In this week's cover story, Gambit talked with New Orleans rapper Curren$y, a staple on this blog and in our headphones. We talked about his new album and major debut The Stoned Immaculate, his "business model," going from rising star among rap royalty in the No Limit and Cash Money and Young Money camps, to starting from scratch, building his Jet Life Recordings team, and Nardwuar ("that dude from Canada that can’t control the microphone"), among other things.
Below, the Jet Lifer offers a few pointers.
On promoting your product:
"Whatever projects I put out, I think I’m gonna try to make sure I’m always promoting all the projects simultaneously. I put out a tape the month after it came out. Some people don’t really understand my thinking — some people think that’s not smart, that it’ll detract from the album. But more people pick up mixtapes than albums, because a mixtape is free. People who never heard me at all, who was thinking of maybe taking a chance on that album, picked up that free record. It was only five songs. You got no problem spending ten bucks with me after you heard five for free."
On working with friends:
"Friends gotta count money together. I can’t be like your friend and we’re not making no money. Then I feel like you’re out to get me. You’re trying to do something if we’re not gonna make no money together. If we’re not making any money together, then I’m your money, and I don’t need to be your friend. That’s how it works. That’s exactly the plan. Don’t tell everybody. I can’t give you my business model."
"I always want to sound like a Crown Royal bag looks. There’s a time period and everything with that. There’s sounds in the beats and shit you’re gonna hear that that was that shit. It might be the drums from 'Superfly.' It might like, 'That sounds like the guitar from Hawaii 5-0.' Anything that’s gonna make me feel like that. This time is cool — 2012, the 2000s, the ’90s and all that was awesome but I kind of feel like I was supposed to be an adult in the '70s. Late '70s. I feel like I would’ve killed it. Or possibly have been killed, because I was way too killing it."
On setting an example:
"We will have shown a group of people that think like us, at home, in this city, that they’re going to be able to pull it off, because it looks weird — I left No Limit, I left Cash Money, both zillionaires. To lose everything then get it back. So like, that means whatever you want to do, you can probably pull it off because I just did the crazy shit. If all you talking about is doing this, go do it. ... I was... water boarded, tortured, executed, all that shit. ... I’m from both sides of the game. I’ve got friends dead, in jail, everything. But I wasn’t built like that. So there’s more people like us than like that. Once they see that it’s all good, we’ll create events and shit like that. All of that spawns thinking. ... I could be telling you, 'You don’t have to play this game. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. It don’t have to be like that.' But if I’m not proving that, I’m standing against that and I’m living just as well as the people who are playing the bullshit game, then I’m just an empty wagon. I got to prove it. That’s what the music and all that is for."
On staying busy:
"You got to continue to do the same thing, for the same reason anyone wants an album from me. ... I can’t switch that up. People’s attention spans are short. They’re used to seeing me. If I fall back, someone else will gladly just… I’m not having it."
Curren$y went independent a couple times, but his star turn in the rap underground kicked off after his departure from Lil Wayne's Young Money roster. Below, download a sampling of some of his mixtapes and albums thus far (but look out for the live album Live in Concert with Wiz Khalifa later this week).
Click here for a "history of" playlist with highlights from Curren$y's (Spotify-friendly) recording history, from C-Murder collabs to Pilot Talks to guest spots with the Jets to his latest.
Fast Times at Ridgemont Fly
Aug. 18, 2008
This Ain't No Mixtape
April 21, 2009
How Fly... (with Wiz Khalifa)
Aug. 9, 2009
Return to the Winner's Circle
Jan. 1, 2011
Covert Coup, produced by The Alchemist
April 20, 2011
Aug. 11, 2011
Feb. 12, 2012
Cigarette Boats, produced by Harry Fraud (EP)
July 10, 2012
Curren$y debuted his Jet Lounge weekly concert series last week — you can catch it again tomorrow and every Wednesday at The Parish at House of Blues. Artists from his Jet Life Recordings roster will make appearances. Spitta also performs Friday, Aug. 17 at The Varsity in Baton Rouge.
Also: if you're not following him on Twitter, you'll miss his semi-stoned musings on grilled cheese and cars, singing Peter Gabriel, watching Tom Goes to the Mayor, or considering running for public office.
I can't fuckin believe there is no where in this city serving chicken and waffles at this hour..... I gotta run for office
— Spitta (@CurrenSy_Spitta) July 24, 2012