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Tory Lanez Discusses Upcoming "Talk To Me" Remix With Lil Wayne And Staying True To Self

The singer breaks down the inspiration behind Love Me Now, and his not-so-secret collabo with Lil Wayne.

Love Me Now? debuted No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rap Album charts with no promotion, and it’s not hard to see why. Charged up off the success of his sophomore effort, Memories Don’t Die, Tory Lanez came all gas no breaks for his second release of 2018.

Highly regarded as safe for its feature-filled tracklist, Lanez took a brand new approach with the making of Love Me Now?. Unlike his first two studio albums, the 26-year-old artist hones into the mixtape mentality that first accredited him as an artist to watch back in 2014 when he dropped Lost Cause. With the word, “album” comes an unwavering pressure that’s difficult to shake, reveals Lanez. Rather than manufacturing his bars and inserting his verses into the mold of what could be considered a classic album, the Toronto-native has opted to return back to his intuitive ways.

“I just wanted to be free with the music,” Lanez tells VIBE. “I didn't wanna have to worry about which song needed a rap verse or which song needed me to sing on the hook.” In freeing his creativity, Lanez was able to craft the album that he has always pictured. From the cover art to the typography of the tracklist, Love Me Now? proves to be the rapper’s most thought out project to date.

Sitting with VIBE to discuss the making of his new album, Lanez evades the puppetry of the industry. With a solid effort to sustain the qualities that make him unique, Lanez talks sharing his sauce with other artists, the upcoming "Talk To Me" remix with Lil Wayne and the inspiration behind Love Me Now?.

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VIBE: The first thing that stood out to me on Love Me Now? was the album cover. It's like an intersection between The Brady Bunch and The Muppets. What inspired that?

Tory Lanez: Yeah [laughs]. The little puppet that we have his name is Lil' Tory.

Do you still have it?

Yeah, I still got it. He does all my interviews with me and stuff. But nah, pretty much I wanted to create something that felt a little bit retro but also still felt innovative. I didn’t really wanna be on the cover as much, so I figured it would be better to just kind of use a puppet version of myself, you know?

When you first announced the album, you said something along the lines of "Don't become their puppet." Can you expand on that?

When you first come into the game and you're in the industry, I feel like there are a lot of opinions and a lot of things that people on the labels and in the comments and blogs say about you that end up taking a hold on you. It puts the strings in the hands of the audience and when you allow that to happen, you start changing the things about yourself that were the original qualities and made you unique in the first place. So I say don't be their puppet or don't let them make you their puppet because you don’t let people take away your creativity and you can never let people take away your originality.

 "At this point it's like why not get out there and give people like a taste of what I do, you know?" -Tory Lanez

This is your second project this year and this one definitely sounds a lot different than Memories Don't Die, but not in a bad way.

Thank you! I appreciate it.

You said that you treated this one like a mixtape because that’s where you host your best music. Can you take me back to that original thought process?

Yeah definitely. My mixtapes have always been all original music, but at the same time, my mixtapes are really dope because I don't really put too much thought into them. When the word album comes around, I kind of feel like ‘Damn, it's a lot of pressure’–like I gotta make sure that everything is here and all the right pieces of a classic album are in here and I don't really feel like that no more. Now I just kind of feel like when you make music, you make music and whatever comes out comes out.

Word. I think the best music comes organically.

I would say my best music lives in the mixtapes because those are also the places where the Chixtapes are and where my R&B is and all those different little projects that people have an emotional attachment too.

Did you strive to do that with this album?

I just wanted to be free with the music. I didn't wanna have to worry about which song needed a rap verse or which song needed me to sing on the hook. I just wanted to do something where whatever happened, happened.

Love Me Now? (stylized LoVE me NOw)  is packed with features. How did those go down? Were you just kicking it with people or were they more planned out?

No. Really what it was with me was like–there was a point in time where I was like you know what? I gotta create something that is catered to my audience and to my fans. I knew that there's music that they wanted me to collab on with other people.

I hear you.

There are songs that they've been wanting me to do and I just never did or people that they wanted me to collaborate with that I never did and I feel like at this point it's like why not get out there and give people like a taste of what I do, you know? I've been writing for a lot of these people for years, I've been giving a lot of people my sauce for a long time, so it's like why not just do this?

Did you get to work in the studio with anyone? I know a lot of music is made through disconnected media files.

I lot of stuff I did in my house though.

You have a studio in your house?

Well,l I got a little set up in my house, but that's where I record most of my stuff. I've recorded a lot of the Chixtapes there. It's just the same setup it's like a two like metal things, I don't know it's kind of hard to explain it, like these two metal things, a laptop, two speakers and a mic.

Casual tings. This is in Toronto?

Miami.

Oh, so you’re right there. There wasn't like a session with anyone that came by?

It’s not that there wasn't a session. There were some people that came to the crib and were like "Aight, imma record this right now in here." Trey Songz came and he recorded himself [laughs] He just went on the laptop and recorded his verse himself and stuff.

Did you have like a lot of fun with a specific track? Like what would you say you're most proud or if those two are two separate tracks?

I don't know if it's what I’m most proud of, but I enjoyed making "The Run Off," I enjoyed making "Ferris Wheel"–that was a fun one with me and Trippie. Just a vibe. He came in the studio with that record actually. Originally he came into the studio and had that record and then I think he played it for me one time and I was like "Yo, I need this record." Then he played it again and I was like "Nah I'm taking this record” [laughs] and then I just jumped on it and it was cool.

"Ferris Wheel" sparked a small dance challenge.

Yeah [laughs].

What were your thoughts when you first say that? With the rising popularity of dance challenges, do you think you need a challenge to get a number one song?

 

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When you try and hit the #FerrisWheelChallenge but it ain't for you @theshiggyshow 😂💯🕺🏾 (via @torylanez)

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I think it exposes the song but no no no no, not at all. I do think music is music at the end of the day. If it's good, it's good. But I do think when something is apart of something, it makes it bigger because it makes more people aware of the song and that people are doing whatever to this song specifically for some reason. Everybody likes to dance in a weird way and even if they dance in a weird way to themselves when no one is around or they dance can't dance in front of people, everyone likes to move in a way. At least that's how I feel.

I agree.

You know? Everyone kind of likes to dance so I feel like it just happens.

You're an artist that has a lot of music coming out at once. I know before this album rollout started you released your track with Ozuna, which led to El Agua. How is that album going?

It's going good. I'm just getting a couple of more features on it. I wanted to have like all of the people I wanted to work with on it like J Balvin and Maluma and other people that I feel like I was rushing a little bit of it at one point, but now I have certain moving pieces that make it dope, I just wanna make sure I have everybody.

Do you speak Spanish?

I can sing in Spanish. I can speak it a little bit, but I'm not good at it, I'm not fluent. I can't fluently speak a bunch of Spanish, but I can write music in Spanish. I can read it and I can read it but I can't like fluently speak it.

How'd you learn?

DuoLingo.

Really? That's funny.

Yeah. It actually really works though, it's taught me a lot.

So when you make music, do you just make it all and then kind of compartmentalize it and decide what projects it's going on?

Exactly. Like right now I'm working on Chixtape 5, El Agua, and another project with Benny Blanco. Those are the three things that are on my mind right now.

Aren't you also working on something with Meek Mill?

We have a collaborative little thing. My collaborative projects, I don't really count those.

Why not?

It's not all me. It's somebody else doing what they gotta do too, you know? Me and Meek and me and Chris Brown have had times where we just have so much music that it's like what are we gonna do with this? Why not put it out? [Laughs]

Do you guys know when you're gonna drop that?
I would imagine just next year. I've dropped a lot of stuff this year, so I would imagine that a lot of this is gonna drop next year.

Your video with Meek just came out. Are there any that you're shooting or planning to put out?

Everything. I'm gonna shoot a video for everything. Every. Single. Thing.

That's gonna be dope.

Yeah, I'm gonna go hard.

Yeah, it seems like you have a lot of fun with your visuals. 6ix9ine was in the video for “Talk To Me,” how did that happen?


6ix9ine was around for a little minute and I was like one of the first dudes who kind of was just like you know what? I'm gonna accept this guy just to the public [laughs] but yeah we shot that in L.A. I was shooting and he was like "What are you doing?" and I'm like "Yo I'm in LA" he's like "Yo I'm in here" and I was like "Aight well pull up to the shoot," and he pulled up.

You’ve been moving steadfastly in the industry since 2014. What song or collaboration would you say is your favorite song you ever put out–or haven't put out?

I don't know. I don't know about the best song ever or anything like that.

You don't have one song you vibe with the most?

I mean as of now it's the "Talk To Me" remix I got with Lil Wayne but nobody knows that I have the song [Laughs].

Are you gonna put it out? You can't say that and not put it out.

I'm gonna put it out this week, but I've been holding it for mad long so it's been like what I've been vibing to.

Aside from the remix, now that you’ve completed your releases for 2018, what would you say is your favorite project you’ve released so far?

Lost Cause is probably my favorite project.

Why?

I think it's just the most raw, rough but real project that I have. It's just a different time in my life that I'll never really forget.

What makes it so unforgettable?

What I was going through, you know? My living conditions and what I was put through at that time ended up making it very meaningful for me.

Last question because the people wanna know. Why is your album tracklist typed out the way it is?

You know how when people get collage art and then they like take a "C" from a magazine, a quote for a newspaper and a cursive "L"? It’s really inspired from that [laughs] but everyone thinks it's the Spongebob meme.

No [laughs] I just thought the capital letters were gonna spell something out.

I was gonna do that but then I was like “Nah I'm just doing too much.” My music is art to me and in my head, I picture all my songs on a college board that I’m piecing together and making as I go. That's why I wrote it like that.

Stream Love Me Now? above.

READ MORE: Premiere: Tone Tone And Tory Lanez “Give It To Ya” On New Radio Banger

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Courtesy of Netflix

Meet D Smoke, Inglewood And Hip-Hop's Next Hometown Hero

D Smoke is humble. The Inglewood native exudes an aura of maturation, needed for his quick ascension into popular culture as the first winner of Rhythm + Flow, Netflix’s hip-hop reality competition centered on the discovery of hip-hop’s next star. His signature authenticity shone throughout the 10-episode series and international audiences were drawn to his charisma as he proudly rapped about his lived experiences as a young black man in Inglewood.

“There’s such a rich history,” he says about his hometown, the inspiration for his forthcoming EP, over the phone. “I feel like it’s a beautiful but brief journey through my mind, my lived experiences, and the place that I’m extremely fond of.”

His musical confidence was displayed on the three-week series as he incorporated Spanish and live instrumentation to uplift the community-centered messaging embedded within his raps. Inspired by his childhood friends in Inglewood’s Latinx community, Smoke found music as unifier and way to remove barriers between Latinx and Black communities in his hometown. Demographics reflected in his students as a bilingual and music teacher at Inglewood High where he invests in the next generation of leaders.

He’s won an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award with his older brother, Sir Darryl Farris aka SiR, for “Never,” a Billboard-charting song from Jaheim in 2007, and received songwriting credits for Ginuwine and The Pussy Cat Dolls projects.

As the show’s first winner, there’s an added level of pressure for the rapper who has completed three music videos and started work on a 15-track mixtape since the show’s release. In the midst of press runs, D Smoke opened up about his experience on Rhythm + Flow, his Inglewood High EP, and his next steps as an independent artist.

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VIBE: Tell me about Inglewood High, your latest EP.

D Smoke: Inglewood High is an EP about my experience coming up on Inglewood, going to Inglewood High, and teaching at the high school after I graduated from UCLA. It’s an important project for me because Inglewood High School holds stories for me as a student and teacher. There are so many youngsters that I had the privilege of teaching that still walk those hallways and are walking the same path I did. I thought it was only right to start with this project first; some of the songs are about my experience, while others are about trends or stories that I often heard growing up in Inglewood. I took a third person approach to tell these stories; some bright, some dark, but they really capture what’s going on in the city.

In a Time interview, you stated Rhythm + Flow’s authenticity around cyphers and battles undid your skepticism. Could you speak about your transition process from being a bilingual teacher into a contestant on the show?

As a teacher, you’re performing every single day, right? Your students are your harshest critics, so performing wasn’t nerve-wracking for me. It was more that I didn’t want to subject myself to the critique of another artist. In the later rounds, I was unsure that their biases would either serve in my favor or to my detriment. So it wasn’t the nerves of performing, but how would they receive and understand my art? Because I believe the audience...before I went on the show, I knew that there’s a large audience for what I do. Submitting to three judges is very different, but by the time we had gotten into the later rounds, I felt like they appreciated what I was doing artistically and creatively. By the end of it, they thought of me as a peer.

Towards the later episodes, you incorporated live instrumentation into your performances which won over Cardi, T.I., and Chance. Is the next direction for your artistry going to implement live band performances?

Going into the show, my goal was to do that before I left. [With] the last round’s challenge of making a live performance, I was like, “Okay, this is the time where we’re going to pull that rabbit out of the hat, so to speak, and show them my musicianship side.” To be honest, I’m a musician first. My first love was playing piano. My mom is a music instructor and minister of music. Since the age of six, I’ve been playing the piano. That’s going to be a huge part of my artistry; to the same extent that playing the drums, singing, and rapping. It speaks to me authenticity as an artist, creative, and musician.

Being on the show has developed your relationship with the audience, in addition to your original support system of Inglewood. How do you feel about having fans around the world who have fallen in love with your music during your time on Rhythm + Flow?

To keep it completely honest, the reception has been amazing. I’m getting messages from all over the world. People love what I did and represented on the show while being entertained by it at the same time. I think when you combine somebody believing in your message, but being thoroughly entertained by your presence, I feel like that’s a true impact on the audience. I’m really overwhelmed by how much love people are pouring out and the messages. I’m trying to read as many as possible, but I’m only one guy. My following grew from 7,000 followers prior to the show to 700,000 and counting, and that’s in less than a month.

 

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We climbing the Charts!!! Let’s push it to #1 #share #tellafriend #GodisGreat

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Some viewers waited until all episodes of Rhythm + Flow were on Netflix to binge-watch. Why do you think people should've watched and witnessed your evolution as an artist to step into confidence?

I think people should watch the entire journey; go back and do their detailed research because we aren’t necessarily doing different things than we were already doing. I speak in “we” because I have a strong team of people that were working with me to prepare for being on the show. When the audience watches my performance, it’s not like this is something that I haven’t already been doing. I look forward to seeing the growth in numbers of my previous works, whether it be Subtitles - the series that I did demonstrating my rapping ability in both languages and having fun over beats that I loved and influenced me. It’s super vital to go back and see the whole story because although I’m new to a lot of people, I’m not new to music by any means.

On Rhythm + Flow, Cardi referenced Kendrick Lamar in relation to your music. You have close affiliations with Top Dawg Entertainment, your brother SiR is Kendrick’s labelmate, and you’ve opened for the Pulitzer Prize winner in 2011 at the Whiskey A Go Go. Do you see yourself continuing your relationship with TDE?

 

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Today is my younger brother’s birthday. Same mom, same dad, same blood, same schools, same hair, same goals, but @InglewoodSiR is and will always be his OWN MAN. My younger bro opened doors for me that he may not even be aware of. He’s fearless and original. His music is DOPE as Fuck and he’s as real as they come. Go wish my lil bro @inglewoodsir of TDE a happy Birthday! LOVE YOU BRO! 7

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I like the way you put it..continuing that relationship. We’re neighbors; they’re less than 10 miles from me. I was my brother’s keyboard player and musical director while he went on tour with Miguel. For a couple of years, Top Dawg Entertainment has been somewhat of a home base in the sense that I’m supporting their works indirectly. What TDE is to my brother or was to my brothers in terms of the platform to allow his following to grow exponentially. It’ll be more of a partnership where there’s an open dialogue about best practices to collaborate with artists, how we can plan community events, and coordinating impactful things. It’s opening the door for me to collaborate with my brother, similar to how we started off, and have the full support of TDE. That’s something I’m excited about and look forward to sharing.

Are you hoping to bring the spotlight to Inglewood similar to TDE’s upliftment of Compton? On Rhythm + Flow, you rapped about the familiarity of victims of fatal police shootings, because everyone in Inglewood knows each other.

I’m certainly looking to put Inglewood on the map. A lot of things are happening on the business development side with the stadium being built and the rise in property values. I’m looking to make investments in property and building connections within the city to continue education and community development work. My background is in mentorship, so being a visible face in the public, championing youth-driven programs is something I look forward to doing.

Do you plan on using your cash prize to start educational programs at Inglewood High and give back to your students who inspired your performances in the competition?

I’m looking forward to doing the scholarship. I’ve initiated the conversations with the city of Inglewood and Inglewood High School. We’re going to have an event to celebrate. I want to see the marching band come out and play the same cadences they played when I was there. I want to drive the energy back towards competitive academics because that’s what Inglewood was for me. It may not have that reputation but I can go back and name all of the teachers who had that impact and pushed me into being an academically competitive student.

Since winning Rhythm + Flow, you’ve gained a greater following and secured a series of upcoming collaborations. Are you aiming to remain independent, reflective of your underground spirit?

I haven’t altered how I move through the world since winning Rhythm + Flow. I’m always seeing my family, eating healthy, getting my workouts in, and connecting with people that I love, admire or respect. Engaging in different texts and conversations that really keep me sharp. Those things aren’t going to change. We also got business endeavors that keep me sharp and very grounded in conversation. I’m not concerned with the about of new publicity, altering how I operate. It’s cool and flattering, but prior to this, I knew exactly what I’m here to do and those things are still in motion.

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Nic Harcourt hands Quincy Jones the AKG Lifetime Achievement Award.
Courtesy of AKG

A Night Of Timeless Moments: AKG Honors Quincy Jones At 'History of Making History' Event

Quincy Jones can hang.

As AKG Audio's special event honoring the legendary composer in Hollywood came to an end just before midnight on Tuesday (Nov. 12), the 86-year-old was in the third hour of meeting guests. Sitting on a piano bench with a wide smile, Jones showed genuine love, laughs and hugs with every fan who had their own special story of how his work changed their lives.

Jones and innovative sound leaders AKG Audio have a lot in common. For the last seven decades, both have commanded the world to open their ears to new styles of technology, music, and production. It's a bond that brought the two to the Capitol Records Tower for "A History of Making History: Celebrating 70 Years of AKG," an event honoring the massive brand while tipping its hat off to one of the most important music composers of all time.

Jones accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award in front of an intimate crowd that included guests like singer-songwriter Daley, Maejor, Bobby Brackins, Jones' protege Jacob Collier, longtime friend and host Nic Harcourt, and many more captivated by the musician.

 

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Quincy Jones, the legendary composer, producer and founder of @VIBEMagazine, was honored last night in Hollywood by @akgaudio with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to music for over the last 7 decades. Check out our stories for more with Mr. Jones and AKG’s legendary role in the history of headphones! #AKGX70

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"Thank you from the bottom of my soul," Jones said. "This is as good as it gets for an 86-year-old bald-headed beep bopper (Laughs). Seven kids, eight grandkids; life is great. I hope you all experience a long, long life filled with love to share, health to spare, and most importantly, friends who care."

“Throughout his legendary career, Quincy Jones has created some of the most iconic records in the history of the recording industry and we are honored to present him with a Lifetime Achievement Award,” Erik Tarkiainen, Vice President of Global Marketing, HARMAN Professional Solutions tells VIBE. “For 70 years, AKG has been creating headphones and microphones that empower the spirit of creativity and innovation, and no one embodies that spirit more than Quincy.”

Some of AKG's classic mics were on display like the model Beyonce used for the album 4 and another used by both the late 2Pac and Luther Vandross. Jones even shared how he's used their products over the years.

"For almost seven decades in this business as a musician, composer, arranger, conductor and producer, I have always gone for the music that gives me goosebumps. And whether it was Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra, the Brothers Johnson, Michael Jackson, the artists who contributed to the recordings of "We Are The World", right up until today, without fail that music was delivered through AKG audio products,” Jones said. “As you celebrate your 70th anniversary, I have no doubt in my mind that AKG will continue to be an essential part of the music recording and listening experience for many, many more decades to come."

Collier's covers revealed just how sharp Jones' ears remain over the years. Collier's jazz-tinged covers of Jones' compositions like "Human Nature" (Michael Jackson), "Fly Me To The Moon" (Frank Sinatra) and "Give Me The Night" (George Benson) included jazz and R&B blends with the multi-instrumentalist using his voice as the most powerful card in the deck. The Grammy-winning artist's performance was a gift to the audience and to Jones, as he sat front and center enjoying an icicle and while tapping his shoe to the new-wave rhythms.

Just before Collier united the room, several studios at Capitol Records acted as classrooms. One studio featured a conversation between Harcourt and acoustics expert Dr. Sean Olive where they touched on the history of AKG's role in the headphone industry, dating back to 1949's AKG DYN Series. Another room included the stems of Quincy's most iconic production—Michael Jackson's "Thriller"—available on laptops for guests to mix while AKG's latest releases like the AKG K361 and K371 were on display. In the Crow's Nest studio rested with elation is Ramzoid, who offered his own remix to Jones' music.

One of the main studios featured a DJ set by Austin Millz, one of the creatives behind D’USSE Palooza and admirer of Jones. "It was an honor to play for the Quincy Jones/AKG event," he tells VIBE. "Quincy is one of my biggest influences in music. His path, journey and all his contributions in music is countless and is a great example of setting the tone for what is an extraordinary career. His accolades and what he stands for is exemplary. Last night was a night that I will never forget."

The bubble with Jones and AKG was a music lover's paradise. As the legendary composer continues to receive his flowers, new and old friends are learning more about him each and every day. "It's the left brain and science," he said of the intersection between God-given instrumental talent and technology. "You have to master the rules before you can break them, so you better know what you're doing."

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Duane Prokop

Big Baby DRAM Is Prepping For A Big Comeback

In 2016, music connoisseurs were graced with the introduction of acts who injected fun back into hip-hop . These new rappers like Aminé, Lil Yachty and DRAM steered clear of hardcore trap beats, and instead supplied the industry with exultant, infectious records. DRAM stood out with multiple hits that year, including “Cha Cha,” “Broccoli,” and “Cute.” But as much as the Hampton, Virginia native and his fans hold his debut album Big Baby D.R.A.M in high regard, he is now ready to flip the switch and show a different side of his musicality with his upcoming sophomore album.

“For the whole history of me releasing music ever since my first mixtapes in 2014, I've had a couple of records that were so jubilant, uplifting and uptempo, just automatic feel good,” the 31-year-old shared. “There's no denying that those records in the past have been phenomenal, but that was for that moment.”

Although no physical sit down occurred with DRAM for his conversation with VIBE, it was easy to envision his signature smile on his face through the phone as he shared his album-making process from over the last three years, as well as his endless side hustles. From delving deep into songwriting, to partnering with Sprite and LeBron James, he has kept busy and obviously music has consistently stayed on his mind. But he's taking a new direction musically.

An illustration of this is “The Lay Down.” DRAM's latest single shows him shifting from his jovial, happy-go-lucky persona into a passionate, seductive lover. The bedroom jam shows off his vocal chops as he shares vocal harmonies with H.E.R. over a beautiful, soulful production by WATT that's highlighted by a soaring guitar solo at the song's climax. It's one of the greatest songs of 2019, and it shows just how comfortable DRAM is with his versatility.

Although his sophomore album has no specific release date, nor a title available to the public (he apologized for the vagueness), DRAM is ready to welcome his fans into a new, previously slightly hidden chapter of his music career.

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VIBE: I know you're currently working on your second album, but you've also kept yourself busy this past year with things outside the album making process. Last year you worked with LeBron James and Sprite, recently you worked with them again for a remake of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" for the upcoming holiday season. What has it been like to collaborate with King James on your Sprite partnership?

DRAM: It's just really dope how, it places us in the same vicinity. I don't know, it makes me chuckle because he throws me a can of Sprite every time I see it. I got on these glasses, looking happy as hell. It makes me happy to see it.

In working with Lebron and Sprite do you feel like you learned something from him? What did you admire working with him?

I just admired how the whole thing went down to be honest. That everybody agreed to do it. I think what I took from that is that you can rub shoulders with just about anybody as long as you be about yours and do what you came to do.

Getting into your music, it's been a minute since you've released a project, three years to be exact. You recently just celebrated the three-year anniversary of Big Baby D.R.A.M. In these three years how much have you changed artistically and as a person?

I think it's more so about growing up. Growing up into what this has become. I can think about it as me putting out a merch project, like a newborn baby. And now I'm at the age of like a toddler, like preschool. No longer having the spoon or the bottle, maybe even have a sippy cup and a bag of chips. It's just more mature. Things that would excite me and things that I would be eager or nervous about, it's almost second nature now.

You become accustomed to the lifestyle that comes with putting out an album or doing the things of album mode. Going out and doing shows, and now it's no better time. It's so time for the next effort. The question is, what's going to be next for me and it's really just growth. Evolution, a slight change of perspective in a sense.

For sure. And then back in 2016, you were releasing records like “Broccoli” which was more feel good and kind of poppy. Now, you just released “The Lay Down” with H.E.R. and Watt, which is more soulful. Why have you decided to go that route? Was it a smooth process for you to go from making records like “Broccoli” and “Cute” to “The Lay Down?”

For the whole history of me releasing music ever since my first mixtapes in 2014, I've had a couple of records that were so jubilant, uplifting and uptempo, just automatic feel good. But then as a body of work, its majority is sensual, thought-provoking, emotion-provoking records, such as “Caretaker,” “Wi-Fi,” “Sweet Virginia Breeze,” which was centered on the first Sprite campaign that I was on. These records are really what the core, diehard DRAM fanbase, that's where, in the grand scheme of things, the whole scale. As the years went on, you aim to grow towards what you really want. There's no denying that those records in the past have been phenomenal, but that was for that moment. That was what it was.

Now what's leading the way, it's the records that’s still with the substance, that keeps the actual diehard fans here and there. It's like for the outsider, it's such a sudden change because if you haven't really delved into the world of "Big Babes" then you wouldn't get it. To the point where the fans that's been there for quite some time, they're right on key. Anyone else who comes just there for that, the instantaneous party, you might stick around or wanna kick back with a Daiquiri, or go back and drink your drink somewhere else.

Getting more into your track with H.E.R. and WATT, what was it like working on “The Lay Down” with them? Was the process of making that song different from any of your other songs?

Oh no! Like I said, it's second nature. It really just comes. I'd like to say, I can't really think of myself just off of one lane, I know that I concentrate more toward the sensual, what I was saying previously. There's no box to put me in. Just last week I was in a session helping a very prominent rapper. I'm coming up with lines for somebody else in a rap song. This whole campaign, it's really just whatever I put my energy towards, and I'm just very thankful that I have the strength and the feeling that I can do it.

Do you feel like the industry tries to box artists into the specific genre that they first come out with?

I'm not gonna sit here and be the one that's going to give you a huge leftist, huge rightist position. I think it's all on what that person that's there, is the entity, the artist. So no matter who else is behind them, no matter how much shit is going on behind them, it's all on that person and what they choose to do with their craft. Somebody can go into the game and really be in it for the heart and once the money starts, and then it's like all right boom, boom, boom, and then they say they want to change, and they're like "well let me go back to that thing" because the coin is good, everybody wants to get that coin back. Make sure you invest and save, you're not watching them do enough of that, you still want to keep it around. Some people will go into the trash can, before they compromise their brain.

I think it's all about balance and knowing your fan base may be slightly different from your true desires that you want to get out there. The thing is lace up and weather the storm if that's what you want to do or sit back and chill in the breeze if that's what you want to do. Don't be mad when the clouds start coming.

You recently said in a Twitter post that you feel that no one really sings anymore and that there aren't any "true sangers" out there. Why do you think that is?

You know, it's very croonery, very “monotone-y,” it's not daring, it doesn't sound like anyone is willing to jump off of a cliff and see if that parachute thing comes up with hope and a prayer. Trust me, some hope and a prayer gets you down there if you really believe. Nobody's channeling, I feel like in the correct manner. There's some people that are really killing it and making phenomenal music in what they do. What I'm saying is that there's a certain type of energy, a certain type of presence that is no longer being made, being honored. I'm just here to let that continue to live on, and it never die.

Do you feel like there are still singers that are out today that give you goosebumps, that you feel aren't monotone-ish or anything like that?

When I hear that girl named Yebba Smith... it's this girl named Yebba. She's like low-key, but she's probably a lot of people's favorite singers’ favorite singer. She's gonna f**k up a lot of sh*t. Her sh*t is fire. I stumbled across her at a session at my publisher house, we have the same publisher and she was in the other room and I was like damn bro. They played me her sh*t, I had to walk over to the other room and meet her. When I hear her sing that sh*t f***ing....damn! And that's what we need, that's what I'm talking about. All that other sh*t, it's cool, but c'mon now we need that energy.

I know you also mentioned in your tweet that you've also been focusing a lot on songwriting, I wanted to know what your songwriting method is like and if it's always come easy to you?

Anything can inspire to do something musically. I can hear a door shut funny and have a note and be like oh sh*t. Or something like the phrase “gotta be quicker than that” or something. I like to just use the things that I really feel inside. When I hear it and then when I say it, it's gotta match. It's like a secret language that I'm speaking with the beat. I just want to make it feel right.

What more can your fans expect from your second album? What do you hope that they take away from it?

Take away the growth of where I am mentally, where I am musically and to kind of get a better understanding of why I've been in kind of a recluse type of state in these years and the things that I've been going through in regular life.

Why the three-year wait for your sophomore album?

It needed that you know. I don't want to sound like that, by saying I don't want to sound like that of course it's probably going to sound like that, but it takes time for these type of things. I believe that the bodies of work that I've been putting out and more specifically, the first mixtape and then the first album, that really changed a lot of today's music, to be honest. You gotta give them some time to really cycle out so you can really see how much you've influenced music. I promise to God the three-year wait was worth it.

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