Skeme on His New Album ‘Overdue': “It’s the Best Story Ever Told”
West Coast hip-hop has been on the upswing in recent years, with heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar, YG, Schoolboy Q, Nipsey Hussle and others leading the charge for the new generation of spitters coming out of Cali. One name that may be familiar to some that is looking to join those ranks is Skeme, a rapper from the Inglewood section of L.A. that has built a reputation as one of the more promising talents to come out of the West.
Skeme began making waves with his Skeme of Things mixtape series, which he launched in 2007, and his trilogy of Ingleworld albums, both establishing him as one to watch for, in his own right. Pistols and Palm Trees, featuring the likes of Tyga, Dom Kennedy, Kendrick Lamar, Hit-Boy and Boi-1da, also got his name ringing. With over a dozen full-length projects under his belt, Skeme would earn a spot on the radar of fans, critics and industry insiders alike.
Initially an independent artist, Skeme would change course after a chance encounter with The Game led to the rapper inking a deal with the latter's Blood Money Entertainment. With the cosign of one of West Coast hip-hop's leaders behind him, the rapper hit the ground running, unleashing his Before 4eva and Paranoia mixtapes in 2016. This year, Skeme plans to make a strong return with a new album, Overdue.
So far, the dreadlock-wearing spitter is looking to be on the fast-track to big things if his new single, "Red Coupe," is any indication. Produced by TM88 and Supah Mario, "Red Coupe" is a mid-tempo ditty featuring Hustle Gang member London Jae. The accompanying video finds Skeme eyeing a certain beautiful woman while mobbing through the streets of Atlanta in all of his splendor.
"I really don’t know," Skeme admits to XXL when asked about the origin of the track and what sparked it. "When it came to me, TM had brought it to me. When 88 bring it, I gotta hear it and see what he talking bout. Soon as I hear it, I’m like, that thing sound like a hit. That shit cam out crazy though."
After raising his profile over the past two years and collaborating alongside his fellow Generation Now label mate Lil Uzi Vert on "Fiz U," as well as DJ Drama and Chris Brown on the gold certified track "Wishing"—he signed to Drama's Generation Now in 2015 —Skeme is gearing up for what appears to be his most promising year. In addition to his new song "Red Coupe," a performance at L.A. Radio Station Power 106's annual Powerhouse concert in May, as well as a new full-length album will certainly keep his name buzzing.
Skeme stopped by the XXL office to give the scoop on his recent moves, what to expect from his new album and much more.
XXL: People are waiting on your Ingleworld 4Eva mixtape. Is that the next project that fans can expect from you?
Skeme: Nah, this one's an album. It’s called Overdue.
What's the reasoning behind the title?
Shit, man, it’s just self explanatory wit’ that thing. We been waiting a long time for this. I think I made my first tape at like 19, so it’s been six, seven years. It’s just time for it now.
You've always been big on collaborations throughout the years. What do you think makes you mesh with and develop strong relationships with rappers from all coasts?
Just real niggas sitting in the room, niggas gonna fuck with each other, that’s just how it be. Every situation or every time we rock on set with somebody, it’s pretty much been that way, you know what I’m saying? We just gotta get a vibe, figure it out. With Dom [Kennedy], I don’t know, I kinda grew up in front of bruh. He older than me, so bro was just like “That nigga got it,” so that shit worked out.
Cali has really been a force over the past few years on all fronts. How does it feel to see the West back at the forefront?
Shit, I’m just happy to be a part of that. I’m proud of that. It’s the coast, so I’m always gonna wanna see that, where everybody collectively moving, and it’s been that way for a long time. You don’t really see brand new faces as far as we go. If you from the city, you know exactly who these niggas is, you know what I’m saying? We been working for a long time.
You're from Inglewood. How would you describe the culture there when you grew up and how is it today?
You just know your areas. The ghetto the ghetto, it don’t matter if it’s out here. We can be in Brooklyn, it can be the same as anywhere, you know what I’m saying?
What separates Inglewood, far as the style, culture and vibe, from other famous neighborhoods like Compton, South Central and so on?
I really couldn’t explain it ‘cause at the end of the day, we all still L.A., it just falls under one batch. I don’t even really be wanting to talk about the gangbang shit, but that shit just is what it is, people come from different areas, that’s the gist of it. If you come from Inglewood, that’s a Blood spot, so that’s all Bloods, pretty much.
How do you feel about the Los Angeles Rams moving back to L.A.?
That’s bracking, that’s all the way bracking. We got a football team and they put it in the middle of the hood, so that’s all the way tight. It’s bringing a lot of jobs here, that’s all the way dope, and it’s putting money on the houses around the area, so you can’t ever be mad at that. And they ain’t moving us out the hood, so that’s cool.
You're a part of The Game's Blood Money Entertainment crew. How did that partnership happen?
Me and Game had a stare-off in the club and I didn’t blink, so the next day he called me and said “Yeah, I wanna sign you.” I’m serious as fuck, though, that’s exactly what happened, I swear to God.
Was that your first time running into each other?
Nah, we had ran into each other a few times before that. We had a lot of common friends and shit like that, but that was the first time we ever like…I don’t know, I was me at that time, and he was him, so it was different. The next time we heard from him, he told me to come do a song with him. Him and Glasses Malone were doing a song and I think I had a 32-bar verse, and it was done in five minutes, so he was like, “I definitely wanna sign him now." And I rap better than everybody, so...
What lessons have you learned during your time with that camp?
Really just trusting it and taking our time and not rushing to release shit. Like, I’m kinda cool with that right now, I’m not really rushing to just get attention, I’m cool. Let’s make these moves, make a great album, just trusting that process that we’re in right now. After a couple of years being an independent, it’s a different ball game now.
You've been independent for quite some time. What's the difference like now that you're signed to a major?
It’s really just the facilitation shit. It’s really just people around you that’s strategically, putting shit together instead of it just being our day-to-day camp, it’s different now. You just got a lot more push behind you than you would normally have, but besides that, it’s the same set. It’s nothing really new at all.
One person you've struck a relationship with is Chris Brown. How did y'all connect?
It’s this studio in L.A. If you’re in that studio we’re talking about, your kind of somebody. It’s called Record Plant. It’s $3,000 a day shit. And if you’re sitting across the hall from the same nigga and you indie, just say something, so we just figured it out. For about six months, we was up in that muthafucka together. It just kind of ended up being something, once we end up playing music, I never been the kind of nigga to wanna walk in and grab the aux cord.
I just kinda work my way around and figure it out and eventually, that shit turned into some “Let's do it.” When we did “36 Oz,” I wasn’t tripping about nothing. He had called me... Went up to the studio in Burbank and he was talking about, “Man, I wanna do that one song talking bout Jordans and a gold chain,” and I was like, “Cool, let’s do it.” Next week, he put it out, so it was cool.
How would you describe the creative process or the vibe when y'all connect musically?
Drugs and girls. More girls than drugs, but just drugs and girls. Money. We just like it to be that way. It’s a cool environment; it’s the best way to be. And the dope, can’t forget the dope. Chris don’t like to do drugs though, just put that in there.
How does it feel to have the amount of anticipation for your Ingleworld 4Eva project?
That’s crazy. I remember us building that whole name and everything, like the day we came up with that name, it was just like, Fuck it, let’s do it, and we been pushing it off ever since then. So to watch it gradually turn into something bigger, that shit’s dope, regardless. I don’t give a fuck about anything else, as far as that goes. That’s why with Overdue, I tried to step away from the title for a minute and get my head wrapped around, like, where I was at making the first Ingleworld, you know what I’m saying?
But that’s gonna come next, that’s the next move, Ingleworld 4Eva. I got like 100 songs from January to now, so we could definitely put an album out at any point and just run it up.
How do you separate what you did for the album and what you do for the mixtape?
I kind of just try not to work on something if I’m not thinking with that in mind, so if I was making stuff for Paranoia, I can’t treat it how I’ma treat Overdue, I gotta get a whole new process and once we get our had wrapped around what the project is, now we start coming up with titles and we start coming up with concepts and everything like that. Like I don’t wanna hear nothing from last year on this album.
Who are some of the artists you've been in the studio with as of late?
Right now, [Lil] Uzi [Vert], Chris Brown, T.I. is on the album. I’m trying to make sure [Young] Thug get on there. I’m trying to see a few people on there, I just gotta look around and see who I’m gonna grab on the album.
You also just shouted out Kendrick and Kodak Black on Twitter recently. How do you feel about what they've been doing musically?
I mean, Kendrick, that’s my brother, any guy from the coast, nine times out of 10, we done came across each other and I’ve really fucked with his shit from day one. We done had battles in studios and all that, so I’m always gonna respect what he got going on. I think the video ["Humble"] is crazy as shit too though, so that’s dope. I’m always a fan of where they taking it. Kodak, I just like ghetto music bullshit. That’s always gonna work on me. Anything hood, and he like the king of it right now, so I’m fucking with him.
You've also lent your pen to other artists. How did that become a side hustle of yours?
An accident. I did a feature for somebody and a feature I did for somebody ended up being the verse that they rapped and I got paid for it, so it was cool. So since then, it’s been the same shit.
Who are some of the people you've worked with on that angle?
I’m always working with Chris, so that’s always there. Other than that, I kind of don’t even wanna say it 'cause I feel like I’ma jinx my little situations I got going on. People don’t like to talk about that kind of stuff.
So do you come up with the hooks first or the verses? What's the standard process for you when making a song?
I don’t write shit down. I really just kinda feel my way through it so it’s just however it come at the moment. If I got a verse in my head, I’ma try to just hum like a hook I did and I’ma keep going and I’ma just get the verse out my head. It just depends on how it comes that day, it don’t matter. Once you start putting songs together like that and you trying to finish like seven or eight songs a day, some of them muthafuckas ain’t even got hooks, just keep it pushing, just keep it moving.
What's the topics that you're talking about on Overdue? Is it any different from what you usually talk about or touch on?
Nah, man, I’m just getting better at telling the same story over and over again. Other than that, it’s just the best story ever told.
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