“I heard Chicago got the highest murder rate,” announced Brick Squad’s Young Joey midway through Waka Flocka’s set on Sunday at the Chi-town stop of his Triple F Life tour. “How many real niggas in here tonight?”
A smattering of hesitant cheers scattered through the Congress Theater crowd, which showed up in healthy numbers thanks to the absence of any age restriction. (No hats, though.) Joey’s low-key poignant, if not awkwardly worded, murder rate line quickly segued into the song “Real Niggaz,” and the concert jumped back into its regularly scheduled programming of thumping beats, manic energy, and, of course, good humor.
Entry was extra tight – pat downs and bag checks for all – in light of the city’s widely publicized problem with gang violence as well as Congress’s multiple security scandals this year. The cops insisted the show stop at 9:30, Waka’s road manager G-Boy told me, as they have done to hip-hop concerts at Congress and other Chicago venues as of late.
The theater’s neon-clad security spent most of their time plodding humorlessly through the crowd, sniffing for weed smoke and removing girls from their boyfriends’ shoulders. Multiple times throughout his set, Waka would interrupt the music to rightfully scold their overenthusiasm. “Ain’t no fighting in the crowd. We good, man,” he said. “Let’s turn this shit into a party.”
Welcome back to Chicago.
I heard y’all already had some problems so far. What’s going on?
I ain’t have no problems.
They’re not shutting it down early?
Why is that?
Not due to me, due to the behaviors of the city. That don’t got nothin’ to do with me.
What keeps you coming back then?
Love it. It’s the Chi, man, what you mean? That’s a stupid question! The people, the love, the energy – that shit’s just undeniable.
One of your artists is from Chicago.
How did you link up with him and Chief Keef for the “Murda” record?
I met Bo Deal like five years ago, before I was even rapping – he was cool as hell anyway – in Chicago, on the road with Gucci, doing shows, like bump into him in the club. So ever since then, we been cool. I have a relationship for like five, four years going strong. Chief Keef, everybody quote-unquote says, “He sound like Waka.” I’m like, “Whatever, let me see who this guy is.” And he’s just cool as hell. He’s just a kid that need direction, that’s it.
Do you think you and Chief Keef do have similar sounds?
I can’t single Chief Keef out. You can single a lot of people out. Everybody got some Waka Flocka sounds.
The whole drill scene. Do you listen to any of it?
Hell yeah. Love it. I listen to the drill sound, the trap music – that shit hard. Shout out to my boy Diplo. He cool as fuck, man. Diplo a real motherfucker.
Do you see [trap music] coming from the same sort of sound – like you and Gucci and Lex and the whole thing – or is it something different? Is it hip-hop even to begin with?
Honestly, I’m not hip-hop. I’m punk rap; I feel like I got punk rap. I feel like I’m in my own genre. Me, Machine Gun Kelly, a couple other people – we punk rap. So I don’t give a fuck about what they talking about.
What about Odd Future?
Punk rap. That shit hard! All that punk rap, it’s just different forms of it.
What is punk rap? How would you define it?
Loud bass, distorted, just I-don’t-give-a-fuck type music. It get no better than that.
Are y’all still about to do a mixtape together, you and Tyler?
Yup. How you know?
Who’s making the beats?
Tyler and SouthSide.
I know you fuck with Chief Keef and them, [but] he can’t even come in the city right now. He stays out in California, supposedly, ‘cause it’s just not safe for him here.
Do you have any advice for him?
My advice is – he’s doing the right thing, staying out the fire, understanding the madness that he created. ‘Cause the problem always start from the person that they say got a problem. You created it, like, you cooked it first. And they just stirred the ingredients.
So he needs to get out the kitchen for a little bit.
Yeah, get out the kitchen.
Gucci new mixtape came out this week. What’s your favorite Gucci mixtape?
My favorite Gucci mixtape? Chicken Talk.
Isn’t that right around when you first met Gucci?
The whole thing with Jeezy flared up again this week, and you came into Gucci’s life right around the time when it was first going on. Do you remember what that situation was like back then?
It’s the same as it is today. Regular. It was nothing to it.
You remember when he was recording those records, like “745”?
Yup. Hell yeah, he was going hard, too. That shit was hard, man, it was, like, Gucci just developing. The way his words was getting clearer. Shit, I was admiring him, man, just to catch it firsthand. I guess by me watching that, it make it a little more easier for me when I do today.
Does witnessing this whole Jeezy/Gucci problem – as a rapper this time around – does it feel different? Do you have a different perspective?
Nah, I got the same perspective. Everybody should know my perspective: Gucci’s Brick Squad, I’m Brick Squad. There’s no answer, like, you got your answer to that. You know how that go.
What’s your favorite Flocka mixtape?
My favorite Flocka mixtape? I’ll say Lebron Flocka James 2. That’s when I developed into my new style, or I don’t know. That shit, I just love that mixtape. Probably because I got injured, coming back, all this shit. Yup. I’ll say Lebron Flocka James.
Are you working on new ad-libs always?
Hell yeah. Dropped Salute Me or Shoot Me, Volume 4. I’m working, though. I’m ‘bout to get ready to drop DuFlocka Rant, Part 2. Real soon. Probably as soon as I get off tour.
Last subject: we gotta talk about your Instagram.
Why is that people are always fighting like shit in your comments?
I don’t know, bruh. I swear to Jesus Christ, bruh, I’m tryna find out why. I could post a picture of, Have a nice day. “Fuck you!” “Fuck you!” That shit just be crazy.
A friend of mine said you called her out in the comments section.
Hell yeah, I’m known for that. Can’t let nobody just downplay me and I’m gonna watch that shit.
You take pictures with the fans all the time. How does one become one of Waka Flocka’s #NewFriends?
I don’t know, man. I flick through it, see it. “That look like a cool ass friend.” You just gotta look like a cool ass friend.
Any advice to a young, up-and-coming rapper, Waka Flocka?
My advice to a young, up-and-coming rapper is: dreams come true; you can survive hard times; keep pushing; do not change; don’t try to be another rapper that somebody implied that you sound like or remind them of; always know what got you to where you at; you always gotta just keep hustling; and strive for the best.
photos by Matt McDonald
for outtakes from this shoot, visit our Tumblr
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