Tatt N Chat: Driicky Graham Gets Inked
Fredrick Nasir Graham—better known as Driicky Graham—is more than just snapbacks and tattoos. "That record is one of my creations but it doesn’t define who I am," says the 22-year-old North Carolina native by way of New Jersey. Many are familiar with his commercial hit that dropped in 2012, but Driicky is determined to prove that despite what critics claim, he isn't a one-hit-wonder.
On a warm and breezy Friday afternoon, Driicky Graham decided to add a new piece of art to his ever-growing collection of tats. Vibe Vixen joined him at the uber rad Three Kings Tattoo in Williamsburg to chat about his latest projects, who he'd "Kiss, marry, or kill" and what a date from hell would be like. He also explained the term "Rambo," the title of a track off his new mixtape Experience of Fredrick Neechi which we didn't quite understand at first listen.
Driicky was kind enough to break it down for us and held no bars in sharing bits of his personal life as well during our intimate ink session deep in the depths of Brooklyn, NY. As tattoo artist Nicole worked her magic, Driicky Graham dished out the deets while taking the pain of some sick new ink. Flip through for all the exclusives.
All Photo Credits: Stacy-Ann Ellis
Vixen: What kind tattoo are you getting today?
Driicky Graham: I’m getting something that represents my love for hip-hop because I’m a slave to it.
A slave? Why do you say that?
I say slave because I am and I don’t have a choice. I feel like it’s just rooted in my dna so even if I wanted to fight it I couldn’t.
You have a new song out called "Rambo." I have to ask, what does that even mean?
It’s worse than a thot. If a girl is unattractive or even very attractive but her body count is high, you can’t give her the respect that you want to. She could look like a model but her body count so high that she’s a “Rambo”. Kind of like the movie Rambo, the main character was running through everything. We were just buggin’ out, having fun, and trying to come up with crazy ideas and unfortunately, there are some girls just like that so the song is a tribute to them. It is what it is.
Is there anyone you met in particular that inspired the term?
Nah, no one specifically.
You also have a new track featuring Sebastian Mikael called "We Up." What was the inspiration behind that?
We just linked. He’s such a cool person and we decided to do something for the A1 day one girls out here to let them know that there are still guys who aren’t into the material; letting them know we started from the bottom now we good. That’s pretty much what that song is about.
Is there anyone else that you'd love to collaborate with?
There’s lots of people I would like to work with like my man Chevy Woods and other dope artists like August Alsina, who is out here doing his thing. Chris as well, who created a movement with his music. Also, some of the legends in hip-hop like Jay-Z, Kanye and those guys.
You're no newbie to the hip-hop scene. Besides your hit song "Snapbacks & Tattoos," you were also in a Lords of the Underground video for their song "Tic Toc" in 1994 when you were a child. What's a lesson you've learned from the industry thus far?
One lesson I learned is to just be around people that you trust. Always have a circle that is ready to work with you and work for you because I kind of suffered in the beginning without having my business together. This is the music business so you’ve gotta have creativity and business savvy. So that’s pretty much what I learned: to be careful with whom you put your trust in out here and stay working or dedicated to your craft.
Your tattoo is coming out so dope. Did you sketch it yourself?
Actually, I just found the stencil and I thought it would be so ill.
Nice. What about a mentor or fellow rapper? Is there anyone in the industry that you look to for advice?
In the entertainment industry, yeah, but I wouldn’t say anyone in the music industry besides my managing team. They’ve always been helping me out but you know, I listen to a couple of actors like Flex Washington who is a good friend of mine and Khleo Thomas. I made a bunch of different friends but I can’t think of them from the top of my head. We all just share ideas, thoughts, and help each other get through the day so that’s what that is. I don’t like to bother them because they have their own personal lives but we kick it.
Let's talk about love and relationships. For the ladies who are inquiring, are you single or taken?
Currently I’m single because I got too much stuff on my plate right now.
What's your favorite and least favorite personality trait in a woman?
My least favorite trait is a girl who gives off mixed signals. I like a girl that knows what they want you know, I’m not into playing around. I’m a very blunt person, so I like honesty and the truth. My favorite trait is loyalty; someone that can hold you down, flow with you, and if I’m not going to cheat I expect you to be the same.
We are going to play a game that's been pretty popular lately, called "Kiss, Marry, Kill." Are you ready?
Kiss, marry, or kill Mila J.
I gotta see who that is but I guess kiss.
Kiss, marry, or kill Jhene Aiko.
Oh marry, definitely.
Kiss, marry, or kill Tinashe.
*Laughs* Why does everybody ask me this question? I guess kiss, yeah. She’s dope and I wouldn’t try to kill her *laughs again*.
Have you ever been dumped before? Spill the beans.
Honestly no. I’m usually the one that breaks up with the girl. I don’t really know why it’s that way and I’m not trying to make it look like I’m that guy or whatever but it just happened that way. I just think that like a lot of guys are underrated when they try to be nice to all these girls because it’s viewed as being soft. I feel that quality is underrated because everyone out here is like oh you can’t love no thotties and such. Love is cool, you know?
I’m with you on that one. How does Driicky Graham approach a woman he is interested in?
I’m very observant. I like to see what she’s into from afar before I dive in. I know a lot of things that happen are spur of the moment but I let my words speak and my actions show. That’s just pretty much what it is. I don’t try to take the aggressor role but I’m very confident, though.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m a goof ball; I like to watch a lot of comedy and make people laugh sometimes. I used to dance back in the day but I don’t really dance anymore.
Back in the day as in how far?
Probably like ’05. Chris Brown and I could’ve gone neck in neck. I used to do all of that stuff he did back in the day but I fell in love with hip-hop more. You can’t really pop-lock and rap at the same time.
You're a product of the internet. Do you ever feel like social media is too much to deal with?
It’s a gift and a curse. I think the gift is that as artists we get to promote ourselves. We have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other things like that to let the world know what we’re doing as well as keep us in tune with what the world is doing. Guys back in the day didn’t have that. The curse however, is that everything is over-saturated. There is too much exposure. Kids are growing up too fast like watching stuff nowadays that they shouldn’t be watching and like I said, it’s a double-edged sword.
Do you ever feel like an underdog in your industry?
Oh yeah, all the time. I feel like the new guy in high school that has to figure out if he has to go to the cool table, this table or that table but it’s natural. I just have to prove myself so it doesn’t really bother me that much. I know that I have to simply earn my stripes and work my way to the top. I’m on my grind.
You were born in Jersey and also raised in North Carolina. However, you came up when the south was dominating. Does the South or East Coast influence your style more?
It was so heavy up north that I just carried that with me down south because artists like Jeezy and T.I. had it but I listened to the north guys first like Fab, Jay-Z, and Nas. Even Eminem, Biggie, Pac, Wu-Tang, and Snoop. There are a lot of people I listen to and I tried to keep well rounded when it came to hip-hop growing up.
DJ Mustard from Cali is really big right now. So what about the West Coast sound? Is that something else that influences you?
Of course, like I said Pac, Snoop, Dre, NWA, and oddly enough, Insane Clown Posse. Wait are they from the West Coast? Yeah, West Side Connection, Nate Dogg, and much more.
You’re currently getting a new tattoo out of many. How many do you have in total?
I lost count. I have my fingers tatted, my neck, my arms, and much more.
Which would say is the most meaningful thus far?
The back of my neck, which is the first tattoo I ever got. My sister passed away on my mother’s side so I have her name with angel wings and a halo.
How old were you at the time?
How does that impact your music today?
I mean, she was the reason for “Snapbacks and Tattoos” so I think that was a blessing.
Speaking of “Snapbacks and Tattoos,” are you tired of people asking you about that particular song? Is it something that you’re over now?
I’m not tired of the record; the record is always going to be apart of me and a part of my success but what I am tired of is being referred to as Mr. “Snapbacks & Tattoos” because that record is one of my creations but it doesn’t define who I am. I like to stay away from that because I’m Driicky Graham or Fredrick Neechie; whichever one you prefer. “Snapbacks & Tattoos” is just apart of my legacy and I don’t want that to be what everyone calls me. When you see Jordan you don’t say “Hey, that’s the guy who makes shoes.” You say “Hey, that’s the legendary Michael Jordan.”
Describe the perfect date.
The perfect date would be sometime in the afternoon. I’m not super duper romantic to be honest but I can be for the right person. It doesn’t matter whether she likes exotic places or not I like to travel to the islands like Turks and Caicos or St. Maarten. I would take a girl out for lobster or steak with some wine you know, a nice little dinner. I’d also take her to the beach and take a dip in the water and by the end of the night we can catch a movie.
What would you say is a date from hell?
A date from hell would be hanging with a girl that is aggressive or obnoxious. I also would hate it if she weren’t giving me attention. These days everyone is into his or her phone so if she is busy on her phone all night I would be disappointed. You gotta be real interesting, make me smile and make me interested. Show me that you care.
Have you tried to talk a woman via social media?
We all have. I get girls emailing me and I’ve had some hook-ups through social media. I’m not gonna front.
What would you want to see a Vixen wearing? What kind of outfit do you like to see a woman in?
Since we’re promoting “Rambo,” I would love to see some sexy army fatigue.
That is so random! Why army fatigue?
You know why? Cuz I gotta promote that “Rambo” and army fatigue makes her look like someone who stands on her own but is still trying to be feminine for guys so that’ll be dope; like a warrior princess look.
Is this a thing for the boudoir or outside the bedroom?
This is all visual. I’m just thinking to myself that would be a dope concept.
Do you think a female getting a tattoo of your name on her is a turn off or nah?
It depends on the cause. I mean if you feel that strong about me then that’s cool. If we don’t make it though, then you’ll have to live with that. The next man will also have to deal with that. *Laughs*
Are you for or against sexting?
Words, yes but pictures, nah. You’re not going to catch any d-pics from me. You ain’t catching me out there on social sites with my junk.
What if the female is sending you the photos?
Believe it our not, and I don’t want any guys looking at me crazy, but it’s sexier to send pictures in lingerie than actual nudes because a guy’s imagination likes to take him everywhere. If you just see it plain in your face and you don’t like what you see, everything is just thrown off. If she’s wearing sexy lingerie you can see her shape; something to leave a lasting impression.
Even though you say you aren’t romantic, what’s the most romantic thing you have done for with a special lady?
Walking on the beach at night or stargazing for hours and hours.
Finish the sentence. Couples that _____ together stay together.
I thought it was couples that pray together stay together. Or is it lay together that stay together? I go with couples that pray together, stay together because both parties should have their trust in god and each other.
Yeah, I’m actually Muslim.
Does that influence any of your personal choices?
Besides food and all the obvious ones, it helps to see a perspective of how to deal with people. It represents love and honoring your family, mothers, wife, or whomever else you cherish as well as dealing with friends in a way where you respect them while still being true to yourself.
Let’s talk fashion now. What are you wearing today?
Today I got on my Jordan VI “Infareds,” my waxed black denim and a tee. I’m chillin’ today so this is really mild.
How important is fashion to you?
Aww man, I’m a fashion head and sneaker head. I got endless pairs of Jordans. I got the new royal blues coming in later this August. I got like two pairs of Yeezys too, so I’m just a big sneaker head. I love fashion.
Are there any particular designers that you love? Or are you an equal opportunist?
I don’t like to go with the flow; I like to do my own thing. I’m a fan of people like Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and Ralph Lauren. I’m not a name brand freak but at the end of the day I just like things that make me look good.
Did you see the shady mixtape cover that Lil’ Kim dropped with Nicki Minaj on it?
I didn’t see it or hear the song yet but I heard about it.
How do you feel about female emcees sparring with each other these days?
I think that’s dope. Nicki has been on her grind for a while and I’m happy for her success but legends like Lil’ Kim, MC Lyte, Missy Elliott, Eve, I hope I’m not leaving anyone out, Diamond, Charli Baltimore and others are amazing. There needs to be more female rappers in the spotlight. Oh yeah, shouts to my girl Angel Haze too. There are many chicks out here doing their thing that can really get busy with guys.
So do you believe that newbies should pay homage to the old-school rappers who paved the way?
They should but here’s my thing with that, I just want to keep it raw, as far as that Nicki and Kim situation, I can’t really back Kim because Nicki tried to extend peace. In the very beginning, if you can remember, after Nicki was getting big she tried to get Kim on her songs and Kim kind of smacked her hand away on some little kid stuff. Like she doesn’t want to share the spotlight. Sometimes you have to realize when your time is up and you have to pass the torch to the next generation. I’m not saying that anyone is washed up or Kim can’t still get on her grind like she used to but the girl tried and now they’re enemies, for what? It’s not good for hip-hop, you know, two ladies beefing for no reason.
What's next for Driicky Graham?
The mixtape Experience of Fredrick Neechi. I’m currently working on the album Success by the Graham as well so stay tuned for that. I was up ‘til 6:30 working the other day so you know, I’m grinding.
Are there any features on the mixtape?
I just did a collab with K-Camp, shouts to my man King Carter from North Carolina. I did a collaboration with Snoop and Jazze Pha, and I’m trying to get a collab with Chevy Woods right now as I said. Hopefully there will be one with Wiz [Khalifa] and Jeezy too. I’m into building relationships with people outside of music though that way they can really rock with me.
What’s one thing you know for sure?
I’m a hip-hop head.
Check out more pictures (including the finished product) on the following pages.