Your first reaction when you heard his name was probably similar to ours. What the fuck is a Waka Flocka Flame? Now we know that 23-year-old Juaquin Malphurs is the newest artist in Gucci Mane's burgeoning So Icey camp, and definitely is full of youthful and rowdy exuberance. The New York-born MC has already proven himself to be more than a weed carrier showing out on Gucci's single, "Bingo," as well providing arguably the biggest trap anthem in the last year with his breakout single, "O Let's Do It." Diddy even shouts him out on the remix.
Unfortunately, at a time when he should be celebrating knowing way too many people right now that he didn't know last year, trouble has been tracking him like its got a GPS. In January, he was shot during an armed robbery. In the last two weeks alone, Waka was involved in a brawl with a group of Young Jeezy's associates at the Atlanta sneaker spot, Walter's, as well as eight teenagers being shot at a concert he performed at in Gary, Indiana. Complex caught up with Waka while he was on road doing shows and preparing his debut, Flockavelli, to see how Gucci is doing, find out about the scrap at Walter's, and whether slowing down a little is something that's crossed his mind.
Interview by Toshitaka Kondo
Complex: You grew up in Jamaica, Queens until the age of nine. What New York rap were you listening to?
Waka Flocka Flame: Lost Boyz, Ja Rule, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane.
Complex: Who's your favorite rapper?
Waka Flocka Flame: I'm a student/fan of Tupac. It don't get no better than him. But I never quote it, that's just the real deal. I don't want nobody to feel salty, but that's just the real deal. Homeboy had lyrics, but he was more simple raps. He was reality.
Complex: What's your favorite Pac song?
Waka Flocka Flame: "Keep Ya Head Up" 'cause when shit just be fucked up, I feel like nothing but thunder going on in my life with the things I'm going through, that song told me to keep my head up.
Complex: You only started rapping a year ago?
Waka Flocka Flame: Two years ago. I was 21.
Complex: Growing up, what kind of kid were you?
Waka Flocka Flame: Gangbangin'. We'd be runnin the streets, fightin'. The average knucklehead kid. I was into basketball and drug dealing. That's the only thing I was surrounded by. If I was surrounded by doctors and lawyers, I'd have been a doctor or lawyer. I was good at basketball, though. That was my first love. I'm 6'5 Â½". Small forward. I ain't like high school ball. I was playin' AAU. High school wasn't for me. Also, I never got along with the coach. I was just disobedient. I didn't like runnin' suicides for somebody else.
Back in New York, a cousin of mine was bangin' Blood, and I joined him. So then my Uncles and them, they ain't like that. So I moved to Atlanta. They wasn't into that. They told me, "Get the hell outta here. Go to Atlanta." My mother moved down there, and I moved down there with her. Then I met up with some older muthafuckas, gangbangin', but not no bloods and crips. It was like on some neighborhood shit.
Complex: Who was the first person that told you that you should rap?
Waka Flocka Flame: Nobody. Everybody told me, "Don't do it. You don't need to be doin' that."
Complex: Given that your mother and manager, Debra Antney, manages Gucci Mane and Nicki Minaj, you never had the urge to rap?
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell nah. Never. They was all my partners. Gucci was in jail though [at the time].
Complex: When did you actually first meet Gucci?
Waka Flocka Flame: A couple years before that when I was like 18, 19.
Complex: Have you had a chance to talk to Gucci since he's been locked up?
Waka Flocka Flame: Yeah, I talk to my boy every day.
Complex: What has he been doing while he's been away?
Waka Flocka Flame: Writing a lot, and getting ready to drop his new street album next month.
Complex: What's the name of the album?
Waka Flocka Flame: I can't give away the good secrets, man! [Laughs.] It might be a retail release or a little street album. I'm not sure yet. He got a couple [features]. You can never tell what he got. But I know it's coming out the middle of the month.
Complex: This is stuff I'm assuming he recorded before he went in, right?
Waka Flocka Flame: Yeah.
Complex: Have you been visiting him at all?
Waka Flocka Flame: I can't right now because we on the road, so we got a nice little phone relationship right now.
Complex: When's the last time you visited him?
Waka Flocka Flame: Three and a half, four weeks ago.
Complex: When is he supposed to get out?
Waka Flocka Flame: I think it's April.
Complex: What made you want to take rap seriously?
Waka Flocka Flame: I started getting shows, and folks started hitting me, like the fans. I put a mixtape out called Salute Me or Shoot Me, Vol. 1. I recorded off a PC computer, and just the mic in the corner in my mama's garage, it was just me and my boy Tay, who used to produce, and we just went crazy from there.
Complex: Did you let your mom hear it?
Waka Flocka Flame: Nah, my mom wasn't into it. She said, "You ain't making no money. You gotta go hard." Then my music started taking flight. Who better to manage you than your mom? People were hitting her up, and people automatically figured that's my manager.
Complex: When you first got the beat for "O Let's Do It," how fast did it take for you to record that song?
Waka Flocka Flame: 10, 15 minutes.
Complex: Did you know it was a banger right away?
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell nah. Other songs of mine go harder than that. "O Let's Do It" is just pop. That shit came outta nowhere. For real, a lot of people didn't even know that was me. They thought it was just some other guy. [Laughs.] People walk down the street and saying, "I didn't know you was the one singing 'O Let's Do It!' I love that song!" I be like, "Oh, for real? Shit, I like it too." [Laughs.]
Complex: When did you realize that the song was going to pop off?
Waka Flocka Flame: When I was in the club in Atlanta, Figure 8, right by Greenbriar Mall, and the club went crazy around.
Complex: How big of a deal was it when you first heard Diddy shout you out on the remix for "O Let's Do It"?
Waka Flocka Flame: I feel good, man. We gonna shoot the remix video in Georgia, on the South Side, around Riverdale and College Park. I ain't heard Diddy rap like this since Biggie.
Complex: You had an interesting line in "O Lets Do it," where you say, "Ever since they killed my nigga Trap/Start poppin pills and actin' crazy." Can you explain that line?
Waka Flocka Flame: We was in the same clique. We've been running around together. He was a young dude. Younger than me. He got murdered. Got shot in the head with a Tech 9. It had to be like a couple years ago. I had to be about 19, but he was about 17. I had a lot of death in my family. My little brother and my dad died. When he died we didn't know what the fuck to do. I'm dealing with it going through Ecstasy pills, more smoking, and more drinking.
Complex: Was his death a gang-related or a drug-related thing?
Waka Flocka Flame: Nah, the guy who did it just did it. Nobody know what the hell he did it for. He just did it. He got locked up for it. He shot my partner in the back of the head. He was shooting at everybody else in the house. They were playing cards. Supposedly, they went inside the kitchen, right? And Trap turned around and he just shot him in the back of his head.
Complex: What happened with your father and brother?
Waka Flocka Flame: He got incarcerated and he died when he came out of jail. We're not too sure on that. My little brother was 10 years old. He got hit and ran over by a car. This happened in 2000.
Complex: Shifting to the recent XXL Freshman cover, people were saying they felt you should be on there.
Waka Flocka Flame: Yeah? I don't care. Man, I ain't into that. A lot of people are entitled to their own opinion. I can't say nothing about that. I can't get mad 'cause folks don't feel like I'm not a freshmen. I keep doing me, go hard, and one day you get respected for your talents and if you don't, you don't. That's what we call life.
Complex: You've spoken in previous interviews about reading a lot of books...
Waka Flocka Flame: Yeah, I love to read. Like, brainiac books. Philosophy. Glad you know that. War shit. Like Art of War, Art of Seduction. Just good shit like—I think I read a lot of stuff.
Complex: Got it. You were involved a robbery recently where the alleged assailant took a picture that popped up on the Internet with him wearing your chain. Did that bother you?
Waka Flocka Flame: I don't feel like they took it. Taking it is snatching that joint off my neck. They ain't do that.
Complex: Do those types of videos and pictures seem silly to you?
Waka Flocka Flame: No, it don't matter to me. I like it.
Complex: It doesn't discourage you from rocking your chain?
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell nah. I just copped a new chain. You ever heard of Fozzie Bear from Muppet Babies, that says, "Waka waka waka waka"? I got that. That's my new shit. Got a lil yellow Fuzzy with the yellow watch green, and shit.
Complex: I had read that you got hit on the head with a bottle at a club one time?
Waka Flocka Flame: Oh, well you know I'm a wild cowboy. I go to the club, party, drink, shit... I don't know. I'm a cowboy. I love to fight.
Complex: [Laughs.] What do you like drinking in the club?
Waka Flocka Flame: Strong liquor. Patron. Hennessey. Four, five margaritas.
Complex: I was reading about how you got struck with a baseball bat one time?
Waka Flocka Flame: We were playing a game called "Inner Hawk" where you under-hand pitch the baseball. It's like playing baseball, basically. And I cot-damned smack the ball out of and started talking shit. We got in an argument, and I threw the bat down and I swung on him. And then I don't know how he ended up with the bat, but he swung on me with that muthafucka.
Complex: You've also had your head rammed into a steel gate?
Waka Flocka Flame: Oh, hell yeah. You know back in elementary school you was telling, "Yo Mama" jokes? I was talking about this nigga's mama at lunch, like, "I'll fuck your mama!" And he was a big, big, big-ass 5th grader. When I was coming out of the school, I was walking with my girl and my hand was over her shoulder. He just jumped on me from the back, and head-locked me. When he jumped on me, he was in a running motion, and he slammed my damn head into a steel gate.
Complex: Speaking of fights, you recently had one at Walter's with some associates of Jeezy. What happened?
Waka Flocka Flame: A lame nigga called Slick Pulla tried me, walked up, snuck me, my partner dropped him, and all hell broke loose. I walked in there, and we caught eye contact. He said a couple words and I knew he didn't have it in him so I started walking off. He turned around and walked in another direction. I went to go buy some pants, and Slick ganged up on me on the low, snuck me on the left side of my neck. It just popped off. He was not the person who put a little black eye on me. It was probably someone he was with. I just came back at them. I don't want no one thinking he did something to me.
Complex: Everyone was really surprised because Gucci and Jeezy recently ended their beef.
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell yeah, I'm surprised. That's what I'm thinking. I don't know what to say about it. It don't got nothin' to do with no Jeezy and Gucci. It's all about Slick Pulla.
Complex: Okay, so this isn't going to re-ignite the beef with Gucci and Jeezy?
Waka Flocka Flame: Yeah, that beef ain't got nothin' to do with them two. That ain't got nothin' to do with this. That's not how nobody over here feels. It's just me and buddy, that's it.
Complex: Did you have problems with Slick from before this even happened?
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell nah. That's another rumor. Talkin' bout we got into it in Miami. I ain't never in my life seen him before that time. He trying create a buzz 'cause I guess his career dead. That ain't how you do it 'cause I ain't with that hip-hop shit. He emotional, that's how I look at it.
Complex: Did you talk to Gucci about the whole situation?
Waka Flocka Flame: Gucci ain't thinking about it. He just said, "Handle your business, do what you gotta do, bruh. Fuck that. That's the problem with success."
Complex: Everyone saw those pictures with you with the band-aid and they were like "Damn, what happened to Waka?"
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell yah! I'ma do that! Of course! I ain't finna hide. I got snuck. Slick Pulla ain't bust my eye. Someone did something from the blind side, from the right hand side, and hit me in the eye. When I turned around to see who did it, I just seen them in the background runnin'.
Complex: Did you get Slick at all?
Waka Flocka Flame: Who that? You talkin' about Martin Lawrence? [Laughs.] [Editor's note: Waka's Martin reference is probably related to this tweet] I don't know, it wasn't me man. I ain't do nothing. It was my arms.
Complex: Are you concerned about seeing Slick again?
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell nah. Them folks don't go to no clubs. They only go to three clubs: Velvet Room, Miami, and Dream. If somebody wants somebody, they can get 'em. This shit is America. They know my shows [dates] on the Internet. They just want publicity, that's what it is. I'm about money. I got family and friends. We talkin' about the shit we tryna build over here. We monopolizin'. We on that Donald Trump shit over here. I don't know what kinda shit they on.
Complex: There's no hard feelings towards Slick then?
Waka Flocka Flame: Fuck that nigga. Real talk. I don't got no hard feelings for him, but it's fuck him. I ain't finna look for him, travel for him. I won't even give a nigga that much time. There's 24 hours in the day, that nigga can't even get a minute. That nigga a duck. I ain't finna look for no duck. I'm good. Let him worry about getting out the half-way house.
Complex: The other thing you were in the news for was at your concert in Gary, Indiana, where eight teenagers were shot. What ended up happening there?
Waka Flocka Flame: Shit, I don't even know. They said somebody was firin' shots. They said eight little kids got shot. I ain't have nothin' to do with that. My blessings go out to all their families. I ain't gonna let it happen again. If there's something I could do, I'd help, but I ain't have nothin' to do with that. Why would I encourage "Little Kid" gang violence? Thirteen, 14, 12 years old, eight years old get shot. Come on, man. I ain't even on that. They can't say we caused that, 'cause Gary, Indiana is known for gettin' it poppin'.
Complex: So were you around the venue when the shots starting going off?
Waka Flocka Flame: I don't know, I probably was [around], but I ain't hear nothin' 'cause I was in my tour bus. I got video recordings of me leaving. I even had a little kid on the stage rockin' my jewelry rappin'. I ain't even gon' feed into it. Real talk, if I was gonna have some little kids pop off, I would have them pop off on some other niggas. But that ain't even how I rock anyway. I pop my own shit off. If I'ma pop somethin' off, I'ma do it. I ain't finna have no little ass kid do it.
Complex: Has your mom talked to you at all about the incidents?
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell yeah, my mama been concerned about my life. That's a mama. We cool with it, bro. It's life. I'm dealing with it. That's the only thing I can do. I can't complain about it. Can't do nothin'. I gotta just handle every situation that comes in front of me accordingly. Everybody be thinkin' I'm just wild, crazy, loose moving, and militant. I think about everything I do, everything I say. I strategize.
Waka Flocka Flame: I don't know why people over here be thinkin' that I'm wild, dumb, and ignorant. They got me fucked up. And I like them for thinkin' that, so when I do songs, they gonna be surprised, like, "Damn, Waka could do that?" Like that interview [about] Method Man, everybody was shocked that I said that. They belittling me, them folks. They think a little bit, they don't think a lot. They expect Kanye West to be brilliant, right? When Kanye West does some stupid shit, they gonna be mad as hell like, "Damn, that ain't like Kanye!" That's just how people look at you.
Complex: Would you say all these incidents over the last couple weeks has made you considered calming down?
Waka Flocka Flame: Hell nah! It ain't like I come out here lookin' for trouble. I ain't doin' no lame shit like that. All these incidents, they don't make me calm down. I call this shit livin' the good life. I got shot, get into a fight, hey man, this shit fun.