So, how did Chris end up on it then? He’s obviously had his issues over the course of the last couple of years and some artists have been afraid to work with him but it seems like you guys have been in the studio a lot lately. How did you end up linking up with him?
He actually came to one of my shows one day out of nowhere. It was in New York at NYU. I was like, ‘What the hell is Chris Brown doing here!?’ So obviously I let him backstage and he was like, ‘Man, I fucks with your music heavy. Let’s work.’ At the time, I didn’t know he was so down-to-Earth so I didn’t even know if he was serious. But, sure enough, we stayed in contact and hit the studio in Miami one day and then hit it a whole bunch of times after that. We did like five songs together and one of them was “My Last.” I played that for him and he was like, ‘Man, this is cold,’ and he immediately got on it and that’s really how it all happened.
So, he just showed up at one of your shows and that led to you getting your first hit? You must have good Karma on your side right now or something. [Laughs]
[Laughs] You’d be surprised! A lot of people have been reaching out to me by showing up at my shows. From Rick Ross to Jadakiss to tons of other people, they just show up at my shows to support me. I’m definitely appreciative of it all.
You’ve gotten plenty of cosigns since you started making a name for yourself, but obviously the strongest one came from Kanye West, who signed you to G.O.O.D. Music. That said, it’s surprising to hear you’re almost ready to release Finally Famous because it seems like now is the busiest ‘Ye’s been in the last few years. How involved was he able to be with your album?
That’s the thing with Kanye. He always has a project he’s working on. He’s an artist himself, so you can’t be mad at him for focusing on what he has to do. And he’s definitely still managed to put a lot of work and effort into my project. But No I.D. actually did the majority of the production on Finally Famous. He did about 80 percent of the album. And then Pharrell did a track. Kanye did a track. And then you know who else brought a cold-ass beat to me? DJ Khaled. He was real familiar with my movement and my story and gave me a beat that he thought would fit my style well just by listening to some of my music.
Okay, so it sounds like you took the initiative and went off and recorded and then checked in every now and then with Kanye to get his take on what you were doing. Is that about right?
Yeah, definitely. You have a great perspective, if you’re able to tell that from the outside. Kanye respects the fact that we can go out and do our own stuff and be good on our own. It’s not like he has to hold our hands the whole way.
Off the topic of the album for a second, I saw that you recently retweeted something that a fan wrote on Twitter suggesting that you and Wiz Khalifa record a mixtape together. I know you appeared on his recent tape, Cabin Fever. Is a collaborative mixtape featuring both of you a real possibility?
We’ve definitely talked about doing something like that. That’s one of my good homies, one of my close friends in this industry. How the [Cabin Fever] stuff came about was I was just chilling at his crib—looking at movies and talking shit—and he was like, ‘Man, I got some stuff you need to hop on.’ He had one song for me to jump on and then I jumped on another song after I heard it. And we’ve talked about doing more work together, too. He told me I was one of his favorite rappers so we will definitely do more work together in the future.
Last question: A lot of rap fans became familiar with you because of the style of punchline that you helped invent last year that became popular thanks to rappers like Drake and Nicki Minaj. That whole “It’s goin’ down…basement” thing. It seems to be just about dead now. Are you glad to see that?
Well, yeah. [Laughs] I’m done with it. It got overused and killed. But I’m still really thankful that Drake paid his respects and told everybody that he got the style from Big Sean. A lot of people still ask me if I was pissed off that Drake and all these people stole my style and I didn’t get recognized for it. But I wasn’t.
Any particular reason? It seems like you could have made a killing in 2010 if you had been in the spotlight a little bit more. We could have been having this same conversation about your album coming out a year ago and you could have gotten more of the credit that you deserved.
That just showed me how far I can go in this industry and how much of an impact I can make. Because, in essence, I changed hip-hop without even putting an album out. That’s a fact. It’s something that will definitely go down in history and I’m excited to be a part of that. And, most importantly, it just goes to show how much further I can go.