Problem has earned his spot in the rankings with the elite starters of the West Coast, but he has separated himself from his competitors, driven to bring something different to the game. Chachi is both equipped with multiple approaches to sharing his message, as well as a strong ear for synchronizing good music. Remaining a strong independent voice, the Compton artist has released his follow-up to last year’s Selfish — titled S2, a continuation of The Separation, his 2013 mixtape with DJ Drama — through a partnership under Rostrum Records, the former label of Wiz Khalifa and the late Mac Miller. The second installment contains the same dope lyrics that Problem’s known for; what makes the tape unique is the transitioning of moods that Problem captured to keep you coasting the distance.
Recently, I was able to speak to the Cali star about S2, collaborations, the California Rap scene and more. Check it out below.
RESPECT.: What separates you from the rest in the game right now?
Problem: My heart, my resilience, my story, the trials and tribulations and the path I chose to take is what separates me. You can hear it in the afternoon music, you can hear that it is veteraned and seasoned. It’s walking through f***ing walls that nobody thought I could. Taking that energy and recording the music filling it, involving the new and upcoming artist. Mixing them in with the vets so we can be seen together and fellowshipping together meshing with stylish producers so we can make this big a** pot of dope n***as just dropping fly s***. Making it less about me and more about them. The music is what separates me from all these artists.
RESPECT.: You’re definitely playing the dot connector for sure, and you’re definitely an important role player on both the independent and major Rap circuits. What was your life like before finding your way into music? What made you go down that path?
Problem: My life was just being a regular black kid from Compton, misguided not really understanding how to be a man just yet. Having kids and having to really move around on the fly. Doing a lot of things I don’t like to mention but they made me who I am today. Once I became an adult the music s*** kinda took over my life. Even when I was teeter-tottering with any street s***, any life s***. The music was always the get away, it was always the therapy. It was always something that I always ran to. S*** been apart of me for so long, I don’t even remember what I was doing before music (laughs).
RESPECT.: S2 is the sequel to The Separation, the 2013 release with DJ Drama. Over the last 5 years, you’ve added a variety of music to your catalog. With S2, what would you say is the message behind the rollout you chose for the project?
Problem: You know, this first time, I didn’t have a message, I just wanted to have sixteen dope records dealing with a lot of dope people. A bunch of dope creative people that was down to try something new to send me vocals and let me mix around them and letting me trust in what my vision is. Producers with bigger names not tripping off sharing publishing with lesser name producers for the vibe of the record. The whole thing is to do dope s***. I did the whole roll out on Instagram. I did whole shit on Instagram. As far as what records I shot videos to. I teased all these records at some point throughout the year and watched the numbers and seen what got the most feed back. This project was for my fans. More so, we hustling inside out instead of outside in with this one and showing it.
RESPECT.: What do you feel was the smoothest collab that you put together?
Problem: Smoothest as far as sound-wise or easy?
RESPECT.: Easy, as far as the process and how you pieced it all together.
Problem: To keep it all the way a buck, everything kind of went smoothly because I didn’t start out trying to do the features. It was more so, I would see a record on the internet of an artist that I like and I would reach out. “You dope man let me send you this beat and see what you think.” They’ll send that s*** back like “I’m a fan of you, I f*** with you.” I did that to the point where other artists would reach out like, “oh, that’s hot,” and I’ll be like ah s*** throw a verse on there. It’s a lot of fellowship that created it. Nothing was forced, I didn’t go chase a feature, like that didn’t happen. Even with the [Puff Daddy aka Diddy] thing, I was at Puff’s house planning my album of what I had so far and he heard “So Disrespectful” and was like “yeah, I got to get on this one” and I was like “hell yeah, let’s rock out.” This is why I feel like the project flowed. It wasn’t no d*** riding thing. It was more like, well I think you’re dope, oh I think you’re dope too, let’s f*** around.
RESPECT.: Straight up. Which feature would you say is your favorite off the project and why?
Problem: Man, that would be like trying to tell you [who] my favorite kid is…man, that’s just f***ed up (laughs).
RESPECT.: That “Chase” record with Dave East and Fabolous is the one for me, I’ll be on that “Chase” when I’m on the way to work.
Problem: I love that “Chase” when I’m in the car. When I’m in the car that chase takes me to this mood. When I’m about to hoop, “So Disrespectful” or “Wild Nights.” If I’m on my “the night is over I’m about to go home” [vibe], “I’m Cool,” I gotta hear that. “Busy” is basically a short story of my life from age 12 to 28. All that s*** kind of connected me in a different kind of way.
RESPECT.: You paid your dues early, coming into the game around ’08. Are you still looking to prove yourself to the masses as far as being humble and being able to both carry and pass the torch?
Problem: You know what, as far as to the history of the West Coast, man bro I feel like I’m locked into that. I’m in that. I have done some things. My thing now is more so adding to the legacy that we’ve created. The fact that I have lasted this long being independent and still be in the mentions with these n***as who have major labels behind them already prove a valid point. As far as individually, I ain’t proving nothing to none of these n***as. F*** any n***a that ain’t rocking with how I’m going and how Diamond Lane moving. If you f*** with it, and you love how we rocking then I love you. If you ain’t f*** with how we rolling, f*** you. I ain’t here for that. I don’t need not one new friend. All my homies, been my homies.
RESPECT.: What does Diamond Lane mean to you as far as a label and a lifestyle?
Problem: Diamond Lane is way more than a label. We just some n***as that started a label, we family. We’re family that has been through more s*** together that has nothing to do with music. Music s*** really is a cake walk. This is like our amusement park. We preserved from a lot of different lifestyles and backgrounds to come together and do something positive and black and keep it that way…that is what Diamond Lane is now. It just started as n***as [who] got tired of doing the same s*** with our money and our time. Trying to do something very positive. Beginning with something where you going to have to eventually do it this way. It’s like nah, f*** this and stick with it.
RESPECT.: Right now, with different areas of LA and Compton coming together, do you think every one is starting to get the bigger picture on how to come together to get this money?
Problem: I feel like everyone has been on that individually and I wouldn’t say we’re having this kumbaya moment. I feel like everyone is just staying out of everyone’s way and not getting in no bulls***. Completely understanding we all are minorities out here trying to do something positive. So even if there is any bickering, it’s bigger than us. Bickering or little whatever, it’s bigger than us. We all trying to be on this big ass Mount Rushmore west coast shit. [Dr.] Dre, [Ice] Cube, Snoop [Dogg], Pac, and Eazy-E, they all got they place. Then you got me, [K-Dot aka Kendrick Lamar], and Dom [Kennedy], we got our spot. We are just trying to continue the legacy. It’s not really about the peace treaty s***, I feel like, you know what I’m saying. I feel like everybody should respect everybody and everybody should get out of each other’s way. Man, we got enough obstacles as people already, we don’t need to be doing that s***.
RESPECT.: What does the word RESPECT. mean to you?
Problem: RESPECT. is everything to me. I only move and deal with respect, I treat people with respect, and as a man I demand it. Respect is everything, Respect is more important than money; it is everything. As a man and as a black man, respect is mandatory with dealing with my name and what I represent. I’ll do any and everything to uphold that.
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