Following the loss of XXXTentacion and with 6ix9ine behind bars, Blueface is the latest rapper to usurp the throne and hold the crown as the youth’s champion. Within seconds of hearing his scorching Top 10 Billboard Rap Songs hit “Thotiana,” listeners probably know where they stand on the polarizing MC, whose flows are reminiscent of a cross between Juvenile on “Ha,” sprinkled with DNA from Bay Area legend E-40‘s unique ability to overstuff words into certain pockets that wouldn’t work for just about anyone else. VIBE caught up with a weary Blueface at the tail end of his fully booked NYC press run late last February – and weeks before being charged for felony possession of a unregistered handgun.
At least Blueface, born Jonathan Porter, made sure he was well-prepared for the frigid NYC temps, which turned nearly apocalyptic for a short time prior to our interview 31 stories high overlooking Times Square. Laced in a forest green Champion hoodie under his winter coat, the diehard G-Unit fan fills out his lanky 6’3″ frame in the build of a basketball player, rather than the college-recruited quarterback he was supposed to be at Fayetteville State University. (He dropped out after one semester.) His matching green Timberland boots should also be noted as an honorable homage to the Big Apple fashion staple.
Being cognizant of his viral capabilities has played an integral role in Blueface’s meteoric rise, as the West Coast rapper’s career trajectory has significantly spiked over the past three months to levels that industry insiders can’t put a cap on. His newfound visibility even has pop star Charlie Puth tweeting, “Blueface Babiiiee.”
Blowing up quickly doesn’t have Blueface batting an eye, drawing on the childhood experiences that forced him to grow up “at a little faster pace, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle,” he confidently relayed, while fixing up his new $80,000 icy chain. The glistening pendant matches the Ben Franklin portrait he has tattooed on the right side of his face.
Blueface isn’t shy when it comes to gloating about his Crip ties either, whether that’s channeling his inner-Dub-C to hit the famed Crip Walk or having a breakout track titled “Respect My Cryppin,'” it’s all a part of the brand. The Rookie of the Year candidate says he originally got involved with the School Yard Crip gang about four years ago when he was 18 because he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his incarcerated older brother. “I always wanted to be like him. He was already full-fledged into it,” he explains.
The L.A. rapper speaks sincerely when detailing his brother’s legal situation, which found him guilty of accessory to murder charges leading to a 17-year sentence. Blueface says he’s already been locked up for 12 years, but the pair still share a strong bond. “We talk all the time, at least once a week. He’s proud. I’m just waiting for him to get out so we could ball. He’s actually heard a couple songs,” he asserts.
It’s been well-documented that Blueface fell into rapping almost by accident. After hopping in the booth at a friend’s studio session in 2017, the lost then-20-year-old discovered a new calling of sorts with the book shut on his football career. “From then on, that’s when I fell in love with it. I fell in love with my voice. I had something inside of me that was like, ‘I like this,'” he described of the feeling. “I wanted to do whatever it took.”
Blueface began to pick up steam following the positive reception to his debut single “Deadlocs” in Jan. 2018. The SoundCloud plays started to compile and the social media followers began to multiply as the 22-year-old knew something special was on the horizon. Blueface’s rise can partly be contributed to the viral social media clips of his impromptu performances, where he’d pull up to various Los Angeles high schools and start rapping atop his minty Mercedes Benz.
Between the viral moments and unabashed boasting of his gang ties, Blueface’s rapid ascension is eerily reminiscent of 6ix9ine’s glow-up in some ways around this time last year. When asked about potential parallels between their careers, he doesn’t foresee himself making the same mistakes Tekashi did, which has led the Brooklyn rapper to cut a deal and plead guilty to a reported nine counts of racketeering charges. “I just tone it down. I got a lot to lose now. I feel like 6ix9ine brought all that stuff on himself,” he explains. “You don’t see me doing anything illegal? I ain’t into it like that. That’s just the past.”
Being a father to a two-year-old, that conversation led into the noticeable lack of security around to protect himself and his team while running through NYC. Blueface quickly points to his three friends on the couch next to us, all of who claim to also be members of the Crips, and half-jokingly says with a smirk, “Who’s gonna fuck with us, you see how we look? I always keep some dark-skinned n***as with me.”
Blueface continued to build momentum throughout 2018, going on to release a pair of projects including his debut effort Famous Cryp and the Two Coccy mixtape. The former spawned the anthemic Hot 100 smash “Thotiana” and “Respect My Cryppin,'” whose video quickly gained traction and compiled millions of views on Worldstar when it was essentially turned to a meme, as viewers compared Blueface’s flow to Cartoon Network’s Courage The Cowardly Dog.
In November, it was announced that Blueface inked a label deal with Wack100 and Cash Money West. The 22-year-old seemed to be infatuated with Wack’s street credibility, history as The Game‘s manager, and his willingness to flex some muscle to ultimately get his way in the mold of a Suge Knight, even though he reps his rival L.A. Piru Bloods gang. “[It’s all] Wack100. Sh*t, I beat people up too, so it made sense,” Blueface jokes of Wack’s combative nature. “The reason I signed was Wack. He took me to his house and it all felt real.”
He emphatically states that he’s not in a disastrous 360 deal, but doesn’t know much more. Wack then chimes in that their agreement is for one album with an option to renegotiate for the second. “I didn’t really understand the off-beat sh*t. I just looked at it like that was his style. He gets in and out of it when he wants to. He was the first young rapper to make me go back and rewind some sh*t,” Wack100 says of Blueface’s appeal. “Is he a battle rapper? No, but he knows how to make music.”
After running through the high-profile co-signs he’s already received, which includes the likes of Drake, Ice Cube, and Kendrick Lamar, Blueface may have gotten the most serious during our conversation when voicing his disgust with the fickleness of fans and the generation of followers we currently live in. “You know, someone don’t f**k with someone until everyone f**k with them. That’s the human race,” he genuinely states. “Now it’s like, ‘Oh, now I want to f**k with them.’ People are followers, I think it’s disgusting how people switch up like that.”
With Blueface firmly standing on his own two feet, Wack100 wants to allocate the proper time in turning his five-star recruit into an all-out force in the industry. Look no further than the mistakes 300 Entertainment made with Fetty Wap in early 2015 to learn from, when the label neglectfully rushed the career building process by squeezing hit after hit out of the New Jersey native. Wack doesn’t plan on unleashing the myriad of star-studded rumored collaborations Blueface has in the stash until “at least April,” which will kick off the rollout toward his major label debut.
He surely doesn’t have to with “Thotiana” surging up the Billboard Hot 100 at an exponential rate, where it recently cracked the top 10. Since being sent to radio at the top of February, “Thotiana” has gone from underground darling to inescapable streaming sensation, accumulating over 37.8 million plays this past week. The tune, which spawned the viral “Bust Down” dance, has really taken on a life of its own, while receiving a pair of spicy remixes alongside YG and Cardi B, with the latter adding fuel to the mainstream fire by accumulating more than 28 million views in less than two weeks.
Many in the industry have attempted to put their own spin on “Thotiana.” The minimal piano-laden instrumental was caught in the line of fire of the playful Soulja Boy versus Tyga beef, as the pair exchanged shots over Blueface’s hit record. “Thotiana” may have even revived the career of Young MA, who spit an impressive freestyle and garnered the attention of hip-hop for the first time in a long time. Nicki Minaj even took note, releasing her own “Bust Down Barbiana” version during an early February episode of Queen Radio.
Blueface says his anticipated album is tentatively titled Selfish because he’s, apparently, “hella selfish with things you need to be, like an opportunity.” He hopes to release the effort at some point during the summertime. The “Next Big Thing” MC confirmed a pair of records with Drake existing somewhere in the ethos. He asserts that the forthcoming Boi-1da-produced “In the Zone” is a “Drake-styled song, unlike one of his traditional records,” where he “went and matched [Drake’s] style.”
The 22-year-old goes on to debunk the many internet tales affirming he’s got tracks already done with Quavo, Tyga, Soulja Boy, Lil Pump and Scott Storch, Lil Uzi Vert, G-Eazy, and French Montana. Wack also relayed that the newly minted Cardi B “Thotiana” remix would be served to radio stations nationwide on a platter following its release.
Before our half-hour chat came to a close, Blueface hopped on his Instagram Live seemingly out of nowhere, breezing by questions he didn’t feel were up to standard, claiming he was looking for something more “ignorant” to appease his juvenile fanbase. Blueface has a Cardi B-esque authenticity factor to him that plays well with his loyal following. Whatever pops into his mind, no matter how brash or politically incorrect, he’s going to lay it out there. Whether that trait spells doom for Blueface down the line remains to be seen, but at least for now, the new king of the youth has arrived.