Los Angeles – Those who pay close attention to Los Angeles’ local scene should have run into Hugh Augustine at least once. For those deeply entrenched in the city’s rap scene, he’s literally almost everywhere. Making music going as far back as 2010’s Hurry Up And Wait, his career has seen many ups and downs, including earning a buzz in Germany through a foreign exchange program, releasing a handful of projects and getting shot three times.
Last year, Augustine released Massimo Ciabatta via the Order Label arm of Alpha Pup Records, which HipHopDX covered during a past episode of DX Daily. Throughout his history on the mic, he’s managed to collaborate with everyone from Warm Brew to Skeme, but 2016 landed him the biggest look of his career.
Speaking with him in L.A.’s Baldwin Hills area, Augustine explains the moment he found out he made the tracklist and previews his upcoming project.
Hugh Augustine Remembers Last Year’s Massimo Ciabatta Album
HipHopDX: You just came through a close call in regard to almost signing to a label following the success of your Massimo Ciabatta album you dropped last year. What position did that project put you in following the release?
Hugh Augustine: First of all, I made money off of it. Every month, I get a check. That’s pretty dope. It really updated my fans, which was the main thing I wanted to happen with this project.
DX: Before then, you went some time without releasing music.
Hugh Augustine: Almost a year and a half or two years without releasing a project, but I did some features and shows. In the meantime, I had been working on my sound. Now, I’m working on my new project. It’s sort of set me up with everything I’m doing now. I just got the feature on Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade album.
Isaiah Rashad Was Impressed Enough By Hugh’s Music To Give Him A Shot
DX: Figured we’d get to that eventually. How’d you land that spot on “Tity and Dolla?”
Hugh Augustine: Pretty randomly bro to be honest. We had some mutual friends. The homie that produces for me produces for Isaiah as well. We’ve been hanging out in the studio a few times, but never really worked on anything. We were just getting acquainted and everything. After hanging out a few times, I started playing my shit in the studio. We’d be in a session and if a board went quiet, I’d plug my phone into the AUX and start playing my new shit. My shit started bumpin’ and after a while, niggas would start listening to it like it’s tight. One day we’re hanging out and he’s telling his engineer that he had to drop a verse to this hot beat. He goes in, drops the verse and comes out asking me if I wanted to get on it. I’m like hell yeah. I went in and dropped it and that’s what came out.
DX: When did you find out you were on the tracklist?
Hugh Augustine: I found out I was on the tracklist at FYF which had to be about a week before he posted the tracklist on his Instagram page. We did the track a week before that.
DX: Outside of that, did you get to witness other moments in the album’s creation?
Hugh Augustine: I was actually there the day he recorded “Free Lunch.” I think that was the first track he recorded with my homie. I’d hung around on and off since that like months ago. I heard a fair share of the project. I heard the whole project before it came out, but I didn’t hear Jay Rock’s verse on the joint because he was the last guy to get on the song. I didn’t hear him on the joint until the day before The Sun’s Tirade dropped.
DX: What was going through your head when you heard the finished product?
Hugh Augustine: When they told me I made the tracklist, they didn’t tell me Rock got on it. You feel me? That night at FYF was the first night I ever met Rock. I met Rock and the next day or two, they told me he hopped on the track. A couple of nights after that, he came to the studio, played the track and I was trippin’ bro. Earlier that day, they played “California Soul” on the radio as I was making my way to the studio. I get to the studio and I’m like what’s up bro we just met the other night. He’s like “good to see you.” Then, we all listen to the track. This nigga ripped it with a “Money Trees” level verse. It was just a crazy experience. It’s dope when you’re a rapper on my level and you can hang with guys like Isaiah and Rock on the mic, but never got that opportunity. When you finally do get that opportunity, it shows. The feedback we’ve been getting from the song has been tremendous. It just feels good to know that I’m up there. My rap skills are up there with the best.
Single From Hugh’s Next Project Will Feature Syd Of The Internet
DX: This should be a nice lead up to your upcoming project right?
Hugh Augustine: I been working on a project for a minute. I feel like Massimo Ciabatta in terms of the sound was more of a compilation because I wanted to use that project to show people all the different styles of stuff I can do. This project is me zoning in into a sound and vibe. This is a new storyline as well. Massimo Ciabatta was chronicling my life from 2013 to 2015 and this new project is everything that’s happened in the last year. Expect a new vibe and bigger sound. It’ll have a better sound design, which is a big thing with me. I’m making sure that our music can compete on these big sound systems when it comes to all genres. I want the bass and everything to hit hard but I want this to be true to the Hugh Augustine sound. Honestly, the project is pretty personal in which I rap about the situation with the label, my personal life and relationship with women. I talk about my homies and all the nuances to be me and where I’m going with my life.
DX: When should we expect to hear the first single?
Hugh Augustine: The first single is going to be called “Nights On Replay” featuring Syd.
DX: From The Internet?
Hugh Augustine: Yeah. I’ve known Syd my whole life. Our parents actually went to high school together. We grew up together. We never did any music together until this project. I made this track with production team The Most Art or TMA. Literally, the homies called me up and we hadn’t done anything yet. We had been planning on working with each other and schedules finally lined up. He was like yo I got some time and he sent me some beats beforehand. When I knocked it out, we thought it was slammin’. I thought to myself how I could make it hotter. Who can we get?
That’s when I thought about Syd. I was looking for Syd’s number in my phone and I had her old phone number, but I remembered we followed each other on Twitter. I DM’ed her, told her it was hot and that she would like it. I sent her my cell phone number and the next morning I had a message from this new number. She told me to email her the track and if she liked it, she would hop on. I emailed it to her and she texted me back telling me it was dope. A couple of weeks later, we recorded it and it was hot. So we have a video for it too and she’s in it.
DX: You’ve been rapping for damn near 10 years and the gains made have been incremental in L.A.’s Hip Hop scene.
Hugh Augustine: It’s been a cool journey. When I was young, I used to wonder how do these guys rap for so many years and don’t run out of shit to say. Once I started becoming a writer and really writing about my life, I realize I had so much content because I’m doing something every day. My life story and life experiences are always changing. Looking back, I think my experiences have contributed to all my content. If I didn’t have the lifestyle I have, I wouldn’t have so much shit to talk about over these years. In terms of my career growing incrementally, you work for a long time and don’t see the benefit or reward of what you’ve been doing. Then one day, something just clicks and people start catching on. People start taking an interest in who you think wouldn’t and before you know it, everybody is up on it.
So, I feel like it’s inevitable in any kind of business for whatever your thing is to pop. It’s about whether or not you’re going to stick with it and whether or not you’re going to stay innovative and hungry with what you want. I don’t see myself doing anything else so, all this progress is only natural because of how much time I’ve been putting in. All these late nights in the studio all add up to something. People blow up overnight sometimes and that hasn’t been my case. Everything has come step by step and I would attribute that to what my process is. My recording process is the same type of way. I build my records step-by-step. They don’t all come at one time or anything like that. That’s how my life has been in general. My success and failure come step-by-step.