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How do you feel about the way white people in hip-hop are seen today, versus when you were coming up?It’s always interesting to me, because as a rapper that’s white, I often meet other rappers that are white that tell me that they’re inspired by me. A lot of times it’s because we both are white. When I was growing up, white people made fun of me. So it was always strange to me as I would gain prominence in hip hop, white people kind of accepted me more and they would talk to me more. It’s so weird to me, growing up, thinking about that in my life. It really is a complete change.
How does hip-hop feel different today?To me, a big part of why it’s so different is that the hip-hop tree, in general, has grown so much. There are so many different branches of different styles, and the sub-genres are fruitful. There’s healthy commerce for each branch. It used to be hip-hop was one thing, although it was extremely multifaceted, it was [seen as] one thing, and you either liked it or didn’t like it. As the generations shift, as the era of hip-hop shifts from one sound to the next, the new artists come with something different and a new way of looking at things.
You’re very social-media-savvy. You’re even big on TikTok.Yes. I like to have fun with it. When you’re trying to do something because you’re trying to stay relevant or it’s the thing to do, then it’s a chore. But when you just have fun with it, then it’s fun. I got two kids and a lot of nieces I take care of. They’re all teenagers. They keep me young.
Mainstream rap was paying a lot of attention to Houston when you were coming up, and now you’ve got Megan Thee Stallion and you’ve got Travis Scott. Some of the biggest names in rap are from the city. What do you think makes Houston so special in rap music?There are a few things I look at for a sustainable hip-hop market. There are different cities around the country where they have a hip-hop market, but it’s difficult to make it out of there and to be accepted in other markets. It’s difficult for multiple people to make it out of there and then for there to be the continuous flow of new artists coming out of there. So what does it take for that? Well, for one, Houston being the fourth-largest city in the country definitely helps. We have the population. They’re all not hip-hop fans, but we have a population that can support a healthy market. Also, what it takes is a healthy underground, and also patience on the artist’s side. Everybody wants to go straight to the pros. I look at the time Lil’ Keke spent working on his craft, working on building his fan base, working on diversifying his style, and just improving upon himself in those years before he put out Don’t Mess Wit Texas [in 1997]. That’s why it had such a dramatic, huge impact. You got to grow, you got to work on your crossover skills, you got to work on your three-point. You got to work on your jump, and your defense, all of that. And it takes years and years of practice sometimes to get to that.
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