Lil Chuckee is a grown man, and he’s begun the process of exuding that idea through his music. The Young Money signee has been down with Lil Wayne’s camp since the age of 14, but with the release of his Hood Guys project last year and the upcoming LeBron Of My Time mixtape, Chuckee is hoping to cement his place amongst the big boys of the Rap game. Truthfully, he’s been through enough as a growing artist to possibly teach them a lesson or two about patience and navigating the ropes. Through false starts and letdowns, Chuckee has persevered, still hopeful that the time draws near when skeptics will stop doubting his abilities and allow him to compete for that championship ring.
Recently, HipHopDX had the opportunity to speak with Lil Chuckee about having creative control, advice for young up-and-comers and growing pains.
HipHopDX: How hard was it for you to transition from a more kid-friendly angle to the content found on the Hood Guys tape?
Lil Chuckee: It wasn’t hard, because anything that I speak about is what I’m going through right now. So anything I’ve ever done was just about what I was feeling at the moment. It wasn’t really a transition; everybody gets better over the years.
DX: What would you say the reception has been to hearing Chuckee spit as an adult?
Lil Chuckee: I ain’t come in as an “ABC,” kiddie rapper so it wasn’t hard, you know? I always had a rough image, so people were just like, “Okay, that just adds icing to the cake now that he’s started talking about things we can relate to.” And I’m talking about people that are older, like in their 20’s. So they were like, “Okay, cool. I ain’t gotta worry about hearing him trying to run away from saying a curse word.” Everything is just flat out now, and they’re loving it.
DX: Does Lil Wayne have much creative input when you’re in the studio pulling songs together?
Lil Chuckee: Nah, all of my mixtapes are all me. Unless there was a feature on a song then it’s like, “Okay, someone jumped on it,” but the whole thing with my tapes is all me.
DX: So you got 2 Chainz and Yo Gotti for that feature on Hood Guys [“Big Money Talk”]…
Lil Chuckee: Yeah, of course! I mean, I’ve been running with the big dogs. Everybody…from the 2 Chainz to the Yo Gottis, everybody, those are my brothers. Those are like the big bros. And that was before 2 Chainz changed his name. So it just goes to show that I have real niggas standing behind me and just showing that love.
DX: What are you most looking forward to happen this year?
Lil Chuckee: Everything. Like, it’s gotta be a whole ‘nother situation.
DX: What are you working on now?
Lil Chuckee: Well, I’m finishing up the LeBron Of My Time mixtape. That was supposed to drop in October, but I wanted to make sure that I was really comfortable with the music. So that should be dropping in [February] sometime. I don’t have a date quite yet.
DX: What would you say has been the best experience while working on LeBron Of My Time?
Lil Chuckee: Different music. Just the different sounds. It’s on a whole other level than my previous mixtapes. It’ll be universal. My previous mixtapes were cool, but over these past months I’ve been working so much and working so hard that I’ve stepped my game up. I’ve gotten better so this mixtape will just have people like, “This is the Chuckee we love. This is the Chuckee we gon’ stand with. This the one we gon’ stick with.” I have some deep, deep subjects that I’m speaking on and some subjects that the niggas in the hood can relate to. Of course, I’ve got some verses for the ladies. And I got some records with me just cutting up—just showing that Chuckee can really spit.
DX: Can you speak on some of the deepest subjects you touch on?
Lil Chuckee: Well, just, what goes on behind closed doors. You’d have to hear it to know what I’m saying. I don’t know if you heard “Death of 2011,” but I did a remix of Drake’s “Crew Love” where I was just speaking about the game. [I’m] speaking on how I feel about everything, praying…just everything. You’d have to listen to it to see what I’m talking about.
DX: How would you say you compare to LeBron?
Lil Chuckee: There were people fighting for LeBron, and then there were people hating because they felt like, “People are saying he’s the best? But he still doesn’t have a ring.” So when he finally got that ring, they crowned him, like, “He’s the best. He has a ring now.” So I just related myself to that situation. I’m basically just waiting on that stamp, and so I’m feeling like LeBron—one of the best—just waiting to get that ring.
DX: What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned within the past year?
Lil Chuckee: Just to watch who you talk to. People can change when dealing with money. You can’t change nobody from not liking you, and that a hater is just a fan that dislikes you. You know, a couple songs that I’ve dropped lately, I’ve had a couple haters like, “Oh, I wasn’t a fan of Lil Chuckee.” I didn’t like him at first, but now I like his music.” You know “haters” is a strong word. It’s just like these people just may not like you for this one thing that you can change.
DX: Was there ever a point where you felt like your career stalled out?
Lil Chuckee: There were many times that I was like, “I don’t know what’s the problem. I know I’m doing the right thing. I know I am, but there’s something just not adding up.” But then I go out into the public, and could have a hoodie and glasses on and people will know it’s me. People ask for pictures and that’s what I look at like, “Okay. I still have fans.” That’s cool. That gives me focus.
DX: That was a huge look for you to be bringing out the younger emcees at the “BET Hip Hop Awards” [cypher] in October. It made people remember how long you’ve been doing this.
Lil Chuckee: I’m thinking about it now like, “That’s was a once in a lifetime experience. That’s BET!” I remember being back at home in New Orleans and saying that I wanted to be at the “BET [Hip Hop] Awards.” It wasn’t my first time going there, but for me to be going there and doing the cypher with everybody watching it, I’m talking ‘bout rappers, everybody watching it? I was like, “Wow.”
DX: What would be the best advice you could give those artists coming up under you?
Lil Chuckee: I would just tell them to just watch everything you do and be into everything. Don’t be blind to the cycle that’s going on. Just watch it. Just watch and learn because you gon’ fall. Everybody has to fall to get back up, but there are certain mistakes that someone can teach you where you won’t have to fall. I’d just tell ‘em to stay true to themselves. As long as you believe in yourself, don’t give a damn if somebody else does. Maybe it’ll catch on. I’d say keep your circle tight, becuase once you pop, everybody’s gonna wanna be a part of it. Everybody’s gonna want a piece of it.