SCHOOLBOY Q’S LATEST ALBUM ‘BLANK FACE LP’ PROPELLED TWO ARTISTS, TRAFFIC AND T.F, TO THE FOREFRONT OF THE GANGSTER RAP SCENE, WITH THE TRACK ‘TOOKIE KNOWS II’ INITIATING THEM INTO THE MAINSTREAM. THE TRACK’S CONCEPT AIMS TO MERGE MUSICALITY WITH CRIMINALITY, STEMMING FROM TRAFFIC AND T.F’S LONG TIME ASSOCIATION WITH LA GANG, THE CRIPS.
Traffic and T.F formed their relationship with ScHoolboy Q in the streets of south Los Angeles where the artists grew up. So much so, Traffic and T.F’s trademark backflips – as seen in the behind the scenes footage of the Blank Face tour – were created with ScHoolboy Q in their teenage hangouts.
This highlights the bond which has seen ScHoolboy Q accelerateTraffic and T.F’s success in the hip hop scene, not least because of their shared upbringing in an underprivileged background. Indeed, Q’s influence on the artists’ musical success has allowed their long relationship with crime and punishment to come to an end.
In the visual for ‘Tookie Knows II’, Traffic and T.F convey their criminal tendencies by looting a pawnshop and using the stolen cash to buy luxurious goods on Melrose Avenue. Following this, the police raid their neighbourhood, arrest the men and put them in jail, where they dress in blue prison garms synonymous with the Crips.
The video is a rare glimpse into Traffic and T.F.’s personalities as by and large, they still remain under the radar. But with the boys currently on tour, we were lucky enough to catch up with them and gain more insight into their lives. Allow Viper to introduce you to Traffic and T.F…
There isn’t too much information about you online. Could you briefly introduce yourselves?
TRAFFIC: Traffic is a humble person, a real person, a funny person, a whoop your ass person, a family orientated person, a people’s person, an outspoken person, a street person. This the real nigga type of shit.
T.F: I’m T.F., from South Central. I’ve got a YouTube page, ‘WestSideBunk’, you can type that online and find all my shit that is online. I got a few joints on Worldstar, a few features with some peoples and all that: YC Creez, T-Swishers and, of course, Traffic and ScHoolboy Q.
What’s your relationship with ScHoolboy Q and how did this lead to your feature on the album?
TRAFFIC: I’ve known Q since we were kids. We grew up together, I stayed down the street and he stayed across the street and we got family on the block, you feel me? That’s how I know him, then he came and got me from the pen and asked me to be on the track, so I got on the track.
T.F: Me and Q grew up in the same area, we grew up in the same section. So, it was only right for some shit like this to happen. You know I didn’t know it was gonna be this big. We was just chilling, he had a video shoot with A$AP Ferg and I hadn’t seen him in a minute so we talked it off for a minute. He was like ‘yeah man come through’ and we ended up at the house. He played a beat and that shit ended up being ‘Tookie Knows II’.
How does the ‘Tookie Knows II’ music video reflect on past experiences? Have you experienced a situation like this before?
T.F: That whole three video series was a true story for all of us. It probably wasn’t right on the nose, but that was a true story.
TRAFFIC: I’m fresh out of jail, I just got off parole and that’s the life and environment you actually live in jail. The police will whoop your ass. They will disrespect you. You gotta fight back, you gotta be strong. That’s just the life.
How would you describe your childhood?
TRAFFIC: It was kinda cruel shit I ain’t gon’ lie. My pops was on heroin, my mom had 10 kids, my grandmother stayed with us, her father stayed with us and his wife, plus my auntie along with her kids, with like seven kids until they had to move. So it was deep as a motherfucker, it was hard. Then when my pops left and shit, it was really hard so I just started doing me.
T.F: Everything scandalous – [laughs]… next question.
This is an extract of an article from Viper Issue 7, The Barely Legal issue. Buy physical and digital copies via Viper World.
Photos by Mark Peace
Words by Yassmine Benalla