Snootie Wild Talks Crazy Shootouts, Boosie Badazz’s Advice & ‘Ain’t No Stoppin Me’ Mixtape [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
It's an uncharacteristically lukewarm day in New York City in early May. Instead of T-shirts, jackets and hoodies are the fashion choice of most New Yorkers given the chilly conditions. While midtown Manhattan may as well be Jupiter in the eyes of Memphis, Tenn. native Snootie Wild, he seems to have fallen in line with the city's de facto dress code and is donning a black hoodie with the words "Streets Is Watching" emblazoned across the front as he makes his way inside The Boombox office.
The statement may be fashionable, but it's relevant to the tall, lanky rapper's life when you take into account his recent success with his block boy-inspired anthem, "Yayo," which has been a fan favorite for everyone from DJs to the average square for it's rollicking beat and catchy lyrics.
Snootie initially caught the ear of fellow Memphis native Yo Gotti -- who remixed his burgeoning hit and tacked it onto his Nov 19th mixtape -- and signed him to his CMG imprint through Epic Records in late 2013. Capitalizing on that success with the release of his Go Mode EP in 2014, the rhymer looks to move from promising prospect to full-blown star with his recently released mixtape, Ain't No Stoppin Me, as well as a forthcoming debut album slated for release this summer.
Accompanied by his manager, road handler, a camera guy and publicist during his interview, Snootie's demeanor is a stark contrast from the amped-up brick layer portrayed on his breakthrough single. He's quite composed and even-keeled, albeit with an underlying presence that makes you doubt not one word portrayed in his raps.
We chopped it up with Snootie Wild about his southern upbringing, lessons learned in the streets and during his time in prison as well as what he has in store musically. He even shares advice from Boosie Badazz and the significance of 8 Ball & MJG and Three 6 Mafia. Get involved in the conversation below.
The Boombox: You're from Memphis. How did being raised there shape you as an artist?
Snootie Wild: A majority of the things we listened to was from Memphis, from Project Pat to Playa Fly to Three 6 Mafia and Yo Gotti. So me coming from out of the projects of North Memphis and straight out of that penitentiary, it's like I [was] groomed there. I don't know nothing but Memphis. I get to give the world that real Memphis flavor of what we got going on, from the good and the bad and I ain't gonna hold back. So I'm gonna make sure the world hear it.
What was your childhood like growing up in Memphis?
As a younging, we was area to area. We was from North Memphis to South Memphis to Westwood. We just couldn't afford a stable spot. That's why I am Memphis, 'cause I done lived everywhere around Memphis you can think of -- by force not choice. So other than that, when I got out of prison, it wasn't no problem for me going or moving out of my hood to another area without being known. So that gave me the ability to really spread my wings on my music and be able to just go from area to area and all of them respect me even though they don't respect each other. They respect me, respect what I got going on, respect what I'm trying to do because of where I came from and it was nothing. And what I was saying on that CD was just the truth and they felt the regard and it was straight up respect.
What was the process behind the "Yayo" and what inspired the concept behind the record?
First of all, just speaking facts, at that time Memphis was in a drought when it came down to that yayo. So whoever had it, man, it was like, people was going crazy for it -- robbing, killings. The streets was dry.
If you don't got that then the money stops flowing and people get desperate.
Exactly. It was more like a statement. I didn't even know it was gonna go that far; it was just due to the point that my city was listening and rocking with me. And I knew what was going on in the streets and I felt like going out and making a statement and letting 'em know what it is, how I feel and how it's gonna happen. And of course I'm gonna make it into a song where they can rock to it, but it was direct for what it was. And I guess the world felt it. I see now that's what the world wants. I don't care who you are, you can't deny real. You can't deny the truth, you can't deny what's raw.
Definitely. You used a lot of Latin lingo on that record and you pulled it off better than most. Do you have any Hispanic roots?
Yeah, most definitely, I got Spanish in my family. Them Porters out there in L.A. We got black, white, Hispanic. So, of course I was gonna be comfortable speaking that lingo because I got family members that's vatos. I'm stamped any way it goes on each side. This ain't fugazi, this ain't fakeness over here, it's straight raw. It is what it is.
Watch Snootie Wild's "Yayo" Video Feat. Yo Gotti
How do you think that affected or influenced you as a person? Looking at you, many would peg you as a black dude from your appearance, so how did those different experiences shape you?
Of course, where I come from, there ain't that many mixes. I would consider myself a mixed breed in my city regardless. When I step out of the city and go to New York or L.A., it's mixes and different cultures so you don't stand out as much. But at the same time, when you get around your kind, they know. They see [it]. It's like the same thing as being black, you know, you're comfortable around your kind. So of course when Hispanics hear me and see me, they know.
You spent four years in prison prior to blowing up, right?
What was the story behind that?
S---, just going wrong, man, making the wrong mistakes in my life at 18. I had to man up to them mistakes, you dig. They waited 'til I was 21 to bury me over. After that, I ain't see daylight 'til I was 25.
What did that time tell you about yourself and what were some of the things that kept you sane going through that experience?
Music was one of 'em. Music was an outlet to the free world. Then, you know, in the prison area, it's a whole music world on its own. I think the best music comes out of prison. And then you got the guards; it's undeniable that they love the music, the rawness and the creativity of it. So it becomes your world; it becomes your outlet. It's a freedom. It becomes a part of you. First it was a hobby, then the hobby becomes your life. The music becomes your bread and butter. On a whole 'nother scale though. You're battling for freedom and food while people out on the streets battling for a chick. So when you get out in the free world and realize that's what you gotta go against...
It's like smooth sailing.
Well, prison is not a place that you want to be, but how did you use that time to your advantage?
You always can find something good in a bad situation and I learned that in prison. And of course, all the good that I could get out of it, I did that. You still got your flaws mentally because you still gotta grow because you was entrapped. You gotta understand and respect that you was boxed in and they wasn't. So you still gotta grow, like a flower. You box a flower in, ain't gonna grow, right? It's gonna die off. So, you was boxed in, so you just gotta grow as a flower so you'll still come out as as unique person and different from them.
Did you meet anybody in there that you clicked with on a personal level?
Shout out to my man Casper. I got a cat named Casper. He just moved to Las Vegas but he's from North Memphis as well. We did a few years, about a year-and-a-half in there together before they separated us. Matter of fact, he doing good out there in Vegas. I don't give a damn what a person doing as long as you're free and growing and you happy. That's better than prison 'cause a lot of people can't bounce back.
You got your rap name from your pops, who was also in the streets himself. Was there a moment you can pinpoint where you realized that he was in the streets?
I ain't even gonna lie, man. My pop always been a direct person. That's how I am with my people. And most people -- especially women -- definitely don't understand that. They're like, "Why are you allowing him to see that, why are you allowing him to hear that?" And ti's because he's giving us a chance to make a choice and see at an early age what's good and what's not, what's good for us and what's not for us. And some people get hid from the truth. And when you get hid from the truth, it becomes your crutch because you wouldn't know how to deal with it once you gotta come across it.
In the world of business, I don't care what you do, you gonna come across them scams, you gonna come across them hustlas, you're gonna come across them out-talkers. And you gonna know what is what and which is which from a distance, from afar. So I don't ever take what my father did or showed me as as negative at all. I really appreciate the principals and all that.
There's a lot of morals and principals grounded in that life as well.
Exactly. And that's a blessing.
What's the wildest situation that you've been in the streets that you can speak of where you thought you may not make it out of?
It's been several times, man, Rest in Peace to Real Rico Davis. I've been in wild shootouts at a young age and not knowing better, you know. This before the prison system. You don't have fear for something you don't know nothing about or you've never experienced. It could be death, it could be prison.
Because it's just a game to you and it's not really real.
Exactly, It's a rush. But that's the foolishness and the blindness of a child though, right? And that's the most wildest, when I felt like I was playing Russian Roulette with my life and didn't even know it. Me and my partner would go out and get our money, we'd come back, bullets flying over our heads. We'd get in the car laughing, not knowing that it only takes one bullet. Until that day comes where y'all hop in the car and one of y'all ain't there. And that's when it gets real and it ain't funny no more.
Watch Snootie Wild's "Rich or Not" Video
You've talked about having doubters back in your hometown and people who may not have believed in you. Is there one you remember that really pushed you to go extra hard with your music career?
It was that one thing, to be honest with you. It was just one. I'll never forget. It was a partner of ours, he was like a family member, named Kam Stewart. We was standing on our steps. My cousin just lost his job from having to pay child support and court costs and fines, so we sitting there trying to find out how we gonna get this bread up to keep pushing this music and make it happen for ourselves.
He was telling us it takes two to three years and the situation we was in -- I was homeless -- and we didn't have no two to three years. So I'm looking at him arguing with him over a statement, over something he just feels is fact. Kam Stewart probably don't even know he gave me that extra flame to turn two to three years into six months. And that's why I'm here. I was so zoned out off the motivation of that. I had to show 'em. I had to show people that either God don't exist or he do.
And it's either gonna happen or it's not. When there's a will there's a way.
Your signed to Yo Gotti's record label. How do you both click aside from the music?
From us being from the same block, same area, it's like we got the same vision. It's crazy 'cause people from my block, we ain't too quick to click [with other people from our area] if you ain't raised with each other. Just 'cause you from the same area don't mean s---. We more skeptical of each other than we'd be if we were in another area. But we feel like we got the most game, so we'll go down to South Memphis and Westwood and finesse and speak out and see what we come up on, but when it comes down to a North Memphis n---- talking to another North Memphis n----, it's more skeptical, he's watching you.
When we first met it was strictly business, making it make sense and making the single get to where it needed to go and we did that. And we did that together and I think that made him gain more respect toward me. At the same time that's going, now we need to pay attention to each other. Who are we, who is this cat? And him doing that gave me the opportunity to show him that I can move by myself independently like a boss, something he's trying to create anyway.
Rather than having to hold your hand.
Exactly. So as him getting to watch me as a person, he got a chance to watch a businessman grow and do things independently or Ain't No Stoppin Me wouldn't be here.
What's the best experience or moment that you've had in the music industry so far where you were like, "Yeah, I really did this and I've finally arrived"?
Soon as "Yayo" took off. I wake up, I got 10 bands in the drawer and I don't even know what to do with that. And we getting more phone calls, we booked for the whole year. I'm here.
Ain't no flash in the pan thing, like you're taking off.
We gone. I got a chance to do a tour with Gotti for his new album that came out, I Am, that's in stores. So, boom, I go do a concert, it's 3,000 people-plus [in North Carolina]. They dropped that "Yayo" and before I even got a word out, 3,000 people screaming my song, word for word.
What's the best advice that you've received from an artist outside of Yo Gotti that you've come across or respect?
Shout out to Boosie [Badazz]. Shout out to K Camp. They both said similar things, man, "Just keep working, just keep going. You don't have no friends in this business." You just gotta know the ones that's genuine from the vampires. And I learned that from both of them being in the game a little longer than me. Me talking to K Camp around that time when he was giving me those pointers, I didn't even know he was in the game for as long he was. It's just that he was in the game a minute before he popped off. We popped off at the same time, but he been in the game for four years, so of course I needed that advice from him.
You just dropped your mixtape, Ain't No Stoppin Me. What song did you have the most fun recording or you're most excited for people to hear?
"Life Like This Before." Make sure y'all look out for that and listen to that track. It's just speaking to people and letting em know what it is, point blank, on how I look at this. 'Cause a lot of people ask me a lot of weird ass questions like, "Are you excited? How do I feel or how it feel to have the No. 1 song being in the Top 10" and I don't know. I feel like I'm working, it feels like I'm getting away from where I was at and where I most definitely didn't wanna be.
What features do you have on the project?
We got Boosie on there, we got Yo Gotti. We got Chinx, shout out to Coke Boys, on there. We got Gunplay, that's a real cat, that's a humble person that's been through a lot himself, so me and him. We vibe real good, man. That's about it on that mixtape because we got that album coming two months behind that, but other than that, I had to deal with those cats. Shout out to K Camp.
What do you want the listeners to take away from the tape, as far as you as an artist and as a person?
I was killing two birds with one stone due to the point I feel like it was a wait. It was an overdue project. So I really gave them the best of both worlds with Snootie and gave 'em different genres and how I came through and how I deliver as a hip-hop rapper and as an R&B rapper. So of course I gave them my own flavors and I delivered more of the truth on who I am and what's going on in these streets as much as just trying to give them a club feel with a club song. I think I gave 'em a street feel about life with the club sound so you can bang it in the club and still hear what I'm trying to say.
Who did you connect with as far as production?
Best part about Snootie Wild is he ain't got no favorites when it comes to just vibing with people. We done got 'em all, we done got it in wit' 'em all. Shout out to Renegade, shout out to Clay. 808 Mafia. 30 Rock. Big Wayne, we got em all. DJ Squeaky from Memphis. We snatched 'em from all genres and put 'em all together and made 'em make sense for the mixtape.
About the album, do you have a title or anything you want to tell the people about it?
Y'all can just look out for it, man.
Three 6 Mafia or 8 Ball & MJG?
I deal with 'em all. I grew up off all of 'em. I really don't have a pick on that. Both of 'em had the city in they own way. Memphis ain't that big so of course Three 6 Mafia, 8 Ball and MJG, they both had the city in their own way and they had it in a major way. I guess that's why our people was proud in the area and was so stuck on our music 'cause wasn't no reason to go out of the box when you got all these hits coming from one city. But shout out to all of them cats.
What's your favorite album from both of them or something about each group that did it for you?
I can pinpoint it out like this. With Three 6 Mafia, what really grabbed me is when they came out with Project Pat, point blank, period. And with 8 Ball & MJG, just them going out of Memphis and bringing that Texas swag back to Memphis like that. They gave it a whole different spin on what Pat and what Three 6 Mafia was talking about and that's why I say they both had they lane and had the city in they own way.
Listen to Snootie Wild's Ain't No Stoppin Me Mixtape