interview by @petermarrack
Le$ is a man of his word. He promises smooth, easy-going ‘3rd Coast’ hip-hop, and that’s exactly what he delivers. The Houston rapper’s most recent mixtape, Settle 4 Le$ Vol. 2, is an ideal testament to that promise. On records like, “Shut It Down”, which made its way around the blogs, Le$ infuses straightforward bars with a kaleidoscope personality that extends beyond just his music. I mean, shit, Le$ is the homie up in the club in candy-colored kicks, swangin with the Boss Hogg Outlawz and making it rain on them bitches… no? Far from it actually. So you shouldn’t feel particularly obliged to exaggerate on the dude’s behalf. Just make sure to acknowledge his progress, as he plans to drop Vintage on January 1st, and spell his goddamn name right. [Le$ is not an acronym you hipster degenerates]
Come to think of it, maybe Le$ does do those things, at least the shoes…
Read the complete interview after the jump.
I downloaded Settle 4 Le$ Vol. 2 last week and I thought it was great.
Oh really, oh really. I appreciate that, homie.
Has “Shut It Down” been getting any radio play out in Houston, or are the Satellite Radio DJs fucking with you at all?
I don’t know about Satellite, but down here we working it. They just doing some transitions down here with the program director and everything, but they’re definitely about to start playing it soon. They’re pushing us for the radio here, 97.9.
That would be great.
Actually, the weird thing is, we were pushing that record, but people are gravitating more towards that “3rd Coastin” record with Killa Kyleon and Paul Wall.
You have the video for it too, right?
Yeah, we did a little viral video for it, and everybody actually gravitated towards that one. That might be the one that ends up getting played.
Yeah, it’s an interesting song. What’s “3rd Coastin” mean? I’m from Canada so I don’t know, right? [laughs]
Well, you know, they always call the South the 3rd Coast. The whole Screw Up Click used to call it the 3rd Coast, and that’s just something we played off of.
I was told you were shooting a video today. Which one?
Yeah, we’re shooting a video for the song called “My Life”, and then two days ago we shot one for “Smoking Exotic”, Slim Thug and I. And last night we shot one for “I’m On It”, so we’re working big.
You got to do that these days.
Some artists are doing videos for every song on their tape.
Yeah, exactly, got to keep up, man.
When I talked to Slim two weeks ago, he said he was introduced to you through his brother, as well as some DJ, because they heard The Beautiful Struggle. Do you remember being introduced to Slim differently, or in more detail? How was it?
That was amazing how that happened, because I was just handing out my CDs, doing the footwork on my own, and they have a DJ out here called DJ Mr. Rogers. He’s the one who actually did my tape. He’s a producer. He’s produced for Curren$y, a few other cats, Slim. He DJs clubs out here and stuff, so I had my CDs and he actually got ahold of one. We ran into each other outside a little store, a little clothing store out here, and he sent me some beats that night, and I sent them right back to him with complete songs. So we started working, and he’s the DJ for Slim’s label, and Slim’s brother, Ray, is the CEO of the label. He runs the label, he and Slim are the CEOs. His brother became familiar with me through the DJ, DJ Mr. Rogers, and they just saw me working real hard. They introduced me to Slim and Slim’s sitting there working and he heard the music, and from thereon we’ve been rocking together.
Was that a long time coming, or was it surprising how quick it came?
It’s kind of both. It always seemed like when it happened it happened fast, but it was also a long time coming, because I had been out there working my music for a minute. It was a gradual process, it wasn’t nothing like overnight. Rogers and I linked up, and two or three months passed and I’m still out there grinding, getting my music around. Rogers and I did a whole tape together and he put that out. That took off kind of quick, down here locally and even on the web. I don’t really have any connections on the internet or anything, but 2DopeBoyz and OnSMASH and everybody were still posting my music. I don’t know how they got it, but they got it. At the time, and still, there aren’t many Houston artists on those websites, so it got a lot of attention, especially locally. They were like, “Who’s this guy?” It came quick, but it was still a long time coming.
Even now people are referencing you on blogs, talking about other artists.
It’s crazy. [laughs]
What’s with all the variations of the name? No blog can get it right. Some say Le$, others use the acronym, L.E.$. Is Les your real name?
My real name is Les. It’s crazy. I even told the blog, “I don’t know where ya’ll got the periods from.” Because I think that made it hard for everybody to find the music. There’s no periods in my name, but that’s what everybody puts. When I write it I never put any periods. It’s really just Les or Le$. People here sometimes call me ‘L.E. Dollar’, or ‘Dollar’ for short. I remember Fader Magazine, they posted something about me talking about how hard it was to find me. Even people call me by my Twitter name now. Like the whole Settle 4 Le$ thing, I’ve walked into the club and somebody’s yelled out, “Settle 4 Le$!” It’s pretty weird. [laughs]
I’m glad I got the right one now. You were talking about Mr. Rogers. Is he a big West Coast fan?
Man, really Rogers is a huge music fan. He’s a real DJ. You have a lot of DJs who do it for the money, or do it for the clubs, but he’s a really, really big music fan. Everyday he puts me on to something new. He put me up on Kendrick Lamar, the new cats, Dom Kennedy, but then he’ll put me on to some whole other genre of music. We’re both really big West Coast hip-hop fans, MC Eiht, Ice Cube, we’re actually working on tape right now over a bunch of old West Coast beats. It’s the era we grew up in. I’m 26, so me growing up that was something that was real relevant during our time. Down here in Houston and in the South it seemed like we got more West Coast music than we did East Coast. We were rocking with them when we were younger.
That’s understandable. The same summer vibe.
Exactly. It’s like LA and Houston have the same vibe almost, especially back in the day. We almost just copied what they were doing. [laughs]
Some of the production reminded me of Kush & Orange Juice. You mentioned Rogers produced for Curren$y…
Well, those beats, I got those beats from one of my producers named Cardo. He is Wiz’s producer. He produced a few tracks on Kush & Orange Juice.
That explains it then.
Yeah, that’s Cardo. He has the most beats on my project other than Rogers.
Cardo has that one sound in all his shit, like a bongo drum.
Yeah, it’s called a cowbell. [laughs] That’s what they call it. It’s called a little cowbell. He did “Mezmorized” on Kush & Orange Juice, he did “In The Cut”. He did a few others. He did the one with Wiz and Snoop Dogg.
They’re good tracks. Do you think the laid-back vibe of your music still resonates during a Houston winter. Is anything season-specific?
Down here it doesn’t really get too cold. Just the other day we were shooting a video and we were riding around with the top down on the car. It doesn’t get too cold. We might have a few spots here and there when it gets down to 30, but it’ll be right back up to 65 or 70 two or three days later.
Yeah, well, I actually used to live in The Woodlands.
Oh, okay, yeah, you should know that then. [laughs]
[laughs] I should, shouldn’t I? Sometimes it got a little cold.
Yeah, it gets cold for a month maybe. Because we were getting some Letterman jackets designed the other day. We were like, “Man, we need to hurry up and come on with it because the winter’s going to be over.” [laughs]
You don’t have them yet?
We do, but we’re waiting for everything to get stitched up on them right now. We’re waiting to get them back.
Does the weather in Houston ever influence your music, or maybe the music influences the weather? [laughs]
It’s more of just a lifestyle, what we do everyday, how we be chillin. We do a lot of riding around. There’ll be days when we’re in the car and we just ride all day, between going to the studio and going out, doing shows and all this stuff. We be chillin, you know, hanging out. We get high, ride around. My music really reflects what we do. We really just be chillin, man, trying to enjoy ourselves. The world is crazy at this point in time, but we just do us and enjoy ourselves. That’s what I want for my music, what I want people to get, like, “enjoy yourselves.” I don’t try to be over people’s heads, or a super rapper, I just want people to be able to put it in and listen to it from front to back.
Is that your white car in the “3rd Coastin” video?
Naw, no, heck no, that’s not my car. [laughs] That’s a cool one, but I got a black one. We just used that one for the video. The black one’s actually in the video with Killa [Kyleon], when we’re leaning against the car. But the white one we just used for the old school vibe. It was cool. But when I was driving that car, man, something was wrong with the steering wheel. I don’t know if you can notice it in the video, but there’s a certain moment when I look at the steering wheel funny. I thought it was about to come off. [laughs]
Just snap right off. [laughs]
I was like, “What the hell?”
Music-wise, what do you like to ride to?
Curren$y, that’s the homie. I like his music. I like Slim’s music. I grew up on Slim’s music. That’s why it’s cool that I get to work with him. Bun B, Pimp C, UGK, Jay-Z, Cube, I still listen to Cube, all the CDs. It all depends on how I feel that day.
Any Drake in there?
Drake, yeah, I like his new CD. I like the second half of his CD, the songs without the singing on it are the ones I really like.
Paul Wall has a great verse on your tape. What’s allowed Paul to stay relevant, as far as the mainstream goes, because there are guys like Mike Jones who are struggling?
I really don’t know. Honestly, I’ve never met Mike Jones, which is crazy. I’ve met and dealt with everyone in Houston. You look at my CD and I have all the OGs from the scene out here on my CD. But I’ve never even met Mike Jones, man. I’ve seen him out here before, but I’ve never dealt with him or met him, so I don’t really know about his situation. I just know Paul, and Paul’s a grinder, regardless of his music. Outside of rap he’s always getting to it. Really what I think is enabling him right now is dealing with Slim, because Slim’s doing the weekly releases on Twitter and grinding real hard. It made Paul want to get in there and do the same thing. Slim is just using the resources that are available to him. He’s got Twitter with a certain number of followers so he drops songs on there and everybody’s going to get to hear it. It’s crazy because a lot of those songs that he’s dropping on Twitter, we end up hearing them on the radio. It’s pretty cool, so I’m sure that motivated Paul to get on his grind and do his thing.
At this point, with any artist, like I said I’m shooting all these videos, you don’t have to wait for a label anymore. A lot of those older artists weren’t used to doing stuff the new way. They’re used to being on labels and having to wait for the go-ahead. That’s why Slim is able to do it so well, because he was always more or less independent. He could always do what he wanted to do, so I think the other guys need to figure that out.
I really like the cover art for Settle 4 Le$ Vol. 2. That’s you, I’m assuming, on the cover.
Yeah. [laughs] That’s me when I was younger.
You have any memories of that photograph.
Honestly, not really. I have no clue. My mom sent me that picture one day and I’m like, “What the hell? Why am I sitting like that when I was younger, like I was cool or something?” [laughs]
Use your imagination. What do you think was going on?
I don’t know. I was probably being bad, mimicking my dad or something. I was a very mischievous kid. I had to be up to something in that picture. I was trying to be extra cool.
You’re scheming something.
Looking at your Twitter, you’ve got an impressive camo game.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve been doing that for a minute, man. A lot of people think that comes from the Wiz Khalifa thing, but a lot of people don’t know. I’m pretty sure Wiz got that from Curren$y, because I’m originally from New Orleans, and that’s something we’ve been doing for a minute. Back in the Master P days we always rocked camouflaged shorts. It was almost out of necessity, because camouflage almost goes with everything. When you grow up a little less fortunate it’s easier to have that to wear, and then as we got older we just kind of stuck with it.
People in Toronto are wearing the camo pants.
Yeah, we definitely got the pants, because it’s getting cold out here. I just bought two pairs of pants like two weeks ago.
What about those shoes on your Twitter with the blue laces, that everyone was calling ugly?
Oh, you talking about the Ice Cream’s? Those are the Pharrell joints. It’s just one person who called them ugly. It was my partner, one of the guys who shoots our videos, he’s more of an old school dude. If I put a picture of his shoes, his shoes are horrible. I got a different type of style. I don’t really try to follow anybody. I just do me.
You like the kaleidoscope colors.
Yeah, I got all kinds of colors. I just have fun. I love to be that dude in the club, because we get in all the clubs out here, I love to be the one who doesn’t follow the dress code but you still see me up in there. [laughs]
So what’s next for you?
Well, the tape we’re working on over all the West Coast beats is called Vintage. We’re dropping that on like New Years. The fans probably aren’t expecting a tape that quick, so we’re going to surprise them with that one. [not anymore] Then we have another tape coming out probably in February.
– By @petermarrack
You might also like
More from Interviews
Brooklyn native CJ Fly released his single "City We From." It is self explanatory of what the single means, and …