In 2017, Murder Inc head Irv Gotti premiered a new television series concept on BET, an anthology series called Tales in which each episode story line was based upon lyrics from popular hip hop and R&B songs such as Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen. On July 2nd the series will return to BET for season two with premiere of the episode “Brothers”, which stars Elijah Kelly, and is inspired by a new track by Kanye West of the same name.
West’s song is expected to debut in it’s entirety during the season premiere episode. Like the previous season, the upcoming season of tales will feature ten stand alone episodes, which will be inspired by songs such as Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow”, Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Life” Mary J Blige’s “My Life”, Nas’ “I Gave You Power”, Geto Boys “Mind is Playing Tricks on Me” and XXXTentacion’s “Moonlight”. The Knockturnal recently spoke with series creator Irv Gotti about his process in picking songs to adapt for the new season, “Brothers”, working with Kanye and more.
The Knockturnal: How did the collaboration with Kanye West come about?
Irv Gotti: I worked very hard to get this record. It’s a record produced by myself and Seven, my production partner, a record called “Brothers”, featuring Charlie Wilson. It’s a brand new record that you’ll hear first on the episode at 9 pm if you tune in to watch Tales on BET. Unlike the normal format of Tales, this is a brand new record so it’s something that we did special for the hip hop culture.
The Knockturnal: Did you have the idea/concept for “Brothers” story prior to Kanye coming on board or did you develop the concept after he gave you the song?
Irv Gotti: We gave Kanye a bunch of different ideas (me, Seven and Chink) and he gravitated to this idea which was a song it’s a uplifting song about brothers and coming together as brothers and you just having love for your brother. So once he picked the song, we continued to work on it, get it done and here we are.
The Knockturnal: What was the song selection process for this season like?
Irv Gotti: The song selection and the process for this season … it’s not that hard of a process to be honest with you. It’s songs that we feel have strong messages and we can write a story about them. What we did with this season also is we tried to trend younger with songs from Lil Uzi Vert “XO Tour Llif3,” songs from the Migos’ “Slippery”, Cardi B “Bodak Yellow”, and then XXXTentacion with “Moonlight”. These are all songs that we immediately caught a vibe with what we wanted to do story wise with each of them. Like Cardi B was simple, it was like taking a snapshot of Cardi B’s life and telling the story of a stripper who’s now gonna become the biggest rapper in the world. “Xo Tour Llif3” we touched on drug abuse and suicide because that’s what the song was screaming to tell us to do. XXXTentacion with “Moonlight” we went in a different direction and we vibed off of his video that he has for “Moonlight” and created a love story about vampires which is I think people are gonna really really love.
The Knockturnal: When did you know you wanted Elijah Kelly to be a part of the “Brothers” storyline?
Irv Gotti: Elijah Kelly is someone who I wanted to work with since the first season because his New Edition brothers who I worked with, Keith Powers and Woody McClain they bigged him up so much’like this guy’s a super talent’. So I wanted to work with him since the first season. So with the “Brothers” episode I definitely called him, I said it’s gonna be a global premiere. it’s gonna be seen all across the world, this is the one for us to do. He came, he was all for it and he put forth a great performance. And what I didn’t know is he’s also a singing artist.He also has one of his songs that’s in one of the scenes that worked out perfectly. So he’s just an all around super talented guy Elijah Kelly.
The Knockturnal: When we think about brotherhood, there are different types of brotherhoods, familial, friendship, what kind of brotherhood relationship did you choose to depict and explore in “Brothers” episode?
Irv Gotti: The story in “Brothers” is portraying real brothers, one older brother, one younger brother (and I don’t want to give away the storyline please everyone watch because it’s great) they have some conflict with each other but they get past the conflict and they come together. And when you see it, I don’t want to give away the storyline I’ve waited this long please everyone just watch it and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s really really a great strong episode about father and son relationships, brotherly love, brothers, relationships and coming together. It really is a great episode.
The Knockturnal: Now you mentioned you were trying to reach the younger generation with many of the song selection choices this season, however you are also modeling stories after older 90’s songs like Mary J Blige’s “My Life” Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor” and Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover”. Thinking back, what was your first reaction when you heard those songs?
Irv Gotti: Those two songs we consciously wanted to do R&B records and those are my two favorite R&B records. So when you look at the ten episodes it’s four young songs, four of my kind of generation songs and two R&B records. That makes up the ten episodes. The older songs is my favorite Deep Cover, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, Nas “I Gave You Power”, Geto Boys “Mind is Playing Tricks on Me”. Oh my God the first reaction I had to each of those songs was amazing. When I first heard Deep Cover it was mind-blowing, it was just everything was new the beat was amazing and Snoop killed it, Dre killed it, it blew me away. Almost every song I picked they all blew me away. And to this day Mary J Blige “My Life” is like easily one of my favorite songs ever, that has helped me get through bad times when I listen to it. When I heard “I Gave You Power” and Nas rapping like a gun it blew my mind away. So all these songs are legendary legendary songs that are being brought to life for the one hour movie associated with it.
The Knockturnal: With Bushwick Bill’s recent passing, and you having done the episode based on his group’s song “Mind is Playing Tricks on Me”, how did the aftermath of his passing affect the vibe of the episode?
Irv Gotti: Bushwick Bill passing was just a sad thing, but then again Geto Boys “Mind is Playing Tricks on Me” J Prince rapped a lot, Scarface and these are very close friends of mine. So when I first hear that record again it was a ground shaking earth shaking record. We did something very very special with that episode because we tackled the horror genre. So it’s the fist time for Tales to tackle the horror genre and to put forth that genre of music where it’s a horror flick and another one that I can’t wait for people to see.
The Knockturnal: In season one, you collaborated with a number of different directors on the series such as Benny Boom and Tasha Smith. Tell us who are some of the directors you are working with this season.
Irv Gotti: They came back: Benny Boom, Tasha Smith, Eric White, Robert Munic who is the head writer of Tales also took a shot at directing, female director Nefertite, Ellie [Foumbi] also a new female director,[and] of course myself directed the episodes and also Joshua Butler who did “Mind is Playing Tricks on Me”. I like to give new directors opportunity, new actors the opportunity. I just like to help bring creative people and give them the opportunity to show their ability. That’s what I do a lot on Tales.
The Knockturnal: What is the most challenging thing about directing a series like Tales?
Irv Gotti: The most challenging thing is the fact that we don’t have a huge budget so we have to race through a lot of the episodes. If it was on me I would love to have a bigger budget and able shoot more days and take our time a little bit. So that’s the most challenging thing is just doing what we gotta do within that budget that we get from BET and make it great.
The Knockturnal: So what songs would you like to adapt for future stories in future seasons?
Irv Gotti: I would pick ten new songs. I like that record by YNW Melli “Mixed Personalities”, I would love to do, Nipsey Hussle “Racks in the Middle”, I’m definitely doing that, Lil Baby “Close Friends” like a little love story, City Girls “Act Up” which I want to do like females robbing motherf– and sh- like that, Tupac “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” , DMX “Slippin”, Ja Rule “Put It On Me,” Mobb Deep “Eye for an Eye” and I want to do a Young Jeezy record. He has so many I haven’t picked the right one yet, but I want him on there. As you can see with the list I like my young generation to tune in too so it’s like a mixture of young and old for everyone to enjoy.
The Knockturnal: What else are you working on?
Irv Gotti: Besides Tales I’m working on the Murder Inc tour which should go out the end of this year and then the beginnings of next year we will probably be on the road. Then I’m working on my Murder Inc documentary and also my Murder Inc tv series. Then I’m working on a spinoff of Tales from the first season Trap Queens that we mapped into a regular series based on those characters that were in the first season. Then I’m trying to get Tales R&B, Tales Country off the ground breaking the different genres of tales. Then I got some sitcoms that I’m working on it’s very good. I’m a busy man and I don’t think I’m slowing down for the next few years.