They say good things comes to those who wait, and better things come to those who work. Well, AD and Sorry Jaynari have been doing both, and it’s finally paying off. The Compton duo is seeing some well-deserved success since releasing their critically acclaimed album, Last of the 80s, this past May. Red Bull gave it #5 on their list of top mixtapes in May, they've racked up hundreds of thousands plays on SoundCloud and Spotify and are getting props from some of the West Coast’s biggest rappers. But their rise as been anything but a walk in the park.
EARMILK caught up with AD at his studio in LA to talk about the album, how his lifestyle change has affected his relationships and the raw chemistry with Jaynari that has helped create the West's next big duo.
EARMILK: So why the title, Last of the 80s?
AD: Being born in 1989, I grew up in a different era There was no streaming, no iTunes. I used to record my favorite radio songs on cassette tape. Even on TV, they had this shit called “The Box,” I don’t know if you remember that. Where they would play a preview of each music video, and you would pay like $.99 or $2 to look at your favorite video. Nobody was buying that shit. So they way that it worked, somebody in the area would buy it, and then you'd get to watch the music video.
I had to walk to the store and take the bus to go get a cd of my choice. And I stuck with that CD for about 2-3 months before I put it down or went and grabbed something else. So, with music being so available with the click of a finger now, it's easy to overlook projects, and the lifespan of certain albums don't last that long. [For the album] I wanted to bring something golden to what I do and to have that same type of feeling like, this is what I want to listen to for 3 or 4 months and not put that down. Even though there is a big selection.
E: Going off of that, what is like being an artist, in trying to deal with everyone's short attention span in music?
AD: It gets challenging. I like to stick to my roots. A lot of times, people like to ride waves and shit like that, and I'm one of the few people on the west coast that still adapts to the culture but makes it new and my own. I'm not trying to compromise anything just because this sound is popular at the time or that sound is popular at the time. Just remaining authentic and man, I really feel like as long as you're putting out good material, it doesn't matter what type of sound you have, people are going to fuck with it.
E: At the beginning of the first track you have somebody, I'm guessing your Grandmother, talking about how you used to write poetry but kept it hidden. You obviously featured her on the song for a reason, what she a big influence on your music?
AD: My grandmother was like my rock. My mom was working two jobs trying to support us, so we lived with my grandmother for the majority of my life. So mostly, I was with her all day. She helped deliver me, and I was with her in Compton until her dying days. She died in 2015, and that was like my everything. The certain recordings I do have of hers, I want the people to see that it’s real and it’s not all fun all the time. That I was really going through something, and I lost the biggest person that I ever had. She showed me to have compassion for people. Even though I'm from the streets and I lived in the streets, I would always walk in the house, and my grandmother would rid the evil out of me, per se. She taught me good things and fundamentals that I still use in life now.
I could have easily ended up like any of my other peers, a lot of them are dead or in jail. I'm not going to say a lot actually, the majority of them are dead or in jail. I was able to make it out of Compton doing what I'm doing now, supporting myself through music and make a living off of it. But that was all thanks to my grandma.
E: Other than your grandma, are there other artists you would credit as influences or others that helped shape your sound?
AD: Ya, the whole west coast man. I grew up listening to nothing but DJ Quik, Ice Cube, Pac, Mac 10, Xzibit, Kurupt, the list goes on. A lot of times now, the OGs I used to listen to, they embrace me now, and it's dope.
E: That's gotta be pretty tight
AD: Ya man, like, Xzibit, he has been a real big influence on my career. He was one of the first people to get me radio air on one of his shows. He was like a big brother to me. Quik handled my release party last year, that was like a dream come true. He was one of my favorite artists from the city. I've also had the chance to work with Dr. Dre.
It's just dope. Like, DJ Pooh was just telling me the other day "We need you. You're one of the ones keeping this west coast shit alive."
E: That must be a crazy-ass feeling
AD: Man, it is a crazy feeling!
E: So let me ask you this. When you wake up and look in the mirror, do you say to yourself "man this is pretty fucking tight," do you think about all the things you were just telling me?
AD: Ya, you know it's more of a relief, man. I'm a strong believer in Christ, and I always prayed for days like this. Just to work for years and years and years and not get anything, not a penny, not any recognition. So, finally, after staying the course, the big wigs are telling me "you're dope" it's like ‘okay, God had me on the right path and is keeping me going the right way,’ so ya, it's dope man, it's a dope feeling. Pushing me to go harder.
E: So bringing it back to the project, it seems like 'Character' is a central theme on the album. Both in the sense that, you as a person are going from how you were raised to the life you're living now. And also it seems like you have a lot of songs about women on the album, their character and how a lot of people trying to suck off of you now that you're making it. Tell me a little bit about that.
AD: Ya, I think people get the idea that I'm like Jay-Z or something already. They think that just because you move out of Compton or move out the hood that you're like, super, super, super rich. And it's like, ya, we doing good, we doing well for ourselves, the bills are getting paid. But we're still grinding. Going to the club and promoters giving us bottles, it's the whole illusion that you're balling. People look at that, and out of nowhere everybody has a million problems, you know what I mean?
"Oh can you look out with this, oh can you look out for this?" It starts with friends, and then its regular people then it's family. At the end of the day, it's like "damn, I just got my foot up out the door, like you're trying to MC Hammer me." I ain't going for that shit.
E: How does that affect your relationships?
AD: It fucks them up. Some people, I'd rather not give anything because I know that they won't be able to pay me back. I don't want to look at them in a certain type of way because where I come from, everybody's struggling. Everybody's struggling. They're living paycheck to paycheck, and they don't look at you as a friend anymore. They look at you like; this is somebody I know that can help me. But the moment you tell them no, it's like, "oh fuck you. You're not looking out for your people." But you know, people don't see that you have bills, and you have car notes. I have a daughter; she's got bills and stuff too. So, I spend a lot of money on just bills alone.
E: Did you have these issues in mind when this project was coming together? Or did it come about organically?
AD: I'm a current event type of person. I like to keep shit authentic and tell people what's going on in my world because people only see the outside. So this is my way of letting them in and letting them know what's going on in my headspace. Just like putting my grandmother on the project, or my momma or my little brother who's doing 17yrs in the penitentiary right now. Letting you know that I'm a human, I go through human things, and I'm just like everybody else.
E: Actually, one of my favorite lines on the album is "really speaking on my issues, this ain't fucking rap music."
AD: Ya, that's real! That's real. When I go into the studio, I don't' sit there and make up fairy tale shit. I either did it, or it's attainable to me, and that's what I talk about. I give people the reality.
E: So this is the second project you and Sorry Jaynari have worked on. How did the two of you meet?
AD: Pun with Active Management linked us together. We were working on one of my other projects, and we had a song called "Juice" come from that. It ended up becoming a big hit on the West Coast, and after that, he put us together, and we said let's keep rocking and let's keep making more hits.
As the years have gone by, I really feel like Jaynari knows exactly what the sounds I want to rap on are and how I want to tell my story and things of that nature. I'm a real loyal person. I keep shit close knit. I don't rock with too many people, at the end of the day. If you're the producer, boom. That's my camera man right there, this is my lady and stylist and everything, and this is my manager. We keep shit as a team, and we all have a role to play and we rockin that shit.
Having that producer doing that, and trusting him to make the best of my abilities, I'm all fine with that.
E: It seems like he's really got your sound down. He knows what works and it works so perfectly, especially on this [album]. What's your chemistry like, and what's your process like?
AD: We come in this fucking room right here (laughs). And ya, for the most part, I give him pointers, like, I want to hear something like this or that. I’m influenced by west coast music; I listen to a lot of 90s music. Still, to this day, my lady gets pissed off at me because she says I play out a lot of shit, it's already old as fuck, but that's what I like to hear. I tell Jaynari, “look maybe we should do something like this.” I'll give him an old record, “maybe we should flip this” or “maybe we should have something that sounds like this” and then we make it new and we put our thing on it.
E: What's a typical day like? Or to quote you "A typical day in the life of a player."
AD: (Laughs) The day in the life of me, man, for the most part, we just work. A lot of times, we wake up in the morning and take my daughter to school. In the interim of that, get whatever work we have to get done, pick her up, drop her off, spend time with the family. I club a lot. The nightlife is very important in my life. I fucking drink like a sailor too; I'm trying to cut that down (laughs)
I'm just a turnt up individual, man. A lot of people don't get to know the real me; I'm a real fun person. Sometimes my music has painted the illusion that I'm some fuckin psychopath and we trying to tone that shit down because I'm a cool nigga. I'm with the business though. I don't turn shit down.
E: The last project with Jaynari definitely seemed angrier than this one.
AD: I was angrier; I had less money! Shit, I was going through a lot though, getting over my grandmother's death, my little brother going to jail, just things in the streets, a lot of expectations. Things just weren't going my way. I didn't have a car; I was still living in the hood, actually.
So everything was just weighing out on my brain, I'm happier now.
E: What's next for you guys? I hate to be the guy that says "you just came out with something, but what's next?" but...
AD: It's always like that though; the thing is I'm a man that's full of surprises. I pop up on a lot of shit. My whole career, people didn't know I was going to be on certain albums, and I just trust in God that wherever he takes me, that's where I'm going to go. I'm a force to be reckoned with. I’m one of the few who hasn't been stagnant since he came out the gate. I'll I've ever done is elevate. And we are going to keep elevating. Next is going to be charts for sure, for sure.
E: Are you looking at a full-on featured album? Or more mixtapes?
AD: Nah, we put our blood sweat and tears into every project. Everything you get is "album" we don't just put out compilations of songs and say "this is a mixtape." It may not be in the magnitude, in stores like albums right now, but the offers keep getting bigger, the situations keep getting bigger, and that show rate keeps going up. So eventually and when it's time, we're going to have big ass albums.
E: What is it like making music you could consider "Gangster Rap" in today's world where it seems like Hollywood is all about glorifying that life? You have the Tupac biopic and Biggie biopic. How does it feel to be making that music when it's in the mainstream of Pop America?
AD: I wouldn't even say it's gangster rap; id say it’s reality rap. It's like a diary for me. I'm just doing it on beats that I like.
And with it being in Hollywood, it actually helps. I think a lot of times, the West Coast has been left out. We used to be the forefront of Hip-Hop, and we started this gangster shit. Everywhere around the world now, people are gang banging and shit. Even me, but I don't glorify that shit. But, I was born into something and grew up around everything, and of course, you're going to become a product of your environment. So ya, as long as its authentic, that's what I'm more worried about.
Even the Tupac movie, I know the guy playing Pac. I knew him for years, and I'm very proud of him as well, and it's just great that the media is shedding light on us now. It opens the doors for more artists to come out of the West Coast.
There aren't that many that's holding down the forefront. We need more artists to step up and tell their stories. And me coming from a predominantly Crip side, there really isn't anyone from my city other than Eazy-E that people can name, that really blew up from that. Eazy-E, MC Eiht, there’s not too many ever.
E: What does that feel like?
AD: It's some big shoes to fill, ya. My side of the city is different from the side that Kendrick is from, or Dre, Problem or YG are from, and the list goes on. You're getting the first hand from the other side.
E: Well, that's all I've got, anything else you want to add?
AD: Go buy my fucking album (laughs)
- Connect with AD: SoundCloud | Instagram | Twitter
- Connect with Sorry Jaynari: SoundCloud | Instagram | Twitter