Smokepurpp Feels Lil Yachty Is One of the Best Rappers Out
Smokepurpp knows the stakes are high. After blowing up with last summer's "Audi"—just one piece of a widespread hip-hop awakening that's been taking place in South Florida over the past couple of years—the 20-year-old Miami rapper is determined to make a lasting mark on the culture. He's following September's Deadstar mixtape with an upcoming collaborative project with producer Murda Beatz called Bless Yo Trap—but he stops short of positioning it as his official debut LP. Purpp is trusting the process.
"I lowkey wanted to make the Murda tape my first album," Smokepurpp says, swiveling in an office chair at XXL's Manhattan headquarters. "I feel like when you make an album it really has to hold its ground. It has to make a stamp. So I want to take my time. It's way different for tapes—I'll record for three months and then just pick the songs I like and make a fire tape. For an album, it's more like you gotta build it. You gotta make one song that might take a few sessions and then make another song. It's way harder."
Lil Purpp has been building his career brick by brick since his early days of running around his city with Lil Pump, waving heavy artillery for music video director Cole Bennett's camera. In just a short year, he's signed deals with Interscope and Alamo Records, aligned himself with Travis Scott's Cactus Jack Records, and worked with the likes of Juicy J, Chief Keef and Yo Gotti on Deadstar. Smokepurpp is riding that success with the anticipated Bless Yo Trap, lead by the project's title track and "123." And while the anticipation is high, he's still amazed by the whirlwind of the last 365.
"Last year I had no idea I was gonna meet Gucci, meet Drake, meet Yachty," he says. "I thought it was gonna take me five years to get there. Next thing you know, I'm with all of these niggas at the same party drinking out the same bottle. This shit crazy. So I just feel like everything I do I take a higher step."
Smokepurpp sat down with XXL to speak on his early days as a producer, his upcoming collaborative project with Murda Beatz and the possibility of a Drake collaboration.
XXL: You started 2018 by denouncing the recreational use of Xanax. Congrats on kicking the habit.
Smokepurpp: 100 percent factuals. No Xanax forever—fuck 2018. 2019, no Xanax. Just slowing down on drugs, period. Even last time I was here, I feel like I was just [poses in slumped position]. Now I feel like I'm on my P's & Q's. I only smoke. Before I used to be off the lean, Xans, Percs—every day type shit. That shit was hard to stop. But I feel way better.
You could've just done that and not said anything. But you made a point to say it.
It's funny because when I first stopped, I didn't even like talking about it. But now that I finally got past that shit, I like talking about it. Cause I be looking back now, like, “Yo, how did I let myself do all of that shit.” Now I be looking back and just be happy, like, “Yo, that's crazy.”
We’re happy for you, too. Travis Scott was as well. He responded by tweeting, “This tweet made me so happy.”
Because he knows. I used to be—even if you don't know, you could see it. I used to everywhere just nodding off, like, fucked up. And to be real, I don't even really know why. Because usually I feel like people take drugs just to hide from problems. I feel like I was just doing that shit. It was pointless. So I guess he probably saw it and he was happy that I stopped.
What was it like shooting the “Fingers Blue” video with Travis? That was a crazy concept.
This is gonna sound funny as fuck but they told me right before the video shoot—they never asked me, like, “Yo, these are the treatments, pick a treatment.” Five days before the shoot they were just like, “We're choosing Nabil [Elderkin]. Travis fucks with him. This is the treatment, let's do it.” So I'm like, lemme check the treatment. And I’m like, This shit is crazy!" Shooting the video was wild, because all of those zombie-looking girls looked so real. It was like some crazy-ass makeup so while we were shooting that shit, I was actually scared, bro. We had to be in a room full of these zombie-looking ass girls with hooks hanging off the roof and fucked-up teeth. That shit looks so real it was actually scary. We put a behind-the-scenes video out and you could see us trying to get away from them. So that shit was crazy lit, I fucked with it. And that was the first video I shot with Travis, too.
You recently got in the studio with Lil Yachty for "Do Not Disturb" from your upcoming collaborative Bless Yo Trap project with Murda Beatz, as well.
Yeah, Yachty's on the Murda tape—he was literally the first feature. We were in the same studio in L.A. and I didn't know. He texted me like, “You gon' act like you don't got my number?” [Laughs] I was like, “You here?” I went to the room next door and brought a song with me. He just freestyled that shit. Like 10 minutes, he was done with that shit. I was like, “Yo, you went off bro. You snapped.” I'm not gon' lie, his recording process, that shit is fire because he literally goes in a freestyles and it's like nothing to him. People don't give Yachty the credit that he deserves. He actually snaps. He actually says shit, he be coming with the metaphors and niggas don't give him credit for that. In my opinion, he's a good rapper—one of the best rappers out right now. From the new generation, there's a lot of niggas that don't really say shit but he a good rapper. He has different styles, he's versatile.
In December, you posted a photo of you and Drake together. How did you two meet?
Yo, it was so crazy because he's a humble-ass person. He's genuine. That's how I like people because that's how I am. The very first time I met him was in a club. To get to him, it's so much security. I was with one of my managers; he was like, “Whatever, I'ma introduce you to Drake.” But he seen me and his homeboy P Reign seen me, and he was like, “Yo, let him through.” They let me all the way through and I met him in the club. This is in Miami. The second time I really met him and we could talk without loud-ass music, I met him at a party. We was just talking and shit. He's a cool-ass person. He's humble. I fuck with him.
Do you and Drake have music in the works?
I don't know. You just gotta see what the future holds, see what happens. I would like to work with Drake, it would be cool.
You started out as a producer before getting into rap yourself. Are you still involved heavily on the production of your music?
Yeah, I started off producing first. I really didn't make beats for myself. People were not fucking with them at first. I had to use them myself and then people started grabbing them. I started producing for Pump—I produced his first songs. Lil Pump, Elementary, Johnny Dang, all that I produced. I moved over to rapping and that shit really took off—producing never really took off for me. Rapping took off and that's when I was able to go back to producing. Most of my songs—even “Audi”—I made that beat with Ronny [J]. Most of the beats I get on I made with the producer.
You co-produce them?
Yeah. Or just producing and letting the producer do their own shit. I just feel like I always gotta be a part of the beat. Since I produce, I know exactly how I want it to sound. So I feel like I always gotta be a part of it.
Your friend Lil Pump has recently been toying with production, too. Last month, he tweeted a snippet of a song that he says he produced. Have you helped Pump with that side of his artistry at all?
Nah. I tried to make him produce before. That beat, I never heard until the preview came out. So I don't know about that. But I helped him before. He probably just made that on his own.
What are your plans for the rest of 2018?
My plan for 2018 is to go even harder. I literally blew up Summer 2017, so I'm still getting used to everything. My plans for 2018 are to keep building, keep working, keep doing what I've been doing, just at another level.
See New Music Releases for March 2018