The first thing you notice about 03 Greedo when he walks into a room is the face tattoo: “Living Legend,” in a cursive script, one word on each cheek. The second thing you notice is his voice. It’s high-pitched, quick to laughter, with a nasal tone. It’s different than what you hear on record—Greedo’s voice is typically shrouded in shades of AutoTune ranging from Lil Wayne-esque light melodic texturing to deteriorating robotic wails—but he’s a poetic speaker, in keeping with his stream-of-consciousness flows.
03 Greedo has a new project, The Wolf of Grape Street, out today, and like many rappers with a record to promote, he stopped by the Complex offices. Unlike most artists selling a new project, though, he declined to play any of it. Instead, he played songs from his next project, currently titled God Level, and stated plainly that he had much more music ready to go. Greedo’s a prodigiously prolific rapper, with a catalog that’s already ballooning into an intimidatingly large collection, and a stated ambition to flood the market a la mid-2000s Wayne. Aiding the output is his versatility—Greedo operates in several different modes: hardened street rapper, spacey experimentalist, straight-up R&B singer. Each, somehow, has worked for him thus far.
Below is The Wolf of Grape Street, followed by our conversation.
Starting from the beginning, you’re from L.A.—
No I'm not.
Where are you from?
I was born in Los Angeles Hospital, but I'm from Watts. L.A. is more like the culture that you see in movies like Boys In Da Hood, but I'm the guy from where they shot Menace II Society.
What's it like growing up in Watts?
Very dangerous, very love-filled, very soulful. It has a fucking energy there that will really inspire you if you're an artist—sometimes the energy is negative and it still inspires you, you know? It's a lot of hatred, it's a lot of murder, it's a lot of fucking betrayal, a lot of crooked cops, bad healthcare. I'm from the bottom of the bottom, I didn't just grow up in one place, I grew up homeless. I was in St. Louis in the trenches, living in the basement in a house made of bricks when my grandpa was alive, when he died I moved to Kansas with the family, Kansas City. Kansas was the most boring part of my life. Sacramento, Compton, Gardena.
A lot of people had that same story where they bounced around. Like, they granny stayed in this hood, they uncle stayed in [a different] hood, they daddy stayed up north. But they don't wanna say it [because] they so much wanna have an image. "This me, day one," you know what I'm saying?
Whatever the case is, Watts was pretty rough and just growing up homeless, period, and just bouncing around was pretty rough. But I got to experience so many different kinds of art, different kinds of women, different kinds of trees I see or buildings I see inspire certain types of music, and just different music, period.
When did you start rapping?
Seventh grade's what, 12? Middle school.
Yeah, middle school. Damn, that's how old my daughter is! Whaaat. That's hard. I'ma tell her that.
Who were your biggest influences when you started?
When I started the Hot Boys was out. battle rap was out heavy, so I started out like a battle rapper and shit, I'm real funny and shit. I'm a class clown.
Lloyd Banks, Fabolous, Boosie a little bit later on. Ludacris was hot then. Once I got older and heard new shit I was like this nigga hella corny, no diss.
Pharrell? Pharrell. Pharrell is fucking walking on water to me. Timbaland at first, but he doesn't consider people who make beats on computers producers. We’re just beatmakers.
Who would you say your favorite rapper is now? Who are your influences now?
I'm the rapper now. I don't really have a lot of influences anymore. A lot of people let me down that I used to be influenced by, so I'll just say my favorite rapper is Lil Boosie, and I don't have any more influences.
People I like to listen to when I'm just writing right now is Kodak Black, Young Nudy. The only nigga I'll give some pub is Nipsey Hussle. He's like a musical mentor to me. PnB Rock and A Boogie are good friends. Other than that, I don't even really get influenced by nobody. I don't wanna say that they're weak and I don't wanna separate myself like, "Oh yeah I don't fuck with them." I'm just doing something a little different, so I don't have time to be influenced by what isn't on this level.
You have a ton of material. If someone hasn't heard you yet, where would you want them to start out?
That might be a hard-ass question. They should follow my Instagram if they wanna hear my music because it'll link you to whatever I have out, songs you haven't heard on the Snap, and then it's always gonna promote what new video or mixtape or album I got coming. Which is like every other day, I drop shit.
Why do you release so much music?
I was supposed to come out when I was 12! I was supposed to come out when Bow Wow came out.
I saw Nip say that same shit—he thought when he was a kid he was coming out. But the only difference between me and a lot of other rappers is that they stay rappers and I wanted to be a rock’n’roll nigga at some point, I wanted to have a band like blink-182 or something. Remember Gym Class Heroes? They were kinda short-lived.
Their lead singer stuck around for a little longer.
They're gone man, they're gone. But the point is, I've had so many different types of artists I wanted to be so I make a lot. I'm what Lil Wayne was trying to do. But he went through those troubles with his labels or whatever, I don't know, I don't know their business. But you remember when he dropped Dedication I and then he didn't let go? Wolf of Grape Street is my Dedication I.
I'm really interested in how you record. You record so much, and everything sounds so different. You mentioned you can record like 20 songs in a night?
Well, I'm cappin’. The most I did was like 16.
16 is still a lot. How do you produce that many songs?
It's not hard, shit. How many sentences you think we just said to each other? All I do is make them rhyme.
I really have a life story. You feel me? And it's fucking extensive. So If I sit there and talk to people, it's gonna be hella boring. But if I tell it on a fucking beat—my whole thing is to be like Nas and Pac without being preachy. No diss.
I really just teach certain values and lessons in my shit. But I put funny shit on top of it, and vulgar shit on top of it, eventually in maybe five years that street music is gonna be over with for me, as far as for my projects. I'll kill it for features, I always will. But what I have to do is larger, like Elvis or Frank Sinatra or Michael Jackson. I have to get to that. I just have a lot on my mind. My manager always laughs at this shit, cause I be spazzing. But I don't mean to. I really want to be a cool ass dude. But I just got a lot of shit to be stressed out about. When I'm in studio I feel like Michael Jordan with his tongue out, you feel me? I can't wait to go throw these points up. I feel like Kobe at that last game. I feel like that. I wish I had longer sessions cause I'd do way more music.
It's very rare that someone comes in to talk to me about a mixtape and says they have another one ready to go after that.
Yeah. When I got signed I had six projects ready. This is the first project that they'll drop. A thousand songs sounds too scary to some people, so I'll say I probably have 10 projects, as far as titles. We got so much music. I love that shit though, it put a smile on my manager’s face, like, "Yeah, this what my boy do."
Once we get the opportunity to drop all that shit, it's not really about the numbers or projects. People know it. That's why these rappers play nice. I'll whoop they ass. They know that they gotta just get down or lay down, I been trolling these people that don't work hard. My [Instagram] Live, my Snap, I've been playing like hundreds of songs in the past month. They’re like, "Man, this nigga! He got a writer, he got a writer." They’re trying to figure it out. Nah, it ain't no games, I'm just that.
Why did you decide to link up with Alamo?
They wanna let me do what I wanna do. There's other people I could have signed to but I wanted to be like one of the standout artists. I like those people over there, the staff. They have a good relationship with my manager. He don't tell me what to do but I trust his vision and his advice as well as our other business partners. Wehave a little crew of people who do management things. Creative directors and shit. And shit, we kinda just roundtable the shit up, group text and shit. Have everybody be on the same page, you know? I'm rocking with it.
What can people expect from the first new project that you have coming out?
It's just the alternate—it's just the complete opposite of the last project I put out. It's not online, but I like that cause it got people searching. It’s First Night Out, my first R&B album. But I didn't know how to clear samples and shit so you know, that headache. But it's hard because when I re-release all the shit that's missing, it'll be like a capsule, and then it'll come out on Christmas and niggas got like six projects like "Ah, I've been missing this shit." I have a Christmas album I was supposed to drop last Christmas—
It has Christmas music but it's not Christmas music—it's just Christmas punchlines and shit. It's got wintery punchlines and shit. My friend that was starring on the tape with me, he got locked up. He finna get out in a few days, so I told them no, wait til next Christmas. So just be ready for a Kanye with an AK, or a fucking Andre 3000 with a million chargers. This shit is finna be tight, just for fun. People that are entertainers are gonna enjoy this to listen to and watch. It's gonna be great.