The thing that struck me about the mixtape was that it really seemed like you guys were having fun rapping together. The number one thing we didn’t want to do was email each other songs back and forth. We do that with everybody else. We felt that the only way it was going to be significant is if we took time out of schedules to actually do it. It’s three hours from Memphis to Nashville, so I drive to Nashville for the first session and he drove down here to Memphis for the last two sessions. Actually, the third session was just mixing, so we worked it out to where we actually sat with each other. Every song on that tape—there’s no song I did and then waited for him to come hear the song. We did each song with each other present.
You can tell. Sometimes you guys are even going word for word. There’s a couple records we didn’t even write. “Hot Potato,” we was actually standing in the booth together and we went on the fly. He would sing a bar or half a bar and I would return with a bar.
Are you going to do the next one the same way? Of course. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I feel like the main reason people can rock with the tape is the fact that you can hear our chemistry, and the only way we got that is because we chose to actually sit in the studio with each other.
Are you freestyling or writing most of the time? Oh, no. I never freestyle. The way I work, I don’t write until I’m in the studio. I don’t like to write before it’s time because when it’s time to spit it, I don’t remember how I approached it. I don’t rap it like…if I can’t feel it, then I’m not doing it. I feel like that’s one of the few things I can offer that ain’t being offered all around the board. I can show you that I feel this. I love music, so I’m expressing it instead of just rapping.
I think that’s why “Letter to my Son” made a lot of people take notice. It’s a very emotional song. Do you feel like there’s pressure on you to be the guy that is always making the serious, intense song? There are pros and cons to it. The good thing about it is that it opens they eyes and they see that I do pour my heart out when I record. But the con to that is that, that’s what people want. They want “Letter to my Son Part II” and Part III and Part IV…That’s like asking for me to be the most miserable artist ever.
Now that you’re signed to a major label, is there pressure to deliver a single? I don’t know how to go in and make one particular kind of song. I let my music do what it do. If I go in and the beats speak to me and I hear it…I heard “Letter to my Son” and that’s what came out. I don’t go in and say, Hey we gotta make the next radio single. I don’t even know how to do that.
We were talking earlier about how you don’t sound like anyone from Memphis. Is there anyone that was really influential to you that people might not expect? Jadakiss. I learned how to count bars from Jadakiss. He didn’t teach me a lesson and show me, but I used to study Jadakiss verses.
That’s interesting. He can be a great punchline rapper, too. I feel like when you want to, you’re good at that as well. I try not to do it as much. When punchlines are popular then it starts being all people will do. Like you could listen to a song and no two bars had anything to do with each other. They was just punchline after punchline after punchline. I could do that when I was younger, but now that I’m older I feel like every song is supposed to be a picture. If I’m showing you a picture, I’m not being a comedian. I would like to look at my music as a documentary, not as a comedy. Of course you want comedic relief in it, but I don’t want my humor to overpower the point I’m trying to make.
A lot of dudes seem content to not make any sense. If they said it instead of rapped it, you would look at them confused like, What are you talking about? You would think they was bouncing off the walls.