GRIP Almost Gave Up on Rap, Then Eminem Called

We spoke to Shady Records' newest signee GRIP, plus label boss Eminem, about their partnership and what's to come with GRIP's Shady debut 'I Died For This!?'

GRIP Shady Records
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GRIP Shady Records

In 2018, we dubbed the fledgling rapper GRIP “Atlanta’s Next Great Storyteller.” This was a bold claim—in retrospect, maybe a little premature—based on the strength of his 2017 project Porch, a concept album written from three perspectives and packed with dense lyricism, athletic flows, a meticulously arranged spectrum of moods, and the immediate sense that he’d poured his heart and soul into the music.

From the outside, it looked like GRIP’s years of unwavering dedication to his craft were paying off—he was winning over diehard fans and word was spreading in the industry. The streaming numbers weren’t huge, but major labels were reaching out, and opportunities were dangling above him. It seemed like a big break was imminent. 

But behind the scenes, the father of two was still trying to make ends meet. While A&Rs were calling and critics were crowning him one of rap’s great hopes, GRIP was driving Uber for extra income. And while we were spotlighting him as one of the next storytellers of his generation, he was dealing with his car getting booted in his own driveway. It seemed like he was living in two worlds at once. “Something gotta happen bro,” he texted in May of 2018. “I got way too much on my fuckin’ plate. I’m out here going broke for this dream man.”

By that point, GRIP had already been releasing music for years. He and his manager Tigg—a friend he’s known since high school when he was working at a Kroger grocery store—were excited about major label offers and industry heavyweights reaching out, but they knew the drill. By then, they’d watched a generation of rappers get eaten up by the major label system, and knew GRIP’s ambitious music might not be what a label ends up investing in long term. So, despite the temptation to jump at the first opportunities that came their way, the two stood their ground, rejected the easy pay days, and focused on building something that would last.

Over the next years, GRIP kept his head down, remained independent, and dropped new music consistently. In 2019 he shared Snubnose, another heavy concept album featuring some of his best work yet. Progress was being made and more doors were cracking open, but his budding rap career was still paired with setbacks and complications. Plus, he would soon encounter more roadblocks. Like a global pandemic that shut down the entire music industry, for example.

GRIP stayed productive during quarantine, dropping a series of singles and EPs—all uniformly great—but after a merciless 2020, he was reaching a breaking point. He had life-changing label offers fall through at the last second, he had lost the opportunity to go on tour with Brent Faiyaz due to COVID, and as he put it, “It feels like I get slighted left and right.” In the middle of the pandemic, still independent, still hungry, still feeling snubbed by an unforgiving music industry, GRIP was ready to give up.

And then Eminem called.

“We all got excited about GRIP after we heard Snubnose,” Eminem explains. “It was really refreshing to hear a new artist so focused on making a conceptual project and it caught my attention.”

While most labels operating in 2021 make decisions rooted in streaming numbers and social media followings, Eminem was looking for something else. “It’s definitely great when artists we sign connect with a larger audience, and 50 [Cent] is a perfect example of that,” Em says. “Obviously we want anyone who signs with Shady to succeed. But first and foremost we’ve always focused on the raw talent and ability of the artist as an MC. We’ve always been pretty clear on that being the main thing we look for: high level fundamental skills and mechanics are definitely the priority.”

“We’ve always focused on the raw talent and ability of the artist as an MC. We’ve always been pretty clear on that being the main thing we look for: high level fundamental skills and mechanics are definitely the priority.” – Eminem

The Eminem co-sign goes a long way, as evidenced by the mass migration of Shady fans toward GRIP’s movement, but it started with the mutual respect between both parties. “It’s really important in a creative collaboration for there to be that personal connection for it to succeed,” says Em. “Shady is a boutique label and we don’t sign a lot of artists, so we have a chance to get involved at a deeper level with the ones we do. And I think that goes both ways. I like to be motivated by the artists we sign and I want to feel pushed by their creativity as well.”

As far as what’s next, Eminem is leaving the creative work to GRIP. “The people we sign have a point of view and vibe that made us want to work with them in the first place,” he says. “Part of our job is to help them get out to a bigger audience but also I don’t like to insert myself where I’m not needed. I am looking to find where and how I can get involved that adds to or builds on what the artist is already doing.”

GRIP will make his Shady Records debut with the release of his album I Died For This!? on Friday, August 27. From the shady label dealings to the Shady Records deal that followed, the details of GRIP’s story are all laid out on the project. They are especially vivid on track eight, “A Soldier’s Story?” 

“Is this really what I want? Am I still in love with this game? / Tigg called like, “N***a Eminem just said your shit was flames / Then me and Em hopped on call and it all seemed fittin’ / Just a couple days from quittin’ / And the rest is unwritten.”

Grip and Eminem

For a lot of people, signing with Shady Records and being associated with Eminem is the beginning of the story, but can you paint a picture of the months leading up to that?
I was in a crazy head space. I had the wrong mindset after I dropped Snubnose. I felt like it fell upon deaf ears. At some point I had to realize okay, okay, Snubnose is going to live and die on that hill. We’re just going to move forward.

I had already been recording the new project but I was in a weird place because we’d been doing this mostly independently the whole time and it was a huge step forward. To be talking to major labels—and especially Shady—I realized that it was such a huge platform. We’d never had that kind of opportunity. We had talked to labels, but there was no major co-signs behind it or anything.

So on one hand we had that, and on the other hand you had people being like, “Hell no, don’t sign to a major label, blah blah blah.” But ultimately, I had to just figure out what I wanted.

So, three months prior to the actual signing, that’s where my head was at, just trying to figure out if this was what I wanted and trying to figure out how this shit would work out in the long run.

Through all those conversations and the process of making your choices, is there anything you learned? What would you tell an artist going through that now?
Well shit, man—take everything with a grain of salt, whether it be positive or negative. Seeing is believing. Never put all your eggs in one basket, and always know this shit is a business at the end of the day and the labels are going to go with what they deem best for their business, of course. I would tell people to bury their heads in the music, try to make the best product possible, and have a strong team that you can really depend on to have your back.

Last time we talked, you were stressed and pressured to figure it out. Now that you’ve signed a deal, is some of that weight lifted or is it just another kind of stress and pressure now?
I know that the music is going to do its thing so I’m not worried about that. Nah, the only stress that I have is about things beyond our control, like COVID. I really want to be able to get out there and touch the people, you know what I’m saying? With COVID going on and all this shit, it’s been stressful because it’s just like, what can we do? We want to get on the road.

Outside of the music shit, that’s really been stressful but the music speaks for itself. I’m ready for the fans to hear it, because they only have the old discography and “Gutter.” A lot of fans are in my DMs asking, “When is it dropping? When you releasing?” I’ve never had that before, so I’m adjusting to that.

“The fact that Eminem even mentioned my name, it was one of those things. Now it’s really full-circle. Now I got a track with Eminem. It was a surreal moment.”

In the music, you’ve always talked about exactly what you’ve been through, but on the new album especially. You’re very specific about the steps you took and the different things you went through. Why is it important to you to pull back the curtain a little bit, and was there any hesitation about getting too specific?
Nah, I think that with the prior projects, I gave a view of my community as a whole and my role inside of that community. Others like me could relate—or maybe not even like me, but just people who have witnessed certain things by growing up in the Black community.

For this one, I wanted to peel back the curtains on life. It’s all about GRIP, GRIP, GRIP. I remember when Snubnose dropped and I wasn’t even on the cover of the project. People were like, “Yeah, but who is GRIP?” So I wanted to give them a little bit of that. And they view it on this huge platform so they know what they’re getting, they know who they’re getting.

You give people some real insight into who GRIP is as a human being. Is there anything off limits for you? Anything that you don’t want to share with people, that you don’t want people to know about you?
Nah, not necessarily. Not inside of the music. Years from now, when you look back and I’m not here to tell the story, the music will tell it for you. I’m spilling it in the music rather than on Instagram.

When you’re personal with your music, there’s somebody out there who can relate to it. There’s somebody who’s going through the same shit or who hasn’t been through it but can relate in their own way. It’s just letting people know we all go through this, and maybe my shit helps you out a little bit.

On the album you say that you were close to giving up at points. Did you have a back-up plan?
I don’t know man, I always feel like giving up. I always have my stance, where I’m just like, “Ah, fuck this shit,” whatever, blasé blah. My backup plan was just the typical shit, but I think I’ve gathered enough knowledge on things like real estate or breweries. I’ve made enough connections where I would never have to clock in again.

There are other things that I’m interested in that I eventually plan on diving into, but music is my first love so I just tried it and tried it and tried it and tried it until it worked. And I’m realizing that I’m further ahead than a lot of people who have done it for longer than me. It’s almost like spitting in their face if you just give up, you know what I’m saying?

Motherfuckers worked hard for years and years and never even made it to the point where I’m at, so it’s just a lot of times I just have to tell myself, “Hey man, you here for a reason.”

Looking back on your career so far, Is there anything you would have done differently, like what music you released or how you moved?
Nah, I look at it all as a learning experience. I think we had to get through those bumps and bruises in order to get where we at right now. We were figuring it out, trial and error. So, I’m pretty sure a few times certain decisions might have came off wrong. But we never had any ill intent, you know what I’m saying? Or any plans to fuck up a relationship or anything like that. But other than that, man, I think it all went how it was supposed to go.

When it comes to the industry side of things, it seems like you’ve got a chip on your shoulder. I think a lot of the best artists do. Do you think that drives you and motivates you more, or does it ever hold you back?
I don’t think that holds me back, it definitely motivates me. I don’t want to be this person who’s holding a grudge, but there were times when my situation was so fucked up that I would take shit personally.

And even if I do hold a grudge, it is what it is, you know what I’m saying? Nobody don’t owe me shit, I don’t owe nobody shit. But I definitely have a chip on my shoulder. My goal with that is just make the best music that I can, make the right moves, and make that motherfucker who said no see it. Just kill them with the music.

I’m sure you’re going to have to talk about this a lot, but we have to talk about how you got to this point with Shady Records. Paul Rosenberg heard your music, played it for Em—how did you get wind of that and what came next?
At the time we were talking with Ty and he brought up Goliath and we didn’t know what it was. Then he was like, “Oh yeah, it’s Paul Rosenberg’s label.” We were like, “That’s what’s up.” We’re familiar with Paul and then it turned to, “Well, he played it for Eminem and Em wants to get involved.” And we were just like, “Well, this is huge.”

Eminem is definitely a huge influence and somebody who I grew up listening to. He’s one of the artists who crafted my style and made me fall in love with music even more. So, when we heard that Eminem was feeling the music and wanted to work it was just like, “Oh shit.”

It was reassuring in a sense because, like I said, at that point time I’m just like, “You know what, I’m about done with this shit.” So then I hear Em was bumping Snubnose and I jumped on a call with him. We talked for damn near an hour, and we’re just talking about a little bit of everything. He was even reciting certain words from “226,” talking about how dope I was. It was just like, “Alright, well shit, let’s go.”

The way the industry is set up right now with social media and everything, it’s oversaturated. If you’re not doing all the extra shit and not as vocal on social media, then you need that co-sign. We weren’t necessarily looking for it, but when I heard Eminem was fucking with me, we knew that this was a big opportunity. I ain’t want to pass it up.

When you shared that picture of you and Em together, was that the first meeting? Were you figuring out the deal and talking business or was it more connecting on a personal level and talking about music?
That was our first in-person meeting. By the time the picture was taken, we had already sealed the deal. I played him the album that day. So I played him the album, met him and Paul for the first time and some of the rest of the team, talked a little shit about everything again. Played the song that I wanted Em to get on. It was cool, it was definitely a full circle moment.

After that announcement, the Eminem fans got on board quickly. That’s another level of literal Stans supporting you. Does that feel good? Is it a little overwhelming or weird at all?
Some shit be weird, some folks are in my DMs trying to find out about Eminem. But for the most part, it’s people like, “Yo, Team Shady, we support him. Can’t wait for the album.” Of course, we have people who feel like, “Oh, they should have signed so-and-so instead.” For the most part it’s dope man, I finally feel anticipation built for when I release music now, which is dope—you always want that. You spend all this time on a project and then you drop the project and nobody’s waiting on the shit, you know what I’m saying? So, it’s dope.

Do you feel at all like you now have to cater to a certain type of person or make sure you make something that Shady and Eminem fans are going to like? Or you’re not even thinking about that?
Hell no, hell no. Eminem signed GRIP, you know what I’m saying? He signed me based off of what he heard. He was like, “I’m fucking with everything,” so I ain’t trying to change shit. I’m not going to cater to anyone really, just going to make what I feel is good music. I’m not pressured by that at all, because at the end of the day I’ve got to cement my own legacy. Eminem’s already done that.

“Everybody’s not going to like you and you have to get used to that. It’s just part of the game. If motherf*ckers is hating on LeBron James, you got to expect motherf*ckers to hate on you.”

I’ve heard the album, but it didn’t have a title attached to it. How much can you talk about the album? Does it have a title?
The album is called I Died For This!? It’s IDFT!? with an exclamation point and a question mark. It has a few meanings. It’s like, starting out in this shit, you work hard and this is what you always wanted. Then you get to a point like right now when you’re like, “Damn, I did all this, but I sacrificed so much.” I lost a lot, and I’m not the same person that I was when I started pursuing this. It’s got me thinking: was it worth it?

You have the macho aspect—I died for this, I went hard for this shit. But then you have the other aspect, where it’s like, I died for this? I missed out on certain shit in my kids’ lives. I fucked up relationships. I get to this point and I’m just like, I gave up a lot for this, but this is what I wanted.

So the whole album is about duality. “Gutter” was the first single because it was like a fuck you in advance to the critics who to whoever. [Starts rapping] “What would you do if you came from the gutter / To a game to get some change in exchange for your struggles? / And you sang ‘bout the pain that pertain to your color / Just for it to get appraised by some lame motherfuckers?”

It’s a conceptual project. The exclamations and the question marks are behind certain song titles. People will understand why once they hear it. It plays out like a play, and I think it’s my best work so far. I leaned on influences outside of rap a lot, heavy. I don’t really like to listen to rap when I’m creating an album. So I leaned on some influences like Sgt. Pepper’s and Pet Sounds. I wanted it to sound different from Snubnose.

The pandemic stopped a little bit of it at first, but we started back a few months later once things started settling down and realized we were going to be stuck in the fucking house. After I made Halo and Proboscidea, we jumped back into it. This new album is a big body of work, it’s heavy. But at the same time, it has shit for everybody on there. 17 tracks, 16 songs.

Before you started recording, were you like, “This is what I want the concept to be, this is what I want to say,” or does that come after you start writing and recording?
The title came to me first, and I said, “What does this mean to me?” Then I sit down and I start to decipher it: What does it sound like? What color is it? And of course, then the sound of it came.

The first song we recorded is actually the last song on the project. It’s called “Pennies,” and it’s damn near a rock song. I’m screaming on that bitch. Kenny Mason came through that session, he jumped on the shit. I think “And The Eulogy Read!?”—which is the intro, pretty much—is the second song we recorded. By that point, we already knew, we were talking about “I died for this.” So, it was like “And The Eulogy Read!?” was just a play on words, to kick the story off backwards. Then the album will tell you how we got to this point.

We’ve got to talk about “Walkthrough!” That’s the one with the Eminem feature, and that Em verse is interesting because he’s addressing you directly. He says your name and he’s talking to you, basically warning you about what’s going to come with the success. Did you know that was coming or were you surprised when you heard that?
Oh, no, I was surprised. I think I was on my way to the movies and [my manager] Tigg was like, “Yo, Eminem verse incoming.” And I’m just waiting on it, I’m waiting on it, I’m waiting on it. I keep on refreshing my email like fuck, man. I finally just put my phone in my pocket, I watch the movie, and by the time I get out of the movies the damn verse is there and I listen to it and I’m like, “Oh, shit. He went the fuck off.”

I made that song with Em in mind. And when I played him the album, I just remember him saying that hook is nuts. So, I was like, “Yeah, this is a song I actually wanted you to get on.” In my verse I’m talking about where I come from, what I had to get through to get to this point. Then his shit is from a veteran’s perspective, who went through this already and who thought that cash was going to change things, but then he gets into the perils of this shit.

We didn’t talk about it beforehand. It sounded like good chemistry, but I’m just glad that he fucked with it enough to hop on it and give it 32, 40 bars, however long he went. I was excited. That’s huge. The fact that he even mentioned my name, it was one of those things. Now it’s really full-circle. Now I got a track with Eminem. It was a surreal moment.

With that verse, it was like I pulled something out of him. I’m excited for the fans to hear that, I feel like the song is dope as hell. Hopefully that’s a fan favorite—of course, it’ll probably the biggest song. Not probably, it will be the biggest song I’ve done so far, for sure.

Yeah, so Eminem is warning you about the difficulty of success in his verse, and you’ve already talked about sacrifices and changing as a person. Do you think you’ve become a little more jaded or a little more negative? Have you already experienced some of that downside that comes with success?
Yeah, I came into this shit not knowing what to expect but I knew there would be ups and downs. There’s valleys and peaks. I had an idea of how this shit could possibly play out.

The first day that we announced this shit with Shady Records I saw thousands of follows and positive comments, but of course you’re going to see a little, “Oh, this fucker right here just said this and that.” But of course they are, bro. Everybody’s not going to like you and you have to get used to that. It’s just part of the game.

If motherfuckers is hating on LeBron James, you got to expect motherfuckers to hate on you. It is what it is. But I keep a level head when it comes to this shit. Fame is fake, you know what I’m saying? It’s not a real thing. So I’ve always been … I wouldn’t call myself a pessimist, I’d just say a realist.

I’ve got to ask about a couple other specific songs. On “Patterns?” and “Enem3?,” you’re singing, like really singing. I had to play it back to make sure, like is that GRIP’s voice? I thought it was funny because you’ve been rapping so well for a while, and now you’re with Eminem and Shady who are also known for great rapping, and you decide to make your singing debut. Why did you choose to do that, or is that a skill you’ve been keeping in your back pocket?
I listen to rap, I love rap, but I love other shit too. I love music that just is going to make you feel something. And sometimes you get bored, like I’ve been good at rap for a long time, so it was like, hey, just do other things.

I’ve always sang and I try to keep it as me as possible. I ain’t fixing to hit you with some falsettos and shit, but I definitely want to expand in music. I want to be known as a musician, more so than just a rapper.

I made “Patterns?” in L.A. and this was even before we even knew about the Em shit. I made that one after listening to Sgt. Pepper’s, like I was saying. And it’s about my daughters for the most part. So, it was kind of like I made it for my daughters. 

And “Enem3?” gave me this Phil Collins vibe when I first heard it. Yeah, I could rap on this shit but I think I just want to do something else. Rapping can sometimes be too rough. I wanted to paint a certain picture, and that’s how I did it. I wanted to paint, and I didn’t want to use graffiti this time, I didn’t want to use spray paint, I wanted to use a paint brush.

I was nervous about Em and Paul hearing this shit. But they was like, “Oh shit bro, whatever the fuck you was on when you made that, do that again.” It was dope, those are two of my favorite tracks on the project just because it’s so personal. I feel like when I sing, I’m more vulnerable because people aren’t expecting that.

No song on this album is going to sound the same, but together they’re giving you all sides of GRIP. It’s all an unmasking of the artist, you know what I’m saying? All my sides.

Another one that jumped out at me is “Glenwood Freestyle!” You’re rapping on that one, but it doesn’t sound like your typical flow and delivery.
Glenwood is a street in Decatur, Georgia, outside of Atlanta type shit. You ever heard of Freaknik?

So, it’s like that but for the neighborhood. It’s a neighborhood day so on Glenwood Day, people would ride back and forth in their old school cars. It’s cookouts, it’s people walking up and down the street, and when we was in high school we were doing that. At that point in time we were listening to Gucci Mane, we bumping whatever.

So, to me, “Glenwood Freestyle!” is kind of an ode to Glenwood and the state of mind I was in back in the day when we were doing that. When we was riding our old schools and trying to pick up chicks. This is the music that I grew up on. I don’t want to be boxed in, like I’m just rap-itty rap, rap-itty rap every goddamn time.

I didn’t have to write it, it came pretty easy. The beat was hard as hell, and that’s one of the songs that has the exclamation point in the title. These were the times when I was excited about this shit. I was excited and very green to the whole shit. I was just thinking, “Yeah man, we got to do this, we got to do that, we got to have this.” Back then I was thinking that’s what it was all about or that was going to fulfill certain voids. Only to see, with the question marks on other songs, that it’s not.

At this point, do you have a favorite song, or a song that is especially important to you?
Yeah, “ConMan?” is my favorite song. And that’s just about loved ones. It’s a relationship that pretty much failed because I felt like when I was committed to a person, I wasn’t 100% committed to music.

It’s about sabotaging a relationship in order to dive all the way into music. It’s a little selfish. I’m not blaming the person, but I’m blaming my situation on how much attention I paid to a person or when I probably should have been giving it to the music. I probably could have been in a different position. So it’s some selfishness to it but it’s real and it’s heartfelt and it’s an apology. That’s probably one of my favorite tracks on there.

Are you nervous about the person you wrote it about hearing it?
No, no, no, no, no. You can’t do that. You can’t worry about that type of shit when you’re making music. It’s just like, fuck it. You were the muse and I keep that shit a 100, keep it funky with them.

Any other songs you want to talk about? “Hands Up!” is another one I really liked on first listen.
“Hands Up!” is cool. That one has the exclamation point, and it’s pretty much just saying that hip-hop is in a fucked up place. I don’t necessarily believe that 100%. I think hip-hop is in a good place, but it’s more so that chip on your shoulder that we spoke about. It’s me saying, “Hey, man, motherfuckers ain’t as good as me.” I watched some people come and go, but I played the long game, knowing that in the end I’d be bigger. This one is for all the times that I envisioned rocking the crowd, feeling like you’re on top of the world.

There’s the title track, “I Died For This!?” That’s more so on that I died for this, ain’t nobody fixing to take this shit. Then there’s the song with Royce [da 5’9], “Placebo,” which is really just a lyrical exercise and it has Royce speaking on some real topics. Just about how motherfuckers is serving y’all a placebo, they ain’t really healing y’all with this shit. It’s all just quick-serve shit.

On that song, I’m speaking on how this shit really works, being a Black artist. I’m still Black at the end of the day. I say “dark is a defect”—even if I get a lot of respect as an artist, if they were to see me in the streets, they would still clutch their purse.

I think Royce’s verse was more about the music industry. He went fucking crazy. He talks about how they just playing musical chairs with these acts. Give them a check, but they got to be complicit. We did three beat switches on there, and that’s one of my favorite tracks as well. 

Are you close with Royce?
Royce was the first person that I spoke to from the Shady camp. We got a good relationship, we talk on FaceTime all the time. It was dope to get him on the album because I feel like Royce is definitely one of the top MCs that we’ve ever had. 

Oh, then I have to talk about “Just Don’t Die This Time!?”—it’s like an interlude, just a rock medley or whatever the fuck it is. That’s one of the most important songs because it serves as a segue between the first act of the album and the second act. With that song I say, “While the light is lime / Enjoy your prime / And just don’t die this time.”

I was speaking on all of our heroes in music from the past who have came and went, whether they overdosed or were murdered. The 2Pacs, the Kurt Cobains. You just never know how long that shit going to last. So, it’s like, “Take a pic, crack a smile, you owe it to the world.” You’re up on a pedestal. Oh, and just don’t die this time, because they did. Like alright, the last motherfucker didn’t quite make it.

The album is dealing a lot with the words “die” and “death,” and that song is like a descent into chaos. It’s what I could imagine being a prisoner of fame would fucking sound like. But yeah, I’m just excited for people to dive into it and decipher it or figure out exactly what it means to them. It’s open to interpretation.

Now that you’ve got label support, does that change anything with how you make music? Have you felt like you’ve been held back at all because of lack of resources or real studios? It sounds like you were already expanding with the strings and instruments on this album.
Yeah, that was just me naturally progressing. Now the speed limit is not 35, I can actually go up to 55, I can do whatever. Most of this shit was made before [the Shady Records deal] so I’m excited to see where it goes with bigger budgets and more connections.

We’ve done this shit with minimal resources. The fact that we’ve been able to make Snubnose, and Porch, and I Died For This!?—I’m making some of these shits in the motherfucking house, you know what I’m saying? I’m recording some of these verses in the house, with people who I’ve known. Of course we had the Em feature and the Royce feature, but other than that we did all that shit and came to Em with the project pretty much done already.

“Finally having that anticipation and that love, that hate, all of that sh*t, it fuels you. You’d rather have that than to have nothing. Without that, you start second-guessing yourself, like, ‘Damn, am I as dope as I thought I was?’”

Going into the next shit and finally having that anticipation and that love, that hate, all of that shit, it fuels you. You’d rather have that than to have nothing, you know what I’m saying? Without that, you start second-guessing yourself, like, “Damn, am I as dope as I thought I was?”

So the fact that I’m getting that now, and I’m just now getting it, that lights a fire. That shit is going to take me to that next level because I’m just now getting started.

During our last interview, you were still so hungry and you wanted so much more. Now a lot of people are looking at you like you landed this amazing situation, but you’re still reaching for more. When do you think you’ll be content? If we talk again in five years and you’re selling out stadiums, you think you’ll be happy or will you still be like, “What’s next?”
A little bit of both. That’s life. Life is what’s next. Of course you’ll be happy with your accolades and all that you’ve been able to accomplish but you don’t want to ever just make an end-goal because once you get there, you’re just like, “Oh shit, I thought that I was going to feel a certain way.” If you don’t feel that, then you’re left scrambling.

So it’s always going to be what’s next. But of course, if in five years I’m like, “Yo bro, pull up to Madison Square Garden, come on,” then of course I’d be excited. I’d feel like I would have accomplished what I set out to do in music, which is just do this shit on the highest level. A Grammy would do the same thing, you know what I’m saying? Doing this shit on the highest level and being acknowledged for it. Because at the end of the day we do this shit for ourselves, we do this shit for the people, but we also want to be recognized.

I think this is just the start, really. All of this shit, it was all just paving the path. It was part of the journey. Everything ain’t going to always work out how you planned it to or how you wanted it to. I’ve had those lessons in life, so I was able to bounce back and realize that I had to check myself. I was bugging at certain points. But I’m ready for all that comes with the shit. I died for this, you know what I’m saying? I went hard, and that’s what it is—I died for this. So, yeah, I’m ready for it.