Four years ago a 17-year-old kid named Snubnose Frankenstein quietly released his debut mixtape Rappin’ Ass Nigga. Jackin’ for beats, the rapper/producer born Shakir Givens did nothing but spit his ass off, stacking clever couplets over lo-fi production. He was practically unknown at the time, along with his goofy sidekick MitchGoneMad, but the tape picked up steam amongst select rap circles and gained Snubnose a cult-like following. A couple influential writers gave the tape some shine while kids on message boards made threads to track his every movement, but he remained elusive. In fact, he’s never even dropped a follow-up.
Instead, he started producing for his circle of friends in Two-9, an Atlanta rap collective that Givens met through his cousin Julian. He produced six songs from Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1, the debut tape from Vince Staples, and did a couple beats for rappers like FatKidsBrotha, Mike G, and Wara From The NBHD. He hopped on features here and there, but his solo output came to a halt. No one knew why.
Then, early this year, he resurfaced – first with Jabbar on “Like That” and then alongside Mitch on “Cul De Sac (Part II).” A month later he released a solo track, “Osaka Freebie,” and five months after that, his group Lousy Human Bastards (Snubnose, Mitch, Jabbar, and Seawright) released their debut EP, Amazing Stories Pt. 1.
Tonight (Oct. 14) Snubnose and Mitch are performing at SOB’s for a CMJ showcase, so we brought them to the watchLOUD offices for their most in-depth interview yet. And yes, you can find the lost OTG tape hidden in this interview.
WL: You dropped Rappin’ Ass Nigga back in 2011.
Snubnose: Yeah, I’m 22 now but I was 17, going on 18 when I made that tape.
You made that tape in a weekend, right?
Snubnose: It was about a week. One of my friends…it was a situation where it was a challenge type of thing, like alright, we gonna have something for this weekend. So I started writing some of the songs during the week, and then [Mitch] came and that’s when we started recording. So we recording during the whole weekend but I was writing verses and stuff, preparing for it, during the week. So I’d say a solid week.
You’re originally from South Central Los Angeles but you’re now based in Douglasville, Georgia. Why’d you move?
Snubnose: Well really that was my parents’ decision, I guess because it wasn’t really a good place to raise children, I suppose. I had family out here already and I had been to Atlanta before, so they just decided to find another place to be at.
So you drop R.A.N. and then you start producing for FatKidsBrotha and Two-9. You met those guys through your cousin Julian, correct?
Snubnose: Yeah. I had met them through my cousin. That’s how [Mitch and I] ended up meeting Key, through my cousin. He went to high school with all of them, and we actually went to school too, but my cousin went to a school out in Atlanta, met all of them, came back to where we was at, and was like, “Hey y’all gotta listen to all these folks.” So he was just sharing music back and forth, and that’s how I ended up connecting with them.
Your follow-up was supposed to be R.A.P.S., and then it was called Stay In Bed, but we never got it. What happened?
Snubnose: You know what the whole thing was? We’d just kind of speak things into existence before. The thing with the new Lousy Human Bastards tape is we didn’t say anything about it at first. We kind of just did the music first. It was like we were moving a little bit backwards because we had some great concepts. They’re still usable and we gonna put ‘em into action soon.
Mitch: It was really taking too long to formulate. We were trying to make a concept album at first, but we figured maybe we should just put out some songs and just let everything happen.
Snubnose: It was just a lot of indecisiveness…
Mitch: Which caused us to not put out music…
So what’ve you been doing since that first tape?
Snubnose: Since the tape, I kinda just went full-fledged producing. I think I got stuck in that, though. That was the whole thing. And I ain’t really wanna do that no more. I mean I still wanted to produce, but I wanted to write and perform as well. So I was like, this producing stuff is cool, but a lot of people know me and [Mitch] more for the first thing that we did, so I’d rather not leave it as an unfinished thing.
How was it being so young when you dropped the tape and it started getting all this buzz? Like you didn’t even know it was getting picked up by blogs. TrapMoneyPerm showed you, right?
Snubnose: Actually [TrapMoneyPerm] was the first one. He was just like a friend. He went to school out in Douglasville too with my younger brother, so I knew him through my younger brother. We’d just be talking, you know, friends talking, sharing music and stuff like that. So I didn’t know he had a Tumblr, we ain’t know nothing about none of that. He had a Tumblr, I gave him the mixtape, and he was the first person to actually ever post it. And I guess from there, a few people just picked it up and then it kinda started making the rounds off that. But I ain’t know nothing about none of that.
This was a time when Two-9 and all of them, we were all making music, but it was kinda just between everybody. So Key! put out a tape and then all of Key! friends and all of us were like, “Oh that’s tight!” So next person, they do something like that, and we were just kinda like, OK… let’s do ours. Let’s see what response we get from it. And then it kinda just did a whole other thing.
How’d you feel when the tape started getting attention? I remember Noz bigging it up.
Snubnose: That’s the crazy thing. We didn’t know who he was at the time.
Mitch: Yeah we didn’t know until later, and we were like, “Aw shit…”
Snubnose: Looking back on it, that was kinda cool, but at the time…
Mitch: We were so young. We were too young.
Snubnose: The one thing that I do remember is when Stussy picked it up. That’s like…Stussy. That’s clothes. We like, “Oh we about to get some free clothes!” [Laughs] We didn’t get any free clothes, but that was the highlight of the whole thing!
You produced a bunch of beats on the first Vince Staples tape, Shyne Coldchain Vol. 1. How’d you connect with him?
It was a cold, late Twitter night, and you know the artist out of Seattle, Key Nyata? I saw he was working with Vince Staples and we already knew him. He liked the mixtape so we made friends that way. So I seen him say he got a placement on Vince’s thing or something like that, and I just tweeted him jokingly like, “He ain’t trying to work with me, though.” And Vince tweeted me back like, “What? Who said that? Let’s make it happen.”
So he added me on Facebook and we were just talking. He asked me for a few beats and I sent him maybe eight, 10 beats, and he just used them six. He moved super fast. He sent me the songs back like a day or two later, and I was just like wow, this is crazy. Vince Staples is a genius.
Mitch: He’s hilarious too.
Snubnose: We had a show with him a few days ago. He’s amazing. He’s a real entertainer, and it don’t even come off like he’s trying. That’s just somebody like, “I want to know your thoughts on this.” And he’s just a great writer. I got a lot of respect for Vince.
Earl Sweatshirt recently performed a new song with one of your beats. What’s the story behind that?
I had got his contact through somebody and I had sent them some beats and stuff. So I sent them beats and they told me, “Oh I’m at Earl spot and I’m playing him some beats.” I was like, “OK…alright buddy.” So I told him to follow me so I know you ain’t playing and he followed me and I started DMing him. We were just talking, he was like OK y’all like his stuff, so I sent him some stuff. But then I ain’t really hear back from him, so I was like aw…hopefully he likes some.
The crazy thing was we were doing this EP we just dropped, and we had this song called “Trump Card.” And we had originally used the beat that Earl had made the song on. So I’m in the last, like…we talking about the final hours, mixing and all this, Jabbar from the group just went to jail. It was a lot going on, so I woke up in the morning and somebody sent me an Instagram video like, “Yo how does it feel to have Earl rapping over one of your beats?” And I’m like, what are you even talking about? So I clicked on it and I hear it and it’s the same beat. I was like damn…It made me feel good but it made me feel super pressed too, because we still got so much to do. We supposed to be releasing this tape, and I had to go and make a whole new beat. But he can have that. We worked that out, and I guess whenever that drop…I’m trying to hear that. I’m pretty excited about that. Shout out to Earl, that was super fire.
Have you been working on new solo music?
Snubnose: Man we all just been doing as much as we can. If Mitch got some songs like that and he wanna put together something, then we can run it like that. If we wanna do another Lousy Human Bastards, like a part two, we can run it like that. I know Jabbar had enough music before he got locked up to go with a solo right now, and I’m just trying to keep up with them.
How do you think Lousy Human Bastards fits into the Atlanta scene?
Mitch: I don’t think we do, really. I think that’s the good thing about us. We really care about rapping, a lot. Lyrical content and stuff, that’s important to us.
Snubnose: You know what it is too? We ain’t even really looking for it. We ain’t looking to fit in. No disrespect to anybody else…
Mitch: We just kinda do what sounds tight to us. What we like.
Snubnose: If it’s fire, and we like OK…because we don’t have anybody from the outside mixing in. It’s just us in a garage – me, Mitch, Jabbar and Seawright, and maybe Mitch’s girlfriend or my younger brother or my son. We just in there doing it like, “OK, this is tight. You like that?” That’s it. So I guess however people take it, they can place it within the whole thing however they want to. I like a lot of stuff in Atlanta.
Mitch: We just like what we like. Not to say we don’t like stuff in Atlanta, but we not really from there.
You guys all record in a garage?
Snubnose: Yeah, it’s kind of like a makeshift home studio. It’s at my house. We been doing that for a long time though. It ain’t been at the same house, just garage to garage.
Mitch: We’re not even bothered by it anymore. That’s our thing, it’s kinda funny.
I know you’re a big fan of Star Trak and your music often reminds me of that sound Pharrell did. How did that influence your work?
Snubnose: Man, I think ever since I was a kid, they’ve been, like…the guys. The cool guys. The best clothes, the best sounds. I donno, it;’s just something about the whole thing. Bathing Ape clothing, BBC clothing, N.E.R.D.
Mitch: Just that whole wave.
Snubnose: Just making their type of sound. That’s what’s really the biggest influence to me. Wanting to have a team like Star Trak. This is just us. We just making the music that we like.
I read you lost your laptop or rhyme book back in 2012?
Man I think I probably lost a hard drive. I’ma tell you like this though – that shit happened far too many times. It could have been 2012, 2013, 2014. Crazy thing is my hard drive crashed like a day before the mixtape came out. So I had to do a whole reinstall thing. It was hectic.
Snubnose: If folks knew what went into, like…bruh. I felt like it was an evil force pushing down on me trying to stop us from releasing the music. Thankfully we ain’t let that take control.
I’ve heard a story about Robb Banks telling you how much you influenced him.
Snubnose: Yeah that happened. Shout out Robb Banks. It was two or three years ago at Indie Fest in Atlanta. I was performing with FatKidsBrotha and all them so I just went to a venue and Robb was performing there too. That was the first time I met him, so of course I meet him and we speak praises to one another. And he was just telling me like, “Yeah man, you been an influence on me.” I was like man, that’s tight bruh. So yeah shout out to Robb Banks.
So what’s next? What’re you working on right now?
Snubnose: Shit…stage presence. [Laughs] Breath control, basically until we get back to Georgia. We got some visuals. They getting done up now. They almost ready to go, so any minute now. So we’ll drop some more visuals and then get back on doing more music. Doing as many shows as we can. Trying to do the reverse of what we been doing. Let’s try something different.
I know you’ve only got one song out as Sega Shakir, but I found the MySpace page for Ill Valley Hi. Tell me about that.
Snubnose: Alright so basically ever since I’ve been doing music, I’ve got siblings so I’ve been a team player for a long time. So of course my first rap group was with my brothers. Me, my older brother and my younger brother, we had a crew first, we was the Junior Mic Controllers back in the day. But then we weren’t trying to be that anymore, so we changed the name to Ill Valley Hi and then one of my friends from school, he was kind of like an adopted brother almost, he came to stay with us for a long time and he was in Ill Valley Hi.
But then everyone went off to do their own thing. My younger brother Jabari, he wanted to go to Africa for some spiritual enlightenment, that’s where his heart was at. He still does music and stuff. Qaasim, he just went out to L.A. to go to school. He does music too, everybody still does music. Tiron, he was originally from New York, so he went out there to be with his family, and I was like man I wanna keep on making music, so that’s when I linked up with [Mitch, Jabar and Seawright], because I know them from school and they always been fire to me. So we was like OK, let’s make this work. Because I just like working in groups.
The crazy thing was my dad [Akil The MC from Jurassic 5] was pushing us to do music, but he was letting us do it on our own. We couldn’t really figure out what we wanted to do, and one day we came home and he was like, “OK, this what y’all doing.” And it was the Gang Starr mixtape. And he put us up to it, but we had already been listening to that. So he was like why don’t y’all do it? So we knocked that out real quick. I was probably like 14. Super young.
I found the lost OTG album too.
Snubnose: I just found that too. That shit was so wack. [Laughs] I got it on my phone. It’s funny too. The OTG tape, we made that the first day I met Key! The first day I met Key! he came over to where we was recording at, my house. My cousin Julian brought him over and we just started doing a bunch of dumb, stupid recordings and shit like that.
And then my friend Jameel, Terminally Mill, he was the one that actually made the lost OTG tape. So he did the cover for that and kind of just put a compilation together of them old songs. I don’t know why folks be acting like that’s some…[Laughs] Yo I don’t get that shit bruh. Why folks be acting like that’s just some hidden gem. That shit can stay hidden, I’ma come clean. The only song I like…na it ain’t no songs I like on there.
Nah which one?
Snubnose: The one called “Steve Fox.” That’s it though. That’s only because of that Roy Ayers “We Live In Brooklyn.” I always wanted to rap on that.
And what’s the story behind “Wilma”?
Snubnose: Man I was just young. Nigga was writing music, trying to impress a girl. That didn’t really work out, but you know…
Did you show her the song?
Snubnose: Yeah I did….I did [Laughs] But I mean, she wasn’t really big on music in the first place, so it wasn’t really that big a thing. It was kinda just like OK…that’s cool. I’m glad other people like it though.
What are you listening to these days?
Mitch: ThouxanbandFauni. Uno The Actavis. I heard a Tame Impala song I really like.
Snubnose: I found it out. “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.” I be listening to Future but everybody listen to Future. Other than that, it be a gang of samples, cuz that’s just what I been doing.
Mitch: A lotta old shit. I’m not gonna lie, I went back and listened to this one Alan Harkshaw album. Think it’s called Impressions.
Are there any artists you’re trying to work with?
Snubnose: Man, I been saying this shit for years. I wanna work with Fam-Lay. That would be so fye. The crazy thing is there’s been situations where I almost set it up with Fam-Lay. Like years ago when the first tape came out, somebody kinda played the middleman between us, it was a good friend of us and it was like let’s do it. But it ain’t never go through.
Fam-Lay and Amil, bruh. From the Roc-A-Fella days. She had the fyest voice to me, I donno what happened to her, bruh. So you telling me if niggas got Amil on a song in 2015, shit wouldn’t be hard? If I can get that contact information and she still up to it…we can make that happen.
Anything you want to add?
Snubnose: Free Jabar. LousyHumanBastards.com. Come to SOB’s tonight. Everybody gonna be in there.