A 14-hour day chock full of interviews, video shoots and meet-and-greets would knock most people flat. But for Waka Flocka Flame, Hip Hop’s gentle giant and the crown prince of his self-styled Punk Rap sub-genre, the only rest to be found comes while hiding behind stacks of money on a bench in Starlets Gentleman’s Club in Queens, New York at 11:00 pm in between shots for the video for his new single “Can't Do Golds” off his recent Duflocka Rant 2 mixtape. But after two minutes it’s over; the shot has to be re-done, the strippers reprise their positions, and Waka once again is lip-synching to the song’s hook while tossing singles in the air.
It’s not really a surprising place to find Waka, nor is it shocking that a strip club would house one of the locations for his new music videos. He is, after all, known for his fist-pumping, party-rocking anthems such as “Hard In Da Paint” and “No Hands,” and DuFlocka 2 continues in that time-honored tradition. But this video doesn’t just focus on the look-at-all-this-money, I-hang-out-with-strippers, aren’t-I-the-greatest narrative that has been done over and over again; this time Waka took the film crew back to the Baisley Park projects in Jamaica, Queens earlier in the day for a throwdown in the neighborhood in which he was born, bringing out old friends, family members, and even Dipset’s Jim Jones to help celebrate as the cameras rolled.
“I just wanted to show people that I’m a regular person from the hood,” he said later. “That you can be regular and still do this shit.”
Of course, Waka’s spent plenty of time in the news lately; right smack in the middle of SXSW, as the Hip Hop world was just coming to grips with the fact that Lil Wayne was not actually on death’s door after all (shout out to TMZ for that traffic grab—nice job, guys!), Gucci Mane jolted everyone again by tweeting that he’d dropped Waka from Brick Squad 1017 for being “disloyal,” causing Waka himself to shoot back that he couldn’t be dropped from a label he part-owned. The war of words continued, and though Waka refuses to speak on the beef anymore (he recently told Pigeons and Planes, “I don’t care to have a conversation with him. The space I’m in in life right now, I try to get negative energy away from me...that’s not the person for me”), he’s got his Brick Squad Monopoly imprint to look after, two mixtapes dropping imminently—including Duflocka Rant: The Halftime Show, which he said will be out “any day”—and the follow-up to his 2010 debut, Flockaveli 2, set for release October 5.
After the video shoot wrapped for the day—and before he swung by his grandmother’s place for a late night meal—Waka spoke to HipHopDX about working with Wyclef, signing to William Morris, and why he’s no longer a punk rapper—he’s the king of EDM Rap.
Waka Flocka Flame Talks Returning To Queens, New York
HipHopDX: Tell me about the vision behind this video [for "Can’t Do Golds"]. You were back in your old neighborhood, right?
Wacka Flocka Flame: Yeah yeah. The whole vision was, I just wanted to show people that I’m a regular person from the hood, where I’m from, my ghetto, my suburb, my slum, whatever, you know what I mean? I just want to show people that you can be regular and still do this shit. Do regular shit, no extra shit. Everything I came to do, I’m gonna do it. That’s like another day in the hood. Jim Jones came through, salute to Jones, he came through the Baisley projects.
DX: What was the whole recording process like today?
Wacka Flocka Flame: I woke up at 9:00 doing media training -- I mean, not media training, but catching interviews, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Then from 4:00 pm ‘til like 9:00, we were shooting the video [at the Baisley Projects]. So I hustled. If you wanna stay home, you know what I mean? Go be broke.
DX: You just dropped DuFlocka Rant 2. What type of reception have you been getting out of that?
Wacka Flocka Flame: I got a promo code for Duflocka Rant Halftime Show I’m dropping, like, any day. It’s just gonna be a countdown, it's gonna pop up on the blog. It's just gonna pop up.
DX: And you just signed with William Morris. They’ve got 2 Chainz, Outkast. What are you expecting out of that?
Wacka Flocka Flame: What William Morris is really good at is letting stars really shine. I was twinkling, but I know William Morris, they’ll have the stars shine.
Wacka Flocka Flame’s Recent Work With Wyclef & Sir Mix-a-Lot
DX: Tell me about the SXSW experience this year.
Wacka Flocka Flame: The Southby experience, it was all EDM...Trap music. I went down there only for the ultra. That shit was crazy. I like underground parties; I don’t want to do big concerts, I want that underground shit, that real gutter shit. I walked out into the streets, down the streets, and all that shit.
DX: You just did April Showers with Wyclef. What did you learn from working with him?
Wacka Flocka Flame: Working with Wyclef was like going to college for music. That man’s so fucking good, bro. I actually made two hits while I was recording in the booth. That didn’t make any sense. Wyclef could turn a pot of gold to solid gold. That’s all I’ll say.
DX: How do you visualize your music?
Wacka Flocka Flame: [long pause] Determined. I’m usually determined. Every fucking feeling you have is determined. I like determined music. I’m on a mission every time.
DX: A friend of mine told me “Karma” is the greatest hook any human being has ever created. How do you craft your hooks?
Wacka Flocka Flame: That’s my favorite song. My rapping is A-1 now, I’m snapping. I’m snapping. [Hooks] are off the brain. Off the brain. I made a song called “Booty” with Sir Mix-a-Lot, and it’s stupid as fuck, but it’s a hit. You know what I'm saying -- “I like big butts and I cannot lie / Baby I’m not that high / I like big butts and I cannot lie / Baby I’m your guy...” I just felt like saying it. I like hood rats, I’m like Splinter.
DX: From “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?” Who’s your favorite turtle?
Wacka Flocka Flame: Leonardo.
DX: Tell me about what's happening with BSM in the future?
Wacka Flocka Flame: I’m the CEO, I got a lot of artists. Whoo Kid, Chaz Gotti. I just signed SRV. All of them. Shit is crazy.
DX: What’s different about being a label head?
Wacka Flocka Flame: Honestly, I’ve always been a label head all my life. Pushing my albums, I push myself, I let other people get credit so they can look good. Always been a CEO. Ask my artists.
DX: You’re about to be in a movie, tell me about that.
Wacka Flocka Flame: I’m playing a character named Lil Boogie. It’s like Al Pacino-type. I just got my scripts. I feel like, if you give me a role, it’s easier to act, because I’ve been in Rap. I feel like I’ve had three years for training.
DX: So Hip Hop is a training ground for acting?
Wacka Flocka Flame: Yes it is.
Waka Flocka Flame’s Plans For An EDM-Based Rap Album
Wacka Flocka Flame: “Club jumpin’ like I’m Skrillex, get ‘em Diplo...” The King of Rap EDM is me. I’ve been there. Punk Rap, that’s EDM. People didn’t understand what I was saying, now they do. I see a lot of my students, I’m like the principal, I’m here to talk.
DX: Are you going to do an EDM-based album then?
Wacka Flocka Flame: Yes. Yes. It’s already in the motion. Flosstradamus, Diplo, Skrillex. Some underground people, too. I want to create a name. I’ve been doing it in hip-hop so long.
DX: I watched your interview with Narduwar and he gave you a Kool G Rap puzzle.
Wacka Flocka Flame: Yo, that shit was tight. I’m a big fan of that. He gave me an SWV album!
DX: So what’s the coolest thing anyone has ever given you?
Wacka Flocka Flame: Somebody made a painting. Slim Dunkin, my best friend that died. Yo, that was the hardest shit ever. Like this was fire. I loved it. All the Wake Flocka love. It’s really something I haven’t closed yet...that painting just made me feel like he was still alive. When you put life and art together, it’s always great.
DX: Who’s going to beat the Heat this year? I know you’re an Oklahoma City fan.
Wacka Flocka Flame: Every dog has its day. And I can say this -- the only people I can see causing problems is the LA Clippers.
DX: You got anybody winning the NCAA National Championship? I grew up in Syracuse...
Wacka Flocka Flame: They going back to the ‘Melo era. If they play zone always? They’re going to win.
DX: Anything else you wanna say?
Wacka Flocka Flame: Flockaveli 2 be out October 5th.
DX: Tell me about it.
Wacka Flocka Flame: The hardest. That shit hard. It’s hard.
DX: That’s all you wanna say?
Wacka Flocka Flame: It’s haaaaard.
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