On April 30th, Rittz will release his Strange Music debut The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant. The metro Atlanta rapper, who got his chops on Yelawolf's breakout Trunk Muzik 0-60, was signed to Tech N9ne’s Strange Music Inc. in 2012. Rittz stopped by the XXL headquarters earlier this week to talk about his debut album, which leaked on the internet a few days beforehand. The man known as “White Jesus” didn’t seem too perturbed, and was happy to let us pick his brain (or should we say mane?) about music, booze, hair maintenance and more.— Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)

We saw you tweeted earlier today about the album leaking. How did you take that news?

In a way it kinda sucks ‘cause every time you hear it you’re like ‘Damn.’ But at the same time, I have so much room to grow as far as a fan base. I’m just so proud of this album and I think it’s so good that even if it leaked early, maybe more people will start talking about it and cause awareness and get people to actually go and buy the album. I think it might actually help more than hurt in my situation.

Leaks aside, what can you tell us about The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant?

It’s just real music, man. It’s real personal. There’s some deep songs on there and it’s a really great album. It’s a lot of DJ Burn One production. Production from Lifted. A lot of different features I got on there, but really it’s a personal album that kind of just lets you in to see who I am as a person, and just my journey that got me where I’m at today. There’s so many songs of mine that I tell stories or my own story that everybody can relate to. You don’t have to be from a certain status type or certain ethnic background. You don’t have to be a rapper. There’s just something in my music that I try to get to the average person that will give them those goosebumps like “Man, that’s my shit.” That’s the type of rapper that I wanna be known for. Somebody that everybody can relate to that deals with the struggle.

You've got a pretty distinct flow. Where did that come from?

I'm really big on matching syllables. The double time is what you're referring to, but before that, I was always trying to be real intricate and make sure all the words match in and out of all the rhymes. Twista and Bone are definitely early influences. I used to be at the football games in ninth grade trying to do the Bone Thugz verses. I used to be real fast back then. But I kinda developed my shit from using techniques from them and then Andre 3000 and Eminem and my own shit, and just kind of made it my own.

Your hair is pretty out of control. How long have you been growing that out?

Shit, a long time bro. I started growing my hair out in 2003, 2004. Really it should be long as hell, but if you stop cutting this shit then it actually stops growing. It’s really been since about 2004, but I cut it every now and then just to trim it up.

Does it cause problems for you?

 Yeah, man. It’s a pain in the ass. On video shoots there’s hair in my mouth and the wind’s blowing. Fucking summertime I can’t go to a wedding. I can’t go to a proper place to eat without looking like a dick.

What’s the upkeep entail?

Mane & Tail man [laughs]. I’m just kidding. Just wash it up, blow dry, pick it out and it’s a wrap. It’s a look that I’ve developed, and it’s my shit but yeah, it’s a real pain in my ass. It’s not cool right before a show when I’m like “Hold on, man. I gotta shower and blow dry my hair out.” It’s a pain in the ass to maintain and it’s just hot. When I’m on stage, rapping fast, it’s crazy. It’s like a fur coat around my face. On this video shoot we just did, “Switch Lanes” with Mike Posner out in LA. So we’re riding in a convertible and those are just things you gotta think about. Why the fuck would that be an issue? It shouldn’t be but it is, ‘cause I got all this hair. So I’m trying to ride around and rap and there’s just hair all in my grill. The whole time! I remember another time in Colorado a hat fell of when I was performing. The fans were obviously expecting this magical afro to come out and when it was just like long white guy hair they were like ‘Oh shit. That muthafucka looks crazy”

You do look kind of crazy. Do you drink or smoke?

Yeah, I'm a raging alcoholic. I'm not proud of it. I drink Canadian whiskey, anything brown. I smoke weed when I get fucked up. I smoked weed all my life, since I was a little kid. Did a lot of drugs, a lot of partying and I think now that I've gotten older I had to have some kind of vice to get a buzz and it ended up being alcohol. So it's a little rough habit of mine but it does the trick.

Drink of choice?

Crown Royal. Crown and Coke. Crown and ginger ale. Crown is my shit.