When Kanye West calls you a genius of fashion, you should expect people to start checking out what you're all about. Which is exactly what happened when 'Ye co-signed Brooklyn-based rapper Curt@!n$' out-of-the-box style sense. It's not all about the clothes, though. Behind the denim jackets and label-heavy attire, Curt@!n$ is a slick-rhyming MC who has established himself as an Internet favorite over the past few years.
Besides releasing e-acclaimed mixtapes, he's steadily cranked out impressive videos that are always a topic of conversation throughout the blogosphere. Just yesterday, he released a well-produced video for his conscious-thinking song "Black Folks," a good holdover until he drops his latest mixtape The Great Adventures of DoPE Boy C: Dope for President on June 16th. When Curt@!n$ came through the Complex office a few weeks ago, we put him through the Complex 7 cipher and also spoke to him about fellow trendsetters Kanye and Lupe...
Interview by Jaeki Cho
#1: WHAT IS YOUR NUMBER ONE DEAL-BREAKER FOR A POTENTIAL GIRLFRIEND?
Curt@!n$ says: Style. She's got to have style and I'm really into great personalities before looks. I don't like shy girls but I don't like overly aggressive girls.
#2: WHAT WAS THE WORST WAY YOU'VE BROKEN UP WITH SOMEONE?
Curt@!n$ says: We all dated crazy girls. [Laughs.] They're good in the beginning. This one chick cut me on my hand! She was just crazy. She was playing with her knife like, "I'll cut you." I was like, "No you wouldn't." And then she just cut me! No questions asked. [Laughs] I broke up with her probably two weeks later but the worst way I've broken up with someone was through text messages. [Laughs] I've been dumped harder than that though. I was in the school hallway and then I see the chick I was dating walked pass me. I was like, "Where you going?" And she's like, "Oh, we're not together anymore." I'm like, "Since when?" [Laughs] It sucked.
#3: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SNEAKER OF ALL-TIME?
Curt@!n$ says: It's a tie that I can never break. It's a tie between the black and blue Air Jordan I and the green suede Puma Clyde. I can't decide which one I like better. The Air Jordan 1, I put that on with anything it just works like magic. The green Puma Clyde with any outfit it's just magic. Some kicks don't work with everything but black and blue Air Jordan I and green suede Puma Clyde work with anything. And there's a company from California called Android Homme that I'm working with. I'm designing a whole collection of sneakers and luggage and it's going to be a collaboration between them and High Society Life. I hope it turns out pretty dope. It's my first time trying it.
#4: WHAT WAS THE MOST EMBARRASSING FASHION MOMENT FOR YOU?
Curt@!n$ says: I made a lot of fashion mistakes. There was a period of time when I wore baggy jeans, fitteds and jerseys. When I looked like everybody else just for the sake of blocking out the criticism. I've always dressed a certain way, but in the music business the way you dress can make you miss out on certain opportunities. I kind of conformed maybe for like a year? I did the regular rapper look and now I look back at it like, "Wow, that was so wack." Images of me rocking those clothes made it to print! [Laughs] I'm just like, "Man, I hope nobody finds these."
#5: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD A WEEK-LONG HOLIDAY?
Curt@!n$ says: I'll take my team with me, my girl, my nephews, my family and go to Paris. Just tour the city. I love traveling and I love looking at architecture. I would love to go to Paris and just check out the city. Soak it in and eat. I love to eat in different places and go new places to explore.
#6: WHAT HAS TO BE IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR AT ALL TIMES?
Curt@!n$ says: Fiji water and Raisin Bran Crunch. If I had Malta in my fridge all day it'll be great. I really like soul food and as of lately I really like seafood a lot.
#7: WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
Curt@!n$ says: I don't even think I can remember. I don't know. I never cried because of a movie. I never get that when people cry over a movie especially over a movie they've seen already. Like, "You know he is about to die! Why are you crying for?" Maybe I'm just not emotional. Maybe I'm heartless. I never even really cried for death. I don't look at death as a bad thing. I look at it like it's for the better. Maybe something worse could have happened to them when they were on earth. At least they are not suffering anymore. That's how I look at it. I always spin a negative into a positive.
Complex: You knew Kanye and Lupe before they became what they are right now. How did your relationship with them come about?
Curt@!n$ says: The Lupe relationship was through my man Bryce Wilson from Groove Theory. When I was around 15 or 16, I was introduced to Bryce and he really talked to me like, "You got to meet my man from Chicago," which was Lupe. So Bryce introduced us and we hit it off immediately on some homie shit. We always kept in touch. Every time I saw him it was always love. We would talk about music and random things. I hadn't spoken to him in a while and he blew up. He came to my store to shop and we picked it up from then. Kanye was more on... I used to work at Roc-A-Fella. So it was like, "Oh, you work here." We never had that kind of relationship until I started doing my thing in music. He started picking up on my fashion sense. One time I was like, "You got to give me a beat!" And he was like, "No, you got to take me where you shop!" So that's how our relationship stems from fashion. All we talk about is fashion when I'm with Kanye.
Complex: What did you think about Kanye calling you a "fashion genius"?
Curt@!n$ says: It was a dope statement. I loved that statement because it took a lot off my back. I'm just me when I dress. It's not to impress anybody. Not to fit in a certain zone. I used to get a lot of flack like, "Coca Cola on a shirt? Who does that? That's a drink." And people look at Kanye as a fashion genius and for him to say that about me let me know that I was doing something extremely well.
Complex: What made you decide to make a record like "Black Folks"?
Curt@!n$ says: I'm going to keep it real. From day one, that was always my mode. I always wanted to be that. When people think of 2Pac, they think about "Brenda's Got a Baby" and "Dear Mama". I always wanted to make those songs, but it's really not easy to get that message out. So you know you got to hit them with beats first. We released braggadocio raps and other hard raps just to get people on my side. Once they like you, they're in it with you. Now you can say, "Okay, I got your attention, but this is what I want to tell you." So I had to give them the bait first before I could get them the knowledge.
WATCH THE VIDEO FOR "BLACK FOLKS"