When you come up under a bigger artist, it can be difficult to branch out and establish yourself as an independent entity. You need to set yourself apart while still maintaining consistency. Any artist seeking a case study need only look to Young Roddy for inspiration.
The New Orleans rapper has steadily grown a loyal fanbase under Curren$y’s Jet Life brand, staying true to his roots and keeping his rhymes as silky as ever. He never strays from his formula – smoked out beats, flows that roll off the tongue, and homegrown stories of his life – so his fans always know what to expect from the steady spitter. For years they’ve been waiting on a proper project from dude, and today it’s here – The Kenner Loop, featuring Smoke DZA, Dave East, Styles P, and of course Curren$y himself.
Recently Roddy stopped by the watchLOUD HQ to talk about how he met Spitta, who he believes the greatest New Orleans rapper of all time is, and the impact of the late Soulja Slim, twelve years after his passing.
WatchLOUD: We were supposed to get Kenner Loop awhile ago. Why’d it get pushed back?
Young Roddy: Really wasn’t time for it. Had to add a few more songs to it and push it back on that note.
You grew up in Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans. What was your childhood like?
It was cool, man. Moved around a lot but it was always in Kenner. Was into sports, so basically that’s mostly what it was, just sports. I was into music but I wasn’t doing music, strictly sports.
Who were some of your favorite rappers growing up?
Aw man, of course the No Limits and the Cash Moneys and the Outkasts. It was more of the South, you know? Then I came up to the East Coast with the Jay Zs and the Nas and the Wu-Tangs.
So how’d you get into music?
Well like I said I was always into music, but my homie Buck from my neighborhood was always doing music, making beats, rapping. So he introduced it to me and it just grew on me.
How’d you end up meeting Curren$y?
Right place, right time. First time actually in a real studio and he just so happened to be in there. We introduced ourselves, I’d never rapped before, not in no studio, just always freestyling. So then I freestyled over a beat and he told me, “I’m trying to start this little group. You sound dope. You want to be a part of it?” So we exchanged numbers and we been rocking ever since.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Curren$y and his career?
First thing first, never stop. Never give up. Second, consistency. He real consistent at what he do, so without him even telling me that, I just observed that he real consistent. I know that’s the key to success, consistency.
When did you record Kenner Loop?
I recorded most of it around September, but I recorded some before that and some after that.
You’ve got a collaboration with Dave East, a hot young rapper in New York right now. How’d that come about?
The first time I met Dave East, a homie had a party and I met him. He actually came over and introduced himself, like “Yo I’m Dave East. I like your music, it’s dope.” That’s when we met, then we happened to be at the same studio one day, not planning or nothing. I was in one room, he was in the other, and we always said we’d work since the day we met, so we exchanged numbers and I went into his studio session and did a song for him.
Then I had done a song and it only had one verse on it for the album, and I’m like, “Man, homie would sound good on this.” So I sent it to him and he sent it right back. That’s how we linked up.
Who are some of the producers on the album?
Droopy Beats, Monsta Beatz, the homie Blair [Norf], Cookin’ Soul. If I forgot somebody, my bad, but that’s who I remember off hand.
Where do you get your inspiration for your rhymes?
Just my life, man. Not saying it’s hard, not saying it’s easy, but it’s more easy than hard because I have a lot of stories about a lot of things I’ve seen, so I just write my life. Things I went through or things the homies been through. It’s just easy when it’s not made up.
You were around during the DD172 days. What did you learn from that experience?
First things first, that was a great time. I learned nothing come easy with that. No matter how sweet it look or how good it is, it’s still a grind. No matter how big the artist is standing next to you, you’ve still got to put your work in to get to where you wanna go. But that was one of the best times.
What’s the best thing a young rapper can do for their career these days?
It gets discouraging sometimes, but never quit. If that’s what you believe in and have faith in, you have to believe in something. So keep driving, keep grinding. Never quit. No matter how bad it’s looking, you’ve gotta be able to do this music thing when it’s at it’s worst, when it’s looking bad. For the youth, if this is what you love and this is what you want your career to be, just keep pushing. Keep at it. Hard days don’t last long.
New Orleans has a rich musical history with bounce music and such. How has it affected your work?
That’s where I get my style from. That’s what I soaked in. Outside of everything else, that’s my first love. That’s what captured me. The No Limits, the Hot Boys. Before anything, before the Jays, the Nas, the sound just played a big part of my career, the Mannie Freshs and all that.
What’s been the biggest obstacle in your career so far?
[Pause] The transition from what I used to do to this. It took a while to get focused on music when music wasn’t paying you. So it was hard for me to stop doing what I was doing before to do this, because at the end of the day bills were still coming around, things still had to be handled and pen and paper wasn’t putting no money in my pocket. So that was a big obstacle, just to be like you know what, I’m gonna put two feet into this, put some sweat into this music, and whatever the outcome is, it is what it is.
Was there a specific moment in your life when you knew you were gonna make the jump into music full time?
Most definitely. It was around the time I had my son. What I was doing before could get me somewhere that I ain’t trying to be, and I can’t allow that to happen. So when I had my son, that opened my eyes. This music is my ticket out and I went hard with it. No days off.
Where’s Trademark been?
That’s the magic question right there. He doing good man, that’s my brother, I love him. He’s still working, even though he under the radar. He’s still doing his thing. But we working. I’ma pull him from outta wherever he been hiding at and get him back to where he need to be.
If you could choose one song off Kenner Loop, what would be your favorite and why?
My favorite would probably be “Real Recognize Real” because that’s the one I know will touch people and get them through their hard times. The other raps are good, but “Real Recognize Real” will help people get them through their hard times.
Besides getting paid, what’s the most important part of your job?
Just helping people when they’re in need. I know how important music is because that’s what music did for me when I was younger. Going through something, you pop in some music, someone you can relate to, and they help you get through your rough times. That’s what I like, to help people and be the voice of people who aren’t heard.
This is an unfair question, but what are your top five rap albums of all time?
Aw man. First thing first, Illmatic and Reasonable Doubt. It just shocked me man, it was the best, both of them. And the ages they was. Jay was 26 I believe, Nas was a teenager, I wanna say, 18 or something. For them to deliver and give the message that they were giving that young. You don’t have to skip one song from start to finish, so those are two.
Outkast, Aquemini. Man…just a different feel.
I’ma have to take it to the Hot Boys, of course. I got to put the home team in there, but not just because they’re the home team. They were really great.
Last but not least, I listen to a lot of music so it’s hard to pick, but I’d have to say Pac. The disc with “Changes” on there [Greatest Hits]. I remember being a little boy and watching “The Box.” So yeah, that’s my top five.
Who would you say is the greatest rapper to ever come out of New Orleans?
Man…to ever come out of New Orleans? Alright I have a reason for this one. I’d have to roll with Wayne, man. The reason behind it is that he’s been doing it for so long and he’s been consistent and relevant since he got in the game. And that’s hard to do. One day you’re here, the next day you’re gone, so for you to stay consistent all those years, decades? I salute, tip my hat.
Nobody ever done it, even though he had a head start, starting when he was a teenager, a kid, but he’s still doing it. That’s not an easy job. So I’d roll with Wayne. We got a lot of greats, man.
It’s cool to see Curren$y and Wayne reuniting again after the Cash Money situation.
That’s always a good look. This how I feel – this rap is like a brotherhood. There’s no need for beef or nothing like that because we all got the same common goal, to make good music and be successful at it. Especially when we’re from the same city, same state. We’re all we have, you gotta support each other. So I like to see that myself. Give something to the youth, stick together. Teamwork make the dream work.
It was just the 12th anniversary of Soulja Slim’s death the other week. Talk about Slim’s legacy in New Orleans.
I’d say Wayne was the best, but Soulja Slim had the biggest impact. He actually had the whole New Orleans behind him, and that’s tough to do. That’s not really a friendly spot. So for the whole city to support you and be behind you, that’s big man. He was up there too with the greats. Rest in peace Soulja Slim.