Anyway I’m feeling the new mixtape a whole bunch. What I like about it the most I think is that although I hear the early Em / late Wayne (esp on that first track) / Mac Dre influence you seem to really sound like yourself. Was that something that you feel came easily to you, or did you have to work at it? Like, when you first came out, who were the cats you were really trying to imitate? Which rapper was the one where you were like “this is what I’ve gotta do?”
I really can’t explain it brah. Like I just rap how it comes to me, and it comes out different everytime. The people that you mentioned have definitly inspired me, they are the best, and I grew up listening to em’. If I felt like there was an artist where I was like I gotta do it like him, it would be Mac Dre, and that’s simply because he was so good at doing himself, he was the greatest at that, and I think that’s all we as people can aspire to be. But I still ain’t found my sound. I’m getting closer and closer, and I’m almost there, but I think I’m just perfecting what I started more than searching for something new. So in that sense, it comes easy to me because it is me. Being great takes practice and that’s what I do, I practice. Eventually I’m going to be playing in the big game and I got to be ready.
Can you tell me a bit about where it was you first started rapping (school lunchroom type shit? in your bedroom? on the street?) Who were the people you would rap with? How old were you/where was it/are any of your good friends (other than Lil 4tay obviously) still doing it? Was there someone in the neighborhood you & friends really looked up to who isnt doing it any more?
It started with Kid $hit. That’s what we called ourselves. We used to just chill in my cuz’s apartment on Octavia, in the stair case, same place where we would smoke and take bitches or whatever, and the homies would just take turns spitting freestyles acapella or to a beat someone pounded on the wall. Real OG hip-hop movie type shit. Back then I never rapped though, I always just watched, I was like 14/15 and most of my patnas were a few years older than me. I was just lightweight intrigued with the shit, I never thought I could ever rap. The first time I really rapped on my own was in ’06. I had a bootleg pro-tools program called Cool Edit on my computer, and I went out and got a $20 radio shack mic, downloaded some beats of Limewire, and started making songs. It all started a couple months after someone really close to me had got shot, and for a minute I thought we were going to lose him. It was fucked up because he was my best friend, but I was into the bullshit and he wasn’t, he got a college scholarship around the same time I got put in juvenile hall, and I was just angry as fuck that it happened to him of all people, and on top of everything it was just seconds after I left him. But long story short, he pulled through, and hes the first person I ever played any of those songs for. He was feelin’ him so tough he gave me the confidence to keep makin’ music. And I did. Eventually me and my Lil 4 started making music together, and that’s when everything really popped off. Me and 4 were already cool as fuck and when we started making music it just clicked. As far as Kid $hit, my brah’s Cheese and Mackin Reese still making music with the Mango Mob. Cheese was always gassin’ and when me and 4 started really poppin’ he was serving a 3-year-sentance in Y.A. He heard I was rappin through letters I sent but the first time he ever heard me on a real song was when he was still in Y.A. and Mistah Fab and DJ Espinoza played our song YOY on Wild 94.9’s Yellow Bus Radio. That shit was crazy.
what was the first rap song you remember rapping along with? or what was your favorite, when you were like 16 years old.
It’s between Summer Time In The LBC by the Dove Shack, and Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio. Summer Time In The LBC was me and my moms favorite song back when I was in elementary school, I remember driving to school and listening to KMEL, I knew every word when it came on, and I even performed Summer Time in the LBC in my third grade class talent show. Eventually we went out and bought the Dove Shack album cassette tape that had that song on it, and once we popped it in the intro came on and my mom heard all that cussing, well lets just say I never heard that whole tape. See before she had just heard the clean version, because thats what was on the radio, but she wasn’t having that parental advisory shit after that. I used to hide my Doggystyle CD in my room and listen to it on headphones. But that was all when I was real young, when I was 16 shit, it was all Dre, The Carter, and random Bay shit.
Whats youre favorite Mac Dre tape??
Genie Of The Lamp, with Al Boo Boo and Ronald Dregan coming in second and third. But when I was younger I used to really rock with Its Not What You Say But How You Say It. Dre only got better with time, that U.S. Open was clappin’ too. I know the shit he was workin’ on before he passed would have shit on everybody. Its sad to think about.
When did you start to take rapping really seriously? what happened where you realized you just had to do something productive with it? was it just the money or a shitty job? when did your current rap style click & did you just figure out “this is IT” when it happened? Like, when did you feel like you had the confidence to make this work?
I started taking rap serious in ’06. It was more I fell in love with my own voice I think. When I first heard myself on the radio, I knew I could make this work. There’s no feeling like that. It couldn’t have been the money because I was barley making any. Just pure love and passion for music. But honestly though, I was young, high as an eagle eye, and I was more focused on getting bitches and having fun. I expected success to just fall in my lap, and all I had to do was make music. It doesn’t work like that. So if I think about it now, the first time I put my all into rap was the end of 2009. That’s when I shot my first video, rented my own studio space, and started making the music that ended up on Roachy Balboa.
I was really digging your raps on Roachy Balboa. Are you a Big Tymers fan?? They had that song Rocky that was big when I was in high school. Was that a track where you were trying to step up your raps particularly? were there any songs on the record where you felt like you were trying something new?
I used to love everything Cash Money did, I think everybody from the Bay did. That Rocky Balboa song used to go so stupid. I should get that beat and re-do it. But nah, I wasn’t trying to step up my rapping on that track more than I did on any other track, but I guess if I put it like that I was, that’s just what came out of me on that particular night. If I picked a track where I was trying something new it probaly would be Wish I Didn’t, just because I don’t usually have a female singing, and because I stayed on one topic rather than bouncing around, which is what my brain usually does. I think I have ADD.
What was your mindstate going into recording Roachy Balboa — were you trying to do something different? it feels like a really well-balanced set of songs compared to the earlier stuff i’ve heard.
Back when me and 4 was recording, we were teenagers we really didn’t give a fuck what we were rappin about, we were just trying to make slaps. So you might have caught a little concept, or deeper subject matter here and there, but we really wasn’t thinking about that at the time. That was ’06, ’07, and ’08. Really I didn’t rap in ’08, I don’t count that as a year I was making music, I probably made 5 songs in 365 days. There was so much other real life shit going on that I couldn’t concentrate on the music at all. Me and 4 had just moved to East Oakland, and we were still dealing with a bunch of shit going on back in the city. In 2008 I lost four people I had been close to throughout my life all due to guns, and my mind was just somewhere else man. At that point I was living like I really didn’t give a fuck. As wierd as it sounds the only thing that kept me sane was watching CNN. I was following the election so tough, my patnas would walk in my room, and just be like what the fuck, Roach is weird as fuck. So Bitch I Go Vol.1 was all recorded prior to that, me and 4 already had all these songs, no album or way to put them out, so we just released em’, and even though it was late, at least they got out there. And then Buckets And Booty Calls came and it was inspired by a part of the lifestyle I was living for a minute, and I guess I just took it to far and made a whole fuckin’ mixtape out of it. People liked it, so shit I was happy. I think Ludacris gained more from it then I did, but fuck it that’s the music industry for you. Roachy Balboa probably sounds different becuase it was the first time that my mind and actions were completely dedicated to the music. I would consider it my first official mixtape, and the only one I actually planned on making. I was choosing the studio over everything, people started seeing me less and less, but the music got better and better.
The best part of the new tape to me is it sounds like you’re really having a lot of fun the entire time. Do you think theres a reason you gravitate more towards that side of rapping than the Pac-style serious shit? I mean I think its a smart move, it works for you & is kind of refreshing right now where everyone is trying to sound Jay-Z/Bun-B Important to have a guy who just raps really, really entertainingly about shit he knows, doing it for the love.
That’s all I can do. I truly love doing this. Being fake wouldn’t work, I couldn’t look myself in the mirror knowing I was lieing to people who actually care enough about me to support my music. I got a darker, more serious side, and eventually that will come out and people will hear that side of my story, but for now life is to serious to be serious. And Pac, man, their will never be anyone like Pac, he did him to the fullest, and spoke to so many people, he was more than a great rapper, he was great period. I’m still growing too, the best rappers, Jay-Z, Eminem, all came out when they were in their late twenties. When I get to that age who knows where my mind and music will be at. Right now I’m just doing what I do, and what feels right at the moment.
You mention bumping Tear Gas on the tape. Whats your favorite track off that record? im a big fan of ‘dopest forreal’
The song with Fab is my favorite. Fab is one of the most solid people I ever met. He was and still is the only rapper in a higher position to ever show me true love, and support. I think that song brings out who that man really is. I was also feelin the one with the big homie, Frisco legend Cellski, that shit go. Jacka’s two singles were killin it too. It was dope to hear Andre Nickatina on the radio with that Glamorous Lifestyle, I been listening to Dre Dog since I was in the 7th grade.
Whats your favorite non-rap music?
Favorite rap song you heard this year?
I can’t lie, it’s off my upcoming album. But besides my own shit, I like that new Eminem and Wayne tracked that leaked the other day. The one with the Night At The Roxburry sample. Also DB Tha General got that new Intro 2 track, that thing go so crazy.
what music do you play when you’ve got a new girl over?
Anything else you want to say to the readers, feel free to throw it in here:
I want to make it clear that I’m just gettin started. My son was born last week and just seeing his face gives me the motivation to go harder than ever. His life eliminates failure as an option. I hope everyone likes my face, it ain’t going no where.
Nice! I didn’t realize this was going to be a brand new interview at first. Thanks for putting this up.
He’s really doing it how i wish others were.
i respect roach so much its crazy how i’m seeing an artist i have been listening to for years finally rising to be an established name in the game. i always hear people talk about how they watched Pac, Biggie, Wayne grow to be who they are and now i get to see a great artist grow from MY city. Roach motivates me as a producer! Hope to work with him soon!!!
haha, why the no comment on that question near the end… odd.
very cool interview, thanks
@nico — haha yeaa
Good interview. Interview these artists helps us get more information that we need about their music. Thanks.