Pacifique Studios’ over thirty year history within music isn’t apparent when entering the building’s east room. The furniture feels vintage, walls look as if they haven’t been painted in years and there’s an overall dusty aesthetic in the lounge area. Add a suitable flat screen television, mini-fridge and coffee maker into the mix, and everything gives the feeling of an environment geared more toward functionality. This makes total sense as some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums have been recorded in the North Hollywood complex. Putting things in perspective, Natalie Cole’s six time Grammy Award winning Unforgettable and Christina Aguilera’s platinum selling self titled debut album were all pushed through Pacifique. Hip Hop specifically has a unique presence there as well. Part of Will Smith’s breakout solo debut Big Willie Style found its creative formation there along with T.I.’s Paper Trail among others. The plaques adorning the wall is only further proof.
Hoping for the same outcome is Inglewood native and Peas & Carrots International general Casey Veggies. In terms of West Coast Hip Hop, the rise of Casey Jones has been a long time coming. Hell, the 21-year-old’s only occupation has been music since his career stretches as far back as an early member of Odd Future before going completely solo. His breakout 2010 mixtape, Sleeping In Class, set itself apart from local swag raps of the time thanks to tracks like “Ridin Round Town” and “Euphoria II.” An impressive feat considering he was still a high school senior. By the time Veggies graduated, he had already gained the attention of Mac Miller and toured domestically with him more than a few months later.
Since then, it’s been a steady rise for Veggies who has become a young central figure for West Coast Hip Hop. That means working with everyone from Earl Sweatshirt, Dom Kennedy, Nipsey Hussle and Kendrick Lamar while finding appreciation from popular outsiders including Juicy J and Rockie Fresh(that lead to a collaborative Fresh Veggies project). Managed by Roc Nation and one of the first artists signed to Sylvia Rhone’s Vested In Culture imprint on Epic Records, Veggies has all the right tools for rap superstardom. There’s a level of focus evident when watching him work in the studio. Less than five people in the recording studio made up of his manager, some producers and an engineer fill recording space. Outside of creative pharmaceuticals (a receipt left on the lounge coffee table reveals his crew are into Backwoods), there aren’t many distractions.
Veggies understands there’s a lot at stake with his upcoming debut Live & Grow. However, he shouldn’t have much to worry about considering the project’s first single is “Backflip” featuring IAMSU! and YG. Though the single has that same level of introspection going as far back as
“Hear Me Screamin,’” it’s his first legitimate club record. During early moments within his career, Veggies was concerned with giving the world “more than some little dances.” Looks like this more than proves his mission is nearly complete.
Taking a break from his recording session, Veggies speaks with DX about his upcoming Live & Grow project, thoughts Sleeping In Class five years later and his place in West Coast Hip Hop.
Casey Veggies Talks Hearing “Backflip” In The Club For The First Time
DX: How’s everything going?
Casey Veggies: The week’s been pretty good. It’s a lot going on right now. Just finishing the album up and about mix everything. We’re adding the final elements right now so, I’ve just been locked in trying to get everything done. It’s a bit different dealing with the label and a crazy learning experience.
DX: Yo my favorite line from you is: “kickin it with friends will get yo ass no ends.” Good quotable from you.
Casey Veggies: Yeah man “Ridin Round Town.” It’s “kickin it with friends will get yo ass no ends, And she gone regret I pass, when I pull up in a Benz.”
DX: Yeah bruh that line was cool. Anyway, you mentioned you were in the process of completing your album. You’ve done something a little different sonically with the “Backflip” single. It’s essentially you created your first club banger. Were you nervous about going in that direction?
Casey Veggies: When I first heard the beat I didn’t think it was super club like that. I just thought it was a feel-good riding banger. As we did the record and when we put it out, people started turning up to it in the clubs and something like that. Like I didn’t even expect that out of the record to be honest. It just felt like some West Coast, ride around the city type of record. When I first heard it, I heard the musicality of it. I didn’t hear that club stuff that people sometimes say. I just got a different element from it. I felt like that element was necessary and I had never really did that type of record before. For me, I was just growing up. I’m 21 now and I wanted to do something like different. I wanted to do something new and for me it worked. I think that record is important for me. It’s a great record. For the album, every song on the album has its own sound but everything is cohesive. “Backflip” was that sound for the album. When people hear everything together, they’re really going to understand why I did it like that.
DX: You turned 21 July of last year. Considering that I’m talking to the Casey Veggies of right now, what’s a typical club night?
Casey Veggies: Man the other night it was funny because I went into Club Emerson. It was poppin in there and once I came in, they were playing “Backflip.” I was like that’s crazy and DJ Drama was on the 1s and 2s. It was crackin in there. I ended up performing it and they played it three times that night. I didn’t even know. I was just going to the club to chill with my cousin who plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was like come to the club with me. I wasn’t even planning on going out. The fact that I went in there just to chill and Drama was there playing my song. I don’t care what people say, this “Backflip” song is crazy because all my eight years of rapping, I’ve never been able to go to the club and they’re playing my song like five times. That was a moment for me. Just being able to go to the club at 21 was an experience that was dope.
DX: The track also features YG as well as Iamsu!. How did you feel about the Grammy snub regarding YG’s My Krazy Life?
Casey Veggies: That album was crazy. I feel like it was well put together and it was definitely one of the best rap albums of 2014. I think it definitely deserved to be nominated for a Grammy. It happens sometimes when you don’t get that shot but I think he’ll get em next time. I was happy to have him involved with this track. Me and Iamsu! put it out at first and YG heard the song then hollered at us. He was like yo that’s crazy, you got another one. He was like I’m trying to get on that. You already know; YG saying he wanted to get on it and I was like I’mma send it, it’s nothing. Then he came to the studio, knocked it out. Then we did the clean version after that [Laughter]. After that, it was history. It’s going to play the part that it’s going to play. It’s never going to get old.
DX: You’re somewhat known for some very cool West Coast introspection. Then you’ll do some tracks like the “She’s In My Car” featuring Dom Kennedy from Life Changes. Is it challenging flipping between vibes or is it natural?
Casey Veggies: If you listen to the lyrics of the song, it’s introspective. It’s like an introspective turn up. It’s like, “I’m just a young winner with a promised future.” It’s like you was in the club, or somewhere, and you just faded or thinking about life. And you in your zone, “I’m just a young winner with a promised future, I gotta get the dough, no excuses. You wasn’t really real it was nice to knew ya. Told God I’m only ‘bout that real, he said, ‘Hallelujah.’ I take my time but it’s coming in fast though. My new chick better than my last hoe. I’m getting money I can put your mans on it. Don’t talk about it, drop bands on it,” you feel what I’m saying? Like, “I turn your chick into a fan homie. The young boy hot put a fan on me. I’m the man…” like every line, I’m feeling it. It’s real, it’s coming from my heart. No matter what if we doing a turn up song, we doing a song for the club, we doing a song to ride around the city, if you hearing my lyrics, like every line I’m saying, I feel that shit no matter what. And I think that people that really listen to that record, they get a different feeling than people that just hear it and get… it’s a commercial song. And most of these commercial songs you hear, they not saying lines that they really even feel, you know what I’m saying? “I’m just a young nigga with a promised future.” I really mean that shit. Like, “I gotta get the dough, nigga, no excuses.” And the fact that I can say that, some real shit on the radio, and it’s on the radio, that shit for me. If I can keep it real and say how I feel, and they play that on the radio, I won. I got a W at the end of the day.
DX: Going back to the “She in My Car” joint, you got Dom on there. He shouted you out on the “Grind’n” track and you were on a “CDC” track, which is everybody’s favorite collaboration between you two. You’ve collaborated with him a lot, talk about your relationship with Dom.
Casey Veggies: Yeah, Dom? That’s my dawg, that’s like my big homie for sure. He always looked out for me, we always did music, and I met him when I was about 13 years old, you know, when I was coming up in the city. He was doing his thing and I was checking out what he was doing. I was on Myspace looking at his page like, “Oh, who’s this dude? This Dom Kennedy.” And I was just young, I was in high school, ninth grade. So, I just started spitting and getting my name up and then me and Dom just ended up linking up ‘cause we was both doing our thing. Once we got together man — the energy, the vibe was just crazy — we both were just coming with that flavor… At first we did a record called “Get Through,” on Sleeping in Class. This is in 2010, this is my senior year of high school we started working, doing records. And then we just kept working, then we did “CDC,” and I think ever since then man I drop… I drop when I was still in high school, I believe, or right around the time I was still in high school. And man, that shit was crazy, like people just went crazy for that song. It was like a moment for me just to get that shot, you know what I’m saying, for him to put me on the record. From there we just went up. I think we definitely represent the West, fasho.
DX: G-Eazy brought you out last week at his show. Can you talk about your relationship with him and how that was built?
Casey Veggies: Aw yeah man, G-Eazy was always a super cool dude. I actually met him when Rockie Fresh was on tour with him. And Rockie Fresh brought me out on that tour, I think he brought me out at like four shows on the G-Eazy tour. And then for me I just was checking out the crowds and checking out how he was moving. I’m like, “Yo that’s dope, he doing his thing.” I wasn’t really too familiar with him at the time, and then, ever since then he been taking off. And it’s much respect to his movement and what doing. And then for him to bring me out in LA it was just respect, it was love, and they showed alotta love. You know what I’m saying, they went up. Yeah man, shout out to G-Eazy.
Casey Veggies Explains His Artistic Evolution Within West Coast Hip Hop
DX: For someone who’s only 21-years-old, you have a storied history within LA’s Hip Hop scene. What does Casey Veggies mean to West Coast Hip Hop?
Casey Veggies: I think I represent the new generation. There are a new generation of emcees that came up and are representing the new West Coast generation, just representing a whole world of new rappers. I realize that I represent for all the new cats coming outta the West. I’m 21 years old, I’ve been doing this shit for 9 years, since I was in high school. It’s just about putting on for what I believe in and I think I represent the young gunner. I feel like I’m the prince of the West Coast, period. I’m the young king on the West Coast, like, that’s how I feel.
DX: It’s been five years since your breakout project Sleeping In Class. What did that project mean to you then and what does it mean to you now?
Casey Veggies: That project was like my everything, that’s all I was thinking ‘bout other than being in school. You know what I’m saying? That’s why I called it Sleeping In Class, like I was dreaming while I was in school. I had this dream I wanted to be a artist and I was just day dreaming in class… and spending all my time writing raps and doing stuff like that. Most of them raps was written in class. It was just the end of class and we just vibing… I had my headphones in my ears and just get them moments man where we just writing raps and having a good time. Yeah man that just brings back memories, Sleeping in Class is like a moment in my life where I was in high school, you know what I’m saying, I was just chasing my dreams man. Just like I’m still doing, just chasing my dreams. But, it just represents a time where I was just grinding man, tryna get my name out there, tryna figure it out. That project was like a cry out, me showing my talent, showing what I can do. I think me putting 12 songs on there, all original content, I was 17 years old, and people had never really heard nothing like that before. And I really put my all into it, you know what I’m saying, just finding all them songs and getting all the features I got. It was alotta hard work, you know, juggling school, playing basketball and putting together this project. Yeah it just represents a great time man and… I a never forget that project. It was just a great moment for me.
DX: Weeks after graduating high school, you landed the tour with Mac Miller. That must have been an overwhelming yet extremely exciting experience right?
Casey Veggies: Yeah man, I think I graduated in June and the tour started in September. So we was gone for 3 months, like, I was gone. It was a crazy moment for me… Mac had brought me on a tour when I was still in high school for a couple weeks. And I was doing some shows and stuff. I had did a show in a couple cities, stuff like that. But this is my first actual tour and it was 66 shows, or 70 shows around the US. So just for the fact that, that was my first tour, and I was fresh outta high school. It was a blessing though so I could hit the ground running, ‘cause I was gon’ go to college. I got accepted to a few colleges and things like that, but I was tryna make that decision like, “Do I go to school or do I chase this?” … I got accepted to a few schools, Cal State, San Fransci… I ain’t gon’ get into all that but I got accepted to a few schools. All the Cal State’s, you know what I’m saying, San Francisco University, a few others I could name but it don’t even matter, I ain’t do it. [Laughs] Just the fact that I got that tour, it just gave me that reassurance, “You know what, you good, you can follow this dream, you can just keep going.” And from there I feel like I never looked back, since that tour I never looked back, and now we here. Live and grow. For my debut album man it’s that time now. I’m 21 years old and I feel like my time is now, to get it.
Casey Veggies Talks His Upcoming Debut and International Touring
DX: What does this album mean to Casey Veggies? This debut?
Casey Veggies: This album, I mean it means everything to me. It’s what I worked for this whole time to get to this point, to put out this album, and then to keep moving, pushing my movement, pushing my brand. And this ain’t the last of me… I got so much music done right now, just the fact that I’ve been working on this album for like a year or so, or more, I got over 100 songs right now. So this album right here man, it was carefully picked. I took a lot a care into into it, a lot a nights really thinking ‘bout which records I wanted to put on it. For me it’s just a feel good album… It’s that music you listen to when you wanna feel good and get over those emotions you get, and things like that. You just wanna feel good and just enjoy life and appreciate life, and appreciate the fact that all we can do is live and grow, and make it to a better time. And this album just a inspirational album for me, you know, to get to the world, just to inspire the world, inspire the youth like I’ve been doing. I just think it’s the perfect statement just to come out to the world, I just wanna be inspirational. ‘Cause that’s what I got from all my favorite music, it was always a lot a inspiration I got from it, you know what I’m saying? So, for me I just wanted to make sure I created a album that makes people feel good about themselves and make me feel good about myself. I’m just super excited for people to hear it all the way through and just be able to keep it on replay. ‘Cause it’s one of them albums you just gon’ play every song and you gonna wanna keep it on replay, and just ride around the city and chill, and go to parties, and like just have a good time… It’s records on there… I mean you just think about life and wanna just be in retrospect and just reflect. It’s songs when you wanna go to a kickback and you chilling, there’s drinks and you partying a lil’ bit but it’s not a real party, you just hanging out. T songs for the club… It’s a couple songs on there that’s gon’ move people, you know what I’m saying, and make you wanna move and have a good time, and things like that. It’s just a versatile project man, I just wanted to show people all sides of me, you know what I’m saying, and give ‘em everything. ‘Cause I have a lot a sides to me as a person and I just wanted to give people that raw Casey Veggies. And I think that’s what this album accomplishes.
DX: Who do you have producing? What guest features do you have planned?
Casey Veggies: I got my homie Fresh Chuck on the album, he lives in Hawaii, that’s my dawg. I got Hit-Boy on the album, I got Larrance 1500, I got Terrace Martin on the album. The Terrace Martin in this m’fucka, you already know… I got THC, these my niggas man, they come out and support me and look out for me when it’s time to go. The album is crazy man, we adding all the extra elements. I got Ty Dolla $ign, I got Dom Kennedy on the album, YG, IamSu!, as you know, a few other surprises, people like that. Man, I just kept it real at home and kept it home for the world. But it’s like a real West Coast party, it’s gon’ feel good.
DX: Has Jay heard any of your album yet? What did he say about it?
Casey Veggies: Really for this album, nah, I haven’t really let him hear nothing. I’ma just let him hear it when it come out. Hopefully he gon’ check it out and he gon’ see where I was coming from. That shit crazy. I just can’t wait for people to just digest it, you know what I’m saying, and give me that shot, like give me that chance to really show you just the vibes and everything I hear in my head and just the sound I’m trying to bring to the game. We tryna bring a new sound to the game.
DX: So you’re signed to Sylvia Rhone’s Vested In Culture imprint. Talk about your working relationship with her and just getting on a label, especially considering her history in Hip Hop, and just music in general. Has she given you any type of advice or anything along the way?
Casey Veggies: Definitely. She changed the way I think about making records and she just express to me she’s into big hit records and I appreciate that about her. She sees star potential in me and I see star potential in myself. Sylvia text me one day randomly after I dropped one of my mixtapes and she was just like, “Yo this is hot, I’m feeling this, blah blah blah.” Not “Blah blah blah” but like she said, “This is hot, I’m feeling this.” She’s like, “Yo I wanna sign you,” you know what I’m saying, “I’m rocking with your music, I wanna sign you.” And I’m just like, “Damn this crazy, this Sylvia Rhone.” ‘Cause I had heard Drake rap about her on a song and I knew about a lot a the stuff she did from Erykah Badu to a lot a the big acts that she broke. And it was just a honor for me, that she was appreciating the music and she gave me that opportunity. A couple years back I signed to Vested In Culture at Epic Records, but Vested In Culture… I was the first rapper they signed to the imprint. It’s her imprint under the label. I got my own company Peas & Carrots Intl., you know what I’m saying, and we still pushing it, tryna figure everything out. But it’s gon’ be beautiful man. Right now my focus is getting this album out and letting people hear this music and building the brand so I can go on and do all the things I envision for myself. ‘Cause right now I think this is the perfect stepping stone for me as a individual and as a artist. I’m super excited.
DX: Over the years, you’ve now been well traveled considering the dope video for “3AM in Cape Town.” How different are fans between South Africa and the U.S.?
Casey Veggies: When I went to South Africa, man, it was a crazy experience. We hit Johannesburg, we hit Cape Town, I had a couple meet-and-greets, I had a show in Cape Town. Man, just to see the reaction from the people, it’s not much different from how it is out here. They really dope people and the culture out there is crazy. And just to be able to go to South Africa as a young African-American individual, to be able to go out there and experience the people, and connect with ‘em, and do a show, and they actually come out and show me love, it was a moment. And it was showing me like damn, the reach is crazy, like you never know how far what you doing is going. ‘Cause it really people out there that was really embracing me. So, yeah man just the love I was getting out there showed me you never know who’s listening. You never know who really watching… I always wanted to be international and around the world, and just to hit South Africa and have that under my belt… I can’t wait to back to South Africa, honestly, it’s crazy out there for real. It’s super dope.