LOS ANGELES — With a clothing line and a powerhouse group of artists under his umbrella, Lil Wayne claims he's trying to stay above the fray.
The rapper says "there's no beef" between himself and Pusha T, despite back-and-forth diss songs released in recent weeks. Conflict between the two, simmering for years, boiled over when Pusha T of The Clipse — signed with Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music group — released a track targeting Lil Wayne and his Young Money signee Drake.
Lil Wayne, who rarely responds in such cases, quickly released a brief song online called "Ghoulish" aimed at Pusha T "and anybody that love him."
But in an interview at a Los Angeles Macy's department store to promote his skateboarding-inspired Trukfit clothing line, Lil Wayne told The Associated Press he doesn't plan to escalate the Pusha T conflict. He's got business — and fashion — on his mind.
AP: What's next musically? And what happened in the beef between you and Pusha T?
Lil Wayne: I just finished recording my "I Am Not a Human Being II" album. And we're starting to work on the Young Money album. ... It really wasn't no beef, you know. It was just me. I just reacted. Just a reaction, a simple reaction. I don't apologize for it because I'm human. But it was just my human reaction. I don't take it back. But there's no beef. Beef is a whole different thing. ... I'll move on.
AP: Do you consider yourself the most stylish rapper out there? How has your style evolved?
LW: I do not consider myself the most stylish rapper out there. I'd say if I had to consider someone the most stylish rapper out there, I would definitely say that would be a Kanye West or a Andre 3000. ... Yes it (my style) has evolved because I was one of the guys that would "geek chic" it every now and then. ... Now I'm just more into whatever works for me. I think that's just age.
AP: What do you bring to skateboarding and why do you like it?
LW: Skating has so many styles. Once you pick up a skateboard, you'll find out that it's not a hobby, it's not a sport, it's a lifestyle. There's so many styles to it that people enjoy that I bring a new one. ... I love a challenge. ... It's fun as hell to fall and to not get something and then to finally land it. That's like pursuing a girl that said no a hundred times and she finally say yeah. That's what it feels like every single time.
AP: How did you start a clothing line?
LW: It was brought to me by my friends and peers. They was like, "Dude, you dress your own way and people follow that. You probably should have your own clothing line." And it was just that easy.
AP: You also have a soda endorsement deal but don't come across as a businessman like some of your peers. Do you deliberately keep it separated from your public persona?
LW: When it comes to me, myself, I'm very free-spirited, so that's what you see, and that's what you get — you as in the public eye. But when it comes down to business, I believe that business shouldn't be done in the public's eye anyway. And I believe that business shouldn't be handled in the magazines anyway. Business should be handled in the room amongst the people you're doing business with. And that's how I handle my business. And once I come out of that room, I'm back to being who I am. And that's why I don't come off as the businessman or nothing, but at the end of the day you can always say: "... This guy's stock keeps rising and there is no driving force behind it but him."
AP: Are your business ambitions greater than your music ambitions?
LW: I can honestly say my music is always going to be greater than my business side. Because I'm naturally a musician. And I don't have to get paid, I don't even have to have businesses. I will still do music. So that will always be my greater thing. ... Business is business. And music is life.
AP: This is presidential campaign season. Do you plan to get political at all? Do you plan to go out and encourage kids to vote?
LW: I do. ... And that comes from age, and that comes from my vacation on Rikers Island (the New York City jail where Wayne did time in in 2010). Now that I know how important voting and elections and all that is. ... But everybody know that life is going to be life regardless of who is president.
AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson is on Twitter. Follow him at twitter.com/ryanwrd