Waka Flocka Flame does not give a fuck. He’s the rapper that snatched a wayward wig from a pickle-jar-packed Midwest audience while a fight broke out during his incendiary first hit, “O, Let’s Do It,” heaving it above his signature swinging dreads and leading the crowd in a chant of “Waka, Waka, Waka, Waka.” He quelled a would-be riot like a rap pied piper, redirecting attention from the girl getting punched to his own bizarro antics, and leaving the stage in peace. It’s like he’s got an internal alarm that reminds him of the task at hand—rewriting the thug’s blueprint by sliding silliness into songs about getting shot.
Waka Flocka only started rapping three years ago, an idea sparked while observing his mom manage Gucci Mane, but already he’s reshaping rap’s landscape into a weirdo’s playground. He raps a lot like his Muppet namesake, Fozzy Bear, tells jokes—entertaining, energetic and fully confident, but sort of not that good at it. “My mind goes 3000 miles an hour. We’re here, but I’m already on another one,” he says. “[This job] is not stressful. I think it needs a new name. Combine two months of stress together into one day, like ‘twomonster.’” Much of Waka’s work with producer Lex Luger (who put down the beats for all but two songs on his debut album Flockaveli) sounds like two monsters on a ’roid rage, a sort of juiced version of Crime Mob’s originally unhinged ATL crunk. But the Queens-born, Georgia-raised Flocka sounds more like a regionless everyman—“I’m an American rapper. I don’t have no style”—and he’s never scared to show the guts beneath the armor. On “Fuk Dis Industry,” Flocka’s favorite song on Flockaveli, he raps softly, They say tears is pain/ I call that bullshit/ ’cuz when these tears is dry/ I’m back on this bullshit.
When DMX first dropped “Get at Me Dog,” it was a revelation that gangster rap didn’t have to just be about tough guyness—it could be an undulated bug-out, barking at your enemies. Waka’s lyrics lean toward the traditional—chains, guns, drugs—but he’s once again refreshing the definition of a gangster, a rapper who readily admits that just because he’s your drug dealer doesn’t mean he’s afraid to cry. But even with sensitive life goals like making short films and opening up a family clinic, it’s never that serious for Waka. When you ask him what else he has on deck, he’ll tell you, “Oh, I’m coming for your job next.”
Stream: Waka Flocka Flame, Flockaveli