Timing is everything.

20-year-old Dallas rapper Lil Loaded was ready to upload the second song he’s ever made to YouTube, but his cameraman’s computer broke. So he had to wait two more weeks. Then, life got in the way and he had to wait even longer, finally uploading it late at night on July 26.

Moments after he uploaded the “6locc 6a6y” video, a popular YouTuber named Tommy Craze happened to be filming the second episode of his new series, Reacting To Music Videos With 0 VIEWS! The concept is simple: Tommy goes on YouTube, types in the words “music video,” sorts by most recently uploaded, and reacts to new videos from unknown artists that have no views.

While filming the episode, Tommy Craze stumbled on Lil Loaded’s “6locc 6a6y” video, which had been uploaded 54 minutes before, and had only one view. Immediately, he was blown away by Loaded’s menacing flow and the raw aesthetic of the music video, which showed the young rapper and his friends flexing cash and handguns in a Dallas neighborhood.

“That was a wild day,” Loaded tells Complex, remembering the video shoot. “During the video, fights was breaking out and shit. You feel it. You feel the real energy. That’s really what was going on. That was a regular day in the hood.”

Tommy Craze wasn’t the only one who was impressed with what he saw. By the next morning, Lil Loaded woke up and checked the analytics on his music video: 45,000 views. From there, everything snowballed. Labels started calling, other rappers began shouting him out, and view counts exploded. (By the time of this writing, “6locc 6a6y” has ten million views on YouTube.)

Wisely, Loaded put his head down and kept making music. Proving he’s no fluke, he followed “6locc 6a6y” up with other songs like the hard-hitting “Gang Unit” and the melodic “Out My Body,” which each racked up millions of plays, and showed his stylistic diversity. Loaded, who says he grew up listening to Chief Keef, Rich Homie Quan, Michael Jackson, says he wants to make all different kinds of music. For now, the sense of urgency that sits at the core of each of his songs is attracting the attention of a ballooning fan base.

After his breakout year in 2019, which also included the release of his debut project, 6locc 6a6y, Lil Loaded is staying focused. He says he has another mixtape on the way, as well as more shows. Complex caught up with Loaded at our Midtown Manhattan office the night before his very first show. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.

YouTube has been an important part of your rise. That’s where you found the beat for “6locc 6a6y,” right?
Yeah, I needed a beat because I was going to the studio. I usually search for Lil Baby [type] beats because I like the melodies, but an NLE Choppa type beat was in the recommended [tab]. When I clicked on it, the bass went crazy, but I still heard the melody in the back, so I could flow on it how I wanted to. It was produced by Tommy Franco.

Is that how you still find beats now?
I work with producers, and I use YouTube. If I hear beat and it’s hard, I’m going to try to get it. That’s just how I work. It could be in my DMs or anything. If I like it, I’m going to try to go get it.

What do you look for when you’re picking beats?
I like bass. I like when the bass hit, but it also has a melody in it.

YouTube has also been an important way for people to find you. I know “6locc 6a6y” first blew up after Tommy Craze reacted to it. How did that go down?
Shout out to Tommy Craze. That’s my dude. He’s a genuine dude. But I was supposed to drop “6locc 6a6y” two weeks before. My cameraman’s computer went down, though, so I had to wait two weeks. Then we were finally supposed to upload it in the morning, but he had something else he was doing. We ended up uploading it at night, and like an hour later, Tommy Craze reacted to it. It had no views because it had just dropped. But he reacted to, and by the morning, it had like 45,000 views.

That was your first song to blow up, but how long had you been putting out music before that?
Now, all together I’ve been rapping for eight months. “6locc 6a6y” was my second song. My first song was “B.O.S.” which came out a month before “6locc 6a6y.”

Why do you think you do so well on YouTube?
Personally, I was just a YouTube person before I actually started rapping. I go to YouTube and listen to music. That’s just where I uploaded my music. I didn’t upload it anywhere else at first. They had to go to YouTube to listen to it.

I think part of the reason that “6locc 6a6y” connected with people so well is because of the music video. You can tell it’s very real. What was that day like?
That was crazy a crazy day. There were fights happening during the video shoot and a whole bunch of stuff happened after. That was a wild day. During the video, fights was breaking out and shit. You feel it. You feel the real energy. That’s really what was going on. That was a regular day in the hood.

“People called me Lil Loaded for the longest. I mean sh*t, I used to go to the basketball court with a pistol in my backpack.”

Is that raw feeling something that you’ll try to hold onto, even when the budgets get bigger for videos?
Yeah. I still live the same way. I didn’t really change up nothing. I move smarter now, but that’s about it. I still eat the same thing, and I still do the same stuff every day. I feel like the same person.

Can you talk about growing up in California and moving to Dallas?
I went to elementary school in California, then moved to Dallas when I was like 10.

How did growing up in Dallas shape you as an artist and as a person?
I was back and forth, really. I would go back to California for the summer, and then come back. I feel like I got my own sound because of that. I’ve got a Southern drawl, but you can tell I’ve got a West Coast vibe to me.

What artists were you listening to when you were growing up?
I listen to a lot of people. Like, Chief Keef and Rich Homie Quan. Michael Jackson’s a big one. To me, he started the whole rapping and singing at the same time. I feel like he invented that. Lyfe Jennings. That’s who Rod Wave reminds me of. And stuff my mom used to listen to, I liked it. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Snoop Dogg, Tupac. I listened to a lot of the greats growing up.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it before?
I would say, go listen to me and find out, because I make all types of music. They might click on one song and think I make one type of music. Then they’ll click on another song and it’ll be something totally different. You’ve just got to go hear for yourself.

Where did the name Lil Loaded come from?
People called me Lil Loaded for the longest. I mean shit, I used to go to the basketball court with a pistol in my backpack. They always called me Lil Loaded. I used to go to football practice loaded, on God. They was like, “That nigga look high.” And James was like, “Nah, man, that’s Lil Loaded.” On God, that shit was funny. That shit killed me, on God. That’s what everybody called me.

There’s a theme in the comments on all your videos: Your fans want to see a Lil Loaded and NLE Choppa collab. Is that something you want to do? Have you talked with him?
Yeah, for sure. Me and Choppa are cool. That”s my dog. A lot of stuff is in store in the future.

You’ve already made music with different styles. There’s hard-hitting drill stuff like “6locc 6a6y.” But there’s also more melodic stuff like “Out My Body.” When you’re in the studio now, what types of songs are you trying to make?
When I go in the studio and work, I’m not going to let it come out if it’s a bad song. I’ll have the whole thing erased. When I play with styles, it’s just how the beat goes. I rap to the beat. I don’t have a style, I feel like. I just rap to the beat, and it always fits for me.

What’s your favorite kind of song to make?
I don't have a favorite type. I just love making music. The beat really sets the mood for me. Once I hear the beat, it just comes. I freestyle everything, too.

What’s the energy like in the studio when you’re making songs? Is there a party atmosphere or are you more serious and focused?
It’s in the middle with me. I be in the studio smoking and stuff, and then when they play a beat for me, I might just freestyle to it. And then I smoke and go in the booth and freestyle it.

I know you’ve only been releasing songs for 8 months, but have you learned things yet? Have you picked up new tricks?
Hell yeah. When I do my doubles on my songs, I can make it sound how I want to on the double, and stretch it out if I want to kind of add a “hmmmm.” It makes it sound exactly how I want. When I was first making music, it was kind of an idea, but I couldn’t do it exactly how I wanted. I didn’t know how to. Now I do.

You often say that “6locc 6a6y” is more than a song. It’s a way of life. What do you mean by that?
I’ve been on the block since I was little. I’m the block baby. That’s why everybody loved me. When you grow up, and you’re really out there, you get a certain type of love. That’s just what it is.

You say you’ve been shot lots of times. You even got hit in your hand once. How recently have you had to deal with stuff like that?
No comment.

Now that you’re getting money and success, are you worried about dangers like that? Are you trying to distance yourself from that?
I make music. I mean, things happen. But I make music.

What kind of music are you working on now?
I’m making all types of music. I just want everybody to have something they can enjoy from me. I feel like I’ve got that talent where I can be able to do that. I want to show people I can do it.

Now that more people are listening, do expectations ever weigh you down?
Honestly it don’t matter to me, because I make music that I like to listen to. My music is music that I want to hear. That’s what I listen to when I’m in the car. As long as I like it, it’s good. If other people like it, that’s great.

You had a crazy end to 2019. What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2020?
I want to be a rock star. I want to be able to go to shows and start mosh pits. I want to have people going crazy. I want to crowd surf and have fun with people. I just want to turn up. 2019 was a big year for me. I was only rapping for five months out of the year and I had 3.4 million Spotify streams. That was a huge year for me. And I just feel like I want to keep progressing. I always tell my managers, I feel like I’m stuck in the same spot sometimes, and I might just not have nothing going on music wise for two days.

It’s all happening so fast.
Yeah. For two days I might just be chilling, and I have to catch myself. Like, “You got to chill. Everything's going to fall in place.” I just want to be as big as I can.

You’re playing your first major show tonight after this interview. What do you hope for tonight?
This is going to be a good show for me. I’m going to get as high as I can, hop on stage, and just turn everybody up. I want everybody to collect my energy. Once they collect it, that’s all. You’re going to see what happen from there.

We just talked about goals for 2020. But what are your biggest goals for your career in general?
I want to look 15 years from now and say I’m still rapping and I’m still doing my shit. That’s what I want to do. I don’t see myself retiring in six years, 10 years. In 15 years, I want to still be doing it. Still dropping great consistent music.

What would you say is the most important thing for people to know about Lil Loaded right now?
I’m the block baby. I’m genuine. That’s me in everything I do.

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