Photo Credit: Jon Jekielek
Curren$y Has Spent Quarantine Chilling, Binging 'Daria' & Occasionally Making Music
We spoke with Curren$y about his latest album, The Outrunners, his relationship with Harry Fraud, the shows he’s binging during quarantine, and more.
Decades after the oft-caricatured excess of the bling-bling era, modern rap has somewhat come down to Earth. For rappers like Curren$y (who coincidentally got his start near the end of that era), relatability is half the appeal. In the early aughts, Curren$y was one of the first “blog era” rappers to fully embrace platforms like Twitter and Instagram, where he made hilarious daily observations about movies and cartoons. He broadcasted with fans on Ustream years before Instagram Live and solidified his friendship with Wiz Khalifa through the platform. In the process, Curren$y's managed to build a devoted social media following and avoid controversy. Even when showing off his extensive car collection of everything from vintage Chevrolets to Italian sports cars, it never really feels like you’re getting flexed on. For longtime followers, it feels like celebrating the accomplishments of a friend.
What Kung-fu flicks and mafia movies are to disciples of the Wu-Tang Clan, ’80s era crime dramas, sports cars, and cartoons are to The Jets, the nickname for his devoted fanbase. Through a combination of mixtape theme, instrumental choices in the pre-streaming mixtape days, and a penchant for interpolating forgotten lyrics of yesteryear, Spitta leaves a trail of Easter eggs for devoted fans to decipher, even when they aren’t listening to his music.
Last month, Curren$y released The OutRunners, his third collaborative project with producer Harry Fraud in the last eight years. (Curren$y's discography with Fraud includes 2012’s Cigarette Boats and 2018’s The Marina.) The OutRunners is a fitting title. It sounds like Fraud created a soundtrack for successfully evading the police on a speedboat. Tracks like “Seven Seas,” which samples Italian film composer Piero Umiliani’s “Nostalgia” and the reflective ode to his son “Gold and Chrome” carry the bulk of the project. However, Curren$y shines brightest on the shimmering, trance-like “In the Coupe,” which features Jim Jones. Their sonic compatibility speaks for itself, but let them tell it, their productivity stems from the fact that Fraud is just one of the most assertive of his producer friends when it comes to putting projects together.
Okayplayer spoke with Curren$y about The Outrunners, his relationship with Harry Fraud, his leisurely methods of working, the shows he’s binging during quarantine, and more.
On “Gold & Chrome” you said you recently lost a friend to COVID-19. My condolences.
I had just seen him. He was helping another friend whose lowrider broke down on the side of the road. A couple weeks later we heard he'd fallen ill. We honestly just thought he'd beat it because he wasn't old, you know? This was when [the pandemic] first hit, so everybody was like, "Oh no, it only matters if you're old or you have [underlying conditions].” So now I started looking at it differently.
How has fatherhood changed up your recording and writing process?
Sometimes I can't go [to the studio]. I got the baby this month... I [flew] to Maryland to pick him up from his mom. One of my last tweets before I locked in on [promoting] the project was: I can’t pull up. For anybody. It don't make sense to hit me up about anything, I can't. I'm building [my son a] Corvette bed.
\u201cI\u2019m so happy...... My son is coming to stay with me for a while man..... I missed dude so much man.... Imma flush my phones down the toilet for a lil bit.... I can\u2019t pull up no where!!!!!!\u201d— Spitta (@Spitta) 1595062165
It seems like you have a homebody personality for the most part.
I was built to have a son and to quarantine. I already didn't fuck with people. I already didn't pass my joints. So now, it's like, hanging out, smoking by myself. The homies don't all wanna watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Like if I get the remote I’m watching other shit. I don't want to watch Menace [II Society] and Scarface back to back all day, my nigga.
So now I’m quarantining by myself, I watched all five seasons of Daria. I'm just hanging out. Doing what the fuck I wanna do. It's great. I build model cars and die-cast racing tracks. I'm just living my life. This is awesome.
So besides Curb and Daria, what shows have you been watching?
I had never seen The Wire. Quarantine allowed me to get into that. I just started The Sopranos. I like watching The Flintstones, Scooby Doo...Season one of those. That’s what the binge-watching has gotten down to. Because I already watch too much shit already. I’m on Season one of the Flintstones, and these episodes start without the song. (Starts singing theme song.) They don’t even start like that. I’m waiting for that. I’m just watching, waiting like, “when the fuck do they add the theme song?” I’m guessing in Season two or once they get a budget, they’ll start playing the song. But right now the shit just starts, just Fred and Barney getting into hijinks.
They say do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. Does it ever really feel like work? Do interviews like this feel like the “work” part of the job for Curren$y?
And this even doesn’t. I was terrified because I didn't know how this was gonna work out. It feels like “work” when I'm talking to whoever asking me like, (uses exaggerated voice) "What's your favorite weed strain, bruh? Everybody knows you're the world's greatest stoner. What's your go-to snack?" Get the fuck outta here.
You and Harry are creeping up on ten years of work together. How did y’all meet up?
My homeboy Riot, Smoke DZA, and a couple people. Riot used to tell me all the time, “Man, you gotta do something with my boy Harry Fraud.” And I'm just like, “I don't know.” I don't know why.
It seems like you have that relationship with a lot of people, people are excited to plug Curren$y in with people.
Yeah, and some people don't think they should talk to me. And it's because they aren't themselves, so they'll never really know to connect or say something to me. It's a couple motherfuckers who know they could just hit me like, “dude what the fuck, let's do this.”
[I’m] like a...two-year old. Babies, if you give them an inch — let them think they’re the boss — and they're gonna [be the boss]. So if a motherfucker doesn't be [urgent] like “we need to do this shit at fucking six o clock” then I don't fuckin' respect it.
If they're [hesitant] I'm like, "aw man, he doesn’t sound like he’s serious about this. I'm gonna play Xbox instead." I'm chilling already. I understand how [collaborations] could benefit me, but people only want me to do shit because it's gonna benefit them, too, anyway.
Speaking of unfinished projects, on N.O.R.E.’s Drink Champs you said you and Smoke DZA were going to start a podcast. Is that still in the works?
He asked me like twice, and then I think he was like, ”Aw he's doing that thing again…” I woulda did it, man. Sometimes I just give people a hard time. I always got something like that going on. [For instance,] I’ve got a bowl of grapes now. We're already on the phone, but if we weren't, and then you called once I sat down with the grapes, I'd be like I'm gonna smash these grapes then try to check into that thing in a minute.
Photo Credit: Jon Jekielek
You’ve made your hobbies into moneymakers in their own right. (Curren$y recently launched Starting Line Hobbies, a 24-hour hobby shop specializing in model car kits and diecast tracks. In 2018, Curren$y partnered with farmers to launch his own signature cannabis strain, Andretti OG. Before the pandemic, he was in the process of re-opening Life Burger, a burger shop in New Orleans.) That’s what everyone’s trying to do. How have you been able to do that?
Anything that you really love to do, you're not gonna trip off time. I've been into building model cars and going to hobby shops as a kid, but in New Orleans there were like one and a half hobby shops. That was something I always wanted to do. People like Devin the Dude kept me inspired and in touch with that side of me. He's into RC racing. So with this quarantine and people at home, you have time to build a model car. So I might as well sell that dope to you.
Speaking of Devin the Dude, he’s one person your career trajectory reminds me of. Beyond just rapping about weed. You’re both able to live comfortably and remain low-profile.
The quality of life goes down when you can't just kick it. I got homies with superstar budgets, but they can't do the shit I do. I could drive a Lamborghini to Wal-Mart, and motherfuckers who didn't see me get out that Lamborghini wouldn't know who I am. Just buying socks, Rice Krispie Treats, and shit like everybody else. When I get out, it's like, ”Yo who the fuck is that, Bruce Wayne or something?”
You gotta walk that fine line so you can enjoy your life. Wiz [Khalifa] had to shut Disney down to bring [his son] Bash. He had to call in ahead of time to shut the place down to go to Space Mountain or whatever the fuck. I’m cool. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
\u201cIt\u2019s insane how much time me and @Chuckisdope can spend hanging out and not get any music done.... it\u2019s like you let\u2019s get high and talk about movies..fuck it, lets go to the movies ..let\u2019s eat first,let\u2019s go to a pawnshop and by a fuckin PlayStation and then we never make raps\u201d— Spitta (@Spitta) 1595635545
I saw you tweeting with Chuck Inglish about an unfinished project a couple of weeks ago.
We were supposed to do a joint called Puff Daddy. We even smoked weed with Puff Daddy in Austin, Texas when we decided to do it...and then I just...forgot to do it. Chuck Inglish is my homeboy. Chuck lets me drive our hangout sessions. Dude will be like, ”We gotta do this.” But if me and Chuck hanging out I'm like, "Aw man, we should watch fuckin' Short Circuit and [Short Circuit] 2 and then listen to this beat." And then he’s gonna think of another movie that was like Short Circuit. He suggests that, then I'm like, ”Aw yeah, we should watch that.” Then we'll watch that, and be like, ”We should go to the real movies...we should write a movie!” Then nothing fucking happens. It'll be like, "Damn, four days and I never heard the beat. I brought notepads and pens and I was ready to lock in and nothing happens.”
When I told a couple friends I was interviewing Curren$y, they mentioned even more projects. One, in particular, was the 'Lacs N Chevys project with Big K.R.I.T.
This is what happens. I’ll see people doing stuff like...K.R.I.T.'s got his face painted on a building. [For] his videos he's got the lights and dollies, cranes and all that shit. I'm not about to bother Big K.R.I.T. when it's just me and the homie with a camera in his backpack. Just fuckin doing shit. I'll fuck with him when he's got time. But I'm sure I could call the homie right now, like, ”let's do it.” It's the ascension of Big K.R.I.T. right now. I’m letting him do his shit.
People were saying that during the Verzuz. People were hitting me like, "So, you really like Snoop Dogg, huh?" For the younger listeners, they didn't even know Dogg said a lot of that shit first. When I don't know how to start a verse, I'm like, "OK, lemme borrow something from Snoop and go with it. He's not gonna trip. So I just take one like, "from the depths of the seaaaaa back to the block.”
It’s happened to me quite a few times. I go back and revisit old classic albums and then I’m like, "oh that’s where he got it from." It happened recently with a line from “The Player Way” off Mase’s Harlem World.
Yeah that’s fuckin, “Know from my Rollie I was set up, I can’t let up, you in some shit that don’t concern you. Send a bullet through your thermal." Yeah, bruh! You don’t even have to ask me what I was listening to growing up. If you listen to my tapes, you know. Because I put it in there.
A lot of people I have respect for, it made it easier for me to form real friendships with them. People were reaching out to me before I even knew my arms were long enough to reach out to them. Like Big Boi from OutKast, because I used to do that with his shit too. Somebody must have played him, like, nine times for him to know that I did that.
In turn, how does that usually happen with younger artists for you?
I hear it from my younger partners, like, "Oh that boy Trippie Redd was bumpin' your shit.” It just so happens that the ones that I fuck with fuck with me.
It's kids that are earnest and if you game them up the right way you make sure that they know how shit goes, you'll never fade out.