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After meeting Lil Silk in the Little Five Points section of Atlanta, we head downtown to the apartment of Personal Trainer DJ, a producer Silk has worked with on several records. As Silk sits back on a couch, his demeanor is inviting. He answers quickly and with confidence, as you’d expect from a 19-year-old rapper who’s on the verge of big things.
Silk’s song “Rapper” has gone semi-viral online, and it’s still spreading. As hip-hop moves in new directions and Atlanta continues to dominate with street-oriented hip-hop and off-kilter personalities, Lil Silk might just be the next to blow.
What’s your earliest memory of music?
Who do you make music for?
I make music for myself. I say what I want to say and I put it out. I don’t care.
Looking back on your first project, how are you approaching your next effort?
There was a lot of shit I did wrong with the first one. I don’t want to shed any light on it because I don’t want people to be like, “Damn, he did do that, I don’t like it no more.” So I’m going to let them like it but I personally know what I did wrong. The first mixtape was just like me doing my crazy ad-libs just letting people know my style. So this next one is going to be my style on 100, it’s just going to be a lot more clever. It’s a lot of shit that’s going to be unexpected.
What producers or artists would you work with if you could work with anyone?
I don’t know. I’m at the point where I just want to work. it don’t matter. I don’t give a fuck. I want to work with Nicki Minaj though.
How was SXSW when you went?
Shit was fun. It was my first time. I was even considering even going. I met a lot of fucking people. That’s when I realized I was really in the rap game. Motherfuckers there that I know and that I listen to would come up to say what’s up. You got to act cool like you’re used to it, but in my mind I’m like, “Damn, motherfuckers really listen to me.” Because when you sit in the studio and you’re making music and you’re putting it out, you know it’s getting views but you don’t know who’s really viewing it until you step out into the real. Then you see all these people like, “Nigga we love that fucking song!” I never realized how big “Rapper” was until I went to SXSW.
I did like eight sets out there. Austin, Texas for SXSW. Can’t explain it. If I was down there as a single man, that bitch would’ve been crazy. It was so many bitches, damn bruh. I’m about to start finessing. I’m going to make a hot song every year in December just so it can be hot at SXSW. That shit was crazy, I’ve never had an experience like that before.
Do you have any live shows coming up in Atlanta?
Yeah, they just booked me for some fucking concert. I got that rehearsal tomorrow. It’s with some other people. I got another one on June 26. My birthday is June 29. I’ll be 20.
Do you ever have any crazy dreams?
Yeah. The craziest dream I ever had was that my girl left me. But that’s not going to happen. I woke up laughing and went back to sleep. I don’t be having no crazy dreams, I don’t sleep a lot. When I sleep I don’t sleep enough to have a dream.
What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning?
How many texts I got. If I got like five texts from my girl, I know I did something bad. My heart will drop and shit.
What inspires you to write lyrics?
For “I Know,” I was listening to Future album and I was like that nigga fire, I’m about to make a new song. He got a song on there called “Blood, Sweat, Tears.” On “I Know” I say, “I put my heart my sweat my tears in everything I do!” I just be hearing shit I like so much. That inspires me.
What are you most looking forward to next?
Overseas, man. June. Son Of A Hustler II. We working on that shit heavy. It ain’t gonna have nothing but 12 songs. I got to have that feeling, I know it’s real.
They said that song’s not going anywhere. I been told to get out of the studio because of that song. They told me not to drop it. I dropped it while I was on the road because my management wasn’t around.
What advice do you have for anyone thinking about pursuing music?
Man, be you. Like for real. Niggas told me “Rapper” wouldn’t go past the studio walls. Straight like that. My team… they so 100, they’ll keep it real. They said that song’s not going anywhere. I been told to get out of the studio because of that song. They told me not to drop it. I dropped it while I was on the road because my management wasn’t around. Did the show and it’s like 1,000 plays in an hour and a half. I wasn’t doing numbers like that on SoundCloud at the time. I found my lane. Then my management said, “Alright, we gonna let Silk do what he do.”
Have any artists publicly or privately backed you?
It’s this one rapper. He played “Rapper” before his show in New York. He told his DJ he needs something to turn him up. They played the whole song and they turnt the fuck up. A major rapper. I felt some type of way. This nigga never tweeted me before, never told me he fucks with me. I might hear a young nigga like me but I wouldn’t tweet him. A lot of people listen to me, a lot of rappers.
How does it feel being so young?
Niggas ain’t make it in the rap game until they like 26. I’m not saying it’s gonna take me that long but I got some years. I’m chillin, I’m good.
What’s the biggest misconception about Lil Silk?
That I sound like Young Thug. But not as much anymore, I’m defining my lane. He’s bigger than me. I could be doing something before Jay-Z do it, then Jay-Z do it today and he’s known for it. Then I come up and they say oh he’s trying to be like Jay-Z. See what I’m saying?
What’s your next music video drop?
I know I’m about to shoot a new song called “Worthy” with another Archive artist Vegas. He’s more of a Kendrick Lamar, a Pusha T type. The song is fucking insane. It shows you the lyrical input in me on some deep shit. It’s some lyrical shit.
Do you watch any battle raps?
Hell yeah, ERL TV and shit. All them niggas. I’d be a hypeman for that shit like, “YEE YEE SKRRT!”
If you could play one song to introduce yourself to someone, what would it be?
“Rapper.” Cause that’s the song that defines what I am. Not lyric-wise, but to show you my lane of music. That’s the song I’m most proud of.
My mama known for popping up. I had a mixtape release party at Mansion, I don’t even know how she got in the door. My mama is fucking 53 and she came up to the section. I was like how the fuck did you get in here?
What was it like shooting that video?
The video was weird. My mama was there. If you go back and watch it, you see me rubbing on these bitches but as it goes on you see me trying to get them out of the way. That’s cause my mama was there. She was like, “Ok I’m just gonna leave, just make sure you watch your hands because people like that, they have AIDS.” She was like, “Wash your hands, Dwan.” My mama known for popping up. I had a mixtape release party at Mansion, I don’t even know how she got in the door. My mama is fucking 53 and she came up to the section. I was like how the fuck did you get in here?
How does your mom feel about your music?
She loves it. All the way. She got an iPhone. I had to teach her how to use it and shit. She’s so into my music and into my life, she’ll sit on my Twitter, my Instagram. She’ll send me articles about me before I even see it. She sent me a Complex article, she downloaded the Fader app, she got Pigeons & Planes bookmarked. She’s always sending me shit about it. She’ll hit me like, “Son, you’re on Fader, again.”
What does she usually listen to?
She’s from Chicago. So back in their time, it’s just steppers music. It’s this dance in Chicago called stepping, it’s like slow jazz, gospel shit. My mama fuck with me though, she fuck with me for real.
When did it change from Dejuan to Lil Silk?
My name always been Lil Silk. Nobody calls me Dejuan. My dad’s name was Silk, my mom actually gave him that name. His street name was Dynamite, and she didn’t like that. She was like, “You’re cool, you’re smooth, I’ma call you Silk.” That’s how he got his name and I’m Lil Silk. That’s just my name.
Do you think it’s a valid comparison between Atlanta and Chicago’s rap scene?
No it’s not. Chicago is not rap nigga, that’s life. Atlanta is rap. My cousin came down here from Chicago and he was like, “G, take me to a hood that niggas can’t walk through and we gonna walk through that motherfucker right now.” In Atlanta it ain’t no hood that you just can’t walk through. As long as you’re cool you’re cool.
I went to Chicago, we were on King Drive with BDs and Rondo… Chief Keef and all them be over there, that’s their land. We pull up to the light and my cousin just pull off, run the red light like these niggas about to start shooting at us. My family in the cut and shit is crazy. From Little Five Points to here, it was a five-minute drive but in Chicago that shit would be a 45-minute drive because you can’t just go through this one street. You got to go all the way around. Chicago music is life. Atlanta music is music. It’s fun.