Waka Flocka Flame does not give a fuck. He’s the rapper who 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 pied piper, redirecting attention from the girl getting punched to his own bizarro antics, 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, Fozzie 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. “[My job] is not stressful. I think it needs a new name. Combine two months of stress together into one day, like ‘twomonster.’” Much of his work with producer Lex Luger (who put down the beats for all but two songs on Waka’s 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 Waka sounds more like a regionless every-man—“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,” Waka’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.”