You’ve been dropping a song a day for the past 30 days. What inspired your 30 Day Takeover?
Well, basically I wanted to step my game up. I’ve been recording a lot of songs, trying to get my album done. As I was looking through my files, I realized I had to get it out there and let the people see the hard work. I was always told that hard work and dedication pays off. I was just letting it out. These records that we were releasing were quality records. If I’m releasing those, them my album got to be sick.
Did the plan work to raise awareness about you?
Yeah. I’ve been getting a lot of calls and people hitting me up. I was kicking it with The GZA and he said he was following my 30 Days. A lot of people were hitting me up and telling me they were following it. Wayne hit me and saw what I was doing. He’s been doing it for a year it seems like. I needed to step my game up because I’m out here working harder than a motherfucker, man.
Freeway started the song a day for a month concept a few months ago. Did you talk to him?
Nah. When I said I was going to do it, that’s when I found out Freeway and Young Chris had done it. We got a song together that’s popping with my man Balance. But nah. I just really wanted to get in there and really go hard and really start feeding the streets and get myself where I needed to be.
You’ve released a mix of freestyles and original songs. How did you decide what to release?
I wanted to give them shit they’re familiar with. That’s what made me do the freestyles over the industry beats. Then I wanted to give them half originals. We did half originals and 15 industry beats and we released them as they came. I shot six or seven videos. We’re trying to put out on average two videos a week. People like to hear beats they haven’t heard before and I have to let them know that I’m a monster. Everything I touch I’m killing it.
How is your debut album coming?
You know, I done had two release dates and have actually been pushed back. I got a date right now. I don’t want to put it out there because I’m tired of looking like a fool. People don’t understand. Warner, they have more power and I want to make sure they stick to the date because people say my album is coming and then it never comes. But the album is 75-80% done and it’s coming.
Why do you think it’s been pushed back twice?
The first time when we put the “Lift Me Up” single out there, it didn’t really take off the way we planned it. Then we had a little problem with the Wayne single and the clearance so that slowed the momentum down. The thing with the industry is you have to make sure the clearances are done. We got a cease and desist from Universal when the song was out there. It’s out of your control. I got a record now that’s super-hot that we’re trying to get the clearances done. Once this record is out there, there ain’t no stopping.
What do you have to do to get more people at Warner behind you?
Well, letting them hear the records and cutting the records and making sure I got it cut to how I like it and then I go in there and let them hear what I’m doing. We send them the comments that people send me and emails the people send me, even comments from dudes that have been in the game. We try to show them all the momentum and show them that the people are waiting on it. I just show them all the shit that’s coming in for me. When they see that shit, they’re like, ‘Okay.’ And they’re loving the album. And Warner had a complete switch too. They hired a whole new staff so that kind of slowed shit down too.
Are the people who signed you gone?
Except for one cat, the guy that really actually signed me. But the other people, yeah, they’re all gone. What hurt me a little bit is they kind of got released during the release of my single so that really threw a monkey wrench in the whole ballgame.
Is it hard to get the new people in the building behind you when they’re looking for their own artists?
To a certain extent, but they already had their eyes on me before they came in. The thing is, they dropped everybody except for me and Kweli. That showed me how much interest they had. They told me they loved what I was doing and they gave me a nice amount of money and told me to keep doing what I was doing and to get this album ready for them. They had broke bread and the shit is about ready to come. I’m like a big-ass bump on your face ready to bust!
Why do you think they didn’t release you?
They love my work. They told me. They told me they loved what I was doing and they think I have all the talent in the world to be a superstar and they said they wanted to make sure I stayed on board. That made me feel good. They called me in and they sat me down and really hollered at me.
Are you happy with how they’ve treated you since then?
I’m happy with Warner. I’m happy here doing what I do. I’m a little anxious to get that album out there. You get a little anxious out here sometimes but you need to have patience because sometimes shit doesn’t go the way you want it. Me and Grafh were having this conversation the other night. Patience is where it’s at. You don’t want to rush your shit out there and only sell a few records. When my album drops I want to be No. 1 on the charts.
You’ve been signed for three years. Has that been too long of a wait for your debut album to drop?
Honestly, when I first signed, when I go back and listen to what I had, I wasn’t ready. If you listen to the shit that I put out earlier to the shit I put out today, I feel like I’m a lot better. Like fine wine, you get better with time. I was raw when I stepped in the building and I think my voice pretty much sold me but now if you listen to what I’m doing now and these lyrics I’m spitting, you can hear that I’ve really matured. I think it took some time for me to develop and it makes me hungrier.
Did you have to do a lot of work to get a street buzz that doesn’t come through radio and TV?
Me and my team Top Dawg Ent., we’ve been out there and chasing these people down. At the end of the day, I need that big machine behind me through to lock in at radio.
You’ve also taken advantage of the mixtape scene. How important are those to building a buzz today?
With the rise of the internet, that shit done changed a lot. I had been getting them out there before the shit really changed. I had shit with Skee and Slay and Noodles. I look and those tapes really kind of put me out there. They started really listening to me and coming for me. Yeah, those tapes really helped me out a lot. They helped me really establish myself in these streets.
What was it like recording “All My Life” with Lil’ Wayne?
I learned a lot working with him. A lot of people diss him but he’s a real dude. When I met Wayne, he kept it real with me. He didn’t know me from anyone else and Cool and Dre shot me the record and I was listening to the shit. I told Wayne I needed him on the record and he told me to hit him. I flew to him to do the record and just being in the lab with him at night, he had 20 verses to do for 20 different people. That inspired me. That showed me that dude was already paid and he was doing that. I had to work my motherfucking ass off. If Wayne was dropping a song a day, I needed to be dropping two songs a day. That made me realize how hard I had to work. He was in there for 12 hours straight with no rest.
Do you try to teach those lessons to the younger Top Dawg artists like K-Dot?
He knows a lot already. He’s with me and we got some new artists. We tell them that when they’re coming in, the door is locked and we’re going hard until we pass out in this motherfucker. We can’t rest. There’s a dude waiting to step right in front of you. I’m going hard and they’re going hard. Wayne and Game are going hard. Game locks himself in the studio the way Wayne do. I love when it’s a friendly competition and I’m coming for their spots, man.
How important are your relationships with other West Coast artists like Game and Glasses Malone?
I feel it’s real important because the West lost its hold when everybody started breaking up and not having the unity that the South has right now. I try to fuck with everybody because you make more when you have strength in numbers. The more numbers, the bigger the push. I don’t want it to be a one-man game. I want it to be a game and we have this, man.
What younger artists are you feeling coming up from the West?
I have to say me, Glasses, Nipsey, K-Dot…There’s a few dudes out there. My man Problem. You know, he had a hot song bumping for a minute. There’s a few dudes out here. There’s a lot of dudes out here really going hard. We’re really making more noise than we’ve made in a long time and we’re doing it with a lot of people.
What is success to you in this digital age?
I’m hoping my numbers be right and I’ll be able to hit the road and get paid for 200-250 days a year and everybody knows who I am. That’s success to me. It’s so hard with the internet and the record sales and how people can get your whole album right now. That makes shit harder but I gotta get out there and get that money. I’m hoping I come out the gate with 100-150 at least.
Speaking of leaked albums, what do you think of Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 3?
That dude’s a beast, man. I listened to it over the net. I listened to all the songs that got posted and it’s crazy. I’m going to go buy it as soon as it drops.
Now that your 30 Day Takeover is over, where do you go from here?
I’m going to the top, man. I’m headed to the top. I’m on my way. My confidence level and everything is crazy right now. I just feel like I’m that dude. I’m coming. I got a record that I know and I got records that I know are No. 1 records. Look for me to be on top of the game. I’m coming.