Hey man! Thanks for talking with us! First off – congrats on the success of Cartel Shawty + your recent songs on SoundCloud! Pigeons + Planes premiered the EP, and your song Beep Beep premiered on Beats 1 Radio with Zan Lowe. You’ve also got Lip Service 6 at #23 In the US Viral charts on Spotify, and blogs are posting your stuff like crazy! Was this all organic? What do you attribute all this success to?
It’s crazy to hear you say that and those stats. I would attribute this success to just staying down and always keeping my heart intact through my expression and art. A lot of artists let go of their hearts and are not as thoughtful or in touch with themselves when they want to create. I’m fully engaged in myself, where I come from, who’s listening and what I’m trying to say whether it’s good, bad or ugly.
You just dropped your new project (February 28th.) How do you feel about this release compared to Cartel Shawty?
Cartel Shawty was me starting to figure out life and myself out and starting to bloom. I would call it the moment I came out of my cocoon and became bold enough to do and say things the way I wanted to. It was about my emotions and how I feel about the police, women that I loved and respected, women that I didn’t feel that same admiration for… It dealt with people close to me dying and how I cope with all that. Flawed Up Shawty is my championship ring. It’s me out of the cocoon and learning how to fly. It’s a lot harder and dirtier.
I’m not concerned with how people will take it. I just know my shit is hard and I’m shooting shots at everybody who’s been mad that I’m really out here influencing a generation. I’m talking about the relationships that this new recognition has brought to me and how I deal with it. Especially since I lost the love of my life during the making of this. Ima be talking about her, not really in a bad way, for a while probably… Because now I’m out in this industry with nobody to hold me down like she did and I see how this thing can drive you crazy. It hurts. I see how people cope with not having that person and it’s scary because I don’t want to be that but when she left me, that door slowly cracked open.
You are definitely a unique presence in the hip hop world. What was it like growing up, and how did you develop into the creative artist we see today?
I had good times and bad times growing up. My family and environment influenced me. Half my family is from Compton and the other half is from New York. I got mad family in Dallas and all over but those are the 2 main branches. That says a lot about my personality. These are the people I grew up wanting to be like. Even when we moved to the suburbs, these were the people that were around me. This is how my art can be so polarizing because parts of my life I was worrying about me and my brother getting murdered and other parts I was just another kid in a good school struggling to pass. My life is lowkey crazy. Sometimes I forget what I been through.
Who are some of your main inspirations? Who do you listen to often?
It’s funny because people probably think I’m listening to rap or some gangsta shit or whatever. I’m listening to mad 90s R&B. I put that on my life. I’m listening to Mary J Blige, Faith Evans, SWV, a little DJ Screw and old R Kelly. This is the type of music I’m listening to 99 percent of the time. That’s my era even though I’m young. That’s my soul. Then I might cut on J Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube or some Drake or Future.
You do A LOT of your own production. Why do you stick to using your own beats?
I’m not against working with other producers but I want my shit to be pure. I want my people to feel my soul. My level of excellence is just different from everybody else. Every sound you hear is me and my style and my heart. A lot of producers just don’t have that same purity or “thing” I always need for my shit. Every word and sound has to make me scrunch my face or feel some sorta soul. A lot of beats are dope but very few make me want to give them to the world. Plus, I’m just better than a lot of producers out here with no disrespect. You can put me against any of them. Famous or underground and I’ll body their shit. Give me a week. I really love Timbaland and Missy though. I can’t wait to work with them. Especially Timbaland. I like Metro and Zaytoven too.
Before we get into your current work – some people may not know about your BandCamp page, where you’ve released tons of projects. What do they mean to you?
That page is for all my day ones. People who’ve been on this journey with me since all the Scene projects and just are nostalgic to that. They were with me when my shit didn’t sound so good and I love them and am down with them forever because of that. That’s real love. I got their back and they’ve got mine. That page is literally strictly for them. I might delete it one day but for right now, it’s just for them. I love yall. If you’re one of my day ones reading this, I promise I mean it. Cartel.
Your Bandcamp page is https://cumm199sexx.bandcamp.com. With no surprise, sex is the theme for a lot of the EP’s. Was this a natural direction you went into?
Definitely. Look at my generation. Look where we come from. Look at who raised us and how the world neglected us. My generation is literally in a world that made us this way. Our world growing up was sex, violence and shootings, drugs, etc. What the fuck do our parents think is gonna happen? How the fuck we supposed to grow up and be normal human beings when our family members are gangbanging or in prison or we see the news talking about bombing other countries and the commercials on TV are sex filled.
We grew up off GTA and violence and the government didn’t give enough of a fuck to even take our teachers off welfare. My art is just a reflection of that. In the beginning I did have to make a decision though. I knew that making my art this way would turn off the mainstream and prohibit me from succeeding in a lot of ways but I didn’t give a fuck. I always had heart and kept it intact. I said fuck it. Let’s show the real. This who we are. Fuck who don’t like it.
ANKIEYENT: Scene X stands as my favorite project from you. Out of all of those EP’s, do you have a favorite, or one you are most proud of?
It sounds typical for an artist to say their latest project is their favorite but honestly it is. Flawed Up Shawty just hits me right emotionally and sonically. Im working on some even iller shit right now though secretly.
You have a long running EP series, Scene A, B, and C. How did that concept come together?
The scenes were a way for me to get my vision across right at that moment. Not waiting months or whatever to promote a project but let everybody know my mindstate right then and there. It would be just 2-3 songs of where I was. I was finding myself. If you notice, every Scene sounds different. I was trying to find my way of expression and myself creatively. I had to go through that period of doing that to get to this point. I got so much love for people who stood by me during that period of time though. I swear. Yall gang for life. I got so much cooler shit stored that were gonna do that will remind my day ones about those times. I keep those early tapes up just for them. So they can reminisce as we move forward.
What is one thing you want your listeners to know about you that they may not know?
I want my listeners to know I got a plan for this shit. This money Ima make is gonna come back to them. I’m not like any other artist that this world has seen. Your kids will see the benefits of us starving together and you being generous enough to support me. I promise. I got a plan for this shit. It’s not overnight but in time, if I live long enough to pull it off, you’ll see what I’m talking about and remember what you just read. I really care. I really do. I just gotta murk the industry and takeover first and then you’ll see what I mean.
Is there anyone you are working with that you can speak on?
There’s a lot of people that’s down with the Cartel that I can’t say right now. I wish I could but there’s some real shit going on out here. All names will be left anonymous until I feel I can let all that out the bag.
I imagine the next while will be about promoting the project. Anything else we can look forward to?
Same as the last question… There’s so much I can’t say. It’ll ruin it. Just sit back and enjoy the highlights. The Cartel runs the world now. Whether they know it or not. They’ll know soon.