You have a very carefree attitude when it comes to other people’s opinion. Were you always that way?
I had to build tough skin. I had an accent as a child and instead of saying “one, two, three” my accent had me saying, “one, two, tree” and people couldn’t wait for me to say that number. Me coming to Atlanta, the south, with a Trinidad accent got me heckled a lot. I figured a way to give witty responses and by 4th grade I had it ready for you. I would just find out what their flaws were and I exposed them. They talked about me back then and fast forward to 2013 – people still talk about me.
One of the things you emphasize is the importance of ‘being real’. In your experience, do you see ‘realness’ lacking in the industry?
Yes, definitely. I’m not saying I’m coming into the game as the realest ni**a, but I feel if the foundation was more real, things would be different. That’s my personal opinion. Everyone’s definition of “real” is different. If you’re real, you’ll say what you mean. I’m the type that will say “yes” or “no” from the start. I’m not going to tell you that I’m going to do something and then avoid you at the BET Awards or something. Music is one highway and everyone has a lane. You have to make your mark in your lane. I’d rather have no Grammy and no identity and be real than to fight for a Grammy and never get it – and then have you never even get to know me. I’m a real ni**a every day. Real is despite what a million people are saying, they are not changing me no matter what.
Besides being real and brutally honest, how would you describe yourself?
Humility is something I live by. I consider myself down to earth and I’m competitive in the things that I take seriously.
One more question. What’s the real reason you wear the gold fronts? Is it true you were in a fight?
(Laughing) No! I wear grills because that’s what I like. I’m from the south and it’s just a part of my ensemble. I have teeth under these!