"It's just saying you can't always react in a negative way," Huey explains. "I feel like laughing in their face, smiling at 'em and waving is going to make 'em even madder. You either going to get with it or you ain't — I'm not going to let it stop me from doing what I'm doing."

Another new track, "Hello to All My Haters," works along the same lines, scornfully confronting "Internet blogs" and hip-hop gossip. "Hello to all my haters," Huey raps on the chorus, "I love your sneak dissin', along with the critics you put me in this position."

The song references the drive-by incident and ends with the lyrical equivalent of a double middle-finger salute: "Mad 'cause you hate me, but I still love ya, can't do without ya but look here — fuck you! — 'cause I can do without ya."

Huey: Older, wiser and ready to break his hip-hop reputation.
Tim Schinsky
Huey: Older, wiser and ready to break his hip-hop reputation.

Despite the confrontational bluster, Huey says he has matured. He is back on good terms with Nelly after a spat over the rapper's refusal to appear on Notebook Paper. He emphasizes that he's trying be more aware of his surroundings and avoid situations like the one ended in the deaths of his friends last May.

"You really got to try to make all the right choices," Huey says. "I know I'm probably not going to make all of them, but I'm trying to make 99 percent of them."

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