Veggies Tales: Casey Veggies Remembers His Roots On ‘Live & Grow’ LP

Teenagers fall victim to the peer pressures of drugs, gangbanging and other mischievous acts on the regular. So when a youngin’ finds the resolve to go against the grain and stand alone, respect is deserved. Enter Inglewood, Calif. spitter, Casey Veggies. Despite the ever-present gang culture that blankets his city, the 22-year-old MC was able to fulfill his hip-hop dreams.

“I had a different way of doing things,“ Veggies said in a recent phone interview with VIBE. “Life is all about having perspectives. It’s about how you put everything in perspective. And the way I look at life, I was always a dreamer.”

Hearing tales of Jay Z and Nas from his dad, a former bodyguard for Hov, Veggies followed his musical aspirations to the booth, cranking out his first mixtape, Customized Greatly Vol. 1, when he was just 14 years old. A few years later, the rapper (né Casey Jones) gained national exposure alongside Tyler, the Creator as a member of the ingenious hip hop collective, Odd Future (he has since left). By the time Mr. Jones graduated high school, Mac Miller offered the then-budding MC an opening slot on his 60-city Blue Slide Park tour.

Today, Veggies carries his own weight. He owns a label and clothing line called Peas and Carrots, recently inked a deal with Roc Nation and is coming off his acting debut, a small role in the movie DOPE. If his itinerary wasn’t already filled to the brim, Casey has set his debut album Live & Grow loose (Sept. 25). VIBE caught up with the self-made mogul to discuss his new LP, making it out of Inglewood and keeping his positivity in check.

VIBE: Your “Tied Up” record with Dej Loaf is different than your recent material.
Veggies: We was in the studio vibing with it. We thought it was something different. It was like a grown up version of a lot of records that I’ve done previously but totally different. I just want to try to grow with myself and my music.

Were you hesitant about putting it out?
At first, I was kind of hesitant. It’s a great song but I just felt like I had different records and I was going with different vibes. But a lot of people was telling me that they were loving the song and I felt like it spoke from an angle of just being mature, and from a standpoint of young kids speaking on love, relationships, to speaking on being tied up in this situation and still having somebody that you really care about. It really matches the lyrical concept of everything that I was going for. Sometimes, you got to try new stuff, too.

Were you in the studio with her?
We sent the record to her. But we had a conversation where we were just talking about how this music business is crazy and everything ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. And in the song, she talked about the limelight and how it ain’t real. Everything connected and it’s how we both felt.

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To me, your music puts me in the mindset of some cool suburban sh*t, yet you’re from Inglewood, which is known as the hood, at least to us outsiders.
You know what? This album really reminds me of the movie, The Wood.  The concept of the album, Live & Grow, is really like my own version of The Wood. It’s me, growing up coming out of Inglewood. It’s just this young boy trying to walk home from school and avoid the negative; that’s what I’m talking about on the album. Going to parties, going to kickbacks, pool parties in the summer time. All I remember is that summer I was going from middle school to high school. Everything was changing for me. That was a special moment in life. On the album, I’m putting myself in the present space but I’m also reminiscing on that time.

How’d you manage to stay so positive growing up in Inglewood?
I was just able to see different sides. I was able to have positive outlooks on life. A lot of my friends, or for a lot of people, it’s hard to have positive outlooks. A lot of people get caught in the dumb stuff. I was able to try different things. I was able to go to school in different areas, I was able to get introduced to Fairfax and I knew people from different areas. I started doing music at 12 years old and that was like a relief to me.

Music helped me grow. It helped me express my emotions and my creativity. You goning hear the growth in the music with what I’m saying, the emotion in what I’m saying, the emotion throughout all of the album. You feel where I’m coming from and you’ll get where I’m trying to take it.

What’d you learn about yourself during the recording process of this album?
I made a lot of progress. It’s a lot more progress that I need to make. I learned that I was able to paint this picture. I’m listening to the album now and I see the picture that I painted even more. It’s like the perfect picture that I wanted to make, and it’s just talking about my life. It’s talking about what you go through after you get your first taste of success as a young age and trying to figure out what’s next. All the relationships lost, all the miscommunication, all the people that used to love you that don’t love you no more, and it’s like how you deal with that. That’s the picture I wanted to paint.

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A while ago Tyler wrote a lengthy reply to a fan of his that didn’t like Cherry Bomb. Do you worry about that type of criticism as an artist?
Yeah, but you can’t let none of that get to you. Once you believe in yourself, nobody can tell you nothing that can affect [you]. Once you’re happy with yourself, none of that can affect you. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of artists that deal with that and I’ve dealt with it, too. You might have dealt with it as a writer. It’s about growing to that point. That’s what my Live & Grow is about. Like forget all that other negative stuff going on, just live and grow.

Cop Casey Veggies Live & Grow on iTunes here.