At the album launch in Brixton, London, you shredded the hell out of a guitar, and backwards nonetheless. Where did that come from? Were you taught as a kid?
I’ve been playing a guitar since I was 10-years-old.
You were playing it behind your head...
Yeah, well. I gotta show off. I’ve been playing instruments longer than I’ve been rapping. When I was first rapping I didn’t wanna put that in to it. I wanted this image like I was a rapper, a true MC. Then once you get comfortable with who you are as a person then it’s like, OK I’m just gonna show everything I can do and incorporate it. So now I’m incorporating that aspect into the show, which is dope because I’ll go on record to say that there’s no one that raps that can play the guitar better than me. B.o.B knows what’s good.
What about Andre 3000?
I’ve never seen him play, but I think I can play better than everybody.
Do you incorporate it into the production you create under the moniker Larry Fisherman?
Yeah, I play guitar on a lot of shit. “Cruise Control” was the first track me and Wiz Khalifa ever did, I made the beat on that and I played guitar on it. And on the album, “REMember.”
I’ll go on record to say that there’s no one that raps that can play the guitar better than me. B.o.B knows what’s good.
You were recently named on Forbes List of hip-hop’s 20 Top Earners...
Yeah I know. I couldn’t believe I made it on this year. The one year I didn’t care about money and I’m on there.
During the intro skit on K.I.D.S. you edited a movie sound byte and mentioned that music was everything to you. Is it still as important or has getting all this money taken precedent?
That’s not even a question to me. I’d give you all of my money in exchange for music if I had to. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. It’s literally all I do. Every single person in my life and every relationship I have is distant because all I do is music. It’s like I’m a drug addict but with music. I feel like they can’t put me in rehab. People just have to deal with it. It’s all I do. But you can’t really knock it because it’s not like I’m out there injecting myself...not yet.
Talk to me about the tattoos. Every video sees you add yet more and more tatts. What’s the deal?
It’s funny because in real life I’ve just been getting tattoos, but life through music videos it’s like, “Whoa! In this video and this video all of a sudden he’s covered.” I like tattoos. I’m gonna be covered. I’m not going to touch my face or under the chin on the neck, it’s my least favorite place.
The pain there must be unbearable...
I’ve got this cream because after I stopped sipping lean, tattoos started hurting a bit more because the opioids start fucking up your shit. So when you do painkillers and go back to having tattoos done, they hurt way more. So sometimes I get this German illegal cream that numbs the shit out of it.
For how long because we have one in the UK that only lasts for 30 minutes?
This is the real shit. I did my whole leg and fell asleep. But my fingers, and my most recent tatts, I didn’t use it for them. But if I do a big piece, I use the cream.
I’ve got this cream because after I stopped sipping lean, tattoos started hurting a bit more because the opioids start f**king up your s**t. So when you do painkillers and go back to having tattoos done, they hurt way more.
I know most people ask you about the Lord Finesse lawsuit. I don’t want to know about the settlement or the specifics. I’d like to know how it felt for you, as a hip-hop fan, to have one of the original artists from rap’s golden era come at you when all you were doing was paying homage?
You know what I was saying about the fan and meeting people thing? Yeah. You know what? It’s not even that serious. It was a little bit like, well it hurt a little because I was like, “I’ve spent years trying to educate the youth about what you’ve contributed to hip-hop. You especially. You brought in the person that made me start rapping.” I even wore a Big L R.I.P. t-shirt in the video. I’ve done nothing but...I don’t know.
I think legally I’m not allowed to say anything bad about him but I don’t even have anything bad to say about him. We’re cool. We shook hands after. I don’t fuck with his lawyer. His lawyer is a piece of shit. You know how it is. Honestly, I might do the same thing if in 30 years some fucking white kid comes and more views on my shit than I do. It’s cool. I’ve since talked to him and we both feel the same way and we’re glad that we’ve moved on. I’m still OK. I’m not broke, he’s not broke, and I’m surviving.
You had a mixtape called Best Day Ever. Since blowing up, having two albums, and a TV series, has your own personal best day ever changed?
I think those days [mentioned on the record] still are the best days ever. I don’t think it’s gotten much better than that. It’s different. At that point it was like anything was incredible, which was why the music was what the music was, because I was like, “Oh shit!” It’s like losing your virginity. The whole time you’re like, “This is fucking crazy.” Then after having sex a lot more you’re kinda just in there. It’s just different.
The best day ever will always be that moment where you go on UStream and 15,000 kids come for the first time and you’re like, “Holy shit I’m somebody to someone.” Now it’s more about me pushing myself to make good music. It’s not like a big check, let’s celebrate. It’s like, “I have to put this away for taxes, save this for my house, give that to my mom.”