We spoke with OhGeesy about life after Shoreline Mafia, his debut album GEEZYWORLD, and why he feels like he’s the “2Pac of Mexicans”
Numbers wise, OhGeesy is already the biggest Mexican-American rapper in the country. And he will be the first to tell you that he has no intentions of stopping there; for OhGeesy, he can’t be content until he reaches the pop-star level of success that he envisions for himself.
OhGeesy’s old rap crew, Shoreline Mafia, was responsible for regional hits such as “Bands,” “Nun Major,” and “Musty,” all of which have racked up hundreds of millions of streams on DSPs. The group built up a rabid fanbase thanks to the traffic rap sound, which was popularized by Shoreline, DrakeoTheRuler, and 03 Greedo. The sound features tight, galvanizing flows paired with paranoiac instrumental loops and hyphy basslines. Throughout this initial run of success, OhGeesy’s infectious flows and hooks was a major part of what made these songs party staples throughout California.
But in April of 2020, without much of an explanation, Shoreline Mafia — which consisted of Ohgeesy, Rob Vicious, Master Kato, and Fenix Flexin — announced they would be splitting up. Now, GEEZYWORLD, released last month, is OhGeesy’s first foray into solo work.
The album, which features a spate of big name features like DaBaby and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, sees OhGeesy showcase a willingness to experiment with his sound. And the machine is working with OhGeesy. He has been everywhere recently — from doing bits for Comedy Central, to modeling for BAPE x OVO, to doing segments for GQ’s popular “10 Things” series, it’s hard to think of a promotional avenue OhGeesy hasn’t yet explored.
But OhGeesy’s life wasn’t always the glamor of GQ and Bape. When he was growing up, his father was deported on two separate occasions and his mother, he tells me, came to this country in the trunk of a car. Despite the pop-star aspirations, OhGeesy is acutely aware of the struggle that went into getting him to this position.
And, for what it’s worth, OhGeesy hasn’t lost sight of his musical roots either. Despite the aforementioned experimentation on the album, the project still features plenty of tracks produced by traffic rap godfather Ron-Ron The Producer, and LA, his hometown, is well represented by way of features from YG and BlueBucksClan.
The result is a project which is a unique blend of innovation and tradition. It is a balance between OhGeesy’s commitment to his old self, the one that existed before he had a whole marketing team from Atlantic Records behind him, and his new self, the one that is well on the way to stardom.
We spoke with OhGeesy about all this and more. The contents of our conversation have been lightly edited for clarity.
To start, let’s state the obvious. This is your debut album, your first time making a project as a solo act. How does that feel?
OhGeesy: Man, it feels amazing. It feels so much different from when I did the group stuff — it’s my first time doing everything, doing all the rollouts and all the interviews. I’m doing everything I never did before. It feels like it’s really work, but at the same time it’s not work because I’m having so much fun doing all this shit.
Even beyond just musically, this seems like a time of positive, ascendant change for you. You’ve said that in the preparation for this album you’ve started eating healthier and cutting back on your drug use. What prompted you to make these changes?
Obviously being stuck at home [because of Covid-19], that was one of the main things that made me make the change. But besides that, man, there’s been so much positive energy around me — like one of my best friends just got home from prison. Like literally my best friend who had went down before I was famous. He was down for six years and he just came out, so it’s like there’s just been so much love and positivity around me that I just been going up and I’ve been so happy in having such a clear state of mind. Also having my son. That plays a huge role more than anything.
Do you feel like this new lifestyle has been playing into your recent success?
Hell yeah, man. But also I would say everyone in my life — all my friends, my mom, my family, my girl, my son — they all play a super huge important role. Every single one of them gives me a piece of energy that I need to create what I’m creating . And I feel like I’m on my way to becoming a pop star, so I’ve just been exploring every avenue that I can.
I can see that translated in your music. I feel like this album is bringing not just change with your career, but also with your sound — I can tell you’re experimenting with it. What has it been like being able to branch out from the traditional traffic rap sound which you originally got big off of?
I feel like it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but I didn’t have the resources before. My new managers, Rory [Mcelroy] and Polo [Molina], and my new A&R Lando, they put all this shit into motion. They linked me with all these new producers that I used to always be kinda like scared to step outside of the box and fuck with them. But those three sat me down and said, “Nah, you need to fuck with these producers and do what you do.” I think they saw something more than I saw in myself. So then I went into the studio and did what I did.
You’ve talked a lot in interviews how important the art of graffiti is to you, and how it’s something you started doing in the third grade. Do you still do Graffiti?
Hell yeah. Everywhere I go, I keep a marker with me and I’ll drop an OhGeesy tag so that everyone knows I was here. The best part about it now is that all these kids look up to me and admire me, so if I catch a tag somewhere, a million kids will send it to me and be like, “Damn, I can’t believe you was here.” So when I do it, I know I’m gonna give them that feeling like damn he was right here, sitting right here, you feel me? So I just be leaving a landmark everywhere I go.
What made you get into Graffiti in the first place?
I think it’s just the artist in me. I don’t know what the fuck it was, but I just liked the way the spray paint looked on walls. But I guess it was also the motherfuckin’ little demon in me, because I also just wanted to fuck everything up.
You are one of the most influential Hispanic rap artists in the country right now. How does that feel?
It’s because there ain’t never been another Mexican as fly as me. And I don’t think there ever will be. But I know with the influence I’m giving, I can already imagine how many Mexican rappers are going to be bigger than me. I’m the model. And I’m proud of that because they’re gonna be like “Yo, I looked up to Geesy when I was younger.” It’s like I’m the 2Pac of Mexicans.
And this shit is really full circle. My mom came to this country in the trunk of a motherfuckin’ car. My mom had to cross the border twice. I was meant to be here. This shit was destiny. It was written from day one.
Dario McCarty is a part-time writer and part-time UC Berkeley student who writes about politics and hip-hop. Follow his work @pinkbapestas on Twitter.