“Why do you think New York fucks with me so heavy?” 03 Greedo asks during a snowy Wednesday night in New York City. Dumbfounded by his random question, I mention his prolific output, authenticity and unapologetic candor, which is as equally chilling as the frosty temperatures of the Big Apple.
“Gates, Boosie and early Gucci all possessed that rawness that appealed not only to their demographics, but to the masses universally. People generally respect that kind of realness,” I continue. For a second, 03 pauses, soaks in the compliment and chuckles, displaying his appreciation for my answer.
Since 2016, 03’s woozy, brazen raps have elevated him among the ranks in the West Coast. After losing his friends Mafia Ray — who sparked his biggest single “Mafia Business” — and Lil Money to senseless murders, the burgeoning artist quickly began his assault on the rap game. First, the Los Angeles artist released his 33-track effort Money Changes Everything, serving as a dedication to his fallen friend Lil Money, followed by the 37-song mixtape Purple Summer 03: Purple Hearted Solider. To punctuate his blistering run, 03 liberated his 13-track project First Night Out, an R&B-tinged mixtape filled with syrupy melodies and bruising lyrics that he recorded the night he was released from jail.
Despite being an indomitable workhouse in the booth, the embattled Alamo Records artist has struggled to stave off his demons. 03’s bullish mentality comes from his time in Jordan Downs housing projects, where a large percentage of the population ended up destitute, dead or in jail. Throughout his life, 03 has dealt with drug addiction, homelessness, being shot at, almost having his leg amputated, learning how to walk again with a metal leg, incarceration, friends who have been murdered and more.
To make matters worse, he currently faces two felony charges: first degree possession of a controlled substance and third degree unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. If convicted on the drug charge, 03 faces 25 to 99 years. As for his gun charge, he could be slapped with two to 20 years, plus an additional $10,000 fine.
Two days before heading to court and also releasing his debut album, The Wolf of Grape Street, 03 Greedo spoke with Billboard about growing up in Jordan Downs, his living legend face tattoo, his disdain for Tupac and Timbaland, and why he’s the Gucci Mane of the West Coast. Check it out below.
I know you’re a huge Stevie Wonder fan, so I want to know…
How do you know this?!
I do my homework. Take me back to the first Stevie Wonder record you fell in love with.
I don’t think it was a song, because I was too young to comprehend. I was recovering — this was around the time I got the ear infection and got the artificial ear drum — so I had to test my new ears out a lot. I was really just on tones and the nasally voice that I had. A lot of my melodies are like Stevie Wonder’s, Sting from The Police, Phil Collins, Sade, Erykah Badu’s tones, but I don’t care to listen to Sade or Erykah Badu’s songs too often, just their tones.
You mentioned being partially deaf with your fake ear drum growing up. How did that affect your ear for production?
I can’t tell that I’m partially deaf in one ear. I just know that’s what my voice sounds like. I’ve noticed that when a lot of people record, they have to take one earphone off when they’re singing. I don’t have to do that.
I know you also do your own beats and that you enjoyed listening to Timbaland and Pharrell growing up.
Don’t mention Timbaland.
He said that we don’t have a lot of producers and we have a lot of beatmakers and kids with a program. I don’t want to endorse him anymore. Some people should watch what they say because it’s a slick shot to somebody you don’t even know you’re taking a shot to.
Continue reading Greedo’s interview at Billboard.