With his debut album, ‘Vivid Pictures’, on the horizon, we spoke to the Texan rapper about the viral success of his songs ‘Repeat Dat’ and his Dreamdoll collab, ‘Chicken N Grits’, which is gaining huge numbers on US radio…
You’re in Texas right?
I’m in the Dallas area right now, just chilling…
How have you stayed mentally healthy through the pandemic?
Just the thought of evolving myself, the thought of preparing for when I do come out. When all this is over, I wanna be better than I was before this started, I wanna be in a destructive mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, so I just been preparing. It’s been giving me time to do that.
What are your tips on how to become spiritually bulletproof?
Reading, meditating, picking up hobbies that you always wanted to do but never did. Just really being creative, tapping in. You gotta find ways to be creative when you stuck in the house. So if you don’t get creative or plan for something, then I can see how you can easily go insane.
Reading’s been my one too, I read about 100 pages a day.
I’m trying to get to that level right there, maybe half a book a day.
It’s reduced my anxiety a lot, like meditation is’s balancing your mind.
Exactly, it creates a new thought process so that is definitely helpful.
What book changed your lockdown so far?
It’s called I Ching, it’s ancient Chinese philosophy. And I been reading a book called The Sixth Sense: Think And Grow Rich. Anything by Alan Watts.
Some good tips for us to check out! I also saw you paint, have you been enjoying that in lockdown?
I haven’t painted in a minute, I tapped into painting. I have about six paintings now and that did it to me, because I really tapped in and connected and that’s something I’m gonna get deeper into when I’ve got more time. I didn’t practice it or try and learn how to paint, I just go in and paint, and put what’s on my mind on a canvas. It’s like therapy for me.
You call your genre “spiritual trap,” how has that evolved while creating your upcoming project, ‘Vivid Pictures’?
Every situation or problem that I go through, I embrace it. I take that and I channel it into my music. So that helps me evolve a lot – just living and learning, trying to balance it all and analysing every situation I go through. I pay attention to detail, I’m big on things like that.
Especially with music, because you’ve gotta be inspired but also know when things are really working for you.
Definitely, I get inspired by the sounds period, instrumentals, different kinds of sounds, they inspire me – do something to me.
You’re so lucky to have a whole project full of Cool & Dre beats, but was it overwhelming having so much to choose from? What made you choose those specific beats from the pack?
I really let the track pick me and it is a big blessing, I felt like a kid in a candy shop for real! I just let the beat pick me, I don’t try too hard, I just vibe with each track and I try to see what the music is telling me.
It must be hard, like I can imagine you might love a beat but it doesn’t necessarily fit your sound?
How has the recording process been? Any collaborating or has the studio been a bit more lonely than usual due to the pandemic?
I been in the studio, during this whole pandemic. I been really working, staying safe – but I just been working, mentally, physically, emotionally, musically, just trying to evolve myself and my sound. But COVID-19 hasn’t put a stop to nothing really, it’s like how you take it, you can take it as a positive or as a negative but at the same time; as I say we have been careful. Health is a big thing but we gonna face it.
You managed to go viral in the pandemic, what’s it like to go viral and living it as your reality?
I don’t think it hit me yet because I still walk around and do everything normal, like it ain’t happen. But it’s amazing, it’s a great feeling like, ‘wow this is really happening’ and it’s even more exciting because it’s at this time. Like when all this is clear, I can only imagine where it’s gon’ go.
You’ve been making music for a minute, were you surprised that a lot of your fame came through TikTok?
It was a surprise, I didn’t expect it, it just went crazy. ‘Repeat Dat’ and ‘Chicken N Grits’ are like 30 million views, it’s like wow! Wow! And in the time period that we did that, taking it in, it’s like we really got something.
The video shoot for ‘Chicken N Grits’ looks so fun, what was it like working with Dreamdoll on that video?
It was a movie, I really felt I was on a movie set. Shout out Mid Jordan, shout out Blu, shout out the whole set that was there! Shout out Dream, she was very professional, we had fun! And when you have fun while you working, but handling your business, amazing things happen. Her energy was just perfect, my energy was perfect, everyone that was on the set was perfect and it was a movie.
Houston has so many great artists, I appreciated the Paul Wall era all the way from the UK! Now we have Maxo Kream, Megan the Stallion and more, who are all major in music! What was it like coming up in the city, could you feel the buzz?
I was always appreciative of the music, the old wave, new wave… There’s sounds that Houston has that people haven’t even got onto yet but it’s happening. I’ve always been head-first in it, DJ Screw, Paul Wall, Z-Ro, just so many names, Slim Thug, K Rino, Sauce Twinz, Maxo Kream, there’s a lot of talent.
Houston’s also got its own sound as a city.
Yeah we definitely have a unique sound.
Tell me about your start in music, I saw your dad was a DJ and you made your first mixtape at 12. That’s such an incredible story!
My pops was a DJ and we had a home studio. He changed his whole garage to a studio, with three, four keyboards, a drum machine, fat Daz desktop, microphone, mixing board, the whole nine. People would come in, book studio time and me being young and just overhearing it and watching BET and always being around music, I walked in the room and I had no choice but to just fall in love with it! I was already in love with music but I told him I wanna record too! And he was like, ‘well ok let’s try it’. I ended up making a whole mixtape – a double mixtape actually – at 11 but I was telling people I was 12. Ever since then, I just been educating myself, falling deeper and deeper in love with music, creating a burning desire for it.
You were a really hard working 11 year old, a double album?
Yeah, I loved it – working for me ain’t even working for me – I love what I do so I can do it in my sleep.
Have you still got the CD?
It’s somewhere, but it’s horrible.
I feel like you should sample it one day.
You know what, that’s a great idea! I’ma have to give you a credit on that.
You have a big appreciation of music in your family right, I saw your grandfather is very passionate about music.
Right, they love hip hop also but they were really into a genre called Zydeco, it really originated from the Louisiana area, like New Orleans area. Yeah, we always been around music.
Is it like a Blues sound?
Yeah like a Blues, Jazz… it’s kinda hard to really pinpoint it.
Were you in Houston when ‘Still Tippin’’ dropped? I can imagine that was such a crazy moment!
I wasn’t! So I’m originally from Orange, Texas, that’s where I was before moving to Houston. I was in that area when ‘Still Tippin’ came out but I was jamming it non-stop, everyday. Half a million of those views probably came from me! What’s crazy is when I actually met Paul – shout out Paul Wall – we sat down and we talked and he said, ‘you know what’s crazy? When I heard the beat, I thought it was too simple’. I was like ‘wooowwwwww’.
I always think the simpler the beat, the better.
Right, simplicity is an art of its own.
Also versatility, I like that you create hype party tracks but there’s also a depth to your music, how do you find the balance, do you just create different vibes depending on your mood when you’re in the studio?
Yeah it just depends on the mood I’m in, the vibe of the scene, the sound of the track, ‘cause I feel like I just walk through different frequencies. I be in and out of time zones and the type of person that I am, I connect with any and everybody. I got black friends, white friends, Chinese friends, you know. And me being that type of person and being involved with different genres of people, I can just take from here, here and here and I try to mix it all together and try to create my own sound so that’s kinda how it works a little bit.
Is that what inspired the title ‘Vivid Pictures’?
I named it ‘Vivid Pictures’ because of like, the music is so emotional, I’m really telling you a story. I’m having fun with ‘Chicken N Grits’ but I’m telling you where I’m from and about me. But on ‘Vivid Pictures’, I’m telling you the situation, the good, the bad, the ugly, raw, uncut, not sugar coated and it’s so detailed that once you hear it, you can visualise it. You’re able to connect with it in a way, that O’ll connect my situation with your situation and you’ll be able to see yourself. So thats why I named it ‘Vivid Pictures’.
I saw you write poetry too, is that something we’ll be likely to hear in future, or even on the project? Or do you separate it from your music?
It’s kinda hard to say because I feel like, to a certain extent, music is poetry but I separate because my three poems that I wrote were to God. I wrote poems to God, just for us, but I think it’s something I’m gonna definitely start getting into more, along with the painting, and start incorporating all of it at the same time.
Do you just start writing and see which way it goes? How do you construct poetry that’s different to your lyrics?
Well when I do my music, I listen to the track and then I see what type of feeling I get, what kind of mood and then I create from that and when I’m doing poetry, I just maybe feel overwhelmed and have crazy thoughts. The average human being has 40,000 thoughts per day so I just try get some of that out on paper and when you do that, it’s very therapeutic. You’ll br able yo understand yourself more when you read it, it’s very euphoric. It’s a different vibe, I may feel good and have something on my mind that I just wanna write down, you know>? And it’s good to do things like that , it has benefits, spiritual benefits, emotional benefits that can really be helpful.
Do you write just to express things, like outside of music?
Now I’ve started writing just to write because writing is a very powerful affirmation and what you put on paper, you put into the universe so knowing that, I’ve started just doing that.
Would you say the majority of what you write, you tend to release?
Yeah, I can say that what I write, I tend to release at some time.
What’s your plan for the year and when will we hear new music?
We’re just planning by ear right now and working with some dates, I don’t wanna give a date and people quote me on it and they be looking for it. So I’ma just say it’s coming really soon but I’m not gonna keep y’all waiting cause I know that’s what people want, music. They want more so I’m gonna give it to y’all and give you what you want.
Do you get harassed by fans that want you to drop more?
I get messages like, ‘hey bro, I listened to everything you already have, can you just email me a track? I promise I won’t leak it!” Im like, “nah bro” but when I get tons of messages like those, thats when I put out the trillers and little snippets.
The latest song you put out on your triller is incredible!
I just recorded that last night in the studio, I was just kinda messing around, it was called ‘Traphouse Cinderella’.
It’s really good, is that on the project or are you still deciding?
I appreciate that, the thing is I record so much and then once I send it in, t’s like now this gotta make the project. So I gotta get to the point where we stop recording and I just listen to everything and then we say, ok this is definitely going on the project. So it could make the project, it could!
Well there’s one vote over here! Have you ever had any team members threaten to walk out if a song isn’t included?
No, we haven’t had that! M y team is really amazing and we vibe amazing so the hardest part is picking what should go next or what we should do next. I think that’s a good problem to have.
Definitely a good problem! Plus this is the age of the deluxe, so you can always add some more after the release.
What other plans do you have this year that won’t be affected by COVID-19?
More music, more shows, everything. It’s gonna be like corona ain’t even happen. Especially when all this is said and done, it’s gon’ be up!
Whats the first thing you’re gonna do that’s been off limits?
I haven’t even thought about it but I just wanna go around, explore. I really wanna touch stage, every stage in every city. That’s the first thing I wanna do, touch every stage in every city.
Have you been to the UK before?
No, its on my vision board and everything on there comes to pass. So I’ll see you soon out there.
Just put a microphone on the vision board next to London!
[Laughs] how is it over there?
Good, it’s the most lockdown of any lockdown. No one’s allowed in each other’s apartments and stuff, it’s a very sad time.
These times I feel like the best thing we can do is pray.
Interview by Lily Mercer