Getting back to the music, it feels like you’ve made a real effort to improve on the mic in recent years. You’ve freestyled over tons of popular instrumentals and hopped on countless remixes. Why did you originally make the decision to do that?
Before I got on, I was one of the first artists in Miami putting out mixtapes. I was always one of those people who was able to stay current and accomplish so many things with ease. That’s one of the things I pride myself on—working hard but not appearing to work hard. Being on everything but always looking like I’m just smoking weed and chilling. And when you love a record, you just love a record. If I love it, there’s a good chance I’m going to fuck with it and be a part of it.
A lot of the songs you drop them to the blog sites sound like actual remixes. Some of them even get played on the radio with your verses. Has an artist ever reached out to you to give you feedback on what you did with one of their songs?
That’s actually what happened with Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat.” When I heard it, it just moved me. I was sitting in the studio smoking and I got on it and released it at 5 o’clock in the morning when I finished it. Me and her were on the phone speaking about it by 10 o’clock that same morning. She was telling me she really loved it.
“Biggie is maybe the greatest of all-time. That wouldn’t even be a fair comparison.”
I ask all of this because back when your first single, “Hustlin’,” dropped in 2006, I don’t think anyone thought ‘lyricist’ when they thought about you. You actually got clowned for some of the lyrics in that song. Did you take that to heart?
Not at all! For a long time, people thought I was rapping too hard. I always swept that to the side. Growing up, I loved Big Daddy Kane and Ice Cube. I loved what I loved, so I was going to make what I was going to make.
You’ve obviously made an impression on people. Diddy, in particular, gave you a huge compliment earlier this year when he compared you to Biggie. Had you guys talked about that privately before he came out and told the world?
Nah. You know, we had been recording some things, but up to that point, we hadn’t released nothing. Me and Diddy had just been in the studio several times, trying things out and creating some stuff. When he made the comparisons of me and Biggie, I didn’t take them as me being compared to Biggie. Biggie is maybe the greatest of all-time. That wouldn’t even be a fair comparison. But I sometimes try to channel the emotions Biggie had in his music and his ability to tell stories. It touched me in a certain way.
Do those comparisons put any additional pressure on you? People were just starting to really respect you as a lyricist when Diddy made them and then all of a sudden you were being compared to one of the GOATs. That has to make it a little more difficult for you to earn your respect.
Not at all, because I don’t take them to heart. B.I.G. is B.I.G. That’s a legend. I’m doing my own thing, but I would never play myself like that. I’m the boss and I do my own thing.