Put on by 88rising, Higher Brothers is gaining rapid momentum online as a talented Chinese rap group from Chengdu. They have racked up millions of views online and have a cultish fanbase. Stopping by Hong Kong for a show we chatted with them backstage.
How did you guys start working together?
DZ: In the beginning through the internet. Then we started living and making music together because it’s more convenient.
How were you guys before working together with 88rising?
MaSiWei: We started off by ourselves. We had a team in Cheng Du, and DZ is from Nan Jing, so we took him to the team and started making music. We had a team studio, and the three of us lived there together. We made music together until 88rising noticed us, and started working with us.
How did 88rising find you guys?
At a party; Chinese DJ Howie Lee played our song. They got our contacts and we started communicating.
What differences are there between current Chinese hip hop vs. the Chinese hip hop of 10 years ago?
The current music is much more impressive. The amount of people who listen to it has increased, and the number of people who make hip hop music has increased as well. It is also much more professional now. I remember in middle school, there were a couple of friends who also liked hip hop and we started to bond over these interests.
What do you think is the difference between American and Chinese hip hop?
American hip hop is much more traditional. It’s more open and people have more freedom to make whatever music.
Why is Cheng Du China’s hip hop hometown?
A while ago Cheng Du had a bunch of OJ people making music. Generation after generation people continued to make music, so it never stopped.
Which rapper do you guys most want to collaborate with? Migos. We are the American version of Higher Brothers. They are our Chinese neighbors.
What do you guys think of Rich Chigga and Keith Ape?
Cool. Super impressive. Swag. Also they are from Asia, so it’s super impressive and their style stands out a lot.
How did you guys react when watching Higher Brother´s reaction videos?
Super happy and feeling good inside. Feels so much swaggggggg.
After you guys became famous, who could pull the most chicks?
Psy.P: Me! Man, not only can I pull chicks, I pull and then give them to my homies.
Do you like your fans calling you “Snorlax”?
Whatever makes them happy.
“What do I see in the future through these Cartier in my frames?”
Toronto rapper KILLY released his video for “Killamonjaro” in February 2017 and with a steady flow of organic buzz, it’s since racked up over two million views. The eerie, lush production from GrayJacques paired with the young MC’s chaotic yet ethereal rhymes sounds like a perfect match.
“I recorded that song in my friend’s basement and we smoked a lot, and we drank a lot,” Killy tells Genius. “And we had fun. And I made that. You only have a certain amount of time physically on this planet, but you can leave a legacy that carries on for generations after.”
KILLY sat down with Genius for the latest episode of Verified, breaking down his breakout hit. Watch him go line-for-line with “Killamonjaro” in the video above, and then check out past episodes below.
Jay IDK is a rapper who has been on our radar for some time now. The young emcee established himself as a force to be reckoned with all the way back in 2014 with his debut mixtape Sex, Drugs and Homework, and he has had our attention ever since. Now, however, comes a big change. A big one.
It’s time to say goodbye to Jay IDK and hello to simply ‘IDK.’ In addition to a brand new moniker, IDK has undergone a serious switch-up in his aesthetic, one making its exclusive debut right here on Highsnobiety. We also caught up with IDK for a chat to discuss his rapid evolution, get his thoughts below.
So first and foremost, why the name change? Was there something in particular or a specific moment where the idea hit you?
Originally, when I first created my name behind bars, it was always supposed to just be IDK. It wasn’t until I got out that people adopted the “Jay” and added that in. For me IDK is just taking things back to the root of what I created years ago.
And the aesthetic as well, tell us a bit about your new look and what inspired it.
I just don’t give a fuck about what people think anymore. Right now it’s about what I like, and finding ways to separate myself. I’ve kinda always been that way. Changing my hair color or just having a different style, has been something that I’ve done since high school. Style is art, and I’m more of a Basquiat than a Claude Monet, you feel me? I always like to stand out and attract attention. I guess that’s the Gemini in me. You’re going to also see a lot of fitted hats. To me dad hats are dead… dead… sorry if you have a collection, I’m dealing with this now too. I’m constantly finding the next thing that a lot of people don’t really do.
Lastly, I have to say this before I leave this subject, remember this, quote this… in 2017 a lot of people ain’t really fly, they just wear expensive shit. They let the designers handle the art aspect for them and claim all the credit for being “fresh.” There’s nothing wrong with having help but when you act like it’s all you, that’s a form of plagiarism.. Ight next question.
I hear you also have a new tattoo? What is it? What does it signify to you?
HXLY stands for Hated By Others LOVED by you. This is our movement and what we believe in. I saw that fans were getting this tattoo before me, so I couldn’t let them be the only ones with it, when I’m the founder of the movement. It’s going to be one of many.
I understand you have an attachment to your Jordan 3’s, can you tell us a bit about that?
When I was in jail I saw a photo of Ye wearing them with leather pants and a fur coat. I fell in love with them ever since. Also, I just feel like it’s time for them to come back. The 3’s are my second favorite Jordans next to the 4’s, which I’ll explain at a later time. For me the 3’s go with everything! And like I said before, I like to stand out. No one is really on the 3’s anymore because they haven’t been re-released. It took me forever to find these. Right now I have multiple pairs of the Black Cement 3’s for this reason. So when you see everyone wearing these again, just know that IDK is one of the reasons.
This may seem blunt, but, why now?
I now have a new understanding of myself. Most people won’t admit this, but I am just now finding out who I really am. This is something that bothered me for years until I sat down and just said, “you know what… I’m gonna figure this out.” I literally wrote my life story from beginning to current times as much as I can remember it. It helped me find so many answers… and one was the origin of my name, my style and look.
Are you into astrology? Do you think one of your planets might be in retrograde?
I’m not heavily into astrology, and I don’t know what the fuck retrograde is, but fuck it… it sounds like it makes sense so yeah… retrograde time, peace.
When 17-year-old Indonesian native Brian Imanuel started writing songs in 2014, three years after posting comedy videos to YouTube and Twitter at the age of 13, he wasn’t expecting much to come of it. “I didn’t really know if I wanted to take music seriously, or it should be a one-off type thing,” he tells Rolling Stone. However, it wasn’t long before his single “Dat $tick” was making the rounds online, with a self-directed video that has garnered upwards of 54 million views since its posting in February, 2016. Suddenly, Imanuel – now better known by his stage name of Rich Chigga – was a viral sensation. “It was definitely intimidating at first. It’s such a new world for me, and it’s so foreign.”
Imanuel, who is now based in Los Angeles, doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge the role played by social media and the Internet not only in the swiftness of his rise, but also with regard to his ability to create publicly in the first place. “Social media definitely influenced a lot,” he recalls. “I just learned so much stuff on [the Internet]. I learned how to make videos, I learned how to make music, I learned English from the Internet. It’s such a great platform, too, to release your stuff. I just wanted to, on Twitter, build a following, and then post my work on there. That’s what I did, and it actually worked out.”
Despite his controversial name, for which he has expressed regret in numerous interviews, Imanuel tries to remain apolitical, especially with regard to American politics. “I actually honestly don’t look into politics that much,” he says. “I feel like I’m not at a place to say anything about that, because I feel like I don’t really know what to say. I just want people to love each other and accept each other and stop putting people down and stuff like that.”
He’s also hoping to follow in the footsteps of one of his formative idols, Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino), who he dreams of collaborating with in a movie or another capacity. “He’s my favorite person. I love him so much,” he says, “I’ve been watching his stuff since, like, when I was 13. It’s definitely a big influence. What he’s doing right now is what I’m trying to do.” That’s why he’s also currently at work on the debut full-length album as Rich Chigga, while simultaneously continuing film and comedy work, just like his hero.
His newfound foothold in America isn’t just sick beats and lyrics. When asked about the ongoing tensions in his hometown of Jakarta – where the city’s minority Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (also known as Ahok) was recently jailed after making a speech that the court declared blasphemous in a widely Islamic country – Imanuel is quick to add thoughts on the fears his family and others are feeling. “There are riots and stuff. Recently, people have been getting shot more often. It’s pretty scary.”
With the continuing violence, his parents are making an effort to move out of the country’s capital, from Jakarta to Bali, and have encouraged their son to extend his stay in the United States. Heeding their request, Imanuel has found himself on his own in America at just 17. Though not seeing his family very often continues to be jarring, the new environment doesn’t bother him much. “I love this place,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to move out here.”
Although he compares it to being away from his family at college, he readily admits higher-education isn’t in the cards.
“I was homeschooled, and the last time I’ve been in a class full of people is when I was in elementary [school]. I completely forget what that was like. Academic studies in general is not something that I’m very good at,” he says. “When I say homeschooled, I was homeschooled for like two years and then we just stopped. It was me and my parents, and they’d give me homework and stuff like that, but then one day, they just stopped. I would be at home every day on my computer, and that’s kind of how I learned most of my stuff. Academically, I’m quite fucked. But I think it’ll be good. No college for me.”
In this episode of Noisey & Friends, Texan rapper Maxo Kream serves us frozen treats, Cherry Glazerr gives an intimate performance of their song “Nurse Ratched,” and we watch Jazz Cartier get the facial of a lifetime. Also, we follow Tech N9ne to his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri to learn about his roots and tour his massive Strange Music HQ. Then Maxo Kream does some impressions for us. Stick around.
Resilient R&B artist Anne Dereaux treads through turmoil on her debut EP Book of Lolita. On the heels of her vivid single, “mo[u]rning,” Dereaux works through emotional and social unrest over the project’s six moving tracks. On “123,” her inflections illustrate the conflict in making risky decisions to provide for a child. And on “rock away,” she swims through heartbreak.
“We can all relate to how it feels to be broken by life, and I wanted to create a larger narrative about what happens when one is repeatedly broken,” Dereaux told The FADER over email.
“What makes good people do bad things, as a result of personal heartbreak, or as result of being disenfranchised. What are the consequences? I created a character to tell that story, Lolita. When you listen, try to imagine this as the score of a movie; following the life of a good girl who got hurt a few too many times, and took a few wrong turns.”
Rick Rubin lives a big life. He’s one of the most influential names in the music industry, having helped launch Def Jam Records and a countless number of mega celebrities since. So naturally, emulating his success—and all the good things that come along with it—is a thing.
New York’s own Jimi Tents goes hard in the Rubin paint on the song aptly titled “Rick Rubin.” It’s a standout track from Tents’ latest album, this past May’s I Can’t Go Home. It’s a track made for top down cruising and feeling your fantasy. Tents lives his own in the sun-kissed video, premiering here with NYLON Guys. Its SoCal vibes and visions of the luxe life are what summer dreams are made of. “I just wanted to create a really fun summer record,” Tents tells ys. “I really feel like this video fits the vibe of how care free the song is.” Why can’t every day be like this? Well, if you live like Rick Rubin, it can be.
KILLY: “It’s All About Energy” Toronto newest star speaks on his meteoric rise
It’s been a wild year for KILLY, the Toronto teenager who went viral with his incredible “Killamonjaro.” And while that song still goes, he followed it up with hit after hit—”Stolen Identity” and “Distance” exhibit the same raw energy and fiery flows, and KILLY’s stock is soaring as a result.
We spoke with KILLY to hear his side of the story—how he came to music, how the city and local artists like Jazz Cartier have responded, and why a song’s energy is really all that matters. Check it out above, and learn how artists like KILLY are changing rap here.
Trinidad James and ManMan Savage Take a Ride Around the Hood in “Father Figga” Video
Trinidad James$ drops the video for “Father Figga,” the title track from his new EP that drops today (July 28). The song and the video, which was shot by Vincent Lou Films, features Atlanta’s ManMan Savage and finds James and ManMan kicking it with the homies in the hood. The duo take a ride around the trap while taking in the scenery.
The former XXL Freshman always provides his fans with the crazy visuals. He portrayed three different characters in his “Di$respectful” video and his “Dad” visual was meme-worthy. “When the people want me to stop entertaining them with these videos they’ll let me know, Dad at it again,” Trinidad Jame$ says to XXL.
Father Figga is a 9-track EP that features Young Thug, Brother Joe and Madalen Duke, as well production from Sonny Digital, Ricky Racks, Nard n B and many more.
Australian Rapper Manu Crooks Levels Up on “Ridin'”
‘mood forever’ is set to drop this summer.
With each passing release, Manu Crooks is establishing himself as the next rapper out of Australia to make international waves. His mood forever release is right around the corner, and the lead-up has been marked by strong singles like “Blowin’ Up” and “Assumptions.” His moody delivery and trap-tinged production reaches new highs on “Ridin’,” which was written and recorded in Crooks’ native Sydney with producers Miracle and DOPAM!NE.
It’s a song that lays out the full range of Crooks’ influences. Raised in Australia and of Ghanaian descent, Crooks has distilled his experiences into something wholly unique. “Hearing the music that was being played even around the house growing up, it instills a certain rhythm in you,” Crooks said. “The whole African culture and sound is embedded deep within, it’s something I can’t really explain but it’s definitely special. Also living in Australia, it’s a very culturally diverse place and being around so many different nationalities is always so inspiring, for life not just music.”
With so much good music steadily coming through, it’s easy to miss some of the best. To help prevent this, we’ve rounded up the best songs from the past week. Here are the songs you can’t afford to skip, in no particular order.
KILLY – “Distance”
Killy had a viral hit on his hands with the hypnotic “Killamonjaro,” and now he’s back with another spaced-out track that looks to replicate that success. One of the things about Killy’s output so far, is that it sounds like his songs are one long hook, and “Distance” is the slickest example of this so far. The production from 100tones is low-key, but it’s definitely a key ingredient to what makes the track so addictive. “Distance” isn’t a flashy track by any means, but Killy sure knows how to leave an impression.—Joe Price
Noisey Beats 1: Fast Life, Twista, Lil Pump and Smokepurpp, and More
Tune into episode 103 of Noisey Radio on Beats 1 this Saturday at 9 AM EST/6 AM PST and Sunday 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST.
This week on Noisey Radio, we sit down with two of the most buzzing rappers in underground hip-hop, the unruly duo of Lil Pump and Smokepurpp. Then we catch up with Atlanta’s Fast Life who drops world premieres from his highly anticipated new EP, Fast Life Society Vol 1. Plus, don’t miss a check in with Chicago legend Twista.
T2 Ghetto Hippie feat. Maxo Kream *World Premiere*
D Flowers – Fell In Luv *World Premiere*
Twista – Happy Days feat. Supa Bwe
Fast Life – “Rolex State of Mind”
Bangladesh – “After Party (feat. Alley Boy, Future, Fast Life, CyHi The Prynce)”
Lil Wayne – “A Milli”
Yvng God – “Eye Pray (feat. Gucci Mane, Lil Yachty, Preme, Fast Life & Rich the Kid)”
Fast Life – “Juice (feat. Casey Veggies, Derek Watts)” *World Premiere*
Fast Life – “No Sweat” *World Premiere*
Lil Pump and Smokepurpp
Lil Pump – “Movin’ (feat. Smokepurpp)”
Lil Pump and Smokepurpp – “Broke My Wrist”
Lil Pump – “D Rose”
Smokepurpp – “Audi”
Smokepurpp – “Different Color Molly”
Lil Pump – “Molly”
DON MYKEL’S VIDEO FOR “RETURN OF THE DON” IS BREATHTAKING
Harlem-based emcee Don Mykel hits our pages with the premiere of the visuals for his new track “Return of The Don.” Tackling a sample-heavy instrumental with impeccable lyrics and razor-sharp flows, the rising rapper proves that his time is next while taking us on a tour of seemingly abandoned infrastructure.
KILLY, Canada’s Answer to Emo SoundCloud Rap, Shares “Distance” Video
Listen to his new song here.
Most of today’s biggest SoundCloud rappers are from the States, but Canada is proving that there is more beyond its OVO and XO offerings. A young, up-and-coming artist by the name of KILLY is the North’s answer to the likes of Lil Uzi Vert, XXXTENTACION and Lil Peep. While the Toronto native’s most popular track at the moment is “Killamonjaro,” which has racked up over half a million views on SoundCloud (and 1.6 mil on YouTube) since its release four months ago, his latest song/video for “Distance” has accumulated nearly 100 thousand views in less than 24 hours since the drop.
KILLY delivers catchy melodies over a synth-laced instrumental produced by 100tones. The visual, directed by limitedvision, finds the rapper hanging around Vancouver’s BC Place, Gastown and other areas; scenes from Dragon Ball Z are interweaved between some of the shots. Watch the music video above and stay tuned for more from the up-and-coming rapper.
When The East Is In The House: Clash Meets Rich Chigga
Internet icon Rich Chigga on his unexpected rise as Asia’s hottest rap export…
When 17-year-old Brian Imanuel from Jakarta, Indonesia pulled on a pink polo shirt and fastened a fanny pack around his waist, he had no idea how his life was about to change.
He’d originally been planning to dress in ultra-cool fashion that day, but changed his mind last minute. Coupled with the incredibly violent lyrics he was about to deliver, he thought the contrast of “white dad” attire would provide a necessary contrast.
For the career of his rap alter-ego Rich Chigga, it was perhaps the best decision he ever made.
‘Dat $tick’, the video he created that day, would become an international success when YouTube channel 88Rising, who dedicate themselves to celebrating global Asian culture, created a short clip in which they’d record rappers – including Ghostface Killah, Cam’ron, Desiigner, Tory Lanez, 21 Savage and Flatbush Zombies – reactions to the video.
The majority of the rappers involved were taken by surprise initially, but praised Brian’s skills as a rapper. Ghostface enthusiastically demands “Let me get on that!” delivering a verse for the remix which would be released a few months later.
Since then, Brian has made it out to the US where he played a handful of headline shows, delivered features for Skrillex and Diplo, surprised Post Malone with a Mariachi band and even sat down to be interviewed by Pharrell Williams on Beats 1.
We caught up with Brian to discuss the rise of Rich Chigga…
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In your mind is Rich Chigga you or is it like an alter ego type of thing?
I think it’s just like a part of me, that’s like somewhere in the back of my head but I just don’t show it when I’m talking to people. So it’s kind of nice to say things that you’re not able to in real life, to say it on a song is really cool.
When you broke through with the ‘Dat $tick’ video, a lot of the commentary surrounding it regarded the way you were dressed, with the pink polo shirt and fanny pack. What made you choose to present yourself in that way?
It was just part of the concept. At first, I was going to dress all cool and stylish and all that. Last minute I was like, “Maybe because the song sounds so serious, maybe I should do something different with the video. Maybe I should make it kind of comedic almost, but at the same time it was cool as shit so.”
I thought about the polo shirt and the fanny pack – that’s like the classic like white dad look – and I’m like, “Damn. If I wear that it could either completely ruin it or make it really good.” I thought about it for a while and then wrote a full concept behind it. So it turned out pretty good I think.
What was the first hip-hop that you started listening to?
I started listening to hip-hop in 2012 when my first American friend introduced me to it. I mean, I heard hip-hop around before but back then I only heard super old school stuff.
In 2012 I started listening to Drake, 2 Chainz, Kanye, Macklemore, Logic and a bunch of other stuff. But the first song that I tried rapping to was actually Macklemore, ‘Thrift Shop’ and that was when my English was really bad. Learning how to rap actually improved my pronunciation a lot back then. That’s also why I really like hip-hop too and I got super deep into it.
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I wasn’t trying to actually make rap songs at all, I just loved hip-hop…
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What made you progress from being a rap fan, to giving it a go yourself?
In 2012 I wasn’t trying to actually make rap songs at all, I just loved hip-hop. But 2014 was when I made my first song, and that was just me fucking around using my iPhone microphone. I was rapping something that barely even rhymed over an MF DOOM beat. I’m like, “Damn, this is really fun, I should keep doing this.”
I did some more. I uploaded them to a SoundCloud, and my friends liked it, so I was like, “Damn. I should start doing this seriously.” I know now your references seem to be more like Tyler, The Creator, $uicideboy$, Awful Records and stuff.
When did you start getting in to that?
I started getting into that about two years ago, I think. For Awful Records, I started listening to Father first, and then I found him through this song ‘Nokia’ that he did with iLoveMakonnen. Tyler, ‘Yonkers’, I guess we were deep into that and just the whole Odd Future and Earl Sweatshirt, it was just so cool to me. $uicideboy$, I found them through Pouya.
What is the hip-hop scene like in Indonesia?
For the mainstream stuff now, Kanye, Drake, and all that stuff, a lot of people listen to that here. But the people who listen to the rare stuff, the more underground stuff, is very small. Hip-hop is still super small over here, I can tell it’s definitely getting bigger though.
A few of my friends told me that since ‘Dat $tick’ blew up, Indonesian people are more in to hip-hop now. EDM is currently the biggest thing here right now, it’s really fucking annoying. But people are definitely starting to get into hip-hop more.
I guess one of the videos that put a lot of people onto your music was the 88 Rising clip where different rappers reacted to watching ‘Dat $tick’. How was the experience of watching that?
That was really crazy. Especially seeing Ghostface. I listen to all of them; Flatbush Zombies, that was also crazy. But having Ghostface saying that he wants to get on that song is the craziest thing that ever happened to me. I was so excited, I called my mom. That was a crazy time. It was like all of my idols criticising my stuff. And they liked it.
Even though Ghostface said that, it was still a surprise when he actually kept his word and delivered a verse for the remix… It was so fast. After that video, he sent the verse super fast. I was like, “Woah, what the fuck. That was quick.” It’s so crazy to hear his voice on the ‘Dat $tick’ beat because before that, I was just getting in to him. Getting in to Wu-Tang Clan.
Every day I try to find new music on YouTube mostly. If I do get in to something, I get in to it for like weeks and months. I was just getting in to Wu-Tang stuff, and that was crazy.
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Writing real stuff is what gives you character. It’s what makes you different.
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I know that you’re a big fan of Pouya also, how did he get involved in the remix?
Pouya was crazy. When I released the original ‘Dat $tick’ video, my plan was to get his attention on Twitter and then have him follow me. And it actually happened. After ‘Dat $tick’, he found me and he followed me.
I DM#d him like, “Yo, we’re doing this remix and Ghostface Killah is going to be on it. Do you want to be on it?” And he was like, “Hell yeah, man.”
He got on it, and then I also told him that whole plan of how I wanted him to follow me, and he was like, “Shit, I’m glad your plan worked out, man.” He’s a super nice guy.
It seems like you really go back and do your homework. Obviously there’s been a lot of debate lately around whether up-and-coming artists need to know their history, do you think that’s important?
I don’t think it’s important. I feel like at least if you’re going to call yourself a rapper, or if you want to do hip-hop, the least you could do is respect them. That’s the least you could do. Don’t talk shit about them, basically, is all I’m saying.
I’m not going to say I know all the old school shit that people like. I definitely respect them. There’s always been this notion of “keeping it real” in hip-hop, that’s been diluted as years have gone by.
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Don’t talk shit about them, basically, is all I’m saying.
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Do you think that that’s irrelevant now?
‘Dat $tick’ was just me fucking around, to be honest. I just cared about it sounding good. I wasn’t really paying attention to the lyrics that much and I just thought at the time. I listened to a lot of gangsta rap and violent lyrics, so that’s kind of what influenced me. Now, I kind of want to stay away from that.
Sometimes when I write stuff I kind of want to make it fictional, but at the same time there’s kind of a thin line between fictional rap and trying to be hard rap. Sometimes I also just want to write real stuff. Just write what I’m thinking in my head.
Writing real stuff is what gives you character. It’s what makes you different. For other people. The stuff that I’m writing now is definitely not going to be about violent shit or ‘fuck the police’ because that’s not what I’m about at all.
People always seem genuinely really surprised that you’re a good rapper, which feels bittersweet, because why should you not be? How do you feel about that?
I think I understand. That’s actually kind of the whole point of the video, because the way I look, the way I dress up too. I’m also like skinny as shit; It’s definitely understandable that they think that way.
That’s kind of what I was thinking, too, when I wrote the concept, “Damn. If I do this, I bet they’re going to be not expecting it.” Yeah, having them say that, it kind of makes me happy that it works.
Moving forward, what do you want people to be able to take from Rich Chigga?
With the music that I make I really want people to feel emotions. I’m not going to be writing all emotional stuff, but I want to make something interesting. I don’t want to be the same as everyone, definitely. I want to make something that people can turn up to, and I also want to make stuff that can make people cry, because that’s the best type of music.
I want to make people feel emotions with everything that I do. If I’m making a short film, or videos, or music, or comedy stuff. I just like making people feel a certain way. Just leaving an impression. That’s an important thing to me, leaving an impression. Making them come back.