irvgotti2.jpgTonight, Irv Gotti is playing poker. He's just finished hamming it up for some VH1 cameras, capturing footage for what the network hopes will be an R-rated Run's House with debauchery galore. On and off camera, he's loud, funny, boisterous, arrogant and money-hungry. He bets big and is without filter. In business, when he's making music with Ja Rule, Ashanti, Lloyd or Vanessa Carlton—yes, that Vanessa—he's all those things times 10.
In fact, it's his tendency to gamble wildly and speak freely that has, on more than one occasion, messed up the business of doing business. He's even hedged his livelihood on an association with notorious gangster Kenneth "Supreme” McGriff, who was sentenced to life in federal prison for racketeering, double murder-for-hire homicides and multiple drug convictions. But tonight, he's betting on the poker table and on the Eastern Conference semifinals, where the Pistons are romping Chicago in the fourth quarter of game two. "Let's go, Pistons! Let's go, Pistons!” he bellows.
He's relaxed for a man on the early side of a comeback. But after beating a federal money-laundering trial, Irv likes his chances against the odds. Consider him the spiritual offspring of a great Spartan soldier, one of the 300 who stood their ground for three days in the face of a hailstorm of arrows and imminent death at the battle of Thermopylae. Sure, the Spartans fell after being outnumbered by the Persians—as Shawn "Jay-Z” Carter once said, "Numbers don't lie”—but they didn't go down easily. Still skeptical of Irv's staying power? Just ask the federal government, 50 Cent or his wife. Better yet, ask Irv himself.

ON 50 CENT
I don't want to talk about homeboy too much, but I will say that the hate from 50 came from pure jealousy. We were on Jamaica Avenue [in Queens, New York] shooting the "Murder 4 Life” video, and I had the real O.G.s out there—Supreme, Slim—and they all giving us love. [Later, at a Queens nightclub,] 50 came up to Rule to give him a pound. I don't know if Rule gave him a pound or not, but that's the incident where he says, "Yo, I was with the guy who robbed Rule.” Get the fuck outta here, yo. So that's why when you hear 50 talking about, "Yo, he seen me with…” Nigga, we wasn't thinking about you. Who the fuck are you? You're just a meaningless face. Now, that face turned into the biggest rapper in the world; that's just our luck. This is honest-to-God shit. That's why when me and Rule think about the beef, we are like, "Maybe we should have just given him a hug.”

ON ETHAN BROWN'S BOOK, Queens Reigns Supreme
I don't even remember talking to [Brown]. Everyone said I did, but I don't remember talking to dude. [That book] was just more of the same bullshit. By that time I was kind of numb to everything...The funny thing is when I thumbed through it, we were first: You opened the book to Irv Gotti and Supreme. At the time I wasn't in the mood for Ethan Brown's assumptions, because that's all that book was. That's the shit with me and 'Preme: No one gets us.

ON ASHANTI
Me and Ashanti are definitely like, uh…there was a space in time where we, uh… I'm trying to find the right words...As far as me and her, business-wise, she felt she's outgrown Murder Inc...That's why you have contracts. She's here for the next few albums. But she's doing her own thing.

To read more of this interview, cop KING Magazine's July/August '07 issue. On newsstands now!