Black Hippy: No Cosigns Necessary
I remember sitting in my office at BET when I first met Jay Rock back in 2008. He had just released “All My Life” with Lil Wayne and was a relatively new artist looking for his space. But he was an honest rapper who was hungry to just get his music heard. We talked about California, gangsta rap, the blog scene and he much he respects the west coast legends, but wants to really make his mark on his own. I respected his hustle right off the bat. But rather than continue pumping up his solo career, he and his manager Dude Dawg put a folder on my laptop with music from an artist by the name of K Dot. Both explained that K Dot was a rhyme animal that was so Cali but just as lyrical as anyone I’ve heard. Turns out they were right. K Dot would turn out to be Kendrick Lamar and shortly after I got music from Ab Soul and Schoolboy Q. I’ve been a fan ever since. Since leaving BET, I haven’t had a chance to catch up with the TDE crew, but finally saw them at SXSW in Texas. With Ab Soul on the road, I sat down with Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar and had a quick conversation about their progression, not relying on a cosign and the future of Top Dawg Entertainment.
TWV: Almost two years ago, Jay Rock released “All My Life” featuring Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar was a little know emcee known as K Dot and Schoolboy had yet to release any material. But so much has changed since then. How does it feel to have everyone warming up to the Black Hippy Movement?
Jay Rock: I feel good because I’ve been doing my thing for a minute. My little brothers Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q have been having my back. I was in the forefront just doing my thing but it’s good to see my niggas coming out, backing me up and doing their shit. That makes me feel good and glad to be a part of this movement that’s going on. We’ve never went anywhere. The music is getting out there and people are just now starting to open their ears. That’s the good thing about it. It’s all good music.
Kendrick Lamar: I remember the times we were begging blog sites to post our music. The music was just as good but at the same time, you have to show and prove. That’s what we did. We kept putting out good music and it’s quality good music. That’s the key to everything – quality and consistency…
Schoolboy Q: That’s it! It’ll never be less than that. It’ll only get better and I feel good to be a part of this.
TWV: Jay Rock, when we rapped before, there was a minute there when your fellow west coast legends weren’t really showing any love to the newer artists. But now it appears that they are embracing you and finally coming around.
JR: We are those guys that have been doing our thing for a minute. We never asked for a cosign. These days, all these rappers want is somebody to cosign them. But people are now finally seeing our grind and the work we have done without nobody stamping us or anything. I think that’s what it is. They see us young niggas out here doing it by ourselves so they have no choice but to respect it. We’ve done it without the west coast legends giving us any help. They have no choice but to holla at us.
KL: Like what Rock said, there’s plenty of dope rappers in the world but you have to have that work ethic. Nobody is going to ride with you just because you have a hot song. I never went in the game wanting somebody to stamp me and throw me in without me putting the work in myself. I don’t put it on their backs to help me. I never said I needed the OGs to help me out. I have to do the same legwork that they put in when they were coming up in order to get that same type of feedback. That’s what we did as a company, as Top Dawg. Now it has reached the heavyweights and they respect it more than just some artist who’s not serious about the music and has a hit record.
TWV: Schoolboy, you put out the album initially on iTunes. But then people begged for it across the internet. Did you anticipate so many people wanting to hear your solo album?
SQ: Nah, I didn’t expect none of that shit. That shit just happened. I still don’t know what the hell is going on. I just get high and do the same shit: Wake up and rap when I have to. I’m a real hippy. I just live my life. I’m faded right now! I’m off that Scottie man, that’s all I do. I don’t even know how to feel about everything right now. It’s only been two months. Last year, I was at the Respect the West show on some hypeman shit. This year people were screaming…
JR: Bet I got some weed!
SQ: It’s kind of crazy. I still haven’t adapted to it but I’m just excited to see what will happen next year.
TWV: What’s the plan for the rest of 2011?
Jay Rock: Follow Me Home is coming! We’ve been working hard and the fans have been asking what’s up with the music. Everybody knew my situation at Warner Bros. I thank them for the opportunity but right now we have to keep it moving and do what we have to do. I hooked up with Strange Music. Shout out to Tech N9ne. They are pushing me. The album is coming very soon. Black Hippy project is coming. You already heard about Kendrick’s projects. Shout out to Ab Soul who’s on the road right now. We’re coming. Straight up.