Sure, the South still has the Silkk the Shockers and the Lil Jons of the world, but dudes like T.I. and Young Buck are making sure that Southern cats dont lose their cool when it comes to lyrical content. For his next wave of So So Def youngsters, Jermaine Dupri follows the recent trend, introducing Yonkers-born and Savannah, GA-bred rapper T. Waters into the mix as the future of the label.
First heard on tracks alongside various D-Block cats, including several solid cuts with Styles P, Waters combines his hard New York flow with a Southern twang that results in more than just another crunked-up creation. While he still rolls tight with his Yonkers roots though, Waters inking a deal with So So Def honcho and Virgin President of Urban Marketing J.D. marks another instance in which lyrics are taking over in the South. His Flood Watch mixtape, hosted by DJ Envy, and the first single from the youngn, Throwd Off, prove that Ludacris may very well be tested as the only Mouth of the South in the future.
In his introductory interview to the hip-hop community, T. Waters spoke with AllHipHop about his past relationships with D-Block, shed some light on the oft-asked whereabouts of his name, and even revealed why the drought is over once his debut drops.
AllHipHop.com: As far as where youre from, you were born in Yonkers and moved to Savannah. When did you move down there?
T. Waters: When I was like nine years old. My mom took me.
AllHipHop.com: When you were like nine Okay, so your teen years basically. And, how long have you been living there?
T. Waters: Nah, I was down there for like eleven or twelve years.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, cool. But still, being that youre from Yonkers, I understand that you have a relationship with D-Block, right?
T. Waters: Oh yeah. Thats family for life.
AllHipHop.com: Can you talk a little bit about how that went down and how you hooked up with them?
T. Waters: Oh, you know, I was in Yonkers when I was younger, and around that time, thats around when they was doing the whole Bad Boy thing the early beginnings like Mona Lisa and them mixtapes with Mase and stuff like that. And, I left and then I see them on TV like hoodie hoo! Its like, Damn! They done blew up. So, Im following their career, but at the same time, Im in the South and Im trying to work on mine.
AllHipHop.com: So, eventually, what was it like as far as starting your career down in Savannah? How did that work out?
T. Waters: Well, that was with Camouflage, God bless him. As far as he was doing his thing independently, and then he got the deal with Universal. Then, he got dropped because of the murder trial and all that other stuff, but he beat that. He got killed shortly after that, and it was like, What am I gonna do now? So I just had to gather up my little bit of belongings, and go back up to New York and hang with Kiss and them. Down there in Savannah, it looks like there is no way out! No way, like dead serious. Its just the hood. Its not looking good in their mind. They think the world in no bigger than Savannah down there. As long as it hits Savannah and they got street fame in Savannah or whatever the case may be, they are good where they at. And its messed up when you let a small little city like that destroy a whole big life.
AllHipHop.com: And then, moving forward a little bit, how did you eventually hook up with Jermaine Dupri?
T. Waters: You know, I came down here to Atlanta, and everybodys within arms reach in Atlanta. We were in the club one night, and my cousin gives Puffy the CD. He gives Puffy the CD, and the CD didnt have a number on it, so Puffs like, I cant take that. What Im gonna do with that? So, the next night, we back in the same club and we run into J.D. So, we put the number on the CD, gave J.D. the CD, and he called us back 5:30 that morning like right after the club. He just let us know he was interested. He wanted to put the words with the face, so I came in and met him. One thing led to another, and its So So Def!
AllHipHop.com: What made you go that route instead of using your D-Block connections? Its like you had a sure thing and an already-connected crew that could have helped you. So, why move away from that?
T. Waters: See, from being around them so much, I learned how to want more and to handle your own business, you know what Im saying? Thats one thing that I learned from them that they always preach to. And, I just saw that this other opportunity was way better. This other opportunity could help the other situation, you see? And vice versa, they could help me. So, its like, we still there and we still grinding together.
AllHipHop.com: And also, the New York scene, as far as rappers in New York, thats gonna always be a flooded market with a lot of artists, a lot of mixtapes, and just too much of everything. So, using J.D., did you think that you had a better opportunity being marketed down South as opposed to being marketed as a D-Block hanger-on?
T. Waters: Nah, but because of me living in New York and living in the South in Savannah, I picked up on both places. Like, my vocabulary is country and its city, so people really dont even know where Im from unless I say it or they read it. So, its like, I got the slang from down here but Im spitting like Im from there. I could be from right where you from! I could tell people Im from Wisconsin, and they would ride with it. It really dont matter, as long as Im making good music now.
AllHipHop.com: At the same time though, hes really putting you on though, my man. Do you feel pressure from that?
T. Waters: Nah, cause I know hes backing me 100%, whether I fall or stand tall.
AllHipHop.com: What have you learned working alongside him so far? People can say what they want about him, but dude knows how to hustle and create hits.
T. Waters: Man, J.D. still works like he got one dollar in his pocket! Like he aint got no money. He still, when everybody, the engineers and everybody is in the studio asleep at five in the morning, hes up with energy. Me seeing that, I been doing that before, but now its like Im trying to match his energy. Hes trying to match my energy. We might go two days without sleeping.
AllHipHop.com: Well, speaking on your debut album then, what type of topics are you going to be touching on? What are you trying to say that will maybe set you apart?
T. Waters: Alright. You know the hood is of course gonna be in there cause Im from there. But, aside from that, I got songs about like women not letting men see their babies. I got songs telling a woman that I dont just want sex or all that other stuff. I want a friend, a friend for life. Tears From My Eyes is talking about losing somebody, and everybodys lost somebody, you see what Im saying? Thats a real personal one right there. But overall, Im just trying to touch every base, and its all me. Im human just like everybody else. I feel the same way everybody else do.
AllHipHop.com: It seems like some Southern artists are making a conscious effort to become more lyrics-based and saying something more with their songs. Would you agree with that?
T. Waters: Nah, I mean, its been going on for awhile down there now. It been people down there with lyrics, but its just a matter of what the radio wanted to hear and what the TV wanted to put out. But thats been going on down here in the hood. I know a lot of people that they can spit! Born and raised in the South
AllHipHop.com: You just feel like they aint getting put on like people on say the East Coast for their lyrics?
T. Waters: Yeah, exactly.
AllHipHop.com: I feel you. People are just kind of latching on to the Lil Jon stuff and everything, but I think theyre kind of starting to come around to hearing what the South has to say.
T. Waters: Yeah, and I respect Lil Jon to the fullest, but I just like, for my album, I couldnt go get Lil Jon. I couldnt go get Kanye West. Everybody already has them. So, come on, man. Im an underdog. Lets get the underground producers. Were making music!
AllHipHop.com: Really? What type of producers did you get on the album?
T. Waters: I mean, dont get me wrong! [laughs] I got Jazze Pha, Denaun Porter from D-12. I got J.R. he did Position of Power for 50 Cent. Then I got like, for instance the single Throwd Off, one of my partners did that in New York, and he did Friend For Life.
AllHipHop.com: I know youre working a lot with Daz Dillinger. What have you learned being around Daz?
T. Waters: Thats my partner! We just chill. We chill anyway. Out there in his crib, we just chill anyway.
AllHipHop.com: Whats it like working alongside him?
T. Waters: Man, I just sit back and listen. He schools me to everything. As far as just like, when everybody thought his stuff was on hold, Daz was out there putting out independent albums getting that money! Hes going to different towns. Hey, you got an artist? You want to do a song? Lets go! Hes keeping his name alive. Hes marketing himself. So basically, market yourself. Thats what he taught me.
AllHipHop.com: Youre surrounded by a lot of good dudes down there.
T. Waters: Yeah, definitely. I look at them like big brothers.
AllHipHop.com: Well, all right, man. Thanks a lot for your time, and you know, good luck with everything.
T. Waters: No, thank you, man I be on AllHipHop all the time!