Atlanta is a lab of experimentation in rap right now, from Young Thug to OG Maco, and as the competition heats up, people are starting to go the extra mile to stand out. Take Jose Guapo, for instance.
Earlier this week, Guapo revealed the cover for his upcoming mixtape, Osama Bin Guapo, to the world. If you didn’t catch any of the initial Internet outrage over the imagery, it depicts planes flying into the Twin Towers. The reference is obvious. It’s basically those indelible images all Americans still retain of 9/11/2001 on a mixtape cover. Naturally, people were pissed.
We wanted to hear from Jose himself about the mixtape name, cover, and concept, so we hopped on the phone with him as he was driving around Atlanta. Here’s his explanation.
watchLOUD:Talk about the process of getting signed to Quality Control.
Jose Guapo: People just believing in the potential I got and they behind that. That sums it up for me. I didn’t really meet anyone. I’m not really good with labels. I think I met Todd [Moscowitz] if he’s with them, but I haven’t really met anyone. I don’t be meeting people at labels and things like that.
Why did you go with Quality Control?
I mean…why did they decide to go with Jose Guapo? Who wouldn’t want to go with Jose Guapo? Coming out of Atlanta, anyway, we streets, bro.
Where’d you grow up?
Zone 3 Atlanta, where a lotta people didn’t make it out of.
How old are you?
I’m 22 years old. I’m a young cat, just young, wi- na, I ain’t that wild. I’m young, immature, and trying to get money. [Being wild] isn’t worth it. That’s young boy sh*t, we were on that when we were young. When you get older, it’s about being a boss.
So the new mixtape is Osama Bin Guapo. Why’d you name it that?
I kinda meant…the way I used to wear my scarves, everyone know me. I come to my shows with scarves, designer scarves tied around my head like the Taliban, like I’m Osama or something like that. So that’s where the name actually first came from. Someone out my crew was jonesing and was like, “Osama Bin Guapo!” and that’s what I’m on anyway, so that’s one of my alter egos, Osama Bin Guapo.
A lot of people have been talking about the cover (which depicts a plane flying into the Twin Towers).
Yeah….a lot of people taking the cover out of proportion, and I don’t think [they] even care about my music.
What is the imagery on the cover supposed to convey?
I mean…the cover says exactly what it looks like. I ain’t trying to bring back no memories of 9/11 or disrespect that but the cover says exactly what it looks like. It just symbolizes something that was very tragic, a tragedy, a large impact on the world, which I knew, I wasn’t trying to be funny or nothin’ but I just put that together and I knew it was gonna catch a lot of eyes and people gonna have whatever they want to say about it, you know?
It was no disrespect to no one in New York, no one that lost a family member because of 9/11. It’s not even dropping on 9/11, I’m not even gonna be talking about nothing that happened on 9/11, I’m not gonna refer none of my bars like, “I’m gonna blow up your building,” I’m not gonna do none of that.
I’m gonna be one of the most wanted men. World’s most wanted artist by the labels. They see it as that. I think they scared because they saw Universal buildings and Def Jam building and probably thought I was gonna try to blow up the Def Jam and Universal buildings for real.
Why did you put the Universal and Def Jam logos on the Towers?
Universal is actually one of the serious labels that flew to Atlanta and met with me and tried to sign with me and wasn’t trying to talk about nothin’ I wanted to hear. Not no high horse or nothin’ like that, they just didn’t say anything I wanted to hear. So it was just direct shade at them, no real hard feelings but y’all know y’all flew out…you know what I’m saying?
Def Jam just one of the biggest labels in the industry, so you put that on there, you know you gonna have impact. You got so many artists on [Def Jam] they wanna know why they gotta be involved. Maybe they’ll try to sign me after that.
It wasn’t no disrespect to 9/11 though, let’s just clear that up. I don’t know what the Twin Towers look like, bro. When I went to New York, I didn’t really see the Twin Towers. I didn’t tell the graphic designer to make the Twin Towers blowing up. I just told him to put, like, buildings of what the Def Jam offices may look like. So he did that himself and I guess that’s what the Twin Towers look like. I paid close attention, I seen a bridge on it too or something, so I didn’t even know it was that detailed.
So when is the Osama Bin Guapo mixtape dropping?
Next month (December) for a Christmas present.
What’s your favorite record off the tape?
I’m not done recording for the mixtape, so I can’t tell you my favorite record, but right now my favorite record would be “Don’t Believe The Hype” because it matches exactly what’s going on right now, so that’s gonna be the first leak and everything, like don’t believe the hype, it ain’t nothing but a bunch of hype. Don’t believe the hype.