HNHH Exclusive: Armani Caesar talks "The Liz," her history with the Griselda crew, early hip-hop memories, and how she plans on dominating the worlds of fashion and music.
Ayo, It’s A-R-M-A-N-I Caesar, Leo/ The flow is frio/ So dope, could sell it by the kilo. Bouncing off the distinctive voice of Griselda’s head honcho Westside Gunn on “Lil Cease” is Armani Caesar. A highlight off of Gunn’s Flygod Is Awesome 2, Armani’s introduction as an official member of the Griselda camp turned heads immediately. Tell 'em I want the smoke like I'm runnin' hot/ Couldn't wait to see how I was comin' like a money shot.
She’s a familiar face for anyone aware of the label’s storied history in Buffalo’s rap scene. Roughly a decade ago, she was rapping alongside Benny The Butcher and Conway in a group called Buff City. Ten years later, Griselda Records planted their flag in the rap game. Armani’s Griselda Records debut, The Liz, arrived in its entirety following a pushback in August. DJ Shay, the cornerstone to Griselda Records, tragically passed away days before its release. “I’m dropping The Liz for the culture. For all the people that grew up loving hip hop for the art of it, not just the beats. I’ve studied this and I’m so proud of this body of work," she said in a press release. "I want to dedicate this to Demetrius 'DJ Shay' Robinson. The first person to ever take a chance on me musically. He believed in my talent long before anybody else knew my name. There would be no 'Armani Caesar' if it hadn’t been for him. So I’m doing this one for Shay. I hope it makes him proud.“
Streaming services have tapes of hers dating back a decade while videos of Caesar rapping alongside Benny The Butcher in 2009 can be found on YouTube. The Liz is her formal introduction to the game, and after years of studying it, she’s ready for her time.
“I just feel like I’ve been prepared for this. I’m ready for it. I’m just ready to leave my mark. Me, being 10 years deep, it’s like Sunday dinner. It’s not gonna be some cheap McDonald’s that you're just gonna eat,” she explained to HNHH over the phone in August. “I feel like how I’m coming into the game, I have a responsibility. Because I feel like I’m opening up another lane of female rap that hasn’t been seen, you know? We’re coming from years and years and years of mainstream artists not really sounding too hip-hop-ish and now I’m kind of here to bridge that gap and be the breath of fresh air for the true hip-hop heads.”
Along with being a rapper, she’s the mind behind Armani’s Closet and she’s ready to get all the bags -- from Nike to Pepsi. Prior to the initial release date of The Liz in August, Armani Caesar chopped it up with HNHH about her new project, working with Griselda, her hustle, and so much more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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HNHH: Yo? Armani?
Armani Caesar: Yup, it’s Armani, what’s going on?
Dope, what’s up? It’s Aron from HNHH, a pleasure to speak with you.
Pleasure is mine. What’s going on?
I was on Tidal just taking in some of the old catalogs and trying to do the full scour. I’m listening to that first tape, you had a lot of different styles. Then I listened to TheLiz tape, even compared to Pretty Girls Get Played Too, you’ve shown that you can rock on just about any type of beat.
Thank you. I mean, I think that it’s important as a female, or just an artist, in general, to be able to be diverse. On top of that, just loving music and really studying this s*** for so long, I just never wanted to put myself in a box. I just know -- especially with women, that’s why I don’t understand why it’s not enough of this, like in the forefront. ‘Cause I can’t say that nobody’s doing it because it’s people that’s doing it, they just don’t have a platform that other people have. I think the biggest thing is that a woman, we feel so many things and we go through so much s***, so it’s like, why not put that in a song, you know what I’m saying? Of course, every day you wanna feel like that that b**** but then also -- with the Pretty Girls Get Played Too -- players f*** up [laughing].
We go through some s***. I just, you know, as an artist and as I continue to grow and travel and see and live in different places. I grew up in Buffalo, NY but then, you know half of my life has also been spent in the South. I was groomed, of course, to love them up North boom-bap beats and that’s what I started off rapping on. Eventually, I came down here and I grew to love that sound too. I just wanted to give the people everything you know, and just really give them me. Because all of that is me.
I found this project was refined stylistically but once you get to “Drill A RaMA” with Benny the Butcher, your head turns a little bit because you’re not expecting the 808 Mafia production to kick in.
[Laughing] Yes, yes, that was the most important thing. Because at first, when me and West talked about it, it was like, you know, let’s just shut these motherf***** up, real quick. We just gon’ give the Griselda fans what they’ve been waiting for. They already at the time -- this was before they even dropped the “Lil Cease” record. He was just like, “You know, we just wanna make sure that going into it, the Griselda fans have a genuine love for you and you want it to be authentic and you want it to be organic. You don’t want to just happen to get them by trying to do everything, you know what I’m saying? You just want them to grow with you and grow to love you like we all know and love you.”
At first, we was just going through just straight grimy s*** but I still had the record. I went to Buffalo and then me and Benny did “Drill A RaMA” and then I still had “Yum Yum” in the cut and I still had a couple other joints that I had. So it was just like, “No, let’s give ‘em a taste of everything so when we do go hard with a single it’s like, ‘oh, dang.’ We respect it and we know that she pushes her pen but she also spitting on, you know what I’m saying, that s***.”
What were those early conversations about this album like? How did you guys approach it in a way that’s still maintained true to yourself while still catering to the Griselda fans?
The number one thing was that I didn’t wanna sound like anybody else. Even when I get the Foxy or Kim comparisons and stuff like that, it’s like everybody that does say it says it's on some new age shit. It doesn’t sound like I’m doing Lil Kim or Foxy karaoke. It’s like, no, this is a girl that has those influences but is still bringing something new and fresh, and that’s what I wanted. I feel like the lane is clear for that, at least for me, because I feel like I’m fluent in both. I also still wanted to give them Armani but in the Griselda world. It was like once we crossed the fence with beats. West was very picky with the instrumentals and he also wanted to test me. So if you pay attention, I’ll switch my cadence on a lot of them because they were still new to me, you know? And even with the Premo record -- he didn’t tell me that that was a Premo record until after we were done and he was like, “Oh yeah I just sent it to Preemo so he could put the scratches and s*** and I’m like “What?! You sent it to who?!’ [Laughing].
So like, he kept a lot of things secret just to kind of make it so that it wasn’t too much pressure, you know what I’m saying? And just going into it, he was just like ‘at the end of the day, we just having fun with this s***.’ It’s not about taking everything too seriously or everything like that. Even in the recording process, you know West was always down at The Five with me, which is his studio. And it would just be me, him, and an engineer. Not a whole lot of motherf***** there and it was all just us having fun, you know, like everything just kind of flowed. Because it’s like, once you stop having fun with it, it’s about time to be done with it because that’s when your s*** starts sounding wack. He was just like, “just go in it and do you. Be you. You know you already dope and we know that and just show these motherf***** what you been doing.”
How long was the process behind the project? Between beat selection and getting the cover art done, recording the project and writing.
I did this project probably in like 3-4 days, maybe. It was completed in like a week. It didn’t take me long at all to get it done just because I had been writing and West had some songs in the arsenal already and it was a lot of producers that were just excited to work with me. So, you know, in between all of that, like, I just locked in. I drove to Atlanta from North Carolina and I told West I’m just gon’ stay here until my album is done. He was like, ‘Okay, let’s lock in so every day.” And I recorded more than what’s on this actual project so, like, I still have more songs that didn’t make this project that are still, you know, waiting to be heard or waiting to be put out. We were knocking out maybe three a day, more or less. It was just something that I said it’s not gonna take a long time. The bars are already there. We have the production. It was pretty much simple. The hardest part was like, coming up with names of the songs and the project [laughing].
Just on that note. With Westside Gunn and Buffalo, was the recording process influenced by the other guys? Because I know that Griselda as a whole work at a crazy pace.
Yeah. With working with them -- I grew up rapping around them, you know? We started off in a group called Buff City like, 10 years ago.
That was all four of you?
No, West wasn’t in it but I was in it, Conway was in it and Benny was in it. At the time, West was just kind of playing his own shit and he ended up getting locked up. In doing that, I kind of already knew, coming into the game with them, they don’t play with me. They don’t hold any punches. They always encouraged me to go in. And then I get inspired just watching them work, too. Just watching them record and s*** and watching the things they come up with and say it’s just like, crazy. It’s super motivating. I also knew, just coming from the group, that -- at the time, it was a group of five of us and everybody wasn’t getting on that song. You had to have a fire a** verse if you’re on the song. Because ain’t nobody listening to a song with five different mother****** on it unless it’s some DJ Khaled s*** [laughing].
But, in a sense, I knew that I always had to come with it, especially being a female. And they have always been on me like, ‘No, go in or you can go harder, let these motherf***** know.’ Like, you not even competing with females. No, you competing to be the best rap artist, period. It’s not like “Oh, I just wanna be the hottest female” like, no, I wanna be the hottest, period. So, that’s where I was at with it. And they support me, they let me know like, “kill that s***” and it doesn’t even be no pressure because it’s still fun. But it’s like these my brothers. I can’t half-step with them. These some of the nicest n***** in the game. Dead or alive. The influence is definitely there and the love is there. I respect all the feedback that they give me, more than anybody else. Most of the time, my studio sessions are shut down anyway. I don’t really like a whole bunch of people in my studio sessions but those three and an engineer, you know?
You keep the features strictly with the home team on this project. Why was it important to have Benny on two very contrasting joints?
Right. I think like, really and truly, when we first did -- because we did the “Drill A RaMA” track first, actually, before we even did “Simply Done.” It was just something that we both had fun with. Benny is the type of person that can like, slip and bounce on any record. Like, he just goes crazy. And, me, it’s the same kind of vibe. He works with everybody. I just was listening to something that he did with Reese Laflare and he can go and do whatever. I think that it was important that I had somebody that I trust and that’s super nice to help me transition because his fanbase is already there. They know and understand his music. I think that going into it, it was good that he was able to lead me into it, as well.
Can you tell me about the influence behind the cover art and how that came together?
Well, the biggest thing is we actually switched the album art at the last minute. West is super big on his art s***. At first, we were just going to do a regular picture or whatever. But then, I felt like it was important that we kind of like, told a story, and really, put all of the influences. Like Liz Taylor is, you know, an icon, of course. She played Cleopatra, as well, like back, back, back in the day. We taking it all the way back. With my name being Caesar, then the Cleopatra connection. And then also, Liz Clairborne being associated with everything that I talk about but it’s kind of coming from a different standpoint. It really is just based on us being on some fly s***. Like, I can be the ghetto Liz Claiborne. And we can still be on that high-priced fashion s*** but we are just making it ours. We made it beautiful and she has a third-eye. I just think it’s something that will carry itself on better than a regular picture.
And then, like I said, I feel like everybody is doing the same thing as far as their cover art and stuff like that. I wanted to make it bigger than just the cliche; just me with some money or just me standing there looking pretty. It’s like, no. I wanted to leave that artwork up to interpretation, knowing what it meant to me but also being able to have other people interpret it and kind of come up with their own vision for it and what it actually means. So, West hired Isaac Pelayo to do the artwork and I think he did Pray For Paris, if I’m not mistaken. It kind of just worked. As soon as I saw the outline and what he was gon’ do in the original picture, I loved it.
Did you get the painting? I saw Isaac actually painted the cover art.
It’s actually still being painted. We just left LA yesterday and we’ll probably fly back out there or whatever so I can go get it and, you know, do all that. He just started it maybe a week ago and, you know, like I said the main thing was I just wanted him to do his thing and I wanted it to be authentic and different and fresh and new. Just like this project, everybody is gonna take something different from it. Whether your favorite song is “Drillorama,” or “Yum Yum,” or if it’s “Simply Done” or any of the other hard s*** I got on there. I think it’s for everybody and it’s up to everybody’s interpretation and what they take from it.
Who are artists that have influenced you over the years and shaped your skillset as a rapper?
I mean, I think everybody. I went to a performing arts school from 5th to 12th grade, so I was around nothing but creatives at the peak of my life, learning-wise. So, although I have a huge love for hip-hop -- so, of course, I gotta say like the Holy Grail of it which is Jay-Z, Nas, 'Pac, Big, Pimp, Foxy, Missy -- I also like rock a lot. I like No Doubt, the Spice Girls [laughing], you know what I’m saying? I like Kurt Cobain. I listen to a lot of different music, you know? Wayne also influenced me a whole lot because that was around the time when I first started writing raps. Just seeing him go on everybody’s beat and just kill s***. I think he had literally 100 songs out like during the summer. He was just spitting out mixtapes left and right. That work ethic and to see the consistency of all of his shit being hot was very important to me. Anything that Pharrell was on. I loved Kelis’ first album because it just sounded so different and so new and so fresh and I’m big on that. Like, Missy Elliott. The first Missy album was my biggest inspiration like with “The Rain,” “Sock It 2 Me,” all of that. That was literally the first CD I ever got as a kid. I got it for Christmas as a kid and I just played it until it scratched and I think I bought it again.
I just love music. My mom knew that at an early age so she always gave me CDs. That’s all I used to want for my birthday, for Christmas -- she just flooded me with CDs. I had everything from Trina to No Doubt, the Spice Girls, to like everything. So, that helped me be well-rounded in instruments and stuff. Then as I got older, I started listening to even more unorthodox music, or at least unorthodox for a Black girl growing up in Buffalo, NY. So, I was listening to The Beatles, you know what I’m saying? Listening to more instruments. I was listening to Marvin Gaye and Roy Ayers and even the last track is a Roy Ayers sample. The “Mani Moves” is a Roy Ayers sample that I just fell in love with and just ended up having it loop because that s*** was just so hard to me. I loved it. I love just watching old Blaxploitation movies and listening to the scores and soundtracks, like, that s*** was just so hard.
I just like music that’s fresh, new, and innovative but also makes you feel, you know? Especially in a time now where it’s like, we have so many feelings that we become numb and don’t want to feel anything, you know what I’m saying? Especially, like, with men. So I think that it’s important to be able to listen to music and you just get a feeling. Whether it’s a high or low. I just want people to listen to my music and feel things like how when I used to listen to music, I used to feel things.
Can you tell me about the first time you felt that way about a piece of music? I was gonna ask you what type of music was being played in the house growing up. If you could connect those two answers for me, though. What’s the first piece of music that really made you fall in love music and what was being played around the house growing up?
My mom, she was like a music head and our house was kind of like the funhouse. We used to always have something going on whether it was like a house party. She used to have car parties so she used to have all her friends over there playing spades and listening to music and talking s*** and all that [laughing]. Me, being young and impressionable and being the only child, I was just enthralled by all of that. I remember my mom paying “Another Bitch” by Biggie and Lil Kim. That s*** -- and she used to play that song over and over again. She used to also play “Get Money” but the remix. I don’t know, like, hearing that and hearing a female talk like that. Just being so bossed up, it just was a vibe. Because it spoke to everything that females wanted to say. It was real hip-hop, you know what I’m saying? Like, Lil Kim, she was just always so cool to me. Always the flyest. I just loved everything about that in her.
Then my grandmother was also a hip-hop head, too, so she used to have all the CDs at her house. I remember she used to have Busta Rhymes and A Tribe Called Quest. I was just surrounded by music. I think that the first time I was shocked by a female would be that Lil Kim and Biggie’s, “Another Bitch” ‘cause she just ripped his a** on that song. I feel like the next time I really felt that feeling was when I heard The Love Below by Andre 3000 and I still listen to that CD to this day. It’s a CD that I hold dearly. I feel like it’s one of the best pieces of art that I’ve ever heard someone do, because once again, we got a person who’s a Gemini like me [laughing], that’s coming from being like a hip-hop artist and then totally flipping it and being some like R&B, almost like alternative rock-type sound. Everything just flowed. When I listened to it, it just sounded like I’m listening to a movie. Like, I could literally picture a movie in my head when I listen to it. Those are two huge times that I actually remember very much influenced and just enthralled, I guess.
The Kelis album was another one that I just felt was so powerful because -- just hearing her scream on the track was so different and then the music sounded like some outer space s***. Pharrell had the s*** going crazy. Those are things that influenced me, like huge influences, for sure. And I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a bunch of other s*** but those are what come to mind.
You know, it’s interesting that you bring up Lil Kim and that joint with Biggie. For the past week, there’s been this whole divide on social media about that new Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion joint. For someone like yourself who talks your shit and brings a sex-positive message in your music, can you just talk to me why it’s important for you to incorporate that into your art?
I feel like it’s important for women to just have the power to say and do whatever the f*** they wanna do. Now that I’m starting to have more of a larger platform, I do understand that with power comes responsibility. I do understand that kids are watching and stuff like that. I don’t want that to stifle my creativity but I also, you know, when I do see like kids on my IG Live or I come across kids and stuff like that, I make it known, like how my mom used to make it clear to me -- I’m a grown woman, you know what I’m saying? And you, as a child, it’s important for you to remain a child as long as you can because once you get out there, there are consequences to doing whatever you want to do. If you are having sex and stuff like that, you have to be responsible with that. You have to make sure that you’re being safe and you’re not letting n***** just lay up with you and you’re having a whole bunch of babies and unprotected sex. And all of the soul ties that come with sex and stuff like that. I feel like it’s always a parent’s responsibility to instill those things into a child.
Like these artists, we’re not here to raise your kids. It’s your responsibility to raise your kids. Whatever they listen to, you can either shelter them until you feel like they’re ready or you can have that conversation early and prevent a lot of bullshit. Either way, it goes I feel like, you know, with anything new, there’s always backlash. There are always people that are opposed to it and, you know, historically, women have always been told to be seen and not heard. They’ve been kind of shamed for their sexuality. Even now, when you have more female entrepreneurs than any. Females are bossing up and becoming millionaires and stuff like that. It’s all with the backlash of “Oh, you know, they should submit to men”, this, that and the third. I just feel like it has to be balanced, but I think that it’s equally important that people know that females are human, too. And just like a man can have those feelings and express them, I feel like we can have those feelings and express them. It’s all in fun, you know?
In life, I’ve just learned, especially this year, to not take anything too seriously. You know, and, to just have fun with it. It’s okay. You’re always gonna have trolls, you’re gonna have people that just don’t like you or whatever you say just because it’s you. I think that a lot of backlash comes with it because women have been bragging about their pussy since the beginning of time. Even I do it but I do it in a way that’s a little bit different, you know? They just happen to be more blatant and upfront with it. Either way, I just think that -- I don’t let any of that s*** put me in a box or like, f*** with my art. I just do me, you know? And if you don’t like it, that’s cool. If you love it, that’s cool, too. I don’t pick it up, I don’t put it down. My art is just me expressing myself, the things that I go through and, you know, everything is real. I’ve gone through that. Those are real feelings, I’m not just talking out of my a***. I’m actually talking about situations that I’ve been through or how I felt at the time and it’s okay.
People wanna act like people don’t have sex [Laughs]. Like a n**** gon’ say you have some wet a** pussy during sex. So, why can’t I say it back? Or why can’t I say it in a song? N****s like dogging females. You even got n***** these days talking about sucking dick. So, it’s like, you know, at the end of the day, why is that so upsetting for you? Like, I don’t know.
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There’s a lot of really dope women emerging in rap and really claiming their own territory. From your perspective, how does it feel emerging in a time like this?
I just feel like I’ve been prepared for this. I’m ready for it. I’m just ready to leave my mark. Me, being 10 years deep, it’s like Sunday dinner. It’s not gonna be some cheap McDonald’s you're just gonna eat. No, I’m gonna make sure the food is great. It’s not fast stuff. It’s good for you. You can have leftovers. I’m not gon’ be no microwave, hit-it-and-gone tomorrow type-artist just because I put in the work for so long and I’ve studied it. I’ve been through my ups and downs in this game so just know that I’m not doing this for play-play, you know? I don’t take it serious but it’s serious. It ain’t something that I take lightly. I feel like how I’m coming into the game, I have a responsibility. Because I feel like I’m opening up another lane of female rap that hasn’t been seen, you know? We’re coming from years and years and years of mainstream artists not really sounding too hip-hop-ish and now I’m kind of here to bridge that gap and be the breath of fresh air for the true hip hop heads.
One thing I wanted to jump into with you was fashion. I know you're a huge fashion person, you got the Armani Closet IG page poppin’. Talk to me about some of your fashion influences. Where do you get your style from and how do you curate that page specifically?
I’ve always been into fashion. As I said, I was an art major from 5th to 12th grade and a part of that curriculum was fashion design and stuff like that. I feel like hip hop and fashion go hand in hand. I feel like all the people that came before me that I looked up to, as far as the Jay-Zs and the Dame Dashs and the Dapper Dans and stuff like that were heavy in music and fashion made themselves moguls by merging the two. What I started doing was placing that “It Girl” fashion that girls talk about into my own kind of wave. Everything I pretty much wear is Armani’s Closet and originally it started off as being stuff from my closet like things that I probably wore once or for a show or for a photo shoot or something like that, I started selling. Then girls were asking me like “yo, you got another size in that?” or “when are you getting this” or “you gonna restock this?” and I’m like, “Yo, this is literally coming from my closet. They’re one-of-one’s. It ain’t none.”
But I saw the need there and so once I saw the need, you gotta feed the people. It’s the streets. You give them what they want. Luckily, I have just been blessed to have that page grow tremendously and so fast and just stay consistent with it. It’s my baby. I like to make sure that I’m staying up on all the newest trends and things that are current. I’m making it easy to buy. It’s moderately priced. I don’t think anything is over like $80 on the site so you can mix in with your high-end designers and all of that and still look and feel good.
So two questions, 1) How much Armani do you actually have in your closet? 2) What’s your favorite fashion brand?
Hmm, the first question -- I definitely do have some Armani Exchange. I started buying that just when I started calling myself Armani, I think that it just went [Laughing]. And they’re good for basics. One thing I love about Armani is that you don’t see too many knockoff Armani or you don’t see it at all, actually. And I’m from New York where you see a knockoff of everything. I’ve never seen a replica Armani anything which also is just a play on the name. That’s why I like it so much. But then also, they have real cool basics and stuff like that, I got a few pieces, I wear it every now and then. But it’s also quiet, you know, it’s classic. I don’t wear like the low-gold shit. Like, I’ll wear something and you won’t know it’s Armani, but you’ll just know like, “yo that’s a fly a** t-shirt” or “them jeans is hard like where you get them from” and then I’ll let you know. But, the second question, what was the second question?
The second question is what’s your favorite brand right now?
Besides Armani’s Closet -- Armani’s Closet is my favorite brand right now -- but if I would have to have a brand to go with that, I would probably say Chanel. Only because I love it. It’s classic. Their bags go up in value every year. Now, especially that I’m an entrepreneur and I’ve always been a hustler -- I always liked things that could make me more money. So, if I buy this bag, I know that it’s an investment. Just like guys with jewelry. A lot of guys buy jewelry just to have it or f*** up money. But, there are some watches that you buy that when they get it for $75k and it could be worth $100K the next year. They just go up in value. I feel like it’s important in splurging to still be responsible with it and to know what you’re doing. And to actually know what’s going on instead of just following a trend. Because a year from now, half the designers that they're talking about ain’t gonna be popping. Just like last year’s ones ain’t gon’ really be popping like that. Gucci is Gucci but it ain’t too many pieces of Gucci that’s gon’ make you more money in the long run. Unless you got like some Dapper Dan crazy s**t or something like that.
Is there a particular designer that you dream of working with in the future?
I mean, all of ‘em [laughing]. Like I said, I definitely wanna work with Chanel. I definitely would love to work with Louis Vuitton. I would love to work with pretty much every designer. Like, I’m ready to get all the bags, you know. Like later on in the year, you gon’ see me in my fashion bag heavy. I’m tryna do runway shows next year like fashion week, all of that.
Your hustle is crazy. There’s one bar in particular on “Lil Cease” that stuck out to me. “Strip, rap, move a little dough/ Oh, she trap trap/ Cooking up, sendin’ brick money through the CashApp.” As somebody who obviously wears a lot of hats -- you’re an artist, you’re an entrepreneur. Could you talk about how these different environments, whether it’s the strip club or being in the studio, influenced you?
I live by the saying, “How I do anything is how I do everything.” I started off dancing out of desperation. It was just more so like my back was against the wall and I had to get it. Now, in learning how to move in a strip club, I treated it like how most of my boyfriends who were in the street treated the streets. So like, in the strip club, we pretty much all got the same work, which is all the same a** and titties. You’re just selling yours. It’s not about who’s the prettiest because I’ve seen the most gorgeous girls make maybe a hundred or maybe not even make their tip out back. I’ve seen some girls that may not be as aesthetically pretty leaving with trash bags. With that being said, it was all about the hustle. All about how you gave it up. I always say like the streets and the strip club directly parallel, meaning that most of the time when the streets are dried up, the strip clubs dried up. If people were beefing in the streets, they were probably beefing in the strip club and shoot outs and all of that would happen there.
It’s also like a competitive sport and females are very territorial and they can be very jealous. I think that just being mindful and knowing your surroundings and all of that. Making sure you’re using it as a stepping stone and not as a career. Like with any trap, you want to get in, you want to get out. Use it as a stepping stone, run your bread up, and then call it quits. And that’s how I looked at it. I never danced and was doing drugs or drinking and stuff like that because I looked at it as work. So, I moved very militantly and focused. That’s how I ended up being able to make so much money. But also, on the flip side of that, I felt as though if I can move around in the strip club half-naked or get on stage half-naked, showing my titties and all of that, then there should be no problem with me performing shows with thousands and thousands of fans watching me. So, there was no stage fright.
Or somebody put me on the spot to do something, the fear went out of the window because you have to. It was either you gon’ get this money or you can be scared and shy and watch Netflix get it. And, you know, that’s how I moved, just, with everything. My inhibitions and the fear completely went out the window because I knew that I had to get that bag. So when I started doing music, when I went into these rooms or when it was time to roll up on a DJ and be like, “here, play my record,” the fear was out of the window because it was like, look, we gotta get this record played. We gotta get this bag.
So, eventually, that just manifested into what I am now and that mindstate helped carry me because regardless of whatever, I knew what I was in it for. And that way, I knew that if there was a bigger purpose behind what I was doing and it was important that I moved with boldness and courage, and confidence because that would eventually be able to get me what I want. It’ll get me what I want in the music industry and it’ll get me what I want in the fashion industry, and it’ll get me what I want in life, in general. If you move like that in any sense, you’ll be successful, with confidence and fearlessness and faith.
Who are some artists you are looking forward to collaborating with outside the Griselda camp?
I definitely wanna collab with DaBaby just because you know we gotta do it for the 704, you know? I would love to collab with Beyonce. Nicki. I would love to collab with Meg. Lots of more females because I don’t have any collabs with females. I would love to do something with Pharell because that’s like one of my favorite producers of all time. Of course, all the legends. Like, if I could get Jay on a track or Nas on a track, I would f****** lose my s*** [laughing]. I mean, pretty much anybody out here doing their thing. I mean, Lil Baby, Mulatto, Santana On The Beat. Like, I know that would be a fun track. City Girls, Rod Wave, Gunna, Young Thug, Wayne. Of course, like Wayne, I would go crazy. Drake. All the people that of course I grew up listening to and you know loved but also like all of the new artists. Being able to kind of like merging the two sounds. I think that that would be dope.
So I have one last question for you. We talked about music. We talked about fashion. We talked about art. So, what are your long-term goals? Where do you want to see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I probably will have other multiple streams of income, of course, because I’m big on that. Being able to just have different investments. My hands in everything. I want all the sponsorship deals. I need the Pepsi deal. I need the Nike, you know what I’m saying? I need all that. I ain’t trying to leave no money on the table. Like, once they give me this ride, I’m running it all the way up. I definitely want to tap into makeup because I do my own makeup as far as for shows or video shoots, anything like that. Just because I don’t really trust people with my face like that. I’m definitely thinking about getting into the hair market. Pretty much everything that I do. When I was a kid, I told myself I just wanted to get paid for everything that I do on a daily basis.
So, getting my hair done, getting my nails done, getting my makeup done. I wanted to be able to make my brand on anything. That’s my biggest thing. And of course, making sure that I’m just settled and fulfilled and happy and taking care of my family. I wanna put my mom in a big house, nice car, and make sure that she doesn't have to work and all that good stuff.