Ketchums x Tariq Nasheed

15 Oct

Tariq Nasheed

Tariq Nasheed’s hammer is game advising—and based on this week’s earlier post about trickin’, it only made sense to feature King Flex today. Since his first book, The Art Of Mackin, made the New York Times Bestseller List in 2000, the Detroit native has made a living based off of his advice on self-confidence and dealing with the opposite sex. Subsequent books like Play or Be Played and The Mack Within respectively help women and men, and his Mack Lessons Radio Show podcast has a cult following (that I’m a proud part of). He’s also worked on material with MTV, VH1 and BET (most notably his episode of MADE), and appeared on the likes of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” One of his most successful ventures is his lectures, and he just started his latest: The Get Your Game Right Tour.

Follow the jump to see me chop it up with Tariq about his road to success, “Mack Boats,” and how women perceive him.

When did you realize that your understanding of women was on such a different level than other people’s?

Back in the day, my friends would hit me up for relationship advice, and I would have all the answers for them. More and more people came to me for advice through word of mouth. For a while I just dealt with women the way I dealt with women; I thought everyone dealt with them the same way. But the thing is, I read a lot of psychology books. Plus I hung out with a lot of street cats and street players who really hit me with game, so I assumed everybody knew what I knew. But dealing with a lot of people, I began to realize: “Wait a minute. A lot of people really don’t know how to deal with these women out here, so let me school these cats on this.” And then it got to the point where I just had to put it in book form, because so many people were coming to me asking for advice on how to do this, how to do that. So I said “OK, just let me do it in book form”. I wrote The Art of Mackin’ in four months, put it out, the shit sold 250,000 copies, and the rest is history.

How much writing had you done before that book?

See, that’s the thing, I didn’t know anything about the publishing world at all. I didn’t know anything about writing, I never went to school for sentence structure, none of that stuff. The thing I wanted to do with The Art of Mackin’ was write a book in a regular persons’ conversational tone. A lot of books, especially by black authors, they try to show off their intellect. They use unnecessary big words. I love Cornell West, but I remember he had a book called Race Matters, and…he uses words that are very rarely used in the English language. He kind of shows off his intellect, like, “Hey look at me, I’m ultra-smart”. And sometimes that ideology will throw the reader off. So for the average cat, I want him to read the book and just feel like they’re in the room with me, having a regular conversation with a regular dude. I want the focal point to be the game, not me; which is why in The Art of Mackin’ I don’t talk about myself. I don’t really talk about myself in any of my books, it’s about helping the reader, and a lot of my readers can appreciate that.

Yeah, Michael Eric Dyson does that a lot too. I like them both, but I think they do that to make themselves stand out as intellectuals while being black.

Exactly. And that’s cool to a certain degree, because Cornell West and Michael Eric Dyson can go toe-to-toe with some of these so-called “white intellects.” They’re thorough with it. But a lot of times, it’s like “Hey, look how smart I am”. And I didn’t want to take that route. I wanted to make the book feel like you’re on the corner, talking to a regular dude, soaking up game.

Giving friends advice when they call you up is one thing, but what was it like to buckle down and actually make it an entire book?

Well, it was already stuff that I knew, so it wasn’t really that hard. Like I said, I wrote it in four months, I really knocked the book out quickly, and it was just stuff and techniques that I use. And the thing about it, when I wrote the book in 1999, there were a lot of sensitive books out. A lot of books telling dudes to just hug your women five times a day, and tell her you love her, real corny shit that really don’t work. Dudes had these pussy-whipped type books out there, that men didn’t really like, and women don’t really like that shit. So a lot of guys didn’t know what women really wanted. See, women will say one thing—“Oh, I want a man who’s sweet and sensitive”—but then they’ll date the total opposite of that, and a lot of people were confused. So I wanted to take the book and be really ballsy about telling the truth about what women want and how to deal with what women want. Because when it first came out, people cried bloody murder. I was the Son of Satan when that book came out. I’m teaching men how to be players and macks, they thought they were gonna lynch me. They had me on the Jenny Jones show, the Ricki Lake people were calling. I wish I never went on that, but…I went on the talk-show circuit, thinking they would get me on the show to have the audience on me for writing such a dreaded book, but when I got on these shows, I won people over. And people loved what I was saying, they were like “Damn, we respect this nigga for being real.”

How was the process of shopping it around and trying to put it out?

I didn’t know anything about the publishing world, so I got this book, I always recommend this book to new authors, a book called The Literary Marketplace. It’s like the Bible for the publishing world. It has the name of every publisher on earth, every literary agent on earth. So I got this book, and it was basically eeny-meeny-miny-mo. I was looking for African-American book publishers, and there was one I found in Chicago called Frontline Publishing—real small publishing company, run by three Jamaican dudes. So I called them up, told them I had a book idea I’m doing and that I would send it to them. I sent them the manuscript, they agreed to put it out, and give me a $400 advance. I’m like, “Shit, give me eight.” They gave me $800. I get about $100,000 now, but back then, $800…I didn’t think it was no money, but that’s cool. They put the book out, and the shit sold like 10,000 copies in the first three months.

And what they would do, they had a connection with the prisons. So they would send books into the prisons to cats, and they sold them on the streets of New York. That’s how my book got started, some straight-off-the-street-shit. They sold my shit like a mixtape. Once the streets got hot with it, in New York, every corner was selling The Art of Mackin’. The quality of the street buzz it was generating, it just took off from there. And then it started poppin’ off on college campuses, too. Because a lot of college dudes, they want to know how to get women, so that was the handbook for them. It was really a grassroots effort, and after the book started taking off, a lot of the major publishers started calling me, like, “Hey, man! How the fuck did you sell all these books? You sellin’ numbers higher than us, and we’re the major publisher. How the fuck you do that?” So I just signed a deal with another publishing company, and put out my following books: Play Or Be Played and The Mack Within, which was with Simon and Schuster.

Now, after the book, you did a really good job of stretching yourself in different markets to convey your message. You have the podcast, the public speaking, and TV projects with VH1 and MTV. How have you come up with so many ways to maximize it in so many different ways?

The thing is, man, I touch so many people. I help men and women of different generations. Most relationship people out there, like Dr. Phil, they’re older people. So younger people, that 18-34 demographic, can’t really relate to one of them. But they can relate to me because I speak their language. They can relate to me because I talk in the vernacular that they’re used to talking in. I dress in the style they dress in. My demographic is very diverse, so that helped out a lot. Also, with relationships, everyone has relationship issues, especially college people, and no one knows how to really address them without sounding preachy or corny. That’s why, in my books, it goes back to talking to cats on some regular conversation shit, instead of being the big expert with 18 Ph. D’s. I came at them with a different approach, like I don’t have no degrees, but I know how to deal with a bitch. [laughs]

Now, what would you say is the most fun project you have done in relationship to all of this?

The podcast is fun. I like doing the podcast because I have 100% control of it, and I interact with the fans. I love talking to people, seeing what’s going on. I like to see how women across the country are feeling, I like to get feedback from the audience; so I like to do the podcast. And I like going on tour. I like the lectures as well, because that’s more interaction with the audience. I like to see the people who are buying my books and feel out the audience and feel out their vibe. It’s real cool doing that. Man, I like doing all of it, the radio interviews are fun, just the whole thing, man. It’s fun.

Now, what would you say has been your favorite podcast show?

My favorite shows are actually some of the lowest-rated shows that we have, which is funny, but my favorites are the ones where I’m roasting people. [laughs] Like the one where I’m roasting fucking Simba, that shit is a classic. And people don’t know that’s a real dude, that dude is really like that. Some people thought it was so funny that we set it up, and that mothafucker is like that.

Yo, re-tell the story of Simba, just so the fans can hear it right now.

That wasn’t his real name, we called him Simba because he’s African. He was this young African dude, real cool guy, smart kid; but when gets with women he pours his heart out to any women he gets with. And he went to a strip club, and he literally fell in love with this light-female stripper who’s trickin the shit out of him. She’s making him buy her shit, he bought her a Valentine’s gift, he wants to take her on Olive Garden dates and all this ol shit, and he’s only seen her at the strip club. In his mind, he has a real relationship with this woman; but he always sees her at the strip club, and we can’t get it through his head that he’s a customer. He’s like, “Oh no, she’s better than stripping, she has more potential, I want to help her bring out her potential.” I’m like, “Nigga, take your cape off, dude!” [laughs] Yo, like that entire story was crazy, and that dude is really, really like that.

Any standout stories of people you’ve seen after your help, and you were surprised that it was the same person?

Absolutely. I’m in the club one time with my entourage, and this cat who had seen me on one television show was like, “Man, at least hook me up. I’m a nerd.” He was kind of a nerdy looking-dude, kind of shy. So I sat him down and talked to him for like, an hour, just laced him with game. This nigga got up and macked through every woman in the club. It was a running joke with my friends that we had turned this nigga into Superman. And I still see him to this day, and every time I see him he has a different chick. And the dude thanks me, he’s a real cool dude. He hangs out with this dude named Greg, we call him Greg the Square cuz he has a real square job. But that right there, that was like, real funny. That was a major, immediate response.

You said that you like the radio show and the tours the most because it’s basically all in your hands. What is it like for you to be working with these networks, and having to work with them and the shit that they set up, as opposed to your own situations?

It’s really a sticky situation because I like working for myself. I like having things in my own control. I like putting together my own tours, (because) I can control the flow of it. I feel like working with other people as long as they’re not exploiters, because I’ve been offered so many crazy TV shows. Man, I’ve been offered some of the most offensive shit you can imagine. Somebody from FOX, years ago, wanted me to do a reality show with me living in a house with a bunch of strippers, and I’m supposed to eliminate a stripper or some stupid-ass shit that they wanted me to do. And it was another one, no bullshit, these networks wanted to do a show with me and a bunch of dudes who wanted to be players on a boat, and they wanted to call the show “Mack Boat!” I’m like, “Get the fuck outta here!” [laughs] Man, they should’ve got Flava Flav or some goddamn body to do this shit, you know? They come to you with stupid ideas though, that’s how you get movies like “Soul Plane.” Somebody somewhere fuckin greenlit “Soul Plane.” That’s the mentality out here, dude. It’s crazy. That’s the way these networks deal with “black personalities”.

“Mack Boat,” dude?

I’m like, “Is Aston Kutcher about to walk out here, cuz I’m being punked.”

Now, here’s a question: My homegirl wanted to know if you were married, and if not, do you have a hard time finding a meaningful relationship?

No, I’m not married, but I don’t have a hard time at all. I’m a goddamn good catch! I’m dating this female now, but yeah, it’s never a problem. They want a nigga who’s not gay, who’s got himself together, somewhat smart; you know, so I’m a good catch. A lot of folks think that because I talk about mackin’ and all that, that a lot of women would be offended, but they won’t. Women don’t trip on that. Women look at me as a challenge, more than anything. They’re like “OK, we’re going to get this guy. He wrote all these books, let me see if I can change him or make him sensitive.” It don’t work, but it makes women more free.

What would you say is the most misunderstood thing about you?

A lot of people think I live in a house full of women, that I got women left and right, but it ain’t really like that. It’s about quality instead of quantity. I always tell guys, it’s not about having a whole bunch of females; it’s about having one quality female. I tell niggas all the time: One Ferrari is better than 20 Hyundai’s.

Tell me about this tour that you’re working on.

The “Get Ya Game Right Tour.” It’s for men and women, trying to get their game right. We’re hitting up all the major cities around the country. We’re bringing men and women out, because usually when I do a tour, it’s either catered towards women or it’s catered towards men. But this one, we’re bringing them both out. Just trying to help men get confident and help them with the manhood shit, and help women learn what they need to do to maintain a real relationship. A lot of women right now don’t know how to maintain relationships. They just know how to make themselves available to get somebody to sex ‘em up, and we want women to see where they’re going wrong in terms of that. They’re not getting into meaningful relationships. We also want to teach dudes how to find quality women as well, because a lot of niggas out here are messing with hood rats and skanks and don’t understand why they’re not getting anything positive out of these relationships.


3 Responses to “Ketchums x Tariq Nasheed”

  1. Heinsain SwaggeR October 23, 2008 at 4:08 pm #

    One Ferrari…

  2. Pike The Mack October 25, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    Great Interview playa. Quality over quanity. 20 Hyundai’s don’t equal a Phantom.


  1. ToDo 10-22-08 « Speech Is My Hammer… - October 22, 2008

    […] Remind y’all about my dope feature with Tariq Nasheed. […]

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