EXCLUSIVE: Locksmith Talks ‘Lofty Goals,’ TDE’s Kendrick Lamar, & E-40!


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Words infused with accumulated wisdom, credible experiences, and an expansive perspective, Locksmith, is dedicated to using his voice as an MC to uplift and to inspire others. With the release of his latest album, Lofty Goals, the representative of Richmond, CA continues to demonstrate his prodigious command of the English language. Whether battling other lyricists and spewing devastating bars, or taking an introspective journey to his soul, the outcome is often the same,  timeless art is produced at his will.

Exuding his candid composure, Locksmith, opens up to AllHipHop about his latest album. The UC Berkleey graduate also reflects on TDE and Kendrick Lamar’s rise in mainstream success, and his thoughts on the legendary indie icon, E-40.

If your supporters were challenged to discover your core on Labyrinth, and A Thousand Cuts reinforced your determination to go against the grain; what do you hope that the public will receive from your latest album, Lofty Goals?

I’m just hoping to inspire; that’s what this album is most about. A lot of the songs are about me and have to do with me, but what I also had in mind to do was inspire others. My life is the only life that I live. I’m trying to use my life and experiences to inspire ;and hopefully help people to solve their problems – and find a way out of their problems. I want to let them know that they can find their way out of their problems; or, anything that they’re chained up to.

On the album, what track is the most personal and resonates the most with you?

They’re all pretty personal, but I would say a song called “Boxes.” It’s the very reflection of the time period between my last album and this album. So, a lot of things changed. I was in a relationship for quite some time. When I completed the last album, you know, we decided to not move forward in our relationship.  So, at that time a lot of things were going on. With me being an artist, the only way I know how to deal with it is to write about it. That’s what I did; I wrote about it. At that time, that song is summing up everything I was going through.

Do you ever feel like you were creatively ahead of your time and that people are just now catching on to things that you were doing years ago?

Sometimes, if you want to push the culture forward sometimes you have to step out there. I just follow what I feel creatively. There are some things that are going on right now that I’m inspired. There are some things, from my own creative influences and my life experiences, that I just want to put out there. Sometimes, at the time the audience may not know how to grasp it at first. That’s fine, but as an artist you have to believe in what you do and remain steadfast in what you believe.  Hopefully, people will catch up to you.

In recent years, the West Coast has again demanded the spotlight; what are your thoughts on that? Why do you believe there’s a divide between Northern and Southern Cali lyricists?

I think it’s great. It brings to mind, TDE. More specifically, it brings to mind Kendrick Lamar, who I think is a phenomenal artist. When I first heard him back in 2011 I was a huge fan. I went to one of his early shows in New York when Section .80 just came out. It was before Aftermath and all that stuff. There was a buzz. I remember going to the show. I was in awe of the whole thing. Me and my boy stood in line and went and enjoyed the show. It made it even more special that it was somebody from the West Coast out in New York City having his own show. For me, It was inspiring.

Then I got more in tune with a bunch of other cats like Dom Kennedy and YG – I’m specifically talking about Southern California right now – they’re part of the new school that’s coming up. It’s dope. That’s a great thing; that momentum and energy is solidified – it’s not going anywhere. Kendrick has had his mainstream success. Other cats like Dom Kennedy have had huge independent success, and there’s everything in between. It’s great; that opens the door for all of the West Coast.

At the same time, being from the Bay Area is a lot different from Southern California. California is so geographically large – it’s probably two-thirds as large as the East Coast. On the East Coast, you can drive for six hours and go through five different states. Recently, I was on tour and did a bunch of shows and I drove for three hours and I went through like four different states…Whereas, with California, you can drive for six hours and you’re still in California. We’re very much related, but culturally there is a significant difference. Los Angeles has an entertainment industry. There they make movies and they have major record companies. In the Bay Area we have Silicon Valley. As far as the entertainment and music industry it’s not as large. So we have more of an independent attitude that was developed early on.

Our attitude and our approach towards our music may be a little bit different. I think we may be a little bit more diverse than L.A. In that sense, we’re a more like New York. Whereas New York is diverse, California is even more diverse and in a lot of way it’s more liberal. It’s a different dynamic; so, you’re going to get a different aspect when you’re talking the Bay Area or Southern California.

Have you worked with E-40 or Nipsey Hussle?

Back in the past, I may have done something with E-40. I know E-40 well. I think he’s a giant and one of the smartest artists in the game. In his own right he’s a genius. To be around this long and to be relevant is incredible. He is self-made; it was just incredible to watch him. I’ve seen it; to have that proximity and watch [his success] has been incredible. For him to still be doing it on that level is inspiring. Nipsey is another guy who was major and shows that you can do it on the indie route. He’s paving the way for independent artists. I think it’s awesome.

Until the next time we’re able to converse, is there anything else you’d like to share with AllHipHop?

If you want to hear some sincere music, take out some time and listen to my new album, Lofty Goals.