Skinny is an interesting figure within hip-hop. With the rise of internet rappers and the rise of Yeezy as a fashion icon, there has become a lot of uniformity in the game. In terms of how people dress, sound, talk and even flow, it’s hard to find people who particularly stick out. Skinny is an anomaly — at least in terms of his story and appearance. He is a rapper from Saudi Arabia who has enormous dreads, a Bob Marley tattoo on his right arm and can often be found shirtless. His persona seems larger than life.
Skinny clearly stands out in the hip-hop world as an original. He is looking to find his way within the business and may not have found his sound completely, but like he alludes to later on in this interview, perhaps the beauty of making music is being able to create something different every time. Behind the dreads is an incredibly humble and hungry individual who has nothing but positive energy.
RESPECT. Magazine had the chance to talk to Skinny last week about meeting one of his idols, Timbaland, the origin of his name, his past and current projects and his life philosophies.
RESPECT.: What’s up Skinny? How’s it going?
Hey what’s up Jeremy?
RESPECT.: I’m blessed to be breathing, what about you?
Same man, everything’s been pretty good so far.
RESPECT.: What’s your day to day life looking like recently?
Man, just uh, lots of studio work. And starting to rehearse, hopefully start hitting the road soon.
RESPECT.: Word. So you’ve been making music since you were 14. At what point did you think, “this could become real for me. This could become my career and I actually have a shot at this?”
Um, the point when I got validation pretty much from Timbaland. It was like six years ago. I was in the studio with him and I played my first record. He made me play 14 songs and just jumped on one of my tracks. So at that point I was like, ‘Hey if Timbaland’s f***ing with me..’ You know, it gave me the confidence really to push my s**t.
RESPECT.: That’s crazy. So what was that experience like? Were you starstruck at all or were you like, ‘I’m meant to be here?’ What was going through your head at that point?
It was so unexpected too, because I had just met this girl in a gas station and I had played her my music and she’s like, “f**k it, I’m gonna take you to Timbaland right now.” And I was like, “what?” And we were randomly driving to Timbaland’s studio, and you know he’s really funny. It was the first time I got to meet him and he was cracking jokes. I was definitely (starstruck), especially Timbaland because he has a lot of Arabic influences in his music, so it’s amazing to see how talented (he is), putting all different sounds together. So it was very, very cool. It was one of the best days of my life pretty much.
RESPECT.: Do you believe in fate? Like do you believe you were meant to be at that point, to meet that girl to get in that studio?
Oh definitely dude. It was definitely fate. And it’s cool to get some validation from somebody you look up to, you know what I mean? It was like a huge thing. So… And what’s crazy is that he started playing all these samples he had from all of this Arabic influential s**t and I was like, ‘Is he really? Is he trying to show off right now?’ * laughs * But nah it was definitely fate forsure. But I haven’t heard from him since then, so you know what I mean? But yeah, it was definitely the start to something amazing.
RESPECT.: So have you reached out since then?
Nah, so we really just never really got a chance to get back in together. It was a long time ago too, so I was just kinda in my cave. I wasn’t really looking for it, it kind of just came randomly. So it just came and I was like, ‘Oh okay, that’s cool.’ Cause I heard, that even a music exec couldn’t get in a room with Timbaland and play him even like 5 records. You’d have to pay him for that s**t at the time. So it was a long time ago. So I was like, ‘Wow, he really f**ks with my s**t.’ So I must have something special.
RESPECT.: Well I think some moments in life just happen for a certain purpose and that moment might have just been to push you to keep going in your career and give you that validation.
RESPECT.: Where did the name Skinny come from, was that a thing ever since you were a kid?
You know what? I looked in the mirror one day and I was like, ‘Man I’m f***ing hella skinny.’ And really that’s just how it became funny. I’m like, ‘You know what? I’m Skinny.’ So it just kind of stuck and I just ran with it.
RESPECT.: If you gained a lot of wait, do you think you would just be “Fat” with a PH? * laughs *
Ah no, it would actually be cooler if I became obese, you know what I mean? Like a guy walks in and his name is ‘Skinny’ * laughs * That would be amazing!
RESPECT.: Yeah that’s ill * laughs * That’s hilarious. So was it hard being a rapper from Saudi Arabia? In your culture, how was it viewed by your family and close friends from there?
Oh yeah. That s**t is impossible man. It’s never like, been done before. Especially at the time where I was trying to be in the game. It was really closed, it was tough. So I just stuck with it and I really believed in myself.
RESPECT.: Do you think having that as a chip on your shoulder has kind of helped you because it makes you original and you’re like, ‘You know what, I’m gonna be the guy to do this’?
I hope so man. I’m still hoping, you know what I mean? * laughs * But no, it has. It has it’s ups and downs really. It has the ups of being different but the downs of maybe being not taken as serious. I feel like I’ve gotta work (twice) as hard and prove myself double as much in order to see it. But it’s okay because it just makes me work harder.
RESPECT.: Yeah, because this guy I watch on YouTube, his name is Garry Vee. And he always talks about how being an immigrant is sometimes the greatest advantage you can have because you feel like it’s just a blessing to be here. So you don’t take your time and the ability to work for granted. So I mean, it could help!
Absolutely. That’s really true.
RESPECT.: Ghetto Disneyland is the name of your last project. If you had to describe Ghetto Disneyland, what does that look like?
It’s just your local amusement park down the street. That’s where you go and you get a little ice cream or popcorn and throw a couple of things. But you know, to you as a kid it’s the most amazing thing in the world. So it’s Disneyland to you. And, also ghetto Disneyland, it’s like a dream to just be out here and be able to be yourself you know what I mean? And really just do it. * laughs *
RESPECT.: You also have a song called “Eight Dollar$”, if you only had 8 dollars to your name, what is the one album that you would buy on iTunes that has really changed your life?
Oh, 1999 Parachutes. $7.99 right now. It’s a great investment because hopefully some of the money would come back to me, you know what I’m saying? * laughs * But yeah no, that’s definitely the album of my choice.
RESPECT.: What is 1999 Parachutes? Why the title?
Really you know, when I say parachutes I kind of mean birds. But humans, the closest thing we could do to a bird, I mean now s**t is crazy, but I’ve always thought that, I see parachutes flying. But pretty much 1999 came from, in my mind one day I just woke up and I was seeing 2000 birds in the sky. And for some reason my mind was telling me there’s 2000 of them, and in my mind I was the only one not flying. So I subtracted one. It was just a flock of birds of people flying the same way and I just kind of refused to go and follow people. I just wanted to fly another way, so it was like, I’m the missing link pretty much. The outcast bird.
RESPECT.: Like you’re the leader, and they all might be pushing one way but in your heart you know that you’re not supposed to fly with them?
Yeah, and I’m just watching em all go like, “damn, it would probably be cool to be flying with everybody, but I’d rather just do my own thing.”
RESPECT.: Word. That’s dope. So do you always have visions like that, that push your music, or is it just like one day you’ll wake up and feel a song? What’s your creative process like?
Yeah, I just get really high and I let the universe take me, I try to pay attention, you know what I mean? It’s amazing, we’re aliens dude. So like, the universe sometimes tries to tell us s**t* we just have to pay attention. So really, that’s what, I’m just praying a lot and I’m just really going on whatever the world tells me pretty much.
RESPECT.: I completely agree. I think that if you’re looking for it, then the universe will give you every sign to tell you you’re on the right path. Or where to go, or who to see but a lot of people just don’t open their mind to it I think.
Exactly. And that’s why pretty much every song sounds different. Because it’s new. I can’t be happy everyday because it’s false. I’m not gonna be happy everyday. I’m not gonna be sad everyday. I might feel real angry one day and make a song that sounds angry. To express your emotions and your mood through music is like great therapy.
RESPECT.: Where did you get the idea to have other people act out your music in your last couple of music videos?
It really kind of solidifies the feeling to the viewer, you know what I mean? I want the feeling to come across. I’m not doing this because I want to be famous and ‘Oh my god, I’m on the video!’ I really do appreciate the art. It’s something I really appreciate. So if I make a song and I felt like a little kid dancing like Michael Jackson might be more effective to a viewer than just me sitting there and doing it. I like bringing real life to it and having other people be involved in it. Cause you know, hopefully somebody would relate and then maybe that song would help them go through whatever it is they’re going through. Or make them feel some type of way, or make them miss somebody they miss, or whatever. Make them feel something. Because I feel like music these days is very numbing, and it’s not supposed to numb you. It’s actually supposed to heal you, you know what I mean?
RESPECT.: I agree. So in terms of that, what would be your biggest goal with your music? Like, what do you hope to accomplish?
S**t I just hope to be the greatest. * laughs * For real. Like, I don’t want to be the greatest where it’s like I’m king of this s**t. Nah, I just want to make wonderful music. And to make people enjoy it. And hopefully they appreciate it and I’ll be able to just do it all my life.
RESPECT.: Was PMK (Pu*sy Money Kush) inspired by A$AP Rocky’s track?
You know what’s so crazy? I had never heard A$AP’s “Pu*sy, Money, Weed” song before. So me and Lil Ice, Ice T’s son, were rolling around. I had just bought a Canon camera, and I was like, ‘You know, I’m just gonna shoot me a whatever video. Let’s just hold the video and go around.’ And when I played him the song he was like, “Didn’t you hear A$AP’s song?” And he played me the song right there. And I’m like, ‘Wow.’ * laughs * So for the longest time I didn’t wanna do it you know what I mean? And then I was like, ‘Whatever let’s just do it.’ So that’s why I took the video. I was like, ‘You know what, I’m gonna put my work in the visuals more so. It’ll kind of make em forget about the song for a little bit and focus more on the journey than the actual record.’
RESPECT.: That’s crazy how you didn’t even hear it before.
Yeah, it’s really weird. But I’m a fan of A$AP Rocky so I would never wanna come across like I’m tryna jack his song or nothin’ like that.
RESPECT.: How did you meet Ice T’s son?
Oh we just randomly met in the studio like five years ago. We just became like best friends, we just became really close. It’s really weird. Yeah I mean, he smokes and I smoke, and we like to chill so it kind of like, it was cool.
RESPECT.: Who’s the person who, I mean, you met Timbaland, but has there been anyone else that you’ve met that you’ve been kind of starstruck by or been like, “woah”?
Oh definitely. I mean, Dr. Dre. I met him many times. Well actually, another thing, Mike Lynn, used to be an A&R at Aftermath, I don’t know if you know him. After the whole Timbaland incident, he told me, he was like, “Yo, you should stop producing for other people and you should just focus your own s**t and go out there and do all this s**t yourself.” And he was my mentor, assistant to Dre. * laughs * I’ve got some crazy stories about Dre. Like embarrassing s**t for myself that happened. But it’s pretty cool, like he definitely was one of my big inspirations man, like Dr. Dre. He definitely was up there and uh, starstruck.
RESPECT.: What’s one of the stories? * laughs *
Ah man, I dunno. * laughs * One day. But you know, I’ve gotta save a little bit. You know, a little juice.
RESPECT.: All you’ve gotta say is, “You’ll read it in the memoir.” * laughs * That’s my new thing. When someone asks like, “Yo, what’d you do last night?” “You’ll read about it in the memoir.”
Laughs * But trust me, it’s gonna come out so people can know.
RESPECT.: That’s great * laughs * Alright well last question. I mean, you’ve kind of gone into it already, but what would you say your biggest life philosophy is that you live by everyday that kind of pushes you?
Never rely on anybody else man. Always rely on yourself. Do it yourself. Put a little effort and you might be able to do it even better than the ones you’re trying to hire. Or whoever’s trying to help you. The f***ing skill as a human being that we have, and we are so able to learn quick if you really want to. So yeah, definitely do it yourself. And that’s where I’m at right now. That’s pretty much how I push right now.
Check out Skinny’s latest project, 1999 Parachutes below.
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