Posted by , Nov 8, 2016 at 03:26pm
INTERVIEW: Rob $tone talks growing up in San Diego, his 1207 crew and the success of his debut single "Chill Bill."

Rob $tone strutted into the HNHH office on a particularly glorious autumn day, accompanied by couple members of his 1207 crew, his publicist, and his dad. He smiled broadly. Life was good for Rob $tone. He was 21, about to go on tour with A$AP Ferg and Playboi Carti, and in the more immediate future, about to film a tutorial on how to roll up a Backwoods, his preferred method of consuming weed.

Also, his "Kill Bill"-sampling debut single "Chill Bill" has been a massive success. As of the publication of this article, it sits at #34 on the Billboard chart, with 45 million plays on SoundCloud, 82 million on Spotify, and 37 million on YouTube. With just two mixtapes under his belt -- 2015's Straight Bummin’ and 2016's I'm Almost Ready -- $tone is a fresh face in the hip hop universe. He spoke to HNHH about growing up in the San Diego County town of Lemon Grove, the genesis and philosophy of 1207, and his vision for the future.

 

You’re from Lemon Grove. What can you tell me about Lemon Grove?

It’s Lemon-y. [There is a] big-ass lemon statue in the middle of the city.

Lemon Grove is like a cultural melting pot. You’ve got a whole block of Somalis, Cholos everywhere, black people everywhere, you’ve got white people. Then there’s Hawaiians. Literally a big-ass melting pot. It’s wild. When you’re running the streets of Lemon Grove, every corner is different, every street is different, a different scenario.

What was your house like growing up?

I had a nice house, shoutout my dad.

What were you like as a kid?

I liked sports. I was always into music, but I didn’t realize how into music I was until high school. But all my childhood, it was sports – I played basketball, football, baseball. It was what connected me with a lot of people around the city.

When did rap become a big part of your life?

When I was 5, I saw Lil Bow Wow on TV. “That’s My Name.” He was running through the middle school with all the girls chasing him. And then Snoop picked him up in the lo lo. I was like, “I wanna be that nigga.” I remember sitting in my living room. At my age, he was an influence.

Then in high school, my homie Spooks – he started rapping our freshman year, and I was into music but I didn’t really rap. He progressed like crazy, and in my senior year, I went for it out in Atlanta.

What was it like the first few months after you moved to Atlanta?

It was definitely different. I was bored most of the time cause I didn’t know anyone.

Was it just you?

It was me, and then I moved in with my parents in Atlanta. They always wanted to get away from San Diego. But my dad was like “Nah I’mma let you finish school.” And then after school, I didn’t really have no direction. I quit sports. I was gonna go to a D1 college. I went and tried to go to college, a junior college, and that shit just didn’t work for me.

I had a little job, and then we’d go to the studio late at night in my off time. It was just me and my homie D White. He went to Morehouse. He was the only homie I really kicked it with in Atlanta all the time. And then I moved back to San Diego early on, like 2014 – that’s when I linked back with Spooks, J. Davis, and everyone. They had started 1207, and we just ran with it.

The San Diego rap scene hasn’t gotten much national exposure. Why do you think that is?

They barely started pushing the local scene and supporting local music. San Diego never really supported local music. A lot of local music that was the face of San Diego was gangster rap. It didn’t appeal to the masses, I guess. I think we just brought a whole new energy to the city, myself and the squad.

What’s one thing that the people should know about San Diego?

There’s a lot of different struggles. When you say struggle, everyone has a poverty-stricken struggle, that’s their forefront. That’s the first thing they think about. There’s poverty in San Diego – it’s hard to explain man cause everyone has a different story.

What’s the story behind the name ‘1207’?

1207 stands for LG – L is the 12th letter in the alphabet and G is the 7th. LG is live and grow.

Who is in 1207?

There’s Malik Burgers, he’s crazy. He produces, DJs for me, does a lot of graphic work, edits videos. In 1207, all of us do more than rap. All of us have. Malik, Spooks, J. Davis, Thommed Cruz, Keely, Edge Jones, Adam, Lil Skrrt. I mean everyone.

How do you all know each other?

We all grew up in Lemon Grove for the most part. There’s only a couple of us that didn’t grow up in Lemon Grove, but they been around. We all just naturally friends. I knew Spooks and Davis since middle school, sixth grade.

How would you describe the 1207 philosophy? What makes you guys different?

We just wanna spread the truth, and happiness. That’s it. And we don’t like no fuck shit.

You mentioned a 1207 album. What can we expect from that?

Just expect a lot of bangers, and lemotional music. Lemotional is our form of  -- not even necessarily sad -- moreso emotional.

Emotional bangers?

Lemotional is different because it’s sad but they’re bangers. It’s like -- I don’t know – I love talking about lemotional music cause I can never explain it.

Let’s talk about it in terms of other artists. What artist do you admire who you feel can pull of lemotional music?

Like Erykah Badu, Cisco Adler, Glass Animals, Kid Cudi, Outkast.

Is making lemotional music difficult?

Nah. I’m an emotional person. That’s how I can control p, cause I’m aware I’m emotional.

You’ve literally been smiling this whole interview.

I feel like I just been like that my whole life. I’ve just been a smilin'-ass nigga. Unless there’s some fuck shit.

On the cover of ‘I’m Almost Ready,’ you’re brushing your teeth. And you have pretty white teeth. Do you practice good dental hygiene?

I definitely take care of my teeth, I go to the dentist all the time. Actually I gotta go to the dentist next week. I had braces so --  The cover though, was me brushing my teeth because, like the title “I’m Almost Ready,” the whole project came from me making every song like all the changes in my life, me getting ready for all of this.

You’re just brushing up.

But then I’m almost like lagging. Hella lagging, always the last one out the door. So me brushing my teeth is like I’m almost ready. It kinda flew together. It’s me getting ready.

You said it felt like an album, but it’s just a mixtape. Why did you feel that way?

Because it was fucking sounding like a fucking album. It was a fucking album. Off top, I don’t care what nobody says. That was all real Rob $tone. And I dumbed it down. I took out the lemotional out.

Do you ever think about where you’ll be in five or ten years?

I dunno, I just know I want it to be lit. I want to have money, be able to take care of myself. I had a kid along the way. It changed. I gotta do it, and make sure he’s alright. it’s a different mission now. My son’s name is Jesiah.

Very biblical.

Yeah, it was an accident to give him a biblical name, but I looked it up and it meant a sprinkling of the lord.

That’s what it seemed like too cause his birth was a blessing. At first I was scared out of my mind, but he came out the right time. He made me grow up.

What do you do for fun besides music and smoking weed?

Smoke weed, watch movies, hang out with my son.

How old is he?

He’s nine months.

Can he walk yet?

Nah, almost. He’s crawling everywhere though. I just picked up a polaroid camera a few days ago. I’ve been snapping everywhere. I think I found a new hobby.

Meet Rob $tone: The “Smilin’-Ass Nigga” Behind “Chill Bill”

INTERVIEW: Rob $tone talks growing up in San Diego, his 1207 crew and the success of his debut single "Chill Bill."


Rob $tone strutted into the HNHH office on a particularly glorious autumn day, accompanied by couple members of his 1207 crew, his publicist, and his dad. He smiled broadly. Life was good for Rob $tone. He was 21, about to go on tour with A$AP Ferg and Playboi Carti, and in the more immediate future, about to film a tutorial on how to roll up a Backwoods, his preferred method of consuming weed.

Also, his "Kill Bill"-sampling debut single "Chill Bill" has been a massive success. As of the publication of this article, it sits at #34 on the Billboard chart, with 45 million plays on SoundCloud, 82 million on Spotify, and 37 million on YouTube. With just two mixtapes under his belt -- 2015's Straight Bummin’ and 2016's I'm Almost Ready -- $tone is a fresh face in the hip hop universe. He spoke to HNHH about growing up in the San Diego County town of Lemon Grove, the genesis and philosophy of 1207, and his vision for the future.

 

You’re from Lemon Grove. What can you tell me about Lemon Grove?

It’s Lemon-y. [There is a] big-ass lemon statue in the middle of the city.

Lemon Grove is like a cultural melting pot. You’ve got a whole block of Somalis, Cholos everywhere, black people everywhere, you’ve got white people. Then there’s Hawaiians. Literally a big-ass melting pot. It’s wild. When you’re running the streets of Lemon Grove, every corner is different, every street is different, a different scenario.

What was your house like growing up?

I had a nice house, shoutout my dad.

What were you like as a kid?

I liked sports. I was always into music, but I didn’t realize how into music I was until high school. But all my childhood, it was sports – I played basketball, football, baseball. It was what connected me with a lot of people around the city.

When did rap become a big part of your life?

When I was 5, I saw Lil Bow Wow on TV. “That’s My Name.” He was running through the middle school with all the girls chasing him. And then Snoop picked him up in the lo lo. I was like, “I wanna be that nigga.” I remember sitting in my living room. At my age, he was an influence.

Then in high school, my homie Spooks – he started rapping our freshman year, and I was into music but I didn’t really rap. He progressed like crazy, and in my senior year, I went for it out in Atlanta.

What was it like the first few months after you moved to Atlanta?

It was definitely different. I was bored most of the time cause I didn’t know anyone.

Was it just you?

It was me, and then I moved in with my parents in Atlanta. They always wanted to get away from San Diego. But my dad was like “Nah I’mma let you finish school.” And then after school, I didn’t really have no direction. I quit sports. I was gonna go to a D1 college. I went and tried to go to college, a junior college, and that shit just didn’t work for me.

I had a little job, and then we’d go to the studio late at night in my off time. It was just me and my homie D White. He went to Morehouse. He was the only homie I really kicked it with in Atlanta all the time. And then I moved back to San Diego early on, like 2014 – that’s when I linked back with Spooks, J. Davis, and everyone. They had started 1207, and we just ran with it.

The San Diego rap scene hasn’t gotten much national exposure. Why do you think that is?

They barely started pushing the local scene and supporting local music. San Diego never really supported local music. A lot of local music that was the face of San Diego was gangster rap. It didn’t appeal to the masses, I guess. I think we just brought a whole new energy to the city, myself and the squad.

What’s one thing that the people should know about San Diego?

There’s a lot of different struggles. When you say struggle, everyone has a poverty-stricken struggle, that’s their forefront. That’s the first thing they think about. There’s poverty in San Diego – it’s hard to explain man cause everyone has a different story.

What’s the story behind the name ‘1207’?

1207 stands for LG – L is the 12th letter in the alphabet and G is the 7th. LG is live and grow.

Who is in 1207?

There’s Malik Burgers, he’s crazy. He produces, DJs for me, does a lot of graphic work, edits videos. In 1207, all of us do more than rap. All of us have. Malik, Spooks, J. Davis, Thommed Cruz, Keely, Edge Jones, Adam, Lil Skrrt. I mean everyone.

How do you all know each other?

We all grew up in Lemon Grove for the most part. There’s only a couple of us that didn’t grow up in Lemon Grove, but they been around. We all just naturally friends. I knew Spooks and Davis since middle school, sixth grade.

How would you describe the 1207 philosophy? What makes you guys different?

We just wanna spread the truth, and happiness. That’s it. And we don’t like no fuck shit.

You mentioned a 1207 album. What can we expect from that?

Just expect a lot of bangers, and lemotional music. Lemotional is our form of  -- not even necessarily sad -- moreso emotional.

Emotional bangers?

Lemotional is different because it’s sad but they’re bangers. It’s like -- I don’t know – I love talking about lemotional music cause I can never explain it.

Let’s talk about it in terms of other artists. What artist do you admire who you feel can pull of lemotional music?

Like Erykah Badu, Cisco Adler, Glass Animals, Kid Cudi, Outkast.

Is making lemotional music difficult?

Nah. I’m an emotional person. That’s how I can control p, cause I’m aware I’m emotional.

You’ve literally been smiling this whole interview.

I feel like I just been like that my whole life. I’ve just been a smilin'-ass nigga. Unless there’s some fuck shit.

On the cover of ‘I’m Almost Ready,’ you’re brushing your teeth. And you have pretty white teeth. Do you practice good dental hygiene?

I definitely take care of my teeth, I go to the dentist all the time. Actually I gotta go to the dentist next week. I had braces so --  The cover though, was me brushing my teeth because, like the title “I’m Almost Ready,” the whole project came from me making every song like all the changes in my life, me getting ready for all of this.

You’re just brushing up.

But then I’m almost like lagging. Hella lagging, always the last one out the door. So me brushing my teeth is like I’m almost ready. It kinda flew together. It’s me getting ready.

You said it felt like an album, but it’s just a mixtape. Why did you feel that way?

Because it was fucking sounding like a fucking album. It was a fucking album. Off top, I don’t care what nobody says. That was all real Rob $tone. And I dumbed it down. I took out the lemotional out.

Do you ever think about where you’ll be in five or ten years?

I dunno, I just know I want it to be lit. I want to have money, be able to take care of myself. I had a kid along the way. It changed. I gotta do it, and make sure he’s alright. it’s a different mission now. My son’s name is Jesiah.

Very biblical.

Yeah, it was an accident to give him a biblical name, but I looked it up and it meant a sprinkling of the lord.

That’s what it seemed like too cause his birth was a blessing. At first I was scared out of my mind, but he came out the right time. He made me grow up.

What do you do for fun besides music and smoking weed?

Smoke weed, watch movies, hang out with my son.

How old is he?

He’s nine months.

Can he walk yet?

Nah, almost. He’s crawling everywhere though. I just picked up a polaroid camera a few days ago. I’ve been snapping everywhere. I think I found a new hobby.

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