By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)
How did Translee find his way to Grand Hustle? Strictly through the music.
With Translee being both his government name and rapper name, the "Freedom Summer" rapper recalls the day his manager gave his barber his music.
Tip heard it, liked it, and the rest was history.
The two share many similarities, including the ability to create meaningful hip-hop records to uplift the massive and push the culture forward.
AllHipHop caught up with Translee to chat about his “Catch This Wave” collab with Tip, just one day after his encounters with Drake and Cardi B.
Apparently, Lakers practice is lit — thanks to his little sister.
AllHipHop: You’re from Alabama, how does that play into your life and career?
Translee: Even more specific, Huntsville is a different type of place! Everybody there feels like they’re a superstar, like Atlanteans. You get a microcosm of a big city in a small city when you grow up in Huntsville, Alabama. Shout out to Huntsville man, it made me who I am today
AllHipHop: Is there any other artists from Huntsville? rapper-wise?
Translee: It’s quite a few, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. Dynomite Kid, Big P.O.P.E., Wade.
AllHipHop: What were you doing before the music?
Translee: Living life, playing ball. I put my first project out in 2011.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize this music thing was forreal?
Translee: A few years ago man. Whenever music starts paying your bills, that’s when it becomes real. For me, I started doing it for a different reason. Not to be all popular with it, it was really to let off expression.
AllHipHop: I can respect that because in this day and age, real hip-hop isn’t as seen anymore.
Translee: Exactly. I’m happy that we have avenues to get our vibes out. To get our music out.
AllHipHop: What was the inspiration in keeping your real name?
Translee: Really because my music is fact based. Truth based. I don’t really rap about things that I don’t have, haven’t seen, or haven’t done. I was trying to come up with a name and couldn’t even think of it. I never wanted to do that. Go by “Young something.” No diss to all the Young’s but for me, it works better using my real name.
AllHipHop: “Catch This Wave” by T.I. is a vibe. Can you bring us back to that studio session?
Translee: Man, it was dope! Shout out to Tha Officialz, they produced the record. I actually had part of the record done, I just pulled up on them at the studio one day. He was working, pulled it up, and his head was just nodding. I was like “okay, this is the one we need to do together.” I went and laid down my part and he just filled in the blanks. It was just one of those sessions that — all my artists know. When you go in a session and it flows that smoothly and perfectly, you know the record’s meant to be. We realized what it was probably like 3 months after we did. Chris who mixes my stuff was listening like “man, this is a record right here.” We just boxed it up, shot a dope video to it.
AllHipHop: What was it like bringing that record to life?
Translee: It was dope! We actually recreated Coming to America. It was just dope to be able to bring that to life.
AllHipHop: Who’s idea was that?
Translee: Mine. Then I took it to everybody and we grew the idea from there.
AllHipHop: What is your take on the music industry?
Translee: It’s good. I think the tech companies are definitely taking over. Because we make music now and just give it to them for free. They get to sell it and make money, give us crumbs off of it.
They’re really bossing up on everybody right now, but they have the money. It’s in a good space because everybody can make money now. You can make money off your fanbase now.
You can make money off your streams now. It may not be millions of dollars, but thousands of dollars are still good versus before streaming, when either you were making millions of dollars or you were making nothing.
You gotta think, not anybody could go Platinum back then. There had to be a million CDs pressed up for you to even sell a million CDs, so that means somebody gotta be spending big money for you to even get to the point of you going Platinum.
Now, you can go Platinum just off your fanbase. It literally cost $0 in production. CDs, cases, all that paper, that stuff is expensive.
That cost is gone from the industry now. You may be making less, but it’s also a lot less to make the music.
AllHipHop: Someone handed me a CD the other day.
Translee: Yeah, it’s almost nostalgic now for people to be give a CD out.