Waka Flocka Flame’s music is rumbling the studio walls. If this were at a concert or a festival environment, the fans would be going crazy and losing their shit. But in a professional setting like Blast Off Studios on a Tuesday afternoon, where Waka’s been holed up with his publicists since this morning previewing his album to selected media outlets, the sleepiest member of his entourage on the couch hasn’t even woken up yet. Most of them tucked in the small lounge are distracted by an old episode of Ink Master anyway, which involves tattoo artists tackling a 4-on-1 animal skin challenge.
But that’s not to say Waka’s music is dull. Just from hearing bits and pieces, you could easily describe it in just two words: aggressive and rowdy, or psychotic and extreme, or booming and electric. It’s been the 29-year-old Atlanta rapper’s shtick ever since his debut, Flockaveli, in 2010. Sure, Waka’s been experimenting with EDM and made a name for himself in that scene, but trap hop has always been his thing. It’s helped usher in a new wave of street rappers, all created under his influence.
In regards to Flockaveli 2, though, the excitement has been on a similar course as Game’s Documentary 2; the frequent delays have made fans a little agitated. Originally scheduled for an Oct. 5, 2013, release date, the album got pushed back several times throughout 2014. Waka then landed on a seemingly solid date of June 1, 2015, the birthday of his late brother Kayo Redd. But in April, Waka called out Atlantic Records on Twitter for holding Flockaveli 2 back, and June 1 came and went. It wasn’t until this week that Waka revealed that Flockaveli 2 will be slated to come in December, sometime around Christmas.
Despite Waka’s frustrations, “Workin’”, a promotional Flockaveli 2 single to “flame shit up,” as he says, has been making its rounds online with an official video to drop next week, another piece in the rollout of his upcoming studio effort.
“[The release date] was June, but this three-month tour popped up,” he says. “And then we was marketing Southside at the time, our whole [Brick Squad Monopoly] company. We was pushing Southside, our artist, as a producer though. I’ve never seen Southside at the levels he’s at right now, just working. Every time I call him, ‘Yo, I’m in L.A. I ain’t leaving.’ ‘Yo, bruh, I’m in here.’ [He’s like,] ‘I ain’t leaving.’ So I love it. I can’t do nothing but stop my career and get behind it.”
Waka knows that his core producers will return the favor. He’s linked up with 808 Mafia, Southside, DJ Spinz, Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E., and Rico Love to handle the production. He’s also signed on Southside as the executive producer. “I let my team do the album,” Waka says. “I just put the bread in the pudding.”
Waka has recorded over 30 tracks for Flockaveli 2, but he plays about 12 records (some in full, some midway) that may make the final cut during this session. He cues up “M.O.N.E.Y.” from his MacBook, a harrowing anthem about selling packs and getting dough, which transitions to the energetic “Rap Fucked Up.” 808 Mafia supplies another chaotic song, “No Lie,” that is almost a variation of “Why You Lying”’s hilarious bluntness. Don’t try to fake stunt on Waka. “Your bitch is basic, but you think she’s foreign,” he raps.
Even if there’s a five-year difference between Flockaveli and Flockaveli 2, Waka isn’t throwing you any curveballs. If you’ve been fucking with Waka since his first mixtape, Salute Me or Shoot Me, you’ll find that many of the records are in that vein—just enough explosiveness for you to shake dem dreads again. “This ain’t for the charts. This is for the people,” he says. “It’s kinda what I do all the time. I never go for charts. I just stick to the people. At the end of the day, I just want to stick to the people who made me who I am. The folks, the fans, the people.”
Was it his choice to keep it street? “Fuck yeah, that’s my decision all the way,” he says. “They want me to do the commercial [route] and link with this new guy ’cause he’s hot. They hot, they grew up on my shit. I’m not excited. I love the new guys’ music though. The Fetty Waps. The Travi$ Scotts. The Rae Sremmurds. I love them.”
Waka continues running through more potent bangers. He’s gotten up from his chair, dancing a bit and rapping along to his lyrics while posing for an impromptu photoshoot taking place in the studio. “Shorthanded,” which Waka relates to “the wild shit” found on “Fuck the Club Up,” is a hard-hitting track that could cause some problems. He later plays “What’s Happening,” produced by Rico Love and featuring French Montana, who originally appeared on Flockaveli’s posse cut “TTG (Trained to Go).” While he explicitly tells us that none of these are made for radio, the song sounds polished enough to get some shine on the charts.
There are a handful of records (“Matching Rolexes” and “Birthday”) that tap into a particular concept of living lavishly or staying turned up. At the same time, Waka is a voice for people who have dealt with struggles in their lives and look to him for inspiration. One of his favorite songs at the moment is “How I Feel.” Behind a bombastic backdrop, Waka is spilling out painful memories about his past, rapping about seeing his younger brother Rahleek’s death done by a drunk driver and his father, a Muslim, who was rumored to have died of HIV when Waka was a child.
Even when he’s dealing with heavy subject matter, Waka is quick to brush it off. He tells everyone in the room that he’s graduated from the pain and is not looking to dig into his past. Waka, whose charismatic personality still lights up the room, promises Flockaveli 2 will come out this year (“I might do a release the same night I do a free concert”), but also teases that Turn Up God, his EDM album, will release at the top of 2016. As someone who is juggling tour life, recording new music, and spending time with his wife, Tammy Rivera, Waka’s abundance of songs proves that he’s working hard to finally put out the album his fans have been waiting for.
“I got another album after this and another one,” he says. “I’m ready.”