Music is only special when it's coming from a genuine place - it's just energy trapped in a bottle.
It's definitely been a long, long... long, long, long, long, long journey since I was selling burnt CD's out of my backpack in downtown Oakland.
Touring is a tough plane to get off the ground, and it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of investments.
I'll be a Bay kid for the rest of my life. That's in my veins; that's in my bones.
I remember, when I was ten, I wanted to look like Em. I had the bleached blonde hair.
I think every artist's next work will reflect a new chapter in their autobiography. Each album tells a story about where they were at during a particular period and how they have evolved.
'Downtown Love.' I made that with one of my homies in New Orleans. The story is tragic, and the song is emotional. It's my favorite. I'm most proud of that; it's such a creative piece.
Performing music live, there's a certain magic to it.
Whenever I can squeeze it in, I'm writing and recording.
There's only so much you can do on a physical level trying to tour or pass out mixtapes. Although that matters, I realized that you can reach more people putting your music on Soundcloud and networking with blogs to write about you. It really comes back to the music and what you release.
I think you should always push yourself to want to grow and learn more and be inspired and develop.
I used to go and cop stacks of blanks CDs and sit there and burn copies of my mixtapes and print up my own mixtape covers and post up in downtown Oakland and Telegraph in Berkeley and literally was selling my mixtapes for five bucks, hand-to-hand.
It's just crazy to look back at what I was wearing in high school.
The thing is, I've always wanted to be a star. I've always wanted to be an Elvis Presley or a Tupac - like, a huge icon.
The Bay area made me who I am, and it only felt right to go back there.
It's our approach to treat each show like an arena show. We over-invest in production to make the stage look bigger, turning the show into an experience and not just somebody standing around with a microphone rapping.
We listen to oldies when we go on tour. Beach Boys radio was really clutch; that was definitely our favorite Pandora station.
You can tell when someone is reading the lines of a song or performing it.
Me personally, I will always be a fan at the end of the day. No matter how big this gets, I still look up to other artists and people I respect creatively.
I just hear a beat and start mumbling words. I just hear sounds and rhythms, and it just kind of comes intuitively. Formatting a song, figuring out a flow, how I respond to the beat.
I'm the type of person that rises to the occasion, and when work is in front of me, I do work.
I like to have a lot of girls over and play loud music.
There's multiple ways I express myself. Music is my first love and will always come first. But, there are other areas and industries I'm interested in that reflect different aspects of my lifestyle.
Growing up, I heard as much E-40 and Mac Dre on the radio as I did 50 Cent. It's in our culture to support our own.
I love the road. The closest thing to home, for me, is being on a tour bus, ironically.
I'm aware that there are a million other people who want what I'm lucky enough to have right now.
We're really critical with the process of who we hire. But when you put great people in position, that's how you avoid any missteps.
I feel like if you're stuck doing the same thing your whole career you've got to be doing something wrong. Unless you're getting great results from it or you're just comfortable in that spot.
I wanna put numbers on the board. And the thing that everybody doesn't get is that it just doesn't happen. It doesn't just fall out of the air and land on your lap; the only way to get it is to get it and put the work in.
What costs the world to you as a working kid fresh out of college costs nothing to you as a successful musician.
I don't want to be a small-time, independent, successful rapper.
As we've added players to the team, like a videographer, a drummer, or a sound guy, we're trying to keep a bus full of A players and keep a culture where everybody is comfortable enough to push each other in their areas to be great.
We used to approach a small 400-person show like an arena show, as if I was a star and I was coming out on stage in front of screaming people and that I was to be larger than life.
For whatever reason, it's easier to perform in front of a massive crowd than in front of a small one, but again, that's how we came up.
I've got some growing up to do.
You open up a lot of tours making nothing just for the fact that you need to start somewhere and get some exposure. When you start to headline your tours, all the money is in headlining, but there's no money in headlining small rooms.
When you use a sample in a big way, when you loop something in the way I did with 'Runaround Sue,' it's like you have your chords and your melody and the quality of the song right there before you add your own production. It's like the song is already made, in a sense.
Much respect to Eminem - he's the greatest.
Time is a finite resource that you can't get back. I have the same 24 hours you have, and you get the same 24 hours as me. As you rise, so does you chance for opportunity.
Chance The Rapper makes some of the greatest music out, and he build his brand up organically, and the fans have reacted to it.
I love being in a room in front of an audience who cares about the music, who knows the music, and who has lived with the music. It's kind of like an experience you share. I'm on stage performing it, but they're singing the words, too.
I was making all my own beats, and I really liked sampling stuff, like old '50s and '60s pop and soul and doo-wop records. I was chopping those up and putting loops and drums on them and just rapping over them.
That's the nature of this business. Something that took ten years to make can crumble in an instant. It could be snatched away from you at any moment.
If you look at any creative person's work, you can see bits and pieces of their influences. That's what an artist does.
I've definitely grown and evolved as a person, as an artist, you know. Just in terms of my style, my taste, my influences, everything... That's a part of being an artist I think.
I think the most important thing is to be yourself and be genuine and don't try to tell anybody else's story but your own. And if it comes from a genuine place, I think people can tell, and if it doesn't, I think people can tell, and I think that eventually it shows.
I've seen what you can do in this grassroots, do-it-yourself world, and I've seen how far that can get you. To be iconic, you still need the gatekeepers to open the doors.
My music is very reminiscent of the sound I grew up on and the place where that happened. It's a combination of everything I'm inspired by.
If we're deciding about merch pieces, t-shirts or hats, they have to be well designed and cool enough for somebody to want to buy it and then wear it and walk around advertising me and my music.
I grew up in Oakland, California, and there was a really active scene in the Bay Area. Everyone else knew it as the 'Hyphy Movement' of Mac Dre, E-40, and The Pack.