Interview: King Los Gets Deeper Than Rap On 'God, Money, War'

King Los gets deeper than rap.

Remember when Kendrick Lamar shocked hip-hop and set the bar for firing shots with his “Control” verse? Some of your favorite rappers made futile attempts to blast back but guess who K. Dot said had the best response? That’s right, King Los. The connoisseur of unfiltered rhymes and hard-hitting metaphors, Los has bagged many co-signs, from mentor, Diddy, to superior lyricist, Lupe Fiasco, who has gone on-record claiming Los has a razor sharp mouthpiece. There's also footage of Los trading mean bars with Philly's Meek Mill. And who can forget the infamous 10-minute freestyle Los performed back in ’05 for Puff that landed the Baltimore native his first record deal?

Before the ink dried on Los’ contract with Bad Boy, Diddy let the rhymeslinger go after authorities popped up at the Bad Boy offices, inquiring about Los’ street team. "All of them dudes that I brought to Bad Boy then are doing Fed time now or just coming home,” Los said to VIBE at RCA Records' New York HQ.

Losing a record deal is enough to make any man holler like Marvin Gaye but Los is a hustler. Keeping his name buzzing in the streets with mixtapes, Los caught the attention of Diddy once again, which resulted in a second Bad Boy deal. After two mixtapes under Diddy’s tutelage, The Crown Ain’t Safe and Becoming King, Los released 2014’s Zero Gravity II, and announced his departure from BBE.

With a new deal in place, over a decade in the rap game and losing friends to the streets, King Los has finally dropped what he calls his pre-debut album, God, Money, War (which landed June 23). Here, Los discusses his current situation, latest release and using his platform to inspire others.

VIBE: You’ve been through a lot since your first deal. Is this the album you’ve been waiting to make your entire career?
King Los: No, it was just a necessary component in time that was needed in the moment. It wasn’t like the thing I’ve been waiting for my whole life. It was just like, “Yo, this is what I do anyway.” And now the people need to hear it. It was just that simple.

With the exception of one or two songs, the entire project is dipped in inspiration.
Exactly. That’s my lane—to inspire people. I’m somewhat of a motivational speaker, you can say. It was a basis of that and watching the different things that were going on and just being concerned. This project was not about me. It was a selfless project. So I went in there to say and do things that will help people.

One of my favorite songs on the album is "Lil' Black Boy." Is that track especially special to you since your son is on it?
“Black Blood” is my favorite. There’s nothing negative about that song, the beat or the way Isaiah Rashad approached it. And then that hook with that voice. I was able to add my piece of art to it and low-key snapped on my verse.

That’s definitely a stand-out track. Isaiah came correct on that sh**.
I’m calling him the Basquiat of hip-hop. His whole approach to that song is so uncanny to me. Just because him knowing to go there more melodically. His whole approach is just so abstract. He’s singing behind his verse. He’s humming behind some parts of it, and he said, "I know that black love keep the sun shining on your face." Those words are so poetic to me.

He’s been M.I.A for a minute. Why’d you go with him for that?
The track had made it to him and he laid an idea down on it through the label or something. That chemistry was awesome. But if we ever get to work together in the same room, I can only imagine [what would happen].

Compared to your other projects, your message on God, Money, War come across more fluidly.
I learned to be a better communicator and that a messenger is responsible for the message. I've also learned how to be more relatable and how to be more positive.

I know at one time you were really interested in Robert Frost. Are you a heavy reader?
That’s when I first started writing. I have the Alchemist in my book bag. I haven’t read it yet but I keep it in my book bag waiting for the right moment. But I feel like the stuff that people give me to read is about stuff that I’m already on. If anything, it’ll just be a confirmation of what I’m already thinking. I don’t read because I’m so full of stuff. Honestly, I’m constantly outpouring stuff and I’m constantly learning from life. I’m really just Macgyver’ing my way through life. But I do study on the Internet and listen to speakers. I listen to Ravi Zacharias so if I were reading something, it would be a book by Ravi Zacharais. I’m going to start really getting into my readings. And I want to challenge you to go listen to something by Ravi: "Why Doesn't God Stop Rape Or Those Who Hurt The Innocent?" Listen to that piece ‘cause it’s essential to understanding. And it’s going to connect something for you in a major way and give you a deeper insight into something, which is going to grant you foresight, especially with this Charleston thing. Then I want you to share it with someone else.

Speaking of Charleston, share your thoughts on that situation.
The Charleston situation is just unfortunate. It’s such a fluke thing to walk up to a place that’s supposed to be respected as a temple of God, a representation of God, and go in there and do something so evil. But at the same time, the reason why evil is so reflected in this world is so that people have to need God because at any given time, anybody can do anything evil. So if everybody keeps walking around, not loving and believing in God, not trusting in God then that’s what happens. That’s why we need God, not, ‘Oh, ‘cause when evil stuff happens, there’s no God.’ No, we need God because there’s a possibility that evil can happen at any given time. So we need something to help us balance all that. And the more God we have, the less we have people running up in churches and doing that.

READ: Opinion: VIBE Editors React To #CharlestonShooting

You're really teaching on this album. This is really good for your son when he gets older.
Kids need not just our help, but the help of God. We have to introduce them to God and not let them grow up to do whatever they want in their rooms all quiet and not checking on them. The more these kids are raised the right way, they won’t ever go grab a gun and kill a group of people, not when it’s God in them.

Let's switch gears a bit. I’ve been itching to get answers to this since it came out. Diddy popping sh*t on Rick Ross’ Mastermind is mad dope yet it seems like he’s barking on you. Clear that up for us.
Everybody asking about that sh*t. That shit is f**king legendary. [Ed. Note: King Los played unreleased audio of Diddy spazzing about money, mansions and certain people having the DNA to do certain things in a certain way. Los asked for song's contents to not be published.] So basically, I’m showing you that I have all this sh*t that Diddy be saying. It wasn’t like he was going off on me. We have these moments where I’m like his amp guy, and of course, he uses points of reference where he points out certain things you might be doing that he’s accenting in his rants or his motivational speeches. We have these moments where we share with each other, when I’m like, ‘Well, talk that sh*t, Puff.” And he like, “Yeah, I’m the muthaf**kin’…” So we were having one of those moments and even about the direction that I want to go in as an artist, which kind of leads up to [the theme of] God, Money, War. Being more godly. He embodies that. It’s was like brother to brother. ‘Yo, You don’t want to walk with them f**king roaches, B. You want to walk with God.’

He knew I was recording. Every time he do that, I push play. So that’s what happened. I recorded it just like that. The next day he was like, ‘Yo, last night was crazy, right? You recorded it?’ I did. Once I sent it to him, he let French [Montana] hear it. Once he let French hear it, French asked if he could have it. And Puff has this thing where he can’t say no to people, especially when it’s like me, French, people like his lil’ brothers. French played it for Ross and Ross was like, ‘Yo, I need that for my album for an intro.' [King Los plays the tape again, but only for a few seconds before smiling hard and stopping it] I got so much sh*t, bro. I got the gold mind. I got sh*t with me and Pharrell going back and forth, freestyling, coming up with song concepts and sh*t. I got that archive. I’m going to have this sh*t all over my album. I’ma do something creative like chop it up to pieces and do a record. I got enough sh*t to set it up like just a conversation that’ll inspire the world.

Cop King Los' God, Money, War on iTunes here.

From the Web

More on Vibe


Genres Aside, Here Are Our 25 Favorite Songs Of 2018

Keeping up with all of the music from 2018 was a full-time job, with loads of songs releasing every week and not enough ears to keep track. But the volume of music comes with an advantage: there’s something for everybody. Fittingly, our list of the 25 Best Songs of 2018 represents the multi-genre mayhem that is in everyone’s playlists this year.

Some of the entries on our list, like cuts by Drake, Travis Scott and Childish Gambino, were at the forefront of the conversation in 2018, dominating streaming services and radio around the country. Indie darling Saba made waves, and he’s included here as well. Jazz wizard Kamasi Washington dropped some of the best protest music of the year. But there are also some songs on this year’s list that spoke to the VIBE Tribe in a different way. Cardi B had hits all year, but an album cut impressed us most; Usher and Zaytoven’s new album didn’t make a huge splash commercially, but one of its songs appears here. And Beyonce appears on one of the best songs of the year that never even saw an official release–but that didn’t stop us from including it here.

Music broke the rules this year, and so did we. Read below, and tell us what surprise choices are making your songs of the year list.

READ MORE: Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

Continue Reading
A look back at the collaborator's up and down relationship.
Getty Images

Remember The Time: 10 Times Drake And Kanye West Were Stronger Together

Kanye West and Drake aren’t exactly in the best place at the moment. West’s Dec. 13 Twitter rant detailed their issues, in which he accuses Drake of “sneak dissing” and threatening him.

“You sneak dissing on [Travis Scott] records and texting Kris [Jenner] talking about how’s the family.” he wrote among many other tweets and allegations against the Scorpion MC.

While this is a bump in the road, the two haven’t always been enemies. Despite the shenanigans surrounding them, Kanye West and Drake have had a very fruitful relationship. All drama aside, the duo have created many memorable moments in hip-hop and pop culture. They’ve written and recorded some incredible songs and shared countless stages during concerts and tours.

To abstain from dwelling on the negativity, VIBE has collected a list of moments taking you through the high points in the rappers’ relationship. Check it out below.


Drake's Freestyles Over Many Beats By 'Ye

Before he was one of the most sought-after rappers in the world, Drizzy has looked up to Kanye West and sampled his work. For “Say What’s Real,” a single off his mixtape So Far Gone, the “In My Feelings” MC sampled Yeezy’s “Say You Will” off of his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. The admiration continued throughout the years, resulting in more freestyles over songs like “Swagga Like Us” and “Barry Bonds.” Both tracks feature beats created by the Chi-town native. 

‘Thank Me Later’ Proves Their Shared Power 

After meeting in 2009, the duo came together to bring Drake's Thank Me Later album to the next level. They collaborated on two tracks- the futuristic love songs “Show Me A Good Time,” and “Find Your Love.” With West holding down production, deep-pocketed 808’s and table-top scratch sounds were highlighted. The accolades for the latter song resulted in the No. 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts as they created their own lane.

Drake Calls Kanye “The Most Influential Person”

In a 2009 interview, the then-industry rookie had some nice words for West. Speaking specifically about the 41-year-old’s 808’s and Heartbreak album, the Toronto rapper described ‘Ye as "the most influential person” who was important to young emcees in the game.

"Before I ever got the chance to meet him, Kanye West shaped a lot of what I do, as far as music goes," Drake said. He knows how to utilize great sounds and great music. So before I met him, I had the utmost respect for Kanye West. I'd even go as far as to say he's the most influential person as far as a musician that I'd ever had in my life."

Their Collaborations On Wax 

The pair has been making music together for nearly 10 years, with some standout tracks including “Forever,” the remix to “All Of The Lights,” and “Pop Style.” On their 2017 song “Glow” off of Drake’s playlist More Life, both rappers discuss their growing, limitless success. West was rumored to initially appear on Drizzy’s smash-hit “Nice For What.” He reportedly had a verse on the critically-acclaimed track until the beef between Drake and his G.O.O.D. Music cohort Pusha T became lethal.

The Joint Mixtape That Never Happened

Drake and Kanye are no strangers when it comes to making joint albums with other artists. Drake worked with Future on the platinum-selling album What A Time To Be Alive, while Kanye released Watch The Throne with JAY-Z to critical acclaim. However, it has been hinted for the longest time that the two were working on a full-length album of their own.

Kanye confirmed the plan to release an album with Drake to Vogue in 2016, shortly after hinting at a joint project during OVO Fest. The Take Care rapper co-signed the announcement, saying "What my brother was asking before was, are you ready if we make an album?"

Drake Writing For Kanye’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’

Drake wrote a song for Kanye’s 2016 effort, The Life of Pablo. The Canadian hip-hop star helped pen the Isaac Hayes and Nelly-sampled “30 Hours.” Drizzy was also reportedly on the original, unreleased version of Pablo’s “Wolves,” which featured Icelandic artist Bjork (the album version features Vic Mensa and Sia).

The Duo Become Friendly, Competitive Neighbors

By the time of their initial meeting in 2009, Kanye already clocked in nearly a decade of music industry knowledge, and Drake was making the transition from teen TV star to full-time rapper. But who would have thought the duo would have eventually become actual neighbors?

Drake eventually moved to Calabasas, Calif.- a neighborhood in Los Angeles many celebrities call home- around the same time West began publicly dating his now-wife, Kim Kardashian. In the 2016 bop “Summer Sixteen,” Drizzy jokes, “Now I got a house in LA, now I got a bigger pool than Ye / And look man, Ye’s pool is nice, mine's just bigger's what I’m saying.”


View this post on Instagram


There goes the neighborhood

A post shared by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on Nov 7, 2016 at 3:05am PST

Kanye Supports OVO Fest

Drake created a hip-hop festival called OVO Fest in 2010. Not only does it feature notable acts in urban music, but it also gave a platform to upcoming artists from Canada who might not have gotten a platform back home. Kanye West was one of the first supports of the music event, performing at three of the festivals.

He also admitted that Drake inspired him and JAY-Z to record Watch The Throne during 2013’s OVO Fest, stating, "Me and Hov would've never made Watch the Throne if this ni**a wasn't putting pressure on us like that, so I just wanna pay my respects.”

Kanye Apologizes To Drake Over G.O.O.D. Music Album Rollouts

Earlier this fall, Kanye West apologized to Drake in a series of tweets for planning the rollout of albums by artists under his G.O.O.D music roster around the proposed release of Scorpion.

In one of the tweets, Kanye wrote “Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place. We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.” In another tweet, ‘Ye revealed that he never listened to the diss tracks between him and Pusha, and didn’t have conversations regarding Drake’s child with him.

Let me start by apologizing for stepping on your release date in the first place … We were building a bond and working on music together including squashing the issues with Cudi at our office.

— ye (@kanyewest) September 5, 2018

They Shared Laughs Over Meek Mill Memes

Drake and Meek Mill were in an infamous feud back in 2015. After performing his diss track aimed at Meek- "Back to Back”- at the 2015 OVO Fest, Drizzy, Kanye, and Will Smith enjoyed a laugh over the countless memes mocking the Philly MC.

Continue Reading
VIBE / Nick Rice

Debate Us: The 30 Best Albums Of 2018

What a year 2018 has been for music lovers.

Listeners enjoyed a buffet of diverse melodies, savoring in the choice of curating the tunes they craved as opposed to consuming more than they can digest. Rumored albums from veterans like Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V and The Carters' first joint project battled its way to the top of our personal charts alongside music's innovators like Noname, The Internet, Buddy, and Janelle Monae.

Within that aforementioned list of artists, a new generation of lyricists and vocalists found their footing with fans and critics alike. The rising crop of talent released projects that should motivate each of them to carve out space for forthcoming awards. While we took into account the albums released from Dec. 1, 2017 to Nov. 20, 2018, that moved us emotionally, we also checked off a list of requirements like replay value, overall production, critical reception, and cultural impact.

Here are the 30 albums (in alphabetical order, not ranked), that instilled pride in our culture, made us take a look within, and encouraged us to appreciate music all over again.

READ MORE: 25 Hip-Hop Albums By Bomb Womxn Of 2018

Continue Reading

Top Stories