Buddy, Eternal Student
Congrats on Magnolia. It’s a great EP. How would you say this body of work compares to your previous ones?
I wouldn’t say it compares to it at all. It’s completely different—different producers, different mindset that I was in. I made it in a different time in my life. During Ocean & Montana, I had just moved out of my parents’ house and into my apartment in Santa Monica. Then for Magnolia, Magnolia is the street in the valley where I was working with Mike & Keys who produced the whole EP. It was a different energy over there. It was super factory vibes. We were in the studio, they would make beats, I would make songs—we probably made like 200 songs and just picked the most current five to put out that made sense. Now we’re working on a whole bunch of other music. It’s just a different time.
When I was working on Ocean & Montana, Kaytranada sent me a lot of those beats, and I was writing to the beats and recording them myself. I probably had two sessions with Kaytranada face-to-face where we were both there at the studio working. For the rest, I was with the engineer just recording by myself. So it was my own vibe that I set. With Magnolia, it was a bunch of producers all over the studio, a bunch of instruments, it was a whole other vibe. We had built a whole studio out with Nipsey Hussle in North Hollywood off Magnolia. There was something wrong with the paperwork, and the people who signed the lease had pulled the rug from under us and we had to take all of our equipment out of there and find a whole new studio. It was crazy. It was a specific time in my life that was completely different than Ocean & Montana. I wouldn’t compare it at all.
What was it like working with Kaytranada?
Well, prior, I had only worked with him twice. And he was working with me and another artist at the same time, so I didn’t get too much time with him. I invited him over on 4/20, I made key lime pie, we got high and watched movies, smoked dabs… We hung out as friends, but when we were working, he had me in the studio rapping over some beats, and he was in there with Mary J Blige one time. Another time, he was working with Cassie. And he was just bouncing in both sessions, working with a bunch of writers, so Kaytranada was just on some whole other shit. He was working with me and a whole bunch of other people all at once. I was just writing my raps over the beats, and he was making more beats and doing stuff with other people. That was what it was like.
- Jacket by Willy Chavarria
Is it different when you don’t work directly with a collaborator?
Nah. He’s not gonna write my raps for me, you know? He’s not gonna be like, “Oh, Buddy, you should do this.” He’s gonna make the beat, give it to me, and I’m gonna make the song to the beat. That’s the collaboration. He’s just on a whole other way of thinking where he’s just working on multiple things at once.
He’s a wizard.
Yeah. I gotta do my thing, and he’s gotta do his.
I guess there’s an association with Compton-bred rappers maintaining a certain sound, but you’re very experimental in that each body of work you’ve put out is very different. You’ve worked with people like Miley and Kaytranada. Is it just your innate nature to explore these different realms?
I’m personally trying to break this barrier or stereotypical thought of the city. Everybody always expects a certain thing from Compton, and there’s so much more that comes out of there than just the little box that people put Compton in. It’s not just the rappers, it’s also the people that live there. People expect them to come off a certain way or to be a certain person because it’s the city that they’ve grown up in. People always ask me, like, where the bad kids hang out and try to talk about some fucked up shit when it’s just like, bad shit happens all over the place. It’s not just Compton.
It’s the reputation.
The rep that it has is not the rep that I have as a human being on earth. I’m born onto earth first, you know what I’m saying? I’m a human being, so all these cities and barriers that people build for themselves and others is hella weak. I kinda just be doing whatever I feel like.
I am definitely a big representation for my city, but I just try to shine a different light on it. I feel like a lot of people cast this shadow over the city, like, “Oh, it’s such a bad place. Let’s hear all the bad stories.” It’s never like, “Let’s hear about the triumph from the city.” You know? I just try to shine a positive light on the city because there’s so much good stuff.
Would you say that’s what Kendrick did with To Pimp A Butterfly, or as a figure in general?
Yeah, him as a person. Kendrick Lamar as a human being for sure did it for Compton. He was born on Earth, raised in Compton, and bypassed all the Compton stereotypes and is the king of the game right now. I just saw him at Day N Night. I got to perform at Day N Night, and then I got to watch Kendrick with my mom on my birthday. It was fire. Kendrick is the prime example of just doing better than what people expect you to do.
Did you work directly with him?
Yeah, I met him with Pharrell. It was so random. I was working with Pharrell, and the whole TDE walked in—Black Hippy, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Dave, all of them. And I was still just an up-and-coming artist making songs here and there. I had this one song that Pharrell made that beat on, and he kind of just pointed to the booth and was like, “Kendrick? You tryna…” And that nigga took it as a personal challenge, jumped in the booth instantly, started rapping, and it was tight. I got this song with him called “Staircases” that was on the first mixtape I put out. I don’t even think it’s online anymore. You’ve got to dig for that one.
- Suit by Vivienne Westwood
What do you do when Kendrick Lamar walks in the room?
I was just like, “What up?” I wasn’t starstruck or anything. He’s a human being, so I didn’t fall out or nothing. I was more excited to meet Schoolboy Q. I’m a big Schoolboy Q fan, and he had the weed, so I was like, “Ay, Schoolboy Q, what up!” Schoolboy Q taught me how to roll backwoods. He had a big old jar of weed, and I wanted to smoke, but he’s the OG so he’s just facing his blunts. He’s not passing his blunts or anything. So I built up enough courage after watching him smoke two blunts by himself to ask if I can hit the blunt. I’m like, “I’m trying to smoke, what up?!” So, he gave me a backwood, enough weed to roll, and told me to just have at it. So I’m breaking down the weed, and I had to learn how to roll backwoods by myself thanks to Schoolboy Q. Now I’m the best backwood roller on the south side of the Mississippi. Shoutout to Schoolboy.
It seems that you transform very constantly and quickly. Is this accurate?
Heck yeah. I feel like I learn something new every day. I’m an eternal student, you know? I’m just trying to gather as much information as I can and share it with others.
What state are you in right now?
I’m in album mode. That’s the state I’m in. I’m working on my album, and I’m kind of going crazy. I’m really debating on what I feel comfortable talking about on my album, how deep I’m trying to go, and what’s the through line of the whole thing to make sense with the other EPs I dropped this year. It’s a critical time. I have a lot of thinking to do. I’m super busy. I have hella interviews and photoshoots and shit. I’m about to go to Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Berlin, and then I have to go back to LA to finish recording my album. It’s just a lot to think about.
Yeah. But you can do it.
Yeah, I got this. It’s good.
Ocean & Montana and Magnolia were put out pretty close to each other. Was that just because you had so much music that you had to put multiple EPs out?
Well, I’ve always been working with Mike & Keys who produced Magnolia. So when I got the beats from Kaytranada, it was just like, “Oh, let me rap on these beats and put this EP out with Kaytranada. This nigga is tight.” I fucked with Kaytranada so hard, and he’s got an insane following, so I figured it would be a good look. And we fucked with each other enough to where he wanted me to rap over his beats, you know? So I’m like, “Damn, he sent me the beats! I’m ‘bout to rap on these.” So I did that one first, but I already had some of those Mike & Keys songs. I had been working with them constantly as I was writing the Ocean & Montana EP. It kind of all just happened and came together organically.
What can we expect from your debut full-length?
Unfair hit records. I don’t play fair when it comes to albums. There are just some instant classics on there.
How do you decide what songs to put on it? You said you’re in “album mode,” so are you constantly just thinking about every little detail?
Heck yeah. I trust my wings, you know? I consider my teammates my wings. Without my wings, I’m unable to fly, so I listen to people who have done this before. I’ve never made an album, but I’m working with people who have made albums before, so I trust their judgment. I’m around a good group of people that don’t got me out here looking crazy. It’s wonderful. They tell me what they think is tight, what they think is weak, and then I take all the weak shit out and keep the tight shit.