Florida has been a hotbed for musical talent for quite some time now, and Hotboii is next up from the Sunshine State.
He’s a 20-year-old rapper, but without knowing his age, you might think he’s much older than that. His music details life experiences like being on house arrest, time in jail, and multiple deaths of friends, revealing a perspective on life that’s uncommon from people his age. Hotboii says a lot of his maturing process happened during his time in jail. “That shit slowed me down and showed me the value of life and the value of freedom,” he tells Complex, explaining that he wrote a lot of the songs that landed on his debut mixtape, Kut Da Fan On, while behind bars.
Hotboii represents Florida everywhere he goes. Everything from his hair to his permanent golds is a quintessential Florida look. “I’m proud to be a Florida boy,” he says. “I’m going to put on before anything.”
Being from Florida myself, I’ve heard his music nearly every day since the project dropped in May. People around here have genuine love for him, and I think it has a lot to do with how he comes across as an authentic person in his music. Hotboii’s breakout single “Don’t Need Time” comes from a real place, as he raps about his friend Wolph, who recently passed away. The music video, shot at Wolph’s funeral, has more views than anything he’s released to date.
Lil Baby recently took notice of “Don’t Need Time,” and hopped on a remix in late August. It seems this will be the first of many high-profile releases for Hotboii, since he has now signed a deal with Interscope and is slated to release a new single later this week.
Complex caught up with Hotboii to discuss his past and how it’s brought him to where he is now.
Kut Da Fan On is your first project, but you’ve been rapping since you were 15. Why did it take so long to make your first project?
It took me so long, because when I was in juvenile, I had a couple of cases and charges and shit. They had sent me to a program and I ended up being in there for like two years. Then when I got back out, I was 18. So I went in there when I was 16, and got out when I was 18. I’m 20 right now, so I’ve been out for two years. I was just waiting until I got with the right team and got the right stuff behind me.
On SayCheese, you said when you first got there, there weren’t even radios there. I know a lot of niggas listen to the radio to get their mind right. So when you first got there, how did you stay sane?
Yeah, they didn’t have no radio. They didn’t have no TV. They didn’t have nothing. It was in the country, like in the woods. I kept sane with letters, writing, and stuff like that. I really wasn’t getting letters at first, though. Around the time when we didn’t have nothing, I was writing every day, just writing, writing, writing. But what kept me really sane: I was wilding, fighting and shit, just turning it up. Fuck it, I’m here. That’s how I felt: I’m here, and I’m going to be here for a little minute.
“I’ve experienced a lot, so when I put that sh*t on a beat, you’ve got to feel it.”
Did you ever get to a point where you were like, “Maybe I should chill out”? Because I know on “Goat Talk,” you said, “Crackers froze my time, 8 months my time froze.” Did you get to a point where you were like, “Man, they’re going to keep freezing my time,” so I should chill out?
I had to take my ADHD medicine, my Adderall. I used to take Adderall since I was a jit and shit, but that was the only way I could go through the whole day without having no incidents. But without that, I be bored. Without that, I be like, “Ain’t nothing to do.” I be bored. I be like, “I’m fixing to get into something. I’m fixing to start this. I’m fixing to start this fight. I’m fixing to start a riot. I’m fixing to break the door.” All that.
And then another thing that had me like, “Man, I gotta get out of here,” was seeing all my dogs blow. All my dogs that were out, I’m seeing all them blow. I’m like, “Hell yeah, I’m supposed to be right there, too.” Like, that’s supposed to be me. If they can do it, I know I can do it. I gotta get out of there. I just stayed confident. But that ain’t even last, though. There was one time I was chill for like two months, then turned back up. I was in there for about a year and a half already. I had 24 days left, but I did some dumb shit. I got extended for another six months. That shit hurt me, boy. That shit hurt me.
Would you say that the program matured you at all? Listening to your music, I wouldn’t think you were only 20.
The program definitely matured me. It showed me the value of freedom. It showed me you got to be out here. In there, you can’t do none of this. If you want to be a rapper, you can’t rap in there. You can’t record. You can’t do no videos. You can’t do nothing. You’re just in there. That really made me turn around.
You sound like you’ve lived for damn-near 30 years or some shit, because you’ve got so much life experience. Did you grow up around older people to get all this knowledge?
Yeah. I ain’t going to lie, I have older niggas. I was rolling with my cousin and his friends. Then before that, I went with my big brother and his friends. I ain’t ever had no friends my age. They’ve always been older than me. Even right now, I got older niggas around me. Also, I been through a lot of shit. I’ve experienced a lot, so when I put that shit on a beat, you’ve got to feel it. This ain’t no shit that only I’ve been through. A lot of people have been through this, so I’m going to put it on the track, and they’re going to feel it. They’re going to feel me. You’ve probably been through some shit I've said, too.
For sure. Growing up in Jacksonville, especially where I’m at, ain’t the safest place to be. I’ve always said that hood niggas age faster than everybody else. Do you agree with that?
Yeah. I ain’t going to lie. That jail shit changed me. I’m glad I went to jail, though. I’m happy I went to jail. If I wouldn’t have went to jail then, I probably would be in jail right now. I swear. That shit slowed me down. It showed me the value of life and the value of freedom.
I was looking back at some of your songs, and I saw this freestyle called “16 Freestyle.” You manifested the shit where you were like, “I’m going to blow when I’m 18.” You also said, “I’m going to be off papers at 19.”
Off papers. I swear to God, I got off papers when I was 19, on my birthday. I was in jail. The U.S. Marshals came and got me. They got big ass trucks. They got on motherfucking Army suits and shit. They came with guns and all that, kicked the door in, and came and got me. I think it was like two weeks before my 19th birthday. I had court in April. I bucked. I’m like, “Man, my birthday’s coming up. I know I can stay out until my birthday.”
So my birthday comes, and all this shit is over with. I’m like, “Man, fuck that, I’m bucking.” I ended up bucking, so they caught me two weeks before my 19th birthday. But they couldn’t do nothing. They couldn’t transfer me to Florida before my birthday. On my 19th birthday, they let me out. We was in Atlanta. They had to let me out on my birthday.
One of my favorite songs is “Gram House Blues.” I can see niggas who are locked up listening to that song to get though the day, like, “This is the shit right here.” Was that one of those songs that you knew niggas would vibe with?
I ain’t going to lie, “Gram House Blues,” that’s one of the songs that really touch somebody who’s been in that situation. Because that whole song was based on being in jail. The whole song. I wrote that in jail two years ago. Now I been out two years, and it’s still fye shit. It’s just some shit you can relate to.
A nigga could write a song three years ago, and in 2020, it would be kind of trash. But “Gram House Blues” is still going to hit.
Yeah. You know, it’s crazy, most of those songs on the Kut Da Fan On project, I made them two years ago in my program. I had to wait to do something with it.
I would imagine your mind wouldn’t even be fully clear writing these songs, because you weren’t in a good situation. But now that you’re out, you get money, you’re free, you’re with your homies, and you can see girls now. But you can’t even think right in jail.
I was in that bitch trying to fuck the CO's.
Would you say that you can write more clearly, being outside of jail now?
I don’t write. I don’t write.
Do you freestyle?
Nah. I’m going to tell you why I used to write. I don’t really like saying what I used to do, because it’s like, I got a recipe and I don’t want to give out my recipe. But the only reason I write is to have lyrics. The only reason I freestyle is to have flow. You might not get that. A lot of people might not get that. I write for lyrics. When I was in the program, I used to write for the lyrics, because I didn’t have no beat. When I get out, I freestyle and hear the beat. I do it for the flow, because my flow is so crazy.
I was about to say, you don’t want to read from your phone and it sounds like you’re reading. You would rather it flow off the top of your head.
Nah. I could do that, too. I could read it and flow it, but I would rather freestyle. It’s going to come more natural. Everything that’s going to be on my new mixtape is freestyle. A lot of my shit, I wrote from my last program. You write a hit in jail, and you be like, “Okay, this is a hit. I’m going to hold this.” That’s what I did. I’m going to hold this and I’m going to dish it out when I’m ready. It’s going to be a hit no matter how long I hold it. They ain’t ever heard this, so it’s going to be a hit no matter when they hear it. But nah, I just freestyle.
Did you know that “Don’t Need Time” would be the one when you recorded it?
No. That’s crazy to ask me that question, because I be talking about this all the time. Usually, when I record a song, I put it in my Dropbox. I ain’t going to lie, a couple of my dogs got my Dropbox. So I put a song in my Dropbox and see who plays it, and see what song they’re playing the most. I play the songs a lot, too, but when I made “Don’t Need Time,” I didn’t play it. And nobody else played that song. I was kind of sleep on that song.
But then my dog [Wolph] had his funeral coming up. I made that song a couple of days before the funeral. That’s how I came up with: “This glock look good with every outfit.” I pictured me being in a suit at the funeral with a glock.
But we ain’t never used to play that bitch. Really, I was supposed to shoot “Anonymous” at the funeral. But me and Drew were like, “Nah, that won’t go.” So we went through the Dropbox and saw “Don’t Need Time.” And that song was about Wolph, so we was like, “Eh, we might want to shoot ‘Don’t Need Time.’” I ain't going to lie, that bitch went crazy. I slept on that song. Even though that was my song, I slept on that song.
You said too much real shit in that: “I want to put my nigga on, but he ain’t out yet.” That shit almost made me cry. I had to wipe my eyes a little bit with that shit.
I did say a lot of real shit. I go back and listen to the song, and I be like, damn, how the hell did I make this song? I freestyled that whole song. I was in my feelings, boy.
It’s a good ass song.
What’s your favorite song [of mine]?
A lot of people say that, but I don’t know. That ain’t my favorite song.
That nigga Plies said a hoe will fuck a buster for a bag. Oh my God, nigga, that shit hit me.
I ain’t going to lie, that part do hit me the most, too, though. That hoe will fuck a buster if he had a bag.
What’s your favorite song you’ve made?
It’s “Gram House Blues.” I said too much real shit. If you’ve been in jail before, you can picture this whole thing. You can picture what I'm saying, man. This is what I be knowing. When I hear my song, I can picture this shit like a movie, every bar. I can picture the whole setting. I can picture the whole setting. I know the next one’s going to do that, too.
I got partners locked up and that’s their favorite song. That’s the shit they’re going through.
That’s what they’re going through. That shit real.
How did the “Don't Need Time” remix with Lil Baby happen?
I just woke up one morning, and got a phone call: the Lil Baby video “Don’t Need Time” is tonight. I said, “Okay, fuck it, I’m fixing to go to the mall and get dressed.” But I ain’t going to lie, Baby did his thing on it. I feel like Lil Baby was fucking with it.
Yeah, there’s a lot of niggas who get on remixes and ruin them. He came up and he did his thing.
This is one of my favorite remixes. I ain’t going to say remix. I’m going to say feature. This is one of my favorite features. Out of all the features I done did, this is one of my favorite ones.
Let’s talk about new music. What’s your next album called?
Double O Vision.
How did that come about?
I already got it. It’s done. I’m working on my next one after that right now. Got to stay ahead.
Are you feeling better about this than you did Kut Da Fan On?
Kut Da Fan On, I was really in album mode. It’s like okay, every song you make right now got to be based off your story. You got to let these folks feel you on every song. I ain’t going to lie, when I dropped that, I didn’t think it was going to hit the charts or anything it was going to do, man. Because that’s my first one. I didn’t think it was going to get that big or crazy. It'’ still on charts right now to this day.
What’s the next thing you’re planning on dropping?
Really, I’m still doing videos for Kut Da Fan On. I got some shit for y’all. I got a video with Plies about to come up. Speaking of “Noun,” we fixing to do the video soon. I can’t fill these folks in too much now, though. The video’s coming soon.
Double O Vision coming soon. I need ya’ll folk to go fuck with that. This Double O Vision, this is an album. It’s not a mixtape. It’s an album, so this shit is crazy. Y’all going to feel me on it. Anybody who’s sleeping on me, I’m fixing to wake y’all up. I’m going to turn the city up.
Personally, I need you and Rod Wave to lock in real soon.
Nah, that’s going to happen for sure. That’s going to happen. Ain’t no rush, but that shit’s going to happen.
Y’all are two of the hottest out of Florida, man. Talk about growing up in Florida, for people who have never been here, or they just went to Orlando to go to Disney World or some shit.
See, people who have never been to Orlando, they think everything is based off Disney World. They don’t know that Disney World is in Kissimmee, a whole other city. That’s not Orlando. So when they come to Orlando, they’re thinking shit sweet. That’s how shit be happening. That’s really what that is. But Orlando, we got tourists or whatnot. We got our little shit going on. But you still got the hood side. The hood side, where there is no Disney. That’s where I think people fuck up at. But, the hood niggas, they know. They know.
I’m curious how Orlando niggas look at Plies. Because when Plies hit in Jacksonville, niggas were going crazy. Did Plies hit Orlando the same in his prime?
I’m not going to lie, when Plies hit his prime, he hit Orlando hard, but around that time, I was like seven years old. So that was 2007. My auntie, my momma, and I was like, “Man, everybody playing that. Everybody.” That wasn’t my time. I couldn’t even understand the meaning of music back then. I’m seven years old, you feel me? So at this point, I’m just listening. I’m just saying the words. I don’t know nothing. I don’t know the meaning to nothing at that point. Plies wasn’t in my era though.
Who did you grow up on?
Lil Wayne. Wayne all the way. My first favorite rapper was Lil Wayne, then my second favorite rapper was Rich Homie Quan. But I was like 12 or 13. At the time, they were my favorite rappers, and I'm writing. In my phone, I’m writing. Then, after Rich Homie Quan, that was—
That was like 2012.
Yeah, 2012. Then, after that, it was Kodak Black. Kodak took over like 2015, 2016. Then, after that, it was Lil Baby. So that was about four? Lil Wayne, Rich Homie, Kodak, Lil Baby.
I feel like niggas who are not from Florida don’t understand how crazy Kodak was. Because that was one of the niggas around our age to come out and embody what Florida was to us.
Bro, he came out and put a whole different meaning to Florida niggas. He put a whole different meaning. I’m not even going to cap, though. He paved the way for a lot of Florida rappers. He paved the way for me. He paved the way for—I’m not going to say all—but a lot of Florida rappers. He put Florida on the map, the meaning of Florida niggas. That man went crazy.
He took it mainstream. Nobody was taking Florida culture mainstream. But this nigga was on TV wearing Sperrys and eating crabs and shit. Everyone was like, “Man, this a real Florida nigga right there.” I feel like you have that embodiment of a real Florida nigga. That’s why I connect with you so much, and that’s why I feel a lot of other people connect with you.
My presentation is just Florida. I can go anywhere, and they’re going to say, “You from Florida?” I swear to God. Everywhere. Because of my hair, because of my clothing, and all this. The way I talk, they’re just like, “Oh, you from Florida.”
Is that something you enjoy? Or is it something you want to get away from?
It’s something I’m proud of. I’m proud to be a Florida boy. I’m going to put on before anything. Because how Florida is rapping-wise or artist-wise, everybody’s beefing. Everybody’s beefing, and that’s not going to bring Florida up. I’m not going to lie, I do this shit. I’m a Florida boy. I’m 100k, though. 4Trey, easy. But I’m a Florida boy. That's what I represent anywhere I go. Everybody going to know that.
I see you got the chains. What is that? That’s a Rollie?
That’s a Rollie. A bust down Cuban, you feel me?
One thing I respect, you make sure your niggas eat. You got 438 Tok with you. You got Rico Cartel with you. You got other niggas with you. You got songs with Poody on here. You really help put your niggas on.
Most definitely. Because, God forbid, let’s say I fall. What am I going to lean on? You got to have niggas that’s lined up in position, in case. You feel me? God forbid, but in case. You got to have niggas lined up.