Two years ago, Waka burst into his mother’s room in the middle of the night. She jumped out of bed, immediately thinking that something was wrong with Gucci Mane. At the time, Antney had her son—whose father died of kidney failure shortly after returning from prison—trailing Gucci to keep an eye on the rapper, who had had recurring problems with the law (murder charges in 2005 were dropped, but an unrelated assault charge and probation violation had him in Fulton County Jail for two six-month stints in 2006 and 2008-2009). Gucci and Waka became inseparable, going to studios and hitting the road together.
When Antney didn’t see Gucci (who refers to her as “Auntie”), she assumed the worst and began crying: “What the hell did you do?” she screamed at her son. “Where’s Gucci?!”
Instead, Waka dropped to his knees and made a tearful confession about the death of his younger brother, Rahleek. A gifted student who was already attending junior high school at the age of 10, Rah-leek was killed in 2000 when a neighbor’s car hit him as he was biking home after sneaking out to tutor a schoolmate. Antney had forbidden Rahleek to leave the house until she returned from work; on her way home she saw her son’s lifeless body lying beneath the neighbor’s car.
“Ma, please forgive me,” Waka cried after waking her up. “What the hell did you do?!” she yelled at him. And then Waka told her: He was the one who told Rahleek to go out that night, assuring his little brother that he’d cover for him. “So all this time this kid walked around holding this stuff inside of him,” says Antney, tearing up from the recollection. But immediately after coming clean, in that horrible moment of fear, revelation, guilt and release, Waka told his mother something to make her laugh. He told her that he was going to be a rapper.
When Waka Flocka Flame walks into This Is It! BBQ & Seafood in College Park, Atlanta, he’s two hours late for his interview. He knows this is unprofessional. He also knows that this is an eatery because, he says, it’s “self-explanatory—buffet, chitlins and shit.” He speaks like that: using “and shit” as a form of elaboration; “real talk” or “swear to God” as proof of veracity. His speech is a place where whole words go to die. His answers are mostly non-answers using the fewest words possible.
Sitting at a large table in a private room of the restaurant—accompanied by a publicist, a radio rep, a stylist and two homies whose purpose seems to be grounding him from being too “industry” (and possibly busting a head or two if need be)—he muses on the origins of his rap career.
“That shit picked me,” he says. “I ain’t pick this. I’m trying to tell you, I woulda been a wrestler before rapping. Real talk. I woulda been another Steve Austin. Rapping? Nah.”
READ “NO FRILLS: WAKA FLOCKA FLAME” IN ITS ENTIRETY IN THE DECEMBER/JANUARY 2011 ISSUE OF VIBE MAGAZINE, ON NEWSTANDS NOW!