The underground rap scene boasts more talent than the majors these days, and when talking about southern underground rap, you can’t leave out LE$. Originally he was born in New Orleans, but if you listen to him, his tie to Houston, Texas is undeniable. His love for the city is unmistakable, his laid back flow displays how hospitable he is, and his description of whips and culture is top notch. He matches that with a work ethic only rivaled by the likes of Gucci Mane & Curren$y, the guys he watched blow up from dropping so often.
Already having put out the amazing Midnight Club project in late May, it’s only September and he’s already coming through with a new project to close out the summer. By many standards Midnight Club maybe LE$’s best project, and if not it’s easily somewhere near the top. The samples, the raps, the cohesiveness of the project easily make it one of the better releases of this summer. Not one to get comfortable, LE$ is giving us Summer Madness in less than 24 hours. LE$ has been through a lot to get where he’s at now, and it’s unlikely he’ll let up anytime soon. He tells us what inspired Summer Madness, how he hooked up with DJ Mr. Rogers, his relationship with A$AP Yams and a whole lot more.
RESPECT.: In regards to your name where did the nickname Dolla come from?
LE$: Man coming up I was one of those guys always trying to figure out how to get some money. Like even now with the music, I’m independent and I do all my own stuff and finance my own s**t from jump. I was always a dude that that had some type of hustle. Everybody has their little broke struggles or whatever but I look back at those times like it was fun. Like being in college, being at U of H, (University of Houston) and I remember having 30 bucks for like 3 or 4 days. But you had to figure out little hustles to have more money than everybody around you.
RESPECT.: What did you study while In college?
LE$: I went to U of H out here man, I didn’t graduate but I was studying psychology. I really didn’t have a purpose to be in college. I just wanted to get the f**k out New Orleans to be honest with you. Houston was always a second home to me, cause my mother moved to Texas when I was like 7 so I been back and forth my whole life between Texas and Louisiana. Louisiana got really bad so I kind of was like man I don’t want to be here. The s**t like a dead end. And Houston was like the closest big city at the time with all the opportunities at the time. It wasn’t a New York. Atlanta was right there, but I didn’t know anybody there. I love Atlanta but I just didn’t want to live there. Houston was just familiar to me, and it wasn’t far from home.
RESPECT.: So explain to me why you drop so much music.
LE$: That’s just how the game is right now. I looked up to n***as like Gucci. And everybody who was really popping, they was dropping a lot of music. Future caught his wave by dropping a lot of music, Curren$y he drops a lot of music, even Drake, right now he’s dropping a ton of music. You can work on something for a whole year, drop it, and people be done with it in two weeks. So you gotta keep mashing, keep pushing your movement forward and keep the shit relevant and new. Cause people be on the next s**t so fast these days.
RESPECT.: What inspired the use of all samples on Midnight Club?
LE$: That was the original sound that me and DJ Mr. Rogers came with. I’ve always been a sample heavy artist. I’m a fan of that sound. Like Common, my favorite album by him was “Be” and that’s a sample heavy album. Jay-Z, American Gangster, Reasonable Doubt, even 4:44 everything is real sample heavy. I feel like it brings the soul to the project. It makes people connect to it differently. It’s definitely some original beats that a lot of people can make that have that same vibe, but it’s something about samples that bring that vibe that you can’t really get anywhere else.
RESPECT.: So what inspired Summer Madness?
LE$: I was working on all this stuff at the same time. I wanted to have something to drop right after Midnight Club, cause I know how music is digested quickly and they be on to the next s**t. I wanted something to close out the summer. It’s the daytime version of Midnight Club. It’s the exact same amount of songs, it plays the exact length of Midnight Club. You can damn near go song for song but it’s just different vibes. Like all the videos from Midnight Club were night time except “Top Down,” but this one will probably be a daytime thing with the visuals and s**t. It was a continuation, I wanted to drop something for my fans going back to school too. That’s when a lot of music is shared cause say you going back to college and you gon bring music you been listening to, your roommate’s gon bring some s**t he’s been jamming. You might meet a chick from somewhere else, she’s listening to something. Everybody just putting music together that they like, and that’s when people spread that s**t around. The music was meant for the summer of course, I always wanted to do a summer project.
RESPECT.: Run down your favorite artists to work with.
LE$: Freddie’s (Gibbs) the homie, we toured together. We got a lot of s**t cooking together, that’s my closest homie as far as music goes. Slim Thug that’s like my big brother of course. I like working with Freddie, Domo Genisis, I like working with Polyester. I got some s**t coming with G Perico. Larry June, I’m working with him too. Myself, Perico, Larry June, Polyester, Jay Worthy, we all kind of trying to bring a certain vibe to the game. We trying to bring that funk back to this s**t. That old sampling, funk, riding music. Not the super hip-hop sampling, but the G-Funk, more of the s**t that people can ride to, we all kind of on the same vibe. Cardo too, I been working with him for years. Dom Kennedy, he been around pushing that vibe for a minute. Big K.R.I.T., that’s my n***a. Curren$y, everybody knows my history with him and Jet Life, and that’s just all the homies.
RESPECT.: How did you and Cardo link?
LE$: One thing I’m gon always credit Cardo for is he’s onto s**t before anybody else is. Even when it came to me, Cardo was backing me before it was cool to f**k with me. He does it with a lot of artists, he keeps his ears to the tweets and to the streets, and he sees who people f**ing with, and if he f**ks with it, he’s not to big reach back and give them beats and get them out there. He’s definitely at the forefront of that whole G-funk movement coming back.
RESPECT.: You also knew (A$AP) Yams right? How did that come about?
LE$: Yams was my n***a. That’s another way a lot of us linked up. Yams was ahead of his time bro, and when I say that i’m saying he f***ed with me way before it was cool to f**k with me. I met Yams backstage at a Drake concert. It was when A$AP and Kendrick was opening for him on that one tour. I didn’t know him at all. He seen me, shot me a DM like “yo you at the Drake concert?” I told him like yeah I’m here, we met up, and he got to naming s**t I had dropped, telling me how he f***ed with me and the whole movement, and that’s why f**k with Yams so heavy. I even posted some messages before he had passed away, he told me he was about to get a situation with Sony and he wanted to get me in. If he still was here he would have signed a lot of n***as that’s popular right now. He would have been one of the biggest music execs in the game.
RESPECT.: Run down how you met DJ Mr. Rogers since you guys make so much music together.
LE$: I was out here trying to get this rap s**t started man. I was funding it myself, rapping in a closet. I had me a little project, I went and brought the burners, I bought the cd’s, pressed all them s**ts up myself. I had a few homies that was promoters so we was handing them out everywhere we could. Club end at 2, so we a be in there f**king around till’ like 1:30, 1:45. We a run to the car, get our backpack full of CD’s. People use to sell cd’s outside the club but Drake had just put out a free f***ing album, how the f**k we gon sell s**t? So I was just like I’m gon hand these b***hes out until they land in the right hands. It took a minute, I had actually handed Slim Thug one like 10 different times. Life goes on though, you still gotta pay bills so I had kind of quit pretty much. I had handed out thousands of tapes with no results. I had a gig out in Dallas, I was about to quit for real and move out there and everything. I sat down after like 3 days and looked around the office in Dallas, and was like I don’t want to do this. S**t look pathetic. I packed my s**t up and went back to Houston. I had a month left on my lease out there, and soon after I got back I ran into Mr. Rogers. I ain’t even approach him cause I thought like he heard it and ain’t f**k with it so I wasn’t trying to bother him. My partner that I was with he a real go getter, he walked up to him like you heard my mans s**t? He was like “oh yeah I did hear his s**t, I just be super busy I wanted to send him some beats.” I’m not thinking he about to send me some beats, but later that night he sent me like 10 beats, and I recorded to all of them. At that point I had never had my own beats, I was rapping over other n***as s**t. I sent them back to Rogers, he was amazed I had did them all so quick, and that became my first real mixtape. That was like the last week of 2009.
RESPECT.: So what’s your obsession with Steak and Shrimp?
LE$: Down here in the south the term Steak and Shrimp come from listening to UGK, S.U.C., 8-Ball & MJG, Master P, really anybody who said when they got money, they was gon eat Steak and Shrimp. It’s about achieving that level of success, that you can eat that. You don’t want to eat fast food everyday, you don’t want to be broke. You want to go sit down at a nice restaurant and eat you a nice meal. That’s what that whole statement is about. S&S stands for Steak and Shrimp, but it also stands for Strive and Succeed. It’s a motivational thing, it’s an aspirational thing, and something for all the hustlers trying to get to a certain point.
RESPECT.: How do you feel about being one of the dopest underground artists who doesn’t get as much credit as you deserve?
LE$: It’s just part of the game. You can complain about it or you can work. I don’t complain, this is my 25th tape. I don’t worry about who sees it or doesn’t. I definitely want to be on top, and be the most recognized, and get all the props I feel I deserve. But when people don’t give them to you, you don’t get mad, you just go back strategize and work harder. When a artist come out the blue and everybody talking about them, it’s not because they’re dope usually. It’s because it’s a machine behind them and they’re being put everywhere to be talked about. When you’re independent it’s a little harder, and they make it harder for you on purpose.
RESPECT.: Last but not least. Tell me where you get your signature laid back flow from.
LE$: I’m just a laid back person to be honest with you, I don’t even raise my voice. I grew up listening to Hov, and he’s super laid back. He’s got a real conversational style, when you listening you feel like you’re just shooting the s**t and you getting some game. I feel like that laid back style is universal, it ain’t going nowhere. It might not be the hottest s**t out but look at 4:44, Jay still killing n***as. People are into that, they listen to it better, sing it better, they comprehend it better. Right now though, trap s**t is killing it though, and I love it. I just don’t make it.
It should be noted that Summer Madness was orginally slated for a 8/31 release, but due to the severity of Hurricane Harvey it was pushed back. LE$ decided to push it back to focus his time on helping his city instead of pushing an album release. He secured a place to collect and recieve clothes for the children that lost all their clothing in the hurricane. That’s an extremely admirable act in todays social society, and we appreciate artists like LE$ for doing such things for his community. Other artists like Paul Wall, Bun B, DJ Mr. Rogers and more were all apart of relief efforts. Make sure you cop that Summer Madness as soon as it drops!
Follow LE$ on Twitter & Soundcloud.
New Music: LE$ – How U Love That
RESPECT Interview.: Meet G. Perico, The Man Quietly Making Some of The Best Music On The West Coast
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