I’m doing good, man. I’m just chilling right now. I’m on a little vacation out here before I head back to Orlando. I’m just in chill mode right now.
A lot of people outside of Orlando see it as a vacation spot. What’s the city like?
Coming from here is kind of like a double-edged sword. It feels good to be one of the first real, street artists to be coming from Orlando. But at the same time, people look at me funny from outside the city because they don’t expect me to be rapping about the things I rap about and the lifestyle that I live. But it’s all good at the same time because I can enlighten people to what’s going on in Orlando. The people in Florida already know what’s going on here, but we can get it out to the people in the New York and Atlanta areas and other places. It feels good to be one of the first ones to really let people know how life is here.
I compare Orlando to any city. You can go to LA and go to Hollywood, and it’s one way, but then you go to South Central and there’s shootouts. You can go to Times Square, where everybody is having a good time, but then you go to the boroughs and there’s some other things popping. I love my city but we’re No. 2 in the whole state for crime. But it’s a beautiful city and I’m not complaining at all.
When artists in Miami do well, does it help the Orlando scene?
Yeah. Also, a lot of people come from Orlando and wanted to get a little spotlight so they started claiming Miami. I’m not going to name names though. I love Miami. Khaled and a lot of people out there are my people. I love what they’re doing. Miami is starting to get very saturated right now and the game needs somebody else not from Miami. I’m real glad that Miami is doing well right now though.
Your song “Haterz” with B.O.B. did real well.
Yeah. Ironically, we ran into B.O.B. in Miami at the Core DJs Retreat. We ran into him and we said, “We need to make a song happen.” So I got a beat done, sent the beat over to B.O.B. and he did the hook. I laid my verse down and sent it to him and he laid his verse down. It was meant to be a mixtape track, but then we started to let people hear it and it really took off. Right now, he’s with Atlantic, so the smart thing is to let him run with it like it’s featuring me. I really didn’t expect nothing. That shit was all over the internet. That was a real good look.
Did the success of that song surprise you?
Oh, yeah. I reached a lot of people with that. I’ve been grinding out here since 2003 and I’ve had songs that reached out here, but as far as everything I’ve done, that’s the biggest song I’ve made. That song is on the internet and it’s reaching places I never even knew existed. That song is a blessing at this point. It’s getting me some real good publicity.
Will you be dropping a single soon?
Yeah. We’re going back and forth between two right now, trying to decide what’s next. We’re going to figure it out in the next two or three weeks. You’ll get it when we decide. We definitely have one coming. That’s definitely the next step, along with this mixtape I’m doing with DJ Smallz. We’re trying to do Trap or Die all over again. We’re going to drop that in August. That’s going to be real big. Somebody needs to cut me a check!
How’s your mixtape, Direct Connect, with Bigga Rankin, doing for you?
It’s crazy right now. To everybody outside of Florida that’s not familiar with Bigga Rankin, on the outside looking in, it looks like Khaled’s that dude. He’s breaking everything in Miami. But there’s an industry side and a street side. On the street side, Bigga Rankin is the DJ.
If Bigga Rankin says something is hot, then nine times out of ten, it’s hot. I had run into him at a show two years ago when I was 19. I didn’t know who he was, but he was already playing my songs. From that day on, he’s been cosigning me heavy. Once I got my buzz up, I ran into him again and he said, “It’s time to do that tape.” I think it’s a classic tape myself. There’s 22 or 23 songs on there and we put out 10,000 copies throughout Florida. That’s the tape that we did “Haterz” for. He’s definitely doing a lot of big things for me by cosigning me.
How important are cosigns from Bigga Rankin and DJ Khaled today?
The way the industry is going, cosigning is everything. It’s like when you’re trying to get a job and you know somebody at the job and he puts a good word in with the boss, nine times out of ten, you're going to get that job. I had to get noticed. But after you grind and grind and grind on your own, people have no choice but to cosign you. The people see your name and you’re not a joke anymore. When you have big name people saying that you’re the truth, the people are going to listen. Cosigning is everything in this game. You really can’t move without cosigns in today’s game.
How important was your first mixtape, Crown Me, with DJ Scream?
That was what jumped it all off. I work with the Hittmen DJs like Greg Street and DJ Scream. At the time, DJ Scream was getting money to host other people’s mixtapes and I hit him like, “Let’s make it happen.” Scream’s not an asshole like most DJs, He made it happen and we did about 2,500 to 5,000 copies of that. That’s really what started it all off and got us feedback. That really got a lot of press. That was a very important project.
How has the label hunt been going for you?
I started getting pissed off, really, because the last two or three months, you see some real bullshit going on with people at the labels. It’s like they’re trying to kill rap, period. I don’t like money that comes from the game, but at the same time, I’ve been wanting to do this since I was a little kid. When I was a little kid, I wasn’t thinking about money. I was watching BET and MTV and listening to the radio and that’s where I wanted to be.
What do you want in a deal?
I know the climate of the game is real shitty right now, to be honest. As far as the particulars of the deal, I’m not going to go nowhere where they’re not going to push my shit to the max. I can’t take the money and then get put behind five, six, seven people. I need to go somewhere where the people believe in the movement. There are people, my team and DJs who believe in the music. The movement is real and all I need is a label to believe in the movement with me. It's nothing to make a hit. If they want a hit and want to sell ringtones, we can do all that shit. I’m just looking for the right situation.
Most labels today want you to bring them a finished product. How is your album coming?
We’re about 50 to 60 songs deep into the album. We’re working with some big producers on the low. I definitely have 50 to 60 songs ready to go. Really, I’m the type of dude that will scrap all of those and do 50 or 60 more just to do them. I love to do music. A lot of CEOs like their artists to write for them, and I can write for anyone, including R&B.
What kind of impact will your debut album have?
I see it having major, major, major, major impact. If I could compare it to something on the streets and in the industry, I’m thinking of Thug Motivation 101 and how Jeezy had it. When him and Drama did Trap or Die, all the people wanted to know was when Jeezy’s album was coming out. “When’s Jeezy’s album coming out?” When his album did come out, everybody had it. I can see the same shit happening with me. I can appeal to anybody. The support system and the image is right there. With the right situation, we can take it everywhere. We can make it The Black Album all over again.
Why aren’t you signed yet?
According to a couple of the labels, they need one more radio song. We’re debating on one or two singles. But like I told them, I can do that. Conrad from Bad Boy and Lenny S from Def Jam are real good dudes and they give me guidance. What they’re saying is that the buzz is already done and the support system is already there, I just need one more song. I got like five “one more’s.” We’re just going to let them come. I tell them now that they’re going to have to come with a big-ass check.
I think it goes back to finding a label that believes in you as much as you believe in yourself. And on top of that, I think a lot of artists depend on their label too much. They might flop and say, “My label didn’t do this. My label didn’t do that.” That’s the whole point of grinding and putting your own posters up. The money’s going back to the same place, regardless, so do what you have to do and create your own buzz and make them believe in you. If you don’t, you know what will happen. I think it’s a major problem how artists sit back and depend on the labels for too much. You have to do your job, whether you’re on a major or an independent.
How’s your new mixtape with DJ Smallz coming?
Great. Everybody knows who the fuck Smallz is. Smallz is killing it. I’m the type of cat who talks to DJs and they tell me they can’t really do nothing with songs that I give them “right now.” That’s cool. It just makes me go that much harder. Smallz reached out for a tape and he was telling me he fucked with me. That’s what it is. He hit me back up two or three months ago and said it was time to do the tape. I had 50 or 60 songs to choose from. We’re not going to put no bullshit on it. It’s going to be hard. Look for it to drop in August, probably August 10. We’re trying to be real visible at this point. I think a lot of people don’t know how important it is to be visible at this point. People are getting signed off of YouTube and it’s very hard to be visible and that’s what we have to do.
Florida is a very popular state for hip-hop right now. Do you think the state has reached its peak in terms of popularity?
As far as Florida goes, they really haven’t seen anything yet. You have cats like Brisco, Flo Rida, Garcia and C-Ride who haven’t really come out yet. Then you can go to Tampa and Orlando. You have young cats in Jacksonville. There are a million people out here who haven’t even come out yet. And I don’t really believe in all that sticking together crap, because people are going to do it regardless, but I think if we do, we can make it. Plies is coming out soon and I feel like if we support, it’ll help us. It’s nowhere near as crazy as it can get. We still got a lot of people coming up.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Be on the lookout for your boy Wes Fif and my label CMG. Shout out to Dawgman. Hit me up on the MySpace. I’m just a young cat trying to do things. All you young A&Rs, tell your boss to give you a budget and come down and see me. I appreciate everyone supporting and if you want to talk business, hit up Dapa at (407) 694-5063 and CMG at (407) 575-6085.