DXnext: Casey Veggies
Inglewood's Casey Veggies outlines his role in the Los Angeles' Hip Hop resurgence, collaborating with OFWGKTA and cultivating organic raps.
Rappers are a lot like farmers. They grow their crops according to what’s in demand and in season or they don’t sell enough to make ends meet. Of course, different regions yield different produce that’s sold to different consumers. A farmer’s survival is dependent on his or her ability to adapt when necessary.
Ever since Snoop was “gettin’ funky on the mic like an old batch of collard greens,” west coast rappers have dodged the healthy diet bullet, literally and metaphorically. Although trying to cut back on artery clogging swine, (see: Ice Cube and cooking the breakfast sans hog), if you had to guess, an L.A. Hip Hop food pyramid would merely include Roscoes and Old English. As his moniker indicates, Casey Veggies suggests that vegetables have a place in sunny Southern California too.
Recently inducted into the Inglewood High School Honor Roll, Veggies exemplifies a rejection of the waning Jerk Movement of his peers and the antiquated G Funk of his elders. In an effort to “give the world more than some lil’ dances,” Veggies proved being a vegetable might not mean being brain dead during his late 2010 album Sleeping In Class. He might not pack the healthy punch in the ham handed conscious sense (see: Dead Prez “Be Healthy), but growth and progress is something the sprouting emcee strives towards. Chalking up features on 2011 projects from Dom Kennedy, Pac Div, and Odd Future, the 18-year-old rapper is hungry.
In a city where the Hip Hop climate has gone from drought to downpour, Casey Veggies spoke to DX about performing at SXSW and Paid Dues, his history with Odd Future, health, and high school.
Performing At SXSW: “South By Southwest was a great experience for me. I’ve been hearing about it for two or three years. It was good to finally get out there and check it out, to see all those people. I can’t wait to go back next year and really do my thing. I had four shows across three days.”
First Performance: “It was pretty fun man, it was dope. I didn’t know what I was doing. It was at a party in Hollywood, shout out to J- Money [for setting it up], I was 13. I was kinda nervous. I’m still nervous before shows but I was more nervous on some, ‘I don’t know what I’m about to do.’ It was at Forbidden City in Hollywood, that shit’s closed down now.”
The Making of Sleeping In Class: “I feel like when I made Sleeping In Class I made it so people would respond to it. I made songs for every demographic. I expected people to respond positively to it. I also expected people to grow with it and spread it over the next six to ten months. I know it’s going to spread even more because people gravitate to it. It’s real heartfelt music, it’s very emotional. I got a good response from it and I’m very blessed for that.”
Before Sleeping In Class: “I believe my first three project were learning experiences. Everything I do is a learning experience but at first I just really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just had a love for writing and listening to beats and going in. I would fill up papers, frontside and backside, and didn’t really have an aim, I was just putting out my thoughts. With Sleeping In Class, I knew what I wanted to do before I did it. I went in with the mind state that I wanted to put out an all original content Casey Veggies album. If somebody asks, “Who is Casey Veggies? What should I listen to?” I would say Sleeping In Class is the answer and that’s why I made the album like that. There are areas I could have touched on, but we are going to touch on those later. We have a lot more projects to come so we are going to keep getting deeper and more in depth with the words and with the rhyme scheme. It was definitely one of my best accomplishments.”
L.A. Rap Right Now: “I feel proud of it. I remember three years ago, we all were just local artists. We’re all friends, it’s beautiful. It’s a dope scene. We’re all coming up locally and we expected it but just didn’t know when. The fact that everyone is starting to pay attention finally is like, ‘whoa.’ We’re all dope and we’ve all been dope. We’ve been growing with our music and it’s great to be from L.A. right now. We’re finally getting our chance. It’s running away from the gangster attitude and showing more true emotion. It’s more people being happy to be who they are and happy to express that in the music. It’s positive, it’s bright sounds, new sounds, new emotions and new approaches.”
Murs & Paid Dues: “I believe that Murs influences me as an independent artist. He’s an independent artist that’s been in the game and holding his own. He’s taught me a lot. We’ve had conversations. We went out to eat, sat down and he gave me a few pointers, which I respect. I was a 12-year-old kid when I first saw a Murs video. Just the fact that I’m in this position [performing at Paid Dues] now, where he reached out and showed the love, I appreciate it. I respect Murs and his abilities. I respect all of the older west coast artists too, but I look at Murs as an independent legend. He’s been doing his thing for years independently, that’s what I want to do. I want to stay independent as long as I can and then go to a higher level. We’re gonna see as we go.”
L.A. Mixtape Guest Spots: “It’s people recognizing the real and recognizing what’s next. I’ve known Pac Div and Dom [Kennedy], we’ve been friends. It’s just the right time. Timing is everything. We always knew we were going to hit people with new music. I’ve been rocking with Odd Future for years. It’s all love, people reaching out to what’s real as they should.”
Working With Tyler, The Creator and Odd Future: “[OFWGKTA has] got something that nobody else has. It’s hard to explain really, but as you know they are on the cover of Billboard. They just got it. It’s pretty crazy but then again, I gotta keep working. I gotta get there too, by myself. It’s crazy but I’m happy for them. It’s a blessing because I got to see it where it started at. Just to see it get to where it is and see Tyler’s ambitions and his work ethic, it’s dope. It’s really inspirational for me.”
Rapping While Going to High School: “The catch to Sleeping In Class wasn’t necessarily ‘sleeping in class.’ There is more to it. I get that question a lot. I’m still in high school right now, at Inglewood High. I’m about to graduate on June 16. It’s a crazy juggle but it’s cool. It keeps me grounded and humble. I’m just a regular kid. It lets me see other kids every day. I get to see how different people react and see different lifestyles. I’ve never been tempted to drop out. I’m to the point where I feel as if I will put college to the side but never drop out of high school. I was always going to finish that.”
On Upcoming Projects: “I haven’t really talked much about it but we’re doing a Sleeping In Class deluxe edition with five bonus songs. We’re definitely coming with more music videos for the project. We’re focusing on remastering a couple songs and bringing some new attributes and features, maybe a new remix. It’s coming soon. I am happy to say that a lot of the people I’ve worked with already on the Sleeping In Class album is who I wanna continue to build with. I can’t even think of any producers that I really want to work with. I want to just stick with my homies. We’re going to get some new stuff in. I want to get with [Tyler, The Creator], Left Brain, Odd Future producers, people I’ve been rocking with since day one. I want to keep getting the same beats from the same producers but add new sounds and upgrades from those producers.”
Peas & Carrots, Arrogant Veggies, and the Vegetable Theme: “We came up with it, took it and just ran with it. Shout out to Anwar [Carrots] and Josh [Peas], they play a big role in a lot of the stuff I’m doing. It means organic growth. Everything we’ve been doing is organic. We want people to take that and know that like vegetables, you live and you grow. That’s basically the concept behind it. There’s a lot of different reasons that we’ve got, but when everybody asks me that, I try to give them the main concept for the people: live and grow. It’s real inspirational, keep it positive, that’s where we are at with it.”
In Three Years: “A lot of changes are going on right now. In three months, who knows? I’m just ready for whatever comes to me. In three years, I see my bank account looking pretty cool, for real. I’ve been working hard for like four or five years. I was aspiring to be a rapper at 12. The fact that I’ve put myself in a position to do it, says a lot about me. I saw something that I wanted and I went out and got it. I feel blessed and I’m just going to keep getting better. No one is going to stop me.”