No, that’s not me!” I got to a point where at the end of the day, I was like, “this is not what I came into this for.” Rap fans are real people and they don’t want to see a made-up image; they want to see you. And if they like it, they’ll f**k with you - the female fans are especially.
AllHipHop.com: Tell us about that album, Cold As Ice, that we never got to hear. Your album read like a who’s who is Hip-Hop.
Charli Baltimore: Yes, I loved working on it! I’m a fan of everyone who worked on my first project so, yes, I was so happy I was able to work with everyone I wanted to. Ghost came through, Meth, everybody. RZA, who at the time told Un he didn’t even work with females, heard my stuff and decided to work with me, so that was a true honor. I had DJ Premier, Havoc and a lot of other guys who did not really work with females at that time, so it was a real honor to have all of them on my debut. Everybody was mad cool. Un owns the masters to the album so…I hope we can eventually do a re-release where fans can see how I grew as an artist.
AllHipHop.com: What is your relationship with Un nowadays? Whatever happened with The Commission?
Charli Baltimore: I have no relationship with Un at all. Basically, our falling out was all business. I was the last to know when he lost Untertainment, so I felt some type of way about how he handled that. And as far as The Commission is concerned, I was confused about that. To my understanding, Jay wanted nothing to do with The Commission but then he’s on B.I.G.’s joints screaming “the Commission.” I’m like, “How are you mentioning the Commission but you’re leaving the third member out?” Big’s original plan for the group was me, Big, and Jay. The group would have been crazy.
AllHipHop.com: What is your relationship like with Cam these days? Charli Baltimore: We’re cool. We don’t talk all the time but we’re cool. I’m so proud of him, Jimmy and their whole movement. Cam’s always been really talented and he has worked hard to get to where he is today. Last time I talked to Cam was last year around this time. That says a lot that we are all still around today, since the Untertainment days.
AllHipHop.com: What, if anything, would you change about your past choices?
Charli Baltimore: Damn. [sighs] I want to say Murder Inc. but I don’t, because I’m the type of person who believes that you have to take the positive from any negative situation. If I had never went through the drama with Murder Inc. I wouldn’t be in a better place now, you know? It sounds like I’m putting the blame on the label, but it was their fault. Looking back at that situation, there is honestly nothing I did wrong that contributed to how that situation went down. My work ethic was crazy. I was doing six full songs in three days, getting off of planes and going to the studio for three and four days straight. No breaks. So this wasn’t an Untertainment-situation where I wasn’t focused. And my buzz was crazy, so it’s not like they could say they didn’t feel the album would sell. I was getting mobbed by fans with no album out! Def Jam was gunning for that album; the situation was just messed up. I’m not bitter or on some, "F**k Murder Inc.!" s**t either; I’m just stating the facts that they [Gotti Brothers] don’t want anyone else to know. And for the record, I was never dropped or shelved from Murder Inc. I left. I’ve seen a lot of females take abuse in this game from male execs and I refuse to roll over and do that.
AllHipHop.com: What exactly happened that stopped a finished album from being released?
Charli Baltimore: Money was being stolen, my budget to be exact. People were taking my budget to get high and all types of other foulness that stopped it from being released. The blame can never be shifted on me, they [Irv and Lorenzo] did some slimy s**t, and I have no love for them. Def Jam even reforecasted a new budget for another album and Irv stole that money. Irv can say what he likes, my album was done. He even admitted to me that I put as much work as I needed into this album for it to be a success. He just allowed himself to be distracted by other things and let s**t fall apart. Now as far as the artists on Murder Inc., I have no problem with them. I got along with everybody and felt like I had finally found a recording home. I signed to Murder Inc. because I was impressed with Irv’s industry track record and his work ethic. He was an underdog and for him to be as visionary as he is, to mess all of that up on $8,000-a-week extasy habits and Vegas crap tables, I can’t understand it. You already have money, why did you have to steal my budget?
AllHipHop.com: So it’s now safe to say the diss track is not a rumor?
Charli Baltimore: Yes, the diss track exists and everything I said is true. There’s a lot more I could have said. [Laughs] It’s on Game’s newest mixtape. I’m finishing up my mixtape right now.
AllHipHop.com: Will the beef ever be squashed between you and Irv Gotti?
Charli Baltimore: No, there is no squashing it. And I don’t care about any of the situations they are going through right now. Anyone thinking about signing with them, do your research ‘cause n***as will take your budget and be flying to the Bahamas. [laughs] I understand it’s business at the end of the day, but if you’re gonna steal the money, at least let my album drop first.