Rise & Grind is a new editorial series, meant to introduce and dissect new, buzzing, or underground artists.

Los Angeles is having its time in the spotlight, once again, thanks to the bubbling underground scene. Blue Bucks Clan have been a rising force out of the West Coast. The South Central duo, consisting of Jeeezy and DJ, grew up together, eventually playing alongside each other in college football to now, being one of the hottest groups coming out of Los Angeles in recent memory. 

The release of March's Clan Virus 2 follows a prolific run the past two years, that includes projects like Clan Way 2. Their production can be as eerie as it is infectious, while their direct, conversational bars make for some great quotables. 

Fresh off of the project's release, we caught up with Blue Bucks Clan to chop it up about their new project, working with Quavo, and their favorite Lil Wayne projects. 

Stay tuned for a new installment of Rise & Grind every Monday.

Photo credit: Louie Knows

Stomping Grounds:

DJ: We both grew up in South Central L.A.. Shit, [we] went to the same high school, played for the same little league. That’s where we met. All in South Central L.A. 

We were just two of the chosen ones (Laughs). You know, we was never followers or nothing.  And we never got into nothing crazy or no trouble like that. So then, I guess, football really just kept us out of that, anyways. So, we had a goal. We had goals to just, you know, try to make ourselves better in football. Do something right.

Jeeezy: I gotta go to my dad’s barbershop, hang out there. You know, that's where my people be at when I be back in the city. Other than that, you chilling in the house somewhere.

Zodiac Sign:

J: Capricorn. I don't really know the traits and all that. I'm not into that at all. So, I don’t know nothing about that at all. I just know that I’m a Capricorn.

D: Yeah, I'm a Leo. I don't really know about that shit, either. I don't know too many other signs, I don't know who I'm supposed not getting along with or who I do (Laughs). I just figure out on my own, man. Real-life experience.

Top 5 DOA:

D: Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Tupac -- the greatest of all time -- Nipsey. What's that four? You put us in the fifth spot. 

J: Lil Wayne, Nipsey, Kendrick Lamar, Future and I'll put Lil Durk number 5.

Biggest Accomplishment:

D: I would say... It ain't really just one thing. I'm able to -- if my mom or anybody in my family need me, I can help out with whatever now. I'm the one that can help. I can do a lot for people in my family, help them.

J: Our mixtape, when it hit the top 10 on Apple Music, I would say. That was probably the biggest accomplishment so far for me.

Studio Habits & Essentials:

J: I don't really got no weird studio habits. Three things you need -- I don't really need much. I probably need some water, a good engineer, that's it. Just a good beat, man. That's all I really need. I don’t really be needing anything else. 

D: I be just having a lot of snacks. Just having a lot of snacks, chips. I always be having M&M’s every studio session because that's my favorite candy. The almond ones. Different type of bag.

Clan Virus 2:

J: Yeah, we recorded the entire "Clan Virus 2" in L.A., though. We knew this project was going to reach a lot more people and it's going to be a lot of people first time hearing us, so we were like, we have to go hard and make them want to go look back at our old music that we've been put out. So, they can see we've been rapping like this. We been doing this. That was really it. 

D: Yeah, it ain’t really no pressure but we be needing some pressure. It don't really be no pressure. We need something to get us motivated. We go to studio every day so it's like, it just normal. It’s regular that we make songs, the same type of song.

J: The one with Lil Yachty, that just happened organically. We were like, it would be a good idea to put him on the tape. We did the video and stuff. That was one of our singles off the mixtape so we had to put that on there. The one with Cash Kidd, that one was organic, too. That was crazy how we did that one. We were sending the song back and forth, ‘cause you know how we was rapping back-and-forth, but we weren't in the same studio. We had to keep sending them back to him. We were just waiting on him to send his part back. That shit was crazy. And then we went to put that on the tape because we really fuck with his music, Cash Kidd. That's one of our favorite artists that we listen to. So, we had to put him on our tape. We already make songs with Bino. We got a gang of songs. We always hang out a lot so that was automatic. 

D: [The pandemic] was just a time we went through. The virus and lockdown just happened to start while we were in that mode. So, we got a lot of songs that we made during that time from when it first started -- the lockdown, Coronavirus, and all that -- ‘til today. We've got so many songs and it's like it was all done at this time. 

Everybody in the world going to remember this time. The time we were on lockdown. This shit never happened before. So, even when it's like 30 years from now, everybody gonna remember this time. You know, this exact time, and they should remember what music was coming out. It just all go with each other. It just won't never be forgotten, this time, and especially this music. It’s just like NWA during, like, the riots and all that shit back then. Like, that's something that never going -- you know, it's history. It could have been that to help people get through it, or whatever, you know?

First Bars:

J: First song we recorded? It’s on Soundcloud. It’s like way at the bottom on Soundcloud. It’s called “Earthquake.” These n***as wanted me to write a hook. Like, I don’t know why they thought I was good at hooks back then. I just came up with a hook, put it down, and then I did it. And it came out cool, like -- we had found that beat on YouTube. Then DJ did his verse and I did a verse, and that was like -- that shit funny.

D: Now I mean, I don't remember too much but I know it was a good time and good vibe. ‘Cause pretty much all our sessions be a good time. We be laughing, joking. That's how every good song -- really every song we on made been like that. We laughing, joking in the studio, in a booth while we recording. That's when we just having the most fun. That's when we make our best shit when we joking around. We'll never just be like this, serious, you know? Like, trying to do a song so bad. It's just all fun to us.

First Show:

D: It was at the Roxy. We opened up for Rucci.

J: That was the first time we ever performed. Back then, it wasn't really that wasn't really nothing. It was probably like five people singing our shit. I mean, everybody was just staring at us like they ain’t know who he was. But we were throwing money and shit. 

D: We was goin’ crazy.

J:  That was like the first time really seeing us, a lot of people. So, they didn’t really know how to feel. But they was fucking with us, though. We didn’t get boo’d or nothing.

[That show] taught us what not to do. We noticed we was doing stuff that we not supposed to be doing on stage. Having all our homies right there with us. You couldn't really tell who was rapping because it's like 10 n***as surrounding us. We're just having fun, we was drunk. We just learned a lot from that first performance.

Guilty Pleasures:

J: I be listening to a lot of unreleased music. Our unreleased music. Bino, I got a lot of his unreleased music. I be listening to Coi Leray. I like her. Yeah, other than that I be playing Madden and shit. That's it. 

D: If I'm home, I'm laying down and playing the game pretty much (laughs). 2K, Madden, but I don't be home. Once I leave, I'll be out. Probably go to the studio. I might not come back home until like, five in the morning, six in the morning. So, I just want to be in bed all day.

Up Next:

J: More videos. We are about to drop a couple more videos. We'll drop a couple singles, just working. Same shit. We gonna come out with another tape. We don't know when but it's gonna come. We got a lot of music.

Talk to me about “Little League” ft. Quavo. I heard you guys recorded that in 30 minutes. 

J: Yep. Shoutout to Hit-Boy. He put that together. He just invited to the studio. Quavo ended up being there, he ended up walking in. And he just did the song. It was simple, he did the song. Then Hit-Boy hit us up again like "This is hard, yall better stop playing and shoot this video.” Then we did the video. It just came on, like, that's it. That was it really.

Was Quavo already familiar with your guys’ music by the time you guys met?

D: Yeah. He knew who we was already when he walked into the studio.

J: He was like, "I fuck with y’all music. Y’all n***as hard.” It’s crazy. You would never expect him to even listen to our shit. It’s crazy when people like on that type of status, like, they heard about us or they fuck with our music. You know we doing something right.

KD and Westbrook have given you guys a shout out in the past. So, I want to know, as former athletes yourselves, what carries more weight: the co-signs from the rappers or the co-signs from the athletes?

J: I like both of them. The athletes usually listen to the hottest shit. So, that means our shit hard enough that they would listen to it before their games and shit like that. And then from the rappers, it’s cool, too. I fuck with both of them, though.

D: Probably like the athletes, I don't know. Athletes is a little different because it’s people that we like, probably grew up watching or seeing on TV never thinking we would have ever met him or nothing like that. For them to say our bars and all that, I be like, ‘Damn, they really listen to our shit.’ So, it's crazy.

Can you guys bring me back to the days when you were playing college football? How do you think that experience playing together in college football helped you guys in terms of navigating through the rap world?

J: One thing I took from football is being consistent and being on time for shit. Just like the work ethic, right? You don't got no choice when you in college. You gotta get up early as fuck. You gotta make it to the meeting on time. You got to be there, you got to lift weights. All that shit. Now, it's like you gotta go to the studio. We'll be in there all night and that shit don't really be nothing to me. I already got it inside. The dedication for it. 

D: We are used to hard work. Like, real hard work and this ain't hard at all. I just feel like football got us ready for whatever. It could be anything. Because it's way harder, way, way, way harder. Mentally and physically, it’s way harder than anything I did. This ain't really nothing, we don't got to do much but talk. It's nothing.

I spoke to Bino Rideaux last year around the time he released Outside. He had some incredibly kind words for you two, along with artists like Rucci. He said it “might be like the 90s again.” What are your thoughts on that comment in particular? 

J: I feel like it's a lot of talented artists right now in L.A.. We been making a lot of noise. I feel like --  it reminds me of like when YG, Ty Dolla $ign, Mustard, and all them dudes that came up at that time. Like, in the early 2010s, 2011, and shit like that. This reminds me of that time. It's a lot of new talent. Everybody going crazy. Everybody putting in work, it's looking good for the city right now.

D: Everybody doing something right now. Like usually in LA, everybody knows normally.you know, don’t fuck with each other like that but I feel like it's been changing lately. I don't want to say it’s because of us or nothing. I'm not saying that but I feel like a lot of the city -- every side of the city is different, you know, Eastside, Westside, whatever -- they all fuck with us. Like, everybody fuck with us. By everybody fucking with us, we kind of bringing everybody -- not together -- everybody going up together. Everybody dropping new music, everybody fucking with it so it's kinda good, you know?

In your opinion, what’s the hottest single in the city right now?

J: Probably, KALAN.FR.FR "LOOK AT ME." I like that song. Other than that, Drakeo got that song with Drake. That shit going crazy. 

D: Man, I be listening to a lot of stuff. Probably, KALAN, Drakeo, Bino, Blxst. I don't want to miss no names but yes, it’s a lot. Everybody has been making noise out here.

I know Lil Wayne obviously sits very high on your top 5 list. DJ, I know you mentioned Tha Carter II as your favorite Carter. Jeeezy, you named 'Drought III' as your favorite Wayne project. Can you take me back to the first time you heard Lil Wayne?

D: I was young. My uncle used to listen to him so that kind of put me on it. I was real little, though.

J: I can't even remember. I just know I used to be on YouTube, lookin’ up his shit. He used to have so many songs that leaked on YouTube so I just used to listen to all those songs. I just to put them on my iPod or some shit. Or I'll make a CD. I used to make CDs back in the day. I just put all that shit on there and just be listening to it and I just go to school. This was like, when I was in middle school. Sixth grade, I’d be going to school and be rapping that shit to the homies. What was that one song? He was like, ‘That’s why your bitch want a real n***a like me.’ It’s called “Workin’ Em.” That was one of the first songs I heard that got me like, ‘This n***a the hardest rapper.’