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Upon meeting $NOT, you’re greeted with a pair of eyes, a nose, and a set of gold grills peeking out from a tightly wrapped hoodie. He pulls the drawstrings as far as they can go, as if he’s shielding himself from the outside world. It has effectively become part of his look, and the rapper laughs while admitting, “Whenever I take my hoodie off no one knows who the fuck I am.”
With his reserved disposition, it might come as a surprise that $NOT’s breakout singles “Excuse Me” and “Gosha” have been generating millions of streams, even getting looks from Billie Eilish and Chief Keef. $NOT's song “Billy Boy” is set to be featured in HBO's upcoming show Euphoria, which is executive-produced by Drake and stars Zendaya. Those records have also been used in hundreds of Tik Toks and Trillers, adding their own twist on $NOT’s humorous lyrics. His fans are dedicated—some even save and document his social media posts and songs before he deletes them.
Yet on a rainy, dreary day in New York City, $NOT seems unbothered by all this buzz as he rides in an Uber headed for his hotel. Stuck in traffic crossing the Manhattan Bridge, two taxi drivers partake into a shouting match punctuated by horn-honking and middle fingers. $NOT is locked in on his phone, posting a meme on Instagram and laughing at his fans’ replies.
When it’s time for the interview, $NOT isn’t anywhere to be found. His manager Jake texts him to no avail, sharing that “it’s kind of hard communicating via text with someone who doesn’t even speak much.” It’s true that $NOT isn’t one for words, yet his lyrics would suggest otherwise. With a deadpan vocal delivery, he lethargically spits bars peppered with a wry sense of humor and lackadaisical wordplay. It’s a stark contrast to notable Florida rap counterparts, many of whom rose to stardom with loud, distorted vocals and quick flows. He even looks different from many of his peers, whose colorful hair and face tattoos help to amplify eye-catching appearances. $NOT is fairly nondescript in comparison, but he’s sharing the same bill with them all this weekend at Rolling Loud Miami
After an hour passes, we finally locate $NOT. Once we get into his hotel room, he shows off a $3,000 dollar ring he got at Dover Street Market earlier in the day. Someone brings a large cheese pizza, but $NOT doesn’t grab a slice. There’s a crew of people crammed into the room, playing music and talking. As usual, $NOT is unfazed by all the noise.
When did you realize that you wanted to start making music?
I was listening to dudes like Xavier Wulf, Bones, Yung Lean, Lil Wayne, and Tyler, The Creator. Also Shawty Pimp, and honestly a lot of Memphis rappers. That’s how I got into this stuff, and things started happening. My friend Wetback Manny was already putting shit on SoundCloud and he introduced me to recording and how to use a microphone. That’s when I did it by myself, but I had a USB mic and it was kind of trash. But then Manny got a condenser mic, so I guess I got lucky.
How would you describe your sound to someone who's never heard your music before?
I mean I’ll make anything. If I’m sad I’ll make a sad song, if I’m happy then I’ll make something lit. It’s whatever my mood is, you feel me? Some people say my sound is dark, but I don’t really see that. It’s hella chill.
I can get on any beat except a pop beat—I can’t do that. I tried to do a poppy song, but nah.
You've got an ear for addictive production. Can you work with anything, or do you look for something really specific in the production?
If it catches my ear, it’s going to catch your ear. It just needs to sound good, like, fuck my lyrics, you feel me? People just like the beat, that’s what I think. I can get on any beat except a pop beat—I can’t do that. I tried to do a poppy song, but nah. I can get on anything else though, like I have a country song but I’m not trying to drop it. It’s just hella ignorant. [Laughs]
Speaking of pop, that Billie Eilish co-sign was very unexpected. What's the story behind that?
I was sad as fuck that day, and I went on Instagram. I went live and my fans were saying stuff like, “Billie is fucking with your shit.” I was like, “Stop playing with me,” because my fans be trolling me. I ended the live, but people were tagging me in stuff so I went on her story and she was bumping my shit. That was so crazy, shout out Billie, she’s real.
And what about Chief Keef?
I done posted a little meme since someone Photoshopped me and him together, and he commented on it. That was real cool because he’s one of my biggest inspirations. He just said “LOL.” I mean like he acknowledged it, so I was real happy.
How did the song “Excuse Me” come to life, and what was it like shooting the video with Omar Jones?
I don’t even like that song to be honest, but it just kind of happened like a movie. My friend Kevin Katana made the beat, and I just came up with the line, “excuse me,” it just kind of went from there. It was cold as fuck when we filmed the music video in Brookyln, but it was a lot of fun. I’ve only done two music videos that are out right now.
How does it feel to see your tracks “Excuse Me” and “Gosha” used in various Trillers and TikToks?
It’s just some kids doing some weird shit, it’s kind of lit. At first I kind of hated it, 'cause of the amount of weird people that use TikTok. [Laughs] But then I was like you know what, fuck it they’re having fun and I guess they like the song, so I dig it.
You’ve been consistently releasing singles, but do you have plans for a project anytime soon?
Yeah, definitely like a little mixtape, you know what I’m saying? But I’m going to take my time with that. Right now I’m just dropping singles to build up momentum to release an album.
You come off as very quiet and reserved. How have you been absorbing and dealing with all of this newfound success?
I just be chilling, you feel me? I can be quiet—if you talk to me then yeah, I’ll talk—but sometimes I don’t have anything to say. I didn’t know it all was going to happen to this extent, and it hasn’t really set in yet. I’m actually really excited, but you can see my facial expression and think I’m nonchalant.
You’re definitely hard to read.
That’s good, I like it that way.
What can you tell me about the song “Case 19”?
Well it was me and Jasiah. I don’t really know him that well, but he would buy reposts off me and shit. One day I heard his shit on the suggestions part of SoundCloud and was like, “This nigga go hard.” I hit him up like, “Yo you’re fire, let’s do something,” and he sent me that beat for “Case 19,” and that’s when shit went crazy.
What about the controversy surrounding that record? What was your reaction to having your verse wiped off the song and being replaced with 6ix9ine?
I don’t really care, like it wasn’t even a controversy, it was just my fans. I don’t feel any type of way about it to be honest, since Jasiah told me way back that it was going to happen. I wasn’t like “Fuck!” or anything, but my fans took care of it. I knew my fans were going to be mad, but I couldn’t stop them. But I didn’t say anything, I just posted a meme about it. I never thought that I’d be replaced by 6ix9ine though, that’s real crazy. While he was in jail, that’s some label shit. But you know, Jasiah is real talented, so anything he needs to do to get to the top.
I can be quiet—if you talk to me then yeah, I’ll talk—but sometimes I don’t have anything to say. I didn’t know it all was going to happen to this extent, and it hasn’t really set in yet. I’m actually really excited.
You interact with your fans and followers on social media frequently, more than most musicians. What’s your reasoning behind this?
They’re funny is fuck, so I be replying to everybody. When I was a kid I’d be trying to talk to my favorite musicians, but knew that they got so many messages. But my fans, they value me and I value them. I reply to everybody and show love.
You have a noticeable lack of collaborations. Is this a choice, or just waiting for the right opportunity? Are there certain artists you want to work with?
I mean, I chose my features wisely. Whoever I collab with has to be real fire—like fuck it, better than me. They just have to be real good. Even selling features, I stopped doing that too. If I don’t fuck with the person it just feels like homework. If I fuck with the person, shit we could do it for free. There’s not really anyone I’m looking to work with right now though.
Being from Florida, how does it feel having your first ever performance coming up at Rolling Loud Miami?
That shit is crazy. I remember like two or three years ago I was in class, and all of the kids were like, “Yo are you going to Rolling Loud?” and I didn’t even know what it was back then. It was a bunch of artists popping at the time, like Lil Yachty. Now that’s me. Shit is crazy. I always wanted to perform at a festival since I feel like it’s easier to perform in front of ten thousand people than it is at a small venue.
Lastly, the people need to know, is it “like a JUUL” or “like a jewel”?
[Laughs] It’s whatever you want it to be.