8ky Discusses Entering a New Consciousness After Leaving LMFAO Behind
A decade ago, SkyBlu teamed up with his paternal uncle, Redfoo, to make music together as the duo LMFAO and the two ended up going on to experience quite the decorated career, full of antics and accolades. From selling almost 10 million copies of their hit record “Party Rock Anthem,” to being nominated for a Grammy Award, among a plethora of other awards, to blazing stages across the globe, the iconic party rockers have a permanent place within music history.
But that was then and now 8ky (yes, that's Sky) has a hell of a lot of music left in him to create and release as a solo artist. Breaking away from the group dynamic to follow his own path hasn’t been the easiest feat, considering his connection to such an established group, but for 8ky, it was inevitable. With the organic progression that comes with having both creative freedom and an intrinsic need to create, 8ky found himself in a new position to make the music he wanted, by no one's rules but his own.
8ky, who has deep roots in spirituality, reflects on his journey to this point with his new album, Fxck Yeah: Chaos to Consciousness. Songs like "Synchronicity" ("I stay up on my chakras and I'm still a party rocker") touch on the path he's traveled and where he's headed. On the LP, the rapper further establishes his place as a subtle motivational speaker within the rap game, inspiring others to live their truth by just living each day to the fullest.
While he's all about creating a self-sustaining lifestyle in and out of his music post-LMFAO, 8ky hasn't killed off the part of him known for having a good time and partying. Instead, he's celebrating his many facets and encouraging listeners to do the same. On his new album, all sides of himself are highlighted, making for a refreshingly honest and well-rounded project that doubles as a fresh reintroduction.
It's clear 8ky is in a new chapter as a career musician. Although, he'll offer he's been here all along, but it just wasn't his time to break through yet. The 8ky today is wise, humble, prepared and open-minded for what’s next, making for exactly the type of rapper you need in your playlist, sandwiched between Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and even a little throwback LMFAO, you know, for good measure.
XXL speaks to 8ky about his Fxck Yeah: Chaos to Consciousness album, life after LMFAO, a disappointing run-in with Kanye West and evolving.
XXL: Since separating yourself from the work you created as part of LMFAO, what made you gravitate towards focusing on a more hip-hop-leaning sound and direction?
You know, Redfoo and I were always hardcore hip-hop our whole lives. DJ AM gave us some electronic beats and we were like, Shit, nobody's rapping on this stuff, we should do that. We're gonna flip the game. So that's where LMFAO came from, but you know, our roots are in hip-hop. I've been listening to hip-hop my whole life, and I was really serious about hip-hop before we started LMFAO, but the thing for me and Foo is we wanted to expand who we are.
Hip-hop has really always been a part of me and it became such a thing for me that I had to get it out. It wasn't like, Oh, I want to do this. It's like, I have to do this or I can't live. I have to get this out of me. This album is just a start. I already have two other albums in the can right now and they are ready. Hip-hop, that's me.
There’s still a bit of an electronic presence production-wise to your work. Do you feel as though you personally fall somewhere in between as far as your tastes go?
I'm a student of music. I have an album that's all live bands with soul and funk styles, where I'm more singing than I am rapping. For me, I'm an artist and to me, it's just my art. I don't really categorize it because it'd be too hard for me to do so. I feel like this album definitely straddles EDM and hip-hop, but there's still no uptempo. EDM is usually 128 BPM. We really kept it downtempo even though on some songs we used some sounds found within EDM.
What is your goal with releasing Fxck Yeah: Chaos to Consciousness?
The goal of this project is “Chaos to Consciousness.” I’ve been a very spiritual person since I was young. I learned to meditate when I was 8 years old. I've always had spirituality in my life. It's something that's guided me, even through the chaos. I've lived a crazy life. I feel like I've already lived nine lives [laughs]. The album is definitely about evolving, but it's also about evolving consciously.
I feel like the more you know, the more you're responsible for. Growing as a man, and as a human, I feel like this album is reflecting that. So I'm not all the way guru yet, you know what I mean? I'm somewhere in the middle between chaos and consciousness. This is kind of showing people where I was, where I am and where I'm going.
When people listen to Fxck Yeah: Chaos to Consciousness, what do you hope they walk away with?
There's 30 songs on this project. Everybody's different, so people are going to resonate different songs and messages within the songs in their own way. This music means so much to me. Whether it's a party song or a spirit song, it doesn't matter. To me, it's part of my soul. I just hope that people listen to this and they can identify with certain things and it helps them; it helps them to find their own chaos to consciousness and where they are within it.
On the record, I talk about certain crystals, like moldavite. If you understand different crystals, you're gonna be like, Oh shit, this nigga talking about moldavite?! There's a bunch of different frequencies on this album, spiritually speaking, and it's really about people finding their chaos to consciousness. Some people live in the chaos, and they'll love the hard, nasty records where I'm talking about sex and all this stuff, but then some people are more conscious and they will gravitate towards the other records more.
Would you say now more than ever there’s a need for lyrically conscious music to be in the spotlight?
I feel like all these people are putting a magnifying glass on these issues in the world. It’s really about humanity nowadays. It's about who we are as people. We have to evolve who we are. I think it's really important that our music and our art reflects that. That's something that I really meditated on and just put myself in this place where I really wanted to express this to people.
I feel it's time for us to make a change. It's time for us to be more self-sufficient and not rely on whoever you're relying on. I'm growing food and shit now. I'm learning how to farm. I rarely eat at restaurants and it's because the way that we grew up and the way that society is, it might not be working for us how it used to. Being self-sufficient needs to be reflected in our art and I feel like you're going to see that a lot more in our pop culture in general.
Which artist do you feel is bringing that in 2016?
As far as artists that I'm seeing that are coming with the conscious lyrics, I see B.o.B. I have a homeboy named Mod Sun and he’s always been spiritual. I see T.I. I’m a student of the game so I'm up on all these niggas, ya dig? These are the people that I'm really seeing put consciousness into their music and they still have their other sides to themselves but I really do appreciate it when I hear somebody having that other perspective.
It's important for us to grow as people in our art. Music is one of the most powerful mediums of art we have because you can feel it. When you love a song, you feel it. If we're putting an uplifting message or an inspiring message in there, it can still be a party record. I mean I love partying and doing my thing, but I want to be more responsible so I can party for my whole life. Those are some of the cats that I really see putting their mind in their music.
What has been the biggest challenge to overcome since breaking out of a group dynamic and establishing yourself as a solo artist?
One of the biggest things for me is when the whole world knows you for a certain thing and they express their thoughts on that certain thing and they think you're a certain way, when they don't really know who the fuck you are at all. In the later time in that group, it reflected who Foo was and not so much who I am. So that was a really interesting thing because I was writing songs to impress him.
When I had a song that I loved, people didn't really understand it. I was like, one day I'll start doing my thing. I also look at it like I'm a new artist too. I ain't shit. I see a lot of these artists that haven't done half the things I've done in this industry and they think they're God and all this stuff. I mean we are all God but you know they think they are the only God and I just laugh at that shit because they ain't shit, I ain't shit. We're all humans.
My grandfather, he always says his accomplishments are above him and he stays on the ground. That's truly how I feel. With this project, I already feel like I won. Every body of work I've ever been a part of, after we released it, I never listened to it, unless I had to perform it. To me, it wasn't all the way where I wanted to be, so I liked the music and stuff but it was like, Damn I could have done this differently. Like every time you hear the song it's like, Shit, I wish I would've done that. But with this album, Big Bad, my family and my company, we listened to every song so much that to me, it's perfect. For me, I listen to it and I smile and I've never received such joy from something I've created before. When we released it, we looked at each other and gave each other a big hug and it was like we already won. We made an album that we can listen to and it gives us so much happiness. We feel excited.
The hardest challenge was really getting to that point where I could really be so honest in the music that I'm happy with the result. That was the challenge right there. After seven, eight records on this album, I stopped writing and I just went into the booth and I spoke from the heart. Ever since then, that's how I do. It's such an amazing way to express yourself because when you write on the paper, you only get one dimension of whatever that was. If you're speaking, there's the level of volume you use, the energy you have, it's so different and you can't capture that by writing it down. I stopped writing and my music hit another level.
What do you miss about LMFAO days?
I love what we've done. I love all the people we touched and I'm so thankful for that. It's not that I dislike the music, but more so, the LMFAO times were some of the hardest times of my life and people don't really know what was going on behind the scenes. The record label really fucked a lot of things up between me and my uncle and, you know, I just really looked at the music business as a whole.
It's not music business, it's business music, because they put the business first. We're the creators. If it wasn't for us, you wouldn't be having these mansions and all these executives and shit. I'm just like, you know, this is all backwards. I started to see how they wanted to use the demographics and all these different things to make a successful record, and yeah, that's fine, but I'm about the art. Art is from the heart from the start. That's what I believe. So, I just learned so much from that time.
This album represents me making it to another level as an artist, musician and creator. I get hyped on LMFAO still. I just feel this time around, I know I made a classic album. I know that I'm one of the best rappers on the planet right now. I expect myself to be great so I push myself towards greatness. That's just where my heart is. I'm a perfectionist and I feel for the first time, I made something that's perfect.
How did you pick the features for the project? Did the collaborations happen organically?
I feel like you have relatives and relatives that you can't help but be related to, but you also have family. Family is the people that you have the same vibration with, your heart is aligned with these people and everybody that's on this album, is my family. These are people that I love and care for so much. K.G. Superstar that's my brother. These are the people that are around me, my true friends and they are so talented.
A few people I even pushed to be artists when they have never done a song before. Like Kitty K, she started off as my assistant and now she works in Big Bad, but she never did a full song before. I worked with her and we came up with “Diamonds” and it was amazing. I feel like there's a song in everyone.
My boy Seven, who is my live drummer and my music partner, he cowrote and produced a lot of the music and he's singing on a few tracks. The Architect, we call him Tect, he produced like 26 songs on the record. Dave B, he was the guitarist in LMFAO, who we would have in the back of our tour bus just writing soulful music on LMFAO tours like on some D'Angelo shit. That's the vibe we were on and you can hear it in that music. Reek Rude is my manager and I forced him to become an artist and now I manage him and he's managing me. It's so fun for me, these are all my homies.
Who would you like to work with next?
I like working with people that I feel have good hearts. I know so many good businessmen to gangsters to killers, these are the people that I learned from growing up. Even if someone is a gangster, hustler, whatever, the people have good hearts at the core of them, so when I go around in the industry I'm looking for those people who on the inside are strong because they lead their lives with love.
I met Drake one time, and he seemed like a genuinely good person. That's why I wanted to reach out to him. I even reached out to J. Cole too but I feel like they were doing their albums or whatever, it's all good. I look forward to collaborating with people like that, people I can have real high-level conversations with and make songs that just change the game. On my bucket list, I want to work with Erykah Badu. I love Erykah Badu. I was living in my car and listening to her music and it was getting me out of these tough times and so, you talk about bucket list, it's her.
We tried to get Drake. We tried to get all these people but they wouldn't return our calls or anything and I'm so happy that they're not on the album, because I don't want people to think that that's how I became successful. This album is great regardless. It's really about my family. That's so beautiful to me that this album really just has people that I really know and love on this album.
I’m ready to finally befriend some rappers in this industry. There’s some I don’t fuck with because of their egos and arrogance, though. I have very strong feelings because you know, it really affected me when you look up to somebody so much and then you meet them, and they take away everything that you ever felt for them. This to me, this is disgusting. We gotta empower our people, especially people that we are influenced by and looking up to. We have a privilege, an honor and a responsibility to help empower these young creators. Kanye is a big example. When I met him, it was terrible. He like tried to punk me and shit. For me, I feel like it's an important thing to be said, instead of being kind of vague, I'm talking about people like Kanye West. It's a serious thing to address ego.
With the election drawing near, what are your thoughts about what's going on overall?
I feel everything that's happening is supposed to happen because there is a change that's coming. All these old things that our country was founded on, the intentions were so much different in the 1700s, it doesn't fit what we are doing anymore. The younger generation, it's just different now. That's why [Colin] Kaepernick taking a knee is important. People have to understand, we are creating a new culture right now.
There's a new culture happening and it's about humanity. It's about people, it's about love. We have all these terrorists and all these things and people think it's about [Donald] Trump, Hillary [Clinton]. At the end of the day, it's about good and bad, hate and love. I feel like we need to spread the love and we need to build up the people around us. We gotta help build up our communities.
We need to be more self-sufficient, we can't be relying on the government. That's why I'm growing food and stuff. What happens if the grocery stores shut down. That can happen in a split second. They only have three days worth of food stored, and all the people are going to panic. Then what you gonna do. We're relying on the government and that's not what this environment is made for. We're supposed to live in harmony with nature. We're supposed to have communities that can sustain and all these things. I do feel like it's just necessary for us to make a transition. The election is just a reality show, like what the hell is going on [laughs]? It used to be serious when it came to the election and now it's impossible to take it serious.
This definitely falls into your record, also.
I feel like instead of looking at your social feed or the news, you have to look within. As soon as you start embracing the love and start enjoying your life and spreading that to the people next to you, that's when we're going to evolve as people. That's what this album is about. To have people start asking themselves the right questions, rather than Googling them.
What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?
People just hearing my music, performing. When people start seeing me onstage and feeling my energy, I got fire inside, I have a message. A lot of these other people, they just want to get rich, they hustlin'. They just trying to feed their families, tryna get a nice car or whatever. I'm doing this because I'm trying to help people. I want to see people do well.
This is for the people and that's why I feel like it's going to raise the bar. For me, this next year, it's about, myself and my Big Bad family, we're going to raise the bar in this industry and we are going to give the power back to the artists.
See 8 Motivational Quotes From Legendary Rap Icons