New Orleans resident and Jet Life leader Curren$y helped celebrate his hometown hosting the Super Bowl this past Sunday by dropping his latest free mixtape New Jet City on the day of the event. The 14-track project features songs with Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, Styles P, Juvenile, Lloyd, Trinidad James, French Montana, and Jet Life Crew members Young Roddy & Trademark Da Skydiver.
In between challenging his boys in video games and preparing to shoot his next music video, the hardest working man in Hip-Hop spoke with AllHipHop.com about how New Jet City came together, the latest on the joint project with Wiz, his feelings about the current state of Hip-Hop, and more.
AllHipHop.com: New Jet City is your 15th project since 2011. A lot of those were projects you released for free. What drives you to record and release so much free music?
Curren$y: Seeing that people are happy with the output of the music, and that just makes me wanna keep them happy. If they like the music it's nothing for me to go to the studio. I always say when people ask me about the output of the records, I always say if my favorite rapper went to the studio that much I would be happy. You only want as much out of your favorite rapper that's possible. If Max B would have released a song everyday I would have been in heaven. He was one of my favorites, so I feel like the people who listen to me, if I'm one of their favorites, they want to jam as much as possible. So it's nothing for me to do it.
Before you dropped the tape you said that you thought you might release it as a compilation featuring Young Roddy with you only being on about 5 tracks. Why did you decide to take on most of New Jet City yourself instead?
Everybody's got their on projects that's already set-up for the year. Roddy's got Good Sense 2, so he's gonna have a platform where he can get out all his music. He don't really need that as much. I'm gonna focus on getting everybody else's projects as much light as they deserve, so I really just got myself out the way, so I can step out the way. This was really me just doing that right quick. Then I'm gonna get in the lab and focus on my retail project and let my homies hold down the streets and pumping out the free music to keep the buzz and build the awareness of the rest of the camp.
Speaking of your next retail album, you recently tweeted that you and Ski Beatz started working on some new music. How far along in the process have you gotten for you next studio album?
We haven't lined up physically. He's been sending some music through, and I've been recording since we've been working on New Jet City. I was already working on the album. I got some songs on the side. I don't know exactly how many, but I got some jams from Ski and a few other people.
How do you decide which tracks you want to put on your mixtape versus which ones you want to save for your retail album?
It's just based on how they sound. I don't really say when I start recording "oh right now I'm working on such and such" or "I'm working on this project." I'm really just working, and where ever things can fit, they fit. We just go to the studio everyday just on the strength. It's not really because we're working on a said project. It's just, we make music, so we got to be in the studio. I just happened to sit back and say, "I hadn't put anything out in a second." Even though I just dropped 3 Piece Set, it was just three songs, and I was like well let me give them some more jams before I fall back.
You say you try and get in the studio everyday. What's the longest you've actually gone without recording? Have you ever taken a week off?
A week? I don't know. Not a complete week. And that don't happen til we get on the road. Once we're on the road and we're doing shows sometimes you just can't get to the studio how you want to. Even though we got the set-up on the bus, sometimes you doing long travel days and it's so much noise on that bus while we on the road. You can't record while it's moving. Sometimes you might end up not being able to work for a day or so, and that right there drives me crazy. So there's no such thing as a week. No, I couldn't imagine that.
How did the track with Juvenile come together?
I went over to his studio really just to kick it. I got a little thing I do on Wednesdays, this lounge I host, and he came through there and kicked it. So I went to his studio the next day just to say wassup. And just from kicking it and going through some beats we heard some shit that we agreed upon. It made no sense to just keep listening to a beat and saying it was tight,talking and smoking. We might as well get some work done. I wasn't even sure what I was gonna do with it. That was the first record I recorded after [I came up with] that name "New Jet City." After I did that record, I said well I feel like recording again, so I did a couple more jams and I was like "well shit I still got that New Jet City title I've been throwing around so this will be it right here." After that I just went in and got it all done.
What about the tracks with Trinidad [James] and French [Montana]? How did those come together?
Well, me and Trinidad hung out in Atlanta some months ago. I went to one of his shows and then the next day he came to the studio. We did three records that night. Lloyd came to the studio that night too, and he had the beat and the hook already. So we just wrote some verses to that shit. That's how I got that record. And me and Frenchie been cool since 2008 or some shit. We been doing records for years, so I just called and was like, "I gotta get you on the tape." Even though he got so much shit going on- he's achieved that fucking mega-star status- he still kick with a underground nigga. It was no problem for Frenchie to stop and do that. That's why I've been saying thank you to everybody. I didn't just call basement muthafuckas. Ross, Frenchie, Juicy J. Muthafuckas who on the road picking up bread. I was like, "stop right quick and give me a verse before the Super Bowl." Some muthafuckas I called like 48 hours before.
So they did their verses right before the Super Bowl?
I called everybody like right at the last minute, and was just like, "I need a verse from you." People were sending that shit back within like 48 hours of me calling them. That was like some crazy shit. Everybody just helped me out. That was tight.
So you've got some really good relationships with people in the industry?
You know what? It really showed me that. You extend yourself and you try to look out when people reach out to you. When people call me, if I got time to do it, I definitely try and get to the studio and handle your shit. A muthafucka will see you and tell you all the time to send something through and that's kinda just the fucking "get out of jail free" card. Muthafuckas just tell you that shit. I can't just sit on that shit. I was like remember you said... Muthafuckas was like alright. I just sent an e-mail, or muthafuckas was like "I'm at such-and-such studio come swing through," or they were like "text me the address of where you at." That's how I got all that shit done.
You did an interview last year where you were quoted saying you felt "hip hop is fucked up" at the time. Do you still feel that way now?
Not so much. There are people who making strides, and people are fighting. Joey Bada$$ is around. Just seeing the moves he's been able to make. And knowing how much time he's got left to grow in the game. It's promising.
Are there any other artist out now that...
It's a grip, but if I name more I would leave out some. But Joey is the homie. Joey is in my heart for sure. I make no bones about mentioning him.
Do you think a collaboration with him could show up anytime soon?
Yeah, we've already exchanged info. We working.
What about the project with Wiz? Do you guys have an idea of when that's going to drop?
When the smoke clear. You know my man trying to have his son. He got a baby on the way. I gotta shoot these visuals for this project. And I gotta start getting my solo album straight. He already put out his second solo album, so I gotta make my other studio joint and then we'll probably get to it. Or we may do it before I put out another album. It's gonna be for retail. Live In Concert's not a free tape no more, because all the bread we had to spend on clearing [the samples] I gotta count some of that shit back.
Do you think we're going to see an album from Smoke DZA or Michael Rocks this year?
Mikey got his One Off joint. He got that One Off distribution company getting a lot of shit popping. I definitely figure after he does his Banco EP then he'll probably be next. I don't know what DZA wants to do with this shit he's planning. Every time I line up with DZA he's playing so much shit, I don't know what his next move is. I'm not one who dictates his next move, because I don't really work with a structure. Whatever you wanna do is what you wanna do. So it's really up to DZA. I definitely know that Roddy has his shit titled and working on artwork.
Speaking of artwork. Can you speak on the concept behind the artwork for New Jet City?
You know how I do my artwork. I like to kinda capture a time and some way for you to look at it and already imagine what it will sound like just from looking at the picture. I figured people were thinking that for New Jet City it would be some kinda play on [the movie] New Jack City and me with shades and a Kangol and a jeep. I definitely know that the people who really know me weren't expecting that when they were hearing me say "New Jet City."
Anything else you want to add?
Man, we in this muthafucka playing NBA Jams. I'm bout to go get back into the game.
Curren$y's latest mixtape New Jet City is available for download at datpiff.com.