music

Just A Sample 2: An Interview with Deante’ Hitchcock by JR Walker

Written by Hibak Mohamed

Deante’ Hitchcock’s cover art for “Just A Sample 2”

Deante’ Hitchcock’s cover art for “Just A Sample 2”

Deante’ Hitchcock’s days of being rap’s best kept secret are coming to an end. The 26-year-old Atlanta native has proven his ranks with his freestyles; it’s now time to sit with his music. Deante’ first started rapping when he was 12. Over the years he found his way back after his love for rap grew. His unmatched work ethic and consistency across social media networks has helped boost him into new trajectories. Hitchcock was discovered on instagram by Mark Pitts and later signed with the RCA-affiliate Bystorm label.

When I first came across his freestyles, I was initially drawn to his authenticity and wordplay. I still laugh thinking back to the time someone called him an industry plant and Deante’ made an entire freestyle full of plant puns. Moves like this are what make Deante’ so likeable and connected to his core fans. During the release of “Just A Sample 2,” Deante’ spent most of his time calling supporters and giving his time to those who elevate him. For an upcoming rapper, amassing a solid core base of support is critical. It’s evident that the respect is present for Deante’ Hitchcock.

I don’t wanna ever chalk it up to my lack of work ethic.
— Deante' Hitchcock

Just a week ago, Deante’ released his EP, “Just A Sample 2.” Features include Atlanta legend Kilo Ali, Grammy Award-winning R&B artist H.E.R, and the ultra-talented producer/artist Childish Major. This project was produced by Brandon Phillips-Taylor and executively produced by Mark Pitts. In just a week, Deante’ has been able to garner 1 million streams. From the infectious hooks and catchy melodies to his undeniable pen game, Deante’ proves his well rounded abilities with “Just A Sample 2.” With only 6 tracks, Deante’ gives the us everything we need and leaves us anticipating more. The EP is solely, as it suggests, a taste before the main course. Hitchcock has mastered the ability of evoking an array of emotions through his storytelling to make the listener feel precisely what he is going through. In this EP he explores the theme of love. On “7:45,” Deante’ confidently declares, “who gon love you like me?” On “Changed For You,” he paints a picture of growth by singing, “Just say the word and you got me, baby girl, I'd give up the game for you / Know I was stuck in my playa way way before, but girl, I changed for you.” This project has all of the love anthems you need. If you ever catch yourself singing “Feelings” a little too enthusiastically, just know you’re in too deep.  A dangerous bop indeed. The outro track, “Never (Let You Go),” is a beautiful flip of Brian Mcknight’s, “Never Felt This Way.”

I had the pleasure of speaking with Deante’ and asked him a few questions about “Just A Sample 2.” Whilst playing video games with his brother Darius aka Lil Tounk, Deante’ took his time to thoroughly answer my questions. Deante’ Hitchcock wants to show the world that he is more than just the guy who freestyles in his car. “I was trying to get away from that,” Deante’ tells me on the phone.

The following conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.


Hibak Mohamed: I know you’ve been doing music since you were 12 with the help from your uncle. Did you know back then that this was something you wanted to do?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Hell no. My uncle really got me into this shit in the first place. The only reason I really started writing my own shit was to kinda like prove to him I could do it. It wasn't like an ingrained love for music it was just like, yeah I gotta show him that I could do this shit. That’s where it came from. Then, I gradually like fell in love with it over time.

Mohamed: Was it a group that you were performing in when you first started? Tell me a little bit more about that.

Deante’ Hitchcock: It was definitely a group. My name used to be Dirty D. Man, that shit sounds horrible. We would not be having this conversation right now if that was still my name. I’d still be dropping shit on Soundcloud and no one would listen to that if I still had this name.

Mohamed: Earlier this year you stated you were going to be putting out 52 freestyles, one for every week. What made you make this decision? And has it been challenging being consistent with everything else you have going on?

Deante’ Hitchcock: What’s crazy is I actually made that decision for lack of a better word, out of desperation. I  wasn’t where I thought I could or should be at the time. I was like, I dont wanna ever chalk it up to my lack of work ethic. Even though I feel like I’m pretty much on par doing the same thing as a lot of my peers, it didn’t feel like I was at the same place as a lot of them. So it was like, if I have to do more to get there then that's what I’ll do. It was a move of desperation, if anything. What’s crazy is since we put out the fuckin tape, I had a meeting in NY last week with the label and they actually want me to slow it down. I’m tryna decide how imma go about that now.

Mohamed: From the outside looking in and from a fan stand point, it just showed your work ethic. I appreciate it regardless if you continue to do them or not.

Deante’ Hitchcock: I’m still gonna write them. I’ll just be more strategic with how I put them out. Whole thing they were saying I just understood it. Whether it be to stop them or slow it down a little bit. They didn’t want that to be all that the people expected from me.

Mohamed: When people tell you to keep your freestyles and put that energy towards your music, how do you react? One thing that stuck out to me was the saying, “My music better than my freestyles.”

Deante’ Hitchcock: I definitely don’t want to be remembered as just the guy who can rap. I want to be remembered for the actual music that I put out. Whether it helps someone through a situation, a club hit or something you just vibe to. People who freestyle, it’s a great talent like battle rapping a King Los or a Cassidy, whoever it maybe be. I feel like especially in today's society we’re a lot more melody driven and a lot more song based than anything now. Like if I was rapping in the 90s like am I now, we would probably be having a different conversation. The musical landscape is a lot different now.

Mohamed: How did your relationship with Mark Pitts come into fruition? And what is it like working with such an esteemed person in the industry?

Deante’ Hitchcock: That’s the crazy part. The freestyles definitely served their purpose because shit, that’s how he found me. I had put a black lives matter freestyle over a Kendrick Lamar GKMC beat & then the so gone challenge right after that. That’s when he hit me in my Instagram DMs. I was like “nah this can’t be him forreal.” I thought that was bullshit. But then the next week and a half to two weeks I was on a plane to NY to meet everybody. I was like, “damn this is forreal forreal.” I was just thinking damn it’s crazy how some shit can come from that. Especially something I started off on the whim in my car rapping. This is definitely a beautiful relationship, that’s my guy. He be trying to challenge me to dance battles but he don’t want that smoke. He think he still got it.

Mohamed: You used to dance right? I don’t think many people know that about you.

Deante’ Hitchcock: Yeah I still do that now. I’m actually trying to get back into it because I aint been on it as much. I been trying to figure out how to incorporate it into my music, but not really into the music. More so how to get back into it without making it look corny.

Mohamed: Who’s one artist you were shocked to find out to know about you/your music?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Cole! Really I ain’t gon lie. I ain’t gon say, “shocked” cuz it makes sense if you put it on paper like Mark and Cole got a real close relationship. When I met Cole for the first time, Mark wasn’t around. I went to one of the concerts when Cole had came to Atlanta. This was before I even met DJ Nitrane, but he got me tickets to come to the show. He was like, “I want you to meet Cole.” We haven’t even sat down and kicked it. That was the first time we met at that concert so that was real genuine love. When I walked into the room he greeted me like a little brother. Like, “Yo my nigga!” from across the room. It was crazy. That one threw me off guard.

Mohamed: You were recently on tour with 6lack, what is your relationship like with him & did you know him outside of music since you’re both from Atlanta?

Deante’ Hitchcock: My first time meeting 6lack was a minute ago. It was at the Edgewood parking lot, that’s one of the music spots in Atlanta. He didn’t know me. It was like on some artist to fan type shit. That was my first time but my partner, his name is Steve Cantrell, he’s signed to the Mass Appeal label. We used to dance together, that’s my boy. He put me onto to bruh a long time ago because they used to do shit in Albany together. I knew about him and fucked with his music and gradually over time everything just lined up the right way and ended up on tour with him. That shit crazy.

Mohamed: Congratulations on the release of your EP, “Just A Sample 2.” You initially planned on releasing this EP last year, what roadblocks did you face?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Man, sample clearances are the worst thing in this entire industry and this entire world. Them shits suck. It’s crazy how it all worked out because I feel like with anything once you start getting traction, people work a lot harder to get it done. When we were on tour and we started performing some of those songs, and folks were seeing the response. Some of the songs it was like, “oh shit we really gotta get this out.” We can’t just like half ass it. We really gotta find these people and get these samples cleared. Things really started working in our favor after the 6lack tour. Sample clearances held us back for so long. But, at the same time I’m glad that it worked out the way it did. Because coming off of this tour and dropping that tape felt a lot better I think, than dropping the tape and then going on tour would’ve felt. So, I’m happy about it.

Childish Major (left) Deante’ Hitchcock (right) Photo via  Instagram

Childish Major (left) Deante’ Hitchcock (right) Photo via Instagram

Mohamed: I see you have features from H.E.R, Childish Major & Kilo Ali; what made you pick these specific artists to capture your theme for this EP?

Deante’ Hitchcock: I mean Childish, that nigga ugly but, that’s my boy. That was a no brainer. We were going to put some shit down anyway. That’s my nigga so, we gon make hella more songs. The Kilo shit, I’m like a big Kilo fan. I feel like Kilo doesn’t get the love that he deserves. My brother will tell you, I listen to Kilo religiously. That nigga is the GOAT. He doesn’t get the love that he deserves and I just wanted to put him on there. It’s crazy because like my mom plays kickball and so, I actually ended up finding that nigga real easily. He was performing at the halftime show at my mom’s kickball game. It tripped me out and I was like, “I gotta make that shit happen.” For H.E.R, it was more political since we are signed to the same label. I wanted to put her on something. The fact that she showed love and did that shit tripped me out. She could have easily been like, “Hell no, I don’t know who the fuck this is.” They told me she really liked the song and was really fuckin with it.

Mohamed: You had the opportunity of being invited to the “Revenge of The Dreamers III” sessions, what was that like?

Deante’ Hitchcock: I was trying to drop 40 points, on everybody, everynight. Everybody that was in there was nuts. You’d go in one room and it’s Cole, KRIT, Wale and T.I. recording some shit. You’d go in the next room and it’s J.I.D, Smino, Vince Staples, and Masego. You’d go in the next room and its Ari, Cozz, Olu, Doc, Bas and Swizz Beatz. The whole environment was just crazy to see all of those people in one place. A lot of people were saying egos weren’t really present in the whole place and it sounds cliche to say that but, nobody was lying. Swizz Beatz was literally going into the rooms with people at Tree Sounds who were just there because they worked there and were recording and he would put some shit on their tracks. It was like, “you’re Swizz Beatz! I don’t know if you realize that.” It was nuts. It was like Disney World for rappers.

Mohamed: Man, that’s so dope. I was actually so happy to see you got an invite to that.

Deante’ Hitchcock: You and me both. The first day I remember being pissed off because I didn’t get my invite until the second day. I talked to my manager like, “damn they’re in Atlanta and nobody’s hitting me up.” Crazy enough that’s part of the reason I started doing NewAtlantaTuesdays. At first, I wasn’t planning on going as far. I was just talking shit. But that really put that battery in my back. I was like, “I gotta snap even harder. I can’t complain.”  The very next morning, I got my invitation.

Mohamed: Do you know how many tracks you’re on or, are you in the dark like the rest of us?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Nah, everyone who isn’t in Dreamville is a little bit in the dark. When I talked to Ib right after, he told me how many songs [there] were all together. Nothing about how many people would be on it. I know they will cut hella songs. It was like 150 songs in total.

Mohamed: What can we expect next from you?

Deante’ Hitchcock: Listen man, I’m gonna say fuck rap and dominate the ice skating world. I’m gonna own a pizza shop. Once I get that crackin, imma say “fuck rap,” and go about my business. Then, I’m going to retire on an island somewhere overseas. The industry is weird and I do not plan on being in this shit forever. I need my hairline to stay intact by the time in 60-years-old. This is not the indicative environment for it so yeah, imma be out in 10 years.

Deante’ had very important question for me at the end of our conversation.

Deante’ Hitchcock: I need to know what type of person you truly are. I ask everybody this. Waffles or pancakes?

Mohamed: Waffles.

Deante’ Hitchcock: Yes! You’re a good person. You deserve all the good things that are coming your way. Say no more.


Big thank you to Deante’ and Lil Tounk for the inside scoop on the journey. If you’re wondering what Deante’ is up to next, you can catch Dirty D on the second leg of J.I.D’s “Catch Me If You Can Tour.” I can’t promise if he’ll answer to that name but, don’t say you heard it from me. To the pancake lovers, Deante’ and I would personally like to tell you to expand your taste palette.

The Multi-talented Musician You Must Know: Princess Nostalgia by Alex Young

Princess Nostalgia and her artwork of Princess Nostalgia (piece far left) | photo by Alex Young

Princess Nostalgia and her artwork of Princess Nostalgia (piece far left) | photo by Alex Young

“I’ll tell you this: when I first started getting involved in the music scene, I was more naive. There’re so many men who just don’t take you seriously and are condescending. I try to keep a balance of being open and not assuming the worst, but also… fuck that. I’ve had a lot of guys ask me to sing on their beats. I’m not just a singer.”

“Everything in the mix I’ve written and played myself.” | photo by Alex Young

“Everything in the mix I’ve written and played myself.” | photo by Alex Young

Princess Nostalgia is protective of her work. “It’s like having a baby.”

Particularly, the multi-talented artist’s music excels. Dancing to it isn’t hard because Princess Nostalgia’s “arrangements” are funky. Watch her music videos. Her charisma dominates scenes as she makes weird movements that she calls dancing. “I don’t want to take myself too seriously,” Nostalgia said.

“Everything in the mix I’ve written and played myself.” She also gave herself credit for her own graphic design work. “I’m proud of all my album art,” Princess Nostalgia declared. “There’s so much of your character in how you produce stuff,” she finished.

The stage name Princess Nostalgia comes from 20-year-old Lili Traviato feeling nostalgic about her childhood amongst the ancient ruins of Rome. “Every time I go back, I’ve changed, but the [eternal city] stays the way it’s been for even thousands of years.” Her dad lives there, who also had his time as a musician in the ‘80s. Some of Princess Nostalgia’s songs, like “Robert Says” from her self-titled 2017 mixtape sample music or lyrics from her father. His writing is very “sappy” for love songs she mentioned. “Mine tends to be a bit more pretentious and philosophical,” Nostalgia said as she often challenges patriarchal society.

A man who knows to push his pride aside, no illusion of his man-made rights, lives his life without spite.
— Princess Nostalgia in 'Master SpaceTime'

On record, Lili called funk her biggest musical influence. Princess Nostalgia’s bass lines spin a groovy tinge into her songs. Hear her strings training. She started playing double bass in fourth grade. She played for 10 years. Pleasant guitar strokes. Although, there’s a clear hip-hop influence too Nostalgia acknowledged. “Master SpaceTime” has bloops, synths and a hard kick. Listeners could imagine British grime star Skepta on “Willem Bounce.” Dr. Dre’s “2001” instrumental album is among the top plays on Lili’s Spotify account.

Now spending most of her time at university in Burlington, Vt., Princess Nostalgia navigates music scene there dominated by jam bands and hip-hop heads. They “all just want me to be a singer,” she said. Despite the overwhelming dominance of men in the music industry, she has the support of some great artists from the area, and she has a valuable opportunity to get comfortable on stage in front of intimate crowds in Burlington.

Luckily to her hometown’s credit, collaboration has been more natural for Princess Nostalgia in Pittsburgh’s music ecosystem. “I haven’t worked with anyone from Vermont just Pittsburgh,” she said. Local guitarist Joe Leytrick has added to Princess Nostalgia’s work. “We have to understand each other and know we’re interested in the same thing,” she said. While she’s able to connect to the scene in The ‘Burgh, with others like producer Buscrates, she doesn’t consider herself part of it unless through the Internet. “I know who all the people are in Pittsburgh who are artists and trying to make something happen,” she said about the scene.

Taking time to develop herself as a brand, Lili has invested into Princess Nostalgia as a business. At a Starbucks, she sat at the computer figuring out how to copyright Princess Nostalgia’s songs. She’s reading two books: “Everything You Need to Know About the Music Business” and “How to Monetize Your Music Career.” Ideally, she will pursue music full-time after graduation. “I don’t want to be financially dependent on anyone or any men,” she said.

Next Princess Nostalgia looks forward to releasing a longer album featuring some of the singles she’s already dropped. Eyeing strategy, a cinematic music video will help promote her new album. She also plans to re-release some of her old songs to make everything sound “polished.” Being critical, she thinks some of her tracks sound like demos. “I take pride in my arrangements,” she said.

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Read the transcript of the Princess Nostalgia Interview below.


Princess Nostalgia: I take pride in my arrangements. Everything in the mix I’ve written and played myself. My visual art, I’m proud of all my album art. I’ve been doing graphic design on the side and selling prints on Facebook marketplace. It works.

I’ll tell you this: when I first started getting involved in the music scene, I was more naive. There’s so many men who just don’t take you seriously and are condescending. I try to keep a balance of being open and not assuming the worst, but also… fuck that. I’ve had a lot of guys ask me to sing on their beats. I’m not just a singer. That’s the role that’s expected of women, especially in the hip-hop scene. I’m definitely influenced by hip-hop because I perform in Burlington, Vt. Either the two scenes there are middle-aged white dudes doing hip-hop or middle-aged white dudes in jam bands. College students too. So, I always get put in the hip-hop scene, which I definitely prefer to do the jam bands. In that environment, they’re all male dominated and they all just want me to be a singer. So, that’s why I’m so headstrong about wanting to have full control over every step of the process.

InTheRough: You do have to have a certain amount of control of your image. Once you let other people come in, like a producer or something, he kind of takes away from your sound a bit.

P.N.: That’s the thing there’s so much of your character in how you produce stuff. For me the most fun part is not having to answer to someone. For me, sharing that process would be compromising. I’m definitely open to collaborating. I’m working with this guy Joe. He plays guitar on my stuff. That’s a beautiful collaboration. We both make each other’s stuff better. We have the same vision. I know that I want to say what I want to say before I say yes to too many collaborations or let too many people put their voice inside.

ITR: Do you find more success collaborating in the Pittsburgh music environment or the Burlington environment?

P.N.: The music scene in Burlington is popping. It’s jam bands. It’s its own thing. Pittsburgh is just relatively much more diverse and interesting. I mean, everyone in Vermont is white. It’s a nice town around a lake and a church street like a downtown area that’s really pretty. There’s stuff going on, but it’s definitely more limiting. I see what’s going on in Pittsburgh over the Internet, but I’m not here most of the time. I feel pretty removed from it [even though she made a connection with locals guitarist Joe Leytrick and producer Buscrates]. I haven’t worked with anyone from Vermont just Pittsburgh. It has to happen in a more natural way. We have to understand each other and know we’re interested in the same thing. I feel like collaborating it’s a relationship you’re entering and it’s intimate. I’m not just going to do it with anyone.

ITR: What’s your end goal for your music?

P.N.: Ideally I want to do this full-time. Right now I’m focusing on learning about the business side of things. I got two books: Everything You Need to Know About the Music Business and How to Monetize Your Music Career. I’m looking out for myself. If I’m going to do this, I have to do it in a sustainable way. I’m also at school doing Philosophy and History. I’m trying to do well at school so I get that degree because I want a backup plan. I don’t want to be financially dependent on anyone or any men.

ITR: When did you feel the need to express yourself in ways that weren’t so linear?

P.N.: I think I’m really lucky. I was always raised to be like you can do whatever you want. What do you want to make? We’ll help you figure out how to do it. My mom started his own business. That’s giving me some savvy about how to approach this. Sometimes I get in really bad moods when I’m on social media trying to promote myself. It just brings out parts of me that I don’t like. I’m trying to compartmentalize it and look at it as a business.

ITR: What about the social media is bringing up something about yourself that you don’t like?

P.N.: It’s like a gateway. Once you go into it with the eye of using it just for music, you keep picking up the app. You keep looking at Facebook. Then there’s the whole numbers game. I’m constantly reminding myself that the numbers don’t matter. They do matter. You have to get there at some point, but what the numbers are now aren’t a reflection of myself. Other people’s success has nothing to do with mine. Social media is not a healthy environment to put your art in. It’s like having a baby and putting it into a void. It’s just depressing sometimes. Slowly and surely I’m getting connected with more people who appreciate what I do and I just try and focus on that part. My dad was a musician. I send him my stuff constantly and he tells me what he thinks. He’s pretty comfortable being critical.

ITR: A lot of artists don’t take criticism well. If somebody criticizes you, they care about your work.

P.N.: Exactly. It actually means they are taking you seriously. They taught me not to be afraid. People are afraid to try or afraid to put something out there. Growing up in this family, I feel like I have nothing to lose. It just feels natural to put my voice out there.

ITR: You mentioned your dad was a musician. I saw you playing with his old DJ drops in a clip you posted on your Instagram story.

P.N.: (laughs) Yeah, that was one of his bands in the ‘80s. He was also in a big band, like he went on tour for two years playing the saxophone.

ITR: Nice. What do you plan to do with that?

P.N.: That was an old song he wants me to re-do. I’ve released a few songs that were his songs that he wrote in college, but with my arrangements. “Robert Says” from the “Princess Nostalgia” mixtape and “Feels Like Home,” which I released over the Summer. It’s funny because he’s very sentimental with his writing. The one I’m working on right now, “Talking Drug,” I wrote the music for it, but he contributed a lot of the lyrics. The only love songs I’ve done have been my dad’s words (laughs), which is really funny because I’m not as comfortable being sappy like that. I think he’s really good at writing sappy things without it being cheesy. Mine tends to be a bit more pretentious and philosophical.

ITR: The first lyrics of yours that impacted me were in your song “Princess Nostalgia.” It affected me a lot around the time of artist Yung Mulatto’s passing. You have a way with words to make a powerful song.

P.N.: Thank you. I appreciate that.

ITR: Talk to me about jam bands.

P.N.: There’s a lot of jam bands in Burlington, but I wouldn’t say they’re an influence for me. I was more talking about jam bands because that’s what’s dominant in Burlington. It’s not my favorite genre. I’d be happy to tell you what my influences are. D’Angelo. He doesn’t compare to anyone else. His harmonies influence me a lot. Electronic. Not like dubstep. Do you know Kraftwerk?

ITR: No.

P.N.: You should look them up. They got Sony to create the first synthesizers for them in the ‘60s. They were way ahead of the game. Even though they are not super well known they are one of the most influential bands in history. I grew up listening to them because my dad listens to them. Pop music. There’s a lot of shitty pop music, especially these days. I do think making a good pop song is difficult and an art form, like something that feels good. Funk music. I can’t believe I didn’t say that first. Funk and R&B. That’s why I love D’Angelo ‘cause D’Angelo is like the perfect meeting ground of funk and R&B. I got to see George Clinton and Funkadelic on Halloween. Hiatus Kaiyote. Hip-hop too.

ITR: I can hear all those influences in your music easily. I’d say hip-hop comes further down the list, but not last.

P.N.: It’s the beats that I use. The drums.

ITR: And when I watch your music videos you have this way of dancing about you like you’re dancing in your room with nobody looking.

Princess Nostalgia photograph by Alex Young

Princess Nostalgia photograph by Alex Young

P.N.: Yeah, I don’t want to take myself too seriously. Then I feel dumb doing that. I try to keep it silly and absurd. I’d feel too corny if I wasn’t dancing like that. Also, that’s how I generally dance.

ITR: Yeah, I can tell you dance oddly funny. That’s you dancing. At the same time, you said your lyrics are cynical or challenging society in a way.

P.N.: That’s how I deal with things that I find are painful and difficult. A lot of my favorite books and films are absurd, but they’re still serious. Most funny things are funny because they’re a coping mechanism for things that are pretty tough or dark. I’m not going to not talk about things that I think are important. It’s how I’m able to stay strong despite them. I feel like making it lighthearted is showing you can’t get me down. I don’t like being too serious in a literal way. That’s corny.

ITR: How does it feel when you see people support your music?

P.N.: I’ve had people who I don’t know be like, “are you Princess Nostalgia,” to my face. It feels dumb. On my logos I have this figure with the blue pubes. That’s Princess Nostalgia. It’s a title for me as an artist on stage. But also, I’m grateful for it. No one is going to take you seriously just because you’re talking yourself up. It’s more meaningful if they come across it and they see what I do. The work will speak for itself.

ITR: Especially with yours. It speaks to quality.

How does it make you feel when you know what people are doing through the Internet, but you don’t know them personally?

P.N.: It’s a weird world that we live in. That’s another thing, everything that I read about succeeding in music is like these days you have to have a personality. You have to have a brand. You have to present a certain side of yourself. I’m happy to play the game. The Internet is so young. We’re using it terribly now, but if we don’t destroy ourselves first, hopefully we’ll find better ways to use it. It’s not like it has to be like this forever. There’s so many beautiful things about technology. I learned everything I know about production from tutorials online.

The Uptown Interview (Part 2) Featuring Wifigawd, The Uptown Souljah by Maxwell Young

To interpret and preserve the artistic heritage of Washington, D.C., the ‘Uptown Interview’ transcribes candid conversations with the artists, curators, personalities and amplifiers of the District’s creative ecosystem.

Wifigawd released his latest album   Stuck in 95   executive produced by Dretti Franks on Wednesday. Polaroid by Maxwell Young

Wifigawd released his latest album Stuck in 95 executive produced by Dretti Franks on Wednesday. Polaroid by Maxwell Young

At 23 years old, Wifigawd has amassed streams and credits that would alert any listener in tune with the rappers and internet culture fueling the current generation of hip-hop.  He’s shared the stage with Smokepurpp, $uicideboy$, CHXPO, and Thouxanbandfauni, while pulling in features from others like an InTheRough favorite, Warhol.SS. No Jumper, the YouTube channel becoming less underground everyday, also debuted Wifigawd’s video to “Sippin’ on Drank” several weeks ago.  The internet enables this kind of reach, and thus the opportunity to travel and grow a fan-base on an inter-state level.  As far as home-base is concerned, though—the District of Columbia—Wifigawd’s music wasn’t always in the frame of mind.  “Niggas out here weren’t even fucking with me,” he said of his hometown.  He still resides in Northwest, D.C.

Times have changed, however, and a recent show at Songbyrd Music Cafe in Adams Morgan with ascending Houston rapper Maxo Kream is a prime indicator.  “I tore the roof off that bitch,” he said acknowledging the home field advantage.  “This is my fuckin’ city!”

Regardless of the eyes watching and ears listening to the image and sound of the Uptown Souljah, the context that has informed Wifigawd’s music is rooted in his Northwest, Washington heritage and collaborations with other like-minded DMV artists.

It started at home. The emcee’s parents instilled a deep fervor for hip-hop growing up.  “They wanted me to know who A Tribe Called Quest was before I knew who Lil’ Wayne was…who KRS-One was, De La Soul, all the greats, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim—real hip-hop,” he told me over pizza and football, the latter I found out he no longer supports.

Citing a household vinyl collection of over 2,000 records, there was no need to listen to radio, even though his folks forbade it.  Instead, they took him to see legendary wordsmiths live and direct at the notorious 9:30 Club.  “I’ve been going to shows since I was five years old,” he said.  “I just know they were letting a little-ass nigga in the club with his parents.”

Perhaps it is these experiences and influences that explain Wifigawd’s pre-millennium/early 2000s aesthetic he reinforces with his FUBU-dripped music videos, ‘FUBU 05’ project (which he regards as a third of his “Holy Trinity”), and ‘Stuck in 95’ album he released this past Wednesday.  “I know everything that’s going on, but I’m still stuck in the past.  I’m stuck in a time warp in my mind,” he said.

Aside from the music, an artist can choose to share or not share whatever storyline he/she/they want.  They can be as open as Wiz Khalifa’s DayToday vlogs or as cryptic and secretive as Beyoncé and H.E.R.  Certainly though, knowing more and having a greater understanding of the backgrounds and creative processes of your favorite artists can change the perspective of your listening.

I first saw Wifigawd last June at Uptown Art House.  The whole place went berserk that evening and I experienced a classic DIY rage that left me dripping in sweat from head to toe.  At that point, Wifigawd filled the placeholder for turnt rapper.  Then, I took to Apple Music to find his six full-length projects dropped in 2018 alone.  This hardened, turned-up persona also flexed melodic cadences and catchy hooks.  And now after talking to him, I know how big of a role writing is to the execution of his verses.  We have to be mindful that the self-made, anyone-can-do-it mentality of the internet can also obscure the real time and mastery people put into their craft.

“I do it all.  That’s just the swag…That’s the most important thing: you’ve got to have the swag,” he said.

Listen to ‘Stuck in 95’ by Wifigawd at the end of the transcript.

2006_001 3.jpg

[Plays “Full Quart” by Nate G]

Maxwell Young: Do you keep up with D.C. music?

Wifigawd: Not many people.  Who is this?

MY: Nate G.

Wifigawd: I fuck with Nate G.

MY: When you started to realize what the D.C. music community was, who was responsible for introducing you to it?

Wifigawd: MartyHeemCherry was one of the main niggas who got me hip.  I’ve known bro forever, since high school...I just check out my friends new music.

MY: Who is that?

Wifigawd: The Khan, Chachi--the gang.  Everyone I’m with, and if not, I’m looking for new Black Kray shit.  Anytime niggas play some new crank around me, or some random artist, I fuck with the joints.  I just don’t go looking for it unless I hear one of my friends play it.

[Plays “Duck Sauce”]

Wifigawd: What the fuck is this?

MY: This is NeckMusic.

Wifigawd: NeckMusic, oh, Ceez?

MY: Yeah.  Iodine, Downtown Dawson, and Ceez.

Wifigawd: I fuck with Ceez’s beats.  I don’t know who this is rapping.

MY: Where does the name “Uptown Souljah” come from?

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: It’s complicated.  It’s a breed of Uptown niggas--fly niggas.  Being from Uptown, niggas are fly. They get to the bag...They have good weed...It ain’t like that no more.  So, if few niggas are out there like that, they are some soldiers. Real Uptown shit--U.P.T Souljah.

MY: What’s the “Souljah” aspect to your name?

Wifigawd: I used to fight everybody.  I used to be a Bama.

MY: Talk about some early fights.

Wifigawd: Shit, that’s why I got kicked out of my school, for fighting.  I don’t like talking about fighting because I used to fight a nigga for no reason.  I guess not for no reason, but out of disrespect or some shit. That shit goes all the way back to fourth grade.  I remember I was at lunch and I had on a white polo, fresh as shit, and this nigga threw some mashed potatoes on me. I hit his ass across the table.  His ass was just sitting right there, huffing. I just cool it now, I’m not with the fighting shit anymore. I’ll still throw some hands, though.

MY: Take me through some of these legendary shows, the ones you can remember.

Wifigawd: I remember 2016--New Year’s.  It was me, Black Kray, and Lil’ Tracy in Richmond, Va.  That’s Kray’s hometown, you know, so that shit was lit. I remember another joint in Richmond at the same spot with me, CHXPO, and Kray.  That was 2016. Another legendary show I did was this joint with Smokepurpp, Thouxanbandfauni, CHXPO, and me. I could probably find the flyer, it was called Kings of the Underground in LA.  That shit had endless people in it. I had another show in LA. It was with DJ Smokey, Lofty, Slug Christ, and The Khan. That was pretty sick. Then I did this joint in New York with Dash, Madeintyo, Ugly God, Sporting Life, and we opened the joint.  We made that show lit. The show with Maxo was pretty hard. My first show out of town was when I was 18. I had that jont in Dallas, Texas--$uicideboy$.

MY: Are you out in LA a lot?

Wifigawd: Not really.  I go out there if I have a show.

MY: How did the No Jumper connect happen?

Wifigawd: [Adam22] has been following me on Twitter.  I just hit him up and told him I had a video for him, he said bet.

MY: That video goes.  The song goes more importantly (“Sippin on Drank”), but the visual is nice.  I just got hip to Moshpit DMV. I always see him around, what’s his name?

Wifigawd: JJ.

MY: Yeah, I’ve seen him everywhere.  Do you collaborate a lot on music videos?

Wifigawd: Yeah, that’s my boy.

MY: Can you take us to a low point in your rap career?  A specific time where you felt discouraged.

Wifigawd: When I first started was the lowest point because niggas don’t fuck with you.  They don’t send you any beats or anything like that. That’s the lowest point: dealing with bitchass producers.

MY: Where was your first show?

Wifigawd: I don’t know, bro, I’m trying to think about it.

MY: Or a moment where you felt like, ‘Okay, I can move forward from here.’

Wifigawd: Niggas weren’t even fucking with me out here, bro.  This is 2014. They were not fucking with me. I was like whatever, ‘Fuck you stupid-ass niggas.’  I had a friend who went to VCU and I said, ‘Boom. This is what we’re about to do. Listen, I see you setting up these little house parties.  I have rap songs. I’m going to come rap.’ I probably still have the footage of that shit--turnt the fuck up. Those were my first shows. Niggas were turning up at my shit, so I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, this the wave out here.’  We did three or four of them jonts. I had a little group back in the day called Portal Boyz.

MY: Like how you were describing your music as “void.”

Wifigawd: Yeah, like some void shit.

MY: You said D.C. wasn’t fucking with you.  Has that influenced where you play in the city?

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: I’ve always been the type of nigga to do me.  I know niggas be dick-riding because I see that shit from the outside.  Y’all niggas just dick-ride whatever is hot. I’m not mad, that’s what you do.  That’s definitely by default because everybody else is doing it. So when it’s time for everybody to do what I’m doing, I won’t be fucking with everybody.

MY: You say that Stuck in 95 is unlike anything made in the last 15 years.  What does it mean to you as far as where you are in your development?

Wifigawd: It’s showing everybody that I can do rap.  Sometimes I hate whenever you try to classify me. I can rap.

MY: You’ve been talking about weed a lot, as far as needing to be high.

Wifigawd: Yeah, I fuck with weed.

MY: Why is that? Where does it put you?

Wifigawd: I’m hyper as shit.  If I don’t smoke I’ll start tweaking and get sporadic as if I was high on some other shit.  But when I smoke weed, I just feel normal. I smoke in my music videos, yeah. I fuck with weed.  I’d rather promote weed than violence...on some Curren$y shit. He’s a good example of how to be a G-ass nigga with good content.  Niggas know he’s not a bitch. Niggas know he’s about that shit, but his content is on some fly shit.

MY: Who are some of your favorite Instagram follows?

Wifigawd: I like following all the OG rappers just to see what the fuck they’re doing.

MY: Which OG rapper is a good follow besides Snoop Dogg?

Wifigawd: Tommy Wright III.  Follow that man. His shit is turnt.  He still does shows.

[Laughs]

[Plays “Diamonds” by Rob Stokes]

Wifigawd: Who’s this, King Krule?

MY: Rob Stokes.

Wifigawd: Oh, I fuck with Rob.  I was in the studio with him one day.  I jih like passed-out, but I heard it the whole time.  It was him and Trip Dixon collaborating on jazz shit. It was fire.  He’s tight.







The Uptown Interview (Part 1) Featuring Wifigawd, The Uptown Souljah by Maxwell Young

To interpret and preserve the artistic heritage of Washington, D.C., the ‘Uptown Interview’ transcribes candid conversations with the artists, curators, personalities and amplifiers of the District’s creative ecosystem.

At 23 years old, Wifigawd has amassed streams and credits that would alert any listener in tune with the rappers and internet culture fueling the current generation of hip-hop. He’s shared the stage with Smokepurpp, $uicideboy$, CHXPO, and Thouxanbandfauni, while pulling in features from others like an InTheRough favorite, Warhol.SS. No Jumper, the YouTube channel becoming less underground everyday, also debuted Wifigawd’s video to “Sippin’ on Drank” several weeks ago. The internet enables this kind of reach, and thus the opportunity to travel and grow a fan-base on an inter-state level. As far as home-base is concerned, though—the District of Columbia—Wifigawd’s music wasn’t always in the frame of mind. “D.C. wasn’t fuckin’ with me,” he says in part two of the interview.

Times have changed, however, and a recent show at Songbyrd Music Cafe in Adams Morgan with ascending Houston rapper Maxo Kream is a prime indicator. “I tore the roof off that bitch,” he said acknowledging the home field advantage. “This is my fuckin’ city!”

Regardless of the eyes watching and ears listening to the image and sound of the Uptown Souljah, the context that has informed Wifigawd’s music is rooted in his Northwest, Washington heritage and collaborations with other like-minded DMV artists.

It started at home. The emcee’s parents instilled a deep fervor for hip-hop growing up. “They wanted me to know who A Tribe Called Quest was before I knew who Lil’ Wayne was…who KRS-One was, De La Soul, all the greats, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim—real hip-hop,” he told me over pizza and football, the latter I found out he no longer supports.

Citing a household vinyl collection of over 2,000 records, there was no need to listen to radio, even though his folks forbade it. Instead, they took him to see legendary wordsmiths live and direct at the notorious 9:30 Club. “I’ve been going to shows since I was five years old,” he said. “I just know they were letting a little-ass nigga in the club with his parents.”

Perhaps it is these experiences and influences that explain Wifigawd’s pre-millennium/early 2000s aesthetic he reinforces with his FUBU-dripped music videos, ‘FUBU 05’ project (which he regards as a third of his “Holy Trinity”), and upcoming ‘Stuck in 95’ album releasing this Wednesday. “I know everything that’s going on, but I’m still stuck in the past. I’m stuck in a time warp in my mind,” he said.

Aside from the music, an artist can choose to share or not share whatever storyline he/she/they want. They can be as open as Wiz Khalifa’s DayToday vlogs or as cryptic and secretive as Beyoncé and H.E.R. Certainly though, knowing more and having a greater understanding of the backgrounds and creative processes of your favorite artists can change the perspective of your listening.

I first saw Wifigawd last June at Uptown Art House. The whole place went berserk that evening and I experienced a classic DIY rage that left me dripping in sweat from head to toe. At that point, Wifigawd filled the placeholder for turnt rapper. Then, I took to Apple Music to find his six full-length projects dropped in 2018 alone. This hardened, turned-up persona also flexed melodic cadences and catchy hooks. And now after talking to him, I know how big of a role writing is to the execution of his verses. We have to be mindful that the self-made, anyone-can-do-it mentality of the internet can also obscure the real time and mastery people put into their craft.

“I do it all. That’s just the swag…That’s the most important thing: you’ve got to have the swag,” he said.

Wifigawd: Oh, that’s why you were like, “I gotta see my Steelers play.”

[Laughs]

MY: Yeah. I graduated two years ago--2017.

Wifigawd: Oh, you went to GW?  You’re smart as shit. No funny shit, my father went there.  He’s smart as shit.

MY: He graduated in the 70s, 80s?

Wifigawd: I think he graduated probably in the 90s.

***

Wifigawd: I told you DJ Carnage hit me back!

Chachi: He hit you back after the joint?!

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: I’m about to show you this funny-ass shit.

[Shows correspondence with DJ Carnage.]

Chachi: He had to after that, bro.  He had to.

Wifigawd: Look.

[Laughs]

MY: This is to your “Made Man” video?

Wifigawd: No.  What, you saw me post that?  He did that a brick ago.  He’s trolled me four or five times.  So I was like, ‘I’m done with you trolling me.  I’m gonna show everyone you’re trolling me.’ So I just posted this, where he’s like, ‘whoopty-woo, you’re hard.’  That “Made Man” shit was a brick ago when it came out, that was back then. That nigga was like, ‘Oh yeah, your new video is hard, but you wanna tell Adam22…’  I’m like, ‘Naw, fuck this. I’m about to post this nigga,’ real-live. The comments were funny as shit. I think somebody else was like, ‘Naw, don’t say that. Wifi tryna get up,’ somebody else said, ‘Fuck that weird-ass nigga,’ or some shit.  They were funny. He a Bama for that, fool. I had to press him. The next nigga that’s getting blitzed is Pusha T.

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: He is getting blitzed.  He lives in Bethesda. Why are you not linking? Why?

MY: Have you had contact with him?

Wifigawd: No, but I should.  He’s from the DMV [Virginia Beach by way of the Bronx]. If we wanna consider that the DMV,  he’s honorary “V.” Pharrell? Honorary V. Timbaland? Honorary V.  Chris Brown? Honorary V.

[Laughs]

Chachi: I was just about to say Breezy!

Wifigawd: Black Kray--honorary V.  Y’all niggas can get the ‘V-card,’ fuck it.  I accept them niggas. VA got some shit.

MY: Have you thought about if you were in Pusha T’s shoes fifteen years from now and you’re in the position to put other people on, but you don’t know what’s here in the DMV…

Wifigawd: I will always know…

MY: Why do you say that?

Wifigawd: Because I’m from D.C.  I was born and raised here. I will always play a role here.  I may be in the shadows, but I’ll always play a role or something.  Plus if I’m an OG? If I’m a legend, I’m putting the young niggas on.

Chachi: Like he just said, there’s no reason for you to be in Bethesda and no one knows…

Wifigawd: And not linking.  He’s supposed to link niggas every day.  He wants to sign niggas from Chicago. I fuck with LA, but he’s funny.  You’re supposed to bring that back home.

[Picks up Game blunt]

MY: What kind of blunts do you smoke?

Wifigawd: I don’t smoke blunts.

MY: Do you smoke Backwoods?

Wifigawd: I don’t smoke Backwoods.

MY: What do you smoke?

Wifigawd: Sheets and funnel.

MY: Okay, so I have these hemp wraps.  I’m trying not to smoke tobacco, but I thought you smoked tobacco, so here we are.

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: I brought sheets and funnel.

[Laughs, proceeds to roll.]

Wifigawd: So you said you were at our show at Uptown?

MY: Yeah, you came in June for the Khan show.

Wifigawd: Mhm.

MY: That’s the only time I’ve seen you perform.  That shit was crazy. I had heard your name a lot, just around town, and I didn’t know what the hub-ub was about until that night.

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: He said until that night!

MY: Yeah, bro.  That was the best show that the Art House had had.

Wifigawd: Ever!  Nigga, what, we do that.  That’s literally what we do, ‘Oh, alright, then we’re gonna sell it out.’  That jont was big as shit. We had that bitch sold out.

MY: Y’all turned it into a concert hall for real.

Wifigawd: We had that bitch hot.  We made that big ass room hot.  And it was cold outside.

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: That means there were endless niggas in there breathing; hot breath-ass, body-ass niggas.

MY: And the thing was there were no lights.  It was just the phone flashlights.

Wifigawd performing at Uptown Art House June 2nd, 2018. Polaroids (b&w and color) by Maxwell Young

Wifigawd performing at Uptown Art House June 2nd, 2018. Polaroids (b&w and color) by Maxwell Young

Wifigawd: No lights, just gutter.  I was fucking with that shit.

Chachi: I was gonna go crazy in there.  After a while, I was like, ‘Alright, I gotta step outside before I go back in this joint.’  Just hearing music and bodies all around, I didn’t know who anyone was. It was too dark.

Wifigawd: No bullshit.  That was one of the best shows in D.C., period.

MY: Where else have you performed in D.C. that you like?

Wifigawd: Songbyrd is alright if it’s packed.  When I did that joint with Maxo [Kream]...

MY: Fuck, I missed that.

Wifigawd: That shit was lit, nigga.  I crushed that shit. I tore the roof off that bitch.  They said, “Who the fuck is this nigga?” I was like, “Yeah!” I perp out sometimes, like ‘Nigga, this is my fuckin’ city!’

MY: Exactly, so you go up with Maxo Kream, someone who’s now in the mainstream.  Someone who is hype. How do you approach that show, as a competition?

Wifigawd: I mean I just see it as an opportunity to get fans.  That’s it.

MY: Do you consider if people went to that show for just you, though, or both?

Wifigawd: Definitely both.  If I posted a flyer that means some of my fans are going to come regardless. Niggas definitely know my songs, too. And I’m one of the only underground niggas for real for real, from D.C.

MY: Can you walk me through what that means to be an underground artist?  When you say you’re underground, you know being involved with the Art House, I feel like I see other underground artists, too, or at least artists who are working to be on a mainstream level.  So, what do you mean by that?

Wifigawd: When I’m talking about the underground, I’m talking about the real underground.  If we wanna be technical: Odd Future, Raider Klan, Metro Zoo--them niggas--Lil’ B, Souljah Boy.  Those niggas are the godfathers of the underground that we have today. It’s hard to explain. When Raider Klan broke up, the niggas who were in it are the niggas who are hot in the game right now: Denzel Curry, Xavier Wolfe, Chris Travis, Bones--even affiliates--Pouya.  And from there it triggers down everything. Anybody in that type of lane...and I’m not even saying I’m in that same lane. I’m just an underground nigga. I make underground shit. There isn’t an underground anymore, though. The sound became the mainstream sound. Now you got niggas like Juice WRLD--never underground, never heard of him--but he got the fake Lil’ Tracy sound.  I ain’t calling him out. He’s a good artist, I’m just saying that’s what this evolves into. Niggas like Syringe...I don’t wanna get that deep, bro, but it gets deep.

MY: Do you think SoundCloud has made it easier to fake the underground sound, while making it easier for people like you to pop?

Wifigawd: Yeah, definitely.  

MY: So, tell me about this album.  Tell me about how you’re feeling because first of all, you’ve dropped six projects in a year.

Wifigawd: I did?

MY: 2018 on Apple Music has six projects.

Wifigawd: Damn.

MY: Did you not realize that?

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: It wasn’t even like that.  It was more so like, ‘Imma drop some slight shit.’  All that...I don’t even know what I dropped this year.  I’m not even going to hold you, bro. I’m high as shit every day.  I don’t even know...I mean, of course, I know what I dropped, but I can’t pinpoint every single one.  I didn’t t drop a Trenches to Riches or a WiFi Season or a Fubu 05 this year.  Niggas know when I drop-drop for real, like, ‘Oh, he dropped.’

MY: So are those the projects that are significant to you?

Wifigawd: That’s the Holy Trinity right there.

MY: In that respect, it’s been about a year and a half since you’ve had a major drop.

Wifigawd: Type-shit…

MY: How is this project different from those three?

Wifigawd: It sounds like nothing dropped in the last fifteen years.

MY: That would take us back to the early 2000s.

Wifigawd: Type-shit…

MY: One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you was because of the aesthetic of your covers and sound.  They remind me of the snap-rap era, this early 2000s era. I’d love for you to walk me through your style--your sense of fashion style, sonic style, and images you choose.

Wifigawd: It’s all hip-hop inspired.  My new album is called Stuck in 95 because I dead-ass think that’s what’s going on in my mind.  It’s just not correlating with what the world is doing, but I’m still updated, type-shit…

[Laughs]

MY: You say you’re still updated?

Wifigawd: Yeah, I know everything that’s going on, but I’m still stuck in the past.  I’m stuck in a time warp in my mind. I have an old soul.

MY: What influences make that so?

Wifigawd: My parents and the type of music they played around me.

MY: What kind is that?

Wifigawd: All hip-hop.  Not all hip-hop because there was endless reggae and go-go music.  I wasn’t allowed to listen to the radio.

MY:  When did you first start to listen?

Wifigawd: The first song I ever heard on the radio was “Go DJ.”  When I heard it, I turned it up loud as shit. And then my mother came in the room and she said, “Turn that shit off!”  My folks had me listening to people like Gang Starr, Dead Prez, Mos Def, Jeru the Damaja.

MY: Was it that they weren’t interested or that they didn’t think that the current hip-hop was good?

Wifigawd: Yeah, they’re cultured.  They grew up in real hip-hop. They wanted me to know who A Tribe Called Quest was before I knew who Lil’ Wayne was...Who KRS-One was, De-La Soul, all the greats, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim--real hip-hop.  That’s what my folks wanted me to understand. For some reason they really wanted me to understand hip-hop. I’ve been going to shows since I was five years old.

MY: First show?

Wifigawd: Might’ve been Mos Def or KRS-One.  I could call my mother and ask her, but it was probably Mos Def or KRS-One.  I know I saw Wu Tang with my dad. I was probably seven years old at 9:30 Club.  Any show I went to was at 9:30 Club.

MY: How has 9:30 Club changed from those days to now?

Wifigawd: Honestly, I don’t know because it was in ninth grade the last time I was there.  I saw Kendrick Lamar at that jont. I just know they were letting a little-ass nigga in the club with his parents.

MY: That’s wild.

[Laughs]

MY: On that Instagram Live you had a couple days ago you said you were uploading the album to SoundCloud?

Wifigawd: Yeah, it’s there.

[Laughs]

MY: You have a scheduled drop on it?

Wifigawd: Type-shit.

MY: At what point did you decide to start pushing tracks on streaming services?

Wifigawd: Shit, 2016, I was trying to get some money.

MY: And you can monetize on SoundCloud now, right?

Wifigawd: I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to.  I’m getting the right content together. I’m never going to rush content because I don’t give a fuck.

MY: What do you mean? What people think about it?

Wifigawd: Niggas can tighten up and wait because there’s some fire already there for their ass.

MY: That’s true.

Wifigawd: Don’t be greedy.

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: Like you said.  You said I dropped six projects this year.  Nigga, that’s to keep them consumed.

MY: Still consuming because I’m not done with them.

Wifigawd: That’s for consumers only.  That wasn’t for me.

MY: You don’t listen to your own music?

Wifigawd: If I’m high as shit, you feel me?

[Laughs]

MY: What does that mean?

Wifigawd: If I’m in the zone, turnt up, like, ‘Oh, I’m fried, I’m finna go and listen to some of my shit real quick…’  Because I do make songs for myself sometimes, but it’s for the people.

MY: When you’re in that frame of mind to listen to your own music, is that to listen to it as feedback or is it because you are enjoying the song at that moment?

Wifigawd: To enjoy the song.  To understand. If I’m listening to my music, I’m listening to where it could be better every time.  I fuck with it, always, but I listen as a critic sometimes. Just hearing certain places in the song where my voice could do something, and then I might say it while I’m listening to it.  I don’t know, just weird shit. Just hearing it for real for real.

MY: Do you have favorite tracks that you go back to?

Wifigawd: Kind of...recently I’ve been fucking with the “Out the Bag” jont that I did on the Pharrell beat.  That’s what I really want to make. I wish I could fuck with Pharrell.  He’s one of the greatest producers. I wish I could cool it with him all day.

Wifigawd: This is me on 100%.  I’m turnt on this jont.

MY:  Are you freestyling?

Wifigawd: I don’t remember.  I was off the Molly, though. I was happy as shit.

[Laughs]

MY: I look at the persona you have on social media, and even in person like I’ve dapped you up and you’re a rapper, so you have a hard personality, you know?  But you’re not a hard person.

Wifigawd: Yeah.

[Laughs]

MY: I can hear that in your music.  You break out in song a lot. I’ll just be frank because that is such a contrast from the person we see.  

Wifigawd: I do it all.  That’s just the swag. Gotta have the swag. That’s the most important thing: you’ve got to have the swag.

MY: Where’d you learn that swag?

Wifigawd: Growing up in D.C., my environment. I’m a product of my environment as corny as that sounds.  Everything around me—to my best friend being white.

MY: What’s his name?

Wifigawd: His name was Max.  He was a white boy--captain of the soccer team.

MY: This is high school days?

Wifigawd: Growing up, like sandbox days.  Putting me on shit like Phoenix and MGMT. I’m like ‘What the fuck is this weird-ass shit.  Let me show you Kid Cudi.’ He’s like, ‘Kid Cudi? This shit is awesome, bro!’ We used to be in the attic showing each other culture.  He showed me white culture and I showed him black culture. I fuck with all types of music.

MY: I just thought about the kids at your show at the Art House and who came to that.

Wifigawd: Diversity.

MY: There were black people, there were white people.  And those white kids, and I say kids because they were teenagers.

Wifigawd: Some of those kids, I probably used to be their basketball coach.

MY: Where’d you coach?

Wifigawd: They had this little program called Hoop Ed in D.C and I was coaching and playing basketball.  My father is a teacher, too, so he knows all the kids, and I just got to know all the young’ns. They fuck with me because I’m the cool coach, you know, so I knew all the kids.  And then going to Wilson, all the little kids that go to [Alice] Deal they are always gonna see you...I used to see Gleesh when I went to Deal at Wilson--standing outside and shit.  I want to play a role with the youth.

MY: You’ve been doing that.

Wifigawd: Yeah, but 2019 you’re going to see me reaching out to the youth.  There’s hot new niggas from D.C. that are young.

MY: At what point did you realize you wanted to be a rapper?  

Wifigawd: My man, he was certified.  Marquise Heem--another alias nigga that has bars.

MY: Who is that?

Wifigawd: See, if we are going to get into that we are going to get into the Heem Team.  The Heem Team was a whole group of niggas on some fly shit. They went to Duke. I went to Wilson.  I say Marquise Heem because we went to elementary school together. This nigga was in my fourth grade class.  My fourth-grade teacher was very close with my family. I went to a cultured school, an African school. My folks worked at the school.

MY: What was it called?

Wifigawd: It was called Tree of Life.  My fourth grade teacher was Grap Luva. You know who that is?

MY: No, who’s that.

Wifigawd: You know who Pete Rock is?

MY: The name sounds familiar.

Wifigawd: Alright, Pete Rock is a legendary hip-hop producer.  Worked with Kanye. Worked with Ninth Wonder. He’s worked with everybody.  Grap Luva is his brother--blood brother. He was my teacher. This nigga was going to Japan on tour during the school year, coming back with crazy-ass shit.  Little martial arts figurines from Japan telling me, “They love black people in Japan. Music is the shit.” And I was like, ‘Yea I want to be a rapper, too.’ We had that joint in class where everybody had to write down what they wanted to be.  Everybody had NBA, NFL, NFL, NBA, NBA, and I was the nigga who wanted to be a rapper. Very cliche, very typical, very real. I always wanted to rap. Ever since I figured out that you could fuck with words like that I fucked with it. I feel like every black kid growing up in tune with music rapped or has written a sixteen before.  Everybody. Listen, I wasn’t always fire. I just did that shit every day and learned myself and learned what I wanted to do.

MY: Yeah, you’re growing up with it.

Wifigawd: As black people, we’re in tune with art.  That’s a part of us for any black person. Go outside and find a crackhead, that nigga would probably be painting and probably has something to tell you, too.  We’re just in tune. That doesn’t mean perfect. Practice makes perfect. Look at the world. Look at the game.

MY: We are the game.

***

Wifigawd: The best quarterbacks of all time have been black.

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: I don’t give a fuck what you say.  Put Mike Vick in his prime with that Belichick...stop it.  Who was that out there, Randy Moss? Stop it. Wes Welker? They would’ve been blowing niggas out by 40.  That’s why Tom Brady is where his draft number was picked, whatever, 12th round or some dumb-ass round. He is that type of player.  He got a stinger, but he’s been on good teams the whole time.

Chachi: But Brady is like that, his IQ…

Wifigawd: Fool, he’s a Caron Butler-type.

[Laughs]

MY: Chill, chill, chill...Caron Butler beat Pitt’s ass repeatedly.

Wifigawd: Oh, he said Pitt’s ass!

Friend: You chill out, bro.  Don’t play with my boy Caron.

MY: He’s a G for sure.

Wifigawd: What happened to Tim Tebow?

Chachi: I don’t know.  They jih played with Tim Tebow.

[Laughs]

Chachi: He was supposed to be like-dat.  He beat Pittsburgh.

MY: That’s true he did.  I think Tim Tebow got robbed. The fact that he beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs and the next year the Broncos moved on?  That’s not fair. The man’s a proven winner in college, that’s not fair. If you’re any franchise, you see what he did in college and you see what he did in the playoff game…

***

Wifigawd: It’s all about being high as a bitch.  I can tell you that. All the songs you heard are all about being high as a bitch.

MY: When did you first start smoking weed?

Wifigawd: When I was 13.

MY: Were you making music before that?

Wifigawd: Yeah, I used to be DJ Melly Mel.  My parents had 2,000 records. My nigga KO and I would be in the house just making rap songs.  KO is the main nigga who inspired me to rap. We were eight years old, bro, this nigga had full songs--on rat-a-tat beats--and that’s difficult to do.  A lot of niggas today, if you put on a rat-a-tat beat right now, niggas can’t touch that jont. My man was touching that jont the whole way through, with the hook, bridge, verse--eight years old.  I put that on my life. You can ask my parents. This nigga used to come through because our folks always knew we were into music, and this man, no fear, played a beat in front of my whole family and spit the whole shit.

MY: Going back to DJ Melly Mel, you produce beats, too.

Wifigawd: I just recently started to get into it, but I always heard the shit in my mind.  I rap so much I just know what the beat should sound like. I’m going to produce a whole tape for myself, some fire shit.

MY: As something personal or for the fans?

Wifigawd: I’m just going to make all the music and rap on them. Like “In My Mind” by Pharrell.  I’m gonna do “In My Mind” by Wifigawd because I fuck with that nigga for real.

MY: Was it N.E.R.D to begin with or Clipse?

Wifigawd: It was that Neptunes tape where they had all the features on it.  It’s him and Chad Hugo on the front, the black jont. This tape, no funny shit, I used to be in the house--my father had this jont on a sleeve--I’d be listening to it all the time.  Pharrell’s writing influenced me. Cudi is the biggest influence on my style, from the way I look at writing songs. I’d be like, ‘Would Cudi fuck with this jont? I feel like he would fuck with this jont.’  I ain’t gonna lie, I fuck with Ye.

MY: How do you feel about current Ye?

Wifigawd: I don’t give a fuck, man.  What am I supposed to feel?

MY: Does that impact your music listening?

Wifigawd: He did what he was supposed to do for me.  If we link up--real niggas link up--he’s gonna know what time it is when I’m in the studio with him.  He’s gonna hear everything that I’m saying. He knows what he does and everything he’s doing. Lupe got a song called “Dumb it Down.” You don’t have to be God level all the time.  For these new niggas, he’s dumbed it down, “You’re such a fucking hoe,” these niggas ate that shit up. He’s like, ‘All these fucking dumbass niggas.’ That’s what I think. He’s in the crib, he’s got kids, he doesn’t give a fuck.  He wants niggas to react that way.

MY: I want to go back to your writing.  It sounds like that is an important part of your process.  What does that look like? Is it in the studio? Is that at home?

Wifigawd: Yeah, it’s very fast.  It’s damn near...my writing style is wild as shit.  Even if I have the beats, I can’t just pull them up and write to them.  I have to be in front of a mic because the shit I think I have to do, I’m not going to think of it again--this is how it should sound.  I have to do it right there. It’s serious for me when I’m writing. I can freestyle like it ain’t nothing, but writing, I fuck with it because it’s structure.  That’s how I understand my shit, the structure. Once I have the hook, the song is done. That’s the biggest thing for me is my hooks.

MY: I’ve been playing a lot of your music recently and I’ve been playing it at times to set a certain vibe.  It really represents that for me. I first heard “Told You” at the Art House, that set the tone for me as far as how turnt you could be.  But then when I was on Apple Music listening to these six projects, it’s a lot, but I’m trying to describe the vibe. Where it’s night time and I’ve just come back from being out and I’m going to smoke again and then I’m going to sleep, but I still want to feel and decompress from the night.  I put your music on and I’m gone.

Wifigawd: Yeah, my shit is definitely some void.

MY: Even walking down the street in the day time…

Wifigawd: Void.

[Laughs]

MY: The world is not there, yo.

Wifigawd: Definitely euphoric.

MY: Yeah, “How I Feel,” bro, euphoric.

Wifigawd: That’s what I like to call arena music, stadium music.  When I’m making songs like that I’m thinking about ten thousand people knowing the words to that jont in the stadium and me not having to say nothing, just standing right there like, ‘Damn.’  Some big epic-ass shit.

MY: What do those sets look like if that’s a Wifigawd tour? Is that a stage and a mic?

Wifigawd: Honestly, I would always want the crowd in front of me, so I could interact.  I just need a gate so niggas can’t rush me, I won’t have on any jewelry, I don’t know, just flexed out.  I want to be close and intimate and have a split stage through the crowd so I can get every part of the jont turnt.

MY: Have you seen Astroworld footage?

Wifigawd: Yeah, that shit is wack to me.

MY: How so?

Wifigawd: It’s just too much.  It takes away from the music--nigga’s on some circus shit.  If the music is hard you don’t need anything.

MY: I can appreciate the initial Travis Scott concerts.  Do you like Travis, though?

Wifigawd: Mmm, naw.

MY: Who do you listen to mainstream-wise?

Wifigawd: Nobody.  I don’t listen to anyone mainstream.  I listen to old music.

MY: That’s interesting because your music, yes you’re a contemporary and you understand that.

Wifigawd: Yeah…

MY: I call it bop music, like a Pierre Bourne.  Do you know him?

Wifigawd: Of course, he is insane.

MY: And your music sounds like that kind of style, so I can appreciate the modernity.

Wifigawd: I don’t listen to Travis Scott or Pierre Bourne, but I know he’s hard as fuck.  His production is insane.  He’s the top producer, mainstream producer, he’s the best.

MY: Agreed.

Wifigawd: He doesn’t miss.

MY: You carry those bops, though, too.  Who do you lean on for production?

Wifigawd: Shit, it’s a secret formula.  Dretti Franks, Trip Dixon, Cryjng, Hi-C, I don’t know, there are not that many producers that are going crazy like that anymore, so I just keep a core group.

MY: You said anymore.  What do you mean?

Wifigawd: I just feel like everybody tries to make the same sounding beats.  And the beats that I like, I don’t want them to sound like beats that other niggas have.  I don’t want it to sound like anything.

MY: That’s fair to be selective and also prolific.  How many songs do you have in the bank right now?

Wifigawd: I don’t know, bro, a lot.  I make a lot of music.

MY: Over 2018, are those songs made this year? How old do some of those songs get?

Wifigawd: I don’t know, but they are not that old.  I have some super tight shit on the way. I know motherfuckers love my turnt up shit, so I have a whole tape of turnt shit.

MY: I think it’s “Gen” or “Big Flex” where you rap off a series of fashion labels and designers you like.  I have a question regarding your top five in fashion. Just the labels you list: Off White, Yamamoto, Solbiato…

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: I said all that shit in one song.  I was crazy for that. I don’t know, it’s a whole bunch.

MY: Both times I’ve seen you you’ve been wearing Solbiato decked out.

[Laughs]

Wifigawd: This is just some chill shit, some lounge shit, but still fly.  D.C. shit. But top five designers, that would be...I fuck with vintage shit.  I do fuck with designers, but only pieces... YSL, Gucci, Margiela, Rick Owens, and RAF that’s five.  That’s all demonic and intense.

Meet Glasshead by Alex Young

SweetBabyDayDay, Captain Jazzo & London Yellow

(Watch this video if you’re not going to read the article.)

Glasshead makes you roll your eyes. They’re too funny to take anything seriously. Ask the group a question, and it’s like an improvisation prompt for them to goof off on camera. “Who founded Glasshead,” I asked to put it on record. “R. Kelly. Or was it Bill Cosby,” London Yellow said. The comment seems so absurd because it was like current events. The two men are legendarily ludicrous. I had to laugh.

Seriously, Glasshead comprises of rapper Captain Jazzo, rapper slash comedian SweetBabyDayDay and London Yellow, video director, rapper, producer and digital artist. The collective linked in Pittsburgh beginning in 2015. They have fun creating content and still find work as a media agency producing for notable hip-hop performers and other artists, like music videos for Rome Fortune and Matt OX.

You can binge watch @_glasshead_ on Instagram. Their clips almost pass as good television mixing sitcoms with memes and rap rolled into one sketch. “We’re doing shit that other people aren’t doing,” Captain Jazzo said. Example, Glasshead is verified on Pornhub. Yes, watch Glasshead produced music videos on Pornhub, and they get ad revenue. The odd selection using Pornhub as a platform puzzles Glasshead followers to click a link, but it also keeps fresh eyes on their content. SweetBabyDayDay, along with frequent Glasshead collaborators Ahsé, Blanco and Bossy, timely caught the viral wave from G Herbo’s “Who Run It” remix last spring and posted their version to Pornhub under categories like “gay” or “solo male.” The marketing strategy pushes the envelope of people’s comfort levels, because why should Glasshead care if you’re comfortable when it comes to homosexuality.

We like to wild the fuck out, and that’s what the youth wants so we’re going to serve it to them. Mash potatoes and gravy.
— Captain Jazzo of Glasshead

Though there’s no specific formula to Glasshead’s success, how they capitalize on relevant culture moments matters. When Doja Cat got playful singing “Bitch, I’m a cow I go mooo,” London flipped her line to “Bitch, I’m a nigger, like nigger.” It fit Doja Cat’s viral melody racking up over a hundred thousand views. A self-described “memer,” London was on to something with “Bitch I’m a Nigger,” so he has another song called “I Don’t Like Niggers” that he paid famous YouTube vlogger Adam22 to play during his live stream. As a white guy, Adam22 was startled. “Is this a real thing,” he said. A lot of Glasshead videos make the viewer question if they’re the butt of a joke.

“I started to realize maybe it’s taking the power away from the word [nigger] and it’s a mockery of it. It shows how stupid a racist can be,” Jazzo said for clarification.

Putting meme culture into songs works as a theme for London. Dive into his SoundCloud and find songs called “Fuck Nike,” sarcasm for people burning Nike products over Colin Kaepernick’s iconic Nike ad. Or London professes his lust for “iCarly” TV star Jennette McCurdy. There’s bop and introspection to his music, which listeners should take seriously. “I’m just talking about something that’s funny instead of just self-destructive,” London said. Check out his songs “I woke Up” and “So Lame.” London releases music a lot. 11 songs in the last two weeks.

DayDay has it all. A spawn of Dave Chapelle and Eddie Murphy, entertainment good for any stage including music or acting. He’s got the comedic imagination and timing tying into his skits and music. DayDay collaborated with native Pittsburgh comedian and New York resident Vinay Umapathy the Mumble Comic going insane in the woods. Performing in multiple ways, DayDay’s song “Bop Juice” simply describes this new, glitzy and young sounding hip-hop that’s abundant right now.

Where DayDay and London Yellow might focus on more than just their music, Captain Jazzo focuses on his songs. “I’ve really just been perfecting my craft. I’m not putting out any shit that’s subpar. I probably wrote enough for three or four mixtapes,” Jazzo said guarding his records. Maybe you recognize Jazzo from his energy at the Maxo Kream concert at Spirit, the venue in Lawrenceville. Jazzo repeatedly punched Maxo in his stomach excited to the song. Maxo was nice enough to invite him on stage, which Jazzo later dove off. “I’m trying to get Malia Obama to roll my weed,” Jazzo said during his verse in London’s track “Mobbin.”

This is for all my niggas with no dad. I’m like that. I don’t have a father, but I feel like we’re a special type of breed that doesn’t need a father. We pat our own back when we do good shit.
— London Yellow in "all i ever wanted was a dad :l"

Other people’s interaction with Glasshead comes from their party recap videos, like for Pittsburgh Request Live— a party by Feline Entertainment. After DJ Based Grace saw the Glasshead video of the party she DJ’d at, she said, “That’s when I knew they had something.” Footage plus animation plus edits equal video gold.

Overall, the multi-faceted organization keeps people engaged with their “satire” in music, social media content and videos. With this showmanship, there’s no not hearing about Glasshead even if you lived under a rock.

Watch the Glasshead x InTheRough video interview above, or read a short transcript with Glasshead member London Yellow below.

Glasshead members left to right:  SweetBabyDayDay ,  Captain Jazzo  &  London Yellow  | Photograph by Alex Young

Glasshead members left to right: SweetBabyDayDay, Captain Jazzo & London Yellow | Photograph by Alex Young


InTheRough: When I look at the Glasshead Instagram feed I think memes.

London Yellow: I have the meme culture. I’m not going to lie to you. This guy (Cap Jazzo) is kind of there a little bit. DayDay has no clue at all. DayDay is not a meme.

ITR: What’s meme culture or how would you describe it?

London: You can’t describe it. If you try to describe meme culture, you’re a fucking normie. You gotta stop. You just know or you don’t know. It’s as simple as that.

ITR: What is the key element to a meme?

London: There’s not one key element. You just have to know.

ITR: Okay, but when you see a meme you know it’s a meme.

Captain Jazzo: It’s something that cannot make sense, but makes so much sense.

London: Naw, bro. It can be anything, bro. It’s about knowing the language. But I will tell you this, there’re bitches that will send me memes that have a whole paragraph explaining what’s happening. If you can’t just look at the picture and get it, I’m not trying. Me personally, I feel like the danker you are the less words you need. You just look at it and you’re like,  “There it goes.” I don’t like to read books. I read memes. I send memes to people to further my text conversation. You can’t express through texts unless you send memes. It’s like facial expressions. You know what I’m saying? It’s a whole language.

ITR: What’s your best meme?

London: There’s not a best meme. There’s not a best anything. Everything has its own.

ITR: What’s your favorite meme?

London: I don’t have a favorite anything. But, being a successful meme page you have to steal people’s memes and not care. Speaking of that, my shits been getting hella stolen in the past three months and not tagged or anything. You can’t get mad. It’s the Internet. You put it on the Internet and it’s not yours anymore.

ITR: What’s the last meme you made?

London: A white dick on a mosquito.

EXTRA: