Mark Curry Former Bad Boy artist Mark Curry is back with a brand new book. This interview is a must read to all Bad Boy or Puffy fans. Read what REALLY happens at Bad Boy and all of the shadyness that revolves around this music industry!
by William Hernandez
WHO?MAG: How did the idea come about to start writing this book “Dancing with the Devil”? MARK CURRY: I kind of almost had my back to the wall to where I had to make some real big decisions in my life, decisions that were going to help me be who I needed to be or decisions that if I didn’t act on it, could be the end of me. I just had to figure out what I had to do in order to get my life back on track basically and the book was the answer. I wrote a book about my experience in the music industry as well as working with Puff Daddy or P. Diddy or Channel News on 11 or whatever you want to call him. That’s how it all started right there. Just the things I witnessed with my eyes. The things that I know. I wanted to actually help a lot of up and coming artists who wanted to pursue the same path in life as I did. I want to help them make better decisions.
WHO?MAG: What was the determining factor to write the book? MARK CURRY: To be honest with you, in the world we have 2 kinds of wars: the physical war and then we have the spiritual war. The spiritual war is a war more between right and wrong. The physical war is fighting more over those opinions. It’s like war that goes on everyday. If God blessed us with the ability to sing, if you take that ability and go out and sing a song, especially a song that he would be happy, then that song can help you make who you are. Or if you take your money and go buy a piece of canvas and draw on that canvas, that art you draw on that canvas can be worth millions of dollars. In this case, I had a dream and I had a talent that I was blessed with the ability to do a certain thing. I ran across a man that I should have never put trust in. Basically, putting my life in his hands to become what I’m trying to be instead of taking everything into my own hands. I put trust into another individual who in return didn’t live up to his word or expectations. The story he told me when I first met him, none of it met up. Then I realized I’m not dealing with someone who’s a righteous person like me. We’re concerned about each other. I want to see you prosper in the things you want to do. In this case, I don’t think and I didn’t see that Puff was concerned about me or the individual.
WHO?MAG: How did you first sign to Bad Boy? MARK CURRY: You can see how I first met Puff in the first chapter on my website www.markcurrybook.com. I met him, first met him, when he was doing Bad Boy Fridays at a club in Atlanta that my friend owned called the Platinum House. I met him as far as being an artist on Bad Boy through a mutual friend. His name is D Mack. He introduced me to Puff on the music level and wanted to sign me. He was like “I think that you will be a valuable asset to have signed to the Bad Boy label. I’m interested in signing you.” I thought about it. I thought it would be one of the best decisions to make because he was in the position to help me further my career. Before I signed, I had to sign to a production deal, something similar to what Young Joc is complaining about today about signing to Block Entertainment and then Block Entertainment signing the rights to Bad Boy. It’s a third party deal, but usually the production company gives you a deal and then Puff offers them and the deal that the production company offers you are two different deals.
WHO?MAG: What was your first impression of Puff Daddy when you met him as an artist trying to sign to Bad Boy? MARK CURRY: When I first met him, he was telling me things about how all his artists are doing good, how they all had their own homes and cars; material things that I never really paid attention to any how. Material things don’t really make who I am. He was just basically bragging about what he can do for me. I was just looking at him as more about him being actually what he’s saying instead of hearing him say it. For years, I sat back and remembered and I kept hearing in my head the things he told me he was going to help me do then I looked at where I was. Where I was and what you told me is completely different.
WHO?MAG: What did he promise you? MARK CURRY: You know material things. He promised me a good life. If you put out this good album with me on this label, you’ll be able to take care of your family. You’ll be able to have a nice home and the car that you want. Things like that. Those are only things that the devil can temp me with. I was never in it for those kind of things. I was mainly in it to actually be a voice of God and be able to one day be on stage and say “Everybody thanks for coming out. God bless”. Something like that. I just imagined myself accepting an award saying “I’d like to give my thanks out to God for the gift that he gave me.” I would always fight to make sure I put myself in the position to thankful.
WHO?MAG: When was the moment you saw the reality of the music business? MARK CURRY: First really when I would see a lot of producers. Before I would really know their names, they would walk up to me and basically have an attitude. I would be trying to figure out why they had an attitude with me. He would tell me I produced a track for me and that I two tracked on it. I never received any money from Bad Boy for it. They would ask me to call and see what was going on. I would call and ask why they hadn’t gotten paid and I realized they weren’t putting any money out. Then I realized when it was time for me to go to the studio, they would never support me and say ok. We’re going to pay for the bill at the studio. You want to use and you’re going to record some songs so we can try to get this album together. Then I realized there was actually nobody taking the steps to help me put this album together. Being signed to a record label, that’s one of the things they’re supposed to do is help you form this album. Pay for your production. I never took any pictures for the album cover. There’s a lot of things as an artist you’re supposed to help an artist do and prepare. I started realizing we’re too late in the game to not be doing these simple things. There must be reason why weren’t doing it. Then I found out I didn’t have a recording budget.
WHO?MAG: You were signed with Bad Boy from 1997 to 2005? MARK CURRY: Yes!
Didn’t you realize what the label was about when The Lox was having problems with Puff Daddy trying to get out of their contract back in 1999? MARK CURRY: At the time when the Lox were having their problems, of course as an artist you’re with Puff Daddy you’re seeing that and you say “that’s their issues.” That’s just a problem they have with him. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m in the same situation. I want to do what I can to make sure I’m getting my all. I don’t have to end up in the position they’re in. It’s just how you look at Ness after making of the band. I was in Philly and Ness was at the radio station still says that he’s still signed to Bad Boy and blazhay blah. It’s come a point in time you have to let go. I’m just saying I’m signed to Bad Boy because it’s a label and I feel I’m a part of something but sometimes you have to let go and realize that I’m claiming. I’m a part of doesn’t claim me. I’m probably better off disowning and try to be my own man and put my life in my own hands and be the best that I can be.
WHO?MAG: How about another example when Black Rob got arrested for breaking in into hotel rooms and stealing jewelry because Bad Boy wasn’t paying him. Didn’t that plant the seeds of something is wrong? MARK CURRY: Black Rob did record that “Whoo!” song that was a platinum song. It was how in the world could he go from performing “Whoo!” in front of thousands of people to turn it around and go into a hotel room and into an innocent lady’s purse to steal her valuable in order to survive. You be being signed to Bad Boy, you could be broke. You can ask somebody can you lend me $20 and they look at you like you don’t need $20, you’re signed to Bad Boy. I may be signed to Bad Boy but I’m a human being and I don’t have no money right now. Sometimes you find yourself not saying nothing because you don’t want to put my business out there. Sometimes you just man up and say “hey I need $20 and I’m hungry”. It’s a shame [Black] Rob had to resort to those things to get by. That’s the situation he was in which is a very unfortunate situation.
WHO?MAG: Do you think anyone got a fair record deal at Bad Boy? MARK CURRY: Puff did. He’s signed as an artist. He’s the only one on that label that came out with a fair deal.
WHO?MAG: What else was going on that you noticed wasn’t right? MARK CURRY: Let’s say for example Puff is signed to Warner Bros. Warner will give him X amount of thousands of dollars to produce my album to pay for studio costs without going to studio and to pay for the photographers when they come to take pictures of me, to come to pay for promotion, marketing, things of that nature. When he got the money, he’s supposed to allocate towards furthering my career. The label would spend that money on things they wanted to which could be when I’m in the studio recording and I’m only there for 3 hours. Instead of shutting down and say I was only there for 3 hours, they would leave that open. Then they’ll put another artist in the end of my recording budget so this artist is actually in the studio and everybody in the studio is getting paid from my budget. Mary J Blige might come into the studio and do some work with Puff. As long as they leave my budget open, Mary will come into the studio and for the next 5 hours and I’m paying for it. If Mary says she wants a pack of M&Ms, it’s coming out of my budget. That’s how they pay for things around the studio. He owns the label, the studio, and he has the producers as well. When you go to the studio and they’re charging you $1,400 a day at the studio, then that $1,400 that they’re pulling out of their budget is going right back to him again. When you have to pay his producers to produce a song, he’s getting a percentage of the money from the producers. At the end of the day it’s similar to something Woody Woodpecker did. When you ask for what you need, I’m going to be the person to sell it to you, but he knew what you were going to need before you went out on this journey. The only thing I had to do was follow you with all the things you were going to need and charge you for them along the way.
WHO?MAG: Do you feel these revelations will blackball you in the music industry? MARK CURRY: I can’t be blackballed in the industry because I’m not trying to be a part of the music industry. Then if you look at the industry for what it is today, there isn’t such a thing as an industry. As far as record label, that’s in the position to help an artist. That’s why they’re doing these 360 deals and now they want a percentage of money these artists make when they go out and do shows because albums are not selling anymore so record labels are in trouble. Technology is so advanced that the CD is almost over. We used to look at the record label to market and promote an artist, but now you look at computer better than somebody that would be paid to market and promote. To be signed to a record label is nothing good if you ask me. Same things that the record label can do you for you; you can do for yourself. When I look at the real big picture, I used to go do certain radio interviews at certain radio stations. It was like calling upon deaf ears. Media manipulation is real powerful. The things we hear on the radio and things that we see, that’s real influential to the youth.
WHO?MAG: What is your relationship with your former Bad Boy labelmates? MARK CURRY: I’m going to have to say it like Shine said it “he doesn’t exist if you ask me.” I can’t look forward looking back. I put all of that behind me. When I wrote the book, all of my pain and agony went in the book. I don’t really harbor any bad feelings. I’m happy that I got my point out. I’m doing better than I was when I was an artist. I don’t have no reason to be mad. That chapter of my life is closed.
WHO?MAG: I mean other artists MARK CURRY: I have a real concern about them. I still talk to Craig Mack. Black Rob is going to be out of jail real soon. I was part of the alumni which was Black Rob, G Dep, myself, and Petey Pablo. I stay in touch with Faith Evans. We always stay in touch. We have no reason not to like each other.
WHO?MAG: What has been the response by other artists about your book? MARK CURRY: A lot of artists are standing behind me telling me that I’m glad that I did it because when I read the book, it makes me feel better. I received hardly ever any bad input. I get feedback from artist’s family. “The thing that Puff did to my husband or my brother affected him. I’m glad that you came out and did this. It makes my family feel better.” It’s heavy. It’s deeper than me and other artists.
WHO?MAG: Do you feel your book will help up and coming artists to learn the pitfalls of the music business? MARK CURRY: Oh yeah! As long as you have something the world wants, you have to watch out for those who want to make money off of your gift so the book a help tool for anybody who wants to pursue that dream. It’s like hip-hop 101. From the Dallas Austin, to the Divine Stevens, to how all those big moguls how they all came into play, which song they did, and when they first got on. It’s like a handbook brother.
WHO?MAG: Why do a lot of artists stay quiet to these abuses? MARK CURRY: Once you’re with a label. I was looking for a label when I didn’t have one. If I had other choices to fall back on, then I would have more than one label. It’s like running across a pretty girl that you want to date her. She’s so pretty that I don’t if I’m going to sit here and put up with her verbal abuse or physical abuse just because she’s pretty or am I going to say “you may look good and all of that, but it’s not worth me staying here and going through all of that. You and your good looks can get out of here.” Something similar to that.
WHO?MAG: How did the song “Bad Boy for Life” come about? MARK CURRY: I was at home and my wife just gave birth to my son. I was laying with him on my chest. He only would sleep when he was young on my chest. I was thinking I have a son now. I have to make sure that I’m doing the things I have to do make sure to feed and provide for me. At the time, Puff and them was in Miami working on his “Saga Continues” album. They had been out there for a few weeks and I was still waiting on somebody to call me and say “hey, your plane ticket is at the airport. Go to the airport and come on down. We need your help to finish this album.” Nobody called me and a guy named Amadeus for out in Miami called me and told me they were recording at Circle House [studios]. I said I’m going to get on a plane and get down there myself. When I get to the airport can he pick me up. When I got to the airport he had somebody pick me up. When I got to the studio, Puff came to me and said he was going to drop me from the label but Harv told him not to, so he gave me one more shot. He gave me track and asked if I can write to it. I got the track and rode in the car around the streets of Miami. When I pulled back up I had that verse. They came outside and heard the verse and everybody went crazy. I recorded it. After that I recorded six more songs.
WHO?MAG: How about the video shoot? MARK CURRY: We were in LA. at the Universal theater. It was pretty good. I knew Mike Tyson before I got signed to the label. Mike Tyson came and did a cameo for the video. When my part came for the verse, he had more parts of Shaquelle [O’ Neal] doing slam dunks and the cameos got crazy during my verse. They didn’t get a chance to focus on me and my verse. I feel I didn’t get the shine that I needed. I was thankful I was part of it.