There are a lot of negative elements to Little Pain's music, but he's not putting out negative energy. He's got enough of that inside of him, like everyone. Instead, he destroys his sadness by negating the negative with jokes. On the title track to his sophomore mixtape, L.I.T.T.L.E., he raps I'm a shitty ass person/ I've been shitty since a child/ I should be a fucking toilet/ Being shitty is my style. Every bad thought about himself that he vocalizes makes the weight on his shoulders less, every weakness he identifies and laughs off makes self-acceptance one step closer. Being self-effacing is hardly a novel concept, but pretty novel to rap. On his new tape, he does that and more.
Download L.I.T.T.L.E. for free here and stream it all below.
How did you start releasing music? I'm always into listening to music, and I was always really heavy on SoundCloud. Last year, around February, I asked my friend what producers I should be listening to, and they sent me Suicideyear. I was like, "Whoa, this is crazy." He was friends with Suicideyear on Tumblr, so I asked him to hit him up and see if it was okay if I made a song to it. He said to go for it. The first song I ever wrote was "SMH." I always used to, like—let's say I'm texting someone? I used to end every text with smh. "How you doing?" "I'm doing fine, smh." They'd be like, "What's wrong with you?" I was going through a really weird time. I'd dropped out of school. I was just not feeling anything. "SMH" was basically me getting that all out on a song. After that, I made another song to a Suicideyear beat, "High Cry." My friend put it on his Tumblr and sent it out to the blogs, and it had good response, so I thought I might as well keep it going.
The concept was so strong at the beginning. Did you put that much thought into it? I didn't. That's why I was so confused with some people's negative reaction. I just wrote what came down to my head. Some of my favorite artists are, like, Jay Electronica, Lil Wayne, Lil B. Those are artists whose music comes from the heart. I decided that if I was going to make music, I wasn't going to make music I couldn't relate to. I just wrote about what was happening at the time. It couldn't have come from any more genuine of a place. I guess I didn't go in depth in those songs because I couldn't really voice myself how I wanted to because I had just started making music. You know what I mean? My feelings were in the most basic way I could express it at the time.
There was this whole moment of "sad rap." How did you feel about that? Honestly, everything that happened at the same time was pure coincidence. I hit up Suicideyear when he had one mixtape out at the time, and I finished "SMH" and "High Cry" before Yung Lean was even out. When I sent emails with the subject "Sad Rap Music Submission," I wasn't talking about cloud rap, I wasn't talking about Yung Lean. The reason I did that was because the artists I was listening to at the time I classified as sad rap, not how it's looked at now. It was like Gunplay, Danny Brown. Guys who put more emotions in their songs than the typical rapper. Danny Brown has this line Cause if this shit don't work, nigga I failed at life/ Turning to these drugs, now these drugs turned my life, you know what I mean? And it's the downward spiral, got me suicidal. That stirred me up.
Do you think being called Little Pain will stop people from taking you seriously? I think at a certain point, that's what was happening. That's why I took the time out to make the L.I.T.T.L.E. project and voice myself in a better way. Making When Thugz Cry made me able to do that, so I don't regret it.
What's different with this project? I realized I'm basically talking to myself in my music. I'm alive, I'm making music, I'm healthy, I have a family who cares about me. Those are things I should be happy about, but society is telling me that's not enough. You need to be a millionaire, you need to care about certain things that I don't care about. People walk around with this thing, this other part of rap, where if they're not talking about a hundred-thousand-million dollars and cars, they feel like they're devalued. I know people who will spend a thousand dollars on sneakers because they want to look like their favorite rapper. The next couple of days, they don't have money to get on the train, to eat. L.I.T.T.L.E. is about trying to find balance between wanting more and still having a sense of who you are as a person and what really matters. There's room for everything. I shouldn't be judged for how I feel, and I'm not going to judge you.
What does L.I.T.T.L.E. stand for? It stands for two things: Lost in the Times, Loving Everyday and Lost in the Times, Loathing Everyday. I feel like in the era we're in right now, a lot of people don't have a sense of self. So much information is always being pushed at us all the time. It's easy to get caught up in the wrong things, like celebrity crushes and stuff like that, and you're forgetting about what you want to do. That's what Lost in the Times comes from. Loving Everyday is loving that I can make music, enjoying my family and my friends. Loathing Everyday comes from being in a situation where I don't want to be in. Living where I'm living, seeing what I'm seeing on a daily basis.
I think people who have been critical of your music would say, "Yeah, depression is a problem, but it's more serious than the way you're treating it." We all have something in us, like an empty feeling. I was looking at an interview the other day, and Kendrick Lamar said, "I love myself. That came from depression and insecurity." I think last year Childish Gambino said the same thing. More artists should come out and use their platform for good, instead of the typical. We already have enough of that. There are things we all go through but don't really talk about it, and that's where I come from. It's things people can relate to but they're not saying out in public, and nobody's saying it to upbeat music, which is what I like. That just comes from personal preference. Most songs about depression come from a place that I wouldn't personally want to listen to. I rapped about it in a way where I can feel comfortable rapping about it but also have fun too. That's a part of me winning the battle. It's about accepting myself. I'm accepting who I am as a person and these thoughts and feelings that run through my my head.
How else has making music affected you? It just made me want to do more. I don't think L.I.T.T.L.E. sounds too much like When Thugz Cry, and the next thing probably won't sound too much like L.I.T.T.L.E. I just want to do a little of everything. This is cool right now, but I just want to be in a better position. I'm thinking about putting out an R&B EP. A lot of artists do the same songs over and over again. There's so much possibilities, why not explore?
I like what you said before: I'm healthy, my family likes me, things are good. When I walk outside, when I'm going to the train station, I probably pass three people asking me to buy money for food, knowing they're just going to buy drugs with it. That's where the depression comes from. On the train, I see homeless people. People might not think about why being in the inner city would lead to depression. I want to be in a position to be in a better situation. Since I love music so much, it would be nice for music to help me.