Balla is the “Top Opp,” and he’s here to put his hometown of Washington D.C. on the map. Arriving with his own relentless bars, gritty punchlines, and vivid storytelling in his lyrics, the East Coast rapper creates heartfelt music inspired by real-life experiences and events. Coming from the trenches to where he is now, Balla proves you can achieve access while staying independent.
Signed to indie label MajorLife Music, Balla states, “A lot of people love, a lot of people hate me, but I’m going to take what comes with this. That’s what Balla is, the Top Opp. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are looking at it. You can get good outta the Top Opp or bad outta the Top Opp.”
Most recently, Balla unleashed his newest single and visual for “Goat Talk,” talking his s### per usual while bringing the record to life. This builds off the momentum of his previous collab, “Rock N Roll” ft. Big Scarr, which accumulated almost 500K views on Youtube in less than a month.
AllHipHop: What was a young Balla like growing up in Washington D.C.?
Balla: Trials and tribulations, the struggle. Wasn’t all bad though. You gotta go through stuff to be who you are. Growing up in D.C. is exactly what you see. I’m from the Simple City, the heart of the Southeast. The heart of the trenches. I went through stuff and that’s what I talk about in my music.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences coming up?
Balla: One was Lil Wayne, he’s my favorite rapper. Lyrically, he’s the best rapper ever. 2, Meek Mill because I can relate to everything. He’s influential to me. 3, Jay-Z because of his business mind. He’s the pioneer to me, of this rap stuff. He’s showing everybody a way.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
Balla: Honestly, when I was 15 or 16. I started rapping, but I went to jail for a period of time. When I was in jail, that’s when I decided “yeah, this is what I want to do. I can do this.” Because I’m tired, I know how to do it.
AllHipHop: How long were you locked up for?
Balla: 6 Years, 72 months. I was 19.
AllHipHop: What did you learn from being behind bars?
Balla: I learned a lot. When people say jail, everybody looked at it as you’re locked up. It’s jail, it’s a lot of good things that come from being in jail. It’s a lot of good stuff that comes from being in jail. It’s bad you’re in there because of the situation, but it showed me how to be a man. I had to take care of myself, without my mother or my brothers. I had to figure everything out by myself. It taught me how to think without acting. It taught me a lot. At the end of the day, jail really helped me right now. It gave me something to talk about.
AllHipHop: How’d you find your way to Major Life Music? How’s that journey been?
Balla: It’s fun. It’s something I like to do and I’m doing it with my family. It’s nothing better than that. It’s a good thing. Independent? Somebody asked me, is it good to be an independent artist or not? I can’t speak for nobody else, but for me, I love it. I’m not saying I won’t sign, but being independent, you can do what you want. How you want it. It gives people a better look at you as a person.
AllHipHop: What was the inspiration behind your name?
Balla: My brother Dawg, who got killed when I was in jail. When we’re rapping when we’re young, we were on money. In one of his songs, he said Dre Balla and it stuck. Ever since then, my name’s Balla. We were little kids.
AllHipHop: So you’re doing this for him?
Balla: For sure. This would’ve been him right here.
AllHipHop: “Rock N Roll” video out now, how are you feeling?
Balla: I feel great! It’s at 442K views. I love that video. Everything about that video, even the song. Big Starr and I were in the studio. He’s poppin’, I’m poppin’. It was organic. We had to link so when we got in the studio, we linked. We vibed. Outta that, it was history. That’s bro, I love bro. We made “Rock N Roll.” We’re feeling like that in the studio: let’s rock n roll! [laughs] So we made that song, that’s history. I’m still locked in with him, me and bro talk everyday.
AllHipHop: Was that done in D.C.?
Balla: It was in Atlanta and D.C. it was both. We was in Atlanta when we did the song, then I brought him to D.C., to the trenches. Let him see what’s going on with the Topp Opp, and we shot the video there.
AllHipHop: Best memory from the video shoot? Looked like a movie!
Balla: The whole video shoot was lit. That was the longest video for real. The best moment was when we’re on stage shooting. We’re having fun, it was a whole vibe. Everyone was having fun. Everybody was lit. Everybody was partying. It was more behind-the-scenes that really happened that was fun about the situation. It was a fun video, one of my funnest videos.
AllHipHop: Are you a rockstar?
Balla: For sure, I’m definitely a rockstar. I feel like a rockstar doesn’t mean you’re a rock n roll artist or nothing like that. I’m a rockstar, I’m a star. I love the crowd.
AllHipHop: What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Balla: That everything ain’t all bad. When you go through trials and tribulations, I want them to know it will shape you to be better. Don’t always look at it as bad, just because it’s a bad situation. You gotta make good outta that, and you can come out on top. Don’t get me wrong, if you like being at the bottom, to each his own. Some people don’t like being on top, they’re comfortable with their position and I respect that. Don’t always look at a bad situation and think it’s all bad.
AllHipHop: You linked with Big 30 (Pooh Shiesty) on “Top Opp,” how did that record come about?
Balla: Brrrrrrr. That was a cool little link up too. Me and 30 actually, we clicked better than me and Scarr clicked when we’re in the studio. They came in there, he seen what type of person I was and I guess felt that. I seen what type of person he was, same thing. We were locked. We shot the video “Top Opp.” He was going through a lot of Top Opp stuff, I was going through a lot of Top Opp stuff, so why not make a song?
AllHipHop: How did y’all tap in?
Balla: We tapped in through mutual partners, same thing as me and Scarr. We both poppin’ in our cities, it had to happen. Big 30, Top Opp, it had to happen. D.C. to Memphis!
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
Balla: This. [holds up joint] I need that. It’s wax in there too. I gotta have me a joint. I gotta have a Vitamin Water at the studio, that’s a necessity. And I gotta have a couple of the gang members, for the vibe.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from your album?
Balla: Everything y’all want. The Top Opp situation, I take everything that comes with it. Everything I take, I’m sliding on. In my music, I’ma give y’all something you can laugh to. I’m not gonna lie to y’all, nothing like that. Y’all going to get the album and keep playing it. Tap in, it’s coming soon.
AllHipHop: How’s your hometown presence compared to elsewhere?
Balla: They love me and hate me. I got a lot of fans. One thing I learned about love and hate, we still get a fan whether they hate you or not. Because they still gon’ watch you. In my city, I’m loved and hated, but I’m mostly loved.
AllHipHop: What’s your relationship with Asian Doll?
Balla: Gang. That’s gang, I ain’t gonna hold you. When everybody thinks about her female-wise, dude-wise, she’s real cool. She’s real down-to-earth. She’s not bougie, she cool. She was a vibe. I still talk to her too everyday.
AllHipHop: How did y’all meet initially? What is y’all relationship?
Balla: Through my engineer, My engineer booked her or something. I came to the studio and we linked up. Outta that, it was “let’s make a song, this and that.” She messes with my vibe, I mess with her vibe.
AllHipHop: Anyone that you want to work with?
Balla: A lot of people, I’m trying to work with everybody. I want to be at the top. Lil Baby, Future. Pooh Sheisty, all of ‘em. I’m trying to work with everybody. I ain’t too shy. I’m not against working with nobody, I’m with it.
AllHipHop: What can we expect from your album?
Balla: Album of the year. Expect to hear what y’all want to hear. Everything that the streets want right now, I’ma give it to ‘em. In that album, I’ma give it to ‘em. People can relate to it, so be prepared to relate. There’s a song for everybody, even you. Females, all that.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
Balla: Different. I’m versatile. I don’t wrote. I can go in, you can turn any beat on and I’ma figure it out. I’ma make it something, so it’s unique.
AllHipHop: What do you like to do for fun?
Balla: I like to take flights, money. Anything that has to do with money, I love it.
AllHipHop: What are you spending on?
Balla: Everything. Cars, houses, jewelry…
AllHipHop: What’s that on your wrist?
Balla: A 41 Rollie. We was in Atlanta, when I made the video for “Regla.” Y’all need to go check that out too, that’s on YouTube. When I shot that video, we went out there. I had this chain and I had this Cuban. We went to the jeweler to get it cleaned and when I went in there, one of my brothers was picking up watches and I seen that joint. I had to get that, my wrist was feeling a little naked. My last Rollie messed my aim up. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Balla: I want to be the richest person in the world. I don’t want a mil, I want 100 mil. I want everything the bank makes, I want everything.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Balla: Tap in: @activeballa on every social. It’s MajorLife Music, I gave y’all everything y’all want. Top Opp!