Money in the Bank
Having the co-sign of the self-proclaimed best rapper alive should be more than enough to propel any artist’s career, but if only it were that easy. Curren$y, the first act signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment label through Cash Money Records, understands the challenges that await him. Hailing from the suburbs of New Orleans, Da Hot Spitta is a brash young lyricist following in the footsteps of his brother and former 504 Boyz member, Mr. Marcelo. Through Marcelo’s affiliation with No Limit Records, Curren$y befriended C-Murder and eventually signed to his TRU Records imprint. But due to C’s constant run-ins with the law, which culminated in a 25-to-life prison sentence for murder, Curren$y gave up on hip-hop, shifting his focus to skateboarding and fashion design. A chance meeting with Lil Wayne at a New Orleans Hornets basketball game in 2005 would steer him back to rap. The two actually attended elementary school together and Wayne was shocked to hear his former classmate had quit rappin’. Familiar with Curren$y’s work with No Limit, Birdman Jr. suggested he reconsider retirement. It wasn’t long before the N’awlins natives were in the studio together recording music and Wayne offered Curren$y a deal. Since then, he’s built a modest buzz through appearances on Wayne’s mixtapes, including Dedication 2, which spawned the regional hit, “Where Da Cash At.” His industry stock rose even further after his guest spot on “Grown Man” off Wayne’s critically acclaimed Tha Carter II. Currently embarking on the Street Dreams Tour with Wayne, Young Jeezy, Jim Jones and Rich Boy, Curren$y is busy preparing for the summer release of his debut album, Music To Fly To. XXLMag.com caught up with Curren$y during a tour break to discuss his budding career, debut disc and his Fly Society movement.
Your single, “Where Da Cash At,” was getting a lot of radio play in the South. Why haven’t we seen any follow up support?
We just shot that video because we had money to burn. “Where Da Cash At” was a buzz single, so it did what it was supposed to do. It’s got you talking to me, don’t it? [Laughs] My album, Music To Fly To, is coming out this summer, so I will have an even bigger single out by then. I’m doing what the people want from me. I don’t want to be one of those artists [who] makes a great mixtape, but then your album is just okay. It’s going to be self-contained, too. So of course it has me, Wayne, Mack Maine and Boo [of Boo & Gotti fame], who is back with us now. Then I have All-Star, Jody Breeze, Fiend and C-Murder on there as well.
You’re signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money label, but this Fly Society logo keeps popping up. What exactly is that?
Fly Society was originally a clothing line—bandanas and skate shit. But now I’m doing a skate team and working on opening up a sneaker boutique. I’m also setting up a label with [pro skater] Terry Kennedy under the Fly Society name.
A lot of artists that used to be associated with Cash Money left due to alleged shady business tactics. What’s your experience been like so far?
I’ve never had a check bounce and I got four cars with no album out. I’m alright. My business is straight. I know the business from dealing with different labels during my career. Plus, the Lord is my lawyer, and that’s the best one you can have.
How different has this deal been to your time at No Limit? It seems like with both situations you joined after their pinnacles.
They’re similar in that they were both major deals, but this Young Money/Cash Money situation is more about me. When I was on No Limit I didn’t have any buzz or anything. As far as the timing, I don’t feel like that because the breadwinner for the label [Lil Wayne] is the No. 1 rapper on the planet right now. He brought me in because he thinks I’m dope, so I see [myself] being just as visible as him.
How do you feel about Baby and Wayne’s relationship? Has it made people look at you sideways since you’re associated with them?
Nah, because all that stuff was blown out of proportion. It was before my time there. I know shit from sugar. I know it ain’t like people make it out to be.
Your style borrows a lot from the skater culture. How’d you get into skateboarding?
I’ve been skating off and on since I was young. My mom had a house in the ’burbs while my brother got me grounded in the streets. I fell back from skating and started rapping. Then I stopped rapping and I wanted to skate. I still don’t skate as much as I’d like to because bustin’ my ass and breaking bones would not be wise for me, since I’m rapping and touring. Plus, without the rap shit, I’m just a government name. I have to do this first. Yeah, I have a great personality, but nobody knows me yet and this rap thing will change that. But I’m trying to open a skate park in New Orleans up with Terry Kennedy.
How do you feel about the growing relationship between skating and hip-hop?
It was getting out of hand for a minute. Just like everybody wants to rap, all of a sudden everybody was a skater. I had a lot of posers trying to get down with me, but a lot of them have fallen back. It’s not as trendy as it was one to two years ago, so it’s getting back to how it ought to be. I get less MySpace friend requests with people holding up skateboards now. [Laughs]
What’s your take on the current crack down on what’s deemed appropriate to say in hip-hop?
Due to the fact that I say what I want, when I want, I have to respect what they say. They have a right to voice their opinions, just like I have a right to voice mines. I just don’t agree with them trying to stop people from eating. The minute they stop me from eating, that’s when I’ll have a problem. Everybody wants someone to blame something on, and right now, rap is it.
How do you feel about balance of content or lack thereof in hip-hop right now?
That’s partially our fault because we’re not incorporating [older] music into our stuff. On my mixtape, I’m using old soul records to rap on because I don’t want people to forget about the music that was coming out before hip-hop. That’s why you’ll hear me rapping on James Brown loops. When cats my age and younger, who don’t know anything about James Brown, hear me rapping on it, hopefully it will make people want to go back and find older music and learn to appreciate it.