When talking about his next album and his goal as a musician, Panorama City, California’s Hopsin shared that his aspirations go beyond music. “I want to contribute to life in a positive way,” he noted. The young emcee who recently landed on Tech N9ne’s critically acclaimed All 6’s and 7’s album, seems poised to make a difference, a change that he says will carry more uplifting messages for fans. That type of positive message, he says, is one that will be featured more prominently on his next album, Knock Madness, an album he has high expectations for. “Whatever [Dr. Dre's] Detox sounds like, this has to be better than that.”
With a buzz that has been growing considerably of late, Hopsin is taking his message around the globe. With a some tour dates coming up in the states, he’s also got a few dates in Australia coming up for the end of August before returning home for the Andre Nickatina Money Shark Tour in September.
Amidst those travels HipHopDX caught up with Hopsin who spoke about his work with Tech N9ne, his controversial “Ill Mind of Hopsin #4” , the Tyler, The Creator diss and his renewed approach to lyrics and how his Funk Volume crew is “coming for that number one spot.”
Hopsin On Working With Tech N9ne
HipHopDX: Recently, many readers may have heard you on the new Tech N9ne album, All 6's & 7's. A lot of people were saying you had a standout verse on there. How did the collaboration come about and what did it mean for you to place a verse on that disc?
Hopsin: Well, I was in Texas. I was out on my I Am Raw Tour. Tech N9ne had hit me up. He told me he had a beat that B.o.B had made and it just had a chorus on it, and he was going to email it to me. He just told me the description of the song, what it was about and I was feeling the topic. So, he emailed me the beat and I vibed out to it for a few days. Then, I came back home and recorded my verse in my studio. I felt really good that he gave me the offer to be on his album, let alone on a song with B.o.B as well. That made it even better. I’m just really thankful for that. I’m glad he’s been keeping his eye on me to watch what I’m doing and he can see that I’m a legit up and coming artist in the underground. I was really thankful for that. Shout out to Tech N9ne, by the way, for doing that. It really helped me a lot, too. There’ve been a lot of fans who found out about me through that and you know, the momentum’s picking up every day and that’s just one of the elements contributing to the big streak that Hopsin is on right now, and Funk Volume as a whole.
DX: Speaking of that, coming up, you had a respect for Tech N9ne and his fan base has somewhat embraced you. What’s it been like to go from Panorama City to being recognized around the country, where his fans have grown to respect you and they talk about how they think you should be signed to Strange Music and things of that nature?
Hopsin: It’s really dope, man. It trips me out every day. I can’t believe it’s happening. I’m like, “Wow, is that me?” I used to be online, looking up other artists getting recognition like I’m getting now and I used to be like, “Man, I can’t wait until I’m there!” Or, “Man, what did this artist do to get there?” Now, I’m blooming into that area where I’m getting noticed like that. It’s trippy, man. It trips you out. I just look at myself sometimes like, “Wow, I’m Hopsin. I am that guy who’s getting these Facebook likes and these YouTube views, the guy getting acknowledged by all these rappers.” I’m just trying to figure out how to process all this. It’s happening so fast, man. Less than a year ago, I was broke as hell. I couldn’t even pay rent. I was on Ruthless Records. Now, I’m at this point and all of this stuff is happening. It’s all moving so fast. It’s moving like, really, really fast. But, I’m thankful for it. God has put me in a good position. He’s blessed me with having this gift to capture minds with my voice. I’m really thankful, man.
On “Ill Mind of Hopsin 4” And Odd Future
HipHopDX: We have to speak about “Ill Mind of Hopsin 4.” What motivated you to fire those shots?
Hopsin: On every “Ill Mind of Hopsin” , I fire shots. That was the fourth one and if you look in the past, I just speak my mind. It’s just the stuff that goes through my mind on a daily basis. Once a year, around summertime, I just put out a video of me just expressing myself to the fullest, without me holding back. That’s just what I do. I try to make the “Ill Mind of Hopsin” a little more raw than what I normally do in my material that I put out on albums. It’s always anticipated, so I just speak my mind. At the end of the day, it’s just competition, friendly competition. But, it’s what rappers have been doing for years and I’m not doing anything new. I’m just expressing my views on certain rappers and how I feel about certain people.
DX: On the track, you say Tyler, the Creator has “no flow” and that he’s succeeding off of a gimmick. Have his people reached out to you at all?
Hopsin: No. His people have never reached out to me. I don’t know him or anybody from his camp.
DX: If they did, what would be the outcome?
Hopsin: I have no idea what to expect, to be honest. I doubt that they will reach out just because I’m sure they know what I’m doing. Tyler’s done the same thing, I’ve seen online and stuff. So, they’re probably looking at it like, “I know what this guy’s doing. He’s just trying to get attention so I’m not going to feed into it.” Which is respectable, it doesn’t matter either way because the fans will eat it up. Whatever they do is what they do and that’s what it is.
DX: Truth be told, a lot of your supporters have been saying he bit your style and that of [fellow Funk Volume member] SwizZz, who also wears the contacts. Odd Future supporters probably felt the same if they hadn’t heard of you before. So, there is a back and forth there. What are your thoughts on that debate?
Hopsin: From what I hear, [Tyler, the Creator is] from L.A. County and so are me and SwizZz. We’ve been out for a minute. Our buzz is barely picking up this year, 2011, but we’ve been doing the contact thing for a while now. So, I’m not really saying they copied. I don’t know what they did. It’s just a weird coincidence that they do have contacts as well. But, we didn’t copy them and I can’t say if they copied us or not. The world may never know. There’s a lot of rappers who wear the contacts in the underground, though. There’s just not a lot of rappers who are marketed to the commercial world who wear the contacts so a lot of people may think that Tyler’s the first to do it or whatever. But, in the whole wicked underground, where I originally came up in, everybody’s wearing contacts, pretty much, so it’s nothing really new. I can definitely say me and SwizZz did not copy them because we were out first. Fans are always going to jump to conclusions, though. They’re going to make their own little assumptions and theories as to why things happen.
Hopsin On New Album, Knock Madness’ Positive Message
DX: On “Ill Mind 4,” you warn fans to “Get ready for Knock Madness.” What would you say that fans can be ready for? What can they expect and when is the album being released?
Hopsin: The album is going to be released in January-February, latest March of 2012. That album is, I’m hoping it’s going to be that album that puts me on the map. I want to be that independent artist. I’m not really looking to sign with any record deals. I’m just gonna roll with my Funk Volume record label. I just want that album to really put me on the map in a way where people are like, “How did this guy get to this point and he’s working out of his home.” I want that album to be so big to where people are like, “What is this guy doing? He must be cheating. How is he getting this type of production? How is he getting these types of music videos? How is he getting this type of exposure and he’s not signed to any of these major label? He doesn’t have P Diddy behind him or anything.” I want it to be that album. And, I um, I know this may sound crazy, forgive me, but hey, I’m only human and I have high expectations for myself. I don’t know what [Dr. Dre's] Detox is going to sound like, but in my heart, in my mind, I’m like, “Whatever Detox sounds like, this has to be better than that.” That’s just what it is. I’m not saying it will. I’m not saying it won’t. But, in my heart, that’s what I’m aiming to do, but we’ll see. [Laughs] I don’t know what Detox sounds like, like I said, but that’s just the route I’m going down. I want it to be in competition with that album. And, it ain’t gonna sell more than Detox, nowhere near. I’m just talking about, just listening to it, just the overall sound of it. I want people to be like, “The vibe of Knock Madness was sick as hell.” But, yeah, man. I’m really going to go hard on it in every song. You know, I’m not looking to do any type of filler tracks at all. Every song is going to have so many hours and hours put into it. I’m going to go in and make sure all the lyrics are done properly and that there aren’t any filler words as well. I’m just going to break everything down in detail, and tweak it as much as I can, until it sounds right.
DX: Lyrically, where are you trying to take fans on this album?
Hopsin: Lyrically, I’m still going to have the raw that I had on my previous album. I also want to enhance it and I also want to go in a more motivational type of direction as well. That’s because, I’m at a point in my life where I realized that it’s not cool to do just raw shit and not really have a good message behind it. You know what I’m saying? It’s not cool to just be rebellious for no reason and not have a positive outcome, because that doesn’t, it doesn’t benefit society. I’m still learning. I’m not the perfect human being right now and I’m growing. I’m 26 and I’m still growing. I just want to have, overall, a positive message but in a raw way. I’m not sure if that’s been done before but I’m definitely going to aim for that. So, I’m not saying my album’s going to be all Gospel-type and stuff like that but there’s a way to do it. I’m going to pinpoint it and I’m going to get it done. It’ll have the raw feel to it but I want to show people the realness of life. Don’t just be mean and crazy and cuss people out and diss rappers or diss ex-girlfriends for no reason. You can still express your anger but have a positive outcome at the end. Overall, when people listen to that album, I want them to feel inspired to be better in life and not just be crazy and do wild stuff to get attention without trying to benefit someone else’s life and make someone else see the positive side. We’ll see how it turns out, man.
DX: It seems like your motivated to not just talk about problems, but also talk about solutions. What do you think awakened you to that realization?
Hopsin: When I went out on tour, I just saw so many people and I understood life in a different way that I never saw before. People were coming up to me like, “Man, you changed my life,” or “This song made me want to do this.” I was like, “Wow, if I have this much control over this amount of people, then what is the government doing? What is the news doing? What are these bigger record companies doing, who have access to millions of people? They’re promoting alcohol, sex and drugs and all that stuff.” It let me know, I can’t steer these people in the wrong direction if they’re depending on me. Some people, it’s bad thing, but some people look at Rap artists as gods and that’s a horrible thing but unfortunately, it’s the truth. Some people will praise their favorite rapper but they won’t even give The Bible a try or any book of religion a try but they’ll praise their favorite rapper. That’s a big statement. That means, a rapper has the power to change one’s life. I want to make sure, if anybody looks at me in that way, which they shouldn’t, but if they do, I want to contribute to life in a positive way and not in a negative way. So, I’ve gotta be careful with what I say now because it’s serious. One little thing I say could result in somebody shooting up a school or beating up an ex-girlfriend or doing something crazy. So, I’ve gotta make sure there’s a positive message at the end so they know what the realness is, that it’s not cool to make the world a bad place.
DX: Do you feel like anyone has influenced you in that same way?
Hopsin: Well, I’m a big fan of Will Smith. He’s one I really look up to, not musically, but as a person. I also look up to Michael Jackson, just the way he went about things as far as being really humble towards his fans and not really spreading negative messages towards people. I want to be that type of figure towards society because it’s hard to find artists who are real, who aren’t money-driven, who just want to see the world become a better place. I want to be that figure towards a younger generation so they can say, “Yeah, Hopsin’s cool but he’s also not doing drugs. He never drank or smoked in his life. He doesn’t go around fucking groupies and all that and he’s still living cool. He’s happy. Everything’s going good.” I want people to see that and realize that there is a better side to life so when they reach their mid-twenties, they don’t have to deal with these stupid struggles and all this drama. I want them to create their own lane and find their own happiness without giving into all the influences and the whole sinister world.
DX: What can fans expect from your next album and Funk Volume as a whole in 2012?
Hopsin: Well, we’re definitely coming for that number one spot. [Laughs] So, whoever thinks they have that number one spot, I’m not saying whether it’s in commercial or underground but we are aiming to be number one. I honestly believe we will achieve that. We’ve got SwizZz on deck. He’s going to drop his album, though there’s no release date for that, yet. Then, I’m going to drop my album. We’re gonna sign another artist. We haven’t found another artist yet but we’re looking and when we do find one, it’s going to be even better. We just want to expand the brand. We want Funk Volume to be a household name and we just want people to appreciate. We want people to know that there’s still a lane for real music and real lyrics. People are like, “Ah, nobody wants to hear real shit anymore, they just want that poppy shit.” True, but nobody makes real music anymore for anybody to really know what the deal is with real music. So, Funk Volume is definitely putting use to real lyrics and it’s working. Now, people know there’s still a lane for this and it’s giving other emcees hope. Some people put down their pens, like “Ah, man, I can’t do this no more. You’ve got Waka Flocka [Flame] and Gucci Mane. They’re doing their shit and that’s what’s hot right now and I can’t be lyrical no more.” You still can be lyrical, you just gotta do it right. Good music never stops being good, and that’s what people don’t understand. Dope music is still dope. It doesn’t matter. Music is timeless. If it’s dope, it’s dope and people never stop liking dope music. I don’t know why everybody thinks that. Whether I sound like, a lot of people say I sound like [Eminem as] Slim Shady back in the day, it doesn’t matter because the shit is still dope. If you listen to his old shit, it’s still dope. Whether or not I’m doing that type of style, that doesn’t mean that it’s not dope. Dope is dope. If you watch an old Bruce Lee movie and he’s fucking round-house kicking somebody and then you’re doing it in 2012, it’s still sick. Mother fuckers still can’t do that. So what? Dope is dope. That’s what Funk Volume represents. We’re just doing some dope shit and there’s still lanes for dope shit and not just brainwashed commercial type stuff to sell records. It’s real shit. Funk Volume, we’re making moves right now. A lot of people know our name and it’s growing every day. It’s growing very fast through word of mouth and we have really supportive fans starting street teams all over the world. Things are going great. We can’t complain right now.