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Facts Only: Trae Tha Truth Spits Nothin' But 'Tha Truth' On New LP

The H-Tine Gawd chops it up about his album, ties to Pimp C and how he puts on for his city.

Drama builds some of hip-hop's finest characters. See Trae Tha Truth, the Houston legend whose share of ups and downs have only made him stronger. After being banned from several radio stations nationwide, surviving the 2012 shooting at his annual Trae Day event that left him a bloodied mess and three others (Carlos Durell "Dinky D" Dorsey, Erica Rochelle Dotson and Coy "Poppa C" Thompson) dead, Trae continues pushing, iced out grills and all.

The “Swang” rapper has been on a steady mixtape run since his last album, 2011's Street King, and now, he’s making his LP return with Tha Truth (which hits the streets on July 24), featuring the singles “Tricken Every Car I Get” co-starring Future and Boosie Badazz, and the Rick Ross-assisted “I Don’t Give A F**k."

With rap's signature confidence, Trae calls this album one of his best to date and expects listeners to play catch-up with Tha Truth. "It’s the truth of everybody wondering what I been doing or what really goes through my head because I been through a lot of f**ked up sh*t and a lot of people probably trying to figure out how the f**k do [I] still manage to get back up every time," he says of his forthcoming project. "I felt like I was just gonna let them into my life a little more."

Not to say he's been taking days off. While dropping a barrage of mixtapes like 2013's I Am King and 2014's Flight School, he's also hosting the aforementioned Trae Day bonanza on July 24, known for its wide array of hip-hop guests like Lil Bibby, Nipsey Hussle, Dej Loaf, Rich Homie Quan, Snootie Wild, and his personal friend, J. Cole.

In a recent sit-down with Trae, the H-Tine Gawd chops it up about his album, ties to Pimp C and how he puts on for his city.—Mark Braboy (@DRD_Poetry17)

VIBE: What was your state of mind while creating this project?
Trae Tha Truth: I got over 1,300 songs done. I was getting ready to put out another mixtape and it ended up getting decided that the album would be more important to the people. People love and appreciate mixtapes just as far as the vibe and to hear certain stuff, but for the last five or six years, I’ve only done mixtapes. I didn’t really care to put an album out. I felt like I was cool with doing mixtapes, but I get it. People appreciate a body of work wholeheartedly more when it’s a project because they feel like they’re a part of it, like they’re supporting it, and like it’s just something more serious and it’s not going to tear away as fast as a mixtape. I felt them songs [I picked] fit right now.

With all the setbacks you've been through, how do you manage to get back up?
First off it’s God. Look, I’m not trying to hear no artist complain because in the back of my mind, I be thinking like, you ain’t been through what I been through in real life. And you gotta think, people only been seeing what I been going through the last years publicly. At the end of the day, I always kept faith in staying strong and sh*t—I’m here. I mean, what other artist do you know can be banned from every city and state, and still be relevant, doing whatever he want to do?

So you were banned everywhere?
Everybody thought—they just shed light on Houston because that’s where it started. If it’s one of [Emmis Communications] events, I’m not allowed there. It don’t matter who it is performing. You can’t advertise me in cities that do [their] concerts. [I’ve been banned everywhere] for the past five or six years. Even when I went on tour with T.I. and Lil Wayne. Whoever he would do functions and events with the company of that radio [station], it was like, “We got to keep Trae on the tour bus and keep him out of the arena until it’s time."

For those who don’t know, how did the ban start?
I’mma keep it real with you, I try to stray away from it because I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I let go and I don’t really just want to keep talking about it, but long story short, I got my own holiday in Houston and some unfortunate things happen. And it’s everyday life, y’know? Sometimes ni**s get into fighting, sometimes ni**as start shooting. Long story short, the event was over and some sh*t occurred. The radio [station] needed somebody to blame. I mean, they didn’t want to take the blame. They actually was out there at the event, but they didn’t want to take that heat so they started to bash on the lower class people: "It’s always them people, your fans." I got to a point where I was fed up. I stood up for the people because it was a perfect event—it wasn’t no fights, no nothing out there. Everybody was gone. I can’t control what people do when we’re long gone.

WATCH: Trae Tha Truth Commands Respect In His ‘Been Here Too Long’ Video

Now, during your mixtape run, you had a lot of huge collaborations.
Because those were the ones who seen like, “That’s kind of real messed up how they’re doing him, like that’s a genuine dude that we all f**k with." You can’t tell [artists they] can’t be cool with me or can’t deal with me.

Houston now has two radio stations that play hip-hop. Can you be heard on 93.7?
Yeah, I can be heard on 93.7. Clear Channel’s in support of it. Long story short, they’re very supportive and it evens the playing field. It just went to show how much people really root for me because when they came and first played me, it impacted like no other. It made it bigger than just a Houston thang. The news spread everywhere through social media. They never really seen that type of rapid fire come back fast so that was a good thing.

Making now a perfect time for you to drop an album.
I guess people feel like they have been missing me because now, the recognition, just the last month or two of me going on the road, got people excited. I think the most important of this album is everybody knows I’m capable of doing good music and I can spit but I think the album’s going to take a lot of people by storm. The album is put together to the point [where] you don’t have to skip through nothing. Because the average person with an album gets through like four or five songs and I hear a muthaf**ka say all the time like, "That’s a classic" or "He got a hard album" because they be praying just to get a couple of jams but there be so much extra s**t. With this, it’s not gon' be a matter of what songs you liked. My question is what is it that you may not like. I know that the majority of the album, people are going to love. Not all of it. One thing they can say about this album is that it’s well put together. You’ll never find no flaws as far as the music. People just have their certain preferences of how they would have wanted it to go, but the music, overall, is quality. You wouldn’t even know I was from Texas when you hear this album if you didn’t know me.

For Trae Day and Friends, you bring out spitters across the country. What makes you this hip-hop ambassador of sorts?
I just been the homie, man. A lot of people in the game have always been my partna, my family. We’ve been supportive of each other, but at the same time love to bring them out because I want them to experience that. When they get to experience that, that’s a seed planted. Even it’s a seed planted where they come back next year or even go back home and do their own thing. Then for the kids, it’s a beautiful thing because they never knew they could get close to some of these people. I’m just out for helping everybody.

What makes you so civil-minded?
I think because when I came up, me and my little brother JayTon used to experience different things and you know, you always can’t run to mama to help you. We just dealt with it. Coming up, I really didn’t have that person I can call to talk me out of something, whether if it was me that needed to be talked to or to tell me. “It’s time to go handle that.” Feeling that was f**ked up. Just knowing that we had to figure out a way to make it work. I told myself, if I ever had the opportunity to get on, I’mma try to help people to not experience what I experienced. That's even with my music. I give you the truth. It’s not to tell them not to do something or to do something. It’s like, if you plan on that, let me tell you what happened to me when I did that. Now, what you do, it’s on you but I’mma give you that game just so you’ll know. From that point on, you can’t blame nobody but yourself because you was told.

I notice that you do that both in real life and in your music. There’s a lot of stuff that a lot of people can feel, like “The Rain”.
Oh yeah, and this album is that times 10. Like the song, “Tryna Figure It Out." That’s gon' shock the sh*t out of people. “The Real” featuring Dej Loaf, that’s another one. My favorite one is “Book of Life” on there. It’s gon' be a lot of messages on there. And it’s not the message where you have somebody tryna tell you this, tell you that and you get irritated like, I’m not tryna hear this sh*t right now. It’s just the relatable message where it needs to be heard and I think it’s a void for it. So, that’s what I’m here to fill.

WATCH: Trae Tha Truth And Rick Ross Have Little Regard For The Law In ‘I Don’t Give A F*ck’ Video

You just made me think of that intro with Lil Duval on it. How did that come about?
That’s my brother, man. It’s crazy. I just be wanting to do something different because he always do skits on different stuff and my stuff. But it was interesting because, [I’m like], N***a, I need you to do this intro for the album. And the you realize the s**t that’s out [is] serious as fuck. And he’s looking like, N***a, I make people laugh. It turned out organically and it went the way it was supposed to go. And the sh*t he’s saying is really the truth as far as what he felt at the time. Nobody told him what to say. He did his thing and still kept it funny here and there. He said what a lot of people don’t say. The reality is everybody’s struggling, at least the majority.

You’ve been active in the community. Describe race relations in Texas as far as the McKinney situation. And also, what’s your take on the confederate flag in South Carolina being taken down.
That whole situation in South Carolina was heartbreaking. With people reppin' that flag the way that they do and fight for it, I feel like, f**k that flag. It just is what it is if you reppin' that flag for the wrong reason. And it took a lot of us time. That flag goes way back to Dukes of Hazard but you never would have known, intellectually, what people was getting at. But now that we understand and see it, I feel like I’m not down with that sh*t being up. It need to be took down because imagine if we had something that was a way of bashing everyone else in a certain type of way. I guarantee it would be took down. I hope they fry that muthaf***a’s a** [Dylann Roof] in jail. I really do. I’m not tryna be hateful, but it is what it is.

READ: Opinion: Should The N-Word Be Compared To The Confederate Flag?
He had all the time in the world when people tryna talk him out of that and the place where he was at. The fact of him even saying he was hesitant at a time because they was just so nice—that really made me sick to my stomach because he still went through and did that s**t. As far as Texas, it’s not really super, super racial everywhere. You have some cops that’s f**ked up. You got some cities in the state of Texas where it’s like that, but to the most part, I mean a lot of people support them. Of course, the blacks and Hispanics really stick together. Me, I’m not a racial person. I deal with all races. I’ve always been the neutral type.

Julia Beverly recently released her book on Pimp C. What was your connection to him and how did Pimp rep Texas in your opinion?
Pimp definitely is Texas. He’s definitely one of the couple of pioneers of the state of Texas. And one of the first couple and only couple that took it worldwide; that brought that Texas sound worldwide. It definitely was a hard loss for everybody because people learn to love Pimp. Period. You gon' love him what he’s gon' tell you and what he ain’t gon' bite his tongue about. One thing I could say is in the state of Texas, when we lose one of our own, regardless of the situation is, we gon' tend to be supportive because [whether] we deal with each other or not, Texas is Texas, we rep us.

As far as the book, I haven’t read it yet, but I’m pretty sure she’ll be giving me one. It should be a very interesting book. A very interesting book. I mean he had his trials and tribulations. He had his views on a lot of people, too, so I’m sure it’s a funny and interesting book. UGK is one of the top groups ever because their dynamic was so well put together. How could you not embrace it? A lot of people haven’t went back to really view the history like when they was with Big Tyme Records and all that. I’m talking about way back. When people heard “Pocket Full of Stones,” they heard a certain version because it was a whole ‘nother version then.

What’s sad is Pimp C's voice missing in the midst of everything that’s going on right now.
I think [there's] voices out there, it’s just a matter of who people really want to hear. It’s a lot of people out there with the same game and wisdom we got that makes sense with what they say, but just a matter of people willing to accept it and embrace it. But most definitely, [Pimp] was gonna be the one most vocal about it and wasn’t gonna be political at all it was gonna be straight to it.

Do you feel it’s a rapper’s responsibility to tackle hot button issues?
I feel that I’m not to judge if they should or they shouldn’t because it’s up to you to figure if you do or don’t. It’s up to me to get my a** up in the morning, put my pants on, put my shoes on and go out here and hustle if that’s what I decide to do. Or I could sit my a** in the house and watch TV and eat all day. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make me better and it doesn’t make me worse. I’m not gonna put that jacket on and say "every rapper." I think as a whole, those who genuinely care should step up and do what needs to be done, if they give a f**k. If they don’t, they don’t have to. I never place blame on nobody. I can only speak for myself. I’m gon' do it because I feel like, Sh*t, hopefully the next lil' homies that’s under me gon' follow in my footsteps.

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Beats, Blackness, and Revolution: A Conversation With Jay Versace

Jay Versace doesn’t care who you thought he was. He never has, and never will. Since his influencer ascension through comedic skits via the now-defunct social media platform, Vine, in 2016, Jay has used his platform to amplify Black spirituality, Black creativity, and Black mental health. Through sharing resources to his large following on social media, he’s continuing to do so even now amid these trying times. One of the several things that he’s been doing to help maintain his inner peace as the country is enthralled in protest has been producing music.

Versace made his first beat in May of 2018, and it was actually met with contention from fans who were only familiar with his comedic side. “When I tweeted I was trying to make music, so many people were like, ‘This is what this is gonna sound like,’ and were sending the craziest gifs and memes and I was like, ‘Damn, y'all really think I have no taste,’” he says when recounting the first time he shared his music on social media. “(Laughs) It was very intense and overwhelming, but I was like you know what, f**k them and kept doing it, kept trying.” And he did exactly that, fine-tuned his beat-making craft by digging into the soulful music he was raised on. Thus, the biggest testament to his growth as a producer has definitely been his early 2020 appearance on Buffalo, New York rapper and Griselda collective member Westside Gunn’s latest critically acclaimed album Pray for Paris, where his beat on the self-titled track “Versace” found him in the production credits next to rap royalty like DJ Premier and Tyler, The Creator. Since this major moment in his music career, Jay has been active in both the studio and on the Internet, spreading awareness about Black rights.

There have been a lot of performative activism surrounding the most recent protests against police brutality following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black folk in this country. Brands—and some white allies alike—have cleared their conscience with a lukewarm effort, a solid week of Instagram story reshares of burning cop cars and picket signs, and empty PR promises to “stand by the Black community.” Jay recognizes this and believes white allies need to protest in their own communities first before leaving to go protest in others’. “They go to our neighborhood to protest their neighborhood (Laughs). Like, nah, go to your neighborhood to protest. That’s why I really want to see white people using their own in their own spaces that we can’t get to because of their privilege.”

Jay always speaks his mind across his social media platforms, and he remains jovial, yet candid in our conversation about his criticism on certain people profiting from Black culture and the Black plight. His stance is very clear: if you profit off the Black dollar, then you have an obligation to speak up for Black rights. “You have to realize, if you benefit off the Black community, this is how you give them back all that they’ve given you,” Jay says. “If you’re sitting in a mansion and just sitting on the Black dollar based on what you’ve been doing, then this is how you contribute.”

As a 22-year-old queer Black man, he realizes he has to fight for his rights not only in a racist American society but also in a hip-hop space that is often plagued with homophobia. “I really have to work extra hard to find my own style and my own taste and just perfect what I’m doing because people see somebody that’s queer and they automatically don’t want to associate themselves,” Jay says when asked about carving out his own space in the music world. “Because they’re homophobic, or because they don’t want to be saying ‘Oh, what was you doing working with him? What were y’all doing in the studio?’” Despite this, Jay’s individuality has never faltered and he has turned his personality into one of his most endearing qualities. A close friendship with the ethereal Erykah Badu has also helped him maintain a deep relationship with his ancestry and spirituality, and he prides himself on how much he’s grown into his Blackness.

Even over Zoom, Jay’s energy and spirit erased our digital distance. Despite him living in California now, the lighthearted—often misunderstood —sarcasm that only two people from Jersey can understand blended immediately between us. He is deeply rooted in his beliefs, unapologetically himself, and simultaneously still growing into his newly discovered goals and ambitions. In a conversation with VIBE, Jay Versace talks about the current revolution for Black rights, how his spiritual roots have influenced his soulful beats, and why his future looks all-Black.

What are your feelings like surrounding the current revolution taking place?

It’s mixed emotions. There’s so much good stuff happening, there’s so much bad stuff happening. There’s so much of just both happening at the same time. I’m worried about my mental health and just how I’m, like, trying to be a better version of me so that I can continue to be a voice or some type of spokesperson for people. So half of me is super into it, I’m ready to unpack. I’m ready to change and make everything all-Black, and then on the other side I’m like, “Okay, let me get my mental health together.”

And speaking of things being all-Black, you’re one of the few influencers who have always really advocated for Black rights on your platform. What are your thoughts on a lot of the performative activism we’ve been seeing from brands and influencers lately?

Something told me something like this was going to happen before. A couple of years ago, something told me it’s going to be some people and some brands, and I’ve already just seen it. This type of stuff’s been kind of happening, where brands or people or influencers don’t really care about the Black community, but they know it’s a crowd they need to have a grasp on in order to get them to where they're trying to go in their career. It’s very selfish. It’s something you really just have to analyze. Like, who’s actually trying to contribute towards change, and who’s trying to just contribute towards their change.

I hate it, and that’s why I’ve been calling brands out. So many brands benefit off of Black people and the Black community, and yet they don’t actually help Black people or they don’t actually go into the community and see what needs help. They actually make it worse. They actually make the community worse by the image that they show Black people as.

I think you are the leader of a vanguard of budding Black creatives, personalities, and young people. How have you seen people our age mobilizing right now, and what do you want to see more of?

I see people our age just using their voice. We’re in a completely different time period, where, like, our ancestors gave us the knowledge. They gave us books, they gave us interviews, they spoke out. So I really see people around me, and influencers using their voice but it’s way more powerful and it’s way more impactful now because we have social media where everybody can hear and see everything, and that’s what’s kind of scary. It’s like, I’m not sure if things are worse or better than what our ancestors went through, because they didn’t have cameras to film everything. So now we’re in a time where everybody has their camera out, everybody's using their voices, like every 5-minutes it’s a viral video. That’s what I appreciate about what’s going on right now, we can actually document every single thing.

And what we need to do more of, I feel like it’s a group effort. It’s some stuff that white people need to do more, like, it’s some stuff that white people need to do more of! (Laughs) And then with Black people, we have to organize. We really have to come together and organize better, but just as far as white people I feel like they need to leave us alone and they need to go to their neighborhoods and make changes within their community.

Have you been able to get out and march at all?

No, I haven’t gone out to protest because the way my anxiety is set up. I’m just seeing so much going on with the police. It’s like wars out there, they going back-and-forth, they throwing gas at people, they shooting rubber bullets, and that’s just something that my anxiety won’t let me participate in. I’ve been protesting online.

And people are finally starting to talk about it now, but all the Black trauma does such damaging things to the Black psyche as well.

That’s another thing, I want to add to what I want to see more of. I want to see Black people take care of their mental health because, that first week when things were really hectic, we don’t know how our minds are going to process that within the next couple of months and years. It’s stuff from when I was a little kid that I didn’t realize was traumatic to me, and it’s just now processing. So we really need to take advantage of what we need to do with our mental health because that’s eventually going to take its toll. And even right now it’s wearing down on people’s minds and I just really want people to see that mental health is important.

You’ve always been really transparent about your struggles with anxiety. What’s been helping you keep your peace during these super trying times?

I’ve been making music, I’ve been telling my friends 'cause my friends have been calling me stressed out. I’m like, “Just make music.” Make music because if you think about the other time period where this kind of happened before, with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, there was a lot of music that was being based on what was going on. I feel like everybody was creating. If you’re an artist, whatever you do, you can contribute to what’s going on by using your skills. So I’ve just been trying to do whatever I do best, and that zens me out.

Do you think artists have an obligation to use their platform to talk about social issues?

Yes, just yes. You have to realize, if you benefit off the Black community, this is how you give them back all that they’ve given you. If you’re sitting in a mansion and just sitting on the Black dollar based on what you’ve been doing, then this is how you contribute. These people need you, these people give to you so give back to them. I don’t understand how that’s so hard. Like, I understand taking some time out to process it and then speak out, but to not speak out at all; I feel like that’s kind of messed up. These people are actually paying your bills, so there is a responsibility to use your voice because not everybody has that following where they can get points across, so we need that. We need people to speak up for us.

The LGBTQ+ Community has always been deeply rooted in social activism. Can you talk about any experiences you’ve had fighting for your voice to be heard as not only a Black man but also a Black queer man in this music space?

I feel like, one thing about music is that being someone that’s queer in music is very difficult. It’s so much homophobia. That’s really the genre I’m going into, that underground hip-hop is so homophobic. So it’s like, I really have to work extra hard to find my own style and my own taste and just perfect what I’m doing because people see somebody that’s queer and they automatically don’t want to associate themselves. Because they’re homophobic, or because they don’t want to be saying, “Oh, what was you doing working with him, what were y’all doing in the studio.”Like, every time I work in the studio with somebody and it comes up it’s like: “Oh, what was y’all doing. What did you have to do for that.” And I’m like, “Yo, we can’t just be two creative people? It has to be something about sexuality?” So it’s like, just what I’m going through right now and trying to make music and being in this homophobic-ass genre, it’s very stressful.

But I feel like it’s changing a lot. A lot of people are coming to their senses and feeling more comfortable with their own sexuality and not having to intimidate other people.

JAYVERSACE · CROSSMYMIND

You’re also boldly independent, I think that’s one of your strongest personality traits. When navigating this music space, how valuable do you think that trait is?

It’s very important just to be stern with what you believe in. I just also feel like, not everything you want to do is worth doing. Not everybody is worth working with. Not everybody deserves to be in your creative space. I know people really want opportunities to come to them, but not every opportunity is worth it. Like sometimes, and definitely as a queer person, if know you’re working with somebody that’s homophobic, is it really worth it? I think about my kids, what do I want to do to set an example for my kids. I want my kids to feel like, whatever sexuality they are, they walk into whatever room or situation as they are and they won’t change for nobody. They will only allow certain sh*t around them, so that’s what I’ve really been trying to do. Yeah, I play sometimes, but as far as allowing certain things to happen around me, I won’t allow. Because you’ll get run over.

I also want to touch on your other Instagram for a minute too, Jayversay. I like to call it your Sprinsta(spiritual Instagram). You’re deeply in touch with your roots, can you talk about how that plays a part in the messages you spread on your platform and your beats? 

My spirituality, just where I come from, my family, everybody was just super Black. And even though I grew up around people who were celebratory of being Black, I also did not want to be Black. I grew up not wanting to be Black. I grew up looking at people on magazines, looking at people on TV, looking at certain Black skin tones. I always felt like I was not accepted.

But now, a couple of years ago, I just started to realize, like, look at my history. I started to really dive deep into these books that my family used to always read and just go deep into my history. I’m like, damn. It just made me very angry, that I had all this kept from me for so long. First I got angry, I went through those emotions, then I just got more proud. I wanted to celebrate it, so I’ve always been about Black culture, Black music, all of that since. And since I first started making videos I’ve just tried to help Black people.

Can you talk about the beautiful relationship you have with the ethereal Erykah Badu? How has she helped guide you in your spiritual journey?

Yeah, Erykah Badu helped me make my ancestor altar, she’s the one who told me I needed one. She’s really, as far as my spiritual journey, made me feel comfortable. She made me feel like, okay I’m not going too far. Cause I was really diving deep into my spirituality, but she was like, “Keep going.” Ever since we first came in contact, she’s always just been trying to help me with everything I’ve been doing. She still hits me up every other week, just asking if I’m good. She’s just a very good person, besides her being a celebrity. Just one of the most beautiful humans I’ve ever come across. I really love and appreciate all the help she’s given me. I don’t know where I would be without her right now.

You were on one of the best rap tapes that dropped this year, and you also have a really expansive knowledge of music, even a brief scrolling of your SoundCloud reflects that. That Clark Sisters sample for “Versace” was beautiful. What got you into listening to the classics? 

Just how I was raised listening to soulful music. My grandparents, my parents, grew up around rappers and singers and it just stuck with me. I don’t really know, I guess it was always a part of me because anything I remember from liking music has always been the same type of music. I think it’s just built inside of me to like a certain type of style of music, like classic stuff.

There’s a funny tweet of yours about how people are so obsessed with 808’s nowadays. What do you try to avoid when making your beats?

I feel people use 808’s and that same snare because that’s louder than their voice, so people hide under drums because they know they not saying anything. Like, they know if they actually said it out loud without rapping it, it would not make any sense. It would sound corny, so people hide behind 808’s and those same drums because it sounds good, but that’s about it.

I try to avoid sounding like people that I’m compared to. I try to avoid sounding like: “Oh, this is like that!” If I hear that, I’m like, “Okay, bet I’m never going to make music like this again because whatever people hear from me, we already have that.” Don’t compare me to anything, I want to be my own person. So I let people tell me “what I sound like,” so I can not sound like that.

Can you speak on the work you’ve been doing with Freddie Gibbs? You said you were working on a project with him.

Freddie Gibbs is a crackhead, so whatever we’re working on is going to take some time. (Laughs) I’ve sent him beats he’s said he’s writing to, but he stays writing to them and I look on his [Instagram] story and he’s on a boat. I sent him the beats and I’m like, “You know what? I don’t know when I’ma expect a project.” I just know I sent him the beats and he hit me up every now and then like, “Yeah, I wrote to this,” and I’m like “Alright.” So I really don’t know, that’s Freddie Gibbs so I really don’t know. The ball is in his court.

Thoughts on Alfredo?

I loved the album. I actually had the same sample as one of the songs on that album.

Really? Which one?

The one where he was like “Babies & Fools." I sampled that the exact same way and was going to send it to Freddie and I’m glad I didn’t cause Alchemist did it.

I mean, the fact that you and Alchemist are thinking on the same wavelength is impressive as hell.

Yeah, that’s what I keep thinking! I’m like, “Hmm, maybe I’m about to get the next Grammy.” (Laughs) Because me and Alchemist made the same beat by accident, that’s insane to me.

I know you’ve also been in the lab with J.I.D and saw somewhere Ari Lennox too, what’s up with that?

We're just working. Me and J.I.D, we damn near made a whole tape. I’ve never heard this side of J.I.D in my life, so I don’t know what’s about to happen when this gets released because this is like, some of the best music I’ve made. Just with J.I.D and how he’s articulating his words and telling stories, he literally brings the beats to life. He creates stories, it’s some crazy sh*t that we made.

JAYVERSACE · KOOL-AID JAMMERS

Ari Lennox, I don’t know how she works so fast, but she’s like Walt Disney. She works very fast, so I’m excited to work with her.

What’s a dream collaboration of yours?

Damn, that’s so loaded. (Laughs) I would love to work with Jay-Z. Jay-Z or Kendrick [Lamar], I would love to work with either of them. Just how much they inspire me and how my beats sound. I literally make beats for them, so I would love to work with them.

You made one of your first beats on May 14, 2018. Now, over 2 years later, what are you most proud of in your growth as a producer?

Oh my God! I didn’t even know that. I’m most proud of myself for continuing to do it because when I tweeted I was trying to make music, so many people were like, “This is what this is gonna sound like” and were sending the craziest GIF’s and memes and I was like, “Damn, y'all really think I have no taste?” (Laughs) It was very intense and overwhelming, but I was like you know what, f**k them and kept doing it, kept trying. Kept trying new styles and sounds out, and the fact that I kept going and it’s gotten me this far and now I can say that this is my job, that’s what I’m most proud of. Just listening to my own voice.

You said that Donald Glover, Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Rocky, and Drake started everything really in terms of helping shape our generation. I know you’re just getting started, but when you’re just an old head from Jersey, what is the most important thing you want to leave behind?

Damn, I don’t know. I want to leave behind everything. I want my whole journey to be analyzed, from beginning to end. I don’t want nothing to be left out, I want the whole thing to be seen and experienced so that people can get inspired and do whatever they want to do. That’s the only reason why we’re on this planet, to show other people how to be on this planet. So I want to leave behind my whole experience.

I remember you talked in a Fader interview about how layered you are. I don’t think making beats is something new for you, I think it’s just a new part of yourself that you’re sharing. If you made your first beat a little over 2 years ago, and just got featured on Pray for Paris, where do you hope to be 2 years from now?

Two years from now, I expect for me to have a successful production company, successful music career, modeling, acting, architecture. Any type of thing that I want to do. Everything just thriving, and Blackness all over the f**king place.

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Catching Up with Koffee

There's still a lot of time left in Summer 2020, but on the last day of July, we declared Koffee's "Lockdown" Boomshots' official 2020 Summer anthem. Produced by Dane "Raygad" Ray from the Unruly camp, the song finds Koffee asking all of the questions everybody in the world is asking themselves right now. What will the future be like "when the quarantine thing done and everybody touch road?" As soon as we heard this tune, we knew it was outta here! (That was way before we saw the video with cameos from Popcaan and Dre Island.) More than just a COVID-era contemplation, "Lockdown" is also a poignant love song that speaks to the challenges of romance during a time of the viral pandemic. As such, it represents a milestone in Koffee's catalog.

At the ripe old age of 20, the youngest Reggae Grammy winner in history has given us her first love song—and without overthinking it one bit, she might just have given us a follow-up to rival her breakthrough smash, "Toast." When you hear Koffee sing "if you love me, you should let me...," it's clear she is in her feelings on this one. Of course, everybody wants to know who this song was inspired by, but all we can say about that is just "cool." In her first interview since "Lockdown" dropped, Koffee tapped in with Boomshots' Reshma B on VIBE's Instagram Live and spoke about the inspiration behind the tune.

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BOOMSHOTS: So much has happened and obviously, with the lockdown, we haven’t seen each other.

KOFFEE: That’s true.

We haven’t spoken since you won the Grammy so let me start with a big congratulations.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You made history there. You’re the first female and the youngest to win a Reggae Grammy, as I’m sure you know.

So I’ve heard, so I’ve heard. (Laughs) Thank you.

How was that experience for you?

It was amazing for me being able to be there and represent Jamaica. Because at the end of the day, I feel like—even to be real nobody knew me at the ceremony. As you know the reggae category and some other categories are separated from like big categories like rap and stuff like that. So we’re not in the big ceremony. But it felt so good going up on the stage and collecting something on behalf of Jamaica, on behalf of reggae. There’s a lot to give thanks for regarding that. It’s good to be able fe spread light and just inspire people.

You know there was a time hip-hop was not getting televised either. 

Yeah, so it’s a journey.

We all know someone who’s lost someone in this pandemic. It’s difficult adjusting to this new normal. How have you been coping with the lockdown?

For me, thankfully, I haven’t been directly affected by the COVID, and I don't’ know anybody who’s been directly affected. But I send my prayers out to those who have been and those who find it difficult during these times whether financially, even emotionally. It’s a very very very hard time and I can tell even out in the streets it shows. Before you had homeless people and beggars but now when you look pon them face it’s so rough. Me know say it tough out there. So me just a try to put that energy—channel it into anything I can, which for me is music. You know I’ve been working on my album.

How did the “Lockdown” song come about?

The song was actually a very spur-of-the-moment song. I had been planning to go into the studio with some musicians, like some guitarists, pianists, drummers, and stuff. And for the time being, that had been kinda stalled because of the whole COVID. So I was supposed to be in the UK actually doing a camp. And I was just going to the studio—you know Popcaan?

Of course, we know Poppy. Shout out to the Unruly Boss!

Sorry, my bad... I take it back! I take it back! Poppy has a studio, right? So I started goin’ by his studio to just record some stuff like in the meantime while everything is kinda shut down. And there I met a producer named Dane Ray. Now Poppy have a song weh him release the other day, I think it name “Numbers Don’t Lie” and him say, “More gal fe me and Dane Ray.” You get me? So you know say Dane Ray is like him bredren and stuff. So me set a link there and Dane Ray play me a track, which was “Lockdown” instrumental. And me just decide inna the moment, say, ‘Yo, let’s just write some lyrics to it. Some nice melodies that I’m feeling.’ And I literally just did it. And then probably like the week after that I just listen to the song and said “I really like this.” And me just call my manager like, “Yo, let’s do a video. This is who I want in it. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.” We call producer, call everybody, call videographer, and we just got it done and then we just release it. It was so—we didn’t even think twice. Me never think it woulda reach this far.

Everything went natural. 

Yeah, just so natural.

And now you're hot like thermos!

It’s so crazy right now.

This is the first time we've heard a love song from Koffee. I hear you say things like, “Givin’ you my heart beg you take it from me.” It’s so touching to hear that!

Yo, that was so serious. I swear. Me nah go answer no question about who and the speculations. But I’m tellin’ you that song was so real, I meant that sh*t. (Laughs) I mean that!

Watch the full interview above.

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Photos by Prince Williams/John Parra/Getty Images

A Look At DMX And Snoop Dogg's 'Verzuz' Battle Scorecard

As Verzuz continues to evolve and progress as a platform and brand, the battles have only gotten better and more competitive, with Snoop Dogg and DMX's celebration being the latest pairing to captivate the culture. Both making their debut during the ‘90s, Snoop was the first to crashland on the scene. Parlaying standout guest appearances alongside Dr. Dre on “Deep Cover” and The Chronic into a deafening buzz surrounding his name and debut album, Doggystyle. From there, Snoop has built a legacy as one of the greatest rap artists of all-time, reinventing himself in effortless fashion while continuously dropping hits that touch various generations of music fans, of all genres. With seventeen solo studio albums, as well as multiple collaborative and group projects to his name, Snoop Dogg is revered as a cultural treasure and hip-hop’s resident Doggfather. As one of the more formidable lyricists in rap with an onslaught of show-stealing guest appearances, DMX took the world by storm upon the release of his debut album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, which sold upwards of four million copies and singlehandedly shifted the landscape of rap music. The first artist to release two chart-topping solo studio albums in the same calendar year, the Yonkers, NY native broke multiple records and is equally revered for his passion and spirit as he is for his music.

Given both artist’s affinity for canines and their stature as legends from opposite coasts, it was only right that Snoop and DMX face-off in a Verzuz “battle” to determine who’s really the top dog in this thing of ours. As a mix of classic records were spun by DJ Battlecat, Snoop Dogg arrived on the set first, decked out in a Doggystyle t-shirt, with DPG sweatpants to match. Not long after, he was joined by DMX, who rocked a red and black velour suit; he looked invigorated and as primed for a comeback as ever. As Snoop grabbed a few chicken strips to help sop up his liquor, DMX sipped on his Kool-aid and shared Now & Laters with his opponent, proving that some dogs are able to play nice, even in the heat of battle. Streamed from Snoop Dogg's home, this week’s Verzuz was as anticipated as any we can remember, as Snoop and DMX were both considered the biggest stars in rap at one point in time with catalogs that have given the culture countless hits and timeless records. The proceedings, which begin with a prayer by DMX, were set into motion, as Snoop Dogg took home-field advantage with the first salvo before positions reversed following the first ten rounds. Let the battle of the dogs begin.

ROUND 1: Dr. Dre’s "Deep Cover (feat. Snoop Dogg) vs. DMX’s "Intro"

For his first salvo, Snoop Dogg harkens back to where it all began: "Deep Cover," his inaugural guest appearance alongside Dr. Dre, which put him on the trajectory of stardom in 1992. DMX comes a bit from left field, launching into an acapella performance that provides the buildup for the intro to his blockbuster 1998 debut, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot. While "Intro" is an explosive offering, it is no match for the sheer impact of "Deep Cover," giving Snoop the first round

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 2: Snoop Dogg’s "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" vs. DMX’s "What's My Name"

We’re reminded Styles make fights during the second round of this match-up of the dogs. Snoop Dogg continues to draw from his early catalog with his debut solo single, "Who Am I (What's My Name)?", while DMX answers the bell with his own "What's My Name," resulting in a dead heat.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 3: Snoop Dogg’s "Gin & Juice" vs. DMX’s "Get At Me Dog" (feat. Sheek Louch)

Doggystyle continues to get mined for material, as Snoop Dogg cues up his 1993 single, "Gin & Juice," one of his most seismic bangers. DMX, on the other hand, follows suit, drawing from his own monstrous debut album and firing back with his 1998 release, "Get At Me Dog.” This selection also brings about the origin of the record, which DMX reveals was inspired by an exchange with Snoop prior to the record’s creation. “The ‘Get At Me’ phrase, I got that from you,” X tells Snoop. This historical tidbit gives further insight into their relationship and is another sign that the pitbull and the Doberman are in for a dogfight of epic proportions.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 4: Dr. Dre’s "Dre Day" (feat. Snoop Dogg) vs. Ruff Ryders’ "Some X Sh*t" (feat. DMX)

Before taking the time to send a shout-out to the chat, Snoop Dogg tosses "Dre Day," him and Dr. Dre's lyrical tirade against the late Eazy-E and Uncle Luke, on the table. At this point, DMX misplays his hand, opting for a Ruff Ryders compilation joint that pales in comparison

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 5: 2Pac’s "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" (feat. Snoop Dogg) vs. DMX’s "Stop Being Greedy"

Snoop Dogg summons the spirit of 2Pac, whom he collaborated with on

“2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted," from the latter's 1996 release, All Eyez On Me, bringing an air of nostalgia to the proceedings. DMX, who circles the block with "Stop Being Greedy," puts forth one of his most bruising bangers, but Snoop's sole collaboration with Pac gets the win, albeit by a slim margin

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 6: Snoop Dogg’s "Down 4 My Ni**az" (feat. C-Murder & Mr. Magic) vs. JAY-Z’s "Money, Cash, Hoes" (feat. DMX)

With the momentum fully in his favor, Snoop pulls out a big joker early, as his raucous No Limit banger "Down 4 My Ni**az" puts even more pressure on his opponent. However, DMX doesn't wilt, bringing in "Money, Cash, Hoes," his monstrous collaboration with JAY-Z, ending this round in a dead heat.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 7: Snoop Dogg’s "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)" (feat. Warren G, Nate Dogg & Kurupt) vs. Aaliyah’s "Come Back In One Piece" (feat. DMX)

The tempo shifts, as Snoop Dogg serves up one of his more syrupy ditties, "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)," a posse-cut of the highest order. Following suit, DMX comes through with the 1999 Aaliyah collab, "Come Back In One Piece," which is an admirable selection, but not strong enough to take this round away from Snoop, who shares his affinity for X’s bars on “What These Bitches Want.” In turn, X pays his respects for Snoop’s historic run as part of Death Row Records and gaining a respect for the west coast rap scene from afar.

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 8: Snoop Dogg’s "Bi**h Please" (feat. Xzibit & Nate Dogg) vs. DMX’s "X Gon' Give It to Ya"

As the celebration of legends continues, Snoop Dogg looks back at his stint on No Limit Records once again with "Bi**h Please," from his No Limit Top Dogg album. X gets real festive with amped-up soundtrack selection "X Gon' Give It to Ya," which still retains replay value and Snoop remarks is one of his personal favorites out of his catalog. However, it is no match when pitted against Snoop's flow over this particular Dre beat.

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 9: Snoop Dogg’s "Gz and Hustlas" vs. DMX’s "Who We Be"

Giving a brief backstory of Bow Wow's origins in the game, Snoop goes back to the Doggystyle well with "Gz and Hustlas," one of the few deep cuts played during the battle. Striking while the iron's hot, DMX manages to steal a round with his 2001 single, "Who We Be," one of the dog's more underrated anthems.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 10: Snoop Dogg’s "Tha Shiznit" vs. DMX’s "Let's Get It On"

Sticking to the script, Snoop Dogg, who gets inspired to delve into his lyrical grab-bag, pulls another classic from the vault, with "Tha Shiznit," a melodic groove that showcases Snoop's sinewy flow. Smelling blood in the water, DMX throws a haymaker with Swizz Beatz-assisted party banger, "Let's Get It On," stealing yet another round and keeping the competitive juices flowing.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 11: DMX’s "F**kin' wit' D" vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Lay Low" (feat. Tha Eastsidaz, Master P, Butch Cassidy & Nate Dogg)

As the order reverses for the second half of the battle, with DMX now going first, he gives insight into the making of It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, revealing he wrote three songs within hours of each other, one of them being the It's Dark and Hell Is Hot cut "F**kin' wit' D," a high-octane thumper that channels the Dark Man's energy. For a change of pace, Snoop Dogg slows down the tempo with "Lay Low," one of his more infectious salvos from his No Limit tenure.

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 12: DMX’s "What These Bi**hes Want" (feat. Sisqo) vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Beautiful" (feat. Pharrell Williams)

DMX goes for the jugular with"What These Bi**hes Want," a timeless gem, which recently inspired a social media challenge that took the world by storm. Snoop Dogg, who keeps the same energy, doling out "Beautiful," his collaborative effort with Pharrell Williams, which he recalls being inspired by a trip to Brazil. “I got with my nigga Pharrell, and he was like, ‘Snoop, you gotta tap into your sexy side,’” the Doggfather explains. In spite of that intel, “Beautiful,”’ which may have been a bigger hit, lacks the punch of "What These Bi**hes Want"

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 13: DMX’s "How's It Goin' Down" (feat. Faith Evans) vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Pump Pump"

Finally hitting his stride, DMX brings forth one of his more romantic numbers with the Faith Evans-assisted heater "How's It Goin' Down," while Snoop Dogg misfires with "Pump Pump," another selection from Doggystyle. "Pump Pump" is sure to get a positive reaction whenever it's played, but "How's It Goin Down" gets the nod in this round.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 14: DMX’s "It's All Good" vs. Dr. Dre’s "Bi**hes Ain't Sh*t" (feat. Tha Dogg Pound, Jewell & Snoop Dogg)

Dogs will be dogs, which is evidenced by this round, as both artists play both sides of the coin when it comes to women. DMX's "It's All Good" is more of a celebratory anthem dedicated to the ladies. “When you’re a New York nigga, the entire state of California is L.A.,” X shares. “I actually think I did record this out here, for my second album.” Snoop's appearance on "Bi**hes Ain't Sh*t," throws the scandalous ones under the bus and happens to be one of DMX’s favorite anthems in times of marital strife. Both have their place, but Snoop ultimately gets thrown a bone, winning one of the more crucial rounds of the battle.

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 15: DMX’s "Slippin" vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Murder Was the Case"

After taking it to the streets, the party, and the bedroom, DMX and Snoop provide a moment of introspection, as both go with their most personal records to date. DMX, who plays "Slippin'," shifts the vibe of the proceedings, even tacking on an unreleased verse for good measure. This leaves Snoop Dogg no choice but to retort with "Murder Was the Case," resulting in one of the more sobering moments of the night.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 16: DMX’s "Ni**az Started Something" (feat. The LOX & Ma$e) vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Doggy Dogg World" (feat. Nanci Fletcher, The Dramatics & Tha Dogg Pound)

One of the kings of the posse-cut, DMX comes with one from his own debut, which boasts one of his more impressive rhyme spills to date. Instead of trying to one-up DMX with a harder record, Snoop plays to his strengths, cueing up "Doggy Dogg World," further evidence of how loaded Doggystyle is as a body of work, but not enough to net him the win.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 17: LL Cool J’s "4,3,2,1" (feat. DMX, Canibus, Redman and Method Man) vs. Snoop Dogg’s "I Luv It" (feat. The Eastsidaz)

Realizing he's hit his stride, DMX continues to delve into his laundry list of collaborative cuts, as he looks to do further damage with "4,3,2,1," on which he co-stars alongside four of the strongest pens of his error. On the other hand, Snoop makes his most egregious blunder of the night, playing "I Luv It," a collaboration with The Eastsidaz that may bang in smaller circles, but failed to move the crowd in a big way.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 18: The LOX’s "Money, Power, & Respect" (feat. DMX and Lil' Kim) vs. 50 Cent’s "P.I.M.P.: (Remix)" feat. Snoop Dogg & Bishop Don ‘Magic’ Juan

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 19: DMX’s "Ruff Ryders Anthem" vs. Dr. Dre’s "Nuthin' But a G Thang" (feat. Snoop Dogg)

As the end of the regulation draws near, DMX gives us the moment we've all been waiting for: "Ruff Ryders' Anthem," the song that helped launch him into stardom. Not to be outclassed, Snoop also finished in riveting fashion with "Nuthin' But a G Thang," which boasts the introductory verse that will be spat verbatim until the end of time upon pressing play.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 20: DMX's "Party Up (Up in Here)" vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Drop It Like It's Hot" (feat. Pharrell Williams)

To end their face-off, DMX and Snoop each deliver one of their signature records, as DMX runs with "Party Up (Up in Here)," while Snoop comes with "Drop It Like It's Hot," both of which are undeniable bangers and regarded as cultural classics in their own right.

WINNER: Tie

While many believed Snoop Dogg had a clear advantage in terms of longevity, hits, and overall discography, DMX managed to level the playing field through timely song choices, often offsetting the vibe and tempo of the rounds. Snoop, who got off to an early lead that looked insurmountable by the end of the first half of the battle, had plenty of firepower to work with, but failed to capitalize on his breadth of material due to questionable song placement in certain rounds. However, after taking every individual round into account, this Verzuz event shaped up to be the most competitive thus far, with both artists giving strong performances and ending the battle in a dead heat. As the vibes were all on a high note, the two icons even threw in a few extra joints for good measure, with X performing his 2003 hit “Where The Hood At,” while Snoop responds with his 2000 guest spot on Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode.” The two then dive into an impromptu freestyle session, with both artists wowing the viewers at home and those in the chat. When all was said and done, according to our scorecard, there was no clear-cut victor. That said, the ultimate winners were the culture and hip-hop fans who were able to witness two music icons celebrate each other and play records that helped shape the sound of music as we know it today.

FINAL SCORE: 7-7-6

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