At 28 you are already a veteran of the music industry, which has gone through major changes since the day you were a 9-year-old rapping on Cash Money. Has originality gotten lost on today’s MCs?
[I don’t judge them.] All I can say is make sure that you’re not rhyming because you figured you could sound like Drake. Make sure those aren’t the reasons that you’re picking up a pad and pen. Make sure that you’re doing it for a real reason. I did this when I was 8 years old. I started writing raps for a reason, and that reason was because I loved to make words rhyme. That was my reason for making music. So make sure you have a real reason that you want to rhyme. Don’t make that reason be “I’m tryna make it out the ‘hood’” or “I’m tryna feed my family,” because this shit ain’t guaranteed to do none of those things.
Some people say that you almost have to be obsessed with your craft, right?
Exactly. If you want to be where I’m at with it-I been in this 18 years. If you ain’t got that kind of dedication, then just leave it alone and do something that can actually benefit your future for the long run.
People would categorize you as obsessive, especially at the rate you’ve recorded and released mixtapes. When do you find time to sleep?
[Laughs]. I try to! I try to now because I’m getting older. I heard less rest brings wrinkles. But other than that, nah. I believe you sleep when you die. Life is to be lived, not slept.
Although you now live in Miami, do you see yourself moving back to New Orleans?
I’m not sure. But I know [whenever I visit] it’s pretty special just because my family and friends are there and they get to see me, especially when I’m on tour performing. I’m sure there are people in the crowd that I’ve known when I was younger who I have no connections to right now. I like to know that they’re seeing me in this form. Like the people I went to school with and people that was there when I would tell them I’m gonna be a rapper. I still remember telling my teacher that I’m gonna rap. That hip-hop is gonna be my job.
Did those teachers believe that this actually was going to happen for you?
You know what? I have to be honest. Most of my teachers always said, “We don’t know if you’re gonna be a rapper, but you’re gonna be something.” They always said, “You’re gonna be something. You’re not gonna be regular or average. You’re gonna be somebody.”
So no stories of teachers telling you, “Nah, rapping is a pipe dream, kid.”
I didn’t have that. I was always very smart, so I’m thinking that those people that always say that they [experienced] those stories were probably bad students [laughs]. Their teachers probably told them, “You’re ass ain’t doing good in school anyway, so rap ain’t gonna help your ass!” I was always an A student. I was always in the best schools. I got my diploma. I went to college.
One thing you were never banking on was becoming a tabloid fixture on the blogs from various legal issues to who you are dating. How do you deal with the fact that you will never again experience anonymity?
You don’t deal with it. You deal with life. You deal with what’s really going on and what’s really real—that’s your four kids, that’s your mother, that’s your family, that’s your business and that’ the people around you. You don’t deal with what people are saying.
I don’t know anyone else who could get away with having all three of his children’s mothers [VH1 reality show star Toya Carter, singer Nivea and actress Lauren London] all smiles and peaceful when spending Christmas together. Want to give a few pointers?
I don’t think it’s anything that I do. It’s the person that I am. I think that just has a lot to do with it. It’s the same answer to the question about why I was never told I won’t be a rapper or I won’t be successful. There aren’t any problems with any of my personal or social situations because it’s who I am and what I am.