NY hip-hop is anything but dead. In October, Brooklyn native CJ Fly dropped his latest mixtape, Thee Way Eye See It, featuring the love rap “Q&A.” Along with fellow upstart Joey Bada$$, CJ is preparing to release a new Pro Era mixtape called The Secc$ Tap.e 2 on Valentine’s Day. The 20-year-old spoke to VIBE about keeping it real with the ladies, his role as Pro Era’s resident O.G. and how he found himself in the back of a pickup truck with a wolf. —Sowmya Krishnamurthy
VIBE: You just dropped a video for “Q&A.” What special lady is that love song dedicated to?
CJ Fly: [Laughs]. Ahhhhh. That’s a good question. Some ladies. An ode to the ladies.
Not naming any names? That’s a safe thing to do.
Nah. I’m chillin.
So you’re not one of those rappers who records phone conversations and voicemails and puts them on his album?
Never that. I’ll probably try to have sex in the studio and put that on my album.
You’re working on the Pro Era mixtape that’s dropping, incidentally, on Valentine’s Day. How’s that coming along?
It’s gonna be dope. Really dope. It’s part two of the first tape. We’re just trying to get it popping for the top of the year. Perfect time for the ladies, you know?
Totally. Girls love Pro Era.
I hope so.
Pro Era has several members. What role do you specifically play in the group?
Everybody has their own sound and music style. I just be myself. I’m the grandpa. I’m like the oldest. I’m like the gatekeeper.
At 20, you’re the wise O.G.?
It’s so annoying, you know? I want to just have fun and not give a fuck about anything else [Laughs]. It’s a lot of us. Gotta make sure everyone is good. I'm Fly the “Overseer.”
How did you meet Joey Bada$$?
I've known him since he was like a freshman [in high school]. Him, [Capital] STEEZ and I used to rap in cyphers at school. The group formed a little time after we saw the chemistry we had together. Edward R. Murrow High School. Beastie Boys went there. Basquiat went there.
I heard you had a weird concert experience in New Mexico that ended with you hitchhiking with a wolf. What happened?
So, we were leaving Albuquerque. We were going somewhere in the South, I don't even remember where. For about 5-10 miles, there were no gas stations with diesel in sight. As we’re going, we realized we were on “E” and were like, “OK. It’s only two miles from here. We’re gonna make it.” Then, the van breaks down and we had to climb down the hill into a deserted town—it’s New Mexico for god’s sake. Technically, we’re the only Black people walking around. It was kind of scary. I watched a lot of Breaking Bad before this trip so I felt like I knew the place. We ended up walking to the wrong gas station and had to walk to another, and on the way there, a guy in a pickup truck with a wolf in the back was like, “Hey, I know you guys aren’t from here. You need help?” It was very sketchy because it seemed like he did this often.
This sounds like the start to a bad Law & Order: SVU episode.
He offered to definitely take us back to his ranch. It was scary.
You got in his car?
So, pickup truck. It was our tour manager, our cameraman and me. Our tour manager was not trying to get back with the wolf. So I get in the back. The wolf was chilling. I have a pit bull and the contrast is horrible, but in my mind, a pit bull is way more vicious. He was like, “Don’t worry. She’s nice. Her name is Katana.”
Like the character from Mortal Kombat?
That’s what I was saying! I was waiting for her in the back to do karate moves.