interview by @petermarrack
When Ronald ‘Slim’ Williams finally gives Tyga the hook over at YMCMB, he’ll surely dial up the bullpen and ask that Short Dawg warm-up his sippin arm. For the past couple regular seasons, Houston-born rapper Short Dawg has been hard at work establishing a rather stoic following, which means his fan-base has endured a slew of mixtapes with little or no sign of a forthcoming major album release. Hell, they’re just as content with drops like The Adventures of Drankenstein, something not quite underground, yet not exactly major, a whole other monster, per se. Like his music, Short Dawg is difficult to put in a box, however hard us sycophant journalists try to do so. Whether the dude is actually sipping on lean, or he’s merely “supplying the fans with the stuff they want to hear”, is clearly beyond me. All I can tell you for sure is that Short Dawg’s next on deck… [correction: our advisers over at ESPN inform me there’s no such expression as ‘next on deck’, but that it’s in fact ‘in the hole’, so, needless to say, Short Dawg is in the hole]
Read the complete interview to find out who’ll square off in next year’s NLCS.
You out in Atlanta?
Naw, naw, I’m in Houston.
Is it warm out there?
Naw, it’s kind of cool now.
The Adventures of Drankenstein, who did the artwork for that?
Some cats out of Canada.
I don’t know their names.
You do some crazy designs on the white cups as well.
Yeah, that was just something I started doing randomly. I’ve always been one to draw. In school I used to love to draw. So my cup is like a big-ass piece of paper to me, every time I’m just sitting there leanin, it’s something I like to do high. People took to it and now you got a lot of cats writing R.I.P. to their neighborhood and all that shit. So I started taking pictures of my cup and posting them on my Twitter or putting them on the internet. Really it started on Myspace. I started posting them on my Myspace. Cats would see me out here in public and be like, “Man, who’s drawing your cup?” I’d be like, “I did.” Next time I see them they got a cup and are drawing on it.
You got to get some merch, Short Dawg Styrofoam white cups.
Yeah, yeah, I got some things in the works right now. I didn’t want it to be too generic, I wanted my actual drawings, so I had to wait. I needed people on board for that.
They used to have dixie cups when I was a kid with different patterns and designs on them. Actually, I’m sure they still have those. But this could be your version of Dixie cups, but with white cups. [laughs]
How did you come up with the whole Drankenstein theme?
I was actually in the process of recording my first album. My producer and I were taking so long doing it, because I had to go out of town or he had to go out of town, or I had to do a show, or he had to go produce for somebody, I was just on the road so much at the time, I was like, “I gotta give the fans something in-between, I don’t want them to keep waiting until we’re done, because it’s taking a long time.” So I’m like, “Fuck it, I’m going to put out a project and call it The Adventures of Drankenstein.” Because I was always traveling and performing, sippin and enjoying everything, so I was like, “I’m going to call it The Adventures of Drankenstein.” It started out with me just doing random recordings, and as I was listening back to it I was like, “This really sounds like something. Let me press pause and put some more effort into it.” I gave it a little more attention and it became an album.
That one beat, the Mr. Lee beat for “Rollin Wit A G”, it’s crazy. What do you look for in your production? Do you take everything in and then pick, or what?
Naw, I just like music. I tell everybody that I’m an inspirational artist, like a lot of the stuff I’ve done I can’t even look back and tell you how I did it, because I get inspired to do it. I can’t just go to the studio and say, “I’m going to make a song right now, play any beat and I’ll make it.” In order to make music, the music I like to give to the people, I need to be inspired, so every beat you hear on Drankenstein, it inspired me to make that song.
Are those original Timbaland beats you got on there?
Yeah, those are original Timbaland beats. We’re working on my album right now.
Shit, those must’ve cost a fortune.
[laughs] Well, I’m actually working with Timbaland. I’m at the crib right now watching his E! True Hollywood Story.
You mentioned an album. What are you working on now?
You know, dealing with labels and stuff it’s kind of hard to say you’re working on an album until you have an actual release date, so everything I record I try to make album-worthy, in case I get an album release date, but in the meantime I’m just going to keep putting out these street albums. Drankenstein was more than a mixtape because it didn’t have one unoriginal beat on there. Everything was original, and had I been in line for a major release that would have been my album right there. That’s what my album would have sounded like if it had come out right now. I’m just recording a bunch of new records, going back to the elements of freestyling on the instrumentals, doing something to give the fans, you know, for download or iTunes, to keep my voice heard, keep me moving.
What about features? How do you work them in?
Yeah, yeah, I’m definitely collaborating with people. I’m only doing two verses on every song, and then I’ll add the features later. I haven’t picked them yet. First I go in and finish up my verses, lay it out, then I go back and listen and figure out who sounds good for each one.
Seems like a good process. How’s it work over at Young Money? You’re affiliated of course, but is it pretty hands-on, or are you more independent?
I try to keep my independence. We’re all cool as friends, but friends and business are two different things. You try to keep your business mind while still being cool with people. I try to be as self-sufficient as possible to keep my brand going. I have my own company, Fresh Music, and I got my own team surrounding me, so we do what we’re doing. Once they kick in, everything should mesh together.
So what exactly do they [Young Money] do? Do they help you in terms of getting your project heard?
For the most part, like I said, we have more of a casual understanding with them over there. When I go out to Miami to work I record with everybody and shit like that, but for the most part when it comes down to business I just stay focused on what I’m doing, because I know right now I’m not on deck to go. They just dropped the Drake album, they got Tyga coming up. I can’t just sit back on the bench and watch, I got to keep doing what I’m doing. Until I get the call, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.
So it’s basically you putting together your plan then.
Where would you like to see yourself next year?
Next year I’d like to see myself on a billboard in Times Square, on magazine covers, and things of that nature.
What are you going to do to get there?
Keep grinding, man, that’s all I can do, keep putting out good music, and keep supplying the fans with the stuff they want to hear.
I read you did a lot of uncredited ghostwriting. Is that true?
Yeah, that’s correct.
I started with a lot of artists who aren’t that well-known, and went on to working over there at Young Money, working with Twist and Wayne and stuff like that. It’s not so much I sat back and wrote anything, but I’m around them everyday so if I have any idea and they’re working on something it’s like, “Here, have it.”
You’re part of the creative process. Is there money in that?
Yeah, there’s definitely money. You get your cut. Everything I do I get credit for it. You see me on it and then you read the credits and I’m there. That, or we have an arrangement where I get a certain percentage of the royalties.
That must have been helpful for you in establishing your own thing.
I mean, yeah, it’s cool. I never really got too big into it. It let people know that my talents have a wide-range. I can do more than just work on one type of track, I can diversify for an artist who makes a different kind of music. But I definitely want to get more involved once I get myself more established, I definitely want to get involved in helping other people with their songs. I just love making music.
Are you living in Houston permanently?
Yeah, I just moved back to Houston recently.
Which part of Houston?
I used to live in The Woodlands.
Okay, yeah, you’re way out there.
Is that where you were born, Houston?
Yeah, I was born and raised out here.
Your family’s from there and everything?
You go way back. I saw a pic on your Twitter of Wayne’s Maybach. He lent it to you for a night or something?
What’s it like driving around in that thing?
I didn’t drive. I was in the back. [laughs]
You notice people checking you out?
I mean, I’m really lowkey. Everybody who knows me will tell you, man, I’m not like the average rapper. I don’t really have an ego situation. I just look at it for what it is, it’s my career choice. It doesn’t make me who I am, it’s just what I do, what I’m good at. All the other stuff, the extras, they’re cool, but that day I really just took the car to go get some food and then head to the studio. I didn’t bend any extra corners or nothing like that.
[laughs] You mentioned in your lyrics that you’d been evicted from some apartments in the past. What’s the story there?
That was when I was younger. My mother, she was a single parent, so it was just one of the things that came with the struggle.
What about the car crash? I feel like not enough people know about this history.
I mean, that was something that happened when I was 16. I had a Cadillac, trying to be fly out here in Houston, and I got into a bad car crash which left me in a coma.
Do you have any memories of that?
I have a few here and there, bits and pieces as far as what happened with the crash, leaving the hospital, but you really only deal with stuff you’re going through, and once you get past it you’re looking at what comes next. One thing I learned from being in that accident is that I need a purpose while I’m here, because my life could have been over at 16. Everything I do now I try to plan ahead for, and make something out of every situation I’m given.
Switching topics a bit, you had some crazy socks on in one of your Twitter pictures, the orange and purple ones with the palm trees. What are those?
Just the socks on my feet, man. [laughs] A lot of cats are doing that now, but it’s cool.
How’d you get the shoes to match?
That’s one thing I do. I definitely live in an area now where matching isn’t too cool. You see kids dressing and they wear all these different colors and don’t match, but the way I was raised I was around a lot of street dudes and they were always clean. Every time they popped out their car they were matching head to toe, and that’s definitely something I picked up from being in the hood. I’ve always matched. Even when I didn’t have as much money and couldn’t get the things I get now, I still kept my stuff neat and had nice shoes and always matched. Now when I go out I shop ahead of time, I buy stuff and don’t even wear it. I buy stuff and let it sit in the closet. To be honest, I wear pajamas all day. I’d come out the crib in Polo pajamas right now and go to the studio. I’d go in pajamas. I don’t care. [laughs] But when I do get dressed, I got to put everything together, man. I be on my fashion thing a little bit too.
How old are you?
Uh, I’m old enough to get into the stripclub.
I’m unfamiliar with that. [laughs] I’m up in Canada. It’s different.
Well, I’m definitely old enough to get into the stripclubs in Canada.
Probably a couple years ago. [laughs]
Probably so. [laughs]
Where can fans follow you?
@elvisfReShly and www.short-dawg.com for new music, and whitecupgang.com is actually being uploaded right now, for all the merchandise for Drankenstein and things of that nature.
– By @petermarrack
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