Let’s talk about what real is to you. If we break down what “real” means in hip-hop, it’s speaking about what you’re actually going through in your life and not fabricating anything.
Well, here’s the thing. I think what people often get misconstrued is there’s a sonic real and there’s a connection real. So, often people are like, “This isn’t real,” because to them real is a sound. It’s sonic. It’s not gritty. It’s not hip-hop. There’s no boom-bap to it. It’s 40 playing sweet-ass chords and filtered drums. That’s not real to them.
That’s just people whose ears are trained for a certain sound, and they feel that’s hip-hop. More power to them. I respect that. If you have a genre that you’re passionate about or a type of music that you’re passionate about, I salute you for that.
There’s a sonic real and there’s a connection real. So, often people are like, 'This isn’t real,' because to them real is a sound. It’s sonic. It’s not gritty. It’s not hip-hop. There’s no boom-bap to it. It’s 40 playing sweet-ass chords and filtered drums. That’s not real to them.
I love when people get upset and say my music isn’t hip-hop. I’m like, “That’s great. You’re passionate about something.” I’m not saying I agree with it, but I’m glad to see they’re passionate about something.
Sonically you can do whatever you want, but if you can get those words on there that are refreshing, even if we’re all saying the same thing, which is, “I have money. I have bitches. My swag is way up.” We may all be saying the same thing if you really break it down to the core of what we’re really getting at. I mean, it’s a couple things.
You know how many times I’ve regrettably hit a girl drunk and played that exact same moment out and never thought to make a song about it? Then one night I was like, “What a fucking song.”
Why wouldn’t I do that? Who doesn’t have that moment? This is unanimous—any culture, any race. Everyone’s been in love. Everybody has someone that they just go to. I know there’s one girl...
Listen, I’m back in the city, I’ve pushed my album back, I have leeway, I know there’s one person I want to see. I’m going to hit her no matter what. I don’t even have to be drunk, and that’s the same girl I would hit when I’m wasted just to say, “I love you.” Even if I really don’t.
We all have those moments when it’s gratifying to us at that time. Shit like that, man, to me, that shit is it. Anyone that can do that, there’s beautiful, beautiful songs. I just love when it resonates with people.
I love when people get upset and say my music isn’t hip-hop. I’m like, 'That’s great. You’re passionate about something.' I’m not saying I agree with it, but I’m glad to see they’re passionate about something.
Frank Ocean did this song called “Thinking About You.” That’s like, one of my favorite songs I’ve heard in a lot of years man. That’s real shit. Just based off the words, it’s like, “Damn.” It’s simple thought. It’s a simple emotion, but he just pinpointed so many specific things.
Like, when he says, “A tornado flew around my room before you came/Excuse the mess it made/It usually doesn’t rain in Southern California,” I remember bringing girls back to my messy room like, “Damn, my bad about this shit.” [Laughs.] That’s real shit. That’s life. To get those emotions through music is life to me. That’s life to me. That’s what real is to me.
On the rap side, I don’t know what I’m looking for anymore as far as real goes man. I don’t know what’s real and what’s not. I just like great rap music. I think that’s the difference in rap right now, nobody’s listening to hear if it’s real or not.
When Pac was rapping, when Big was rapping, people were like, “Yo, I’m listening to hear if this is real.” I don’t think anybody’s listening for that anymore.
You bring up Pac, this is a dude who was an art school student. He wasn’t a gangster until he went to jail, and then he came out and he was this completely different, new character.
Yeah, man. I’ve been studying early Pac a lot on this album. It makes me feel better. It’s okay, man. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, he became a gangster rapper and a legend, but if you read some of his early works just as an introspective young kid, he’s a genius, man. There’s nothing wrong with that. That shit is cool. It’s cool to be smart and not get in trouble.
Going to jail is not fun.
If you read some of 2Pac's early works just as an introspective young kid, he’s a genius, man. There’s nothing wrong with that. That shit is cool. It’s cool to be smart and not get in trouble.
Nobody wants to go. Even when you talk to some of these guys... Like, I always avoid trouble. At the same time, anybody could be ready for trouble. Know that. Just because you play a character in music or in videos or whatever, a lot of those guys aren’t even ready for half the trouble that comes their way, real shit.
You just start playing a role and everybody perceives you as that, but the people I grew up with are with me at all times. Ask my security guard, I don’t think he’s ever really worked. I mean, looking around and shit and rocking a couple fans, but I never put him to work. I don’t ever want to. Why? You know? But, I’m ready. Is that real?
I’m ready for whatever. I don’t give a fuck. I want to move through life in the most non-confrontational way possible, but I’m not a pussy. Don’t ever get that mixed up. Everyone comes up to me, “I love your music,” even the hardest dudes, real street dudes.
Dude, you should come to Bed-Stuy where I live. Come to my barbershop. All my barbers are fucking ex-cons. They’re good people, they just got caught up in some shit and are trying to turn their life around and shit, but ask them if they fuck with Drake, and they’ll tell you, “Yes.”
I’m the guy that will go there. I’ll go. I don’t walk in fear man, because I don’t portray an image. If somebody wants to bring a problem to me, it’s strictly based off of their immense amount of hate for me.
It’s never because I’ve sparked that using my voice, my image, or my outlet. I never use my outlet for confrontation or negativity, ever. I always just try and give people music to ride to and music to enjoy. All I ever ask in return is that it’s mutual love. That’s it.
On some songs, even on “Headlines,” people perceive you to be talking tough when you talk about “catch a body like that?” How do you feel when people say, “Come on, dog. You ain’t going to catch no fucking body.”
We always put forth a unity in this city. I know every street rapper out here—real street rappers by the way, because there’s some bullshit-ass people out here that’ll try and go at me and take their little shots and shit—but I know everybody that’s official. It’s all love.
My thing is, the way I utilized it was in the first verse when I say, “You’re going to make someone around me catch a body like that,” that’s something you can ask them about. Like I said, I’m ready at all times, for anything. I understand how unpredictable this shit is.
When I say I’m going to catch a body, my whole verse was centered around rap. It was about killing off rappers. Because, I’m not going to like... That’s not me. But even in the “Headlines” video people were like, “Aw man, Drake’s got some hired goons.” Those are people I grew up with.
All of them?
All of those people.
Someone told me, and correct me if I’m wrong, but some of the dudes are from Malvern and Galloway, and those neighborhoods were warring.
That video, to us, is like... There’s a lot of people lost in that situation, and through having mutual friends in both of those hoods, we were all able to come together, shoot that video, and immortalize that moment. There’s no more of that shit really. It’s all good man.
We’re just trying to push this movement, push this city further. That was a different time. Everyone was a little bit younger, shit was a bit more wild, but I don’t brag about my hood stories. Just like you said, everybody’s like get the fuck out of here with that shit, but I’ve done a lot for the streets out here.
Shit like that. I bring people together. I put together OVO Fest, where everybody from every hood comes. There’s no killings, there’s no shootings, there’s no nothing like that. We always put forth a unity in this city.
I don’t brag about my hood stories. Just like you said, everybody’s like get the fuck out of here with that shit, but I’ve done a lot for the streets out here.
I know every street rapper out here—real street rappers by the way, because there’s some bullshit-ass people out here that’ll try and go at me and take their little shots and shit—but I know everybody that’s official. It’s all love.
That’s got a lot to do with how happy I am in my life too, because I’m at a good place. I’m good with everybody and I try to present opportunities to everybody that I can, whether it’s a T-shirt or, “Come out to this party.”
I just show love to the city. That’s something I think you should ask Chubbs about, just that whole day, and that video, and being a part of that moment. Those guys are from a serious hood, you can read about it in the news. It’s bad.