Exactly two months have passed since Beyoncé unveiled an enhanced version of O.T. Genasis’ “Everybody Mad” during her masterful Coachella set, custom tailoring the song to fit the performance’s HBCU band theme. Beyoncé highlighting O.T. Genasis’ music on such a grand stage — and not for the first time, either — elevated him to Cloud 9. “Man, I’m still up there,” he says with a laugh. “It’s crazy.”
The Beyoncé endorsement has proved to be as strong of a co-sign as any artist could receive; ask D.R.A.M. But it also marked another interesting development in O.T. Genasis’ career: confirmation that the Long Beach, California, rapper is here to stay. He emerged in a triumphant cloud of Arm & Hammer back in 2014 with “CoCo,” a song that blew up on the strength of its relentless production and O.T.’s crisp enunciation. But flash-in-the-pan viral rapper he was not — a string of successful, similarly energetic songs followed. Some, such as “Cut It” and “Push It," feature the same concise, declarative statements that helped set “CoCo” ablaze, but others, like "Everybody Mad," hint that he may in fact have the range. Amazingly, he still has yet to release his debut album.
Over the phone on a recent evening, O.T. Genasis discussed his music’s indisputable viral properties, his new single, “Cash On It,” and how an unexpected nudge from Beyoncé set him up for an eventful summer.
So let’s go back to the beginning: In hindsight, why do you think the Internet played such a large role in making “CoCo” a hit?
I really think it’s because nobody had ever seen anything like that and nobody had ever heard anything like that. I’m not trying to boast but we had never heard anything like that. And then the video was just on some other shit, you know what I mean? Nobody was doing that in their videos, or was that blunt with it.
Are you thinking about giving people energy and things they can yell with their friends when they’re drunk or use as Instagram captions?
Nah, when I’m making record, I’m trying to be as creative as possible. That’s why none of my singles sound alike. So people will be like, “Oh shit, he did that too?!” I don’t have just one wave or sound because styles get old. Somebody could run the game for one, two, five, 10 years, but it doesn’t matter — sooner or later, somebody will get tired of it. So I always try to be fresh or do something new. Even if I’m not doing the same thing for a year or two, I’m always trying to switch it up every day and come with something creative.
Given that creativity, are you amazed that so many of your songs have this undeniable viral element?
I’m not gonna lie: I was amazed. I always thought that I was dope, but to see the shit reach another level? After I did “CoCo,” I started overthinking everything, because everybody was like, “So what are you gonna do next?” It had me in this bubble and I started forgetting who I really was. You start to lose yourself because you’re not even having fun anymore. So I had to take it back to where I could just have fun and not overthink and that’s where I’m at with it.
As an artist, you kind of have to use social media to some degree. How big of a role does it play in your personal life? Do you find yourself laughing at the same things other people are amused by?
It could be a positive thing or it could be a negative thing, but I always find myself being entertained. Who doesn’t wake up in the morning, grab their phone, hit their Instagram and see what’s going on?
There’s a Beyoncé factor that makes almost everything she does exceptional, but the horns are what make her version of “Everybody Mad” crazy to me. What about it, and that performance, stood out the most to you?
That shit was amazing, man. And I’m not just saying that because it’s Beyoncé, it was really amazing. It wasn’t just a dance routine — it had the horns going along with the beat and everything, so I had to think to myself: Beyoncé was really practicing this. She really had to go over all of this. And the reason I was happy about it is because when I put “Everybody Mad” out, a lot of DJs were like, “Oh, that’s not the O.T. we’re used to.” So when Beyoncé did that, all the DJs started saying, “Yeah, I knew it,” and I was like, “No you didn’t.” It took Beyoncé for it to really get recognized, but I just thought it was an amazing performance.
“After I did ‘CoCo,’ I started overthinking everything, because everybody was like, ‘So what are you gonna do next?’” — O.T. Genasis
Have you considered an official HBCU band remix of the song? You can’t really lose there.
Yeah, I finally got [her] version a few weeks ago, so I’m gonna have to start performing that at my shows.
And that wasn’t the first time she’s shown appreciation for your music, either.
I know. Somebody actually told me that she’s been using [her version of “Everybody Mad”] on the On the Run ll Tour. She might use it throughout the tour and if that happens, that’s even more dope.
How did you react when you found out she had a dance segment using “Cut It” on the Formation Tour?
Yeah, even that was crazy. You gotta think about it like this: it’s Beyoncé, bro. This is Beyoncé. For Beyoncé to be paying attention to my music, it just means everything. It means I have to be doing something right. I was shocked when that happened, but the dope thing about it is that I was able to perform on that tour: DJ Khaled brought me out and I got to do “Cut It” live.
What type of streaming boost has her Coachella performance given “Everybody Mad”?
The streams went up like 200 percent the first week, I believe, and the sales went up too.
So now that you’ve received this huge boost heading into the summer, what’s next for you aside from this upcoming tour with Wiz Khalifa and Rae Sremmurd?
“Cash On It,” the single, is up next. Then the album after that. I haven’t put my debut album out yet, it’s just been singles all of these years, and the album is ready.
When you’re writing and recording, do you ever find yourself thinking, Fuck the DJs, would Beyoncé like this?
Now it’s just, “Fuck what everybody’s saying.” Not to say it like it like that but I must be doing something right because I haven’t been wrong yet.
How do you make your records translate differently in live settings?
My studio sessions are like a party. It’s not like a regular studio setting where everybody’s sitting around bored just going through their phones. It’s really a party and I could have a whole day where I don’t get anything done. Because I don’t look for records, I let the come to me. There are a lot of artists who are searching and looking, but I don’t do that: I just party and have a good time and that comes out in the music.
But as far as performances, I’ve been a show-off since my younger days. I always wanted a lot of attention. So being able to showcase my talent — and I’ve been doing talent showcases since I was 16 or 17 years old — that’s always been me. It’s better, because I feel like when some people do shows, they’re pacing back and forth and it gets boring. I’m all about bringing that song to life. You couldn’t imagine me performing something like “Push It” yelling “Go get the money!” and I’m pacing back and forth slowly. That’s crazy to me.