The music video for “Drama” really stood out to me. Tell me a little bit about the thought process behind this visual.
The director and I had been wanting to do a video together for about three years, but we couldn’t find the perfect song. I’m sending him tracks back and forth, and when I sent him “Drama”, he said, “This is the one.” He had the vision already—something urban and deep into the streets of Harlem. There’s so much culture up there, and that’s what he wanted to capture. I wasn’t really too involved with the treatment until the actual day of the shoot. He had the idea, but I helped put it together and suggest locations.
Are there any scenes from the video that are super significant?
It’s really just the whole video—it’s a drama-filled video. The whole video contains drama or potential drama. It starts out with the dice game, which can lead to certain drama because of money. Females pulling up their hair to fight. There’s a fight scene in the video.
Do you think drama is unavoidable if you grow up in a place like Harlem?
Nah, you’re going to run into drama. That’s life, though. It’s what shapes you as a person.
Well, the video is very beautiful to me.
Appreciate it, man.
Do you think that beauty and struggle are related?
There’s beauty in the struggle. There’s beauty in everything, but especially the struggle, because there are so many hidden gems there. There are different facets that build a person’s character. You don’t know who you are until you go through a certain struggle. Period.
How did you start rapping?
I started rapping in college. I had a roommate who would rap, and we used to fool around with it, but one day I wrote this rap and he goes, “I think you should take this seriously. You can flow.” And it just started from there. He has a music career now, too, and he actually put me on my first track because he believed in me so much. His name is J Tips. From there, I kept doing it. People liked me, and I’m still here doing it.
What was your first rap about?
The struggle [laughter]. That’s all I knew at the time.
I’ve noticed that a lot of artists from certain boroughs from NYC love to shoutout that borough. Do you think this is just immense pride, or are the outskirts of the city truly the best?
The outskirts are truly the best. But where you’re from, you have to rep that. We have different styles, different perspectives on things, and it’s just the way you go about it. It’s the arrogance of New York.
What is Harlem culture? And why is it important?
We’re trendsetters. A lot of the New York trends come from Harlem. We’re the cool, smooth, arrogant…we’re just them n****s [laughter]. I can’t put it any other way. It just coincides with the world because everyone wants to know what is new and what’s going on. New York is the mecca, so they want to know what goes on here. And in New York, they look at Harlem. I guess you could say we’re the spokesperson of New York.
Tell me about your debut EP and what we can expect from it. Does it have a title yet?
I’m thinking about calling it “Drama” because on every song I have right now, I’m touching down on the struggles and different situations from where I come from. There’s nothing nice where I come from, and I’m not trying give you that rags-to-riches story or anything. But I’m still there. I’m just rapping about what I know.
Just expect a lot of different flows and new types of sounds—I’m trying to bring back the essence of a certain real rap. Real rap with a modern day sound.