Photographer: Holger Bradburn
"So that's how like music felt to me, it was just like this big dragon I'm always trying to chase."
What was life like for you as a kid?
Basically, like I was born in the Bronx and I lived there, so I was like seven, my mom wanted to move us out of the Bronx because she just wanted to get me out of like a bad area that he was living there and just try to just get me better in life. So my mom definitely tried to do the most that she could, but she couldn't do that. We moved to Florida. She thought it'd be like a better idea to move to Florida, but things just kind of turned out the way, how they turned out and, um, you know, like right back to the hood.
How'd that affect you as a kid, like moving, knowing one thing and then moving to somewhere completely different?
At first, it was different just because I felt like everyone was talking, you get used to it. You know not all hoods are the same, but like the hood is the hood at the end of the day. Normally, you just get used to it. And then at that point too, I didn't realize I was like a product of my environment. Everything was just so normal to me. Nothing was really out of the ordinary to me.
But my mom and my pops definitely tried everything that they could do to make sure that I was good. Mainly my mom more than my dad but he's cool. He's cool peoples,
Did that work at all or were you a rebellious kid?
Nah, I was a very rebellious kid. I didn't care about shit.
What were you getting into?
Just stupid shit. I was like 11 and I was like breaking into people's houses and with like all my friends and just stealing shit. I'm not proud of it, to be honest, that was the type of trouble I was getting in. My mom caught me with like a pound of weed when I was like 12. I was trying to bring it to school., All types of stupid shit bro, just dumb.
How'd you try to explain that one?
I told her I was holding it for a friend, so he wouldn't get in trouble. And she was like, ”You don't think that you're going to get in trouble?” I was like, “Nah, I just know I can handle it.”
Can you think of a couple of defining moments of your life that like, kind of made you who you are?
When I sold out SOBs for the first time by myself and when I made the 2018 XXL Freshman. That made me look at everything and be like "Yo, I'm really doing it."
Were you passionate about anything else growing up or was like rap the only thing?
Music was the only thing that I knew I could do that I knew I was good at. I was like, yo, like I can't do shit else but I know I can make music though. It probably might not be to people's, liking probably might be to people's liking, but I know I can do it and I can do it to like the best ability that I know how to do it. You feel me? So that was really it, to be honest with you.
"Just ... you just gotta have a purpose, you gotta stand for something. You can't just come into this life period."
What do you think about you as a person like drew you to want to create and make music?
Just like the feeling that it gave me, it's kind of like chasing a high, a high that you only feel once and so you're trying to chase it. So that's how like music felt to me, it was just like this big dragon I'm always trying to chase. The experience is just amazing. I'm actually trying to bring that back to my music, to be honest. When you start doing business it fucks everything up and everything gets clouded.
Are you still trying to chase that Dragon?
No, I kind of drove myself insane doing that man, to be honest with you.
You're never satisfied with anything that you do. You can never give yourself a pat on the back. Even if you make the most amazing piece of art you've ever made, it's hard to grow to like and appreciate it. I just digest everything and just go about it, like as I'm going about it right then and there. It's like the hardest thing to like put into words. It's kind of just in the moment right then and there, you just live in it. You know what I mean?
Is that how your songwriting process goes, is it more of a in the moment chasing a feeling thing, like writing it down on a napkin somewhere?
It really depends on how I'm feeling because sometimes I'll be walking down the street and some lyrics pop in my head, sometimes I'll be in the studio and I won't think of music until I hear something specific in the beat. I can rap on command, I can make a whole verse without looking at the shit but to give shit that feeling plus the lyrics and that is all in one and you just have to feel for that.