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New Orleans up-and-comer Kidd Kidd has some of the biggest co-signs in his arsenal. From his initial signing under Lil Wayne to his recent alliance with 50 Cent on G-Unit Records in 2011, the Kidd is finally growing into his own.
Here, he discusses the rough-and-tumble of the industry (literally) from his alleged participation in the BET showdown between Fif and MMG rapper Gunplay to the empire he hopes to build.
Let’s talk about your earliest memory of rapping. How old were you?
I had to be like about eight or nine.
Do you remember the song?
It was just something about waking up and not wanting to go to school.
Do you remember the artist?
It was me.
So, at eight you were rapping your own stuff?
How did your songwriting evolve? Was English your favorite subject in school?
It really became just a hobby. I was always just into stuff and I would just write about it. For a minute, I only kept it to myself. I was shy to let people know I was rapping. As time went on, it started becoming noticeable because I was going to school with a folder, notebooks, and they were like "Well, what you writing?" My friends liked to go on rapping so I just started rapping for them. The rest is history but I would’ve never thought I’d be here.
What were some of the things you were rapping about at that age?
Hard life, how I wanted Jordans and couldn’t get em. Now I make sure I try to get every pair I can.
How did growing up in New Orleans shape you as a person?
It made me real humble because I wanted to get my people and everybody from outta there. Even before Katrina, it’s a struggle out there.
You recently put out a song called "New Warleans." How did Hurricane Katrina effect you personally?
My grandfather got caught up in the storm. Unfortunately, that affected me a lot. Basically, having to move with all of my family with nothing, like we didn’t have nothing but a car. Imagine like eight people trying to get into a car with bags and clothes that you saved sitting on top of you. You got children in the car. It was crazy. Then when you get out there to Texas [where I moved to], you lost because you don’t know what to do, where to go, you don’t know anybody out there.
That was probably the moment when you were like I got to make it.
Yeah, of course. Something gotta shake man, for real. That’s all you could think about it. Something has to shake.
Now for the people who aren’t really aware of your story, break down how you got signed.
I got signed to G-Unit through this song that I did called “Better Walk.” It was crazy because I got the track and it had 50 already on the hook. I shot the video for it and someone told him about the song. He did some research on me and was like ‘I like this dude.’ He just reached out to me. I don’t know how. I guess when you got money you can reach out to anybody because I don’t know how he got in touch with me. It was like 2, 3 in the morning and I got a call from Fif.
What was that conversation like?
The conversation was crazy because he was in New Orleans filming a movie and I was in New York on 134th and Guy Brewer and Rochdale, in his hood. He just was like, ‘I want to meet you. When you coming back to New Orleans?' I’m like 'I’m on the next flight. I’ll be there in the morning.' I went down there to New Orleans and met him on the movie set that he was shooting. He had a van with the studio built in it. I guess he probably wanted to see how fast I work. He was like ‘I got these joints. I want to hear how you sound on it.’ He went to do a few scenes. He was hoping that I would take the joints and go home and write to them. I got to them right then and there.
How many songs did you bang out?
I did two within like an hour and a half. He comes back, so I’m like ‘Listen to what I did on the track.’ He was like ‘You did it? Damn!’ That was fast. Right then and there he was impressed with my work ethic. From there we just kept building. We was talking about what we were going to do in the future and I was all for it because he’s a real dude. For him to reach out to me personally, I respected that to the fullest. A lot of people don’t know that, but he does a lot of things that he doesn’t have to do. Around the time I was down there when I met him, I was throwing a party and he came. It was at one of the most grimiest hood clubs in New Orleans and he came. He performed the "Better Walk" song with me and that let me know he liked that song, because he was performing the words with me, everything. That was real.
What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned from him?
Everything is business. Look at everything as can you feed your family with this? Don’t just move on the first thing. Take your time and think about it before you do it.
Do you eventually want to have like your own empire, the same way that he does?
Of course. Rider Gang came from my hood and my peers. That’s another reason why I respect Fif: he didn’t try to change anything. He’s like 'I’m with you and Rider Gang, let's get it poppin'. He brought [Precious] Paris to the group.
What’s the status with everybody on G-Unit right now?
I can’t really elaborate on everybody’s status because I don’t try to be in everybody’s business. It’s still a unit and the unit’s still strong for real for real. Don’t get mislead with the Lloyd Banks [situation] because a lot of people do that a lot. To me, we all still a family.
Recall the time you spent working with Lil Wayne.
We were all in a group called Squad Up. When we was doing mixtapes, it was like just us and Dipset at the time. But eventually, you grow apart. You get tired of just being that dude in the background and I just wanted to put my music out there.
Is that why you separated from them?
Certain people you can be around.
Is that the hardest industry lesson you’ve learned so far?
Don’t believe everything in the industry. A lot of it is fake. Most of it is just Hollywood talk. When you so used to being around real people and you meet these people that you so called look up to, you listen to their music everyday and you think they’re one way [but] they’re a diva. It makes you feel like, 'Man, I’ll punch him in his face.' You got to adjust to that and learn to calm down and just know that it’s all entertainment. Everything is entertainment with the industry.
Have you seen or spoken to Lil Wayne since everything that’s happened?
Nah. Like the people that’s around him that’s from New Orleans, I still see them every now and then. I be like like ‘Tell him I said whatsup.’ It’s no bad blood, no hard feelings, because at the end of the day he still gave me the opportunity to showcase my talent to the world and put out "Mrs. Officer." That’s the biggest thing that ever happened for me. I’m mad I wasn’t in the video though but it’s all good.
Why didn't you appear in the video?
The story behind that is real, real crazy. a lot of people don’t know that and from that situation is what really separated [me and Wayne]. During the time of the shoot, there was hurricane Gustav going on so a lot of my people evacuated with nowhere to go and no money. So of course, they depending on me. As long as I been with Wayne for years, I never had to ask him for nothing. I’m just going to work and I’ma get what I get. I’m really sad and mad I have to say this but when we were in Atlanta [for the shoot], we really had to get it out the mud just to come up with the money to get [his people] back: money for their hotel room while they was out there, stuff like that. [Wayne] doesn’t know all this is going on. I get back to New Orleans and I get the call like ‘Wayne’s shooting the video, where you at?' I’m like, 'What video?' So I called [him], passed my little words and that was that. I just felt like we needed to holler at each other about that. From that point, I never talked to him because I’m a man at the end of the day. I got pride too. Do you know what that video would’ve did for me?
You might’ve been in a different situation right now.
Right, I was just like man, nah I’m not just about to go back around knowing that you played me. Because at the end of the day I’m going to say something about it. I just couldn’t do it. I just stayed on my grind and the Lord put me here.
Do you think that’s why you and 50 get along so much better, because you can kind of identify with his struggle?
I read that you got hit six times.
I met Fif like two weeks before that happened to me. When it happened to me, he was actually one of the first people to call my phone when I was on the hospital bed. Like I said, he do a lot of things he doesn’t have to do. He was just talking to me about what happened to me when he got shot, how the labels backed up from him and everybody didn’t want to mess with him. He was like ‘I’m letting you know it ain’t like that. I feel your struggle. We gon’ keep it going. You just make sure you get better. We gon’ keep it going.' That’s all I needed to hear.
What’s the status of his money team right now?
Like I said it’s the industry, its entertainment. You look at a person like Floyd Mayweather, he’s an entertainer. He made himself more than just a boxer. Not too many boxers throw parties in the clubs and popping bottles. I’ve been around Floyd and Fif. As long as I’ve been around him, I know he’s not going to be around you if he doesn’t fool with you. He gotta have some type of respect and love for you to be with you. How he was with Floyd, they was like damn near brothers. So once I seen everything on Twitter, seeing stuff Floyd and Fif posting, I’m just like they probably had a little disagreement. At the end of the day, they both was buzzing.
Speaking of Hollywood, there were a lot of reports saying you were on Fif's side during the BET Awards showdown between him and Gunplay. What really went down?
People gotta understand, Fif is a real dude. You got a problem with somebody you going to address it right?
So who stepped to who first?
Fif told dude something like ‘You know you in the wrong place right now.’ It really comes from [the mentality that] if I can’t get to you and I see somebody who you’re cool with, I’m going to get at them. That’s just how it goes, guilty by association.
Does 50 have Gunplay's chain?
That’s obvious man.
What are you hoping to bring to the rap game that’s different from what’s going on right now?
I’m trying to bring back that 'Pac feeling. My music is raw and it’s real. Whether you like it or not it’s in your face and I feel like nobody came like that since Pac. That’s just how I grew up.
Any upcoming projects or collaborations in the works?
The mixtape I’m going to be dropping is called All On Me. There’s no set date [for release yet].
Who are you working with?
[50's] a no brainer. Jim Jones for sure.
Who would you want to collaborate with that you haven’t yet?
I would like to collaborate with Kendrick [Lamar]. I met him at the G-Unit office. He’s one of those guys that knew me during the ‘Squad Up’ days, from the old mixtapes with Wayne.
So you got something cooking?
Hopefully! He’s too big right now.I gotta drop a few singles first.
Shouts to Adelle Platon for the great article.