Last week, I chronicled my evening with Waka Flocka Flame. On the very same evening, I was introduced to Southside of the 808 Mafia, who has now re-branded himself as "Y$", or "Yung Sizzle", because really… why the fuck not? If you have face tattoos and expensive rap jewelry, who am I to say your can't change your name to a letter and a dollar sign?
He sent me this video last week, and I really liked it – so I did what any reasonable writer would do: I called him up over the weekend and talked to him about it. It was an interesting conversation, to say the very least; Because Southside really is street level trap.
I opened the conversation with the usual sort of banter, because I wanted Southside to remember how cool I was – remember, he was giving me daps last time I saw him. Before turning into a rapper, Southside was a noted producer and visual artist. Stepping out from behind the boards meant putting his face to who he is, so I inquired, "Southside, you know, I know you do a lot more than just rap. What other kind of stuff do you have going on?"
Southside paused for a moment, and instantly treated me like I was a police informant. "Whatchu mean, 'what kind of other stuff I do?' What you askin' about?" True to his South Atlanta, College Park form, any question without a definitive answer is immediately treated like he was in an interrogation booth, and I was asking him about the packages of soft we'd removed from the trunk of his car.
"What I mean is, you say you produce, you rap, you said you direct videos…" Southside jumped in and cut me off. "Oh yeah, righ righ righ. You mean like, what I'm doing. I got clothes. I got a whole film crew, and that's me and my boys, plus we got 808 Mafia."
For those of you not in the know, 808 Mafia is a production team and notorious rap crew founded by Southside and Waka Flocka. You know all those trap remixes you hear on every single EDM blog? Southside and TM 88 are the two guys you can thank for pushing and creating that sound. After founding 808 Mafia, TM 88 and Southside added Purps, Fuse, Tarentino, Be-Bop, Super Mario, DY, Tre Pound, and Chris Fresh. I suppose they needed an even 10 members just in case they needed to get a quick game of five-on-five going on.
For his first solo project, titled Free Agent, Southside has enlisted the help of almost all of the above mentioned producers. When I asked him what his intent was, stepping out from behind the production booth and into the rap spotlight, he opined, "This is the sound of Atlanta. You won't find any features on this album. This is just me. I'm going about this the same way Kanye did, but I'm just doing it in a more hood way."
For the record, I don't think Southside knows how to do things in a non-hood way. Everything about him, from his appearance, to his mannerisms, to his distinctly College Park dialect, is… well… hood. During my brief conversation with him over the weekend, he claimed Clayton County, and informed me that when he's out on tour, he'll be enlisting the help of Trapaholics for DJ support.
"This is street level. This is…" Southside paused for a moment, so I shot in. "You know, I'm from Atlanta. Give me something I'll know about. Fourth Ward, alright?" Southside laughed, "Oh you from the A? See, this is College Park. You remember Salute Me or Shoot Me?" I replied affirmatively, "Of course!" Southside shot back – "This is like that. That's what Free Agent is all about."
Allow me to clarify what that means: This isn't the sort of trap music you can play around your parents. It's not "friendly, trap music for frat boys doing kegs stands". If Y$ is going to bring anything to to this side of "trap", which really isn't trap – but just hood music, it's going to be reality.
In music, there is balance to everything. On one end of EDM, we have trap music made by white college kids who drive cars financed by their father's wealth. On the other end, we have anti-EDM, with guys like Y$, who drive cars that are financed by… uhm… yeah, let's just leave it right there.
Time to go cook up some hard in my kitchen. I trust you know what song I'm playing.