lil bibby-vibe-interview-

Interview: Lil Bibby On How Books And His Mom's Past Drug Addiction Changed His life

He's a manchild in the promised land 

In only two decades on Earth, Chicago rapper Lil Bibby has witnessed just as much, or more, horror than a classic Jason and Friday The 13th horror flick. Despite the negative sides of seeing murder, friends going to prison as kids and his mother’s drug addiction, the young rapper somehow found a way to turn his troubles into positives by churning out heartfelt rhymes about his personal pain and agony--making Bibby-- arguably one of the most promising MCs under 30 in the rap game right now.

We all know that delivery, wordplay, content and swag are vital ingredients to making a great rapper. While Bibby can check off all of the above, he’s still one-up on your favorite rapper. How? Well, the baby-faced savage's vivid tales of gun play, paranoia and street violence on his Eastside Chi-City blocks offers an engrossing first person POV, and sheds insight into the Windy City’s infamous reputation for being one of America's most violent cities.

“I was a man at 12-years-old,“ the deep-voiced man-child said during a recent sit-down with VIBE. “When my mom used to do drugs. She ain’t care what we did. I was outside all night. Sometimes when she was sober, she’d be like: ‘You can’t go outside’ because of some crazy shit I did the day before. But I'd just wait until she do her thing, and be like: ‘Can I go outside? Can I go outside? Can I go outside?’ All you have to do is ask her three times, she just want you to get out of her face. I grew up angry. Angry at everybody.”

After trading his hoop dreams and street corner hustling for the microphone, Bibby channeled his anger into one remarkable rap flow. What matches his autobiographical sixteens is his die-hard grind. Bibby's vicious get-it-from-the-mud mentality helped his Free Crack mixtapes series win him thousands of fans, a deal with RCA Records, and collabs with rap heavyweights like Jadakiss, Kevin Gates, Juicy J and Common.

Coming off the release of the third installment in his Free Crack series, VIBE took the Big Apple's No. 5 Train over to RCA’s HQ, where Bibby, dipped in a maroon Adidas jumpsuit and beige Air Force Ones, was surrounded by his stone-faced day-ones and his RCA family, as they ordered salads and Burgers from Chirping Chicken. Usually reserved, Bibby opened up and gave us the real on his mother’s past drug abuse, his anger issues, Chicago’s gangs (organizations), his opinions on young blacks, what books he's reading, and much more.

VIBE: First off, coming from where you come from, in retrospect, what’s the problem with us young blacks men in the streets -- particularly Chicago?
Bibby: We don’t have no hope. We don’t really have any hope of leaving Chicago. Because when I started rapping, I never thought I’d leave Chicago. We haven’t seen enough. All we know is our street corners, what they see and what they do everyday. So, if that’s all you know, that’s all you going to continue to do, you not going to change. Nobody likes change anyway. That shit is awkward. It’s hard to change your ways or your way of thinking.

That reminds me of “EBT to BET,” where you rapped: ‘What the f*ck can a high school teach me?” You also talk a lot about knowing that you’d never be shit.
That’s how I viewed everything. I used to look at people that go to school and I used to see them on the streets like: ‘I got a college degree. I got a bachelor.'  But they be like bums, so I’m like what the f*ck do I need with that? I’m not going to never be out here like that. And I wasted four years of my life, being broke, being in somebody’s school.  And I just couldn’t picture myself like that. On top of that, Cam’ron’s thing in Killa Season did it for me.

But Bibby lets be real, not everybody can rap or shoot ball so they have to do something, and education can be a ticket out.
Nah, I know education is important. That’s why I went back to get my diploma.

Ok. Good. So look, you said that hope is missing from the 'hood? Where did you find the hope you needed to get out?
I’m not going to lie. When I was in the streets I never pictured myself changing. But I read this book, 48 Laws of Power. It helped me so much. It changed my whole way of thinking. I think that’s what did it for me. That book changed my whole way of thinking about everything.

In what ways?
When I was younger I used to be crazy, man. If anybody played with me or did anything that I felt was a little disrespectful I was going in and putting my hands on them. So, I read that book and it said to never get angry. In anger, you can’t think straight. And if you get angry the enemy always got one-up on you. So now, I try not to ever get angry because when I get angry I be thinking about doing something that’ll mess me up in the long-run.

That anger and frustration comes across in your music, yet you drop jewels. So what's the root of that? 
I’m keep it 100 with you. I grew up angry. My momma used to do drugs. And, I just grew up angry at the world because of that. That’s why anytime I got into any altercation, or if any of my homies got into any altercation, they came and got me. I used to get a kick out -- this sounds crazy -- but I used to get a kick out of hurting people. And people used to doubt me...

I can definitely identify with having a parent addicted to crack. That shit really messes you up, I still deal with issues from sh*t like that from my childhood.
Yeah, it made me angry. And I used to give her hell. I used to give her hell about that. I hated that, man. I used to disrespect her, and it’s not good to say that but that really did something to me. And, that’s what had me angry. Then, people used to doubt me.

Yeah, about your light-skin complexion. You’ve mentioned that in your music.
Yep, they used to doubt me. But man, they didn’t know how angry I was over my mom. Man, I used to hurt people.

How’s your mom doing now?
She doing good. She don’t do drugs no more. I ain’t going to lie, she way crazier than she used to be (Laughs). But man, she been clean for years now.

Dope. Were you able to see her facial expression once she realized that this rap shit was real?
Man, I don’t think I was around. It kind of evolved. But at first she thought I was just talking when I told her that I was going to rap.

Momma Savage. That’s what’s up. We happy for you, bruh. So, have you really studied the Laws of Attraction?
I’ve started on the Laws of Attraction. I’m like a quarter of the way through it. And, I also have The Alchemist.

How’s The Alchemist, you like it?
Yeah, it tells me like different ways to view life and different ways to think. 50 Cent got one too, but I haven’t read it yet. I want to.

Yeah, he worked with Robert Greene on that -- The 50th Law. All Greene did was take stuff from writers and thinkers to compact them into his book. Books like the Niccolo’s The Prince, and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and other sh*ts.
Oh yeah, and I have The Art of War.

How is it?
Man, that shit gives me a headache when I read it. I can’t get all the way through it.

Yeah, it’s heavy. It took me a few times. Just go through and then come back to it. You’ll get it. That’s what I did. You got some classics on deck. Keep it up. But lets switch gears. From the outside looking in, it seems like Chicago’s organizations are split up. Like, you can live in a Vice Lord 'hood but it’s still divided by blocks. Now, is that just me or is that what’s really going on?
Yeah. Chicago is a different place now. It’s probably one of the craziest places as far as that right now. It ain’t no G.D.s, or Stones or nothing like that no more. It’s still some G.D.s and B.D.s but they killing each other, too. It’s just streets or blocks now. People in their own circles, their own homies.

(Ed note: Bibby’s homeboy, Chase enters the conversation to share his opinions on Chicago’s organization culture).

Chase: Everybody clicked up. You got G.Ds kicking it with Mo(s), you feel me. And if everybody got the same opp, they gon’ ride on them. They ain’t giving out no safe passes.
Bibby: But, half of the time they end up getting into it too. Basically, it’s every man for themselves, or every crew for themselves.

That’s crazy, B. In the jails and prisons G.D.s and Vice Lords run the system. And in Mississippi, where I'm from, in the prisons, Stones and 4CHs link with the Vice Lords, because it’s too many Gangsters but they keep it organized. And if a cat violate, he get his issue.
Yeah, in prisons there’s a lot of organization. It’s nothing like that on the outside. And those guys that are running jails right now, they know about it. That’s why a lot of them end up going back; you got to adapt. When they get out they just lost causes. They can’t come back to the street with that same mentality. The young guys run the outside. Man, Chicago is a different place now.

Did you watch footage of Laquan McDonald?
Man, I ran across it. It’s sick, man. Ain’t really nothing he could’ve did himself. The police getting out of hand, man. I’ve seen like four different videos this pass week of them shooting people. I don’t know what to say about that. Why would you shoot a kid like that? What if one of your kids came into our neighborhood and we did something to him? We don’t bother the White people in our neighborhoods. We automatically think they the police. If we started doing stuff like that they’d hang us on a rope for messing with a White person. You can’t do anything to a White person, they’ll find a way to punish you.

It’s like they don’t think we’re human beings, man.
Some of them do. Not all.

You're right. Not all.
Some of them be having problems at their home, and they have problems with themselves. Power get to a lot of people’s heads. Nerdy white boy get a badge, he not used to power so he abuse it. And people are still racists. Don’t even try to hide it. People are still racists. Some white people still look at us like we’re below them.

How do you feel about Obama?
I don’t really know what he can and can’t do. I think the Obama Care is good. But, I don’t think he can do too much about the city unless you really in it, and got time to put into and be out there.

So, how was it for you going into this project?
I learned a lot of new stuff about myself, man. I’m still trying to figure myself out. I ain’t going to say I learned everything about myself. I learn new stuff about myself everyday. And I’m trying to work on my patience. I’ve gotten way better since I was a kid but it’s still stuff that causes me to snap on people sometimes when they do little stuff that I don’t like.

You know, you always barking at “industry cats” on wax. Drop names on the industry cats that you’ve really had to bark at.
(Laugher) Nah, I ain’t got nothing to say about none of that. I mean, I see it for what it is now. It’s entertainment. People going to do what they got to do in front of the camera or behind the mic.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Nick Rice

25 Hip-Hop Albums By Bomb Womxn Of 2018

The female voice in hip-hop has always been present whether we've noticed it or not. The late Sylvia Robinson birthed the hip-hop music industry with the formation of Sugar Hill Records (and fostering "Rapper's Delight"), Roxanne Shante's 55 lyrical responses to fellow rappers were the first diss tracks and Missy Elliott's bold and striking music and visuals inspired men and women in the game to step outside of their comfort zones.

These pillars and many more have allowed the next generation of emcees to be unapologetically brash, truthful and confident in their music. Cardi B's Invasion of Privacy and Nicki Minaj's Queen might've been the most mainstream albums by womxn in rap this year, but there was a long list of creatives who brought the noise like Rico Nasty, Tierra Whack, Noname and Bbymutha. Blame laziness or the heavy onslaught of music hitting streaming sites this year, but many of the artists on this list have hibernated under the radar for far too long.

VIBE decided to switch things up but also highlighting rap albums by womxn who came strong in their respectively debut albums, mixtapes, EPs. We also had to give props to those who dropped standout singles, leaving us wanting more.

READ MORE: 15 R&B Songs We Obsessed Over Most In 2018

Continue Reading
VIBE / Nick Rice

10 Most Important Hip-Hop Artists Of 2018

We’ve reached another end to an eventful year in hip-hop. From rap beefs to new music releases and milestones, 2018 has been forged in the history books as a year to remember. But more important than the events that happened over the span of 12 months are the people who made them happen.

While fans received a large dose of music from our favorite artists and celebrated some of the most iconic album anniversaries, there are a few names that stood out as the culture pushers, sh*t starters, and all-around most significant artists of the year.

For your enjoyment, VIBE compiled a list of the top 10 most important hip-hop artists of 2018 based on a series of qualifications: 1) public actions - good, bad, and ugly; 2) music releases; 3) philanthropic/humanitarian work; and 4) trending moments.

Be clear: This list isn’t about the most influential, the most talented, who had the best music or tours. While we are commemorating artists for the work they’ve contributed to this year’s music cycle, we’re looking beyond that and evaluating how these particular artists have shaped conversations and pushed hip-hop culture forward.

READ MORE: 15 R&B Songs We Obsessed Over Most In 2018

Continue Reading
Stacy-Ann Ellis

NEXT: Intent On Impact, Kiana Lede Is Ready To Leave Her Mark

After learning The Alphabet Song as a little girl, Kiana Lede would always “get in trouble” for singing during class. “My mom was like, ‘why can't you focus?’” she laughs while reminiscing on her career’s formative years. “I was like, ‘I don’t know! Songs are just playing in my head all the time!’”

Whilst sitting in a shoebox-sized room at Midtown Manhattan’s Moxy Hotel on a humid September day, the now- 21-year-old Arizona-bred R&B songbird, actress and pianist speculates that she “may have had ADD.” However, she settles down after taking off her white cowboy boots and flops down on the ivory-clothed bed, demonstrating that her fiery Aries energy can be contained. Cool as a cucumber, Lede shuffles between chewing on banana candies and blowing smoke rings after taking drags from a pen, all while musing about her journey to becoming a Republic Records signee.

“I just grew up singing and doing musical theater, and reading a lot of books, and playing piano way too much in my room by myself,” she says, pushing her big, curly brown hair out of her face. Her expressive green eyes widen as she grins. “It was my thing. Nobody in my family does music, just me.”

After winning Kidz Bop’s 2011 KIDZ Star USA talent contest at 14 (which her mother secretly entered her into), Lede was signed to RCA Records. She was released from her contract and dropped from the label three years later. However, thanks to guidance and friendship from the Grammy-winning production duo Rice N’ Peas, (who’ve worked with G-Eazy, Trevor Jackson, and Bazzi), she released covers of songs such as Drake’s “Hotline Bling” while working to get her groove back. The latter rendition resulted in Republic Record’s Chairman and CEO Monte Lipman flying her out and signing her to his label.

“I got a second chance, which a lot of people don't get,” she reveals. “So I'm really happy that that all happened. I wouldn't be here right now in this room if that didn't happen.”

Thanks to the new opportunity she was given, Lede’s sound has evolved into something she’s proud of—equal parts soul, R&B and bohemian. As evidenced by the aforementioned ensemble, glimmers of each aesthetic can be found when observing her personal style as well. She released her seven-song EP Selfless in July, which features the bedroom-ready “Show Love” and “Fairplay,” which manages to fit in the mainstream R&B vein while also showcasing her goosebump-inducing vocals. The remix of the latter features MC A$AP Ferg. What pleases her most is that it not only garnered a favorable response from fans, but that those listeners found it so relatable.

“As an artist, it's really nerve-wracking for someone who writes about such personal things all the time,” she says. “Just the fact that it is my story… It's good to know that other people know that there's somebody on their side, and they're not the only ones going through it. A lot of people obviously feel this way, and have been through this same thing that I've been through. So I think that's cool.”

Although she moved to various places as a Navy serviceman’s daughter, Lede claims Phoenix as home. This means she hails from the same stomping grounds as rockers Alice Cooper, Stevie Nicks and the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. However, growing up in a mixed race household gave way to tons of sonic exploration outside of the rock-heavy scene.

“My dad's black, and both of my parents are from the East Coast,” she says of her musical and ethnic upbringing (she’s black, Latina and Native American). “[My parents] listened to a lot of R&B. My mom listened to a lot of SWV, TLC, Boyz II Men. I didn't realize I knew the songs until I got older. I played a charity show with T-Boz, and I was like 'why do I know these songs?'” Lede also says her father was a fan of neo-soul and gangsta rap, but she personally believes the early-2000s was the best time for music.

“[That era] influences a lot of my music subconsciously, and also, singer-songwriter stuff,” she continues. “I listen to a lot of early-2000s music because I played piano most of my life. I listened to Sara Bareilles, John Mayer.”

An open book, Lede details some of her struggles with anxiety and depression with the utmost candor. After being dropped from RCA, her trust in people diminished, and she experienced long bouts of depression after being sexually assaulted by someone in the industry. The track that she feels most deeply about is “One Of Them Days,” which tackles these issues head-on.

“When I'm anxious and depressed, it's really hard to be happy,” Lede says. “Most of the time, I can do it, but there are just some days where I literally can't separate the anxiety, and I can't tell anybody why, because I don't really know why myself… I was feeling very odd that day, didn't even know if I could write a song. Hue [Strother], the guy who I wrote the song with, he was like 'I totally get you. Lots of people go through this.’’’

As we’ve observed in headlines recently, mental health and being honest about life’s trickier situations can help someone going through the same thing, and Lede hopes her music provides encouragement to those who are struggling. As for how she’s learning to push through her mental health roadblocks, she meditates, runs, and is an advocate for therapy, especially in Trump’s America, where harrowing news reports dominate the cycle.

Another hallmark of Kiana Lede’s personality is her bleeding heart for others. She cites women of color, sexual assault victims and the homeless youth specifically as individuals she feels most responsible to help, since she is personally connected to all three. While she’s aiming to create a project that helps homeless youth specifically, she’s working hard this holiday season to ensure that they have a place to stay “at least for the night” after horrific wildfires displaced many individuals in California.

“My passion is really people. Music is just a way that I can get to helping people,” she says with a grin. “Helping people emotionally and physically are both very important. I never want to stop helping people. I feel if other people can respect me, and I can respect myself, then I'll be happy. Happiness is all that we strive for.”

Recently, Lede played her first headlining solo show, a one-night event at The Mint in Los Angeles. While she was thrilled to see that the show sold-out, she was even happier to see the faces of her audience members, who she said ‘looked like [her].’ “Mixed girls, brown girls, black girls, gay boys,” she explains over-the-phone. Even though she wasn’t in person to discuss her latest huge accomplishment, you could hear the pride and joy through her voice.

As for the future of her career, she’s looking forward to more acting roles. You may recognize her from the first season of MTV’s Scream, and after her recent Netflix series All About The Washingtons with legendary MC Rev Run was cancelled, she has been “reading for auditions” and is “negotiating” for a role in a film set to shoot in NYC. While her time with the Run-DMC frontman was brief, she says he taught her about the importance of “not compromising your art for money.”

What Kiana Lede is most excited about, of course, is making music. She hopes to work on a new EP and then release an album after that. The ultimate goal is to fully realize the dreams in her personal and professional life, and she assures she’s just getting started.

“I want to be able to look back on my career and think 'man, I really poured my heart into this music, and made music that mattered, and made music that made people feel a certain way, whether it's bad, good, sad, anxious, whatever it may be.’”

READ MORE: NEXT: H.E.R. Is The Future Of R&B (And Then Some) In Plain Sight

Continue Reading

Top Stories