Even during the Midtown Manhattan lunch rush, it’s impossible to miss the Ferragamo Falcon.

Wearing one of his signature durags, I run into Guapdad 4000 as he's posted up with his manager at a corner table of a Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine, a surreal coincidence given that I spent that very morning showing his L.A. Leakers freestyle to anyone who would listen and I was literally listening to his mission statement track “Freeband Phoenix” as I spotted him. Breaking New York protocol around spotting a celebrity, I did what Guapdad has been doing his whole career and took advantage of opportunity, perfect timing, and a little gall, which ultimately led to this interview.

Guapdad, who hails from Oakland, CA, is used to parlaying one opportunity into another. He turned local notoriety as a party organizer into social media fame into a music career. As society became fascinated with scammers, Guapdad offered both funny and frank bars from his own experiences swiping credit cards and moving designer goods. His December 2017 mixtape, Scamboy Color, showcases his innate charisma and songwriting abilities, buoyed by melodic tracks like “Everything” and “On My Way to Nordstroms.”

After a quiet 2018, Guapdad has been very visible this year, earning an invite to Dreamville’s Revenge of the Dreamers III sessions in Atlanta and appearing on three tracks from the compilation project. Few rising artists who were invited to the Dreamville camp have used it as a springboard as well as Guapdad, whether that comes in the form of teasing fans about what went on behind the scenes to throwing friendly jabs at some of the other invitees. He’s also released a string of his own solo singles, most recently the Mozzy-assisted “Scammin.”

Even when it seems like he’s losing, Guapdad manages to finesse the situation, as was the case when he lost a high-profile NBA Finals bet with Drake. Sure, he had to stand on the Bay Bridge in a dinosaur costume, but he used that as a means to promote his single “Flossin,” as well as its extremely NSFW video, which now sits at more than 1.3 million YouTube views.

“I've been the controversial n***a all my life,” he says. “I like that. I like attention. I'm a Leo, and I'm handsome. But I like attention. I don't care if it's good or bad, to be honest. As long as I'm sound in my decision that I made, I don't give a fuck how people feel about it.”

A few days after ROTD3 was released, Complex spoke with Guapdad about how fan favorites like “Costa Rica” and “Wells Fargo” came together, his long-gestating project Dior Deposits, and his problem with the phrase “clout chasing.”

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Photo by Paul Middleton

Where is your head at these days? ROTD3 has been a commercial and critical success, and you’re all over it.
It feels good to be on the album, especially one that’s doing so well, and the recognition is great. It's what I wanted from it. It's more than I expected, on both sides. I'm getting hate and shit, too, and I'm also welcoming that. I've been waiting to get hated on for a while, so I'm fucking with it. Does it put me in a different place mentally? No, not really. I just want to do it again.

In your verse on Buddy’s “Shameless,” you say, “I ain’t wanna be a rapper” and “I ain’t wanna be famous.” Has your stance on either of those statements changed now that you’re getting mainstream looks?
It's cool, because that's what I wanted. At the start of New Year's, I remember I was talking to Preme on Instagram, Drake's boy, Preme. And he asked what I wanted out of the year. I said, “recognition,” and I got that.

I've Been the Controversial N***a All My Life. I like that. I like attention.

You and Yung Baby Tate are doing a great job of seizing your moment and newfound exposure after the ROTD3 sessions.
Yeah, because Tate's a person like me, who can produce her own shit, has full control of how she looks, how her sound is, and how she wants to be perceived. And she's also pretty foul at the mouth. We're just in a similar pocket. I feel like we kind of needed that, because she's looked at as such a do-it-yourself type bitch. People might try to take away from that, and try to take away from your legitimacy as a mainstream professional.

You were known for throwing parties and your social media before you really were rapping seriously. Other artists try to parlay music success into other avenues later, but you did the opposite.
[What I’m doing] is probably more difficult than the latter.

I’d agree. Getting taken seriously when you don’t begin your career as a rapper isn’t easy.
I knew it would take time, and I can't say that I've completely masterminded how I was going to break from one position to another, and just run with the duality of being a personality and an artist. But, I did sit down, me and my manager, and plan for it: to plan to be prepared for when it did happen.

What was it that you and he discussed? How to handle backlash?
Not even. I've been the controversial n***a all my life. I like that. I like attention. I'm a Leo, and I'm handsome. But I like attention. I don't care if it's good or bad, to be honest. As long as I'm sound in my decision that I made, I don't give a fuck how people feel about it. So, that wasn't it. It was more just saying no. I've said no to a lot of things over time. A lot of those things could have made me a lot more money, but they would have put me in different positions that could have skewed the perspective of the duality that I’m trying to build, and have [my career] be really one-sided as a personality or an entertainer. I didn't want to be a sensation until after music was super popping. Then I'd say yes to more TV shit, photo shoots, and certain brands.

You’ve been pretty conservative with releasing music lately and only dropped a handful of singles between 2018 and now. What was the intent behind that decision?
All the songs that I dropped last year, if you listen to them in a row, they're all pretty different. Just like the loosies that I was putting up on SoundCloud and shit. And I was doing it on purpose, because I really wanted to get people used to me doing anything. I was doing so much. And it's all just been a warmup for Dior Deposits. I'm rapping, I'm singing, I'm yelling, I'm falsetto, I'm doing everything.

I'm a Leo, and I'm handsome.

You’re definitely doing a few of those on “Wells Fargo,” which seems to be one of the ROTD3 songs people are really digging. How did that song come to exist?
“Wells Fargo” was crazy. We were out there in Bas’ big room. Or maybe we were upstairs. I don't remember where we were coming from, because I was drunk as fuck. But we were coming from another room, we walked in, and they was working on the beat. We was like, “Yo, what the fuck is this? This shit sounds crazy.” We were in there for literally 20 seconds, and Buddy had already freestyled four bars. Everybody started writing verses, and then Buddy was about to go cut his verse. J.I.D was like, “Man, I got this melody.” [Sings the hook]. The first line, I think he said, was, “Carload.” I said, “That sounds like Wells Fargo.”

Then we just all wrote the lines, one by one, as a group. Right there, in front of each other's face, with all this energy, in like two minutes. We were like, “We need to put this together. Let's go scream it together.” We had already done that with “Oh Wow.” So, we already had the go-in-the-booth-together energy, and this time we had this fast paced-ass song. So, it was like, “Fuck. Let's just go scream it in the booth.”

We was already drunk, talking like British dudes all day. And the song started, and J.I.D just whipped out the accent again. I was like, “Alright, it's time.” We just did our banter, and then started the fucking hook. We were just screaming it. We were making such a commotion, coming out and listening to it, that everybody that was at Tree Sound on the last day of recording just came into the room one by one. Somebody text Cole like, “Bro, you've got to come see what these dudes are doing. They're in here spazzing.”

What did he say when he showed up?
We didn't even notice Cole. I walked out, he was outside, and I'm like, “Shit, Cole in here.” He was like, “What the fuck is this?” They didn't get it. When we were in the booth, nobody got it until we came out and played it loud on the speakers. Everybody was blown away. 

“Costa Rica” has a similar energy and camaraderie, but it's a little more structured. Did that song come together in a similar way?
It was the same. That was like the day before. I was separating my days. The first day I came in hot. I'm like, “I'm rapping on everything. Everything that I got a verse, I'm rapping on. Period.” Then, after that, I said, “I'm only going to do hooks. That's it.” That was like “Don't Hit Me Right Now,” “Costa Rica,” and another one that Bas is about to drop with me and him, Buddy, and Dreezy. And another one that Ari [Lennox] has, I believe.

You’re showing your musical range, but if I’m not mistaken, you also have some artistic interests outside of hip-hop.
I posted a sketch I did that I wasn't even going to post on the internet. And we're all in the “Rap Camp” group chat, like everybody. All the tight guys from Atlanta. I'm just like, “Yo, I drew this up this morning. Was thinking about y'all.” And they was like, “Post this bro, we'll go comment on it. Post it, people got to know you're an artist too.”

Did you do all those little illustrations that came out on social media before the album dropped?
Nah, and I'm mad. [Laughs]. I texted Cole. I was like, “N***a, you know I draw. If you paid somebody to do that, you should have given me that chance.” And he laughed, and you know, he took it too serious. He was like, “Man. I would have loved to, but I got a graphics guy. That'd be disrespectful to the team.” I'm like, “Bro, I was just playing. Of course, if you want to give me some money to do some art, I'm going to do it. But, I'm just trolling.”

Cole has definitely had a self-serious reputation, but I feel like that’s changing with projects like this and some of his recent guest verses.
Cole’s in the process of what I feel like is one of the most successful rebrands of someone who’s supposed to be a pure rap dude into being a cool guy with the youth. Because, regardless whether you fucked with Cole or not, he's in your mind in the top five. You would put him in the top crop of current rappers.

On Sway in the Morning, you mentioned that you don’t like the term “clout chasing.” Can you expand on that?
It's just an interesting debate. I definitely see the other side of it. To a purist, to an old head, to somebody who looks at stuff conventionally, then you would stray away from [clout chasing]. Those are the same people who wouldn't have somebody writing your verses, only help with hooks, and top-line, if you want to be a real MC.

I feel like it's parallel to that same mentality, especially with the emergence of SoundCloud, and that whole genre in Florida that came from that. It got a bad stigma on it, but it's not [actually bad]. Like, Eminem showing up to an awards show with everybody dressed up like him, that's like a clout move. When n****s dye their hair, when people hit the red carpet and they dress a certain way, like Cee-Lo. That's a clout move.

But nobody is looking at it like that. Only when the young dudes do it, “Oh, he's clout chasing.” Or, because the internet is so easy to take from somebody's moment, or spotlight, when you're doing it in a disrespectful manner, that also gets looped into clout cashing. And that's a negative thing. So the whole thing has a negative connotation, but that's not what it is. Clout chasing becomes so insufferable when there's no substance behind the music. It's like, “All right, well you're hella weak. Nobody wants to hear that shit.”

You’re well-connected with A-listers like Drake, but you seem to be prioritizing building on your own and preserving those genuine friendships. Is that a fair description of your attitude towards co-signs?
I'm a real n***a, and I've always had money and bitches. I conduct myself like a person who did that, who don't got my feelings into this, and I already know what it is. I appreciate every favor, but at the same time, I'm not asking n****s for favors. If I wanted n****s to do favors, I would try to get them on the biggest song I do, and be a soft-ticket selling artists, and be in the club as much as possible, and move that way. But that's not what I want to do. I want to play the empty rooms with 15 dudes in there, win those people over, try to sell one hoodie, and keep it moving until I'm playing for thousands. It's better that way with everything, so when it comes to my relationships, I don't want to ask nobody for no favor or nothing. 

If you fuck with the song that I send you, get on it. And if not, then give me feedback. And even if not, we're still going to kick it the same way. I'm going to still come over, and we can fuck bitches, talk, chill, drink champagne. I'd probably drink all of his champagne if it's Drake.

With the Drake bet thing, when press started hitting me up about it, I just made sure they knew that it was just a moment. This was a friend, we had a bet, that was it.

Scam rap has never been more popular, and the main exporters of it right now seem to be Detroit and the Bay Area. Those two cities have a long interconnected musical history, so I’m curious what you think of the Detroit scene and the proliferation of rapper-scammers?
I fuck with Detroit. I fuck with Sada Baby. I was a Doughboyz Cashout fan a couple years back. So for me, I'm cool. I'm happy with it. I'm happy that other people are hopping on the narrative. I feel like Detroit has such a specific narrative and sound, that somebody needed to be the bigger face, and I was kind of already doing beats [like them] before I got put on with the whole Detroit shit. So, for me, it's cool. I fuck with it. And I welcome it. I want to work with Detroit people.

The Bay and Detroit really go hand in hand, in terms of our culture. Them n****s do what we be doing, and we do what they be doing, now that they start coming to Oakland and tapping in. I fuck with that.

Some artists would be less secure about something like this. They would be vocal about how essential they are to scam rap in order to get more recognition. You seem more confident in your position within this microgenre.
I'm going to still be that n***a. If anything, my little brother who was rapping before me, when I started to make this our narrative, he was like, “This is our thing.” He's the only person I'm worried about getting his recognition. Because he's been with me through the whole thing. My little brother, Jigga Juice. As soon as I'm able to put him in the position to have a platform, to where he can speak his message to, then we're going to be out there.