By: Shirley Ju (@Shirju)
If you haven’t heard of Project Youngin, you have now. The Florida rapper recently left the hip-hop community in a frenzy after news of alleging staging his own death to promote his “Thug Souljas” music video.
After going on Instagram Live to share the explicit scene with his now 166K followers, Project Youngin, real name Rasheed Jamaal Hall, clearly got his point across.
The visual is directed by Joan Pabon, who also is the mastermind behind XXXTentacion’s staged suicide.
AllHipHop spoke with Project Youngin in Los Angeles shortly after the ordeal.
AllHipHop: At one point did you realize you wanted to stage your own death?
Project Youngin: I never wanted to stage my own death. I still didn’t. I never staged my death. It was strictly for a music video which is out now. I don’t want people be like, “Oh, he faked his death.” That was never my intention. I didn’t save the Live. The Live was strictly for the video. I didn’t save it strictly for the purpose that I didn’t want to get it… somebody screen recorded, took it, and they came up with the story. People wanna be detectives and officers. They wanna assume.
AllHipHop: You had someone Instagram Live it?
Project Youngin: No, I was on Live, and while I was on Live my cameraman was filming. Everything was strictly the video. I had a real stuntman. We paid for a real stuntman. It was a real professional video.
AllHipHop: So you never intended it to be a staged death?
Project Youngin: No it wasn’t staged. That’s nothing to play with. I’m really from the heart of projects in St. Petersburg, Florida, so that’s nothing to play with. I lost people close to me. Death. Gun violence. That’s nothing I would play with. My whole intention on the video was to focus and shine light on what happens after (if you listen to the video). Even looking at XXX, his followers doubled after his death. Why? Where were all these fans and where were all these followers before he passed away? That’s what I was shining light on. All of the fake love. If you love me, let me know now. Don’t wait until I’m dead gone. Even with XXX, he got a number one on Billboard. That song I don't think would have went number one if he hadn’t passed away. Where was all this love at before? That’s what I was shining light on. I don’t even want it be about a death or “he faked a death.” I never faked my death. I never said I got shot. It never came out my mouth that I got shot. People ran with it and it went everywhere.
AllHipHop: But did you think that would be a possibility?
Project Youngin: I never thought it was gonna get that big, don’t get me wrong. I don't regret shit about it. If I could have did it over again, I would have. But the only thing I would have did differently is I would have came out sooner, but our intention was for the video to drop the next day. But the editor had problems getting it done. That next day when it was done and it was supposed to drop, we got it the Worldstar look. Then they wanted to wait until morning, so now that’s a extra day.
AllHipHop: How long was it before you came forth?
Project Youngin: Three days.
AllHipHop: Damn so that’s three days that your friends thought you were dead?
Project Youngin: Nah, they thought I was shot or whatever. They thought whatever they thought, whoever made up that story.
AllHipHop: What effect did you think it would have on your fans?
Project Youngin: I ain’t gon’ lie, when we came back, the reaction from my fans, I loved it. All of my fans. I did an apology video, I felt like I owed my fans that. Those were the only ones who I owed an apology too. Those and my loved ones who really care about me — for the misunderstanding. People told me they were calling hospitals down there and people cried. Those are the people I wanted to reach out to and apologize. But even after posting that video, you got my real fans saying “You don’t owe us an apology, you don’t owe us s##t. We know it’s a video, keep going. That s##t is dope, it’s raw as f##k.” I got a core fanbase. I wasn’t fortunate to pop overnight or go viral and be one of those ones that blow up of one song that pops off with millions of views. I built this. I worked from the ground up. With that being said, I really have a core fanbase and they really love. The only ones who mad and talking bad on Instagram are the ones proving my point and only came after the shooting.
AllHipHop: Why did u seemingly continue the act?
Project Youngin: I didn’t even continue to do the act. I didn’t even have my phone so they kept me off of Instagram.
AllHipHop: Who’s they?
Project Youngin: My team, and the people who did the video.
AllHipHop: They literally took your phone? (he proceeded to show me his flip phone)
Project Youngin: The man is a mastermind. He’s the one who did XXX when he hung himself. This is what he does. He does stunts. If you look at the video, that’s why it looks like I really got shot. I felt like I was in a movie.
AllHipHop: What was your expectation?
Project Youngin: I knew it was gonna be big because it’s a touchy subject. But like I said, definitely nothing to play with. I just wanted to reach out to the people in the music and let them know that if you got love for me, let me know now. Don’t wait until I’m dead and gone. Why does it take for a shooting for somebody to get a buzz? I had a little buzz, but it got bigger. A lot of people know who Project Youngin is now. It shouldn’t take for that.
AllHipHop: What trips me out is that you had a tweet on July 30th that said “we will let you know about his condition soon.” Can you expand on this?
Project Youngin: I don’t have a Twitter. That’s fake. XXL reached out, I never responded. I get messages on Instagram all the time. “Oh you f##k ni##a. You b##ch ass ni##a. I paid $700 for a feature.” My feature price is $2500 for one. I wrote Twitter about it and tried to get blocked.
AllHipHop: Were family members involved? What did your loved ones think?
Project Youngin: I wasn’t even gonna tell my momma. They made me tell my momma two minutes before. I was just gonna go with it. The video was gonna drop the next day, so I’m like “they’ll all see it’s a video.” But it didn’t go as planned. My mom would have tripped out.
AllHipHop: What was your mom’s reaction when you told her?
Project Youngin: She said “okay.” I told her, “Mom, it’s for a music video. If you read anything crazy or see anything, I’m letting you know now.”
AllHipHop: Now that everything is settled, how do you feel?
Project Youngin: I feel good. I don’t have no regrets. I’d do it over again if I could. Only thing I would have changed is that I would have got it done sooner. I would have been on there moving. But my concept is true. Everything on that song, I spit from the heart. I really live this s##t, so I don’t regret s##t. Even dating back to old songs, you’ll feel Project Youngin if you listen to me. It ain’t too many people in the game like me. I’m not a clout chaser. I’m not a SoundCloud rapper. I’m not gonna get on that track and say anything. When you hear me I want you know this s##t real..