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Don Trip And Starlito Shine A Light On Bullying In “Leash On Life”

Why did you guys reach out to get Kevin Gates on the record?
Starlito: It was like a divine, almost like a far off prophecy. You know, people say the stars align. It just happened how it happened. We’ve been rocking ever since that day we recorded that song. That’s like the coolest thing in the world to me. I did that verse on his album, the “MYB.” I did that verse that day. Probably 12 noon, on my way to Atlanta to meet Trip so we can start working on Step Brothers 2. I did the verse, strangely, I don’t work with people I don’t know. We don’t record any of our music in separate rooms. We don’t e-mail verses. We get in the studio together. And I prefer to work with people that I know. People that I am cool with, etc. I heard an interview on accident one day. I was in car and satellite radio came on. I heard somebody [say], “All I listen to is Starlito. I just prefer reality music. My favorite rapper is Starlito.” I’m like, I don’t have a clue who it is. I keep listening to the interview out of curiosity. Soon or later I figure out it is Kevin Gates. I wasn’t really too hip to his music. I heard his name, but I wasn’t that hip to his music. I started paying attention and heard some things I like. I think that was around that time he dropped that project the top of this year. I was intrigued. I gave it a fair listen. This is somebody that appreciates my music, so at least, I hear it out. I was like, “Man, this shit’s deep.” I liked it.

I did the verse. Him and his people reached out. Got in touch with him. I did that verse for “MYB” as an investment and good faith because I felt like he fucks with me, so I’ll kind of make an exception for what I normally do and mail this verse in. I dropped the verse that day and I called an A&R or whoever sent the song. I sent the song back, I have a song that I think he would sound cool. I have this beat that I want him to check out and have him do a chorus. It wasn’t “Leash On Life.” It was “Luca Brasi Speaks” on my Cold Turkey album. That’s another funny story cause I wanted him to do a singing chorus, but he ended rapping. That happened later on that day. I’m like, “Just hit me up when he checks out the beat and sings this track. He would be a good guest to it. No rush. I’m my way to Atlanta to see Trip and record.” He was like, “Oh, Kevin [Gates] is in Atlanta. He stays in Atlanta right now. Give him a call. I’m sending you his number.” And I called. He pulled up. He came in the studio by himself. I really respected that. I thought I was the only rapper that really is all by myself way out of town. I go to another city to work or otherwise by myself. I don’t have to move a certain type of way.

He pulled up one in the morning, we have been working. He kind of made himself at home. I could tell he genuinely like fucked with me. We just hit it off and started working immediately. Within 20, 30 minutes of him being there, we were pulling up “Leash On Life.” Or, what would become “Leash On Life.” And it was just a beat and my verse that I dropped at Don Trip’s studio. So, Trip’s putting his verse together and Gates is kind of like, “What’s that?” In the process of walking into the booth, I’m like, “You can fuck with this one if you like it. We don’t have a chorus yet.” He started humming some shit. It kind of sounded cool from a distance. He’s like, “Check this out.” What he sung out loud is the chorus that is on the song. Within him being in the studio with us 20-30 minutes, Trip went and cut his verse. Gates dropped a chorus. The rest is history.

In the last scene of the video, why end on an image of a school shooting?
Don Trip: I think people need to understand. I think the only way for you to see the severity of what we was saying was for you to see that. Of course, we couldn’t show him walking in the school and killing people. I don’t think we wanted to show that anyway. But, we wanted to show the part that you do see. That you ignore. When we see that now, it’s just another shooting to us. I feel like that was something that was added for that. For the value of this is something that you recognize. This is familiar to you. Everything that happened before this scene in video is not familiar to you because we are oblivious of what led to that. So now you see what you have normally seen sitting in front of the TV. And what we showed you before shows you how it got that far.

Starlito: The impact of that scene. Part of it was supposed to come from … there were two subtle things within that closing scene. One, if you notice before the news report comes on, that’s the first time you see Don Trip. Both of us are in that video, just for like 5 seconds. You see Don Trip and its supposedly a music video. So the sick irony is that we are still crossing paths with these types of people. I’m coming out of a trap house and a kid is sitting on a porch looking lonely and thrown off. I’m looking at him like, “You’re out of place. What are you doing here?” And we are crossing paths in our day to day lives.

[Don Trip] is a rapper and he’s on TV. The other part that was the symbolism is that the dad. The big fat, overweight couch potato dad that’s abusive to his son and paying no attention to him is watching our music video. I know its kind of cliche because he’s watching the video about the same stuff. Our lives cross paths with these kind of people. We still in a roundabout way speak to these types of people and different walks of life. So, it wasn’t just we were showing a news report. We are showing the dad watching the news report. He’s so out of touch with his son and what’s going on in his son’s life that the first time he’s introduced to it is when its way to late. He’s seeing the tragedy he helped cause at the same time everybody else is seeing it. And its already affected who knows how many people. Like Trip said, we weren’t going to get graphic, simulate or reenact an actual school shooting, but to have the abusive dad watching the news report was actually the closing scene. So, it was a little bit further than putting a news report on there. Pay attention, before its too late.

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