Casey Veggies has come a long way from roaming the hallways of Inglewood High School -- selling his mixtapes out of his backpack.
On a recent pleasantly warm morning in New York City while draped in gear from Footaction, the West Coast rapper is all smiles while impressively levitating on a swagbaord. He's also yapping away on his smartphone and rearranging flight arrangements, so he can bless a Santa Ana, Calif. crowd with his quip bars alongside Chris Brown. Clearly, Casey feels quite at home on the stage.
Although only four years removed from Sleeping In Class, the 22-year-old rapper has become one to watch on the bubbling L.A. music scene.
Before the release of his debut album Live & Grow, VIBE caught up with Veggies in Harlem at Real Life Studios to kick off our new style feature, Style Files. Peep the conversation below as Casey Veggies talks working with PUMA and Footaction, his style philosphy and evolving as an artist. –Ashley Monaé
VIBE: So you revealed a portion of your shoe collection awhile ago on Instagram. It's pretty legit, but is it' safe to say that Casey Veggies is a sneakerhead?
Casey: Little by little I got into shoes just from wanting to be fresh with dope appearance, and it all starts with the kicks. I have so many pairs at home. I wouldn’t even call myself a sneakerhead. I just ended up collecting and buying a lot different kicks I thought were dope. Ever since I signed with PUMA my shoe stock just went crazy. I definitely have over a hundred pair of sneakers. I’m more of a PUMA-head [Laughs]. I love them. They’re comfortable. I like to wear those more than anything else right now.
And for those that aren't familiar, what's your official title with PUMA?
This is my third year as their Brand Ambassador. I was already a fan and supported their movement. They were interested in partnering with various artists, and I was blessed enough to be one of the artists that got that opportunity.
You’ve also teamed up with Footaction for a dope project.
We’re doing a campaign that’s really going to push the culture. I think Footaction is a super dope brand that I’m more than happy to be partnered with them on this project. I’ve always been a fan of them since high school. So, just the fact that they’re embracing our culture and what young artists like myself are doing is very special.
On the topic of copping kicks, what’s your go-to sneaker?
Definitely a pair of PUMA suede’s. I liked the Balenciagas too, but they’re kind of played out.
You've already got one collaboration collection.
Yeah, that was the homie Anwar's shoe. It was dope to be able to partner under such a large brand. Right now, I’m working on my own collaboration with PUMA. I’m trying to get my own shoe and a Peas & Carats collaboration done as well.
Aside from kicks, what can people expect?
More accessories, more outerwear, some sweat suits; I want to do a pair of Suede shoes too. But mainly their sweat suits are crazy, so I want to tap into that and workout gear. You know, fresh stuff that you can still wear for other purposes like soccer jerseys and stuff like that. They’re moving real futuristic with the stuff that they’re making, and I’m trying to bring my brand and do dope collabs that features stuff I’d actually want to wear.
Menswear is changing. There is a sort of renaissance taking place, especially in the rap community where artists are becoming bolder with their fashion choices. Are you feeling that wave?
It’s cool, but I don’t really do it too much. I stay in my own lane. I think it’s fresh that everyone has his or her own style, but I think that’s what’s special about me: I just do me with it. That’s why I think PUMA is a great brand for me. It matches my personality.
What's your style philosophy?
Be fresh and be comfortable. It's all about having a balance. I like dressing regular. I like streetwear. That’s what I came up on in L.A. on the Fairfax scene wearing streetwear clothing. That’s what Peas & Carrots is. I think I’m more of the person that likes to match them up 50-50: something high-end with something regular.
On an everyday basis, what's your go-to ensemble?
A nice pair of jeans, sick pair of PUMAs, a fresh shirt. Fresh is a very important adjective.
Aside from PUMA, you've got your own brand that you mentioned earlier that focuses on streetwear, Peas & Carats International.
Yeah, the L.A. store is back open and we’re about to drop the new line. A lot of new collabs are in the works too. We’re actually doing a boxer collab with Ethika.
Jay Z has showed much interest in your career early. With Hov being one of the few emcees that have successfully maneuvered from rapper to businessman, did you he give you any advice on handling business deals and further growing your brand outside of the music?
Jay gave me a lot of advice just about being genuine. When I met him he asked me what's your story? That was one of the dopest questions anyone ever asked me. When I played him the Live & Grow album he was really feeling it and showing a lot of love. One of the best advice he gave me was to not worry about the numbers and the money he said I have a great body of work and that I should hit the road and tour and spread my story to the world.
Right now Peas & Carats is heavy on t-shirts and hats, is there anything else we can expect from the new line?
A lot of accessories. I’m trying to do phone cases, socks, hoodies. I’m excited to just get the brand back up and fully running. And do things that we never tried before.
Speaking of trying new things, your new album, Live & Grow, is an evolution of sorts for you. How has your music influenced your style and vice versa?
For me it’s all about being organic and being natural. Just like you said, it’s also about evolution and natural growth. It’s a slogan that I strongly stand behind. It’s also been apart of Peas & Carats, too. We’ve had “Fresh & Frozen” and ‘Stay Gold Through It All,” these different messages is what pushes the brand. It’s what we thrive off of. It’s just something positive for the world. I feel like I always wanted people to get something positive from me and I always would like what would I want tell the world to think of me.
So, what do you hope your style says about you?
I hope my style tells people to be authentic and have fun with what you wear. Don’t think about it too much.
And the music?
For this first album and this movement, I want people to think of me as this kid that told them to live and grow no matter what. Rappers talk about drugs and this and that, and it’s cool to speak on what you do but it’s still corrupting the younger listeners. With all my music I try to always take that into consideration because I know I have fans as young as 12 years old so I try not to corrupt them. It’s all about positive vibes. You can be feeling negative about life and my lyrics can make you view life from a different space.
This whole Live & Grow album for me is like a full circle, coming-of-age moment. People will see a I've got this dope track with Tyler [The Creator], it's one of the last songs I got done. It's a special record called "R.I.P." I wanted to speak on a more serious topic, that's the entire concept of the record. I'm excited for people to hear it because we're speaking on how we've got to uplift the young kids and how we're losing our friends to gang violence to police brutality. It shies away from all the joking people know Tyler and all of us for. You'll hear me having fun and doing records like "Backflip," but "R.I.P." is me evolving as an artist. I'm talking about some new things, some old things, but it's all from a place of aspiring to inspire those that listen to music.
Stream Casey Veggies' Live & Grow here.