Road to Paid Dues: Q&A with Skeme
Reppin: Inglewood, CA
Stage/Set Time: Dues Paid Stage 1:40 p.m.
As much as critics across every inch of the country buzz about the bubbling music scene in SoCal, most have yet to be exposed to one of the areas best kept secrets--Inglewood-native Skeme. The 21 year-old spitter is one of the next local artists to blow just as soon as his music permeates beyond city limits, and he's well on his way. Recently performing at seven shows during South By Southwest as well as rocking New York's CMJ and Def Jam's Cipher Sessions at the city's infamous S.O.B.'s, and now Paid Dues this Saturday, Skeme is counting his blessings and living up to his name by plotting a come up for 2011.
The young artists' raspy voice, ever-so-slightly southern drawl, and witty wordplay juxtaposed with his uniquely L.A. swagger leaves a lot of people wondering where he's from upon first listen. However, between the host of family members he has below the Bible Belt and the few years he spent scuttling between L.A. and Atlanta to collaborate with the late Dolla, Skeme has spent much time visiting and getting acquainted with his southern roots. And as he colorfully explains on his club banger "Swish," the most popular of a host of braggadocious hits to his credit, "I'm Inglewood-bred but sick with that southern drawl/So you know I'm something different every time you hear me talk/Peep the way I walk, double cup leanin/And this California kush keep me California dreamin."
Skeme's musical versatility is most notably displayed on his latest mixtape Pistols and Palm Trees. It's balance of ostentatious tracks like the aforementioned "Swish" and "First 48" alongside grind-inspiring songs like "Chuck Taylors" and "Don't Lose Focus" provided a sneak peak into the artist's eclectic style which, he says, will be expounded upon on his soon-to-be-released mixtape, The Statement. Skeme sat down with OC Weekly ahead of Paid Dues to discuss his southern sensibilities, relationships with the likes of Baron Davis and Dolla, and the message behind his upcoming mixtape The Statement, set to drop April 11.
OC Weekly: Your style is very southern, do you hear a lot of people saying that?
Skeme: I'm from the South ...yeah I do sound Southern a little bit because my whole family is from the South. My granddad is from Alabama. A bunch of my Aunts and Uncles are in New Orleans now. So I travel a lot to New Orleans, Alabama, and Mississippi. When I first meant Dolla... that's when I started getting into the Atlanta shit. I was about 18 then and I started traveling to Atlanta back and forth on the regular.
How did you meet Dolla?
My brother was really the trail blazer and shit, he introduced him to me. At the time I was working with a manager, he went by D-Mack. D-Mack was from the same hood as Dolla's manager. So we ended up being in the same room and I connected with dude. I liked his hustle as an artist and as a regular nigga. We just started kicking it more and more and more. That's where that relationship came from at first, it was off some rapper shit at first, and then we just became real close. I would call him my brother.
You're super connected. How did you come to know all these people from different camps like Dom and Kendrick?
With talent, once everyone hears what you got and shit. Once people see what you got... because we are all hungry at the same time, ain't nobody really blew up all the way like we're supposed to so we're just working together. Those are the people I started off with, those are my peers. The Dom Kennedy's, the Kendrick Lamar's, Tyga
And Baron Davis?
He heard my music from a friend of mine... I'll tell you the whole story. We were in the Bay for a show with Pac Div and the nigga Q [the friend] was like "Yo I need a mixtape" so I told him go to my mom's house and get the mixtape. He got like 10 of them and took them to BD office. The day after he called me asking for a mixtape BD had tweeted me on Twitter and shit like, "Yo, I hear what you do and I want to meet you." And then when I got home, I think about three days later I was in BD office. And then from there B.D. was like I kinda what to guide your play and make shit right for you and he kind of opened a lot of doors for me too. Not even financially, but the nigga just look out for me, tell me how to live life shit and told me how to handle business with the music shit.
And it's definitely been working out for you. You just got back from doing South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, how was that experience?
Last year I didn't have one show. This year I went out and had seven. At the end of the da,y it was great. It was a blessing for me. I can't fight that at all. Any progression from the year before is great. I loved the trip. A lot of my L.A. people went down and I met a lot of new faces.
How did you feel about the reception of your last mixtape Pistols and Palm Trees?
I think the reception for pistols was huge. It put me on a whole other level and it put me into that conversation of who is hot in L.A. I was happy about that just in itself. The fact that everybody was putting me into that "Top Ten in L.A. of New Niggas" [category], I was like "That's dope"! I think with The Statement we just going to push it over the top again. Like, "Yes we are here and we are here to stay."
As for your upcoming mixtape [The Statement], where did that title come from and what does it mean?
My mother asked me one day "Why do you make music?" And I was like "I don't know. I just want to make music." And she was like, "Well at one point in your life... since you have a gift to get a lot of people to listen to what you are saying, you ought to say something that is important." And that's why I named the mixtape The Statement because it was just right. It was a statement of who I am and what I am going through in my life, and that's just what I want people to take away from it-- that they know me on a more intimate level. Because I think with Pistols, wasn't actually as detailed with my ideas on shit like that and I how I feel about shit like that so this time we got a lot more personal.
Are there any specific statements you're trying to make though?
I don't have a certain goal but at the end of the day [the songs on The Statement] are the more realistic, super real songs that are genuine to me and what the fuck I've been going through, and where I'm at in my life. A lot of those songs be like rest in peace to my homeboys that people have never even heard of. The reason why I do that is just so that people get to know the folks that I lost. And they get to know a different side of me also, so you know that we not always running around. We not always balling and trying to go to the club or nothing. At the end of the day we do have real shit going on in our lives. I want people to hear that side too. Some artists get trapped into doing solely one lane and I feel like we can cross the whole board on everything, every type of music and every type of emotion that you can have. I feel like if you just got one thing going on you not a human being. That's weird to me you know? Because if I felt one way at all times, I'd be weird. Like that's some robot shit, and I'm not him, you know?
What can people expect from your show at Paid Dues?
We going to rock hard and do it you know that's that was big in itself. I remember I was around the Fox Hills Mall last year and I saw a flyer for Paid Dues and I was kind of pissed. Like "Damn I want to be on that." But you know this year I actually got my chance to rock it you know, so I gotta rock it heavy. [The audience] could expect a good ass time like all of my other performances. It's always just a good time for the crowd. A lot of interaction a lot of liveliness. I like for people to just feel good when I'm on stage, you know? Like a lot of [other rappers] just go up there and just give you the record. Like no, I want you to have fun with my records too, you know? So who knows I could jump in the crowd a couple shirts thrown in the crowd who knows? A lot of spontaneous shit.
The Sixth Annual Paid Dues Festival will be held tomorrow in San Bernardino.